It’s not just Comey: the scary past 24 hours in Trump-Russia, explained – Updated by Alex Ward May 10, 2017, 12:02pm EDT


(Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP/Getty Images and Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images)

The Comey firing is rightly dominating the news. Amazingly, though, it wasn’t the only major development in the ongoing and intensifying Trump-Russia scandal.

The official reason for FBI Director Jim Comey’s dismissal is that he mishandled the Hillary Clinton email investigation, something many Democrats surely agree with. But the more convincing explanation is that Comey had infuriated the president by having the FBI launch a formal criminal probe into the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia.

But the Comey story buried other huge Russia-related developments that came to light yesterday and this morning that you should really be following. What follows is a quick guide to what you need to know to stay on top of what happened — and why it all matters.

Tuesday night: federal prosecutors subpoena associates of Michael Flynn

Last night, CNN dropped a bombshell: Federal prosecutors issued grand jury subpoenas to colleagues close to Michael Flynn, Trump’s disgraced former national security adviser, asking for business records.

This is a really big deal. The investigation into Flynn’s ties with Russia has been ongoing since July, but this is indicates the probe is picking up steam and that prosecutors may be growing more confident that there’s enough out there to build a criminal case against the disgraced retired general. The focus appears to be on Flynn’s business relationships with people in Russia and Turkey.

That makes sense. Flynn already has a shady record with his own disclosures, financial and otherwise, and they involve exactly those two countries. He didn’t reveal a $45,000 payment for giving a speech in Moscow from Russia Today, a government-run news channel seen by many in the United States as a propaganda arm of the Putin regime. Flynn sat comfortably next to Vladimir Putin at the gala where he delivered his remarks.

After he was fired by Trump, Flynn revealed he was paid $500,000 to work as a foreign agent representing Turkish interests. He had not disclosed that information to the Justice Department.

Flynn also famously lied to Vice President Mike Pence about discussing US sanctions against Russia with Moscow’s Ambassador Sergey Kislyak before the administration began. News of that coming out was what led Trump to finally fire Flynn, who now holds the record for shortest tenure as national security adviser at 24 days.

Article continues:

How the Feds Pulled Off the Biggest Insider-Trading Investigation in U.S. History – By Patricia Hurtado & Michael Keller June 1, 2016


For more than seven years, the U.S. government has relentlessly prosecuted Wall Street traders who used inside information to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars in profits.

Federal prosecutors in New York have racked up 91 convictions and collected almost $2 billion in fines. In the latest action on May 19, the government looked beyond Wall Street, accusing a legendary Las Vegas gambler of profiting from insider tips.

Here’s a by-the-numbers look at what happens when the Feds get serious about insider trading.Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at Jun 1, 2016 3.47

Article continues:

Two Dudes Prove How Easy It Is to Hack ATMs for Free Cash BY KEVIN POULSEN 11.14.14 | 6:30 AM


When a small-time Tennessee restaurateur named Khaled Abdel Fattah was running short of cash he went to an ATM. Actually, according to federal prosecutors, he went to a lot of them. Over 18 months, he visited a slew of small kiosk ATMs around Nashville and withdrew a total of more than $400,000 in 20-dollar bills. The only problem: It wasn’t his money.

 Getty Images

When a small-time Tennessee restaurateur named Khaled Abdel Fattah was running short of cash he went to an ATM. Actually, according to federal prosecutors, he went to a lot of them. Over 18 months, he visited a slew of small kiosk ATMs around Nashville and withdrew a total of more than $400,000 in 20-dollar bills. The only problem: It wasn’t his money.

Now Fattah and an associate named Chris Folad are facing 30 counts of computer fraud and conspiracy, after a Secret Service investigation uncovered evidence that the men had essentially robbed the cash machines using nothing more than the keypad. Using a special button sequence and some insider knowledge, they allegedly reconfigured the ATMs to believe they were dispensing one dollar bills, instead of the twenties actually loaded into the cash trays, according to a federal indictment issued in the case late last month. A withdrawal of $20 thus caused the machine to spit out $400 in cash, for a profit of a $380.

