* Peter Stone and Greg Gordon have the story-of-the-day.
The FBI and five other law enforcement and intelligence agencies have collaborated for months in an investigation into Russian attempts to influence the November election, including whether money from the Kremlin covertly aided President-elect Donald Trump, two people familiar with the matter said.
The agencies involved in the inquiry are the FBI, the CIA, the National Security Agency, the Justice Department, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and representatives of the director of national intelligence, the sources said.
Unlike the Steele dossier, this one is adhering to the old saying, “follow the money.”
Investigators are examining how money may have moved from the Kremlin to covertly help Trump win, the two sources said. One of the allegations involves whether a system for routinely paying thousands of Russian-American pensioners may have been used to pay some email hackers in the United States or to supply money to intermediaries who would then pay the hackers, the two sources said…
The BBC reported last week that the joint inquiry was launched when the CIA learned last spring, through a Baltic ally, of a recording indicating the Russian government was planning to funnel funds aimed at influencing the U.S. election…
The BBC reported that the FBI had obtained a warrant on Oct. 15 from the highly secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court allowing investigators access to bank records and other documents about potential payments and money transfers related to Russia. One of McClatchy’s sources confirmed the report.
* Ben Popken reports on what it’s like to run a business in the Trump era.
Companies eager to avoid becoming the target of the next attack by President-elect Donald Trump are preemptively — or retroactively — announcing U.S. job creation plans…
After campaigning on pledges to make U.S. companies bring jobs back, Trump has announced he’s been successful at doing so before he’s even president. So on Tuesday as business returned following the Martin Luther King federal holiday, a bevy of companies announced they would be adding jobs after the inauguration on Friday…
But peel back a layer and the promises come with some caveats. A company’s plan to increase capital expenditures, which include jobs and facility improvements, are typically years in the making. Some of these “announcements” are old news in a new hat.
* Last week Julian Assange made a commitment with this tweet:
If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ case https://t.co/MZU30SlfGK
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 12, 2017
Apparently he forgot to insert the word “immediate” between Manning and clemency and now has to move the goalposts.
“Mr. Assange welcomes the announcement that Ms. Manning’s sentence will be reduced and she will be released in May, but this is well short of what he sought,” said Barry Pollack, Assange’s U.S.-based attorney, via email.
“Mr. Assange had called for Chelsea Manning to receive clemency and be released immediately.”
* Outgoing Sec. of State John Kerry let a little one slip at the end of this short clip.
* Speaking of John Kerry, you’ll not want to miss this great story:
It could have been 1969 again as Secretary of State John F. Kerry stood on the bow of the small boat chugging up the Bay Hap River on Saturday, the wind billowing his sleeves and his eyes darting left and right toward banks shrouded in dark foliage.
As a young Navy lieutenant, Kerry commanded a Swift boat along this stretch of churning brown waters in the middle of a free-fire zone. Here, he earned a Silver Star for his heroics when he leapt ashore after an ambush to pursue a fleeing Viet Cong with a grenade launcher and shot him dead.
Now, some 48 years later and with the rapid approach of sunset on a political career spanning almost four decades, Kerry was about to be yanked back to that time, and come face-to-face with a Viet Cong soldier who had taken part in the ambush.
* Finally, of all the clemency petitions granted yesterday by President Obama, this one might be the most significant, and yet under-reported.
Obama commuted the death sentence of Abelardo Arboleda Ortiz to life in prison without the possibility of parole…Ortiz and two others had been convicted of killing a drug dealer in 1998. The other men did not receive death sentences.
Arboleda Ortiz is intellectually disabled, but his trial lawyer didn’t investigate that disability and didn’t tell jurors about his client’s disadvantaged life, according to a statement by the inmate’s new lawyer, Amy Gershenfeld Donnella. His sentence was harsher than that of his co-defendants, though he wasn’t even on the same floor where the murder occurred, she said.
“Mr. Arboleda Ortiz’s case epitomizes the broken federal death penalty system,” Donnella said. “He is an intellectually disabled person of color with an IQ of 54 who was never able to learn to read, write, or do simple arithmetic, and could not even tie his shoes until he was 10 years old, as noted by the government’s own expert.