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FBI investigating Clinton Foundation

The Justice Department has renewed its investigation into allegations of corruption levied against the Clinton Foundation, the charity of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

FBI agents in Little Rock, Arkansas, where the foundation was launched, are leading the investigation, The Hill reported Thursday. At least one witness has been interviewed in recent weeks, according to the news site.

The probe is focused on whether Hillary Clinton or her husband exchanged policy favors for donations to the foundation, The Hill reported. Unidentified officials told the news site that agents might also examine “whether any tax-exempt assets were converted for personal or political use and whether the foundation complied with applicable tax laws.”

A federal investigation into the allegations was closed in 2016 due to a lack of evidence, The New York Times reported.

It was not immediately clear what prompted the renewed investigation, although a representative of the foundation implied in a statement to CNN that it was likely politically motivated.

"Time after time, the Clinton Foundation has been subjected to politically motivated allegations, and time after time, these allegations have been proven false," Craig Minassian said in the statement. "The Clinton Foundation has demonstrably improved the lives of millions of people across America and around the world while earning top ratings from charity watchdog groups in the process. There are real issues in our society needing attention that the Clinton Foundation works hard to solve every day. So we're going to stay focused on what really matters."

In a statement to The Hill, the former secretary of state’s chief spokesman Nick Merrill echoed Minassian.

“Let’s call this what it is: a sham,” Merrill told The Hill. “This is a philanthropy that does life-changing work, which Republicans have tried to turn into a political football. It began with a now long-debunked project spearheaded by Steve Bannon during the presidential campaign. It continues with Jeff Sessions doing Trump’s bidding by heeding his calls to meddle with a department that is supposed to function independently."

President Donald Trump has multiple times called for further investigations into Hillary Clinton, who he ran against in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump rips ‘Fire and Fury,’ calls it 'full of lies' in angry tweet

President Donald Trump lashed out against the author of a new book about his 2016 campaign and the first months of his administration, tweeting that it was “full of lies,” CNN reported Friday.

>> Read more trending news

Michael Wolff’s book, “Fire and Fury,” was released Friday morning and already was listed as a No. 1 best seller on the Amazon website. Wolff wrote about Trump’s campaign and the early days of his presidency, and the president took to Twitter late Thursday to denounce it. 

“I authorized Zero access to White House (actually turned him down many times) for author of phony book! I never spoke to him for book. Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don't exist,” Trump tweeted, also referring to his former adviser, Steve Bannon, as “Sloppy Steve.”

Some of the claims in Wolff’s book include Trump’s belief that he was not going to defeat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, and that his wife, Melania Trump, was upset when did win. Other excerpts depicted Trump being angry over celebrity snubs at his inauguration, and that he eats fast food because he is afraid he might be poisoned.

“Fire and Fury” was supposed to be released next week, but when adapted excerpts began to appear online, publisher Henry Holt and Co. decided to move up the release date to Friday, CNN reported.

>> Trump’s lawyer threatens legal action

Negative quotes in the book about Trump and son Donald Trump Jr. that were attributed to Bannon led to the president claiming that his former top aide had “lost his mind,” CNN reported.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called the book “complete fantasy,” and Trump attorney Charles J. Harder sent a warning letter to Wolff and Steve Rubin, the president of Holt, warning them to stop publication of the book or face legal action, Politico reported.

10 stunning claims about Trump White House from 'Fire and Fury'

President Donald Trump didn’t want to win 2016’s election, got angry over celebrity snubs at his inauguration and eats fast food partially because of his fear of being poisoned, according to a book about his administration set to be released next week.

>> Read more trending news

The claims are among a slew of allegations made in journalist Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.” Cobbled together from 18 months’ worth of conversations with Trump and senior staff members and more than 200 interviews, the book was set to hit shelves Jan. 9. However, publisher Henry Hold & Company moved the release date up to Friday “due to unprecedented demand,” according to CNN.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Thursday denied allegations made in the book, calling it a “complete fantasy and just full of tabloid gossip.”

Here are some of the most stunning claims taken from excerpts of the book that have been released:

Trump didn’t want, or expect, to win the presidential election

Wolff wrote that Trump never set out to win 2016’s presidential election, according to an excerpt published by New York magazine. Instead, he aimed to bolster his brand.

