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AP: Federal grand jury probing GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy
By JIM MUSTIAN and DESMOND BUTLER | Mon, July 8, 2019 05:33 EDT
NEW YORK (AP) — A federal grand jury in New York is investigating top Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy, examining whether he used his position as vice chair of President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee to drum up business deals with foreign leaders, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press and people familiar with the matter.
A wide-ranging subpoena the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn recently sent to Trump’s inaugural committee seeks records relating to 20 individuals and businesses. All have connections to Broidy, his investment and defense contracting firms, and foreign officials he pursued deals with — including the current president of Angola and two politicians in Romania.
Prosecutors appear to be investigating whether Broidy exploited his access to Trump for personal gain and violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it illegal for U.S. citizens to offer foreign officials “anything of value” to gain a business advantage. Things of value in this case could have been an invitation to the January 2017 inaugural events or access to Trump.
A statement released to the AP by Broidy’s attorneys said that at no point did Broidy or his global security firm Circinus have a contract or exchange of money with “any Romanian government agency, proxy or agent.” It also said that while Circinus did reach an agreement with Angola in 2016 there was no connection whatsoever to the inauguration or Broidy’s role on the inaugural committee.
“Any implication to the contrary is completely false,” the statement said.
The Brooklyn probe appears to be distinct from an inquiry by Manhattan federal prosecutors into the inaugural committee’s record $107 million fundraising and whether foreigners unlawfully contributed.
It followed a request last year by Democratic U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut that the Justice Department investigate whether Broidy “used access to President Trump as a valuable enticement to foreign officials who may be in a position to advance Mr. Broidy’s business interests abroad.”
Brooklyn federal prosecutors and the president’s inaugural committee declined to comment on the grand jury proceedings, which are secret. But two people familiar with the matter told the AP that the committee has already complied with the subpoena, issued in April, and a third said the FBI has interviewed at least one of Broidy’s business associates named in the subpoena.
The people spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation.
Broidy, a 61-year-old Los Angeles businessman, made a fortune in investments before moving into defense contracting and has played prominent roles in GOP fundraising, including as finance chairman of the Republican National Committee from 2006 to 2008 and vice chair of the Trump Victory Committee in 2016.
But there have been problems along the way. In 2009, investigators looked into the New York state pension fund’s decision to invest $250 million with Broidy and found he had plied state officials with nearly $1 million in illegal gifts. Broidy pleaded guilty to a felony but it was later knocked down to a misdemeanor after he agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and pay back $18 million in management fees.
Another scandal came last year when Broidy stepped down as deputy finance chair of the RNC after reports that he agreed to pay $1.6 million as part of a confidentiality agreement to a former Playboy model with whom he had an affair. That payment was arranged in 2017 by Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen.
In the Brooklyn federal probe, Broidy’s is the first name listed in the grand jury subpoena, followed by his Los Angeles investment firm and four limited liability companies linked to him.
It also sought records related to George Nader, a Broidy associate who served as an adviser to the United Arab Emirates, provided grand jury testimony to special counsel Robert Mueller and was recently jailed on federal child pornography charges.
Several of the names included in the subpoena also appeared in a cache of leaked emails anonymously distributed last year to several news organizations, including the AP. Broidy has contended the emails were hacked from his account, and that several of the documents were altered or forged. His attorneys declined to specify to the AP which emails they believed were doctored.
As provided to the AP, the emails show Broidy invited two Angolan leaders named in the subpoena to Trump’s inaugural, and that the invitation was accompanied by a multimillion-dollar contract for Circinus to provide security services in Angola that Broidy asked be signed ahead of the events.
In a follow-up note to one of the Angolans — then-Defense Minister and current President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço — Broidy discussed a planned visit to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, and in the same correspondence demanded a past-due payment for Circinus’ services.
“Many preparations have been made in advance of your visit,” Broidy wrote in February 2017, “including additional meetings at the Capitol and the Department of Treasury.”
The Angolan Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.
The grand jury subpoena also included several names associated with Broidy’s work on behalf of Romanian politicians at a time when Broidy’s defense company was seeking a lucrative contract to provide security services to the Romanian government — a deal Broidy’s representatives said never came to fruition.
Those names included Sorin Grindeanu, who at the time was prime minister, and Liviu Dragnea, a former parliamentary leader who began serving a 3½-year prison sentence in May for abuse of power. Both officials also attended inaugural events.
