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Wednesday
Jan112017

Former British Spy Gathered Unsubstantiated Intel on Trump, Officials Say

Thinkstock/TongRo Images(NEW YORK) -- The explosive but unproven allegations about President-elect Donald Trump and his purported ties to Russia originated with the work of a respected former British spy who was hired by Democratic operatives and who began sharing his findings last August, federal officials confirmed to ABC News.

One of those who eventually received a copy of the spy’s secret report was Republican Sen. John McCain, who confirmed Wednesday he gave copies to the FBI director after receiving them last month.
“I did what any citizen should do,” McCain said in an interview. “I received sensitive information and then I handed it over to the proper agency of government and had nothing else to do with the issue. I don't know if it's credible or not. But the information, I thought, deserved to be delivered to the FBI, the appropriate agency of government.”

The allegations were incendiary –- that Trump had been secretly filmed in a luxury Moscow hotel and was compromised by the Russian government, and that aides to Trump on at least two occasions over the summer of 2016 held secret meetings with Russian government agents. The details became grist for a top secret security briefing to both President Obama and Trump last week. A senior intelligence official told ABC News the briefers walked through the allegations with Trump.

The man who gathered the information had a serious pedigree in intelligence circles – a retired British spy who later helped found a private intelligence firm. He had been stationed in Russia for years.
Trump opened his first press conference in six months Wednesday by blasting the contents of the report.

“For all the talk lately about fake news, this political witch hunt by some in the media is based on some of the most flimsy reporting and is frankly shameful and disgraceful,” he said.

While much of the material in the report is virtually impossible to prove or disprove, ABC News has for months been investigating the allegations and discovered serious flaws in the information.

The memos claim Trump lawyer Michael Cohen was part of an “ongoing secret liaison relationship” with the Russians and met with them “in Prague in August 2016.”

But Cohen told ABC News and his boss he has never been in Prague.
“He brings his passport to my office,” Trump recounted. “I say, ‘Hey, wait a minute.’ He didn’t leave the country.”

The report given to the FBI also claims that Cohen’s father-in-law was “a leading Moscow property developer” close to Putin.

But ABC News went to the address linked to the property developer in Moscow identified in the report as Cohen’s father in law. A tenant at the luxury Moscow residence put ABC News in contact with the owner, who said emphatically that he had no connection to Cohen. He was reached at an Eastern European phone number. Cohen’s father in law divides his time between New York and Florida.

Other allegations from the Democratic researchers revolve around Trump’s travel to Moscow for a Miss Universe contest in 2013, and whether the Russians filmed him with prostitutes “to be able to blackmail him if they so wished.”

Trump denied that Wednesday, saying he knows how to avoid Russia’s spy tricks.

“I told many people, be careful, because you don’t want to see yourself on television, cameras all over the place,” Trump said, adding a parting reference to the most graphic elements of the claims about him. “I’m also very much of a germophobe, by the way, believe me.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Jan112017

Rescuers Race to Save Horse That Fell Through Icy Creek in Canada

iStock/Silent_GOS(RIMBEY, Canada) -- A group of farmers and firefighters recently raced to save a horse that fell through an icy creek near the town of Rimbey in Central Alberta, Canada.

Cody Scott, a 20-year-old man who filmed part of the dramatic rescue on his GoPro, told ABC News Wednesday that the horse belonged to a neighbor, who had approached him on Monday and asked for help locating his missing horse.

After searching for about 10 minutes, Scott said he and another neighbor stumbled upon the 1,500-pound Clydesdale mare "submerged under bone-chilling water." It appeared that the horse had fallen through a creek that had iced over.

Scott said he then got together a small group of neighbors, and they spent "about two to three hours" trying to pull the horse out of the water.

"We were fighting against time," he said. "I could tell she was incredibly weak due to her breathing, and, at one point, it almost seemed like she was giving up."

Scott said the group first tried to use a rope and sled to pull the horse out, but "it just didn't budge." He then ran home to call the local county fire department before returning and attempting to "winch the horse out" with his snowmobile, he said.

Unfortunately, the snowmobile's belt broke due to the weight of the horse, and the group was left with no choice but to try to use the rope again.

"By this time, we had been out there for about an hour-and-a-half to two hours," Scott said. "After pulling for a bit again, I noticed one of its feet was able to get onto some muskeg just beneath the water's surface."

Scott said he then put his hands in the "freezing cold" water, tied a rope around that leg and pulled it out on top of the ice.

"That gave her enough leverage to put her second front foot on top of the ice, too," he said. "Soon, she was able to get her whole upper body above the water, and then the fire department showed up, and we all were able to pull her out successfully."

After the horse "was able to catch her breath and get back up on her feet," its owners took her to a nearby veterinary clinic, according to Ponoka County Fire Services West District Chief John Weisgerber.

The horse "was pretty cold and certainly very tired," but she is believed to be OK, Weisgerber said. He added that it had been around minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit outside during the rescue.

Scott told ABC News he was amazed that the horse survived the ordeal, and he wanted to thank everyone who helped out.

