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Paul Manafort Has Not Registered as a Foreign Agent

On April 12, a spokesman for former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort said that after consulting with federal authorities about whether he should register as a foreign agent because of his past work in Ukraine, Manafort would be taking "appropriate steps."

Many took that to mean Manafort was about to register as an agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

However, when NBC News asked spokesman Jason Maloni directly whether Manafort was going to register, Maloni wouldn't say yes or no. 

A week later, there is no record of any filing on the Justice Department's website. Maloni told NBC News, "I don't have an update."

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Houthi Rebels Use Another Unmanned Boat Bomb Against the Saudis

For the second time in 2017, Houthi rebels have used a remote-controlled boat bomb to attack a Saudi Arabian ship, raising the possibility that the two-year-old conflict between the Yemeni rebels and the Saudi military could also threaten global oil shipments.

The Saudi Interior Ministry said Wednesday its security forces had stopped an attack on an Aramco oil distribution terminal in the Red Sea on the Saudi coast just north of Yemen. Had the attack succeeded, say analysts, it could have shaken the world crude oil market.

The explosive-packed skiff was a mile from the terminal's off-loading buoys when stopped by gunfire.

Pictures released by the ministry show the boat heading toward the facility, and then a large explosion in the water after strikes on the target by the Saudi Coast Guard. The ministry stopped short of blaming the Houthis for the incident, but called it a “terrorist attack,” and issued a veiled warning to the Houthis' sponsor, Iran. 

The statement said Saudi forces will remain vigilant against “those standing behind Houthi militias working to threaten the security of waterways and sea facilities.”

On January 30, a Saudi Navy frigate was attacked by the Houthis, killing two Saudi sailors. Although initial reports suggested a missile or suicide attack, the U.S. Navy later assessed that for the first time the Houthis had deployed an unmanned “drone” attack boat, and used Iranian technology.

A senior U.S. intelligence official told NBC News a U.S. Navy ship was nearby when the January attack took place.

New Orleans Prosecutor Sends Witnesses Mock Subpoenas: Report

A prosecutor's office in New Orleans is sending notices that are stamped "subpoena" but that are not issued by a judge or court to witnesses in criminal cases, according to a new report.

Legal experts told The Lens NOLA, an investigative news website, that the formal-looking paperwork is unethical and possibly illegal.

A spokesman for Orleans Parish Leon Cannizzaro defended the practice, saying, "It's no different than if we just put a letter out on our letterhead."

But the "subpeona" letters also come with a threat of arrest. "A fine and imprisonment may be imposed for failure to obey this notice," they said.

The Lens said it had confirmed three instances in which the notices were used, including the case of slain former NFL player Will Smith.

"There's no question this is improper," Pace University law professor Bennett Gershman told the site. The DA's spokesman, Chris Bowman, said his boss "does not see any legal issues with respect to this policy."

Palestinian Woman Hid Deadly Bombings When Applying for U.S. Citizenship

A Palestinian woman convicted of two bombings in Israel in 1970 pleaded guilty Tuesday in a Chicago courtroom to hiding those offenses when she applied for U.S. citizenship years later.

Rasmea Odeh, now 69, was sentenced to life in prison in Israel for two bombings, one of which killed two men at a Jerusalem supermarket. She was released in 1979 during a prisoner swap between Israel and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

When she applied for a U.S. visa in 1994, she didn't disclose her criminal record, and again failed to disclose the conviction when she applied for citizenship in 2004 while living in Michigan. A guilty verdict in her first trail was overturned on appeal, and she then accepted a plea deal rather than be retried.

Odeh will be deported to Jordan or another country at some point after a court appearance in August. As part of her agreement with federal prosecutors, she will spend no time in prison.

Image: Rasmea Odeh outside the Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse in Detroit
Rasmea Odeh outside the Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse in Detroit on April 25, 2017, is expected to agree to be deported for failing to disclose her conviction for bombings in Israel in the late 1960s. Max Ortiz / AP

Death Delivery: Two Charged With Selling Killer Heroin to Woman in Rehab

Two New York City men have been charged with selling a killer dose of heroin to a 41-year-old woman trying to kick her addiction in a hospital rehab clinic.

Anthony Dodaj and Duane Martinez face up to life in prison if convicted of federal charges for the New Year's Day delivery to Ivy Katz, who was later found unconscious in her room with a needle in her arm, prosecutors said.

Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said the two men "will now be held to account for their role in fueling the tragic overdose death crisis in New York City." The defendants' attorneys could not be reached for immediate comment.

According to a criminal complaint in the case, Katz was a heroin addict who sought treatment at a Manhattan hospital in mid-December. Less than three weeks later, she used the hospital payphone to call her drug connection, investigators said.

On Jan. 1, Dodaj showed up at the facility and signed in as a visitor, the complaint says. Video showed him meeting with Katz, who was found comatose a half-hour after he left. Her family removed her from life support two weeks later.

Adm. Stavridis Compares North Korea Threat to Ghostbusters

Ret. Adm. James Stavridis made an evocative comparison to an American comedy classic on MSNBC Monday to explain the danger of North Korea's weapons program. 

"I think the real danger is probably 18 months, two years from now, two streams coming together," said Stavridis, the former head of NATO and an NBC News analyst. "One is miniaturizing nuclear weapons, the other is long-range ballistic missiles. It's like in Ghostbusters, you don't want those streams to cross."

In the movie, "crossing the streams" may create a "total protonic reversal" that ends life on earth.

