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Attorney General Nominee Promises to Allow Mueller to Finish His Work - The New York Times
WASHINGTON — William P. Barr, President Trump’s nominee for attorney general, promised on Monday that he would allow the special counsel to continue his investigation, seeking to allay Democrats’ fears that he might shut down the inquiry.
“It is in the best interest of everyone — the president, Congress, and, most importantly, the American people — that this matter be resolved by allowing the special counsel to complete his work,” Mr. Barr said in written testimony that he plans to deliver on Tuesday at the start of his two-day confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“The country needs a credible resolution of these issues,” he added. “If confirmed, I will not permit partisan politics, personal interests, or any other improper consideration to interfere with this or any other investigation.”
But Mr. Barr’s written statement also included a subtle caveat, limiting his assurances about the investigation to issues under his control: “I can assure you that, where judgments are to be made by me, I will make those judgments based solely on the law and will let no personal, political, or other improper interests influence my decision,” he wrote.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  nytimes  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump 
2 days ago by rgl7194
What Trump’s Attorney General Pick Could Mean For The Mueller Investigation | FiveThirtyEight
And, you know, criminal justice policy.
At first glance, William Barr is a far more conventional choice for attorney general than Matthew Whitaker, who has been temporarily filling the role since Jeff Sessions resigned at President Trump’s request. Whitaker’s month in office has been marred by questions about whether he would interfere with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which he had previously criticized. If Barr is confirmed quickly, his nomination will also end an ongoing legal debate about whether Whitaker’s appointment, which bypassed the usual succession order, was legitimate. Barr is an established figure in Washington politics, and if confirmed, this will be his second stint at the helm of the Department of Justice — he previously served as attorney general from 1991 to 1993.
But Barr’s appointment could still have big implications for Mueller’s investigation and criminal justice issues more broadly — depending on how similar he is to his two predecessors, both of whom will loom over Barr’s confirmation hearings. Barr, who has deep roots in the drug wars and has a history of pushing for tougher criminal penalties, might seem like an odd choice to lead the Justice Department at a moment when a bipartisan group of senators just succeeded in pushing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring a long-awaited sentencing reform bill up for a vote — an effort that the president has supported. But overriding concern about how Barr will supervise the Mueller investigation could allow him to escape significant scrutiny about the issues that will make up the bulk of his job.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump  538 
2 days ago by rgl7194
Matthew Whitaker: The Ethical Mire of Trump’s Top Law Officer | by Murray Waas | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books
News summary:
When Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker accepted the role of overseeing the Mueller investigation, he failed to disclose to Department of Justice ethics officers that, as head of a conservative watchdog group, he had cooperated with senior White House aides of President Trump in finding ways to attack the work of the special counsel—in one case by filing a Federal Election Commission complaint against a critic of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager who was under scrutiny by Mueller.
If Whitaker had revealed these directions from the White House and his actions on Trump’s behalf, Justice ethics officers would almost certainly have advised him that his continued oversight of the special counsel would violate ethics rules. According to a senior Justice official with knowledge of the matter, Whitaker may face investigation by the department’s inspector general over his omission.
As the confirmation hearing for Whitaker’s permanent replacement as attorney general begins, senators will want to know from President Trump’s nominee, William Barr, what action he will take to prevent similar efforts by the White House to interfere in and frustrate the special counsel’s investigation.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump 
2 days ago by rgl7194
Prosecutors Examining Ukrainians Who Flocked to Trump Inaugural - The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Hours after he was sworn in as America’s 45th president, Donald J. Trump and his wife, Melania, swayed together to a rendition of the Frank Sinatra classic “My Way,” as hundreds of their wealthiest and most influential supporters held aloft smartphones to capture the Trumps’ first dance following the inauguration.
Serhiy Kivalov, a Ukrainian lawmaker known for pro-Russian initiatives, took photos of the dance, as well as of his coveted tickets and passes to the soiree where it took place, the Liberty Ball at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, posting them on Facebook and declaring that “it was an honor” to attend.
He was one of at least a dozen Ukrainian political and business figures who made their way to Washington for the inauguration, several of whom attended the Liberty Ball. Most had more on their dance cards than just parties.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  nytimes  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump  ukraine 
5 days ago by rgl7194
Michael Cohen, Trump’s Former Lawyer, Agrees to Testify to Congress - The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former personal lawyer who implicated him in a scheme to pay hush money to two women claiming to have had affairs with him, said on Thursday that he had agreed to testify before a House committee next month and give “a full and credible account” of his work for Mr. Trump.
Mr. Cohen’s decision to appear before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Feb. 7 sets the stage for a blockbuster public hearing that threatens to further damage the president’s image and could clarify the depth of his legal woes. Mr. Cohen, a consigliere to Mr. Trump when he was a real estate developer and presidential candidate as well as informally when he was president, was privy to the machinations of Mr. Trump’s inner circle and to key moments under scrutiny by both the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and federal prosecutors in New York.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump  nytimes 
6 days ago by rgl7194
Supreme Court will not intervene in Mueller grand-jury subpoena case - Business Insider
The Supreme Court on Tuesday decided not to intervene in the ongoing legal battle between the special counsel Robert Mueller and an unknown foreign corporation fighting Mueller's grand-jury subpoena.
