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April 21, 2017
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An investigation by USA Today has documented more than 400 previously undisclosed properties across the U.S. owned by President Trump's business trust and companies. The properties are worth an estimated $250 million and include "at least 422 luxury condos and penthouses from New York City to Las Vegas, 12 mansion lots on bluffs overlooking his golf course on the Pacific Ocean, and dozens more smaller pieces of real estate," USA Today reported.

The properties present "an extraordinary and unprecedented potential for people, corporations, or foreign interests to try to influence the president," USA Today wrote. Because the properties in question are owned directly by Trump's companies and not licensed through a separate development company, any sales would directly augment Trump's wealth. Already, there are some murky deals: USA Today found that of the 14 luxury condos and home-building lots Trump companies have sold since Election Day, "half were sold to limited liability companies" and "no names were listed in deeds, obscuring buyers' identities."

Now that Trump has assumed office, a lot more people are apparently inquiring about buying real estate owned by the president. While Trump isn't legally obligated to offer a complete inventory of every property he owns, nor is he required to disclose when he makes a sale, he is constitutionally prohibited from accepting gifts from foreign officials. But because real estate laws allow shell companies to be set up so that a person can make a purchase without revealing his or her identity, USA Today noted it could be "impossible for the public to know" who purchases a Trump property in this manner.

"Anyone seeking to influence the president could set up an anonymous company and purchase his property," said Heather Lowe, director of government affairs at Global Financial Integrity, a group focused on stopping illegal financial transactions. "It's a big black box, and the system is failing as a check for conflicts of interest."

Read the full product of USA Today's four-month-long investigation here. Becca Stanek

3:21 a.m. ET
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Scott Beigel, one of the three teachers and coaches shot dead in last week's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, was buried Sunday. During his funeral at Temple Beth El in Boca Raton, his fiancée, Gwen Gossler, recounted a story about when she and Beigel were watching TV coverage of a previous school shooting. "Promise me if this ever happens to me, you will tell them the truth — tell them what a jerk I am, don't talk about the hero stuff," she recalled Beigel telling her, according to the New York Post. "Okay, Scott, I did what you asked," she added. "Now I can tell the truth. You are an amazingly special person. You are my first love and my soulmate."

Beigel, 35, was a geography teacher and cross country coach, and he was shot by the gunman while trying to protect students by locking them in his classroom. "He unlocked the door and let us in," student Kelsey Friend told ABC News. "I had thought he was behind me, but he wasn't. When he opened the door, he had to relock it so we could stay safe, but he didn't get the chance to. ... If the shooter had come in the room, I probably wouldn't be [alive]." Beigel "was my hero and he will forever be my hero," Friend told CNN. Sixteen other people were killed and 15 wounded in the mass shooting.

Beigel wasn't alone in contemplating being a human shield. "Across the country, teachers are grappling with how their roles have expanded, from educator and counselor to bodyguard and protector," The New York Times reports. "Last night I told my wife I would take a bullet for the kids," Robert Parish, a teacher at an elementary school just miles from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, told a union hall crowded with Broward County teachers on Saturday. Since the shooting, "I think about it all the time." Peter Weber

2:33 a.m. ET
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When Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged Paul Manafort with financial crimes and conspiracy against the U.S. last fall, the indictment said that President Trump's former campaign chairman laundered $18 million and used the untaxed income to support his lavish lifestyle. But actually, "federal law enforcement officials have identified more than $40 million in 'suspicious' financial transactions to and from companies controlled by" Manafort, most of them flagged during an unsuccessful anti-kleptocracy effort in 2014 and 2015, BuzzFeed News reports.

The previous legwork by the FBI and Treasury Department's financial crimes unit "explains how the special counsel was able to swiftly bring charges against Manafort for complex financial crimes dating as far back as 2008," BuzzFeed says, "and it shows that Mueller could still wield immense leverage as he seeks to compel Manafort to cooperate in the ongoing investigation," as erstwhile partner Rick Gates appears to be doing. The FBI interviewed Manafort in 2014, but Justice Department leaders reportedly decided Manafort's apparent financial fraud was small potatoes compared with that of his longtime client Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. "We had him in 2014," one former officials said of Manafort. "In hindsight, we could have nailed him then."

From 2004 and 2014, eight banks filed 23 "suspicious activity reports" on accounts controlled by Manafort, and among those not included in Mueller's indictment are $5 million to and from Puerto Rican firm Maho Films Investment Co., where Manafort was one of two directors, and several smaller transactions that fraud investigators suspected might be pitched to avoid automatic fraud alerts, including two back-to-back $7,500 ATM withdrawals and an odd spending spree at a drug store: Officials at Wachovia "flagged $25,000 in 'fraudulent charges' at Duane Reade stores in New York City in September 2007," BuzzFeed reports. "Bank officials said the debit card was in Manafort's possession during that time." Read more about Manafort's financial history at BuzzFeed News. Peter Weber

1:33 a.m. ET
AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt

Al Hoffman Jr., a real estate developer and major Republican donor, is closing his wallet to any candidate or group that won't agree to renew the ban on assault weapons.