“Once he lost, Trump would be both insanely famous and a martyr to Crooked Hillary,” Wolff wrote. “His daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared (Kushner) would be international celebrities. Steve Bannon would become the de facto head of the tea-party movement. Kellyanne Conway would be a cable-news star. Melania Trump, who had been assured by her husband that he wouldn’t become president, could return to inconspicuously lunching. Losing would work out for everybody. Losing was winning.”

Flynn knew he would have problems with Russia ties

Trump’s win was so unexpected that he and members of his team never bothered to deal with potential conflicts of interest, according to Wolff. Among those who knew they could face problems if Trump won the election was former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

>> Related: Michael Flynn pleads guilty to lying to FBI in Russia probe

“Flynn… had been told by his friends that it had not been a good idea to take $45,000 from the Russians for a speech,” Wolff wrote. “’Well, it would only be a problem if we won,’ ­Flynn assured them.”

Flynn was forced to resign less than a month into his tenure after reports surfaced that he discussed sanctions with Russia’s ambassador the U.S. He pleaded guilty last month to lying to the FBI in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible ties to the president or his campaign team.

Trump likes to eat fast food because he’s afraid of being poisoned

According to Wolff, one of the reasons the president likes to eat at McDonald’s is because of his longtime fear of being poisoned.

“Nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely premade,” Wolff wrote, according to an excerpt obtained by CNBC.

Trump was angry at his inauguration

In an excerpt published by New York magazine, Wolff wrote:

“Trump did not enjoy his own inauguration. He was angry that A-level stars had snubbed the event, disgruntled with the accommodations at Blair House, and visibly fighting with his wife, who seemed on the verge of tears. Throughout the day, he wore what some around him had taken to calling his golf face: angry and pissed off, shoulders hunched, arms swinging, brow furled, lips pursed.”

Rupert Murdoch called Trump an ‘idiot’

The president is a fan of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, but Wolff wrote that the feeling is not mutual.

Donald Trump called Murdoch after a December 2016 meeting with executives representing tech giants including Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, an excerpt published by New York magazine. Among other topics, the group discussed H-1B visas, the visa used by employers to bring foreign talent into the country.

Trump told Murdoch that, “These guys really need my help. Obama was not very favorable to them, too much regulation.”

>> Related: Tillerson slams reports he considered resigning, called Trump a 'moron'

Murdoch told Trump that he was mistaken and that the companies “had (former President Barack) Obama in their pocket” during his tenure. Still, Trump insisted that the companies “really need these H-1B visas.”

According to Wolff, “Murdoch suggested that taking a liberal approach to H-1B visas, which open America's doors to select immigrants, might be hard to square with his promises to build a wall and close the borders. But Trump seemed unconcerned, assuring Murdoch, 'We'll figure it out,'

“'What a (expletive) idiot,' said Murdoch, shrugging, as he got off the phone."

Trump couldn’t get through a lesson on the Constitution

Trump’s associates were well aware of the president’s “wide-ranging ignorance,” Wolff wrote, and that extended into the president’s knowledge of the U.S. Constitution.

“Early in the campaign, Sam Nunberg was sent to explain the Constitution to the candidate. ‘I got as far as the Fourth Amendment,’ Nunberg recalled, ‘before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head.’”

Trump didn’t know who John Boehner was

Former Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, who died last year, told Trump that he needed to fill his chief of staff position with someone well-acquainted with Washington. To that end he suggested Trump choose former Speaker of the House John Boehner, who stepped down from his position in 2015.

The president had only one question, according to Wolff: “Who’s that?”

Contrary to Wolff’s reporting, Trump has tweeted several times about Boehner in the past and has been golfing with him, according to Politico.

Trump called Sally Yates the c-word

Trump vehemently disliked former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, according to Wolff. In an excerpt obtained by MSNBC, Wolff said that “Trump conceived an early, obsessive antipathy for Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.

“She was, he steamed, ‘such a (expletive).’”

The president fired Yates last year when she declined to defend a travel ban that targeted people coming to the U.S. from a handful of Muslim-majority countries in the weeks after his inauguration.

Ivanka Trump set her sights on becoming America’s first female president

Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, took jobs with the Trump administration against the advice of “almost everyone they knew” with their sights set on a possible future run for the White House, according to an excerpt obtained by BBC News.

The couple agreed that if an opportunity presented itself in the future, Ivanka Trump would run for president.

According to Wolff, “Between themselves, the two had made an earnest deal: If sometime in the future the opportunity arose, she'd be the one to run for president. The first woman president, Ivanka entertained, would not be Hillary Clinton; it would be Ivanka Trump.”

