collusion

Leaders on Capitol Hill responded Friday to special counsel Robert Mueller’s delivery of his report related to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election to Attorney General Bill Barr.

Barr sent a letter to Capitol Hill committee chairmen in both chambers, informing them that the report was submitted to the Justice Department. (RELATED: Breaking: Mueller Submits Report To Justice Department)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement he welcomed that the announcement from the special counsel has finally completed his investigation into Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 elections.”

He continued, “Many Republicans have long believed that Russia poses a significant threat to American interests. I hope the special counsel’s report will help inform and improve our efforts to protect our democracy.”

McConnell said Barr will now need time to review the report, adding, “The attorney general has said he intends to provide as much information as possible. As I have said previously, I sincerely hope he will do so as soon as he can, and with as much openness and transparency as possible.”

Little is known about the contents of the report that was two years in the making and led to the indictment or guilty plea of six Trump associates. However, not one indictment was related to conspiracy or collusion with Russians.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (L), U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (2nd R), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (R) and other congressional leaders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., September 6, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

A senior Justice Department official told Fox News that the special counsel has not recommended any further indictments.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for the complete public release of the report in a joint statement:

Now that special counsel Mueller has submitted his report to the Attorney General, it is imperative for Mr. Barr to make the full report public and provide its underlying documentation and findings to Congress.

Attorney General Barr must not give President Trump, his lawyers or his staff any ‘sneak preview’ of Special Counsel Mueller’s findings or evidence, and the White House must not be allowed to interfere in decisions about what parts of those findings or evidence are made public.

The Special Counsel’s investigation focused on questions that go to the integrity of our democracy itself: whether foreign powers corruptly interfered in our elections, and whether unlawful means were used to hinder that investigation. The American people have a right to the truth. The watchword is transparency.

Although the Mueller investigation has ended, Democrats have vowed to continue their own investigations of Trump from the Judiciary Committee and Oversight Committee in the lower chamber. Additionally, Democrats are counting on investigations of the president and his allies from the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York.

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Source: The Daily Caller

Attorney General William Barr should “swiftly prepare a declassified version” of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, says Democratic Sen. Mark Warner.

"Congress and the American people deserve to judge the facts for themselves. The Special Counsel's report must be provided to Congress immediately, and the Attorney General should swiftly prepare a declassified version of the report for the public. Nothing short of that will suffice,” the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said in a statement Friday.
“It is also critical that all documents related to the Special Counsel's investigation be preserved and made available to the appropriate Congressional committees,” he added.
“Any attempt by the Trump Administration to cover up the results of this investigation into Russia's attack on our democracy would be unacceptable."

Mueller on Friday delivered his long-awaited report to the Justice Department, a process that took 675 days and ate up most of Trump’s presidency.

Mueller’s team has indicted or won guilty pleas from 34 people and three companies as part of his investigation that has also probed issues unrelated to the 2016 campaign.

None of Trump’s associates have been charged with crimes related to collusion, though Roger Stone in January was charged with lying about his communications with WikiLeaks, the outlet that published hacked Democratic emails during the election.

Trump has repeatedly decried the probe as a “witch hunt” and has emphatically denied he or his campaign colluded with Russia to undermine Democrat Hillary Clinton’s chances.

Source: NewsMax

FILE PHOTO: Special Counsel Mueller departs after briefing members of the U.S. Senate on his investigation in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after briefing members of the U.S. Senate on his investigation into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

March 22, 2019

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Twelve days after being named special counsel to investigate Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Robert Mueller delivered a speech to his granddaughter’s high school graduating class at Tabor Academy in Marion, Massachusetts.

In this rare public appearance in May 2017, Mueller did not bring up President Donald Trump or the investigation, but offered a clear message stressing the importance of honesty and integrity.

“You could be smart, aggressive, articulate, indeed persuasive, but if you are not honest, your reputation will suffer,” Mueller said. “And once lost, a good reputation can never, ever be regained. The saying goes: If you have integrity, nothing else matters, and if you do not have integrity, nothing else matters.”

On Friday, Mueller handed in the long-awaited report on his investigation.

Mueller, a 74-year-old decorated Vietnam War veteran and former FBI director known for his tough, no-nonsense leadership style, has faced unremitting attacks by Trump on his integrity as the Republican president has tried to discredit the investigation and the special counsel himself. Trump declined to sit for an interview with the special counsel’s team.