"It was truly a good team effort," he said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Jan112017

Europe's First Underwater Museum Opens

Jason deCaires Taylor(Lanzarote, SPAIN) -- Europe's first underwater art museum opened Tuesday. The Museo Atlántico of Lanzarote features the work of British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor.

Located off the coast of Lanzarote, Spain, and 45 feet deep, the project took two years to complete.

The museum's official website states that the project was conceived in order to "promote education and preserve and protect the marine and natural environment."

The exhibits themselves are meant to further this goal; Since the first installations were placed in February, the area has seen a significant increase in sea life, including angel sharks, barracuda, sardines, octopi and marine sponges.

The intention is for the installation to become a large artificial reef.

The new installations include a 100-foot-long wall, a sculpture of a botanic garden that represents the local flora and fauna and a set of 200 life-sized human figures.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Jan112017

Trump Concedes Russia Was Behind Hacking, Says Putin 'Shouldn't Have Done It'

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- President-elect Donald Trump said Wednesday he accepts the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia was behind the alleged hacking of political organizations and individuals during the U.S. presidential race -- the first time he has conceded that Russia was behind the massive cyberattack.

“As far as hacking, I think it was Russia,” Trump told reporters during his first press conference since winning the Nov. 8 election. “But I also think we’ve been hacked by other countries, other people.”

Trump later added that Russian President Vladimir Putin "shouldn't have done it" and he doesn't believe Putin will "be doing it more now" once he's inaugurated into the White House on Jan. 20.

Last week, Trump and President Barack Obama were separately briefed on a classified intelligence report on Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election. A declassified version was released afterward that said Putin “ordered” a campaign to influence the contest between Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in an attempt by Russia to “undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process.”

"We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election. Russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton and harm her electability and potential presidency," the report reads, citing the Russian government’s "long-standing desire to undermine the U.S.-led liberal democratic order."

"We further assess Putin and the Russian government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump," the report continues, saying Putin nursed a "grudge" against Clinton "for comments he almost certainly saw as disparaging."

After being briefed on the report, Trump took to Twitter to blame the cyberattack on the Democratic National Committee’s "gross negligence."

At his first press conference as president-elect, Trump said it would be “very important” to develop a “hacking defense” because “the United States is hacked by everybody.”

When asked by ABC News’ Jonathan Karl whether he accepted that the Russian president “ordered” the influence campaign in favor of a Trump victory, the real estate mogul continued to assert that the United States will benefit from a stronger relationship with Moscow.

“We have a horrible relationship with Russia,” Trump responded. “If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what folks, that’s called an asset, not a liability.”

Trump said the Russian government will have "far greater respect" for the United States with him at the helm, adding that he will be “tougher” on Putin than Clinton would have been.

“Now, I don’t know that I’m going to get along with Vladimir Putin. I hope I do. But there’s a good chance I won’t,” he said. “And if I don’t, do you honestly believe that Hillary would be tougher on Putin than me? Does anyone in this room really believe that? Give me a break.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Jan112017

Kremlin Calls New Trump Russia Claims 'Pulp Fiction'

iStock/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) — The Kremlin has dismissed extraordinary allegations that it had collected compromising material on President-elect Donald Trump and that it collaborated with Trump in an espionage campaign to undermine Hillary Clinton during the presidential race.

A Kremlin spokesman called the claims that were made in documents apparently produced by a former British spy “pulp fiction,” and suggested they were intended to block a rapprochement between Russia and the United States.

"It’s an absolute spoof story, it’s absolute fabrication, it’s complete nonsense,” Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said in a conference call with reporters. “Without question, it’s necessary to react to this with a certain humor, although there is also a sad side. It’s an obvious attempt to harm our bilateral relations.”

Echoing a denial made by Trump Tuesday, Peskov said the release of the documents, which have been circulating among U.S. intelligence officials for months. was part of a "witch hunt" against the president-elect.

The explosive but unsubstantiated allegations detonated in the U.S. news media Tuesday after CNN reported that U.S. intelligence officials had briefed Trump on the contents of the documents and informed him they were investigating the claims in it that Russia has compromising materials on him.

The 32-page collection of memos was written by a former spy from Britain’s intelligence services who was commissioned by Republican and Democrat operatives to investigate Trump during the presidential campaign. The British former agent passed them to the FBI during the summer.

The memos have been circulating among journalists since around then, after party operatives distributed them, including to ABC News, but most news outlets had deferred releasing them because the claims, often potentially highly defamatory, could not be confirmed.

The memos paint Trump as colluding directly with Moscow in an operation to defeat Clinton and tip the election to him. The materials allege that Russia has cultivated Trump for years and that it had succeeded in collecting compromising material about him when he visited Moscow in 2013 to hold the Miss Universe pageant.

Most spectacularly, the memos allege that Trump’s top campaign officials worked closely with Kremlin officials to coordinate the hacking of Democratic Party organizations and the release of stolen material intended to embarrass Clinton.

Trump and advisers from his team mentioned in the memos have rejected them as absurd fakes.

“FAKE NEWS - A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!” Trump wrote on Twitter, shortly after the documents became widely available.

Donald Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway today called the allegations “nonsense from the internet.”

