The Mueller Investigation Page 1
Tracking the Mueller investigation into how the Russians infiltrated the Trump campaign and the Republican Party and conspired with the Trump campaign to help get Donald J. Trump elected president of the United States of America. The Mueller investigation has exposed illegal schemes across international borders and produced more than 190 criminal charges. So far Mueller has indicted 34 people (26 are Russian nationals), three Russian companies and 6 former Trump advisers, 7 people (six former Trump advisers) have pleaded guilty. It was not a witch hunt, but it maybe a mole hunt. Trump and his campaign claimed they had no contacts with the Russian turns out they had at least 272. We may never know the true number contacts or what was discuss because Trump, Trump campaign members and other people involved lied to investigators and may had destroyed evidence. It makes it hard to make a criminal case if people lie to investigators and or destroyed evidence, but it does not mean they did not do it; it just means that got away with it. What we do not know about the Trump-Russia Affair is far worse than the information that is available to the public, Americans should be very worried that Donald J. Trump is useful idiot or a Russian asset and the Russians may have infiltrated our government at the highest level just as they infiltrated the Republican Party and the NRA. This collection of pages shows the evidence that is known so far read them for yourself and make your own decision.
Indictment of a Roger Stone-connected operative may signal that Robert Mueller's spinoffs are still bearing fruitBy Roger SollenbergerFlorida man Douglass Mackey, a notorious white nationalist and right-wing social media troll, was arrested this week on charges of conspiring with others to deprive citizens of their right to vote ahead of the 2016 election, the Department of Justice announced on Wednesday. "According to the allegations in the complaint, the defendant exploited a social media platform to infringe one of the most basic and sacred rights guaranteed by the Constitution: the right to vote," Nicholas McQuaid, acting Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division, said in a press release. "This complaint underscores the department's commitment to investigating and prosecuting those who would undermine citizens' voting rights." more...
By Katelyn Polantz, Evan Perez and Jeremy Herb, CNNWashington (CNN) For more than three years, federal prosecutors investigated whether money flowing through an Egyptian state-owned bank could have backed millions of dollars Donald Trump donated to his own campaign days before he won the 2016 election, multiple sources familiar with the investigation told CNN. The investigation, which both predated and outlasted special counsel Robert Mueller's probe, examined whether there was an illegal foreign campaign contribution. It represents one of the most prolonged efforts by federal investigators to understand the President's foreign financial ties, and became a significant but hidden part of the special counsel's pursuits.The investigation was kept so secret that at one point investigators locked down an entire floor of a federal courthouse in Washington, DC, so Mueller's team could fight for the Egyptian bank's records in closed-door court proceedings following a grand jury subpoena. The probe, which closed this summer with no charges filed, has never before been described publicly. Prosecutors suspected there could be a link between the Egyptian bank and Trump's campaign contribution, according to several of the sources, but they could never prove a connection. It's not clear that investigators ever had concrete evidence of a relevant bank transfer from the Egyptian bank. But multiple sources said there was sufficient information to justify the subpoena and keep the criminal campaign finance investigation open after the Mueller probe ended.CNN learned of the Egypt investigation from more than a dozen sources familiar with the effort, as well as through hints in public records, including newly released court documents and Mueller witness interview summaries, called 302s, that CNN and Buzzfeed obtained through lawsuits. In a court filing last month, the Justice Department confirmed that when the special counsel's office shut down in 2019, Mueller transferred an ongoing foreign campaign contribution investigation to prosecutors in Washington. Some of CNN's sources have confirmed that the case, which Mueller cryptically called a "foreign campaign contribution" probe, was in fact the Egypt investigation. more...
Judge Rules Donald Trump Admin Failed to Justify Robert Mueller Report Redactions, Orders DOJ to PublishBy Jeffery MartinPortions of the Mueller report that had been redacted by the U.S. Department of Justice must be published, according to a Wednesday ruling by a federal judge. The Mueller report includes the findings of an investigation that was spearheaded by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling into the 2016 presidential election. The investigation occurred in response to allegations that the campaign of Donald Trump had colluded with Russian government officials to increase its chances of winning the election. After receiving the initial report in March 2019, U.S. Attorney General William Barr redacted parts of the report, claiming that the concealed information was privileged. District of Columbia District Judge Reggie Walton announced in March that he would conduct an independent review of the complete Mueller report. more...
