Manafort assistant gave FBI access to storage locker - testimony
By Mark Hosenball and Nathan Layne ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Reuters) - A personal assistant to Paul Manafort granted an FBI agent access to a storage locker in Virginia, allowing the government to secure evidence that President Donald Trump's former campaign manager is trying to suppress, according to testimony Friday in a federal court hearing
By Mark Hosenball and Nathan Layne
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Reuters) - A personal assistant to Paul Manafort granted an FBI agent access to a storage locker in Virginia, allowing the government to secure evidence that President Donald Trump's former campaign manager is trying to suppress, according to testimony Friday in a federal court hearing.
FBI special agent Jeff Pfeiffer made the disclosure at a hearing to consider whether evidence from the locker and a separate search of Manafort's home, both in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Alexandria, could be used in a trial set for July.
The hearing comes three days after Judge T.S. Ellis denied Manafort's motion to dismiss the case outright in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The judge rejected Manafort's argument that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had been improperly appointed and lacked authority to prosecute him.
None of the charges against Manafort relate to work he performed on the 2016 presidential campaign. Mueller is investigating whether Trump's campaign worked with Moscow to sway the election. Trump denies any collusion and has repeatedly called the probe a politically motivated witch hunt.
In Friday's hearing, Pfeiffer testified that Manafort assistant Alex Trusko told him he had moved records from Manafort's residence into the storage unit. Pfeiffer described Trusko as a person who "ran various errands and also drove Mr. Manafort around."
Pfeiffer, who conducted the locker search, said the FBI was tipped off to its existence by reporters.
The judge adjourned the hearing without ruling but asked lawyers to submit additional motions in the case next week, possibly including a request to move the trial to another venue.
Ellis' ruling on Tuesday marked the second time a federal judge has upheld Mueller's prosecutorial power. Previously, Judge Amy Berman Jackson for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia also refused to dismiss the Manafort case before her.
Those decisions mean Manafort is headed to trial in two cases, one before Ellis scheduled to start in July and the Washington case in September. The charges include conspiring to launder money, bank and tax fraud and failing toregister as a foreign agent for a pro-Russia Ukrainian party.
Manafort was jailed earlier this month after Mueller filed fresh charges against him over alleged witness tampering while he was under house arrest.
(Reporting by Mark Hosenball and Nathan Layne; Editing by David Gregorio and Bill Trott)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.