Michael Cohen, a Trump lawyer and campaign adviser, denied a specific claim in the documents that during the election campaign he had flown to Prague in the Czech Republic to meet secretly with Russian officials to discuss the hacks on the Clinton campaign.

“I’ve never actually walked the land in Prague, and last August I was not in Prague,” Cohen told ABC News.

The memos do not provide any supporting materials to back up the allegations, beyond statements from anonymous sources supposedly close to senior Russian officials. But U.S. officials have told ABC News it had become difficult to ignore them as Trump continued to make positive statements about Putin, even as American intelligence agencies alleged the Kremlin had mounted a major cyberoperation to interfere with U.S. elections.

Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill Tuesday pressed FBI Director James Comey on whether he had conducted an investigation into the allegations. Comey declined to answer, citing agency policy, but a senior official briefed on the issue said the allegations were too serious to ignore.

The memos were reportedly raised in a classified briefing given separately by America’s top intelligence officials to President Obama and Trump last week on the Russian effort to interfere in the presidential race. A declassified summary of the intelligence report presented to Trump was released publicly last week and accused Moscow of running an unprecedented operation involving the release of Democratic Party documents, as well as a state propaganda campaign intended to undermine Clinton and bolster Trump.

Trump has previously mostly mocked that judgment by the U.S. intelligence agencies, though he accepted after the briefing that Russia may have been involved.

The claims in the memos, though, are far more extraordinary and U.S. intelligence officials have said they have struggled to confirm them.

The memos allege the Kremlin began targeting Trump as many as eight years ago, hoping to use him to disrupt the U.S. political system.

The Kremlin and other Russians officials Wednesday said that was absurd.

“There’s, of course, no kompromat,” Nikita Kovalev, a former chief of Russia’s FSB intelligence service and now a member of parliament, told the Interfax news agency, using the Russian word for secret materials collected for political blackmail.

"Collecting kompromat on a person whose has come and is occupied with conducting a beauty contest; who is that interesting for?” asked Kovalev, who ran the FSB from 1996-1998, long before Trump’s 2013 visit.

“In Russia, I can say from my own experience that we don't have such practices.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jan102017

US Commandos Take Out ISIS Leader in Hunt for Top Terrorists as Obama Prepares to Leave Office

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- An elite team of American commandos killed a senior leader of ISIS this week, giving President Obama another name to scratch off his list of top terrorists in the final days of his presidency.

Abu Anas al-Iraqi, said to be the finance chief of ISIS, was killed Sunday in an operation in Syria by an intelligence-driven U.S. special operations unit known as the Expeditionary Targeting Force, a counterterrorism official told ABC News.

"He was a top ISIS emir," the counterterrorism official said, using the Arabic term for "prince" or "leader" that is commonly adopted by jihadis.

The U.S. hopes to also kill top ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph, or leader, of all Muslims, who is believed to be hunkered down in Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul. Iraqi government forces and a U.S.-led coalition mounted a stalled offensive to retake the city in recent months.

The official said that one other ISIS fighter was killed and that the U.S. team — under orders of the Joint Special Operations Command — conducted "sensitive site exploitation." Which means it looked for documents and electronic devices with intelligence value. No American operators were wounded.

The U.S. government has not publicly confirmed the terrorists' deaths.

At the Pentagon, spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis confirmed on Monday only that there was a "routine" U.S. special operations raid by the ETF in Dayr az Zawr, Syria, the day before and that it was "successful."

He said the operation was not intended to rescue hostages and no one was captured or detained, as has been reported on social media.

Al-Iraqi is not a well-known figure.

His name occasionally surfaced in social media as well as in captured ISIS documents referring to him as a leader, and intelligence indicated he was a member of ISIS' ruling shura council.

As chief accountant, he oversaw the group's war chest, derived from extortion, kidnapping and ransom, taxation in occupied territories, oil and gas sales and illicit trafficking, officials said.

The death of an ISIS operative of the same name was reported two years ago, but, like many other ISIS figures falsely reported killed, al-Iraqi — a nom de guerre — apparently remained alive and in the fight until this week.

The CIA declined comment Tuesday on his killing.

Al-Iraqi was killed shortly after U.S. special operations helicopters began trailing a single vehicle outside Dayr az Zawr and were fired on by the occupants of the vehicle, a third official told ABC News.

The helicopters fired back, disabling the vehicle and killing all the occupants.

The Obama administration has racked up a number of kills as he makes way for President-elect Trump to assume the responsibility of keeping Americans safe from terrorist attacks.

The dead include Hajji Mutazz, a deputy to al-Baghdadi; Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, ISIS' spokesman and external operations chief; and Abu Mohammed Furqan, an Iraqi member of the shura council who with al-Adnani oversaw the group's sophisticated, narrative-driven propaganda, which has shocked the world and drawn in tens of thousands of foreign volunteers since 2014.

The top Qaeda operative in Afghanistan, Nayef Salam Muhammad Ujaym al-Hababi, was killed in a U.S. airstrike last fall, and the top Taliban emir, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, was killed in Pakistan by an American drone in May.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jan102017

A Wall Alone 'Will Not Do the Job,' Gen. Kelly Says at DHS Confirmation Hearing

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, retired four-star Marine Gen. John Kelly, said during his Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday regarding a border wall that "a physical barrier in and of itself will not do the job. It has to be really a layered defense."