The first $20 came out of one of their own bank accounts. That’s right: They were using their own ATM cards.

“They were little kiosk ATMs, like you would find in a business or a convenience store,” says Greg Mays, assistant special agent in charge of the US Secret Service’s Nashville office. “I believe the businesses noticed there was a problem when the machine was running out of money.”

As charged, the caper is an unusually successful example of a low-tech ATM hack that’s been used for minor pilfering in the past, and a reminder of the security weaknesses that have troubled kiosk ATMs. Vulnerabilities in the most popular machines made by Tranax Technologies and Trident were showcased in a now-legendary “ATM jackpotting” demonstration delivered by security researcher Barnaby Jack at the Black Hat conference in 2010. Jack (who died last year) showed that the Tranax machines could be hacked into and reprogrammed remotely over dial-up, and the Trident ATMs could be physically opened and then reprogrammed through a USB port. The companies responded to Jacks’ research by closing those holes.

Article continues:

http://www.wired.com/2014/11/nashville/

Two Giant Banks, Seen as Immune, Become Targets – By BEN PROTESS and JESSICA SILVER-GREENBERG APRIL 29, 2014, 8:40 PM


The headquarters of the French bank BNP Paribas in Paris, left, and the Swiss bank Credit Suisse in Zurich.

Jacques Brinon/Associated Press and Arnd Wiegmann/ReutersThe headquarters of the French bank BNP Paribas in Paris, left, and the Swiss bank Credit Suisse in Zurich.

Federal prosecutors are nearing criminal charges against some of the world’s biggest banks, according to lawyers briefed on the matter, a development that could produce the first guilty plea from a major bank in more than two decades.

In doing so, prosecutors are confronting the popular belief that Wall Street institutions have grown so important to the economy that they cannot be charged. A lack of criminal prosecutions of banks and their leaders fueled a public outcry over the perception that Wall Street giants are “too big to jail.”

Addressing those concerns, prosecutors in Washington and New York have met with regulators about how to criminally punish banks without putting them out of business and damaging the economy, interviews with lawyers and records reviewed by The New York Times show.

The new strategy underpins the decision to seek guilty pleas in two of the most advanced investigations: one into Credit Suisse for offering tax shelters to Americans, and the other against France’s largest bank, BNP Paribas, over doing business with countries like Sudan that the United States has blacklisted. The approach applies to American banks, though those investigations are at an earlier stage.

In the talks with BNP, which has a huge investment bank in New York, prosecutors in Manhattan and Washington have outlined plans to extract a criminal guilty plea from the bank’s parent company, according to the lawyers, who were not authorized to speak publicly. If BNP is unable to negotiate a lesser punishment — the bank has enlisted the support of high-ranking French officials to pressure prosecutors — the case could counter congressional criticism that arose after the British bank HSBC escaped similar charges two years ago.

Such criminal cases hinge on the cooperation of regulators, some who warned that charging HSBC could have prompted the revocation of the bank’s charter, the corporate equivalent of the death penalty. Federal guidelines require prosecutors to weigh the broader economic consequences of charging corporations.

Benjamin M. Lawsky, left, New York’s superintendent of financial services, is one of the regulators who is said to have reached an understanding with prosecutors, like Preet Bharara.
Mike Segar/Reuters and Andrew Burton/Getty ImagesBenjamin M. Lawsky, left, New York’s superintendent of financial services, is one of the regulators who is said to have reached an understanding with prosecutors, like Preet Bharara.

With the investigation into BNP, the lawyers briefed on the matter said, prosecutors met in April with the bank’s American regulators: the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Benjamin M. Lawsky, New York’s top financial regulator. The prosecutors who attended the meeting and are leading the investigation — Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan; David O’Neil, the head of the Justice Department’s criminal division in Washington; and Cyrus Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney — left largely reassured.

In a recent speech to Wall Street lawyers, Mr. Bharara said this dynamic created a “gaping liability loophole that blameworthy companies are only too willing to exploit.”

Article continues:

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/04/29/u-s-close-to-bringing-criminal-charges-against-big-banks/?_php=true&_type=blogs&hp&_r=0