Dem, GOP leaders to get classified briefing on Russia probe
By MARY CLARE JALONICK and JONATHAN LEMIRE
Arrival time: 9:11 am EDT — Thursday, May 24
WASHINGTON (AP) — House and Senate lawmakers from both parties are set to meet with top intelligence officials Thursday as President Donald Trump raises new suspicions about the federal investigation into his 2016 campaign.
Trump is calling his newest attempt at discrediting special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation “spygate.” In recent days, he has been zeroing in on — and at times embellishing — reports that a longtime U.S. government informant approached members of his campaign during the 2016 presidential election in a possible bid to glean intelligence on Russian efforts to sway the election.
Trump intensified his attacks Thursday, tweeting that it was “Starting to look like one of the biggest political scandals in U.S. history.”
Trump’s broadsides set the stage for the unusual decision by the White House to arrange a briefing about classified documents that will be attended by three Republican House members, including House Speaker Paul Ryan.
After Democratic complaints and negotiations that went into the evening Wednesday, the Justice Department said it would host a second classified briefing the same day and invite the Gang of Eight — a group that consists of the top Republicans and Democrats in each chamber and the top Republicans and Democrats on the House and Senate intelligence committees.
There were two other late additions to the list — White House chief of staff John Kelly and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had originally said no one from the White House would attend the briefing, at which the investigation into Trump’s campaign will be discussed.
Rosenstein appointed special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the Russia investigation, and is frequently criticized by Trump.
Two House lawmakers — Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes and Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey Gowdy — were invited to attend both briefings, as were Kelly, Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher Wray and National Intelligence Director Dan Coats, according to the Justice Department.
All were invited to the second briefing, as well, plus Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr was also invited, along with the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence panel, Sen. Mark Warner, and the top Democrat on the House intelligence panel, Rep. Adam Schiff.
Details about the meetings continued to shift Thursday morning. A spokeswoman for Ryan, AshLee Strong, said he would attend the first meeting instead of the second one. And Schumer called for the first meeting to be canceled.
“What is the point of the separate briefing if not to cause partisan trouble?” Schumer said in a statement.
Nunes, an ardent Trump supporter, had originally requested the information on an FBI source in the Russia investigation. And Trump took up the cause as the White House tried to combat the threat posed by Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference and possible obstruction of justice.
Trump escalated his efforts to discredit the investigation Wednesday, tweeting: “Look how things have turned around on the Criminal Deep State. They go after Phony Collusion with Russia, a made up Scam, and end up getting caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before! What goes around, comes around!”
It remained unclear what, if any, spying was done. The White House gave no evidence to support Trump’s claim that the Obama administration was trying to spy on his 2016 campaign for political reasons. It’s long been known that the FBI was looking into Russian meddling during the campaign and that part of that inquiry touched on the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russian figures. Mueller later took over the investigation when he was appointed in May 2017.
Trump has told confidants in recent days that the revelation of an informant was potential evidence that the upper echelon of federal law enforcement had conspired against him, according to three people familiar with his recent conversations but not authorized to discuss them publicly. Trump told one ally this week that he wanted “to brand” the informant a “spy,” believing the more nefarious term would resonate more in the media and with the public.
As Republicans worked to show a Justice Department conspiracy against Trump, Democrats and former law enforcement officials defended the agency. Former FBI Director James Comey, who was fired by Trump last year, tweeted Wednesday that the agency’s use of secret informants was “tightly regulated and essential to protecting the country.”
“Attacks on the FBI and lying about its work will do lasting damage to our country,” Comey tweeted. “How will Republicans explain this to their grandchildren?”
In an interview airing Thursday on “Fox & Friends,” Trump referred to Comey as one of the “rotten apples” in FBI leadership and said he would have no problem explaining his actions to his own grandchildren.
“How is he going to explain to his grandchildren all of the lies, the deceit, all of the problems he’s caused for this country?” Trump asked.
The back and forth between Congress and the Justice Department over the Nunes request — one of many over the course of the Russia investigation — has simmered for weeks.
The department originally rejected Nunes’ appeal, writing in a letter in April that his request for information “regarding a specific individual” could have severe consequences, including potential loss of human life. Negotiations restarted when Trump demanded Sunday that the Justice Department investigate “whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes.”
The Justice Department agreed to expand an internal investigation to determine whether there was any politically motivated surveillance. And the White House said Kelly would organize the meeting with House lawmakers to discuss the documents.
Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report.
Corrections Officer Arrested Following Crimes Against Children Investigation
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine
May 24, 2018
CINCINNATI — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced today the arrest of a Hamilton County corrections officer on a felony charge of pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor.
Agents with Attorney General DeWine’s Crimes Against Children Unit arrested Joshua Yeager, 30, this morning after serving a search warrant at his home in Delhi Township.
