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HC Wake-Up Call: Paul Manafort Found Guilty, Facebook Removes Accounts Linked to 'Inauthentic Behavior' in Russia, Iran & GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter Indicted


Good morning, Her Campus! With a break-neck news cycle, there is no possible way for you to stay on top of every story that comes across your feeds—we’re all only human, after all.

But, life comes at you fast. So grab a cup of coffee and settle in for this quick and dirty guide to stories you might’ve been sleeping on (like, literally. It’s early.)

Paul Manafort, Trump’s Former Campaign Chairman, Found Guilty on Eight Counts

President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was found guilty on eight counts on financial crimes, but jurors were unable to reach a verdict on another 10 counts, with the judge declaring a mistrial on those counts.

According to CNN, Manafort was found guilty on five charges of tax fraud, one charge of hiding foreign bank accounts and two counts of bank fraud. Manafort now faces a maximum of 80 years in prison.

via Getty Images

While landing in Charleston, West Virginia on Tuesday, Trump said that Manafort’s conviction has “nothing to do with Russian collusion” and criticized special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation for reaching this point.

Manafort had been charged with 18 counts of tax evasion, bank fraud and hiding foreign bank accounts.

Prosecutors said Manafort collected $65 million in foreign bank accounts from 2010 to 2014, and spent $15 million on high luxury purchases, and alleged that Manafort lied to bank in order to obtain $20 million worth of loans. Manafort was also accused of hiding foreign bank accounts from federal authorities and taking loans from Federal Savings Bank after one of its executives sought a position in the Trump campaign and administration.

“Mr. Manafort lied to keep more money when he had it, and he lied to get more money when he didn't,” prosecutor Greg Andres said during closing arguments. “This is a case about lies.”

"Mr. Manafort is disappointed of not getting acquittals all the way through or a complete hung jury on all counts," Manafort’s attorney, Kevin Downing said. “However, he would like to thank Judge Ellis for granting him a fair trial, thank the jury for their very long and hard-fought deliberations. He is evaluating all of his options at this point. Thank you everyone.”

According to CNN, Manafort still faces another set of criminal charges in a federal court in Washington D.C. for failure to register his foreign lobbying and for money laundering conspiracy related to his Ukrainian political work.

Facebook Removes Accounts Linked to 'Inauthentic Behavior' in Russia, Iran

Facebook announced on Tuesday that it “removed multiple pages, groups and accounts” linked to “inauthentic behavior” on its platforms, including actions originating from Russia and Iran, ABC News reports.

“These were distinct campaigns and we have not identified any link or coordination between them,” Facebook said in a statement. “However, they used similar tactics by creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing.”

“We ban this kind of behavior because we want people to be able to trust the connections they make on Facebook,” the statement continued. “And while we're making progress rooting out this abuse, as we've said before, it's an ongoing challenge because the people responsible are determined and well funded.”

“There is always a tension between taking down these bad actors quickly and improving our defenses over the long term,” Facebook said. “If we remove them too early, it's harder to understand their playbook and the extent of their network. It also limits our ability to coordinate with law enforcement, who often have investigations of their own.”

Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy at Facebook, said the social media giant is working with U.S. law enforcement on this investigation.

Following Facebook’s announcement, Sen. Mark Warner, vice chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a statement that “this is further evidence that foreign adversaries are actively using social media to divide Americans and undermine our democratic institutions.”

“I've been saying for months that there's no way the problem of social media manipulation is limited to a single troll farm in St. Petersburg, and that fact is now beyond a doubt. We also learned today that the Iranians are now following the Kremlin's playbook from 2016,” Warner said in his statement. “While I'm encouraged to see Facebook taking steps to rid their platforms of these bad actors, there's clearly more work to be done.”

Facebook, Twitter and Google executives are set to answer more questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee at a hearing on September 5, ABC News reports.

Twitter also announced late Tuesday that it had removed 284 accounts “for engaging in coordinated manipulation.”

GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter Indicted

U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife were indicted on Tuesday on charges of improperly using campaign funds for personal use.

A grand jury in San Diego indicted Hunter and his wife, Margaret Hunter, on charges of filing false campaign finance records, finding that the Hunters misused more than $250,000 worth of campaign funds for personal use, including paying for their children’s tuition, The Huffington Post reports.

The indictment also details that the Hunters tried to hide these personal charges by labelling charges for dental work as a donation to a charity called “Smiles for Life” and other charges as fundraising event expenses.

Hunter had blamed his wife, who acted as his campaign manager, for the improper charges. Previously Hunter told Politico in an interview that if he had improperly used campaign funds, “it was an accident and [he] paid it back.”

via Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

According to HuffPost, the California Rep. had repaid his campaign more than $60,000 earlier this year for the improper charges stemming back to 2015, but the FBI had extended its investigation to charges dating back to 2009.

“The goal of the conspiracy was for Duncan Hunter and Margaret Hunter to enrich themselves, and others at their direction, by converting campaign funds for their own personal benefit and enjoyment,” the 47-page indictment says. “The Hunters knew that many of their desired purchases could be made only by using campaign funds, since they did not otherwise have sufficient personal funds to pay for their purchases.”

The five-term congressman representing San Diego County had previously echoed President Donald Trump’s criticisms of the Justice Department, calling it “corrupt, answerable to no one.”

“I call on this Congress to root out all the corrupt lawyers and bureaucrats in the DOJ and the FBI so the greatest president of my generation can do the work that the American people duly elected him to do,” Hunter said.

What to look out for…

It looks like the PSL will be back starting August 28th, and I’m so ready for sweater weather to begin.

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