Bipartisan intelligence panel says that Russian who worked on Trump’s 2016 bid was career spy, amid a stunning range of contactsLuke Harding and Julian BorgerA report by the Senate intelligence committee provides a treasure trove of new details about Donald Trump’s relationship with Moscow, and says that a Russian national who worked closely with Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 was a career intelligence officer. The bipartisan report runs to nearly 1,000 pages and goes further than last year’s investigation into Russian election interference by special prosecutor Robert Mueller. It lays out a stunning web of contacts between Trump, his top election aides and Russian government officials, in the months leading up to the 2016 election. The Senate panel identifies Konstantin Kilimnik as a Russian intelligence officer employed by the GRU, the military intelligence agency behind the 2018 poisoning of the Russian double agent Sergei Skripal. It cites evidence – some of it redacted – linking Kilimnik to the GRU’s hacking and dumping of Democratic party emails.Kilimnik worked for over a decade in Ukraine with Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager. In 2016 Manafort met with Kilimnik, discussed how Trump might beat Hillary Clinton, and gave the Russian spy internal polling data. The committee said it couldn’t “reliably determine” why Manafort handed over this information, or what exactly Kilimnik did with it. It describes Manafort’s willingness to pass on confidential material to alleged Moscow agents as a “grave counterintelligence threat”. The report dubs Kilimnik part of “a cadre of individuals ostensibly operating outside of the Russian government but who nonetheless implement Kremlin-directed influence operations”. It adds that key oligarchs including Oleg Deripaska fund these operations, together with the Kremlin.The investigation found that Kilimnik tweets under the pseudonym Petro Baranenko (@PBaranenko). The account regularly propagates Moscow’s line on international issues, such as the conflict in Ukraine and the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17. The fact that a Republican-controlled Senate panel established a direct connection between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence makes it harder for Trump and his supporters to allege that the investigation into possible collusion was a “witch-hunt” or “hoax” as the president has repeatedly claimed, in the remaining three months before the election. The Republican-controlled Senate panel said it was hampered in its search for the truth by the fact that Kilimnik and Manafort kept their communications secret. They used burner phones, encrypted chat services, and frequently changed email accounts. They also messaged via a shared email draft.The committee is dismissive of the dossier by the ex-MI6 officer Christopher Steele, which alleged that the Kremlin had been cultivating Donald Trump for at least five years, but stops short of offering an opinion on whether the allegations within it are true. That dossier contained an allegation that Russia spied on Trump during a visit to Moscow in November 2013 and filmed him in his private suite at the Ritz-Carlton hotel with two prostitutes. Trump strenuously denies the claim. However, the Senate report offers the most compelling account yet of what went on inside the hotel. It alleges that a suspected Russian intelligence officer is stationed permanently in the building and presides over a “network” of security cameras, some of them hidden inside guest rooms. The officer’s agency is redacted, but is likely to be the FSB, the spy agency Vladimir Putin headed, in charge of counter-intelligence.
Ex-FBI lawyer to plead guilty to falsifying claim made to continue surveillance of key figure in Mueller probeIt is the first legal development to come from a review of former special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.By Pete Williams and Tom WinterA former FBI lawyer plans to plead guilty to falsifying a claim made to sustain government surveillance on a key figure in former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, according to court documents. It is the first legal development to come from a review of the Mueller team's work, an effort led by John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut. Attorney General William Barr assigned him more than a year ago to examine the origins of the Russia investigation.A legal filing submitted Friday in federal court in Washington, D.C., said Kevin Clinesmith will plead guilty to a single charge of making a false statement by altering an e-mail in the course of seeking a renewal of government surveillance of Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser. The warrant for approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has been a flashpoint for conservative critics of the FBI and the Mueller investigation. The Justice Department's inspector general reported last December than when Clinesmith was working in the FBI's Office of General Counsel, he altered an e-mail about Page so that it said he was "not a source" for another U.S. intelligence agency. Page has publicly said he briefly was a source for the CIA.Clinesmith told the inspector general he did not consider Page to be a "recruited asset." "Kevin deeply regrets having altered the e-mail," said his lawyer, Jonathan Shur. "It was never his intent to mislead the court or his colleagues, as he believed the information he relayed was accurate, but Kevin understands what he did was wrong and accepts responsibility." Barr foreshadowed the expected plea agreement in an interview with Fox News on Thursday evening. He said it not be an "earth-shattering development," but would be "indication that things are moving along at the proper pace, as dictated by the facts in this investigation."
Former Russia special counsel Robert Mueller defends Roger Stone prosecution in wake of Trump commutationKevin Johnson USA TODAYFormer Russia special counsel Robert Mueller pushed back against President Donald Trump on Saturday, defending the prosecution of Roger Stone and the larger investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 election, saying that the flamboyant political operative was "prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes." "He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so," Mueller said in a column published Saturday in The Washington Post. Mueller's remarks, prompted by Trump's commutation of Stone's 40-month prison sentence Friday, are the first since he testified before a House committee nearly a year ago after his team brought charges against at least a half-dozen former Trump aides during his campaign and after he took office. Stone was the last person charged by the Mueller team during the nearly two-year Russia investigation. "Russia’s actions were a threat to America’s democracy," Mueller wrote. "It was critical that they be investigated and understood." Mueller said the FBI had evidence that the Russians had signaled to a Trump campaign adviser that they could assist the campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to the Democratic candidate.