Mueller has remained silent about the inquiry but has spoken loudly through court filings and the indictments of 34 people, including several key Trump aides as well as Russian intelligence officers and three Russian companies.

Mueller, a longtime Republican, was named by the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, Rod Rosenstein, to take over the Russia investigation after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, whose agency had led the probe. Mueller has looked into whether Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia and whether the president has unlawfully tried to obstruct the investigation.

Trump, facing political peril from the inquiry, has used Twitter, campaign-style speeches and comments to news media to assail Mueller, accusing him of running a politically motivated, “rigged witch hunt;” going “rogue;” surrounding himself with “thugs” and having conflicts of interest.

“It’s all a big hoax,” Trump said on Friday.

Mueller has been a fixture in American law enforcement for decades and is considered the architect of the modern FBI, serving as its director from 2001 to 2013. He was first appointed to the post by Republican President George W. Bush, then his appointment was extended by Bush’s successor, Democrat Barack Obama.

Mueller took over as Federal Bureau of Investigation director a week before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States by al Qaeda militants that killed about 3,000 people. By the time Mueller left the position, his tenure was exceeded only by J. Edgar Hoover’s 48-year stint.

‘BOBBY THREE STICKS’

Mueller was known by some as “Bobby Three Sticks” because of his full name – Robert Mueller III – a moniker that belies his formal bearing and sober approach to law enforcement.

He was credited with transforming the premier U.S. law enforcement agency after Congress and an independent government commission determined the FBI and CIA had failed to share information before the Sept. 11 attacks that could have helped prevent them. Mueller revamped the FBI into an agency centered on protecting national security in addition to law enforcement, putting more resources into counterterrorism investigations and improving cooperation with other U.S. agencies.

He put his career on the line in 2004 when he and Comey, then the deputy attorney general, threatened to resign when White House officials sought to reauthorize a domestic eavesdropping program that the Justice Department had deemed unconstitutional. The two rushed to a Washington hospital and prevented top Bush aides from persuading an ailing Attorney General John Ashcroft, recovering from gall bladder surgery, to reauthorize the surveillance program.

Comey succeeded Mueller as FBI director in 2013.

After graduating from Princeton University, Mueller served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, leading a rifle platoon and receiving commendations including the Bronze Star. His became a federal prosecutor in 1976 and remained in public service until his FBI retirement, with the exception of a couple of short stints with law firms.

He became a U.S. assistant attorney general in 1991 and was a key player on high-profile federal prosecutions such as the 1992 convictions of former Panamanian leader Manuel Antonio Noriega and New York Mafia boss John Gotti and the investigation into the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Mueller’s Russia investigation already has yielded a series of guilty pleas and a conviction in the only trial held to date.

Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted on eight charges and pleaded guilty to two others, receiving a 7-1/2-year prison sentence. Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former personal lawyer Michael Cohen and former campaign aides Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos have entered guilty pleas. Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone has pleaded not guilty to charges.

The big question is whether Mueller will present evidence of criminal conduct by Trump himself. Such findings could prompt the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives to begin the congressional impeachment process laid out in the U.S. Constitution for removing a president from office for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

While Trump has hammered away at Mueller, others have defended the special counsel’s integrity, including some formerly associated with the president such as former White House attorney Ty Cobb.

“I think,” Cobb said in an ABC News podcast interview, “Bob Mueller is an American hero.”

(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Bill Trott and Jonathan Oatis)

Source: OANN

The U.S. Capitol is seen in Washington after Special Counsel Mueller handed in report on Trump-Russia investigation in W
The U.S. Capitol is seen after Special Counsel Robert Mueller handed in a keenly awaited report on his investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election and any potential wrongdoing by U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

March 22, 2019

(Reuters) – Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election has ensnared dozens of people, including several advisers to President Donald Trump and a series of Russian nationals and companies.

Rod Rosenstein, the No. 2 U.S. Justice Department official, in May 2017 appointed Mueller to look into Russian interference, whether members of Trump’s campaign coordinated with Moscow officials and whether the Republican president has unlawfully sought to obstruct the probe. Mueller has charged 34 people and three companies.

Trump denies collusion and obstruction. Russia denies election interference.

Mueller has handed in a report on his investigation, the Department of Justice said on Friday.

