James Comey’s friend, Columbia University professor Daniel Richman, leaked classified information that Comey gave him. During this leaking period, Richman was apartment-building neighbors with a partner at the law firm that strategized with Fusion GPS operative Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian plant who set up Don Jr. in Trump Tower.
“Yes, he is my neighbor,” Amy Wenzel, a partner at Cozen O’Connor, confirmed in a phone conversation with Big League Politics, confirming that they spoke. They live near each other in a Brooklyn high-rise.
Cozen O’Connor managing partner Howard Schweitzer is listed here on a DOJ form from an investigation into the breaking of lobbying laws by Russians trying to repeal the Magnitsky Act — which was just a front to get Russians in the room with Don Jr. It turns out that Natalia Veselnitskaya was actually operating out of the Cozen O’Connor offices.
Akhmetshin was a controversial figure. In a letter this spring to U.S. government officials, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) described Akhmetshin as a person who “apparently has ties to Russian intelligence.”
Akhmetshin said he never worked as an intelligence agent, but he did say he was drafted as a teenager and served for two years in a unit of the Soviet military that had responsibility for law enforcement issues as well as some counterintelligence matters. He immigrated to the United States in 1993 and gained citizenship in 2009.
“I was not an intelligence officer. Never,” he said.
In the spring of 2016, as the presidential race was heating up, Akhmetshin and lobbyists he hired sought meetings on Capitol Hill to make their case against the sanctions law. Akhmetshin hired former Democratic congressman Ron Dellums, along with a team of lobbyists from the law firm of Cozen O’Connor.
Steve Pruitt, a business colleague speaking on Dellums’s behalf, said his involvement was brief and ended when he determined that Congress was unlikely to change the law.
In June, after visiting Trump Tower in New York, Veselnitskaya came to Washington to lend a hand in the lobbying effort.
She attended a meeting of the team at the downtown offices of Cozen O’Connor, where she spoke at length in Russian about the issues but confused many in the room, who had not been told previously about her involvement, according to several participants.
A spokesman for Cozen said the firm had been hired by the nonprofit. But in a statement, the firm said that the role and involvement of the Russian lawyer was “not at all clear.”
While Veselnitskaya was not allowed to testify in Congress, she did secure a prime, front-row seat for a June 14 hearing in the House on Russia-related issues.
Her high-profile spot in the room gained notice this week with the circulation of a photo in which she looms over the shoulder of former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, an adviser to President Barack Obama and a witness before the panel. Some conservative blogs this week have said the photo suggests she had accompanied McFaul and was a Democratic plant.
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New Gallup Poll Shows Immigration Tops Most Important Problem List
When Americans were asked what they feel is the most important problem facing the nation, immigration topped the list for just the second time in Gallup’s history. The top issue each month since January of 2017 has been the government, but immigration has just replaced its position according to a new Gallup poll.
When asked the same question in June, immigration ranked at 14% when Gallup asked Americans what’s the “most important problem” the nation faces. It jumped from 14% to 22% from June to July 2018.
Each month, Gallup asks the same question and the answer of immigration has always averaged 5% over the 17 years Gallup has included it in their polls. So why the sudden jump from 14% to 22%?
The past several weeks social media and news outlets alike have focused on the issue of separating families at the border with President Trump’s stance on immigration and his modified policy that would keep families detained together (if detainment must occur) continuing to be a hot button issue.
Just last month, TIME ran the cover story, “A Reckoning After Trump’s Border Separation Policy: What Kind of Country Are We,” with the cover photo that was proven to be fake news. The cover showed a 2-year-old little girl crying while President Trump towers above her looking on as she wails. The cover read simply “Welcome to America.” The claim made by Time was that the little girl had been separated from her family at the border, but Yanela, daughter to Sandra Sanchez had never been separated from her mother at all. Sanchez and her daughter were arrested by Border Patrol agents under the zero tolerance policy that criminally charges anyone attempting to cross the border illegally, but at no point were they separated.
Every week immigration has remained in the news cycle, and continues to be an issue that is important to Americans. The Washington Examiner reported on Monday that The National Guard’s deployment to the southwest border in mid-April has led to 10,805 “deportable alien arrests” of people who entered into the United States from Mexico illegally. The National Guard has also intercepted more than 3,300 others who were turned back at the border before crossing into the U.S., and have seized 11,686 pounds of marijuana.
In April of 2006, immigration reached 19% when Congress was working on passing a comprehensive immigration bill. During this time period, immigration protests popped up all across America and saturated the news cycle. The last spike, according to Gallup of immigration as the top problem was in 2014 when the news focused its attention on a large number of immigrants who were attempting to enter the U.S. from Central America.
The issue of immigration is important to Americans, but for starkly different reasons. Republicans are more concerned about potential crime, impacts on the nation’s economy, and jobs being taken away from native-born families. Democrats, in contrast, support a path to citizenship for the undocumented, but more over, they know that they need all the help they can get at the polls, with Trump’s base stronger than ever heading into the Midterms.
The Gallup poll is based on telephone interviews conducted July 1-11 with a random sample of 1,033 adults in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. It has a margin of error of 4 percentage points and a 95 percent confidence level.
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