President Trump’s obstructions of justice were broader than those of Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton, and the special counsel’s investigation proved it. How come the report didn’t say so?By Jeffrey ToobinRobert Mueller submitted his final report as the special counsel more than a year ago. But even now—in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and the Administration’s tragically bungled response to it, and the mass demonstrations following the killings by police of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others—President Trump remains obsessed with what he recently called, on Twitter, the “Greatest Political Crime in the History of the U.S., the Russian Witch-Hunt.” In the past several months, the President has mobilized his Administration and its supporters to prove that, from its inception, the F.B.I.’s investigation into possible ties between his 2016 campaign and the Russian government was flawed, or worse. Attorney General William Barr has directed John Durham, the United States Attorney in Connecticut, to conduct a criminal investigation into whether F.B.I. officials, or anyone else, engaged in misconduct at the outset. Senator Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has also convened hearings on the investigation’s origins. The President has tweeted about Mueller more than three hundred times, and has repeatedly referred to the special counsel’s investigation as a “scam” and a “hoax.” Barr and Graham agree that the Mueller investigation was illegitimate in conception and excessive in execution—in Barr’s words, “a grave injustice” that was “unprecedented in American history.” According to the Administration, Mueller and his team displayed an unseemly eagerness to uncover crimes that never existed. In fact, the opposite is true. Mueller had an abundance of legitimate targets to investigate, and his failures emerged from an excess of caution, not of zeal. Especially when it came to Trump, Mueller avoided confrontations that he should have welcomed. He never issued a grand-jury subpoena for the President’s testimony, and even though his office built a compelling case for Trump’s having committed obstruction of justice, Mueller came up with reasons not to say so in his report. In light of this, Trump shouldn’t be denouncing Mueller—he should be thanking him.
Witness in the Mueller investigation and informal Trump adviser gets 10 years in prison in child sex caseBy Marshall Cohen(CNN) George Nader, who was a key witness in the Russia investigation and informally advised President Donald Trump's team on foreign policy, was sentenced on Friday to 10 years in prison by a federal judge in Virginia, stemming from his convictions on child sex charges. The sentence was announced by Judge Leonie Brinkema, closing a disturbing case that exposed Nader's double life as a pedophile who also advised top US and Middle Eastern officials. Earlier this year, Nader pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography that depicted sexual abuse of minors and admitted bringing an underage boy to the US for sex. These crimes occurred years before the 2016 election, when Nader worked his way into Trump's orbit and served as an informal foreign policy adviser to the transition, attending high-level meetings. Nader, 61, has already been in jail for more than a year and could apply for "compassionate release" because of the pandemic after he is formally transferred to a federal prison, the judge said. As part of a plea deal, the Justice Department agreed to recommend that Nader only receive the mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.
By John Stoehr, The Editorial BoardI’m not one of those journalists who laments the news cycle as if the Washington press corps has no choice but to cover everything this president does as if everything he does were of equal importance. The Trump administration is indeed a dust devil of disaster, but some things are more important than others, and reporters should say so. This weekend saw wall-to-wall coverage of Donald Trump’s attempt to reboot his bid for reelection. The setting was Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the Covid-19 pandemic is surging, and where civic and business leaders said now’s the wrong time to gather 20-some thousand people in one place. The Trump campaign, meanwhile, crowed about how many people were going to show up only to be humiliated when less than half did. If this president, or any president, is shown to have cheated to get to where he is today, that means this president, or any president, is illegitimate. Empty seats evidently signal “vulnerabilities” heading into the election, according to the AP’s Steve Peoples and Jonathan Lemire. “Trump’s return to the campaign trail was designed to show strength and enthusiasm but instead highlighted growing vulnerabilities. It also crystallized a divisive reelection message that largely ignores broad swaths of voters, who could play a decisive role on Election Day, and the critical and dominant national issue of racial injustice. National unity was not mentioned.”
By Devlin BarrettNewly released portions of Robert S. Mueller III’s report detailing his investigation of President Trump spell out how investigators considered the possibility Trump had lied to them about his conversations in 2016 about WikiLeaks. The material was released by the Justice Department on Friday as part of ongoing litigation over still-secret parts of the former special counsel’s findings. It details some of the evidence that was aired at last year’s trial of Trump associate Roger Stone, who was convicted of lying to Congress and is scheduled to report to prison later this month. At the time Mueller’s report was first issued, the parts related to Stone were redacted because his case had not yet gone to trial. The report’s newly released sections make clear that Mueller’s team was unable to determine if Stone’s claims of having advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’ plans ahead of the 2016 election were rooted in reality or fantasy. The report now says in more blunt language what became clear at Stone’s trial — that multiple Trump campaign aides told investigators then-candidate Trump had engaged in conversations during the 2016 race about what information WikiLeaks might release about his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. In written answers the president gave to Mueller, Trump said he did not recall discussing WikiLeaks with Stone. But multiple witnesses told Mueller’s team that he did have such discussions.