The following are those who have pleaded guilty or have been indicted in Mueller’s inquiry. (Graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/2RwJarW)

PAUL MANAFORT

Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, guilty of five counts of tax fraud, was sentenced to a combined 7-1/2 years in prison in two cases brought by Mueller in which he was convicted by a jury in Virginia in August 2018 and pleaded guilty a month later in Washington.

In Virginia, he was found guilty of five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failing to disclose foreign bank accounts.

Manafort, who prosecutors said tried to conceal from the U.S. government millions of dollars he was paid as a political consultant for pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy in a separate case in Washington and agreed to cooperate with Mueller. The Washington case had focused on accusations of money laundering and failing to report foreign bank accounts, among other charges.

A judge on Feb. 13 ruled that Manafort had breached his agreement to cooperate with Mueller by lying to prosecutors about three matters pertinent to the Russia probe including his interactions with a business partner, Konstantin Kilimnik, who they have said has ties to Russian intelligence.

MICHAEL COHEN

Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer, pleaded guilty in August 2018 to crimes including orchestrating “hush money” payments before the 2016 election to women who have said they had sexual encounters with Trump, violating campaign laws. That case was handled by federal prosecutors in New York, not Mueller’s office.

As part of a separate agreement with Mueller’s team, Cohen pleaded guilty in November 2018 to lying to Congress about negotiations concerning a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow, a project that never materialized.

Cohen is due to report to prison on May 6 to begin serving a three-year prison sentence.

Cohen in February 2019 testified at a public hearing before a House of Representatives committee. He accused Trump of approving the “hush money” payments and knowing in advance about the 2016 release by the WikiLeaks website of emails that prosecutors have said were stolen by Russia to harm Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. He said Trump implicitly directed him to lie about the Moscow real estate project.

He promised to keep cooperating with prosecutors and made multiple closed-door appearances before congressional panels.

MICHAEL FLYNN

Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser for less than a month in early 2017, pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia during Trump’s presidential transition and agreed to cooperate with Mueller.

Trump fired him as national security adviser after it emerged that Flynn had misled Vice President Mike Pence and the FBI about his dealings with the then-Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. His sentencing is pending.

ROGER STONE

The longtime Trump ally and presidential campaign adviser was charged in January 2019 with seven criminal counts including obstruction of an official proceeding, witness tampering and making false statements, pleading not guilty.

His trial date has been set for Nov. 5.

Prosecutors said Stone shared with members of the Trump campaign team advance knowledge of the plan by WikiLeaks to release the stolen Democratic emails. Prosecutors also accused him of trying to interfere with a witness, a radio host who matched the profile of Randy Credico.

RICK GATES

The former deputy chairman of Trump’s campaign, Gates pleaded guilty in February 2018 to conspiracy against the United States and lying to investigators. He agreed to cooperate with Mueller and testified as a prosecution witness against Manafort, his former business partner. His sentencing is pending.

KONSTANTIN KILIMNIK

A Manafort aide in Ukraine and a political operative described by prosecutors as linked to Russian intelligence, Kilimnik was charged in June 2018 with tampering with witnesses about their past lobbying for Ukraine’s former pro-Russian government.

Prosecutors said in January 2019 that Manafort shared political polling data with Kilimnik in 2016, providing an indication that Trump’s campaign may have tried to coordinate with Russians.

TWELVE RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS

Twelve Russian intelligence officers were indicted by a federal grand jury in July 2018, accused of hacking the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations as part of a Russian scheme to release emails damaging to Clinton during the 2016 race. They covertly monitored employee computers and planted malicious code, as well as stealing emails and other documents, according to the indictment.

THIRTEEN RUSSIAN NATIONALS, THREE COMPANIES

Thirteen Russians and three Russian companies were indicted in Mueller’s investigation in February 2018, accused of taking part in an elaborate campaign to sow discord in the United States ahead of the 2016 election and harm Clinton’s candidacy in order to boost Trump. The companies included: the Internet Research Agency, a St. Petersburg-based propaganda arm known for trolling on social media; Concord Management and Consulting; and Concord Catering.

GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS

The former Trump campaign adviser was sentenced in September 2018 to 14 days in prison after pleading guilty in October 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials, including a professor who told him the Russians had “dirt” on Clinton.

