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Wednesday, Aug 23rd

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Republicans rally around Sessions after Trump criticism

Jeff Sessions gets GOP support after Trump slamRepublicans on Thursday rushed to the defense of Attorney General Jeff Sessions after President Trump levied stinging criticism on the former Alabama senator over his recusal from the federal Russia investigation.

In a wide-ranging interview published late Wednesday, Trump told The New York Times that he wouldn’t have hired Sessions to lead the Justice Department had he know that he would step aside from the probe — a shocking criticism that suggested a dramatic breakdown in their relationship and ignited speculation that Sessions might resign.

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Russia Investigation Now Includes Trump’s Business Ties

Mueller taking on Trump business tiesThe Justice Department's investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election has grown to encompass President Donald Trump's business ties and those of his associates, despite Trump's saying he believes that his personal finances would be outside the investigators' mandate.

Agents are particularly interested in the sales of some apartments in Trump-owned buildings by Russians, Russian involvement in some Trump Organization developments, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and his sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian billionaire in 2008, according to a person familiar with the investigation who spoke to Bloomberg News.

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Citing Recusal, Trump Says He Wouldn’t Have Hired Sessions

Trump interview with NYT slams SessionsPresident Trump said on Wednesday that he never would have appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions had he known Mr. Sessions would recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation that has dogged his presidency, calling the decision “very unfair to the president.”

In a remarkable public break with one of his earliest political supporters, Mr. Trump complained that Mr. Sessions’s decision ultimately led to the appointment of a special counsel that should not have happened. “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Mr. Trump said.

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Manafort was millions in debt to pro-Russia interests: report

Paul Manafort owed millions to pro Russian interestsPaul Manafort was in as much as $17 million in debt to pro-Russia interests before signing on as President Trump's campaign manager in March of 2016, according to newly revealed financial records.

The New York Times on Wednesday reported that records filed in Cyprus, where Manafort was keeping banking accounts, showed that money was owed by shell companies tied to Manafort's work in the Ukraine as a pro-Russia Party of Regions consultant.

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Trump shuts down CIA program to arm Syrian rebels: report

Trump shuts down anti Assad CIA programPresident Trump is shutting down the CIA’s program to arm and train rebels fighting the Syrian government, The Washington Post reported Wednesday, a victory for Russia, which has called for the move for years.

Officials told the Post that shutting down the program, begun by the Obama administration in 2013, is a sign of Trump’s attempts to work with Russia, which has viewed the U.S. attempts to force out Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as an attack on their own interests.

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Trump’s Justice Department Just Made It Easier For Cops To Take People’s Stuff

Police now can ore easily seize property of suspeted criinalsThe Justice Department on Wednesday reversed an Obama-era policy that had limited law enforcement’s power to take cash and other property from individuals who haven’t been convicted of a crime, and in many cases haven’t been charged with one. But the new policy comes with limitations that Justice Department officials say will protect innocent property owners from potential abuse.

The directive concerns the controversial law enforcement practice known as civil asset forfeiture, which allows police to permanently take property, including cash, vehicles and homes, from suspected criminals, all without ever having to secure a conviction or even charge the owner with a crime. Once forfeited, the proceeds of the property flow back into department coffers.

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Trump, Putin Had Second, Previously Undisclosed Meeting at G-20 Summit

Trump - Putin second meetingPresident Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin a second time during the G-20 summit earlier this month, a White House official confirmed to NBC News Tuesday.

Trump spoke to Putin at the end of a couples-only social dinner at the summit in Hamburg, Germany, the official said, reiterating it was a social dinner. Pull-asides are typically less formal than official bilateral meetings, which Trump and Putin also shared.

The White House did not previously disclose or offer a record of what was discussed during the meeting, which was first reported by Ian Bremmer, president of the international consulting firm Eurasia Group.

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