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Who are the key players in the Russia/Trump saga?

Published: Monday, March 13, 2017 @ 4:56 PM
Updated: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 @ 11:57 AM

What You Need to Know: Paul Manafort

Here are some of the key players in the Trump-Russia story.

Paul Manafort

Manafort was the chairman of Donald Trump’s campaign, but resigned in August 2016 after revelations surfaced about his work on behalf of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych was a supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to The Associated Press, Manafort “helped a pro-Russian governing party in Ukraine secretly route at least $2.2 million in payments to two prominent Washington lobbying firms in 2012, and did so in a way that effectively obscured the foreign political party's efforts to influence U.S. policy.” A U.S. lobbyists must declare publicly if they represent any foreign leaders or political parties. The New York Times reported that Manafort spoke to Russian intelligence officials last year via telephone calls that were monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies. Manafort has denied that he spoke with the Russians. Manafort has also been linked to handwritten ledgers that list cash payments of $12.7 million by Manafort’s name. 

Michael Cohen

Cohen is Donald Trump’s personal attorney. According to a New York Times report, Cohen was involved with a peace plan for the Ukraine and Russia that involved the U.S. removing sanctions on Russia in return for Russia ending its support of pro-Russia separatists fighting the Ukrainian government in eastern Ukraine. In addition to having sanctions removed, the deal would allow Russia to cement its control over Crimea. Russian annexed Crimea in 2014. The Times story claims that Cohen delivered the peace plan to Michael Flynn, the national security adviser who was forced to resign last month. Cohen told The Washington Post that he did not deliver a plan to Flynn, but that he had met with businessman Felix Sater and Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Artemenko in New York in January and talked about a peace plan for the Ukraine for “about 15 minutes.” Artemenko said that the plan was, indeed, delivered to the White House.

Michael Flynn

Flynn was Trump’s national security adviser – for three weeks. He was forced to resign when it became known that he misled Vice President Mike Pence on conversations Flynn had with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. U.S. intelligence sources said that Flynn talked with Kislyak about sanctions placed on Russia by former president Barack Obama in late December. Flynn also worked for “Russia Today,” a state-owned TV show. He was paid for a visit he made to Russia to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Russia Today, and could be in trouble for that visit if it was not approved by the Defense Department and the State Department. Flynn was registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent prior to Election Day. He was registered for $530,000 worth of lobbying work that may have aided the Turkish government. The AP reported that the Trump transition team was told that Flynn likely needed to register as a foreign agent before taking top national security role.

Sergey Kislyak

Kislyak is the Russian ambassador to the United States. He spoke with Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, in December about sanctions that had been brought against Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election that, eventually, led to Flynn's resignation. Kislyak also met with then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (now attorney general) on at least two occasions. Sessions says he barely remembers what was said and that the meetings were brief. He did not disclose the meetings during his confirmation hearing in response to a question about what he would do if someone in Trump’s campaign had had contacts with Russian officials. Sessions recused himself from any potential investigation into Russian meddling with the election and ties with Trump’s campaign. CNN reports that Kislyak, in an October speech to the Detroit Economic Club, “denied meeting with Donald Trump or campaign officials during the course of 2016 presidential election, but acknowledged that he met with members of Congress and others who approached him at events.”

Carter Page 

Page was a foreign policy adviser to Trump in the early days of his campaign. Page is the head of an investment company known as Global Energy Capital. He was publicly accused by then-Senate Minority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) of being a link between Trump and the Russian government. Page has also been accused of being a go-between for the Trump campaign and high-level Russian officials. Page was in Moscow for three days in mid-July, and according to reporter Michael Isikoff, and intelligence sources claim he met with Igor Sechin, the head of the Russian state oil company. Sechin is said to have been working on a plan to have Western sanctions against the company lifted. Page has denied ;he met with any government officials while in Russia last July. He has criticized US sanctions on Russia as "sanctimonious expressions of moral superiority.”

Andrii V. Artemenko

Artemenko is a Ukrainian politician who opposes Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and claims to have evidence of Poroshenko’s corruption. He has crafted a plan for peace in Ukraine with himself as president, and Politico has reported that Artemenko met with Trump attorney Michael Cohen and businessman Felix Sater, a business partner of Trump’s, to discuss that plan. 

Felix Sater

According to The New York Times, Sater, a real estate developer and adviser to the Trump Organization, met with Ukrainian politician Andrii Artemenko and Michael D. Cohen in New York in January to discuss sanctions against Russia. The story said that Sater was given the letter, which proposed the deal to lift sanctions by withdrawing Russian forces from eastern Ukraine, to Trump attorney Michael Cohen to be delivered to Michael Flynn, the then-national security adviser to the president.

Igor Sechin

Sechin is the head of Russia’s state oil company, Rosneft. According to reporting by Yahoo’s Michael Isikoff, a U.S. intelligence source said that Sechin was desperate to have Western sanctions against him and Rosneft lifted, so he arranged to meet with Carter Page, head of Global Energy Capital. Isikoff reported that Sechin offered Page the brokerage of a 19 percent stake in Rosneft in exchange for the lifting of US sanctions on Russia. Page has denied this report. 

Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Sessions, a former senator from Alabama, was the first sitting senator to endorse Trump. He appeared with Trump at some campaign stops and was rumored to be under consideration for vice president. During 2016, Sessions met with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, at least twice. Sessions said that the meetings were in line with his duties as a senator, and that nothing about Russia’s potential involvement with the 2016 presidential election was discussed. Sessions did not disclose those meetings during his confirmation hearings in response ;to an indirect question about Russia’s involvement in the election. Sessions recused himself from any potential investigation into Russian meddling with the election and ties with Trump’s campaign.