BCI agents began investigating Yeager, who is a corrections officer at the Hamilton County Justice Center, after gathering evidence that he allegedly shared child pornography online.
“Our agents seized several electronic devices from the suspect’s home while serving the search warrant there this morning,” said Attorney General DeWine. “Right now we are examining those devices for any additional evidence, and it is possible that more charges will be filed.”
Authorities with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Delhi Township Police Department are assisting in the investigation.
Attorney General DeWine created the Crimes Against Children Unit, which is part of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, in 2011. The unit assists law enforcement agencies throughout the state to investigate cases involving juvenile victims.
Attorney General DeWine Announces Guilty Plea in Case Against Former Police Chief, Coroner’s Investigator who Stole from Deceased Man
YOUNGSTOWN — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that a former police chief and coroner’s investigator has pleaded guilty to multiple charges, including a charge of theft in office for stealing thousands of dollars from a deceased Youngstown man.
Richard Jamrozik, 42, the former police chief of Lowellville and a former investigator for the Mahoning County Coroner’s Office, pleaded guilty in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to a felony charge of theft in office and a misdemeanor charge of obstructing official business. He pleaded no contest to a felony charge of attempted aggravated assault and misdemeanor charges of obstructing official business, possession of criminal tools, and domestic violence.
The charges stem from an investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office into allegations that Jamrozik physically abused a former girlfriend. During the course of that investigation, authorities also found that Jamrozik, while working as a coroner’s investigator to remove a dead body from a Youngstown home in 2015, stole more than $2,500 from the deceased man.
A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled, but the defendant’s peace officer certificate will be revoked due to the felony conviction.
The case was prosecuted by the office of Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains with assistance from Ohio Attorney General DeWine’s Special Prosecutions Section.
The U.S. Marshals Service assisted in the investigation.
Attorney General DeWine Announces Sentencing of Ohio Doctor on Drug Trafficking Charges
HILLSBORO — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that a former Hillsboro urgent care doctor has been sentenced to serve time in prison for improperly prescribing opioids to patients.
Highland County Common Pleas Court Judge Rocky A. Coss sentenced Timothy Manuel, M.D., 59, to serve five years in prison.
“Rather than treating patients using a legitimate plan of care, the defendant did nothing more than criminally dispense addictive pills,” said Attorney General DeWine. “The over-prescribing of prescription drugs is one of the factors that led us to the opioid epidemic that we are in today, and I believe that prison time is appropriate for this case.”
Dr. Manuel pleaded guilty last month to four counts of aggravated trafficking in drugs and one count of workers’ compensation fraud.
The defendant was indicted last year after an investigation by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy and Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) found that he prescribed large amounts of medically-unnecessary oxycodone to numerous patients while working as a doctor at Hillsboro Urgent Care. He also billed the Ohio BWC for medical services that were never provided.
The case was prosecuted by attorneys with Attorney General DeWine’s Special Prosecutions Section.
The case was investigated with the assistance of the State Medical Board of Ohio, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Basketball Great Shaquille O’Neal’s Florida Mansion
Top Ten Real Estate News
May 24, 2018
“Big Price On Shaq’s Big Florida House”
Pro basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal has put his 28-room lakefront mansion near Orlando, Florida on the market at $28 million. A longtime Orlando-area resident shortly after he was the #1 overall pick in the 1992 NBA draft by the Orlando Magic, Shaq played for the Magic from 1992 to 1996 before signing with the Los Angeles Lakers for $121 million. At the end of the contract he returned to Florida in 2004 to play for the Miami Heat, then played for several other teams before retiring in 2011. O’Neal now spends most of his time in Atlanta where he works as an analyst for TNT on “Inside the NBA.”
Shaq’s massive Lake Butler estate within the private golf community of Isleworth, about 20 minutes southwest of Orlando’s resorts and amusement parks, is sized to feel spacious to a man of 7’1” weighing in at 325 pounds. Completely customized to fit his varied lifestyle, it is not surprising that one outstanding feature is an indoor 6,000-square-foot basketball court with bleachers. Unusual extras include two garages that together will fit 17 cars, one a show-car garage with fitness center and the other having a dance studio and an enclosed recording studio, recalling his rap music hits of the 1990s.
Measuring in at 31,000 square feet and spread across the entire three acres, Shaq’s mansion includes 12 bedrooms, 15 baths, chef’s kitchen with Viking, Wolf and Sub-Zero appliances, massive living room, formal dining, media room with bar and a “gentleman’s room” with game tables, and wet bar. The master wing has a bedroom with Shaq’s custom 15-foot round bed, a four-room closet and his-and-her baths. The guest wing has its own great room with bar and five ensuite bedrooms. Some unusual rooms include a temperature-controlled, cedar-planked humidor and wine storage and an aquarium-style room with saltwater triangular fish tank. Most impressive is the wall mural of a true-to-size tractor trailer barreling toward the interior of the room on an expressway. With the front cab bumped out of the wall, the realism is electrifying.