It means the unknown foreign company will be forced to pay fines for each day it refuses to comply with Mueller's subpoena.
Last year a federal appeals court ordered the entity to comply with the subpoena or pay a fine. The company appealed the ruling to the high court in December, and the Supreme Court declined the request on Tuesday.
Few details have trickled out about the case so far, but Mueller dropped a hint last week that the grand-jury-subpoena case could be tied to a separate case prosecutors have against several Russian entities indicted on charges they conspired to interfere in the 2016 race.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump  SCOTUS 
9 days ago by rgl7194
Manafort Shared Trump Campaign Data With Russian Associate, Prosecutors Say - The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Paul Manafort shared Trump campaign polling data with an associate tied to Russian intelligence during the 2016 campaign, prosecutors alleged, according to a court filing unsealed on Tuesday.
The accusations came to light in a document filed by Mr. Manafort’s defense lawyers that was supposed to be partly blacked out but contained a formatting error that accidentally revealed the information.
Prosecutors for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, broke off a plea agreement with Mr. Manafort in November, accusing him of repeatedly lying to them. The details of their accusations have been kept largely secret until now.
In one portion of the filing that Mr. Manafort’s lawyers tried to redact, they instead also revealed that Mr. Manafort “may have discussed a Ukraine peace plan” with the Russian associate, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, “on more than one occasion.”
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump 
9 days ago by rgl7194
Michael Cohen's and others' lies for Trump all point to Russia - The Washington Post
The many modes of mendacity inside the Trump circle would be amusing if the team were not in possession of the nuclear launch codes. Allowing any of these people to give sworn testimony is like handing a fork to a toddler and pointing her toward an electrical outlet. Foreign policy advisers George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, campaign operative Rick Gates, attorney Michael Cohen, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, international go-between Alex van der Zwaan, Russian fixer Konstantin Kilimnik: The list is so long, it feels like an Oscars speech. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is now in double-dutch because prosecutors say he lied when he promised to stop lying.
On the other hand, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III lavished praise on Flynn in a recent sentencing memo simply for telling the whole truth and nothing but. Exactly what truths Flynn told remains hidden behind heavy redactions, but it’s a good bet at least some of them involve more lies by more Trumpians.
Whatever he said (we’ll likely learn the details via future indictments), Flynn’s candor earned him a Get Out of Jail Free card. Cohen was not so lucky last week.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump 
14 days ago by rgl7194
Russians interacted with at least 14 Trump associates during the campaign and transition - The Washington Post
The Russian ambassador. A deputy prime minister. A pop star, a weightlifter, a lawyer, a Soviet army veteran with alleged intelligence ties.
Again and again and again, over the course of Donald Trump’s 18-month campaign for the presidency, Russian citizens made contact with his closest family members and friends, as well as figures on the periphery of his orbit.
Some offered to help his campaign and his real estate business. Some offered dirt on his Democratic opponent. Repeatedly, Russian nationals suggested Trump should hold a peacemaking sit-down with Vladi­mir Putin — and offered to broker such a summit.
In all, Russians interacted with at least 14 Trump associates during the campaign and presidential transition, public records and interviews show.
“It is extremely unusual,” said Michael McFaul, who served as ambassador to Russia under President Barack Obama. “Both the number of contacts and the nature of the contacts are extraordinary.”
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump 
14 days ago by rgl7194
The Mueller and Trump dance may finally be coming to an end - The Washington Post
For months, President Trump’s lawyers and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III have danced around whether the president will agree to be interviewed by prosecutors. It appears that dance may finally be coming to an end.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Mueller may agree to accept written answers from the president on at least some topics. But written answers are a very poor substitute for a face-to-face interview, so why would Mueller agree?
It has been clear for some time that Trump was unlikely to agree to a voluntary interview. Despite the president’s repeated protestations that he wants to talk to Mueller, his lawyers have consistently advised against it. In addition to possibly implicating himself in criminal activity, there’s a high likelihood Trump would lie about something and expose himself to false-statement or perjury charges. Just this week, excerpts released from Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book “Fear: Trump in the White House ” revealed how, back in January, Trump attorney John Dowd conducted a mock interview with the president seeking to persuade him that speaking to Mueller was a bad idea. Trump reportedly failed the faux showdown miserably.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump 
14 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller seeks no prison time for former national security adviser Michael Flynn, citing his ‘substantial assistance’ - The Washington Post
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III on Tuesday recommended that former national security adviser Michael Flynn serve no prison time, citing his “substantial assistance” with several ongoing investigations, according to a new court filing.