Hoffman, a Palm Beach resident and former finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, told MSNBC on Monday that following the shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school last week that left 17 people dead, he was trying to figure out a way he could enact change. A friend told him, "Why don't you start withholding checks until you find somebody who will support the advocacy for a gun legislation?" Hoffman said he thought that this was a great idea, and he decided to try to get other Republican donors on board. He's since sent "thousands" of letters out explaining his position and why he wants others to join his boycott. "No money, no guns," he said. "We got to do this."

Bill Clinton signed the Assault Weapons Ban in 1994, but it expired 10 years later under George W. Bush, and it has not been renewed. The ban prohibited the sale of semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15, which is used in many mass shootings. Hoffman said he knows that with many Republican lawmakers refusing to vote for new restrictions on guns this is going to be a tough road, but he's found at least one donor to join him in his boycott, The New York Times reports. Catherine Garcia

1:05 a.m. ET

"The president spent the weekend defending himself, misrepresenting the truth, and attacking others from his phone in Florida," Fox News anchor Shepard Smith said Monday afternoon, kicking off his look at President Trump's weekend of tweeting. Trump fired off angry, frequency inaccurate tweets against the FBI, the Justice Department, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calf.), and Oprah Winfrey, among other targets, Smith noted, but tellingly, "he did not attack Vladimir Putin or Russia, nor did he express concern that the Russians attacked the United States, nor did he pledge in any way to put measures in place to stop future attacks."

Smith read some tweets and did some fact-checking, noting, for example, that while Trump insisted he "never said Russia did not meddle in the election," in fact "the reality is the president has questioned the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election over and over and over again." Trump conflated Russian election meddling, now conclusively proved, with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's collusion investigation, Smith added. "The collusion investigation, according to our reporting, is ongoing," and "the extent to which Russian meddling did or did not affect the results of the election is an open question."

Smith seemed most perplexed by Trump's unwillingness to criticize Russia or Putin. "The president's spokespersons have been on television denouncing the meddling, the president has not," he said. "Not once, not on camera, not on Twitter, not anywhere." Watch below. Peter Weber

12:39 a.m. ET
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More than two years after Wanda Roberts and her family threw a message in a bottle into the Pacific Ocean, it was found by Edward Paulino, thousands of miles away in Guam.

Roberts' late father, Bob Mahan, loved to camp out by the ocean, and on Sept. 9, 2015, the family gathered on the beach in Navarro, California, sending a message in a bottle out to sea. It ultimately reached the shores of Malojloj, where it was discovered on Feb. 3 by Paulino. Paulino's daughter, Gerika, told the Pacific Daily News her dad likes "collecting interesting items on the beach," and when he found the bottle he urged her to contact Roberts. "It's amazing that the bottle traveled such a long distance," she said.

The faded pink bottle contained a letter from Roberts, explaining why she had thrown it into the ocean, and a small container of bubbles sporting a picture of Mahan's favorite cartoon character, Mickey Mouse. Gerika Paulino messaged Roberts, who lives in Washington, on Facebook to let her know the bottle had arrived in Guam, and Roberts was thrilled. "Social media is a wonderful outlet connecting us to another part of the world," she said. "This brought back fond memories, and all of the family agrees that my dad would have loved to know we did this." Catherine Garcia

12:08 a.m. ET

Sure, presidential historians have their own rankings of presidential greatness, but President Trump grades on a different scale, according to Late Night's "Donald J. Trump's Guide to U.S. Presidents, Vol. 1." Trump, naturally, ranks No. 1 and his predecessor, Barack Obama, was barely worth a mention, but Trump also weighed in on Grover Cleveland ("He always cracked me up when I would see him on Sesame Street"), George Washington's wife, Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton's wife. Watch below. Peter Weber

February 19, 2018
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President Trump, who once called Mitt Romney a "mixed up man who doesn't have a clue," someone "so awkward and goofy," and "one of the dumbest and worst candidates in the history of Republican politics," announced on Monday that Romney has "my full support and endorsement" in his quest to become the next senator from Utah.

Romney, who once called Trump "a phony, a fraud," and someone whose "promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University" who's now playing "the American public for suckers," accepted, tweeting: "Thank you Mr. President for the support. I hope that over the course of the campaign I also earn the support and endorsement of the people of Utah."

Ah, politics. Catherine Garcia

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