5/11/2017

Follow the resources


Days Before Firing, Comey Asked for More Resources for Russia Inquiry

This NYT article has been expanded bigly since it first appeared yesterday. With so many (necessary) descriptions of procedure and bureaucratic hierarchy it's going to be challenging to keep track of any meaningful information these "Russia Inquiries" produce (assuming there are any). With that in mind, let's not underestimate the importance of entertainment value. Without that there would be no history at all. So it was, I admit, a slight sense of relief  that I felt upon learning of little-known bureau which operates out of a toilet bowl-shaped building in the suburbs of Washington
...Two separate congressional inquiries into Russian meddling are relying on evidence and intelligence being amassed by the F.B.I., and if the bureau’s investigation falters, the congressional inquiries are likely to be hobbled. Perhaps for this reason, Mr. Comey’s firing appears to have imbued the Senate Intelligence Committee with a renewed sense of urgency.
The committee issued its first subpoena in the Russia investigation on Wednesday, ordering Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, to hand over records of any emails, phone calls, meetings and financial dealings with Russians.
It was an aggressive new tack in what had been a slowly unfolding inquiry. A day earlier, the Senate panel began pressing a little-known government bureau that tracks money laundering and terrorism financing for leads in the Russian investigation...
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...Wednesday, Mr. Burr and Mr. Warner asked the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network for financial information on Mr. Trump and some of his associates that was relevant to the Russia investigation.
Both Mr. Warner and Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon — the ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee with jurisdiction over the Treasury Department and also a member of the Intelligence Committee — have said they will block the confirmation of Sigal Mandelker, Mr. Trump’s nominee to be the top Treasury official for terrorism and financial crimes, until the network delivers the information.
“I have stated repeatedly that we have to follow the money if we are going to get to the bottom of how Russia has attacked our democracy,” Mr. Wyden said on Wednesday. “That means thoroughly review any information that relates to financial connections between Russia and President Trump and his associates, whether direct or laundered through hidden or illicit transactions.”
The little-known bureau, which operates out of a toilet bowl-shaped building in the suburbs of Washington, serves as the financial intelligence network of the United States, gathering and maintaining a vast collection of data on transactions and suspicious financial activity that can yield valuable leads and help expose hard-to-find networks.
The financial crimes network would not confirm its participation in the inquiry, in line with its policy not to comment on investigations or even confirm that they exist, said Steve Hudak, a spokesman.
But financial intelligence experts, including several former employees of the bureau, said its database, which contains more than 200 million records, can be a treasure trove of information about financial ties between individuals and companies for law enforcement agencies pursuing complex investigations.

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