Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Stephanie Zable
Thursday, May 17, 2018, 4:23 PM

The Trump-Russia investigation began with a cloak-and-dagger meeting in London and a Rolling Stones reference, according to the New York Times. The investigation, known as “Crossfire Hurricane” after the Stones lyric, started as in investigation into four men: Michael T. Flynn, Paul Manafort, Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, after a tip by the Australian ambassador. The FBI pursued the investigation in the utmost secrecy throughout the campaign.

On the day of the third Republican presidential debate, President Trump personally signed a letter of intent to build Trump Tower Moscow, reports Buzzfeed. As the campaign progressed, Michael Cohen and Trump agent Felix Sater worked aggressively and secretively to build the tallest building in Europe, including seeking to arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin. The efforts did not end until the end of July, with, naturally, a Trump tweet.

Robert Mueller has apparently provided a judge with Rod Rosenstein’s full memo as to the scope of Mueller’s investigation, according to Politico. However, the memo is under seal and not public.

And the investigation is likely to end with a report, posits the Washington Post. Mueller’s investigation has been moving fairly quickly; his pursuit of an interview with Trump could indicate that it is nearing a peak, and in deference to Justice Department policy it may slow down as the midterms near.

A Qatari-linked company is nearing a deal to bail out Jared Kushner’s family’s troubled flagship, reports the Times. Brookfield Properties, whose second-largest investor is the Qatar Investment Authority, will partner with the Kushner Companies to buy out the minority partner in 666 Fifth Avenue, which has caused tremendous financial headaches for the Kushners. Jared Kushner sold his stake in 666 Fifth to a trust controlled by his mother, but he retains most of his stake in the firm.

Chinese trade negotiations are heating up. Politico notes that President Trump has added a meeting with Vice Premier and economist Liu He in Washington, while the Times says that China is planning to offer to buy $200 billion worth of American goods to narrow the trade deficit. However, the purchases will not affect the structural causes of the deficit or the Trump administration’s concerns about intellectual property theft.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Mike Godwin reframed online advertising as a societal bargain in the context of Vance Packard’s 1957 bestseller, “The Hidden Persuaders.”

Harry Litman looked at how investigators might go about flipping Michael Cohen.

In the SinoTech series, David Stanton and Wenqing Zhao explained the recent U.S.-China trade moves and President Trump’s moves on behalf of ZTE.

Quinta Jurecic provided links to Russia investigation transcripts relating to Don Jr.’s Trump Tower meeting, as released by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Jen Patja Howell posted this week’s episode of the Rational Security podcast.

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