The New Investigation into Bannon and Boris Buried Under Bannon’s Bluster

For at least six years — from Rick Gates sharing stuff with Maggie as a way to share it with Roger Stone, to Stefan Passantino sharing Cassidy Hutchinson’s damaging testimony because “Maggie’s friendly to us. We’ll be fine” — people in Trump’s camp explicitly state they go to Maggie Haberman because she’s useful to their goals. The results are obvious, such as the time when Maggie buried the news that Trump had spoken to Vladimir Putin about adoptions immediately before crafting a bullshit cover story for the June 9 meeting that claimed it was all about adoptions; Maggie buried the story by repeating Trump’s threats to fire Jeff Sessions first.

That’s why it’s useful to look at two damaging details Maggie buried in what purports to be a profile of Boris Epshteyn, the non-Breaking News parts of which I covered here and other parts that WaPo covered in November.

First, NYT buried the news that SDNY has opened an investigation into the crypto currency scam Epshteyn and Steve Bannon grifted loyal Trump supporters with beneath not one, not two, but three flashy quotes about Epshteyn from Bannon himself, followed by 22 paragraphs, many focused on how Boris charged campaigns for keeping them on Trump’s good side, then one  paragraph that included 17 words of tortured Enhanced Euphemism Techniques in an 83 word paragraph, only then to reveal that Bannon is under investigation for the crypto currency scheme, too.

A cryptocurrency with which [Epshteyn] is involved has drawn scrutiny from federal prosecutors.


“Boris is a pair of heavy hands — he’s not Louis Brandeis,” said Stephen K. Bannon, a close ally of Mr. Epshteyn and former adviser to Mr. Trump, referring to the renowned Supreme Court justice. But Mr. Trump, he said, “doesn’t need Louis Brandeis.”

“You need to be a killer, and he’s a killer,” Mr. Bannon added.

But Mr. Epshteyn’s attacking style grates on other people in Mr. Trump’s circle, and he has encouraged ideas and civil lawsuits that have frustrated some of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, like suits against the journalist Bob Woodward and the Pulitzer Prize committee. His detractors see him as more of a political operative with a law license than as a provider of valuable legal advice.

“As soon as anybody starts making anything happen for Trump overall, the knives come out,” Mr. Bannon said. He described Mr. Epshteyn as “a wartime consigliere.”

[21 paragraphs, many focused on Epshteyn’s dodgy consulting gig]

[This paragraph, in which 17 tortured words out of 83 are Enhanced Euphemism Techniques:


More recently, a pro-Trump cryptocurrency that Mr. Epshteyn and Mr. Bannon are involved with managing is facing an inquiry from federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Breaking: A key source for this story, Steve Bannon, is under investigation for the shameless grift of printing pro-Trump money, then bilking Trump supporters every time they bought it.

Compare how ABC reported the same story when they covered it a few hours later:

A cryptocurrency linked to former Trump White House strategist Steve Bannon and Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn has caught the attention of federal prosecutors in New York, who have started looking into it, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.

News of federal prosecutors’ interest in the Bannon and Epshteyn-fronted cryptocurrency comes on the heels of an ABC News investigation into the cryptocurrency, which looked at allegations of internal chaos and mismanagement by the two high-profile Trump associates over the past year, including accusations that they’ve failed in their commitment to continue to donate portions of the coin’s proceeds to charities.

The New York Times was the first to report the news of the inquiry from federal prosecutors.

MORE: Internal chaos plagues Bannon-fronted $FJB cryptocurrency, critics say
The cryptocurrency — dubbed $FJB from the shorthand version of the vulgar MAGA expression “F— Joe Biden” and now officially said to stand for Freedom Jobs and Business — has lost 95% of its value amid internal turmoil, at least in part due to an industry-wide downturn.

Critics say $FJB represents the latest in a string of ill-fated efforts to leverage MAGA support for financial returns — particularly on the part of Bannon, who in September pleaded not guilty to unrelated charges that he defrauded donors with the promise of building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Acquired by Bannon and Epshteyn from original lead creator Grant Tragni and two other co-founders in late 2021, $FJB was promoted as a rejection of President Joe Biden and an alternative financial institution for conservatives by the two MAGA influencers — who also emphasized that part of the currency’s 8% transaction fee would go to charities including the Wounded Warriors Project, Tunnels To Towers, Semper Fi and Patriot Freedom Project.