The hearing is the first of what is likely to be several, as the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee investigates the origins of the Russia probe.By ANDREW DESIDERIO and BETSY WOODRUFF SWANFormer Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Wednesday defended his role overseeing the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, blaming senior FBI officials for withholding vital information related to the probe. The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing came as the panel’s chairman, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), faces mounting pressure from President Donald Trump and his allies to investigate the Obama administration officials who spearheaded the Russia probe. Democrats, meanwhile, argue the inquiry — which appears to be broadening — is an effort to run political interference for the president in the run-up to Election Day. In congressional testimony Wednesday, Rosenstein in particular defended and explained his decision to appoint Robert Mueller as special counsel in 2017, and blamed high-level FBI leadership for the “significant errors” that appeared in applications to surveil a former Trump campaign adviser — even though he signed off on one of them. President Donald Trump has railed against Mueller’s appointment and probe throughout his presidency, claiming it was a politicized “hoax” that was part of an effort by senior-level Obama administration officials to undermine him. Rosenstein pushed back against that characterization but said he couldn’t “vouch for the allegations.” “I do not consider the investigation to be corrupt, but I certainly understand the president's frustration given the outcome,” Rosenstein told senators, referencing Mueller’s conclusions as part of his nearly two-year investigation. Wednesday’s hearing was largely a relitigation of the events surrounding the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation that ensnared Trump and his allies for years — a rerun that Republicans said was necessary for accountability, and one that Democrats asserted was a waste of the committee’s time amid a global pandemic, economic depression, and nation protests against police brutality.
By Associated PressTranscripts of phone calls that played a pivotal role in the Russia investigation were declassified and released Friday, showing that Michael Flynn, as an adviser toPresident-elect Donald Trump, urged Russia’s ambassador to be “even-keeled” in response to punitive Obama administration measures, and assured him “we can have a better conversation” about relations between the two countries after Trump became president. Democrats said the transcripts showed that Flynn had lied to the FBI when he denied details of the conversation, and that he was undercutting a sitting president while communicating with a country that had just interfered in the 2016 presidential election. But allies of the president who maintain that the FBI had no reason to investigate Flynn in the first place said the transcripts showed he had done nothing wrong. The transcripts were released by Senate Republicans on Friday after being provided by Trump’s new national intelligence director, John Ratcliffe, who waded into one of the most contentious political topics in his first week on the job. Ratcliffe’s extraordinary decision to disclose transcripts of intercepted conversations with a foreign ambassador is part of ongoing efforts by Trump allies to release previously secret information from the Russia investigation in hopes of painting Obama-era officials in a bad light. The transcripts are unlikely to significantly reshape public understanding of the contact between Flynn and then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, a central moment in the Russia investigation. The information released Friday conforms with the rough outlines of the call described in the 2017 guilty plea that Flynn reached with the team of prosecutors working for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
By Katelyn Polantz and Ariane de Vogue, CNN(CNN) The Trump administration will have another 10 days to rush to the Supreme Court for help before it'll have to turn over Mueller grand jury secrets to the House of Representatives, a federal appeals court said on Friday. In a brief order, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, said it would give the Justice Department time to appeal to the Supreme Court. The court had previously said documents and details from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation would have to be turned over Friday. Now, the deadline is May 11, the day before the Supreme Court hears another high-profile case about House Democrats' investigations into President Donald Trump. The Justice Department has said it would ask the Supreme Court to intervene in the Mueller grand jury case. If that happens and the Supreme Court wants to hear the case, it could be months before it's resolved. Last month, the appeals court ruled, 2-1, that the Democratic-controlled House could see the grand jury material from the Mueller probe and redacted portions of the Mueller report. The majority agreed that the House Judiciary Committee has a "compelling need" to view the secretive details prosecutors had collected from witnesses and about Trump. The Justice Department argued that once the grand jury materials were turned over to the House Judiciary Committee, they could eventually be made public. "Unless the mandate is stayed, this Court's decision will upset the status quo by requiring the Department to turn over the grand jury materials at issue, irreversibly breaching the secrecy of those materials, and raising serious questions about whether they could ever be retrieved from Congress once in Congress's possession," the Justice Department wrote last week.