ALEX VAN DER ZWAAN

A lawyer who once worked closely with Manafort and Gates, Van Der Zwaan pleaded guilty in February 2018 to lying to Mueller’s investigators about contacts with a Trump campaign official. Van Der Zwaan, the Dutch son-in-law of one of Russia’s richest men, was sentenced in April 2018 to 30 days in prison and fined $20,000.

RICHARD PINEDO

Pinedo was not involved with the Trump campaign, but in February 2018 pleaded guilty to identity fraud in a case related to the Mueller investigation for helping Russian conspirators launder money, purchase Facebook ads and pay for supplies.

He was sentenced in October 2018 to six months in jail and six months of home detention.

(Compiled by Susan Heavey, Sarah N. Lynch, Jan Wolfe; Editing by Will Dunham and Grant McCool)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands as they hold a joint news conference after their meeting in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo

March 22, 2019

By Andy Sullivan

(Reuters) – Special Counsel Robert Mueller and other U.S. prosecutors have been investigating whether President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign conspired with Russia. Trump and Moscow have denied any collusion.

Mueller handed in the keenly awaited report on his probe, the Justice Department said on Friday.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded Russia interfered in the presidential election with a campaign of hacking and propaganda to sow discord in the United States and damage the Republican Trump’s Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. Russia denies it.

Here are some key interactions between Trump advisors and Russian figures that have been unearthed by Mueller’s probe and investigations in Congress.

TRUMP TOWER MEETING

Several top Trump aides, including campaign chairman Paul Manafort, son-in-law Jared Kushner and son Donald Trump Jr., met in June 2016 at Trump Tower in New York with a Russian lawyer who had offered damaging information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. U.S. prosecutors said the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was an agent for the Kremlin. The meeting was arranged by Rob Goldstone, a British music publicist. Participants in the meeting said nothing improper occurred and that Veselnitskaya discussed U.S. sanctions on Russia and adoption policy, not election issues. The president said he did not know about the meeting beforehand.

EFFORTS TO BUILD A SKYSCRAPER IN MOSCOW

Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, said he pursued a deal to build a Trump-branded skyscraper in Moscow until June 2016, after Trump had clinched the Republican presidential nomination. Cohen said in a guilty plea that he spoke with an assistant to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary in January of that year and briefed Trump on the project more than three times.

Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said the Moscow skyscraper talks continued until Trump won the November 2016 election but later said he misspoke.

Trump, who repeatedly said during the campaign that he had no contacts with Russia, said after Cohen’s guilty plea in November 2018 there was nothing wrong with pursuing the deal.

EFFORTS TO SET UP A MEETING WITH RUSSIAN LEADERS

Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos worked between March 2016 and August 2016 to set up a meeting with Russian leadership, according to prosecutors. They said a London-based professor with ties to the Russian government told him in April 2016 that Moscow had compromising information on Clinton.

Papadopoulos served 14 days in prison after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about those efforts.

MANAFORT OFFERS CAMPAIGN INSIGHTS

Manafort shared election campaign polling data in August 2016 with Konstantin Kilimnik, a former business partner who Mueller has described as having ties to Russian intelligence, according to a court filing inadvertently made public by Manafort’s lawyers. The two also discussed a plan to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, a major Kremlin foreign policy goal as it seeks relief from U.S. economic sanctions, according to court filings.

Manafort, a veteran Republican political consultant who earned million of dollars working for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine, also offered private briefings about the campaign to Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who is close to Putin, in an effort to collect past debts, according to the Washington Post.

ROGER STONE AND WIKILEAKS

Roger Stone, a veteran Republican political consultant who has worked on and off with Trump for decades, shared with Trump campaign officials advance knowledge he had of a plan by the WikiLeaks website to release emails stolen from the Clinton campaign by Russians, prosecutors said. The charging document mentions that a senior Trump campaign official “was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information” WikiLeaks had about the Clinton campaign, raising the possibility Trump himself made the request. Stone pleaded not guilty to lying to Congress and witness tampering.

MEETINGS WITH RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR SERGEI KISLYAK

Several Trump advisers met with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak, before Trump became president.

They included: Michael Flynn, who served as Trump’s first White House national security advisor. Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his communications with Kislyak in December 2017, after Trump won the election but before he took office. During those calls, according to the indictment, Flynn discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia and asked Kislyak to help delay a U.N. vote seen as damaging to Israel, a move that ran counter to the policies of then-President Barack Obama, a Democrat.