But according to a spokesperson for the Wounded Warriors Project, as of January this year, no donations had been made by $FJB to the organization since Bannon and Epshteyn took over in December 2021. Wounded Warriors told ABC News that they had only received the one donation from $FJB in November 2021 — prior to Bannon and Epshteyn’s involvement.

NYT, apparently, thought it more important to string out a bunch of quotes from a suspected serial fraudster — “heavy hands — he’s not Louis Brandeis,” … “You need to be a killer, and he’s a killer,” … “a wartime consigliere” — rather than ask the serial fraudster if he had knowingly defrauded a bunch of MAGAts or at least describe how he exploited Trump’s loyal followers. (Note, this scam is also covered in Denver Riggelman’s The Breach, which is better than I thought it’d be.)

The other thing buried twelve paragraphs into a story covering stuff many people have already covered is that Ephsteyn tried to retroactively claim he was providing legal advice after the search of Mar-a-Lago.

After the search last summer of Mar-a-Lago by F.B.I. agents looking for classified documents still in Mr. Trump’s possession, Mr. Epshteyn retroactively changed his agreement with the political action committee. The agreement, which had been primarily for communications strategy, was updated to include legal work, and to say it covered legal work since the spring of last year, a campaign official said. His monthly retainer doubled to $30,000.

But he dropped a separate effort to have Mr. Trump sign a letter retroactively designating him as a lawyer for Mr. Trump personally, dating to March of last year, soon after Mr. Trump’s post-presidency handling of classified documents became an issue. The letter specifically stated that their communications would be covered by attorney-client privilege, multiple people familiar with the request said.

Now, credit where credit is due. As I noted when I described Maggie’s recent solo foray into campaign finance journalism, after a slew of stories in which Maggie called Epshteyn Trump’s “in-house counsel,” once she looked at the FEC documents, she described that Boris had billed all this as strategic consulting.

NYT has, in various stories including Maggie in the byline, described Epshteyn’s role in the stolen documents case as “an in-house counsel who helps coordinate Mr. Trump’s legal efforts,” “in-house counsel for the former president who has become one of his most trusted advisers,” and “who has played a central role in coordinating lawyers on several of the investigations involving Mr. Trump.” Another even describes that Epshteyn “act[ed] as [a] lawyer [] for the Trump campaign.” The other day, Maggie described his role instead as “broader strategic consulting.”

In this story, the story that reveals that after the search of MAL Epshteyn attempted to retroactively declare that he had been providing legal advice all along, Maggie calls him the, “self-described in-house counsel.”

I guess we know who was describing him as “in-house counsel” for all those stories stating as fact that he was the in-house counsel?

Epshteyn’s attempted retroactive claim that he had been providing legal services is not a minor detail.

Effectively what Epshteyn did was, after playing a key role in Trump’s coup attempt followed by a year of grifting off his access to Trump, he swooped back into Trump’s orbit when it became public that Trump had been fighting to withhold documents from the government; who knows what more details Ephsteyn had about all the highly sensitive documents stored in a leatherbound box in his office when he swooped in. And over the course of the next five months, Ephsteyn brought in a group of lawyers who are highly inappropriate to advise on a classified documents case, including Evan Corcoran, who treated a potential Espionage Act case as an 18 USC 1924 case, Chris Kise, fresh off his work for the Maduro regime, and, for a bit part playing the fall gal, former OAN host Christina Bobb. Some of these people are accomplished lawyers, but they’re not remotely appropriate to this investigation.

It’s unclear whether Epshteyn assembled such an inappropriate team because he wants Trump to go down, with all the chaos that will cause, because he’s stupid and wildly unsuited to this role, or because Trump was desperate. But after ensuring there was no one who could be called an adult in the terms of Espionage Act investigations left in the room, Epshteyn then reportedly masterminded a shell game on June 3 in which Trump boarded his jet to Bedminster at the moment that Corcoran handed over a packet of documents that Bobb claimed, with no way of knowing, constituted everything Trump had left.

“Wartime consiglieres,” as Bannon called his brother in cryptocurrency scam, don’t orchestrate such transparently stupid schemes.

