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January 12, 2018
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Over one-fifth of President Trump's condos sold in America were purchased in transactions that have the characteristics of possible money laundering, BuzzFeed News reports. Over 1,300 of condominiums developed by Trump or licensed under his name "were bought not by people but by shell companies, and ... the purchases were made without a mortgage, avoiding inquiries from lenders," BuzzFeed News writes. The Treasury Department has flagged such sales as telltale signs of potential money laundering schemes, although not all such sales are necessarily indicators of illegal activity.

In one particularly startling case, though, the Trump SoHo Hotel Condominium in Manhattan, where Trump is 18 percent owner, made more than three-quarters of its sales to shell companies that paid in cash. BuzzFeed News is careful to note, however, that their reporting also "examined non-Trump buildings in Manhattan and South Florida and found that roughly the same percentage of units were sold to shell companies in all-cash transactions as in Trump buildings."

In 2015, a New York Times investigation estimated that "nearly half of the most expensive residential properties in the United States are now purchased anonymously through shell companies." However, as some have pointed out, those other properties notably do not have the name of the president of the United States attached to them.

This is not the first time purchases at Trump developed or licensed condos have raised suspicions. Former Panamanian financial crimes prosecutor Mauricio Ceballos told NBC News and Reuters that the Trump Ocean Club in Panama City is "a vehicle for money laundering." Writing for The Week, Paul Waldman observes that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has "made a point of hiring a number of lawyers for his team who have expertise in money laundering and other financial crimes." Mueller is reportedly looking into "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings," Bloomberg News writes.

Read more about Trump property sales at BuzzFeed News. Jeva Lange

8:22 p.m. ET
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The Justice Department announced Tuesday that a former CIA officer suspected of working with China to identify informants in the country has been arrested and charged with unlawful retention of national defense information.

Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 53, left the CIA in 2007, and in 2012, the FBI began to investigate him as more and more informants in China started to die or go to prison. Lee lived in Hong Kong, but during a 2012 trip to the U.S., FBI investigators searched his luggage and found journals containing classified information; prosecutors say the handwritten notes included details about meetings with informants and the names and phone numbers of undercover agents.

Some intelligence officials believe Lee worked with the Chinese government, The New York Times reports, while other think it's possible China was able to hack the secret communications channels used by the CIA to talk to informants. Since 2010, more than a dozen CIA informants have been killed or imprisoned by the Chinese government. Catherine Garcia

7:33 p.m. ET
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One month before the 2016 presidential election, Fox News had a story ready to go about an alleged affair between adult film actress Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, and President Trump, but never published it, four people familiar with the matter told CNN.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that in October 2016, Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, arranged a $130,000 payment to Clifford to keep quiet about the alleged sexual relationship. Fox News reporter Diana Falzone had a completed story about Clifford and Trump, which included a statement confirming the relationship from Clifford's manager, but "Fox killed it," one person familiar with the matter told CNN. Fox News wasn't the only outlet writing about this story; The Daily Beast and Slate both said they were speaking to Clifford before the election, but she backed out of an interview with The Daily Beast and stopped returning phone calls from Slate.

Noah Kotch, who became editor-in-chief and vice president of Fox News digital in 2017, said "in doing our due diligence, we were unable to verify all of the facts and publish a story." Cohen and Clifford have both denied WSJ's report, and in a statement distributed by Cohen, Clifford said her involvement with Trump "was limited to a few public appearances and nothing more," and "rumors that I have received hush money from Donald Trump are completely false." Catherine Garcia

6:20 p.m. ET
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Tuesday was apparently "Subpoena Stephen Bannon Day" in Washington, D.C. A few hours after the former White House chief strategist was subpoenaed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of the FBI's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Bannon was reportedly subpoenaed again — this time by the House Intelligence Committee.

Bannon was being grilled by the committee when he was hit with a subpoena "on the spot," Politico reports, for not answering questions. Apparently, congressional investigators wanted to know about Bannon's brief stint in the White House but were stonewalled, which, Politico notes, angered Democrats and Republicans alike.