Dragnea became a focus of European Union efforts to bolster the rule of law because of his efforts to remove an anti-corruption prosecutor, Laura Kovesi, who investigated him. According to the emails obtained by the AP, Broidy tried to persuade California Republican Rep. Ed Royce, then the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, not to meet with Kovesi during a planned visit to Bucharest in 2017.
“This meeting will not only cause significant issues within the present government (but) potentially diminish the good will which we wish to achieve amongst the Romanian people,” Broidy wrote to Royce.
The emails show a Circinus lawyer, Matt Britton, resigned in October 2017 after expressing alarm to company executives about corruption concerns related to the firm’s Romanian contract negotiations.
“These are FULL STOP issues in my judgment,” the attorney wrote. “NO MATTER HOW LONG THAT TAKES IT ALL MUST BE DONE IN ADVANCE OF ANY CONTRACT WITH ROMANIA.”
Britton, who did not respond to a request for comment, is not among those named in the subpoena.
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Butler reported from Washington.

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Indonesia’s respected disaster agency spokesman dies at 49
By STEPHEN WRIGHT | Sun, July 7, 2019 09:23 EDT
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia’s disaster agency spokesman, who was respected for informing the public accurately and quickly about the country’s frequent natural calamities, has died. He was 49.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho died Sunday morning in Guangzhou, China, where he had been undergoing cancer treatment since June, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency said.
Nugroho revealed in early 2018 that he had been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer and was told he might not survive more than a year. As his personal tragedy unfolded, the year would become one of the worst in recent memory for natural disasters in Indonesia. Thousands died in a series of earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and landslides.
Nugroho continued to work while enduring intense pain, typing news releases from his hospital bed after undergoing chemotherapy, updating social media, holding press conferences and fielding calls from reporters at any hour.
“He was a hardworking figure who served the media and public independently and tirelessly even while very sick,” disaster agency chief Doni Monardo told The Associated Press. “He deserves to be called a humanitarian hero.”
In a country where many officials are notorious for economy with the truth or outright distortion, Nugroho distinguished himself by marshaling facts, combating hoaxes and frequently drawing attention to lack of disaster preparedness and man-made factors that worsen natural calamities.
He was the public face of the thousands of people involved in Indonesia’s arduous disaster relief efforts and affectionately known as “Pak Topo,” a moniker that combined abbreviations of his name and the Indonesian word for mister.
His communications expertise earned him numerous awards in Indonesia and the region.
Tributes poured in Sunday from people of all walks of life in Indonesia and neighboring countries.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said on Twitter, “We have lost a person whose life was dedicated to other people.” He Quote: d one of Nugroho’s recent comments: “Life is not about how long we live but how much we can help others.”
Nugroho was born on Oct. 7, 1969, in the central Java town of Boyolali.
He told Indonesian news site Kumparan in 2017 that he grew up in a poor family and was bullied at school for being shoeless and stupid. He said that he was an average student at university, where he studied geography, but that due to perseverance and diligence he earned a doctorate.
In a tweet in May, Nugroho likened the relentless spread of cancer throughout his body to the dispersal of ash from Bali’s frequently erupting Mount Agung volcano.
He is survived by his wife and two sons.
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Associated Press writer Niniek Karmini contributed to this report.

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Turkey: Russia preparing S-400 systems for delivery
Mon, July 8, 2019 05:35 EDT
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Russia’s S-400 air defense missiles are currently being prepared to be flown to Turkey.
Speaking to reporters before leaving for Bosnia on Monday, Erdogan wouldn’t say, however, when the Russian missile defense system would reach Turkey or where they will be deployed.
The delivery of the systems could bring Turkey closer to U.S. sanctions. U.S. officials have warned that Turkey would face economic sanctions as well as being expelled from a program to produce the F-35 fighter jets.
Turkey has refused to pull back from the deal.
Erdogan said: “The preparations for the journey, the loading (of the S-400) is continuing … The S-400 will arrive by planes. May it be beneficial for our country, our region and especially for the world.”

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The Latest: Victims speak out after Jeffrey Epstein charged
By The Associated Press | Tue, July 9, 2019 01:15 EDT
NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on new sex-trafficking charges against financier Jeffrey Epstein (all times local):
3:20 p.m.
Some of Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers say they’re encouraged he’s been charged with sex trafficking.
Accuser Sarah Ransome says in a statement Monday that Epstein’s arrest “is a step in the right direction” for holding the wealthy registered sex offender accountable.
The 66-year-old Epstein pleaded not guilty Monday in his first court appearance following his weekend arrest. He will remain in jail at least until his July 15 bail hearing.