Roger Stone

Stone is a longtime friend of Trump’s and was an informal adviser to his campaign. According to several media reports, Stone is being investigated by the FBI about whether he had inappropriate contact with Russian officials. Stone told CBS News that he suspects he is being investigated, and said, “Sure, they’ll get my grocery lists, they may get the emails between my wife and I, but here’s what they won’t get -- any contact with the Russians.” Despite saying in a speech that he had communicated with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, he claims did not know Wikileaks was going to publish emails stolen from Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. This week, The Smoking Gun reported that Stone was “in contact with the Russian hacking group that U.S. intelligence officials have accused of illegally breaching the Democratic National Committee’s computer system” and Podesta’s email account.

Texas high schooler pulls off ‘superhuman’ volleyball play

Published: Monday, October 23, 2017 @ 6:17 PM

(Getty file photo)
razihusin/Getty Images/iStockphoto
(Getty file photo)(razihusin/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

And they say we weren’t meant to fly. Much less while returning a volleyball crosscourt. 

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A senior at North Texas’ Decatur High School, Autumn Finney, is receiving a lot of attention after video of her completing an impressive volleyball return made the rounds online. 

Deadspin called the play “superhuman,” and Sports Illustrated tweeted out a clip of the return calling it “simply preposterous.” 

You can watch the feat from a few different angles below:

“This is a point that normal high schoolers should not be able to win,” Deadspin said.

What did Finney have to say of her save? She told Volleyball Mag, “I honestly don’t remember doing it.” Reportedly Finney is also a long jumper, something she thinks may have come in handy during the play.

“I remember I saw Mallory hit the ball, and then Tayte made a great dig and I was like, ‘I can’t let that go.’ That was such an effort and she was on the ground and I had to jump over her. And then I thought, ‘This ball has to go that way and I’m flying this way and how am I gonna do it?’”

Sounds like Finney was no less impressed by her feat than those who witnessed it.

Megyn Kelly jabs Bill O’Reilly following Fox News settlement

Published: Monday, October 23, 2017 @ 5:51 PM

Megyn Kelly (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for The Hollywood Reporter )
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for The Hollywood R
Megyn Kelly (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for The Hollywood Reporter )(Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for The Hollywood R)

News of another gigantic Fox News settlement to address claims against former anchor Bill O’Reilly — to the tune of $32 million — broke over the weekend. The network had reportedly settled with network legal analyst Lis Wiehl, who alleged a “nonconsensual sexual relationship” with O’Reilly, according to the Washington Post.

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statement from O’Reilly’s team claimed it was another instance of being “maliciously smeared” by the New York Times with “leaked information provided by anonymous sources that is out of context, false, defamatory, and obviously designed to embarrass [him] and to keep him from competing in the marketplace.”

That attracted the attention of former Fox News host Megyn Kelly, once a colleague of O’Reilly. In a statement on the Today show, Kelly took her former colleague to task on his claim that “not one complaint was filed against him with the Human Resources Department or Legal Department by a coworker, even on the anonymous hotline.”

“O’Reilly’s suggestion that no one ever complained about his behavior,” she stated, “is false. I know because I complained.”

She then recounts her experience contacting the co-presidents of Fox News, Bill Shine and Jack Abernethy, to combat O’Reilly’s line that he was “not interested” in sexual harassment claims that he said “makes my network look bad.”

“Perhaps he didn’t realize the kind of message his criticism sends to young women of this country about how men continue to view the issue of speaking out about sexual harassment,” she read from an email she sent to the presidents. “Perhaps he didn’t realize his exact attitude of shaming women into shutting the hell up about harassment on the grounds that it will disgrace the company is how Fox News got into the decade-long Ailes mess to begin with.”

Meijer recalls vegetables for potential Listeria contamination

Published: Monday, October 23, 2017 @ 2:24 PM

Possible Listeria Contamination Behind Meijer Recall Of Vegetables

Meijer has recalled several vegetable products for a potential contamination.

Officials for Meijer, a retailer based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, announced the company has recalled various packaged Meijer-brand produce items due to a potential contamination of Listeria monocytogenes, an organism that can cause fatal infections in young children and elderly people.

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The recall affects products sold in Meijer stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin purchased Sept. 27 through Oct. 20. The items will be in plastic containers or foam trays with printed labels with various sizes and weights.

Meijer received notice of a possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination from Mann Packing, a Meijer supplier based in Salinas, California, that sources the Meijer branded produce items. Mann Packing officials told Meijer that evidence of potential Listeria monocytogenes contamination had been identified by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

No illnesses have been reported to date. View the full list of impacted products here.

Woman says scammer cleared out her bank account using Venmo

Published: Monday, October 23, 2017 @ 5:15 PM

Venmo is now accepted at more than 2 million U.S. merchants.
Business Wire via AP
Venmo is now accepted at more than 2 million U.S. merchants.(Business Wire via AP)

An Atlanta woman said she feels like she’s been “robbed three times” after someone hacked her bank account.

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Pam Clay told WSB-TV someone named “Sally Frazier” transferred thousands of dollars to their account from her account using the popular mobile banking app, Venmo.

Clay said the scammer cleared out her account and when she told Venmo officials what happened, a representative told her it was a problem she had to address with her bank.

Clay said she uses the app through her Wells Fargo account to send money to her son from time to time. 

WSB-TV reached out to Venmo for comment but have yet to hear a response.