"If you were to build a wall from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico," you would still have to back that wall up with patrolling by human beings, sensors and observation devices, he said.

Kelly, the former commander of U.S. Southern Command, which oversees military activities in Central and South America, said that the defense of the southwest U.S. border starts about 1,500 miles south, and includes partnering with countries as far south as Peru to go after drug production and transport.

He also said that technology would also have to be a big part of border security -- unmanned aerial vehicles, sensors, etc.

The promise to build a wall was a cornerstone of Trump's campaign.

As DHS secretary, Kelly would face ongoing issues of dealing with issues of immigration, border security, domestic terrorism threats and cybersecurity. DHS is a notoriously large and complex department that was established after the 9/11 terror attacks in an effort to better coordinate within the federal government. Multiple independent agencies were moved under its domestic security umbrella.

DHS was at the bottom of the 2016 big agency list among the annual "best places to work" in the federal government, despite the first increase in its rating in years. Outgoing DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson made employee engagement one of his priorities during his tenure.

When asked about his views on the Obama administration immigration program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Kelly said that the entire development of Trump's immigration policy is still "ongoing right now."

"I would guess" that this category of potential deportations "won’t be the highest priority" in the Trump administration, Kelly said.

"I’ll follow the law," he said when questioned on whether he would use "limited resources of law enforcement community" to deport DACA recipients.

Kelly told the senators that he doesn't agree with "registering people based on religion or ethnicity" or anything like that.

In an interview as a candidate, Trump indicated that he would support a database that tracks Muslims in the U.S., though Trump's team later said that Trump never advocated for "any registry or system that tracks individuals based on their religion."

Kelly said that the success he achieved during his time in Iraq was because he reached out to people "across the spectrum and society, all whom were Muslim." He said that "outreach to the community" was how he "won" during his time in the war-torn country.

Sen. John McCain, who was held captive and tortured in Vietnam, asked Kelly if he would agree to following Geneva Conventions rules on torture.

"Absolutely," said Kelly.

"I don't think we should ever come close to crossing a line that is beyond what we as Americans would expect to follow in terms of interrogation techniques," Kelly said.

Kelly enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1970. His first military deployment was to Guantanamo Bay in 1971 when he was just 20 years old. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts before returning to the Marine Corps and working his way up the ranks, with stints on aircraft carriers, in the nation's capital and at Camp Pendleton in California.

Unlike some of Trump's other Cabinet picks, Kelly has already been confirmed by the Senate five times for previous positions.

In addition to his experience leading troops overseas, he is known for his strong knowledge of border issues and the drug trade in South and Central America.

Kelly is also a Gold Star father. He lost his son, Marine 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, in an IED explosion in Afghanistan in 2010.

"I have a profound respect for the rule of law and will always strive to uphold it. I have never had a problem speaking truth to power, and I firmly believe that those in power deserve full candor and my honest assessment and recommendations," he said in opening remarks during Tuesday's confirmation hearing.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jan102017

Suspect Charged with Attempted Murder in Shooting of US Consulate Officer in Mexico

United States Consulate General(WASHINGTON) -- The man accused of shooting a U.S. consular official in Mexico appeared in federal court Tuesday afternoon in Virginia, where he faces one count of attempted murder of an internationally protected person.

Zia Zafar, 31, allegedly shot Vice Consul Christopher Ashcraft once in the chest as he was driving out of a gym parking lot in Guadalajara last Friday, according to the federal complaint against him. Ashcraft survived the shooting and was taken to a nearby hospital, where he remains. Zafar was apprehended by Mexican law enforcement officials in Guadalajara on Saturday, the complaint states.

Zafar, of Chino Hills, California, was then sent back to the U.S. for prosecution, landing in Virginia Monday night, a Department of Justice spokesperson confirmed outside the courtroom Tuesday. Zafar appeared in federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia because it is where he first landed in the country after the shooting took place, the spokesperson said.

The U.S. government is considering Zafar a flight risk and is seeking his detainment throughout his court proceedings.

Zafar wore a blue navy jumpsuit when he appeared in court and had a shaved head. He held his hands behind his back and was under the watch of four U.S. Marshals. The maximum sentence for one count of attempted murder of an internationally protected person outside the United States is 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

A probable cause hearing will take place on Friday afternoon, when a judge will also decide whether Zafar will continue to be detained. A motive for the shooting has not been determined, the DOJ spokesperson said. Zafar is seeking court-appointed counsel. He did not enter a plea during Tuesday's appearance.

As vice consul, Ashcraft is considered a diplomat, according to the complaint. When FBI special agents interviewed Ashcraft at the hospital, he said that when he exited the gym he noticed an individual -- later identified by authorities as Zafar -- wearing blue scrubs, white shoes and what appeared to be a wig.