Epstein’s lawyers contend the charges involve allegations that arose in a Florida case more than a decade ago. Epstein struck a secret deal to avoid significant punishment in that case.
Virginia Guiffre praised federal prosecutors in New York for taking on Epstein and showing the case is “being taken in a serious way.”
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3:10 p.m.
Jeffrey Epstein’s bail hearing won’t be held until next week, keeping him in jail at least until then.
Epstein pleaded not guilty Monday to sex trafficking charges following his arrest over the weekend.
After a discussion among prosecutors and defense lawyers, Epstein’s bail hearing was moved from Thursday to Monday, July 15.
Prosecutors argue Epstein, a registered sex offender, is a significant flight risk. They want him jailed until trial.
The 66-year-old Epstein is accused of creating and maintaining a network that allowed him to sexually exploit and abuse dozens of underage girls from 2002 to 2005.
Epstein’s lawyers argued the matter had been settled in a Florida case involving similar charges a decade ago.
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2:25 p.m.
Jeffrey Epstein has been ordered jailed at least until a bail hearing Thursday after he pleaded not guilty to federal sex trafficking charges.
He made his first court appearance Monday following his arrest over the weekend.
Prosecutors say Epstein, a registered sex offender, is a significant flight risk and are asking that he be detained until his trial.
They say he has three active U.S. passports and has frequently traveled in and out of the country on his private jet.
The 66-year-old Epstein is accused of creating and maintaining a network that allowed him to sexually exploit and abuse dozens of underage girls from 2002 to 2005.
Prosecutors said several alleged victims have come forward since Epstein’s arrest.
Epstein’s lawyers argued the matter had been settled in a Florida case involving similar charges a decade ago.
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1:40 p.m.
Financier Jeffrey Epstein was brought into federal court in Manhattan on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.
Epstein arrived at court Monday afternoon in a blue jail uniform.
The 66-year-old Epstein is accused of creating and maintaining a network that allowed him to sexually exploit and abuse dozens of underage girls from 2002 to 2005.
Prosecutors say they found a trove of “nude photographs of what appeared to be underage girls” while executing a search warrant at his Manhattan mansion following his arrest Saturday.
He was being held at the federal lockup in Manhattan.
Epstein’s lawyer didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.
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1:05 p.m.
Prosecutors say Jeffrey Epstein kept perhaps thousands of sexually suggestive photographs at his Manhattan mansion.
Officials say in court papers Monday that the pictures included some on CDs with handwritten labels including “Misc nudes 1,” ”Girl pics nude” and the names of specific young women.
Prosecutors say federal agents found some of the photos “of young-looking women or girls” in a locked safe while searching the seven-story town house after the wealthy financier’s arrest Saturday on sex trafficking charges.
The 66-year-old Epstein is accused of creating and maintaining a network that allowed him to sexually exploit and abuse dozens of girls from 2002 to 2005.
Prosecutors say the lawyer for one of the girls pictured told them the girl was underage when the photos were taken.
It’s not clear whether all the photos depict girls involved in the alleged sex trafficking operation.
Epstein’s lawyer didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.
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11:40 a.m.
Prosecutors say federal agents investigating wealthy sex offender Jeffrey Epstein found “nude photographs of what appeared to be underage girls” while searching his Manhattan mansion.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said at a press conference Monday agents discovered the photos while executing a search warrant following Epstein’s arrest Saturday on sex trafficking charges.
The 66-year-old Epstein is accused of creating and maintaining a network that allowed him to sexually exploit and abuse dozens of underage girls from 2002 to 2005.
Messages were sent to his defense attorney seeking comment.
Epstein was arrested at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey after his private jet landed from Paris.
He is expected to appear in Manhattan federal court later Monday.
Berman said prosecutors will ask that he remain jailed pending trial, arguing he is a flight risk.
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9:50 a.m.
Federal prosecutors announced sex trafficking and conspiracy charges against wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Court documents unsealed Monday show Epstein is charged with creating and maintaining a network that allowed him to sexually exploit and abuse dozens of underage girls.
The alleged victims were as young as 14 at the time.
Epstein was taken into custody on Saturday.
Authorities say he paid underage girls for massages and then molested them at his homes in Florida and New York in the early 2000s.
Epstein is expected to appear in Manhattan federal court later Monday.
Messages were sent to his defense attorney seeking comment.
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1:30 a.m.
