How an ex-madam, a political trickster and a toddler got tangled up in the Russia investigation

On Friday, Davis, who has worked as a Web designer and travel scheduler for Stone, became the latest associate of the political operative to appear before the grand jury convened by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

.. At least half a dozen of Stone’s associates have been subpoenaed or been contacted by the special counsel’s office. Investigators have been looking into Stone’s communication with the Twitter persona Guccifer 2.0

.. Late last month, Stone, 65, posted a photo of Davis, 41, and her son on his Instagram account, writing: “Why do FBI agents dispatched by Robert Mueller keep asking a number of my current and former associates if I am this baby’s father? What does this have to do with Russian Collusion and the 2016 election.”

.. Davis, a poised and articulate speaker who has touted her business acumen, had a compelling backstory, one with natural appeal to Stone, a bon vivant with a long-established reputation for taking delight in all things salacious who sometimes quips that he is “tri-sexual. I’ve tried everything.”

.. In her late teens, she says, she was already working in the finance industry, eventually becoming a vice president at an East Coast hedge fund in her early 20s. She noticed how highflying finance types celebrated by hiring prostitutes. Sensing a business opportunity, she opened a high-end prostitution service in New York.

.. At its height, she says, she had a roster of 10,000 clients willing to pay more than $1,000 an hour for sex or companionship. She managed the business but didn’t have sex with clients herself, she says. Her staff called her “Mama Fabulous.” She also developed her own websites — a skill that would come in handy years later when she met Stone.

.. Davis has claimed repeatedly that Eliot Spitzer, the former New York governor, was one of her frequent clients, using the code name “James” while he was serving as the state’s attorney general.

.. Davis was arrested and sent to Rikers in 2008, the same year that Spitzer, who was never charged with a crime, resigned as governor after the New York Times reported that he’d patronized the Emperors Club VIP, another high-priced prostitution service.

.. Stone, who’d helped her through months of her pregnancy, had a suggestion for the infant’s name: “Roger.”

“Roger kind of felt like he deserved it,” Davis says with a chuckle. “I said, ‘Absolutely not!’ ”

Instead, Stone and his wife, Nydia, became the child’s godparents.

.. Stone’s quarters are equipped with broadcasting equipment for his regular appearances on Infowars, the controversial, conspiracy-oriented website run by Alex Jones. As the Mueller probe has progressed, the apartment — much like Stone’s home and office in Florida — has become a command center in his campaign to discredit the investigation.

James Comey’s memoir: Trump fixates on proving lewd dossier allegations false

According to Comey’s account in a new memoir, Trump “strongly denied the allegations, asking — rhetorically, I assumed — whether he seemed like a guy who needed the service of prostitutes. He then began discussing cases where women had accused him of sexual assault, a subject I had not raised. He mentioned a number of women, and seemed to have memorized their allegations.”

The January 2017 conversation at Trump Tower in Manhattan “teetered toward disaster” — until “I pulled the tool from my bag: ‘We are not investigating you, sir.’ That seemed to quiet him,” Comey writes.

Trump did not stay quiet for long. Comey describes Trump as having been obsessed with the prostitutes portion of the infamous dossier compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, raising it at least four times with the FBI head.

.. Trump offered varying explanations to convince Comey it was not true. “I’m a germaphobe,” Trump told him in a follow-up call on Jan. 11, 2017, according to Comey’s account. “There’s no way I would let people pee on each other around me. No way.” Later, the president asked what could be done to “lift the cloud” because it was so painful for first lady Melania Trump.

.. In his memoir, Comey paints a devastating portrait of a president who built “a cocoon of alternative reality that he was busily wrapping around all of us.” Comey describes Trump as a congenital liar and unethical leader, devoid of human emotion and driven by personal ego.

.. Interacting with Trump, Comey writes, gave him “flashbacks to my earlier career as a prosecutor against the Mob.

  • The silent circle of assent.
  • The boss in complete control.
  • The loyalty oaths.
  • The us-versus-them worldview.
  • The lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and above the truth.”

.. The result, in Comey’s telling, is “the forest fire that is the Trump presidency.”

.. “You can’t be kicked out of the room so he can talk to me alone,” Comey told Sessions, according to the book. “You have to be between me and the president.”