Flynn was forced out of his post as national security adviser in February 2017 after the White House said he misled administration officials, including Vice President Pence, about his contacts with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States at the time.
Since then, Flynn has been cooperating with Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, and his full account of events has been one of the best-kept secrets in Washington. He is one of five Trump aides who have pleaded guilty in the special counsel probe.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump 
14 days ago by rgl7194
Opinion | Welcome to the President’s Rat Pack, Paul Manafort - The New York Times
The demand for justice once again outweighs the president’s demand for loyalty.
Pardon us, but was it only three weeks ago that President Trump expressed “such respect” for Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman and freshly minted felon, who had refused to cooperate with the special counsel’s office and took his federal bank- and tax-fraud conviction like a “brave man”?
That tribute was meant to highlight the president’s contempt for the decision by his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to plead guilty that same day to his own charges of bank fraud, tax fraud and campaign-finance violations. Unlike the weak Mr. Cohen, Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, Mr. Manafort “refused to ‘break’ — make up stories in order to get a ‘deal.’”
So much for that. Mr. Trump’s expectation that there is any honor among thieves has been confounded once again.
On Friday, Mr. Manafort broke in a big way — agreeing to cooperate “fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly” regarding “any and all matters” the special counsel, Robert Mueller, wants him to.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump  nytimes  op-ed 
14 days ago by rgl7194
Paul Manafort Agrees to Cooperate With Special Counsel; Pleads Guilty to Reduced Charges - The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Paul Manafort agreed on Friday to tell all he knows to the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, as part of a plea deal that could shape the final stages of the inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The deal was a surrender by Mr. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, who had vowed for months to prove his innocence in a case stemming from his work as a political consultant in Ukraine. And it was a decisive triumph for Mr. Mueller, who now has a cooperating witness who was at the center of the Trump campaign during a crucial period in 2016 and has detailed insight into another target of federal prosecutors, the network of lobbyists and influence brokers seeking to help foreign interests in Washington.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump  not 
14 days ago by rgl7194
Opinion | ‘His Dirty Deeds’ - The New York Times
Michael Cohen said President Trump led him into darkness. The courts brought him into the light.
There have been some dark days in America in recent months, days when its astonished citizens have had reason to wonder whether its institutions and even its ideals — the Congress, the electoral process, the notion that honesty matters — had become too brittle to withstand what could seem like relentless assault.
Wednesday was not one of those days.
A federal judge in Manhattan sentenced Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer, to three years in prison over what the judge called a “veritable smorgasbord” of crimes, most important, paying hush money to two women who said they slept with his ex-boss. Those payments enabled Mr. Trump to conceal the accusations from voters in the closing weeks of the campaign. United States District Judge William Pauley said this violation of campaign finance laws created “insidious harm to our democratic institutions.” In so ruling, he demonstrated that those institutions have some life in them yet.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump  nytimes  op-ed 
14 days ago by rgl7194
Mueller fuels foreign lobbying crackdown | TheHill
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation has given federal prosecutors momentum to litigate alleged violations of what until last year was an obscure law governing foreign lobbying.
In the course of his now 19-month probe, Mueller has uncovered a web of alleged criminality linked to violations of a World War II-era law enacted amid concerns over foreign propaganda.
Mueller has obtained guilty pleas under the law, the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), from two of President Trump’s 2016 campaign aides, Paul Manafort and Richard Gates. Both pleaded guilty to charges linked to their lobbying work on behalf of pro-Russian forces in Ukraine.
Mueller has also referred cases falling outside his mandate to other U.S. prosecutors.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump 
15 days ago by rgl7194
Michael Cohen in Prague? - WhoWhatWhy
A lot of significant news stories get “lost” during the holidays as many Americans are taking a break from the non-stop barrage of information, and focusing instead on spending time with their families.
That’s certainly true for a report from McClatchy News Service, citing four unnamed sources, who allege that Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, may have lied when he claimed he was not in the Prague area at a meeting with the Russians months before the 2016 presidential election.
The claim that he was there, and did have that meeting, came in the famed so-called Steele Dossier that laid out a series of allegations relating to Russian efforts to engage with and possibly compromise Trump.
The Smoking Gun, Cohen’s Cell Phone
Now McClatchy is reporting that Cohen’s cell phone was in the area near Prague in the late summer of 2016 — roughly the time when the dossier claims the meeting took place. Cohen’s phone is said to have pinged cell towers in the area.
Cohen denied the claim and declared that he had never been to the Czech Republic at all; McClatchy stands by its story.
So far no other news outlets have confirmed McClatchy’s story. According to co-author Greg Gordon, the story’s sources were not government officials, and did not have direct knowledge of the intelligence themselves. As Gordon told MSNBC’s Joy Reid, “The sources have — some of the sources have government sources, and some of the sources are — are people who have told us that they have trusted intelligence-type sources that they get information from.”
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump 
15 days ago by rgl7194

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