Jeff Sessions, a Republican U.S. senator serving as a campaign adviser who Trump later named attorney general, said he met with Kislyak at least twice in 2016 after initially telling Congress he was unaware of any communications between the campaign and Russia. As attorney general, Sessions recused himself from oversight of the Russia investigation, drawing the ire of Trump. The recusal by Sessions left Rod Rosenstein, the No. 2 Justice Department official, with oversight over the probe, which at the time was headed by the FBI. After Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017, Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel to take over the probe.

Kushner said he asked Kislyak if he could set up a secure communications channel at the Russian Embassy after Trump won the election. Kushner also said he met with Sergei Gorkov, the head of Russian state-owned bank, Vnesheconombank, during that period at Kislyak’s insistence. Vnesheconombank has been subject to U.S. economic sanctions since mid-2014.

(Compiled by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Will Dunham)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: FBI Director Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Robert Mueller, as FBI director, testifies before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Federal Bureau of Investigation oversight on Capitol Hill in Washington June 13, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

March 22, 2019

By Sarah N. Lynch and Jan Wolfe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has submitted the report on his investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election, Attorney General William Barr must decide how much of the document – if any – to make public.

Justice Department regulations governing special counsels adopted in 1999 give Barr, the top U.S. law enforcement official, broad discretion in deciding how much to release to Congress and the public. Barr, in his January Senate confirmation hearings after being nominated by Trump, promised to “provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law” – a pledge that still gives him a lot of wiggle room.

Trump said on Wednesday he does not mind if the public is allowed to see the report.

Mueller was named special counsel in May 2017 by the department’s No. 2 official, Rod Rosenstein, to take over an investigation that had been headed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He examined whether Trump’s 2016 campaign conspired with Russia and whether the president unlawfully sought to obstruct the probe. Trump has denied collusion and obstruction and Russia has denied election interference.

Here is an explanation of the rules Barr must follow and the political pressures that he faces in deciding on disclosure of Mueller’s findings.

WHAT DO JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REGULATIONS CALL FOR?

Justice Department regulations do not require the release of the entire special counsel report but also do not prevent Barr from doing so, giving him leeway to disclose it if it is in the public interest.

Special counsels can be appointed by the department to investigate matters of high sensitivity that are not handled through the normal channels.

The department placed limits on special counsel powers in the 1999 regulations creating the post.

The regulations state that when an investigation is conducted a special counsel must provide the attorney general a “confidential report” explaining why particular individuals were or were not charged.

The regulations require Barr to notify the top Republicans and Democrats on the House of Representatives and Senate Judiciary Committees that the investigation has ended. Department policy calls for Barr to summarize the confidential report for Congress with “an outline of the actions and the reasons for them.” According to the regulations, Barr “may determine that public release of these reports would be in the public interest, to the extent that release would comply with applicable legal restrictions.”

In deciding what to release, Barr may have to confront thorny legal issues involving secrecy of grand jury testimony, protecting classified information, communications with the White House possibly subject to the principle of executive privilege shielding certain information from disclosure, and safeguarding confidential reasons for why some individuals were not charged.

WHAT POLITICAL PRESSURE MIGHT BARR BE FEELING?

Some Democrats have expressed concern Barr may try to shield Trump and bury parts of the report. Barr may feel pressure from the Republican president to conceal damaging parts of Mueller’s report and release any findings that may exonerate him.

Barr, 68, is a veteran Washington insider who also was attorney general from 1991 to 1993 under Republican President George H.W. Bush. He has embraced an expansive view of presidential powers but also is considered a defender of the rule of law.

Trump fired Barr’s predecessor, Jeff Sessions, in November after complaining for months about Sessions’ 2017 decision to recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation.

WHAT IF BARR DECLINES TO RELEASE THE FULL REPORT?

Democrats control the House and some already have pledged to subpoena the report and Mueller and go to court if necessary to secure its full release. The House on March 14 voted 420-0, with four conservative Republican lawmakers voting “present,” to approve a non-binding resolution urging Barr to make public everything in Mueller’s report that is not expressly prohibited by law and to provide the entire document to Congress.

HOW HAVE OTHER SPECIAL COUNSEL REPORTS BEEN HANDLED?