Ashcraft told the FBI that it felt as though the individual was waiting him, the complaint states. As he walked to a payment terminal to pay for parking, he noticed the individual following him, according to the complaint. Ashcraft told the FBI he felt threatened, so he walked to a populated area in the parking garage and got into his car once the individual was no longer following him. Ashcraft was shot once as he drove toward the garage's exit, the complaint states.

Surveillance footage from the parking garage and shopping center shows a man -- later identified as Zafar -- wearing what appears to be a wig, sunglasses, blue scrubs and white shoes as he follows Ashcraft from the gym to the payment terminal at approximately 6:16 p.m., the complaint states.

At 6:18 p.m., the man is seen at the top of a vehicle exit ramp pacing back and forth with his hand in his right pocket, according to the complaint. About a minute later, Ashcraft's car is seen pulling up to the garage exit, and the man is seen taking aim with a pistol and firing into the windshield before he flees the scene, the complaint states.

On Sunday, the consulate posted videos and images of the incident on its Facebook page, offering a reward of $20,000 for information that would help identify the suspect.

Mexican authorities were able to nab Zafar due to a Starbucks receipt. Police obtained surveillance video from a Starbucks in the shopping center located next to the gym where Ashcraft was shot, the complaint states. In the video, a man matching the description of the shooting suspect is seen at the counter ordering a drink. Police also obtained a receipt printed on Jan. 6, 2017, at 5:19 p.m. showing that a total of 58 Mexican pesos was paid by credit card.

The receipt was signed "Zafar/Zia," according to the complaint.

Zafar was born in 1985 and entered Mexico on a student visa, authorities determined by searching the Mexican Immigration database, the complaint states. Zafar holds a U.S. passport and a California driver's license. The signature on records officials obtained from the California DMV "bears remarkable similarity" to the signature seen on the Starbucks receipt, according to the complaint.

Mexican police were able to detain Zafar at his home in Guadalajara after finding the address in his Mexican immigration records, the complaint states. When police searched the residence Saturday night, they found a Honda Civic with California license plates registered in Zafar's name. They then detained him inside the residence, according to the complaint.

Inside the home, police also found a pistol and several forms of identification bearing the name Zia Zafar, as well as a pair of sunglasses and a wig similar to ones seen in the surveillance video, the complaint states.

In a statement, Secretary of State John Kerry called the shooting a "heinous attack against our Foreign Service Officer colleague in Guadalajara, Mexico."

"My thoughts and prayers remain with this officer and his family during this difficult time," Kerry added. "I wish him a speedy recovery."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jan102017

A Look Inside Trump’s Global Business Interests

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- It is a business empire that spans four continents and nearly two dozen countries.

Among the interests are golf courses and residential and commercial developments.

But the corporate titan behind these business dealings is none other than the president-elect of the United States, Donald Trump.

The real estate mogul’s new role as the leader of the free world while still having his name on properties in foreign lands could complicate trade deals and foreign relations.

Trump has said that the law is on his side and, indeed, federal ethics laws governing conflicts of interest contain specific exemptions for the president and vice president.

Still, some ethics experts say Trump could be in violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which prohibits enrichment from foreign heads of state, from the moment he takes office. Others have argued that the clause may not apply to the president.

Trump has made sometimes conflicting statements about what he plans to do with his businesses, at one point complaining about all the attention the ties were receiving.

"Prior to the election it was well known that I have interests in properties all over the world.Only the crooked media makes this a big deal!" he tweeted on Nov. 21.

More than a week later, he tweeted that while he was under no legal obligation to do so, he intends to leave his "great business in total in order to focus on running the country."

During the transition period, Trump has taken steps to cancel some business deals and shut down some foreign entities -- eliminating some potentially thorny issues before his move into the White House.

His overall plans are expected to be announced this week. On Monday, Trump told reporters at Trump Tower in New York to stay tuned for details but that “it’s very simple, very easy.”

In advance of that expected announcement, ABC News decided to lay out his known properties and business interests in the U.S. and elsewhere around the globe, based primarily on the financial disclosure documents Trump filed covering 2014 to 2016, with additional information from the Trump Organization’s website and public statements, court filings and other public records, ABC News stories and other published reports.

Here is a list of business ties that Trump has pursued in other countries, including some that the organization describes as canceled, inactive or prospective:

ARGENTINA

(CANCELLED)

A possible deal for a Trump-branded office tower in central Buenos Aires has been dropped, a Trump Organization source tells ABC News.

The proposal had attracted international attention in mid-November after a congratulatory phone call placed to the president-elect by Argentine President Mauricio Macri. A report in Argentine media that Trump used the occasion to solicit Macri’s assistance with getting approvals for his partners in the project was forcefully denied by Macri’s office and a spokesman for Trump.

The development firm behind the now abandoned plan, YY Development Group, told Argentine daily newspaper La Nacion in November that construction on the planned 35-story building could have gotten underway by next summer if it had received approvals from Buenos Aires city officials.

YY Development Group is building a Trump-branded residential tower in neighboring Uruguay. The managing director, Juan Jose Cugliandolo, told ABC News in December that his company’s dealings have primarily been with Eric Trump and he didn't expect anything to change. Cugliandolo suggested that Donald Trump’s election to the presidency “can only add prestige to our business.”