And then after DOJ called Trump’s bluff with a search of Mar-a-Lago on August 8, according to this story, Epshteyn attempted to make all the conversations he had in the run-up to that search privileged, retroactively. Epshteyn appears not to have considered this legal advice until the moment it became clear his shell game had failed.

And given that some of Maggie’s best sources — including some of the sources who’ve long had the knives out for Epshteyn — have chatted with prosecutors since the search, prosecutors likely know that Epshteyn only belatedly decided he had been playing a lawyer all along. Maybe they even found it out before they seized Ephsteyn’s phone in early September under a January 6 warrant. Or maybe some of the recent activity in the stolen documents case, including the effort to get crime-fraud testimony from Corcoran, aims to shore up a warrant for stolen documents-related Epshteyn phone content that the FBI already has in its possession.

Indeed, this new detail explains something else in the story, something that NYT and others have already covered. Among the questions that Bobb and Corcoran and others have gotten from prosecutors pertains to Epshteyn’s attempt to set up a common-interest agreement.

Prosecutors investigating Mr. Trump’s handling of classified material have looked at whether Mr. Epshteyn improperly sought a common-interest agreement among witnesses as a shield against the investigation, the people familiar with the matter said.

Til now, this detail has always been reported without explanation of why it would be wrong — why it would deviate from normal white collar practice. The line of questioning didn’t make sense to me. It makes far more sense, however, if Epshteyn did so after his shell game blew up on him. It makes more sense if Epshteyn was trying to shield his own behavior, just as retroactively declaring his advice legal advice would do.

The question is why. Why Epshteyn advised Trump to take such a catastrophically stupid approach to stolen classified documents. By embedding this breaking news in a profile about the way Epshteyn monetized access to Trump, NYT seems to suggest that’s the motive (and I’ve heard similar descriptions from others): Epshteyn was just giving Trump what he wanted when no one else would as a way to make sure his other grift could continue.

That’s not the only possible motive, though: there are other more obvious reasons someone who failed to get clearance, even in Trump’s White House, might want to help Trump hoard highly classified documents (NYT reports that “the issue has been resolved”).

The question of why Epshteyn did all this has likely become closely intertwined with prosecutors’ attempts to assess why Trump withheld the documents in the first place, as well as attempts to understand why two separate searches found 47 empty classified document folders.

Tim Parlatore — another lawyer who is woefully ill-suited for a stolen documents case — is quoted by the NYT stating that the rest of the lawyers Epshteyn has assembled will be good so long as Epshteyn, himself, doesn’t become a target, as if the seizure of his phone is not some kind of tip off.

“Boris has access to information and a network that is useful to us,” said one of the team’s lawyers, Timothy Parlatore, whom Mr. Epshteyn hired. “It’s good to have someone who’s a lawyer who is also inside the palace gates.”

Mr. Parlatore suggested that he was not worried that Mr. Epshteyn, like a substantial number of other Trump lawyers, had become at least tangentially embroiled in some of the same investigations on which he was helping to defend Mr. Trump.

“Absent any solid indication that Boris is a target here, I don’t think it affects us,” Mr. Parlatore said.

I don’t even know what to make of Parlatore’s quote explaining that Boris’ network “is useful to us.” To do what? Isn’t the goal to keep Trump out of prison?

But I do know that none of these people seem to be sufficiently worried about 18 USC 793(g), the built-in conspiracy clause in the Espionage Act. Even if Epshteyn’s motives are no more ignoble than attempting to monetize his access to Trump — and, again, his motives are likely as much a focus as Trump’s at this point — that doesn’t exempt him from exposure to conspiracy charges himself if he agreed to help Trump hoard the classified documents. Indeed, adding Epshteyn as a co-conspirator might have several advantages for prosecutors.

Epshteyn is, as this profile and others have laid out, someone monetizing access to Trump. The more salient detail, for the investigation, is why Epshteyn only retroactively tried to protect his own involvement in the alleged attempt to withhold classified documents.

33 replies
  1. GeeSizzle says:

    Do you think this is connected to the criminal investigation under way at Signature bank, the one connected to crypto money laundering that prevented said bank from getting in on the bailout terms? (Sorry if that info is somewhere, I didn’t see it in the ABC link, but perhaps I missed it somewhere.) Anyway, the timing seems, unusually coincidental.