Bannon thought 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Trump Jr., Russian lawyer was ‘treasonous’

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon told Wolff he thought a meeting set up by the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and others in June 2016 was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic,” according to The Guardian.

The younger Trump agreed to take the meeting after being promised in a series of emails between himself and music publicist Rob Goldstone for "information that would incriminate Hillary (Clinton) and her dealings with Russia."

>> Related: Donald Trump Jr. releases email exchange with Russian intermediary

Wolff wrote that shortly after the meeting, which was also attended by Kushner and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, Bannon criticized the younger Trump for his failure to bring the information to the FBI.

“The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor – with no lawyers. They didn’t have any lawyers,” Wolff quoted Bannon as saying in an excerpt obtained by The Guardian. “Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad (expletive), and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”

Paul Manafort sues special counsel Robert Mueller, DOJ

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, filed suit Wednesday against special counsel Robert Mueller, Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the Department of Justice after he was indicted in October as part of the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

>> Read more trending news

Attorneys for Manafort argued that Rosenstein overstepped his authority in May 2017 when he appointed Mueller as special counsel to investigate "links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump" and "any matters that arose or may arise directly from" that investigation.

The scope of the investigation is overly broad, Manafort’s attorneys argued, asking a judge to set aside both the October indictment and Rosenstein’s appointment of Mueller.

Alabama's Doug Jones, Minnesota's Tina Smith sworn in as Democratic senators

Congress convened Wednesday to welcome a pair of new Democratic senators – Alabama’s Doug Jones and Minnesota’s Tina Smith. They were sworn in just after noon.

>> Read more trending news

Jones, a former federal prosecutor, became the first Democratic senator to represent Alabama in 25 years. He beat former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore by more than 20,000 votes in a result certified by officials last week.

>> Related: Roy Moore loses Senate bid as election board certifies Doug Jones as winner

Jones’s victory came after multiple women accused Moore, who was considered a favorite to replace Sessions, of sexual misconduct. Several women told reporters that they were teenagers when Moore made inappropriate sexual advances toward them.

>> Related: Alabama woman says Roy Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16

Moore has denied the allegations.

Jones was sworn in to replace Luther Strange, who took office in February 2017 after President Donald Trump chose then-Sen. Jeff Sessions to serve as attorney general.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton named Smith as Al Franken’s replacement last month after the congressman announced his intent to resign amid allegations of sexual misconduct from multiple women. Smith served as Minnesota’s lieutenant governor before Wednesday, a position she had held since 2015.

>> Related: Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to fill Al Franken's Senate seat

Franken said last month that Smith would “be an effective senator who knows how to work across party lines to get things done for Minnesota.”

Franken announced last month that he would resign after multiple women accused him of inappropriate sexual behavior. Several women told reporters Franken groped them as they posed for photos with him, and at least two women alleged he forcibly kissed them.

Many of the alleged incidents happened before Franken became a senator in 2009, although at least two were alleged to have happened after he was sworn in.

>> Related: Sen. Al Franken accused of kissing, groping news anchor without consent

He was one of at least four federal lawmakers who announced plans to leave office amid sexual misconduct allegations as the “#MeToo” movement encouraged women to speak out about their experiences of sexual harassment and assault.

Rep. John Conyers, the longest-serving member of Congress, submitted his resignation last week after he was accused of sexually harassing several women who worked for him. Conyers, D-Michigan, denied the allegations and said he decided to retire because of health concerns. The 88-year-old congressman was hospitalized in Michigan earlier this month.

>> Related: Congressional investigation launched after sexual harassment allegations against Rep. John Conyers

Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, announced last month that he would not seek re-election after the House Ethics Committee launched an investigation into allegations that he made explicit remarks to a former aide and retaliated against her for complaining, according to the Austin American-Statesman. A week earlier, reports surfaced that he settled he settled a lawsuit the aide brought against him with $84,000 of taxpayer money. Farenthold has since said he will pay back the Treasury with his own money.

>> Related: Blake Farenthold won't seek re-election amid harassment claims

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Arizona, said last month that he plans to resign from his seat by the end of January after the House Ethics Committee announced it was investigating allegations of sexual harassment levied against him by his former employees.

Here's what Kathy Griffin did on first New Year's Eve after CNN fired her

Comic Kathy Griffin‘s social media post depicting a bloody image of herself posed with a prop head of President Donald Trump prompted tour cancellations and got her fired from her gig co-hosting CNN’s New Year’s Eve broadcast.