Mueller investigators said Roger Stone orchestrated hundreds of fake Facebook accounts in political influence schemeBy Katelyn Polantz, Evan Perez, Marshall Cohen and Sara Murray, CNN(CNN) Investigators from former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation told a judge that Trump political adviser Roger Stone orchestrated hundreds of fake Facebook accounts and bloggers to run a political influence scheme on social media in 2016, according to court documents from the Mueller investigation unsealed on Tuesday. The disclosure came as the Justice Department on Tuesday made public dozens of search warrants from its investigation into Stone, after CNN and other news organizations sued for access to the files. Stone's assistant, interviewed voluntarily by former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators, said that, as part of his work for Stone, he bought "a couple hundred fake Facebook accounts" and that bloggers working for Stone sought to build what looked like real Facebook accounts to push information about the 2016 Russian hack of the Democrats, a search warrant unsealed on Tuesday stated. In 2016, Stone had wanted to push WikiLeaks content online that could help then-candidate Donald Trump, including content from stolen emails from accounts belonging to John Podesta, the then-campaign chairman of Trump's rival Hillary Clinton, the warrant alleged. The warrant that mentioned the fake accounts sought data from Facebook for three accounts, two of which were registered to the handle "rogerstone." At least one of the suspected Stone accounts was used from October 2016 to March 2017 to buy advertisements to push stories related to Russia and WikiLeaks, according to the warrant. Some social media messages from the accounts rebutted that the Russians were behind the online pseudonym Guccifer 2.0, which the US intelligence community has said was operated by Russian intelligence to disseminate hacked materials aimed at damaging Clinton's campaign. The ads allegedly purchased shared messages on Facebook such as: "Roger Stone talked about WikiLeaks, Donald Trump, ... " and "Stone Rebuts Charge of Russian Collusion" and "ROGER STONE - NO consensus that Guccifer 2.0 is a ... "
By Spencer S. HsuThe Justice Department on Monday dropped its two-year-long prosecution of a Russian company charged with conspiring to defraud the U.S. government by orchestrating a social media campaign to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. The stunning reversal came a few weeks before the case — a spinoff of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe — was set to go to trial. Assistants to U.S. Attorney Timothy Shea of Washington and Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers cited an unspecified “change in the balance of the government’s proof due to a classification determination,” according to a nine-page filing accompanied by facts under seal. Prosecutors also cited the failure of the company, Concord Management and Consulting, to comply with trial subpoenas and the submission of a “misleading, at best” affidavit by Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a co-defendant and the company’s founder. Prigozhin is a catering magnate and military contractor known as “Putin’s chef” because of his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Upon careful consideration of all of the circumstances, and particularly in light of recent events . . . the government has concluded that further proceedings as to Concord . . . promotes neither the interests of justice nor the nation’s security,” federal prosecutors wrote. “The better course is to cease litigation” against Concord and a sister catering company, also owned by Prigozhin, the prosecutors said. The government added that Concord enjoys “immunity from just punishment” even if found guilty, since it has no business presence in the United States. The after-business-hours government request to dismiss — granted by U.S. District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich — brings an abrupt end to a case that was set to go to trial April 6.
By Katelyn Polantz, CNN(CNN) The House of Representatives has won access to secret grand jury material gathered in former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and cited in the Mueller report, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday. The appeals panel sided with the chief judge of the DC District Court, who had roundly criticized the Justice Department's legal theories to keep the Mueller materials under seal and endorsed the House's investigation into President Donald Trump. The decision was split 2-1. The Justice Department could appeal to the Supreme Court or again to the DC-based appeals court.
By Katelyn Polantz, CNNWashington (CNN) A federal judge Thursday criticized Attorney General William Barr for his handling of the Mueller report when it was released last spring, saying Barr's early description of the report didn't match the special counsel's actual conclusions. Judge Reggie Walton asked if Barr's actions were a "calculated attempt" to help President Donald Trump and opined the attorney general had a "lack of candor" with the public and Congress. "The Court cannot reconcile certain public representations made by Attorney General Barr with the findings in the Mueller Report," Walton wrote on Thursday. Barr's initial publicly announced interpretation of the findings from former special counsel Robert Mueller "cause the Court to seriously question whether Attorney General Barr made a calculated attempt to influence public discourse about the Mueller Report in favor of President Trump despite certain findings in the redacted version of the Mueller Report to the contrary." Barr has been under fire for months for his apparent political moves to protect the President and his allies from within the Justice Department. Walton said he will review the full Mueller report himself to make sure the Justice Department didn't over-redact it for public release. Walton said he was "troubled" by Barr's initial, quickly released letter clearing the President of wrongdoing and distancing his campaign from Russian interference in American politics. Walton also took issue with Barr's press conference about Mueller's findings and other public statements before the report was made public. "The speed by which Attorney General Barr released to the public the summary of Special Counsel Mueller's principal conclusions, coupled with the fact that Attorney General Barr failed to provide a thorough representation of the findings set forth in the Mueller Report, causes the Court to question whether Attorney General Barr's intent was to create a one-sided narrative about the Mueller Report -- a narrative that is clearly in some respects substantively at odds with the redacted version of the Mueller Report," Walton wrote.