Eleven years after letting Jeffrey Epstein off lightly with a once-secret plea deal, the U.S. government is taking another run at putting the wealthy sex offender behind bars.
Law enforcement officials say Epstein was arrested over the weekend on new sex-trafficking charges and is expected to make his first court appearance in New York City on Monday.
Prosecutors are likely to argue that he is a flight risk and should remain in jail instead of being released on bail pending trial.
One law enforcement official told The Associated Press the case deals with allegations that Epstein paid underage girls for massages and molested them at his homes in Florida and New York in the early 2000s.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the pending case.
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Sisak reported from Orlando, Florida. Associated Press writers Colleen Long, Curt Anderson and Tom Hays contributed to this report.

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Son of prominent South Korean defector moves to North Korea
By HYUNG-JIN KIM | Mon, July 8, 2019 06:57 EDT
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The son of the highest-profile South Korean to defect to North Korea has arrived in the North to permanently resettle, North Korean state media said. If confirmed, it would be an unusual case of a South Korean defecting to the impoverished, authoritarian North.
The state-run Uriminzokkiri website reported that Choe In-guk, about 72, arrived in Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, on Saturday to dedicate the rest of his life to Korean unification at the guidance of leader Kim Jong Un. The website published photos and a video showing a bespectacled Choe in a beret reading his arrival statement at Pyongyang’s airport.
Choe said he decided to live in North Korea for good because it was his parents’ “dying wishes” for him to “follow” North Korea and work for its unification with South Korea, according to a written statement published on the website.
Choe is the son of former South Korean Foreign Minister Choe Dok-shin, who defected to North Korea with his wife in 1986, years after he was reportedly embroiled in a corruption scandal and political disputes with then-South Korean President Park Chung-hee. He died in 1989.
Some analysts say North Korea accepted Choe In-guk so it could use him as a propaganda tool to tell its citizens its system is superior to South Korea’s. North Korea is struggling to revive its moribund economy and improve people’s livelihoods, since the United States has not agreed on major sanctions relief until it takes significant steps toward nuclear disarmament.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry said Choe In-guk was in North Korea without special permission from the Seoul government to visit the North. Ministry spokesman Lee Sang-min told reporters Monday that authorities were trying to determine details about Choe’s travel to North Korea.
The two Koreas, split along the world’s most heavily fortified border for about 70 years, bar their citizens from visiting each other’s territory and exchanging phone calls, letters or emails without special permission. Under a South Korean security law, people who secretly visit North Korea can face up to 10 years in prison.
Since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, more than 30,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea to avoid political repression and economic poverty. South Koreans have occasionally defected to North Korea in the past, but it has become a rarity in recent years, especially since the North suffered a crippling famine in the mid-1990s that is estimated to have killed hundreds of thousands of people.
A small number of South Koreans suffering economic hardship at home have gone to North Korea to live in past years, but North Korea is known to have repatriated such people. The Unification Ministry said North Korea returned two South Koreans who entered North Korea last year, but it didn’t elaborate.
Before his 1986 defection to North Korea, the senior Choe had lived in the United States for about a decade and was a vocal critic of Park, who ruled South Korea with an iron fist from 1961 to 1979. He was previously Park’s foreign minister and ambassador in West Germany.
In North Korea, he was made vice chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, which deals with relations with South Korea, and chairman of the Central Committee of the Chondoist Chongu Party, a political group affiliated with a Korean native religion called “Chondo.” He once headed the Chodo church in South Korea.
His wife, Ryu Mi Yong, also took a series of high-profile jobs, including membership in the presidium of the North’s rubber-stamp parliament and chairwoman of the Central Committee of the Chondoist Chongu Party. When she died at the age of 95 in 2016, a public funeral was organized and her body was buried along with her husband’s at Pyongyang’s Patriotic Martyrs’ Cemetery.
According to South Korea’s Unification Ministry, Choe In-guk was allowed to make 12 authorized trips to North Korea since 2001 for events such as visiting his parents’ cemetery and attending a death anniversary for his mother.
It wasn’t immediately known how he went to North Korea, but South Korean media speculated he flew from Beijing with a North Korean government-issued visa.
Choe was a member of the Chondo church in South Korea and worked for a church-affiliated organization focusing on inter-Korean engagement, according to church official Na Han Yub, who said met Choe once or twice a year.
Na said Choe rarely talked about his personal life and didn’t participate much in church activities. Na said he didn’t know what motivated Choe to go to North Korea but could confirm that he is the person shown in North Korean state media photos.

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