>> PHOTOS: New Year's celebrations around the world

That was seven months ago.

By New Year’s Eve, Griffin had found new footing – and made some new plans with her mom and her puppy:

>> Watch the video here

Griffin posted a somber video shortly after the firestorm sparked by the image, saying, “I sincerely apologize. I’m a comic. I crossed the line ... I went way too far. The image is too disturbing. I understand how it offends people. It wasn’t funny. I get it.”

>> Mariah Carey finds her New Year's tea, takes Twitter by storm

She soon struck a more defiant chord, suggesting during a news conference that anger over the image was a political cover.

“We all know what’s going on here. They’re using me as a shiny object so that nobody’s talking about his FBI investigation…I’ve had everybody turn on me. I just want to make everybody laugh.”

She went on to call Trump a “fool.”

>> Read more trending news 

“My impression is that they have mobilized their Army,” she said at the time. “It’s quite clear to me that they are using me as a distraction. I’m not going to be collateral damage for this fool. I think he’s a fool. I think the president is a fool.”

She became emotional, asked what the future holds: “I don’t think I will have a career over this. I’m going to be honest. He broke me.”

Turns out, he didn't.

Tiffany Trump rings in new year at Playboy party

After a week at Mar-a-Lago with her presidential family, Tiffany Trump headed to California to spend New Year’s Eve with a very different kind of group.

>> Trump golfs, meets with Florida's governor before hosting gala event

The first daughter was a guest at a Los Angeles bash hosted by heir to the Playboy throne Cooper Hefner. The 24-year-old was photographed speaking to Hefner and posing beside his fiancee, Scarlett Byrne, as well as other friends, multiple media outlets reported, including the Washington PostPage SixPeople and the Daily Mail.

>> PHOTOS: Tiffany Trump through the years

The event marked the first New Year’s Eve bash since magazine founder Hugh Hefner’s death on Sept. 27. He was 91 years old.

The late Hefner reportedly had wanted Marla Maples — Tiffany’s mother and Donald Trump’s second wife — to pose in his controversial magazine just three years before Tiffany’s birth. However, the actress turned down the offer.

>> Read more trending news 

“I’m thankful for my body, but I didn’t want to exploit it,” she reportedly said. “How would I ever be taken seriously?”

Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch to retire

After four decades in the U.S. Senate, the longest-serving Republican senator in history, Utah’s Orrin Hatch, announced Tuesday he would not seek re-election at the end of his term in November.

>> Read more trending news

Hatch announced his decision in a video posted to Twitter.

Trump golfs, meets with Florida's governor before hosting gala event

President Donald Trump predicted a “fantastic 2018” as he arrived at Mar-a-Lago on Sunday night for a pricey New Year’s Eve party with hundreds of his supporters.

>> Read more trending news

“We’re off to a very good start with the great tax cuts … getting rid of the individual mandate, which was very, very unpopular, as you know,” Trump said while pausing on the red carpet with first lady Melania Trump and son Barron just before 9:30 p.m.

“We’re going to have a tremendous year. The stock market, I think, is going to continue to go up. Companies are going to continue to come into the country. And they’re doing it now, soon to be a record clip.”

Asked about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s claim that his country’s nuclear capabilities are complete and he has a nuclear “button” on his desk, Trump said: “We’ll see. We’ll see.”

>> Kim Jong Un: Nuclear button is always on his desk

Earlier, Trump marked the final day of 2017 with a visit to his golf course and a meeting with Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a frequent presidential dining partner whom Trump has encouraged to run for the Senate in 2018 against Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson.

A White House readout of the lunch didn’t mention politics but said Trump and Scott discussed “ongoing hurricane recovery efforts, the need to improve the nation’s aging infrastructure, and many other matters important to the people of Florida.”

Scott spokeswoman Lauren Schenone said the Senate race did not come up during the lunch.

Scott spokesman John Tupps said the governor and president “spoke about issues that are important to Florida including the President’s commitment to speeding the repairs to the federally operated Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee and the need for federal aid for the recovery of Florida’s citrus industry following Hurricane Irma. The governor looks forward to continuing to work with the federal government in 2018 so the issues important to Floridians are made a priority.”

Trump’s New Year’s Eve preparations also included a security briefing, the White House said.

“The president has been briefed on security measures that are being taken by federal, state and local authorities to help ensure a safe and festive New Year’s Eve. We will continue to monitor throughout the night,” White House spokeswoman Helen Ferre said.