The trial for a Russian firm is set to open in Washington next month.By JOSH GERSTEINU.S. prosecutors say they have a witness who will directly implicate a Russian businessman known as “Putin’s chef” in schemes to carry out election interference overseas. The mystery witness is prepared to testify at a criminal trial set to open in Washington next month in a case special counsel Robert Mueller brought accusing three Russian companies and 13 Russian individuals of meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a prosecutor declared at a recent court hearing. The anticipated testimony will focus on the most prominent Russian national charged in the indictment, Yevgeny Prigozhin, a St. Petersburg restaurateur who enjoys close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and who has expanded his business empire to become a key contractor for the Russian military. Prosecutors say Prigozhin ran the Internet Research Agency, a Russian firm that allegedly sponsored and coordinated online troll activity during the 2016 U.S. election. None of the charged individuals are known to have been arrested or surrendered to face the charges, but one of the charged companies linked to Prigozhin, Concord Management and Consulting, hired American attorneys to fight the case. Evidence at the trial had been expected to consist primarily of emails, budgets and similar records detailing the effort, described in the indictment as Project Lakhta. Where the United States obtained all the records is not clear, but some appear to have come from email accounts hosted by U.S. providers. Relatively dry testimony was also anticipated from officials who enforce U.S. laws on election funding, foreign-sponsored political activity in the U.S, and visa issuance. So, the prosecution’s mention at a Feb. 21 hearing of a live witness prepared to detail face-to-face dealings with Prigozhin about election-focused efforts came as a surprise. Assistant U.S. Attorney Luke Jones said that the witness, who was not publicly named, is set to testify about election-related discussions at “a meeting” with Prigozhin.
A contempt hearing for the firm linked to ‘Putin’s chef” produces prickly exchanges between the defense and the judge.By JOSH GERSTEINThe Justice Department signaled Monday that it could back away from plans to put a Russian company on trial next month on a criminal charge that it bankrolled online and offline troll activity during the 2016 U.S. presidential race. During a court hearing in Washington, a prosecutor questioned whether the firm linked to an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin — Concord Management and Consulting — was sufficiently involved in the American legal process to demand a trial on the criminal conspiracy charge obtained by special counsel Robert Mueller in 2018 as part of a broader indictment of Russian companies and individuals. Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Jed, who served on Mueller's staff and is still assigned to the case, said Concord's defiance of a court-approved subpoena raised doubts about its commitment to the U.S. trial. "We're starting to have some concern about whether Concord is really participating in this case," Jed told U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich. "We envision a possible situation where it would not be either possible or prudent to adhere to the current trial schedule." Screening of potential jurors for the trial has already begun. Potential jurors are scheduled to appear in court April 1 with the trial set to begin in earnest the following week. Friedrich seemed startled by Jed's suggestion of a postponement, although she indicated earlier in the half-hour-long hearing that she was frustrated with the company's limited response to a subpoena seeking various documents about its corporate structure, calendars of key personnel and internet use. The judge, an appointee of President Donald Trump, said she was highly suspect of Concord's failure to provide any documents in response to a request for the internet addresses the company used over a four-year period. Prosecutors say the firm's response was so lacking that the company should be held in contempt of court.
Justice Department releases more than 600 pages of notes from witnesses during Mueller investigationBy Katelyn Polantz, Marshall Cohen, Ellie Kaufman, David Shortell and Erica Orden, CNNWashington (CNN) The Justice Department on Monday released over 600 pages of notes from major witness interviews during former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, including FBI memos called 302s from top Trump campaign advisers Jared Kushner, Rick Gates, Paul Manafort and Trump Tower meeting attendee Rob Goldstone. This is the sixth time CNN has received from the Justice Department documents regarding the Mueller investigation, as part of a 2019 lawsuit filed in conjunction with BuzzFeed News. The previous releases have fleshed out details that Mueller summarized in his final report regarding President Donald Trump's and his campaign's actions. The memos so far have revealed, for instance, how top Trump campaign officials witnessed the President and other Trump campaign officials pushing for the release of stolen Democratic emails and supported a conspiracy theory that Ukraine hacked the Democrats in 2016. At times, the documents have given much fuller portraits about what the Russia investigations' top cooperators said, including how former deputy director Andrew McCabe saw FBI staff crying in the hallways after Trump fired then-director James Comey, or how the investigators handled their witnesses, like when they gave the former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos a granola bar following his arrest. The memos were typed up by agents or prosecutors after they questioned each witness. More documents are scheduled to be released each month until this summer. Here are highlights from the documents:
Kushner interview notes released after intel reviewAfter two months of a delay, the Justice Department finally released on Monday the interview memo of Kushner speaking with the special counsel's office on April 11, 2018. Kushner spoke with the Mueller team that day about his interactions with Russians, including then-ambassador Sergey Kislyak, who told him at a reception, "we like what your candidate is saying" and later on as they discussed using the Russian Embassy to communicate. He also spoke to them about meeting with the Abu Dhabi crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and other connections to United Arab Emirates. They asked him about Trump's firing of Comey and about the Trump Tower meeting with Russians in June 2016.
