Trump’s personal assistant is said to be fired but joins campaign
WASHINGTON _ President Donald Trump’s personal assistant, John McEntee, was fired Monday, according to three White House officials.
The president’s re-election campaign announced Tuesday that McEntee had been hired as a senior adviser. It wasn’t clear why McEntee, a well-liked figure in the White House, had been dismissed, and campaign aides weren’t given a reason. McEntee told fellow Trump aides that he had resigned.
People familiar with the matter said that McEntee had been able to obtain a security clearance earlier in Trump’s presidency, and speculated that any issues that led to his firing were recent developments. McEntee couldn’t be reached for comment.
McEntee, Trump’s “body man,” was one of his closest aides and had been at his side since the start of his campaign. He was known for being prepared to supply Trump with whatever he might need while aboard his campaign plane, on Air Force One and around the White House _ a drink, his jacket, or hair spray. McEntee always had hair spray and a comb at the ready, people close to him said.
Kushner conflict cloud hovers over Brooklyn sale linked to Japan
NEW YORK _ Two months after Jared Kushner joined the White House as a senior adviser, his family firm sold a stake in a Brooklyn building to a unit of a company whose largest shareholder is the government of Japan.
The buyer of record in the $103 million deal for 175 Pearl St. was Normandy Real Estate Partners, a New Jersey-based investment firm. But documents filed in Tokyo show that it was operating on behalf of a subsidiary of Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp. By law, the Japanese government owns at least a third of NTT, in effect a controlling share.
Questions have been raised repeatedly whether Kushner, whose family business has been in search of overseas investors, might pursue a personal agenda while helping run U.S. policy. This is the first known deal with a government-affiliated firm since he entered the White House.
There’s no evidence the NTT company made the investment with a political intent _ it denies that, as do all the others involved _ or that there has been any political gain. However, this is the kind of deal that conflict-of-interest rules seek to limit: not only inappropriate entanglements and their appearance but situations where potential favors might one day be paid back. Officials like Kushner are expected under U.S. law to recuse themselves from government decisions that would have a “direct and predictable effect” on their financial interests.
At the time of the March 31, 2017, deal, Kushner was helping his father-in-law, President Donald Trump, oversee trade policy. Since then, his security clearance has been curtailed and his portfolio narrowed. The Washington Post recently cited U.S. intelligence reports that officials in at least four countries have discussed ways to manipulate Kushner because of his family business. Japan was not among them. A spokesman for Kushner’s lawyer called the Post article inaccurate. Special counsel Robert Mueller has been looking into whether Kushner brought his family’s search for foreign investors into policy deliberations.
The Brooklyn transaction represented a premium of more than 60 percent on a price-per-square-foot basis over what Kushner Cos. and its partners paid four years earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The deal enabled the Kushner group to take larger ownership stakes in nearby buildings in Brooklyn’s chic Dumbo neighborhood that have signed tenants such as Etsy Inc. and WeWork Cos.
Kushner Cos. is now a co-owner with the NTT unit. The Japanese firm owns 23 percent of the building through limited liability companies plus more through a Normandy-controlled investment fund, a person familiar with the arrangement said. A day after the companies bought 175 Pearl St., the NTT company purchased a stake in Normandy itself. Kushner Cos. maintains a non-controlling share of less than 5 percent.
Ex-Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort faces ‘very real possibility’ of life in prison, judge says
President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman faces the “very real possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison,” a federal judge said in court documents made public Tuesday.
Paul Manafort, now facing charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller in two separate courts, is “a person of great wealth who has the financial means and international connections to flee and remain at large, as well as every incentive to do so,” U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis wrote in an order setting bail terms.
Manafort, 68, who is under house arrest, pleaded not guilty late last month to a slew of tax, bank fraud and conspiracy charges brought in Alexandria, Va.
The indictment follows another in Washington, D.C., that covered money laundering and working as a foreign agent for Ukraine.
Prosecutors working for Mueller, tasked with probing possible connections between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, have outlined a wild, yearslong conspiracy involving offshore accounts and massive loans taken against properties in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Manafort maintains his innocence despite his former close aide Rick Gates accepting a plea deal from prosecutors.
The order from Ellis places Manafort, now wearing two different ankle-monitoring units, on “24-hour-a-day lockdown” in his Alexandria condo. He’s allowed to leave for emergencies, court appearances and meetings with his attorneys.
_New York Daily News
Dog dies after being stored in overhead bin during United Airlines flight
NEW YORK _ A dog was found dead after being stuffed in a travel bag and stored in an overhead bin during a United Airlines flight.
The French bulldog was traveling Monday with its owner and her children from Houston to New York. A flight attendant ordered the passenger to store the dog in her carrier, passenger June Lara wrote in a Facebook post.
Other passengers reportedly heard the dog, believed to be 10 months old, barking during the flight before it was found dead upon landing at LaGuardia Airport.
“There was no sound as we landed and opened his kennel,” Lara wrote. “There was no movement as his family called his name.”
United Airlines said it was investigating the incident and expressed its condolences to the family.
“This was a tragic accident that should never have occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin,” the company said in a statement. “We assume full responsibility for this tragedy and express our deepest condolences to the family and are committed to supporting them.”
The airline’s pet policy states, “A pet traveling in cabin must be carried in an approved hard-sided or soft-sided kennel.
“The kennel must fit completely under the seat in front of the customer and remain there at all times,” the policy reads.
_New York Daily News
Police investigate death of another ‘Putin enemy’ in Britain
LONDON _ British counterterrorism police said they are investigating the death of a Russian exile on Tuesday after he died at home in London from unknown causes.
“An investigation is underway following the death of a man in his 60s,” the Metropolitan Police said.
“Whilst we believe we know the identity of the deceased, formal identification is yet to take place,” the police said.
The Guardian and other media named him as Nikolai Glushkov, 68, a former friend and business associate of the late Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky.
Bill Browder, the founder of Hermitage Capital Management and an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said Glushkov’s reported death was a “very disturbing development.”
“Another Russian enemy of Putin, Nikolai Glushkov, found dead at his London home,” Browder tweeted.
The police said the death was “currently being treated as an unexplained,” adding that counterterrorism officers were leading the investigation “as a precaution because of associations that the man is believed to have had.”
“There is no evidence to suggest a link to the incident in Salisbury,” the police said, referring to a major investigation of the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter by a rare nerve agent in the city of Salisbury.
Prime Minister Theresa May said the attack on the Skripals was “very likely” directed from Russia.