The streams are going to cross, said Stavridis, "not in the next week, but probably in the next 18 to 24 months. That will be when we'll be forced to take some level of action. What's happening now, I think we can manage with, more or less, traditional diplomatic tools without getting into a shooting war."

Taliban Attacks Camp Where Al Qaeda Mole Killed CIA Agents

The Taliban has claimed credit for a Monday suicide attack on a U.S. base in Afghanistan that was once the site of one of the deadliest attacks on CIA personnel in the agency's history.

The bomber blew up an explosive-packed vehicle at Camp Chapman in Khost Province. There are no reports of U.S. casualties, but there were casualties amond the Afghan troops guarding the base. The attack came as U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis was visiting the Afghan capital of Kabul.

In 2009, when the facility was known as Forward Operating Base Chapman, a Jordanian doctor was brought to the camp to deliver valuable information about  al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawhari. He was not searched on arrival, and detonated a suicide vest in the middle of the CIA personnel gathered to greet him. He killed seven CIA officers and contractors, a Jordanian intelligence agent and an Afghan CIA employee. Six other CIA officers and contractors were injured.

The camp is in territory dominated by a Taliban faction known as the Haqqani Network. It has been attacked by suicide bombers several times since 2009, including in 2012 and 2015. The 2015 attack, at a checkpoint near the main gate, killed 33 people.

 

Former Acting AG Sally Yates to Testify Publicly in House Russia Probe

Former acting attorney general Sally Yates, who is said to have told the White House that then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was vulnerable to blackmail, has been invited to testify publicly before Congress.

The Republican and Democrat leading the House Intelligence Committee probe of Russian election interference announced Friday they are seeking to schedule public testimony sometime after May 2 by Yates, as well as former CIA Director John Brennan and James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence.

All three former officials have insights into what the U.S. intelligence community knows about alleged contacts between Trump associates and Russians. Whether they can discuss any of that in public is another matter.

Shortly after Trump took office in January, Yates informed the White House she believed Flynn had misled senior administration officials about his communications with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., and warned that Flynn was potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail, current and former U.S. officials told the Washington Post.

Yates was later fired by Trump after she refused to enforce his travel ban directed at Muslim majority countries.

Flynn was ousted after it became clear he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about whether he discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador.

U.S. Raid Kills ISIS Terror Plotter in Syria, Says Pentagon

One of the ISIS leaders who helped plot the New Year's attack on an Istanbul nightlcub was killed earlier this month in a U.S. ground raid in Syria, the Pentagon announced Friday.

Abdul Rahman Uzbeki was a "close associate" of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, according to CENTCOM spokesperson Colonel John Thomas. Uzbeki was killed in a U.S. military "ground operation" in Syria on April 6. Thomas would not elaborate on the raid or not, saying only that the operation was intended to "eliminate him."

ISIS took credit for the mass shooting at the Reina nightclub on Jan. 1, 2017, which killed at least 39 people. The alleged gunman, an Uzbek national, was captured in Istanbul a week later.

Image: Gun attack at a night club in Istanbul
Ambulances transport wounded people after a gun attack on Reina, a popular night club in Istanbul near by the Bosphorus, early morning in Istanbul, Turkey on Jan. 1, 2017. STR / EPA

Pentagon Quietly Corrects Mattis Statement About the USS Vinson

Last week the White House said sending the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson into the waters around Korea would let the North Korean regime know the U.S. was serious. "We are sending an armada," said President Trump.

Then reporters noticed the Vinson's strike force was sailing away from Korea instead, toward a preplanned joint exercise with the Royal Australian Navy, apparently garbling the intended message to the Kim Jong Un regime.

The confusion started with a minor slip by Defense Secretary James Mattis during an April 11 press briefing. Mattis was asked if the U.S. was sending a signal to North Korea by very publicly redirecting the ship north. Mattis said the ship's change in itinerary had been made public because "she was originally headed in one direction for an exercise, and we canceled our role in that exercise ... We had to explain why she wasn't in that exercise."

In fact, the planned exercise was never canceled, and went forward as scheduled. It was a trip down to Fremantle, Australia, where crew families would've met their loved ones onshore, that was cancelled.

On Wednesday, the Navy quietly slipped a correction into the eight-day-old briefing transcript, inserting a note right after the Secretary's statement about the exercise: "Sic: The ship's port visit to Fremantle, Australia, was cancelled; the exercise with the Royal Australian navy is proceeding as planned."

  

Image: The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) transits the Pacific Ocean
The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) transits the Pacific Ocean on Jan. 30, 2017. Tom Tonthat / U.S. Navy via Reuters

House Democrat Mum About Trip to Cyprus for Russia Probe

Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley of Chicago, an intelligence committee member, doesn’t want to say much about his recent trip to Cyprus as part of the Congressional investigation into Russian interference in the election campaign.

“All I can say is, it’s very important to understand how the Russians launder money,” Quigley told NBC News.  “Just look at the public reports — the key Russian and American figures all played in Cyprus.”

NBC News’ Richard Engel reported from Cyprus last month that a ban there investigated accounts associated with President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, for possible money-laundering.

The trip, Quigley said, underscored for him the idea that the House investigation could use more resources.  But, he said, he believes the investigation is back on track, now that Republican committee chairman Devin Nunes has stepped aside pending the resolution of ethics complaints.

“We’re going to keep at it,” Quigley said.

Image:  Rep. Mike Quigley
Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., speaks at a news conference in Washington on Nov. 15, 2012. Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call file