Kash Patel, a former acolyte of Rep. Devin Nunes, is now a top adviser in the Office of National Intelligence.By DANIEL LIPPMANKash Patel, a former top National Security Council official who also played a key role as a Hill staffer in helping Republicans discredit the Russia probe, is now a senior adviser for new acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, according to four people familiar with the matter. It’s not clear what exact role Patel is playing in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the U.S. intelligence community. He started at ODNI on Thursday, according to an administration official. Patel, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, joined the National Security Council’s International Organizations and Alliances directorate last February and was promoted to a senior counterterrorism role at the NSC in mid-summer. He had previously worked as Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.)’s top staffer on the House Intelligence Committee and was the lead author of a report questioning the conduct of FBI and DOJ officials investigating Russia’s election interference. Republicans later used the report to bolster arguments that the probe was a plot to take down President Donald Trump. Grenell, who has not served in any U.S. intelligence agency and will also continue as the U.S. ambassador to Germany, will not require Senate confirmation to serve as acting director. Nor will Patel in his new role.
'Truth still matters': Judge sentences Roger Stone to 3 years in prison for obstructing Congress' Russia investigationBy Kristine Phillips, Kevin Johnson, Nicholas Wu USA TODAYWASHINGTON — Roger Stone, a longtime friend and ally of President Donald Trump, was sentenced Thursday to 40 months in prison, a punishment that is likely to fuel criticism from the president and speculation that he'll pardon the flamboyant GOP operative. Though less than what prosecutors originally asked for, the sentence marks a stunning downfall for the longtime political consultant who has advised presidential campaigns stretching back to Richard Nixon. The 67-year-old was found guilty in November of repeatedly lying to the House Intelligence Committee and obstructing its investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential race. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Stone "took it upon himself to lie, to impede, to obstruct before the investigation was complete, in an endeavor to influence the result." She continued: "The truth still exists, the truth still matters. Roger Stone insisted that it doesn’t." Stone stood expressionless next to his three defense attorneys. Jackson also sentenced Stone to two years of probation and ordered him to pay $20,000 in fines. Stone, wearing a dark pinstripe suit and blue tie, smiled briefly as he exited the courtroom. He declined to respond to questions shouted by a gauntlet of reporters.
By Katelyn Polantz, Marshall Cohen and Sara Murray, CNN(CNN) The Justice Department has released another 300 pages of notes from major witness interviews in former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. The documents, include memos -- called 302s by the FBI -- from Andrew McCabe, Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus, Rick Gates, Michael Cohen and Steve Bannon. This is the fifth time CNN has gotten documents like these from the Justice Department regarding the Mueller investigation, as part of a lawsuit in conjunction with BuzzFeed News. So far, the previous releases have fleshed out details that Mueller summarized in his final report regarding the actions of President Donald Trump and his campaign. The memos have revealed, for instance, how top Trump campaign officials witnessed the President and other Trump campaign officials pushing for the release of stolen Democratic emails and supported a conspiracy theory that Ukraine hacked the Democrats in 2016. The memos were typed up by agents or prosecutors after they questioned each witness. The Justice Department has kept many of the memos heavily redacted as they continue to release them this year.Highly redacted Kushner memo reveals nothingThe Justice Department released, for the first time, notes from Mueller's team of their interview with Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner. But the five-page document is almost completely redacted, revealing nothing more about Kushner's role in the Russia scandal. There are a few snippets of text visible in the memo. "A few weeks after the election [REDACTED] Kushner, Flynn and Kislyak met together at Trump Tower," an apparent reference to the December 2016 meeting between senior Trump aides and then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The rest of that section is fully redacted, even though several pages of the Mueller report delve into the details of the meeting.