  2. Doctor My Eyes says:

    It takes a skilled journalist to dig out news from reading Haberman’s work.

    Like the country will become more enlightened by reading quotes from the likes of Bannon and, as Harpie pointed out yesterday, Watkins.

  3. Peterr says:

    First, NYT buried the news that SDNY has opened an investigation into the crypto currency scam Epshteyn and Steve Bannon grifted loyal Trump supporters with beneath not one, not two, but three flashy quotes about Epshteyn from Bannon himself, followed by 22 paragraphs, many focused on how Boris charged campaigns for keeping them on Trump’s good side, then one paragraph that included 17 words of tortured Enhanced Euphemism Techniques in an 83 word paragraph, only then to reveal that Bannon is under investigation for the crypto currency scheme, too.

    I immediately flashed back to a certain 16 words uttered by another administration who was quite adept at deploying Enhanced Euphemism Techniques in service of their agenda. As I said back then (damn – has it been 17 years ago already?):

    Words matter. When President Bush included those infamous sixteen words in his state of the union address, he (and/or those who advised him) chose to ignore the warnings of the Intelligence community that these words were not just not proven, but that these words were not true. The Congress received a lie, the American people received a lie, and the world was given a lie.

    Words matter. When this lie was on the verge of being revealed, the prescription from the Bush Administration was more lies, more deception, more fraud, and more damage to the institutions of democracy. That damage continues to this day.


    Sixteen well-chosen, intentionally included, carefully crafted, and demonstratably false words, known to be such at the time they were uttered by President Bush in his state of the Union Address. Sixteen words.

    Words matter.

    Judith “Judy Blew Lies” Miller may be gone from the NYT, but apparently her spirit lives on in Maggie.

    • Theodora30 says:

      I just watched Netflix’s movie “Official Secrets” about the British woman Katharine Gun who leaked a top secret memo about an illegal operation the US wanted help with. Gun was working as a translator for the UK’s signals intelligence when she read a memo from our NSA”
      “The memo was a top-secret request to monitor the private communication of UN delegates for scraps of information, personal or otherwise, that could be used to “give the US an edge” in leveraging support for the invasion. “
      The delegates the US wanted targeted for blackmail were from Angola, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chile, Guinea, and Pakistan — the countries needed for the Bush administration to get UN approval for a new Iraq War.
      I know a lot about how the Bush administration manipulated the evidence to make it look like Saddam had WMD. (Bill Moyers show “Buying the War” is a deep dive into the complicity of most of our media.)However I knew very little about how aggressively and deceptively the Blair administration pushed for that war so that movie was a real eye opener for me.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Needless to say, attempting to retroactively characterize business or political advice as legal advice – covered by privilege – should be a nonstarter. That Epshteyn attempted it is as stupid and desperate as the bad strategy advice he gave Trump. DoJ should have fun with him, on the way to an indictment or flipping him.

    • oldoilfieldhand says:

      Since Epshteyn and many prominent Russians suffer from “Russian” Acrophobia, my guess is that he is much more afraid of “falling from a window” than any threat of punitive or carceral accountability proffered to entice him to “flip” on his meal ticket.

    • Doctor My Eyes says:

      In fairness to Epshteyn, bluster and bullshit have served him without fail so far. Frankly, for the past 4 years at least, the only place bs hasn’t worked is in the court system. This is the reason I started spending time at this site–there is a measure of hope that facts and the law will matter.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Recasting advice as legal after the fact is a big red flag that says, “Look at me and what I’ve done!” He seems to have done it when liability loomed large – another red flag. It was obvious that the ground rules had changed on January 20, 2021, so no points for still believing bullshit would continue to work.

        • Doctor My Eyes says:

          I hear you, but when bs is all you’ve got . . .
          One of the more stunning aspects of this era is the amount of power aggregated by stupid people through shameless bluster.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Epshteyn’s “legal” (ex post facto) advice served also to reinforce the scheme of Tom Fitton, giving Fitton’s “Resistance is awesome!” mentality that TV-lawyer veneer of pseudo-professionalism Trump seems to crave.

      EW indicates that both Epshteyn and Fitton were serving roughly the same role at the time, and that Boris’s role only became that of “legal advisor” after the fact, when such a cloaking device might help him–and his “client.” (Although I suppose Trump was his client either way, since he was paying him. With other people’s money.)