The grandeur doesn’t stop with the interior. Shaq nicknamed his party-perfect outdoor area “Shaq-apulco” quite aptly. The 95-foot long swimming pool seems to go on forever and has a large waterfall spilling over boulders. It includes a swim-up bar and a spa large enough for a crowd. The pool deck also has an extensive outdoor kitchen, all of which looks out over Lake Butler, the long private pier with boathouse and the life-size statue of Shaq’s favorite character, Superman, standing at the end overlooking the lake.
Shaquille O’Neal — a big man with a big personality and stellar basketball career, is selling his equally large estate with a personality to match his own. His custom-designed home overlooking Lake Butler outside of Orlando, Florida where he has lived since 1993 is now on the market, priced at $28 million. The listing agent is Danial Natoli of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty in Orlando, Florida.
Visit TopTenRealEstateDeals.com for more historic, spectacular and celebrity homes and real estate news.
It’s Not Always All About Trump
By Kevin Martin
John Bolton and Mike Pence must have known what they were doing. President Trump’s national security adviser and Vice President could not have been oblivious that advocating a “Libya model” for North Korea’s denuclearization would go over badly with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who presumably does not wish to be overthrown and killed after giving up his nukes, the fate that befell Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.
President Trump’s public release of his bizarre letter to Kim canceling their June 12 summit meeting in Singapore (many commentators are calling it a “breakup letter” as if Trump were a conflicted teenager), needlessly reminding Kim and the world of the U.S.’s huge nuclear arsenal, is just his latest erratic act. It is a hard kick in the teeth to the leaders of both South and North Korea. South Korean President Moon Jae-in met with Trump at the White House less than 48 hours before the announcement and apparently was not notified of Trump’s decision to punt on the summit. Presumably, he had barely gotten back to Seoul before being forced to call an emergency national security council meeting at 11:30 p.m. Korea time. It also came the very day North Korea carried out its stated intention to destroy its main nuclear test site, a decision Trump had applauded.
It’s possible this is a momentary hitch in Korea diplomacy, albeit one that risks squandering the astonishing momentum for peace and reconciliation built up just since the beginning of the year. (Remember the breathtaking, hopeful spirit of the Winter Olympics in South Korea? It seems long ago at this point, but Koreans North and South certainly do.) Trump’s letter did contain some positive points, and it left the door open to a possible resumption of talks (the president told Kim “…if you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write…,” presumably with a smiley-face on the stationery).
While ultimately the United States will need to be part of any peace deal, inter-Korean diplomacy toward peace and reconciliation, supported by other peace-makers and diplomats, should continue. Nobody in the current administration has any track record of success in international peace and diplomacy, but such people do exist, including some who made progress with North Korea in the past. They could task themselves with doing the job Trump and company are backing away from, offering to advise or serve this administration, or going to Korea themselves to make peace.
If former President Jimmy Carter got on a plane to Pyongyang, had a successful meeting with Kim Jong-un, and came back with the makings of a peace deal, would Trump dare disavow it? As this is unfortunately very unlikely, the former president and other serious diplomats can continue to speak out in support of peace and diplomacy in public, and also advise the amateurs in the current regime as to how this game works, if Trump and company can swallow their egos for a minute and listen (doubtful, I know).
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his administration should continue “aggressive mediation” as his special adviser Moon Chung-in vowed last week. North and South Korea can continue to make progress on family reunifications, returning remains of deceased soldiers from the Korean War, increased economic integration, reducing military tensions including a framework for denuclearization, and possible confederation or reunification, as long as it’s done on terms agreeable to the Korean people. (President Moon’s approval rating in South Korea is above 80 percent, largely for his diplomatic initiatives, making him the most popular elected leader on the planet.)
International civil society certainly has an interest in seeking peace on the Korean peninsula, as do governments in the region. The U.S. Congress needs to seriously step up its game in advocating peace and denouncing Trump’s threats of nuclear war. And the American public needs to tell Trump war is not the answer, diplomacy is the only solution to the crisis he intermittently stokes. There is no time to wait on that, and the faith, peace and Korean-American groups and activists in the Korean Peace Network will carry that message to Capitol Hill at our Advocacy Days in Washington June 11 and 12.
Given the unpredictability of the current U.S. president, who may fear for his job given the investigations and controversies swirling around him, this decision is not a complete surprise. While it seems more distant at this time, in the words of singer-songwriter David Crosby, “Peace is not an awful lot to ask.”
Kevin Martin, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is President of Peace Action, the country’s largest grassroots peace and disarmament organization with more than 200,000 supporters nationwide, and he convenes the Korea Peace Network, a network of peace, arms control, and Korean-American activists working for peace on the Korean Peninsula.