>> Trump in Palm Beach: VIPs attend party at Mar-a-Lago

Through Sunday, Trump had spent nearly 10 percent of his presidency at or near Mar-a-Lago. In 10 visits since taking office on Jan. 20, he has logged a little more than 33 days in Palm Beach County.

On Sunday morning, with a tent and plastic-covered red carpet in place on Mar-a-Lago’s western lawn for the evening’s festivities, Trump got in his presidential limousine for the 4½-mile trip to his Trump International Golf Club. He arrived at about 9:45 a.m.

Since arriving for his current visit on Dec. 22, Trump has visited the golf course on every morning except Christmas. He hosted about 60 members of the U.S. Coast Guard at the course on Friday, played with U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., and two professional golfers on Tuesday, and played with three PGA Tour members on Dec. 23.

Trump and Scott — who have broken bread together at least three other times in Washington and in Bedminster, New Jersey, since Trump took office — met for lunch at 1 p.m. at Trump’s golf club.

Trump pledged in October to speed up dike repairs for Lake Okeechobee, a top Scott priority, although the White House has not provided a specific timetable or attached a dollar figure to the pledge.

Scott was one of the first elected officials to praise Trump in early 2016 and Trump publicly called for Scott to challenge Nelson during a June visit to Miami and a September visit to Southwest Florida to survey Hurricane Irma damage.

Trump had the 2018 elections in mind early Sunday. Polls suggest Democrats could make big gains, and historical trends favor the party that is out of the White House in non-presidential election years.

“Why would smart voters want to put Democrats in Congress in 2018 Election when their policies will totally kill the great wealth created during the months since the Election. People are much better off now not to mention ISIS, VA, Judges, Strong Border, 2nd A, Tax Cuts & more?” Trump tweeted from Mar-a-Lago about an hour before heading to the golf course.

Trump also tweeted on Sunday — as he did Saturday — about the wave of anti-government protests in Iran.

“Big protests in Iran,” Trump told Twitter followers early Sunday. “The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism. Looks like they will not take it any longer. The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!”

Trump is expected to return to Washington on New Year’s Day.

Roy Moore loses Senate bid as election board certifies Doug Jones as winner

Update 12/28, 3:25 p.m. ET: While it is expected that Doug Jones will be sworn in as a member of the U.S. Senate on Jan. 3, Moore can file for a recount within 48 hours of the election certification, according to The Montgomery Advertiser.

Update 12/28, 2:16 p.m. ET: Senator-elect Doug Jones has released a statement following the certification of the Dec. 12 special election, saying that “our victory marks a new chapter for our state and the nation.”

Jones won the election by 21,924 votes. More than 1.3 million votes were cast, The New York Times reported

Update 12/28 2:08 p.m. ET: Doug Jones has officially been named the winner of the Dec. 12 special election against Roy Moore. The election was certified by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, Attorney General Steve Marshall and Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, who said the process is pretty routine, a reporter with The Montgomery Advertiser posted on Twitter

Jones will take the oath of office Jan. 3 once the Senate returns to Washington, CNN reported

Update 12/28, 1:37 p.m. ET: A judge has denied Roy Moore’s request to delay the certification of the Dec. 12 special election results. 

Update 12/28, 11:58 a.m. ET: Roy Moore’s opponent and winner of the race, Senator-elect Doug Jones has filed a motion to dismiss Moore’s lawsuit.

Original story: Roy Moore filed a complaint Wednesday to block the results of Alabama’s special Senate election, alleging potential voter fraud, CNN reported. 

>> Read more trending news

Moore, a Republican, lost the Senate race on Dec. 12 to Democrat Doug Jones by more than 20,000 votes. Moore has refused to concede and urged a delay in certifying the results, CNN reported.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill is scheduled to certify the special election results Thursday. But the Moore campaign filed a last-minute complaint, arguing that the certification should be delayed until a “thorough investigation of potential voter fraud” is completed.

Moore and his campaign filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of Montgomery, Alabama, listing several allegations and called for “a new special election,” CNN reported.

His complaint alleges that out-of-state residents had been allowed to vote and that election fraud experts had concluded through statistical analyses that fraud had occurred.

Moore's complaint also alleged “anomalous” higher voter turnout in Jefferson County, in which census data shows 43 percent of the population is black. He called the county's 47 percent voter turnout as “highly unusual” and questioned the integrity of its election results.

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