Macri, the son of a wealthy businessman, has known Trump and his family for years. He told a Japanese interviewer in November that in addition to speaking with the president-elect on the phone, he had also spoken with his daughter Ivanka Trump, whom Macri said he has known “since infant days.”

AZERBAIJAN

(CANCELLED)

The Trump International Hotel and Tower Baku, a 33-floor sail-shaped hotel and condominium building near the shores of the Caspian Sea, was heralded by the Trump Hotels Collection as “the next generation of luxury hospitality” that would “set a new standard for excellence in the region,” according to a 2014 press release.

But a representative for the Trump Organization told ABC News in a statement that the branding deal is off, citing delays in the development.

“We have chosen to end our association with this project and reallocate our resources,” the statement reads. “We wish the developers much success.”

As Trump’s campaign for the GOP nomination gained momentum in mid-2016, the Baku deal came under scrutiny in part because of the country’s reputation as a haven for corruption. According to a 2015 report from the U.S. State Department, Azerbaijan continues to be plagued by “pervasive corruption — including bribery of public officials” that presents a “major challenge for U.S. and other international firms” doing business there.

One of Trump’s former partners in the building’s development was Anar Mammadov, the son of former Transportation Minister Ziya Mammadov, who at the time of the deal was reportedly a close ally of Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev.

Though the Trump Organization has backed out of the project, Trump reported income from management fees connected to the deal of over $2.8 million since 2014, according to his two financial disclosure forms filed during his campaign.

BRAZIL
(CANCELLED)

The Trump Organization said in December that it was pulling out of two brand-licensing deals in Rio de Janeiro, one for a partially built hotel and another for a planned complex of five office towers near the city’s commercial center. The properties have been removed from the organization’s website.

A Trump Organization representative told ABC News in a statement that the developers of the Rio hotel “are significantly behind on the completion of the property and their vision for the hotel no longer aligns with the Trump brand. As a result, we have made the decision to remove our brand name from the project.”

Trump had no ownership interest in either of the developments, though he promoted the office project in an early 2013 tweet, saying, “The Trump Organization is going [to] revolutionize Rio de Janeiro’s downtown port area with Trump Towers. Construction begins soon!”

Both projects have reportedly come under scrutiny recently by federal prosecutors in Brazil for possible criminality involving financing, but no one from the Trump Organization has been implicated.

CANADA

Toronto

Trump licenses his name to the Trump International Hotel and Tower Toronto, the first in Canada for the Trump Organization, which also manages the five-star property. The hotel and condominium tower officially opened in 2012.

The hotel was developed by Talon International, a firm controlled by Russian-born Canadian billionaire Alex Shnaider. The building was recently put up for sale for an asking price of $222 million, according to Bloomberg. The Trump brand name may or may not remain on the hotel after the sale, Bloomberg reported.

Trump Hotels said in an emailed statement to The New York Times in early November that it expected to maintain the status quo. “Regardless of any capital partner or ownership changes that may take place, we will continue to operate the property under our luxury hotel brand flag,” the statement said.

Vancouver

The Trump International Hotel and Tower Vancouver, a 147-room hotel with 218 condominium residences, is scheduled to open in January 2017 and is a Trump brand-licensing deal announced in 2013 as a partnership with the developer, Holburn Group, whose CEO is Joo Kim Tiah, the son of one of Malaysia’s wealthiest men.

In late 2015, Vancouver city officials, including Mayor Gregor Robertson, tried unsuccessfully to persuade the Holburn Group to remove Trump’s name from the hotel. Robertson was quoted as saying in The Vancouver Sun, “Trump’s name and brand have no more place on Vancouver’s skyline than his ignorant ideas have in the modern world.”

CHINA
(INACTIVE)

Trump’s financial disclosure forms list nine companies that may be related to prospective business interests in China. The companies have names like THC China Development LLC and THC Shenzhen Hotel Manager LLC -- a naming convention similar to those for other Trump branding deals overseas. Most of the entities are categorized in the disclosure as dormant or inactive.

The Trump Organization did not provide a response to ABC News' questions about possible business deals or development in China.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

According to his May 2016 financial disclosure form, Trump reported an ownership interest in an entity called Caribusiness Investments, S.R.L, in the Dominican Republic.

The form attaches a value of $1 million to $5 million and claims $2 million in income from land sales since 2015. No further information about the underlying investment was provided on the forms.

Trump has dabbled in the Dominican market before, announcing in 2007 a partnership deal with local developers for a $2 billion resort to be called Trump Farallon Estates in Cap Cana.

Several years later, Trump filed a federal lawsuit against the developers, alleging they had failed to pay almost $6 million in licensing fees and percentages of gross sales that were owed under the agreement. The case was settled in July of 2013 for undisclosed terms.

EGYPT
(INACTIVE)

Trump’s financial disclosure forms list two inactive companies that may have been related to prospective business interests in Egypt. Trump Marks Egypt Corp. and Trump Marks Egypt LLC have the same incorporation date of Sept. 17, 2007, according to online records of the Delaware Department of State. Trump’s disclosure forms do not indicate any income or activity associated with these entities.

