×
May 16, 2018

The person who leaked some financial records about Michael Cohen last week told The New Yorker they did so because two other important documents related to Cohen's banking activities were missing from a government database and they were concerned information was being suppressed.

The New Yorker's Ronan Farrow says the leaker is a law enforcement official. Cohen, President Trump's personal lawyer, opened an account at First Republic Bank for his shell company Essential Consultants LLC. The leaker released a suspicious-activity report filed by the bank, showing that Cohen received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Novartis, AT&T, and other companies after Trump's election. The leaked report mentions two earlier suspicious-activity reports the bank had filed, detailing more than $3 million in other questionable transactions from unknown business and other entities.

The person who leaked the report told Farrow that these two suspicious-activity reports are not in the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) database. Banks are legally required to file suspicious-activity reports with the government, creating records of possible fraud and money laundering. While not proof of criminal activity, those reports do go into the permanent FinCEN database, and law enforcement officials and other federal government personnel have access to the database.

The leaker told Farrow they had "never seen something pulled off the system" like this, which was concerning. "The system is a safeguard for the bank," they said. "It's a stockpile of information. When something's not there that should be, I immediately became concerned." Farrow spoke with a government official who speculated that access was restricted due to the sensitive nature of the documents, but it would be a nearly unprecedented move. For more on the missing documents and why it's worrisome, visit The New Yorker. Catherine Garcia

8:40 p.m.

Jack Bogle, the founder of The Vanguard Group and creator of the index fund, died Wednesday. He was 89.

Vanguard is the world's largest mutual fund organization, now managing $4.9 trillion in global assets. When he created what is now known as the Vanguard 500 Index Fund, he was ridiculed by Wall Street, with the fund dubbed "Bogle's Folly." In his letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders in February 2017, billionaire investor Warren Buffet praised Bogle, saying that he was "frequently mocked by the investment-management industry," but "he helped millions of investors realize far better returns on their savings than they otherwise would have earned. He is a hero to them and to me."

Bogle grew up during the Great Depression, and studied economics at Princeton. He founded Vanguard in 1975, and served as chairman and CEO until 1996. Bogle also wrote 13 books about investing, with his final book, Stay the Course: The Story of Vanguard and the Index Revolution, published in December. He is survived by his wife, Eve, and six children. Catherine Garcia

7:48 p.m.

The Pentagon is finalizing a policy to closely examine recruits who have green cards or other foreign ties, an initiative that would likely target thousands of people every year, two Department of Defense officials with knowledge of the matter told The Washington Post.

Last year, a federal judge blocked a similar effort to target green-card holders. The Pentagon is concerned about espionage and terrorism, and this new vetting process will screen "foreign nexus" risks, the Post reports; this could include people with foreign citizenship and those with family members who are not U.S. citizens.

Some U.S. citizens could also be targeted, including those with foreign spouses or relatives with dual citizenship. Anyone chosen for this screening would not be allowed to go to recruit training until they are cleared, which could take days for some and much longer for others. Defense Department officials told the Post the new policy will be distributed to military services no later than Feb. 15. Catherine Garcia

6:56 p.m.

A 27-year-old Marine veteran with PTSD was held for three days in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Michigan, despite being born in the United States, his lawyers said Wednesday.

Jilmar Ramos-Gomez pleaded guilty last month to trespassing and damaging a fire alarm at a hospital in Grand Rapids, the ACLU said. He spent some time in a Kent County jail, and was set for release on Dec. 14 to await sentencing. ICE contacted the jail and asked that Ramos-Gomez be held for pickup, and he was then driven 70 miles to Battle Creek. He was there for three days before a lawyer working for his family called the ICE detention center and told authorities Ramos-Gomez is a citizen.

In an interview with NBC News, ACLU attorney Miriam Aukerman asked why ICE, which has access to fingerprint records, thought Ramos-Gomez should be deported. "Why did they think he was a non-citizen? Did they get him confused with someone else? Who knows. This is an individual who's incredibly vulnerable with a mental illness." Ramos-Gomez was a lance corporal in the Marines, and earned awards for service in Afghanistan. He is now receiving mental health care for his PTSD.