Only two special counsels have been appointed under the 1999 regulations: Mueller and former Senator John Danforth, who was appointed that same year to investigate the deadly 1993 federal raid on the Branch Davidian cult compound in Waco, Texas. Danforth’s report in 2000 cleared government officials of wrongdoing.

In appointing Danforth, Attorney General Janet Reno specifically directed him to draft a report for public release on his findings, which he did. Rosenstein made no such demand on Mueller.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Jan Wolfe; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Bill Trott)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Special Counsel Mueller departs after briefing members of the U.S. Senate on his investigation in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Special Counsel Robert Mueller (R) departs after briefing members of the U.S. Senate on his investigation into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

March 22, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Special Counsel Robert Mueller has handed in a keenly awaited report on his investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election and any potential wrongdoing by U.S. President Donald Trump, the Justice Department said on Friday.

Mueller submitted the report to Attorney General William Barr, the top U.S. law enforcement official, the department said. The report was not immediately made public – Barr will have to decide how much to disclose – and it was not known if Mueller found criminal conduct by Trump or his campaign, beyond the charges already brought against several aides.

Mueller, a former FBI director, had been examining since 2017 whether Trump’s campaign conspired with Moscow to try to influence the election and whether the Republican president later unlawfully tried to obstruct his investigation.

(Reporting by Will Dunham)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Consumers wait to buy meat products at a Pingo Doce supermarket in Lisbon
FILE PHOTO: Consumers wait to buy meat products at a Pingo Doce supermarket in Lisbon, Portugal July 6, 2018. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante

March 22, 2019

LISBON (Reuters) – Portugal’s competition authority on Friday accused six big supermarket chains of illegally fixing prices for some drinks in collusion with three beverage suppliers between 2003 and 2017.

It said it found that Modelo Continente, owned by Portugal’s retailer Sonae, Pingo Doce, run by Jeronimo Martins, and France’s Auchan and Intermarche aligned prices for beer and beverages distributed by Heineken-owned Central de Cervejas e Bebidas and by the local Super Bock Group.

The four supermarket chains, as well as the local units of Germany’s Lidl and France’s E.Leclerc, also used the same scheme with the Portuguese wine and liquor distributor Prime Drinks, the authority said.

“If confirmed, that conduct is very serious,” the competition authority said in a statement late on Friday, adding that the case was one of the first “hub-and-spoke” schemes to be investigated in Portugal.

“This practice is equivalent to a cartel where distributors, without communicating between themselves, resort to bilateral contracts with suppliers to promote and guarantee that all practice the same public price in the retail market.”

Central de Cervejas e Bebidas denied any wrongdoing and said in a statement that it would cooperate with the authority to prove that it had acted in line with anti-trust rules.

Pingo Doce also denied wrongdoing and said it was surprised by the accusations because half of its revenues come from promotional campaigns, in which prices are often discounted.

Nobody was available for comment at the other companies.

The competition authority said it would not pre-judge the final outcome of the investigation, and that the companies will have an opportunity to defend themselves. It did not say what sanctions they could face.

(Reporting By Andrei Khalip; Editing by Catherine Evans)

Source: OANN

U.S. President Trump departs on travel to Ohio from the White House in Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs on travel to Ohio at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

March 22, 2019

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he does not mind if the public is allowed to see the report that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is preparing about his investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and any possible links to the Trump campaign.

“Let it come out, let people see it, that’s up to the attorney general … and we’ll see what happens,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

“We’ll see if it’s fair,” he added.

Mueller is preparing to submit a report to U.S. Attorney General William Barr on his findings, including Russia’s role in the election and whether Trump unlawfully sought to obstruct the probe. Trump has denied collusion and obstruction. Russia has denied interfering in the election.

Barr already is coming under pressure from lawmakers to make the entire document public quickly, though he has wide latitude in what to release.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 420-0 last week on a non-binding resolution calling for Mueller’s report to be released both to Congress and to the public, but it is not clear how the measure will fare in the Senate.

Asked if the public should be allowed to see the report, Trump said: “I don’t mind.” He said he had no idea when it would be released.

As he has before, Trump questioned the legitimacy of Mueller’s investigation.

“I had the greatest electoral victory – one of them – in the history of our country, tremendous success, tens of millions of voters and now somebody’s going to write a report who never got a vote,” he said.