The Trump Organization did not provide a response to ABC News' questions about possible business deals or development in Egypt.

GEORGIA
(CANCELLED)

The long-stalled plan for a Trump-branded residential tower in the Black Sea resort town of Batumi seemed to gain momentum after Trump’s election victory, according to a Bloomberg report. But the Trump Organization recently dashed those hopes, saying steps were being taken to cancel the deal in the former Soviet republic that was signed in 2011.

In a statement from the Trump Organization and the developer Silk Road Group provided to ABC News, the partners jointly announced the decision “to formally end the development of Trump Tower, Batumi.” SRG “is grateful to the Trump Organization for the time and attention it has dedicated to this project,” the statement said, “and fully understands the circumstances and accepts this request.”

INDIA

The Trump Organization tells ABC News it has five licensing deals in India, three of which have been announced: Trump Tower Mumbai, which is owned and developed by the Lodha Group; Trump Towers Pune, which is owned and developed by Zero G Apartments Private Limited; and a Trump-branded office tower planned for Gurgaon, in partnership with private equity firm IREO. Financial disclosure forms filed during the presidential campaign list additional business entities associated with the Worli region of Mumbai and the eastern city of Kolkata

The Trump Organization says in a statement to ABC News that the one commercial and four residential projects in India “will proceed as planned. They will remain under the Trump brand. We are incredibly proud of the projects in Pune and Mumbai and look forward to sharing additional updates on our newest developments in the coming months.”

Kalpesh Mehta, the founder and managing partner of Tribeca, a Mumbai-based developer that touts itself as the “exclusive India representative” of the Trump Organization, told The Hindustan Times days after Trump’s victory that "demand for the Trump brand in India remains strong."

After his election, Trump notably met with Mehta and some of his other Indian business partners at Trump Tower in New York.

In an interview with The New York Times a short time later, Trump shrugged off the criticism that the meeting presented a possible conflict of interest.

“I mean, if a partner comes in from India or if a partner comes in from Canada,” Trump said, “and they want to take a picture and come into my office and my kids come in and I originally made the deal with these people, I mean, what am I going to say? I’m not going to talk to you, I’m not going to take pictures? You have to, you know, on a human basis, you take pictures.”

INDONESIA

Within a few months of the June 2015 announcement that Trump was running for president, his hotel group announced licensing deals for two luxury resort properties in Indonesia.

The properties, planned for seaside locations in Bali and Lido, are being developed by Indonesian media tycoon Hary Tanoesoedibjo, a former candidate for vice president in Indonesia who is ranked by Forbes as the nation's 29th wealthiest individual. The New York Times reported in December that the Trump Organization said it was moving ahead with the branding deals.

According to his most recent financial disclosure form, Trump took in $1 million to $5 million in royalties on each property in 2015 and part of 2016.

IRELAND


The Trump Organization purchased the Doonbeg Golf Club in February 2014 and spent more than two years redesigning the course and hotel.

The president-elect’s son Eric Trump told The Irish Times in May 2016 that the Trumps had spent “north of $50 million to $60 million” on the purchase and improvements at the County Clare oceanside resort, which was renamed Trump International Golf Links Ireland.

The Trump Organization wanted to build a seawall there "to protect the golf course and dunes from excessive erosion," according to documents filed by its design and landscape architects and obtained by ABC News -- which cited climate change as a central justification to undertake the project. After facing fierce opposition, Trump scrapped the original seawall proposal in early December and submitted plans for a much smaller wall, according to The Irish Times.

PANAMA

The Trump Organization licenses its name to a 70-story hotel and residential tower, Trump Ocean Club in Panama City, in partnership with Newland International Properties.

Trump reported $1.3 million in income from management fees in 2015 and 2016 on his most recent financial disclosure form.

PHILIPPINES

Trump has a licensing deal on the luxury residential development Trump Tower Century City in Makati, part of Metro Manila and the financial hub of the Philippines.

His partner in the project, Century City Development, is led by Jose E.B. Antonio, who was recently named by the country’s President Rodrigo Duterte as a special trade envoy to the United States.

Trump reported royalty income from the deal of $1 million to $5 million in 2015 to 2016. Trump has no equity investment in the property.

QATAR

(INACTIVE)

Trump’s financial disclosure forms list four companies that may be related to prospective business interests in Qatar. All four, including an entity called THC Qatar Hotel Manager, were established in late 2014, but there is no activity or income reported for these companies.

The Trump Organization did not provide a response to ABC News' questions about possible branding deals or development in Qatar.

ST. MARTIN

In 2013, it was reported that Trump quietly purchased the nine-bedroom Chateau des Palmiers mansion on St. Martin.

In a brochure sent to Trump Organization insiders after the sale, Trump pitched the availability of the “exquisite Caribbean oceanfront residence” for weekly rentals throughout the year, according to court documents in a dispute involving the previous owner of the home.

Trump claims a value on the residential rental property of $25 million to $50 million and income in 2015 to 2016 of $100,000 to $1 million according to financial disclosure forms.