.. “Sessions just cast his eyes down at the table, and they darted quickly back and forth, side to side. He said nothing. I read in his posture and face a message that he would not be able to help me.”

.. Comey delivers an indirect but unmistakable rebuke of the GOP’s congressional leaders as well: “It is also wrong to stand idly by, or worse, to stay silent when you know better, while a president brazenly seeks to undermine public confidence in law enforcement institutions that were established to keep our leaders in check.”

.. “I have one perspective on the behavior I saw, which while disturbing and violating basic norms of ethical leadership, may fall short of being illegal,” he writes.

.. “They lose the ability to distinguish between what’s true and what’s not,” Comey writes. “They surround themselves with other liars . . . Perks and access are given to those willing to lie and tolerate lies. This creates a culture, which becomes an entire way of life.”

.. Comey also writes that in a post-election briefing for senators, then-Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) confronted him about “what you did to Hillary Clinton.” Comey responded, “I did my best with the facts before me.” A teary-eyed Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) grabbed him by the hand afterward and said, “I know you. You were in an impossible position,” Comey writes.

.. Comey is critical of then-Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, saying she had a “tortured half-out, half-in approach” to the Clinton investigation and that he considered calling for the appointment of a special prosecutor.

.. “As he extended his hand,” Comey adds, “I made a mental note to check its size. It was smaller than mine, but did not seem unusually so.”

.. Comey recalls being struck that neither Trump nor his advisers asked about the future Russian threat, nor how the United States might prepare to meet it. Rather, he writes, they focused on “how they could spin what we’d just told them.”

.. “I decided not to tell him that the activity alleged did not seem to require either an overnight stay or even being in proximity to the participants,” Comey writes. “In fact, though I didn’t know for sure, I imagined the presidential suite of the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow was large enough for a germaphobe to be at a safe distance from the activity.”

.. Comey writes that he believed Trump was trying “to establish a patronage relationship,” and that he said: “I need loyalty. I expect loyalty.”

.. Trump broke the standoff by turning to other topics, Comey writes, speaking in torrents, “like an oral jigsaw puzzle,” about the size of his inauguration crowd, his free media coverage and the viciousness of the campaign. He talked about the Clinton email investigation as in three phases, as if it were a television series: “Comey One,” “Comey Two” and “Comey Three.” Trump also tried to convince Comey that he had not mocked disabled New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski at a campaign rally, and then turned to the detailed allegations of sexual assault against him.

“There was no way he groped that lady sitting next to him on the airplane, he insisted,” Comey writes. “And the idea that he grabbed a porn star and offered her money to come to his room was preposterous.”

.. And then Trump brought up “the golden showers thing,” Comey writes. The president told him that “it bothered him if there was ‘even a one percent chance’ his wife, Melania, thought it was true.” Comey writes that Trump told him to consider having the FBI investigate the prostitutes allegation to “prove it was a lie.”

.. As the dinner concluded, Trump returned to the issue of loyalty.

“I need loyalty,” Trump tells Comey, according to the book.

“You will always get honesty from me,” Comey replies.

“That’s what I want, honest loyalty,” Trump said, reaching what Comey writes was “some sort of ‘deal’ in which we were both winners.”

.. The president, Comey recalls, “launched into one of his rapid-fire, stream-of-consciousness monologues” — this time about a recent Super Bowl interview with then-Fox News Channel personality Bill O’Reilly in which Trump complimented Russian President Vladi­mir Putin.
.. “But he’s a killer,” O’Reilly told Trump.The president’s reply: “There are a ton of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think? Our country’s so innocent?

Trump fumed to Comey about the media criticism he received.

I gave a good answer,” Trump said, according to Comey. “Really, it was a great answer. I gave a really great answer.

Trump sought validation: “You think it was a great answer, right?”

Comey replied, “We aren’t the kind of killers that Putin is.”

Trump apparently did not take the correction well. Comey writes that the president’s eyes changed and his jaw tightened, and Priebus escorted him out.

.. Comey describes soon receiving an “emotional call” from Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly.

“He said he was sick about my firing and that he intended to quit in protest,” Comey writes. “He said he didn’t want to work for dishonorable people who would treat someone like me in such a manner. I urged Kelly not to do that, arguing that the country needed principled people around this president. Especially this president.”

Kelly did not resign. Two and a half months later, he was named White House chief of staff.