  5. Ebenezer Scrooge says:

    I would think that Chris Kise or Timothy Parlatore are exactly the kind of lawyer I would want if I were guilty as hell and had to face a jury. Yeah, as criminal trial lawyers, they won’t give the best possible legal advice on a national security matter. But then again, their client only takes advice from people like Boris Epshteyn or Jared Kushner, so their legal advice doesn’t matter anyway.

    • esqTJE@23 says:

      Kise is an appellate lawyer, not criminal (or civil) trial lawyer, as far as i know. This type writes legal briefs and argues in front of 3 or more judges or justices only — not juries [ like in the biopic about RBG ‘On the basis of sex’ ], . . .a very different skill set from a trial lawyer who is a story telller, questioner, fact-linker.

      Appellate attorneys are question answerers, and law and doctrine experts, with fabulous memories of prior cases and appellate records, who try to convince jurists the law should be interpreted in a way that favors their client. If adopted by the court, their ‘argument’ is then the interpretation that, literally, becomes the law itself (becomes precedent that will later be used to interpret / decide later cases).

      It’s rare any attorney would do both, although, I guess its possible. I’ve read Kise’s briefs. I don’t think he is currently doing any trial work, but perhaps others have info i don’t?

        • bmaz says:

          Listen jackass, go to hell. I, as most people do here, have issues with Maggie Haberman and the NYT coverage of a lot of things. But to flat up equate her with Leni Reifenstahl and the Nazi Third Reich is beyond the pale.

          We have an open comments section, but you ought to get the fuck out. Do not come here with that garbage. Ever.

          What in the hell is wrong with people? Get a grip. Go try to do something locally where you are, and stop just glibly blowing shit out of your ass on the internet.

        • Troutwaxer says:

          Leni Reifenstahl is definitely a bridge too far, but the “paper of record” is so frequently not just wrong, but wrong in the rightwing direction, that it’s hard to imagine most of this wrongness is not deliberate.

          I’d say Maggie Haberman exists in the gray area somewhere between “useful idiot” and “deliberate propagandist.” Personally, I don’t like her, not one bit.

        • oldoilfieldhand says:

          After wittnessing what stenographer Maggie Haberman has wrought upon the faithful readers of the Gray Lady, supposedly in service to “news”; please explain why it is inappropriate to express an opinion of Maggie’s “work” for Trump in an “open comments section”. Reading your many unsolicited, derogatory opinions of Federal Judges (with access to case details and facts privy only to them) ruling in opposition to your interpretation of the law, and Congressional Committees (with their own paid legal staff) that do not adhere to your unsolicited advice and interpretation of the law, I find it stunning how blithely you equate someone else’s opinion to garbage. Maybe it’s just me…

        • Rayne says:

          First, the problem was the comparison to Riefenstahl to Haberman. Christ, do you not understand the difference between a Nazi propagandist who came a hair’s whisker from being prosecuted for war crimes, and an American journalist whose ethics are questionable? The latter has not yet deliberately constructed propaganda to defend Nazi war crimes, only been ethically and morally flexible enough to be a useful tool.

          Second, an open comments section here works both ways: we expect participants to level up to the content here. Massive swags equating war crime support with an ethically sketchy exercise of the First Amendment is not up to the level.

          Don’t like it? An open comments section means the door is open. Use to find your way out.

        • oldoilfieldhand says:

          “Massive swags equating war crime support with an ethically sketchy exercise of the First Amendment is not up to the level.”
          AS I recall, similarly ethically sketchy exercises of the 1st Ammendment, scripted and carefully placed in opinion columns and on “news programs” by the White House Iraq Group, led to uninimaginable death and destruction in the cradle of civilization; based, at least partially, upon false propaganda (16 words in the SOTU address). Propaganda designed to promote the predictable process of war, killing thousands and destroying the physical and mental health of an even greater number of young, innocent Americans, began as ethically sketchy exercises of the First Amendment. The icing on the war cake: the greatest country on earth couldn’t even bother counting the number of innocent Iraqis that were slaughtered as a result of this ethically sketchy abuse of the 1st Ammendment.
          It all starts out so innocently, meant to promote one person’s supposedly informed opinion of current events, until it is run through the propagandized “news organizations” that fester anger and foment insurrection under the blanket protection of the Constitution.
          We’ve all seen this movie, some of simpy forgot or choose to ignore the ending.

