JUST IN: One of Trump’s top cabinet members accused of having existing ties to Russia


New accusations are flying about one of Trump’s top cabinet members and his financial connection to Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

According to documents shared with several news organizations, including NBC News, Trump’s commerce secretary, mega-billionaire Wilbur Ross failed to disclose his shared business interests with Putin’s family.

The documents allegedly reveal that Ross still has interest in Navigator Holdings, which was partially owned by his investment company. Putin’s son-in-law, as well as other people connected to Putin, control a Russian energy firm that has a relationship with Navigator Holdings.

German publication Süddeutsche Zeitung first obtained the leaked documents from a Bermuda law firm, which were shared with NBC News by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

NBC News reports: “Some of the details of Ross’s continuing financial holdings — much of which were not disclosed during his confirmation process — are revealed in a trove of more than 7 million internal documents of Appleby, a Bermuda-based law firm, that was leaked to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The documents consist of emails, presentations and other electronic data. These were then shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists— a global network that won the Pulitzer Prize this year for its work on the Panama Papers — and its international media partners. NBC News was given access to some of the leaked documents, which the ICIJ calls the “Paradise Papers.”

The New York Times reported Sunday that the documents also contain references to offshore interests held by Gary Cohn, Trump’s chief economic adviser, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. There is no evidence of illegality in their dealings.

A Commerce Department spokesperson told NBC News in statement that Wilbur Ross has recused himself from matters related to transoceanic shipping and is in contact with ethics officials to “ensure the highest ethical standards.”  Ross previously vowed to cut ties with more 80 financial entities that he has interests in.

The spokesperson added Ross has “generally” supported sanctions regarding Russia, although the statement did not address the ties referenced in the NBC News report.


The report from NBC News comes on the heels of another Russia-related story involving General Michael Flynn and his son.  According to NBC News, special counsel Robert Mueller now hold enough evidence to bring charges against Trump’s former national security advisor.  Also today, House Speaker Ryan said the congress will not support the removal of Mueller as special counsel despite 3 GOP lawmakers who have put forward legislation to have him removed from the Russia probe.

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