Ex-Trump aide defies Mueller, risks jail

Sam Nunberg insists Donald Trump didn’t collude with the Kremlin, but also suggests that special counsel Robert Mueller “has something” on the president.

Trump fired Nunberg — a self-described protégé of political operative Roger Stone — in August 2015 after the disclosure of racially offensive Facebook posts he had written.

.. “Roger is my mentor. Roger is like family to me. I’m not going to do it,” Nunberg told MSNBC.

.. Nunberg also disobeyed requests from Mueller’s investigators to avoid publicly discussing his five-plus hour interview with Mueller’s team in Washington last month.

.. And he called “ridiculous” a question about whether he had ever heard anyone speak Russian in Trump’s office.

.. Nunberg speculated that the grand jury appearance he plans to skip on Friday was arranged in part so he could be asked about what he’s heard from senior Trump associates involving Trump’s attendance in 2013 at the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow.

.. Nunberg said he’s spoken with Trump’s longtime security guard Keith Schiller about that Trump visit — specifically including what Nunbeg calls an offer by Trump’s Russian partners in staging the pageant to send prostitutes to his hotel room.

.. “Trump flat out refused it,” Nunberg said. “I can tell you that Trump is too smart to have women come up to his room.”

.. Disobeying a grand jury subpoena is considered civil contempt and can be the basis for arrest, and prosecutors typically respond with a motion asking the court to hold the witness in contempt.

.. Legal experts pointed to the precedent of Susan McDougal, a former Arkansas business partner of President Bill Clinton who spent 18 months in prison in the 1990s for civil contempt after refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating his Whitewater real estate deals.

.. Nunberg also has ties to one of Trump’s personal attorneys, Jay Sekulow, who he credits with helping him get his start in campaign politics.

.. Nunberg was working as a volunteer for Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign when he first met Sekulow, who also is the chief counsel of the non-profit American Center for Law & Justice. Sekulow hired Nunberg to work in ACLJ’s New York office to help stop the construction of a mosque near the World Trade Center site.

.. Nunberg on why he’s saying no to Mueller:

Because what they said to me was absolutely ridiculous. They wanted every email I had with Roger Stone and with Steve Bannon. Why should I hand them emails from November 1, 2015. I was thinking about this today, Katy, I was preparing it. Should I spend 50 hours going over all my emails with Roger and with Steve Bannon. And then they wanted emails that I had with Hope Hicks, with Corey Lewandowski, are you — give me a break. It’s ridiculous.

.. Nunberg on the value of mentorship, loyalty:

I’m not going to cooperate when they want me to come in to a grand jury for them to insinuate that Roger Stone was colluding with Julian Assange. Roger is my mentor, Roger’s like family to me. I’m not going to do it.

.. Nunberg on some of the stuff that Mueller’s people had already asked him about:

You know what they asked — they asked things like, ‘Did you hear people speaking Russian in the Trump office?’ Katy, I did not hear people speaking Russian in the Trump office. They asked things like, ‘Did you hear about Trump Tower Moscow?’ No, I never heard about Trump Tower Moscow.

2014 Commencement address by Bill and Melinda Gates

Ten years ago, I traveled to India with friends. On the last day there, I spent some time meeting with prostitutes. I expected to talk to them about the risk of AIDS, but they wanted to talk about stigma. Most of these women had been abandoned by their husbands, and that’s why they’d gone into prostitution. They were trying to make enough money to feed their kids. They were so low in the eyes of society that they could be raped and robbed and beaten by anybody – even by police – and nobody cared.

.. Talking to them about their lives was so moving to me. But what I remember most is how much they wanted to touch me and be touched. It was as if physical contact somehow proved their worth. As I was leaving, we took a photo of all of us with our arms linked together.

.. The stigma of AIDS is vicious – especially for women – and the punishment is abandonment.

.. The community they formed became a platform for everything. They were able to set up speed-dial networks to respond to violent attacks. Police and others who raped and robbed them couldn’t get away with it anymore. The women set up systems to encourage savings. They used financial services that helped some of them start businesses and get out of sex work. This was all done by people society considered the lowliest of the low.

.. The pessimists are wrong in my view, but they’re not crazy. If technology is purely market-driven and we don’t focus innovation on the big inequities, then we could have amazing inventions that leave the world even more divided.