        • Rayne says:

          We’ve seen a similar movie but it’s not the same one; two AUMFs versus two impeachments offer a succinct delineation.

          Amazing how much closer to pure court stenographer Ken Vogel was — his May 9, 2019 piece was little more than a press release announcing Rudy Giuliani’s efforts laying the ground for Trump’s pro-Russian quid pro quo — but Vogel, a white male who works for NYT’s Washington bureau, has never garnished the level of attention Haberman has among media critics, even if Marcy is tackling Haberman because of Haberman’s persistent useful toolishness. Nobody called Vogel a Nazi propagandist that I’m aware of though what he did was directly related to the run-up to Russia’s war on Ukraine, and Vogel’s still available for more GOP boot licking content.

          The problem isn’t just Haberman; it’s the NYT and its opaque agenda, it’s the wider U.S. news media which tolerates NYT’s crap out of some absurd industry comity, it’s the commentariat which is flaccid in its analysis, it’s the ill-informed public which can barely manage to read headlines on clickbait.

          Again, if you don’t like it here, find the exit and do something more productive. As a democracy you get to take action to deal with the problems you’re describing; your rant here in comments does nothing to effect change.

        • P J Evans says:

          NYT and WaPo were once better at covering news, even if it was just the local stuff. After they started being treated as The Official Sources for government and finance, they went downhill.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          We should not forget that both NYT and WaPo still provide ground-breaking investigative reporting that’s almost impossible to fund–and thus find–anywhere else.

          The Times blew the lid off the child-labor atrocities we did not know about. The Post has a trenchant ongoing series about the drug crisis, a subject the Times has also done beautiful reporting on.

          Yes, the political coverage is tainted by access concerns, in some cases thoroughly contaminated–I don’t trust anything with a Devlin Barrett/Josh Dawsey byline to provide a clear-eyed picture, except of their dependence on unnamed sources who are using the Post to spin stories however they like. That said, I haven’t cancelled my subscriptions. I just pick and choose what I read.

        • AndTheSlithyToves says:

          Actually, my point was to compliment Marcy for her ongoing analysis of Maggie Haberman’s “journalism” for the Trump cabal. It reminded me of Susan Sontag’s masterful 1974 NY Review of Books essay, “Fascinating Fascism,” wherein Sontag dissected Riefenstahl’s attempt at reputation-laundering in her book, “The Last of the Nuba.” Here’s the link again:

          Perhaps I should have compared Maggie to Howard J. Rubenstein––but, as I said above, my point was to thank Marcy for laying out the record. It speaks for itself.

  6. PumpTheBrakesBro says:

    Has Dr. Wheeler and Ms Haberman ever been on the same podcast/show before? I’ve searched a bit and didn’t turn up anything fruitful. I was just curious what the discussion dynamics were like if so.

    • Rayne says:

      Letting this clear though on the face of it this looks like a “just asking questions” comment.

      • PumpTheBrakesBro says:

        I apologize. I did search but “haberman”, “wheeler”, and “podcast” return lots of results that weren’t what I was looking for. With as many articles/posts that Dr Wheeler has mentioned Ms Haberman, I thought surely they’ve “faced” one another in person at some point.

  7. Molly Pitcher says:

    I am also a skeptical reader of the NYT, but I found this article about Signature Bank and a long history with the Trumps and Kushners, which is worth reading. In addition to real estate, there is a lot of golf course discussion.

    Along these lines, Bloomberg had an article “What Led to the Collapse of Signature Bank?” by Tom Schoenberg, Ava Benny-Morrison and Austin Weinstein, March 14, 2023 saying that there was a long running criminal investigation of Signature. I do not think it was entirely regarding crypto, as has been suggested elsewhere.

    “Justice Department investigators in Washington and Manhattan were examining whether the New York bank took sufficient steps to detect potential money laundering by clients — such as scrutinizing people opening accounts and monitoring transactions for signs of criminality, the people said. The Securities and Exchange Commission also was taking a look, two people said, asking not to be named because the inquiries are confidential.”

    What is the likelihood of a connection between these two stories ? I have hope.

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