At the time of publication, Bannon and his attorney had not commented on either subpoena or his congressional testimony. Kelly O'Meara Morales

4:50 p.m. ET

Nevada Democrats have a new weapon under their sleeves as they prepare for a tough Senate and gubernatorial race in their state: a turtle mascot named "Mitch McTurtle."

In case you don't get the joke, Nevada Democrats hope that this smiling turtle — which holds bags of money in order to symbolize Republican economic policy or something like that — will be a sick burn against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the Republican Party in Nevada.

Improbably, The Hill reports that McTurtle was "well received" at his unveiling and that someone described as a "local activist" actually tweeted praise for the plush reptile. Of course, the Mitch McTurtle Twitter account — which only has 27 followers at the time of writing— soon retweeted it. Kelly O'Meara Morales

4:12 p.m. ET

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) tried to take off a pair of glasses. There was just one problem; he wasn't wearing any glasses.

Rather than point out, as some Twitter users did, that this reflexive motion is not uncommon for people who wear contacts, the soon-to-be retiree (or the staff who run his Twitter account at least) responded with a millennial-friendly witticism.

A spokesperson for Hatch later told The Hill that the senator left his reading glasses at home and simply succumbed to the Pavlovian instinct to take them off. It was a mistake, the spokesman said, that "many glasses and contact lens wearers can relate to." Kelly O'Meara Morales

4:06 p.m. ET
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President Trump's personal doctor claimed he would be "the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency" when he was a candidate, and now that such a reality has actually come to pass, the 71-year-old earned similar superlatives from presidential physician Ronny Jackson, who said Trump has "incredible genes" and declared him to be "in excellent health." Trump underwent the routine physical examination on Friday in Bethesda, Maryland, the Los Angeles Times reports.

During a press conference Tuesday, Jackson said Trump is 6'3" and weighs 239 pounds, up from 2016 when he weighed 236 pounds, "which the medical community considers overweight; if he were 6-foot-2, as listed on his New York driver's license, he would be considered obese," The Washington Post writes. His heart exam was normal, his total cholesterol was 223, and he did "exceedingly well" on cognitive and neurological tests, which he personally requested, Jackson said. Trump's medications include Crestor for cholesterol, which Jackson said he has increased, aspirin for his heart, Propecia for male pattern hair loss, cream for rosacea, and a multivitamin.

Jackson added that Trump ought to lose 10 to 15 pounds and that he was "more excited about the diet part than the exercise part." Jackson claimed that Trump's slurred speech during a public appearance last month might have been caused by Sudafed, and that an ultrasound after the incident turned up no concerning results.

Less flattering was the opinion of The Washington Post, which noted last week that Trump is "older than all previous presidents when they first took office. He is also the heaviest president in at least a generation and consumes a diet heavy with Big Macs, Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, fried chicken, pizza, well-done steak, and two rounds of dessert. He seems to get little exercise beyond swinging a golf club, as he spends most of his time on the course traveling in an electric cart. And he likes to brag about how little sleep he gets." Jeva Lange

2:50 p.m. ET
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Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) left office Tuesday, but not before he signed a Democratic-sponsored bill that bans the sale or possession of "bump stocks" in his state, NJ.com reports. The divisive legislation comes in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting last year, when the gun accessory was used to murder 58 people and wound some 489 others. Bump stock owners in New Jersey now have 90 days to turn over the items to authorities.

"These are simple, easy-to-use devices that increase the firepower and killing power of firearms," explained former state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), who retired last week. "There is no legitimate need for these devices." Residents of New Jersey were not previously allowed to use bump stocks — the accessories weren't even allowed in the "vicinity of a weapon," NJ.com writes — but Christie's law officially requires the devices be removed from the state altogether.

The legislation passed unanimously in the state Senate and Assembly, which are both controlled by Democrats. Democrat Phil Murphy was sworn in as Christie's replacement just before noon Tuesday. Jeva Lange

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