BUDSThe relationship—stretching from New York to London to Kyiv—long predated Rudy Giuliani’s attempts to discredit the evidence that played a key role in Manafort’s downfall.By Betsy SwanThe web of connections between Donald Trump’s convicted campaign manager and an indicted man who tried to dig up dirt on his political rival runs tighter and longer than previously understood. Rudy Giuliani ally Igor Fruman and ex-Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort have been friendly for years, two sources familiar with their relationship tell The Daily Beast. And that relationship — stretching from New York to London to Kyiv — long predated Rudy Giuliani’s wide-ranging attempts to discredit the evidence that played a key role in kicking off Manafort's political downfall and eventual incarceration. Joseph Bondy, the lawyer for Fruman associate Lev Parnas, said Manafort and Fruman were friendly for years before their respective indictments. A friend of Manafort’s, who spoke anonymously to discuss non-public matters, confirmed that Fruman and Manafort have known each other for years. He said Fruman invited Manafort to the opening party for Buddha-Bar in Kyiv many years ago, and that the two men have discussed business. Buddha-Bar opened in the summer of 2008. Bondy said the pair also spent time together in London and New York.
To persuade a judge to let him withdraw his guilty plea, Flynn could be called to testify under oath and be subject to cross-examination during a hearing.By Pete Williams and Tom WinterFederal District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan made clear Friday that Michael Flynn, who served briefly as President Donald Trump's national security adviser, has a high hurdle to overcome in persuading the judge to let Flynn withdraw his guilty plea. Flynn pleaded guilty two years ago, admitting he lied to the FBI about his conversations with Russia's ambassador to the U.S. during the Trump transition. A year ago, the government said he deserved credit for admitting his misconduct and cooperating with prosecutors in investigating Flynn's former business partner. But prosecutors said recently that he failed to live up to the bargain and no longer deserves leniency. Flynn's lawyers have accused the FBI of misconduct in how it has handled his agreement. That culminated in a motion filed earlier this month seeking to withdraw his guilty plea, which has delayed his sentencing.
The strategy serves as a backup if the attorneys fail in the central thrust of their current plan.By JOSH GERSTEINFormer national security adviser Michael Flynn should get probation and no jail time if he’s sentenced next month on a felony false-statement charge he pleaded guilty to in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, Flynn’s lawyers told a federal judge Wednesday. Attorneys for Flynn argued in a new court filing that he deserves leniency for his more than three decades of Army service before taking a top job in President Donald Trump’s White House. The former three-star general’s tenure in the Trump administration was short-lived after he wound up in the crosshairs of investigators for his statements to the FBI in the early stages of its investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia.
By Katelyn Polantz, Gregory Wallace, Sara Murray, Caroline Kelly, Erica Orden and Marshall Cohen, CNN(CNN) CNN has received another 176 pages of notes from major witness interviews during former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation -- this time spanning the interviews with more obscure but well-connected witnesses, as well as with some of Mueller's main targets, including George Papadopoulos, Carter Page and Paul Manafort. This is the fourth time CNN has gotten documents like these from the Justice Department regarding the Mueller investigation, as part of a lawsuit in conjunction with BuzzFeed News.The previous releases fleshed out details that Mueller summarized in his final report regarding President Donald Trump's and his campaign's actions. The memos so far have revealed, for instance, how top Trump campaign officials witnessed the candidate and other Trump campaign officials pushing for the release of stolen Democratic emails and supported a conspiracy theory that Ukraine had hacked the Democrats in 2016.The memos, called 302s by the FBI, were typed up by agents or prosecutors after they questioned each witness. Friday's release landed with large chunks of the witness memos redacted and with several pages withheld from the public. The Justice Department has kept many of the memos heavily redacted as it continues to release them this year.Kushner interview notes missingDespite a court order, the Justice Department is holding back Mueller memos regarding the interviews conducted with the President's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. CNN and BuzzFeed have won access to thousands of pages of Mueller's witness memos. A judge ordered that the news organizations get access to the same group of documents the House saw, including the Kushner memos, this month.
By Scott NeumanFormer national security adviser Michael Flynn, who admitted to lying to the FBI about contacts with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., wants to withdraw his 2-year-old guilty plea, saying federal prosecutors reneged on a promise to not ask for jail time at his upcoming sentencing. Flynn, who held the post of national security adviser for less than a month, is the only Trump administration official to face criminal charges in connection with special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian election meddling. He was to be sentenced on Jan. 28. "The government's stunning and vindictive reversal of its earlier representations to this Court are incredible, vindictive, in bad faith, and breach the plea agreement," Sidney Powell and Jesse Binnall, Flynn's lead counsel, wrote in the motion."Michael T. Flynn is innocent. Mr. Flynn has cooperated with the government in good faith for two years. He gave the prosecution his full cooperation," they wrote. The defense asked to delay Flynn's sentencing by 30 days, to Feb. 27, and the government says it has no objection. U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan has yet to rule on the request. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, which took over the case from Mueller, recommended earlier this month that Flynn receive "0 to 6 months of incarceration." In the sentencing memo, prosecutors said Flynn had been less than cooperative in an investigation of his former partner, Bijan Rafiekian, at Flynn Intel Group, a lobbying firm.
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