The Trump Organization did not provide a response when asked by ABC News if Trump still owned the home. The website for the property features a greeting “from Donald J. Trump” that invites renters to escape “to a place like no other.”

ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES


Trump reported in his most recent financial disclosure $3 million in income for land sales on Canouan, a tiny island in the southeastern Caribbean, though The Telegraph reports that he ended any active business operations there long ago.

In 2003, Trump had joined a partnership of companies developing the island and announced plans for phased construction of dozens of luxury villas and an agreement for his company to take over operations of an existing casino on the island.

The Trump Organization did not provide a response when asked by ABC News if Trump had remaining business or equity interests on Canouan.

SAUDI ARABIA

(CANCELLED)

In the days after the presidential election, the Trump Organization shut down a number of entities that were set up in 2015 and that appeared to be related to prospective business ventures in Saudi Arabia. Other entities with similar names were shut down in 2015, within months of their establishment, according to corporate filings in Delaware.

The Trump Organization did not provide a response to ABC News' questions about possible deals or development in Saudi Arabia.

SOUTH KOREA

Trump World in South Korea is a brand-licensing deal with Daewoo Engineering and Construction on six residential towers in three cities; Seoul, Busan and Daegu.

Daewoo previously partnered with Trump on his Trump World Tower residential building near the United Nations in New York, according to a Newsweek report, and the South Korean company was reportedly the first to enter into the type of major Trump brand-licensing deal that later became a staple of Trump’s worldwide enterprise.

TURKEY

Trump struck a deal in 2008 with the Dogan Group to license his brand to Trump Towers Istanbul, one with residential and the other with commercial office space. Four years later, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended the ceremonial opening of the development.

During Trump’s presidential campaign, in which he called for a ban on Muslim immigration to the U.S., Erdogan changed his tune, according to The Wall Street Journal, calling for the removal of Trump’s name from the buildings.

After Trump won the election, Erdogan struck a more conciliatory tone, but the delicate and critical relationship between Turkey, a key NATO ally, and the U.S. will be one of Trump’s most pressing foreign policy challenges in the near term.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Trump has licensing deals in place for two golf-courses in Dubai, including one designed by Tiger Woods, that are being developed by the DAMAC group.

After Trump’s election, his partners in the deal told ABC News that the Trump brand had become "stronger, more global.”

Hussain Sajwani, the chairman of DAMAC, who is preparing to open the clubhouse for the first of the two 18-hole Trump golf course developments early in 2017, said the project is “benefiting from that -- the strength of that brand.”

UNITED KINGDOM

Trump owns two golf courses in Scotland.

In 2008, he won a contentious battle for approval to build a course from scratch in his mother’s native land, along the coastline in Aberdeenshire. Trump’s quest to create Trump International Golf Links Scotland over the objections of many local residents later became the subject of the documentary You’ve Been Trumped. After the course’s completion, Trump took a fight against proposed wind farms off the coast of his resort all the way to Britain’s highest court -- and lost.

In 2014, Trump added the famed Turnberry resort in western Scotland, a four time host of the Open Championship, to his worldwide portfolio of 17 courses. “It is an honor and privilege to own one of golf’s greatest and most exciting properties,” Trump said in a news release.

URUGUAY

Trump has a licensing deal with YY Development Group for a residential tower currently under construction in the Uruguayan resort town of Punta del Este, sometimes called the St.-Tropez of South America. His partners in the deal are the same group that had plans, now canceled, to build a Trump-branded office tower in the central district of Buenos Aires in Argentina.

Trump reported income from the Punta del Este deal of $100,000 to $1 million in 2015 to 2016.

Earlier this month, Eric Trump traveled to Uruguay to check on the building’s progress, tweeting pictures of the partially constructed tower.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jan102017

Driver Among 17 Arrested in Connection with Kim Kardashian West Robbery

Timothy White/E!(PARIS) — More details are starting to emerge about the 17 people who have been arrested in connection with the robbery of Kim Kardashian West in Paris last October.

One of the individuals arrested was a driver the Kardashian family had used in Paris, two sources with knowledge of the investigation tell ABC News.

Earlier in the week, French police sources confirmed the 17 arrests were tied to the multi-million dollar heist that left Kardashian West tied up and locked in a bathroom as the assailants made off with her jewels.

Sixteen individuals were arrested in Paris and its suburbs; one additional arrest was made in the south of France. At least one of those arrested was a woman. The oldest person involved in the crime is 70 years old, according to police sources.

Traces of DNA found at the scene of the robbery helped lead investigators to these individuals, the sources said.

The Oct. 4 robbery happened during Paris Fashion Week. Kardashian West was held up at gunpoint inside the exclusive Paris apartment she had rented for the event. The thieves made off with approximately $10 million in jewels.

A spokesperson for Kardashian West said in October that "armed masked men dressed as police officers" were behind the theft, adding that the holdup left the reality TV personality "badly shaken but physically unharmed."

Since that incident, Kardashian West has limited her social media activity and stayed out of the public eye.

In October, Kim's sister Khloe told Ellen DeGeneres that she wasn't "doing that well."

"I think it's just a wake-up call to make a lot of life adjustments," Khloe explained.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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