The ACLU is calling on the Kent County sheriff and county commissioners to look into why the jail released Ramos-Gomez to ICE. Kent County Undersheriff Chuck DeWitt told NBC News that once Ramos-Gomez "was released from our custody, he was under the domain of ICE. Where they take him is their process. Our procedures were followed." Catherine Garcia

5:33 p.m.

Federal workers will get a paycheck at some point.

President Trump signed a bill Wednesday that ensures federal employees furloughed during the partial government shutdown will get back pay once it's over. Trump has long shown support for the bill, which was introduced by Virginia Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner last week and easily passed both houses of Congress.

Federal employees working without pay throughout the shutdown were already guaranteed back pay once the government reopened. This new law grants back pay to those furloughed during the shutdown. But it doesn't guarantee a paycheck for federal contractors, something Warner pushed for in a Wednesday tweet. He also, of course, advocated for the government to reopen after its 25-day-long shutdown. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:16 p.m.

Rep. Ed Case (D-Hawaii) barely made it two weeks into his term before stirring up some controversy.

The congressman, who is fully aware that he's white, described himself as "an Asian trapped in a white body" at an event Tuesday, per National Journal fellow Nicholas Wu. And, as The Washington Post astutely said, "his apology didn't help" his case.

Case was at "an event celebrating Asian-American and Pacific Islander advances in Congress," Hawaii News Now says, but it's unclear what led up to the comments. What is clear is that Case represents America's only majority-Asian district.

Case told Hawaii News Now that he is "fiercely proud" of representing a state "where no ethnic group has been in the majority for generations." He added that he has "absorbed and live the values of our many cultures" and he "regret[s] if my specific remarks to the national API community on my full absorption of their concerns caused any offense." Also of questionable note: Case's spokesperson said the congressman was just repeating "what his Japanese-American wife sometimes says about him," per the Post.

Case first graced the House in Hawaii's 2nd District from 2002-2007, before leaving the post for an unsuccessful Senate run. He ran for the Senate again in 2012, losing to then-Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) in 2012. This time around, he won a primary of largely minority candidates to win his seat. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:34 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) may be the only thing standing between a spending bill and the president.

House Democrats and a few Republicans passed two spending bills last week that would reopen the government, but McConnell refused to bring them before the Republican-held Senate. And on Tuesday, McConnell did it again — even though Democrats "have secured enough Republican votes in the Senate to reopen government," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted Wednesday.

The government shutdown began Dec. 21 over President Trump's refusal to sign a spending bill without $5.7 billion in border wall funding. Democrats still refuse to bend to that demand. And when they took over the House this year, they and five Republicans quickly passed a spending bill to fund most government departments for the year and another that would fund the Department of Homeland Security for 30 days. McConnell refused to bring them for a vote in the Senate, saying they were "absolutely pointless show votes" on bills Trump wouldn't sign.

Democrats pointed out that the GOP-held Senate passed similar bills last year, which then-House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) wouldn't bring for a vote. And when those House Democrats, along with 12 Republicans, voted Friday to send a new set of spending bills to the Senate, McConnell again turned them down. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:13 p.m.

The creators of the massively popular online game Fortnite have acknowledged a security flaw that may have put players' accounts at risk.

Check Point Research said Wednesday they discovered a bug that would allow hackers to obtain users' login username and password if they clicked on a phishing link; the user would not need to enter any information at this link for their account to be taken over by the hacker, they say. The group blames this on a "vulnerability found in some of Epic Games' sub-domains."

Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite, says that the security bug has been fixed, though it did not disclose how many users were affected. "We thank Check Point for bringing this to our attention," the company said, per Fortune.

Since Fortnite thrives off in-game currency, once a hacker had logged in to a victim's account, they would be able to make purchases using the person's credit card information, The Washington Post notes. Check Point Research also points out that hackers could have been able to listen into private chats by impersonating the user they hacked, although Epic Games clarified to The Verge that the hackers wouldn't be able to eavesdrop on the person whose account they'd taken over.

Fortnite has more than 200 million users and, according to The Verge, generated an estimated $2.4 billion in 2018. Brendan Morrow

See More Speed Reads