Mueller was appointed to handle the Russia investigation in May 2017 after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who had been overseeing the effort. Mueller has previously held several senior positions in the Justice Department, including FBI Director.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; writing by David Alexander and Andy Sullivan; editing by Tim Ahmann and Jonathan Oatis)

Source: OANN

MSNBC’s Katy Tur dismissed the upcoming results of Robert Mueller’s investigation during her Thursday show because, according to her, the special counsel has already found “quite a bit” of incriminating evidence against President Donald Trump.

Tur made the comment during a panel on her show with Washington Post White House reporter Ashley Parker and senior Politico White House reporter Darren Samuelsohn.

WATCH:

“There were moments all through the investigation when they actually were nervous and they were panicked. When for instance, Michael Cohen that news broke. But right now they’re not super nervous, and there is a sense that it is going to be a bit of a nothing burger,” Parker stated, when asked if the Trump administrations reaction could provide insight into the results of the investigation. “Again, I am not saying that’s what it will be, but that is the sense in the president orbit. And if that’s the case, they do think they can use it as a political cudgel to show Democratic overreach.”

“Let’s just put up on the screen everybody who’s already been found guilty or indicted in the Mueller investigation. Lots of faces, lots of pleas, and lots of indictments,” Tur stated, as a graphic of individuals connected to Trump who have been indicted appeared including Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort.

“They’ve already come up with quite a bit, regardless of whether there or not there is direct collusion or conspiracy found between Donald Trump or his campaign and the Russians,” she added. (RELATED: Trump Confidant Roger Stone Indicted In Mueller Probe)

Mueller has indicted or obtained guilty pleas from 34 individuals, including six Trump associates. But none of those indictments have involved coordination between Trump associates and Russians.

Recent reports suggest that Mueller is close to concluding the investigation. Several top prosecutors who worked on the investigation are leaving the special counsel’s office.

Once the report is concluded, he is expected to reach out to Attorney General William Barr, but it’s unclear what he would do after that.

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Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick prepares to take the field before an NFL game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara
FILE PHOTO: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick prepares to take the field before an NFL game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, U.S. October 23, 2016. Picture taken October 23, 2016. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

March 22, 2019

The Indianapolis Colts have signed former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston to a two-year, $24 million contract, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Thursday.

Houston registered 78 1/2 sacks in 102 games with the Chiefs from 2011-18, including a league-high 22 sacks in 2014.

The Chiefs released the 30-year-old pass rusher earlier this month when they could not find a trading partner. The four-time Pro Bowl selection had been due $15.25 million in base salary in 2019.

Colts general manager Chris Ballard knows Houston from his time in Kansas City, where he served as director of player personnel (2013-14) and director of football operations (2015-16).

–Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid will share less than $10 million in the settlement of their collusion case against the NFL, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The settlement was announced last month, but financial terms were withheld due to a confidentiality agreement.

Kaepernick, the former quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, opted out of his contract in March 2017 to pursue free agency. But when he found no takers, he filed a grievance against the league seven months later. Reid, the former 49ers safety who was the first player to join Kaepernick in 2016 by kneeling in protest during the national anthem, filed his own collusion case against the NFL in May 2018, and the grievances were later combined into a joint case.

–The Ravens have reached a two-year agreement to keep quarterback Robert Griffin III in Baltimore, pending the results of a physical. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The 29-year-old former Rookie of the Year will continue his role as a backup and mentor to Lamar Jackson. Griffin played in three games for the Ravens in 2018 and completed 2 of 6 passes for 21 yards.

–The Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys will play a preseason game this summer in Hawaii.

The defending NFC West and NFC East champions will meet Aug. 17 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. It will be the second preseason game for both teams and the first NFL exhibition game played in Hawaii since 1976, when the San Francisco 49ers played the then-San Diego Chargers.

–Restricted free agent cornerback Darqueze Dennard re-signed with the Cincinnati Bengals, reportedly rejecting offers from the Chiefs and other teams, per NFL Network.

A first-round pick in 2014 out of Michigan State, the 27-year-old Dennard has played in 68 games (19 starts) and registered 227 tackles, three interceptions and three sacks.

–Free agent tight end Jared Cook is close to a contract agreement with the New Orleans Saints, NFL Network reported.

Cook turns 32 next month but has been productive in stints with the Oakland Raiders, Green Bay Packers, then-St. Louis Rams and Tennessee Titans. He had 68 receptions for 896 yards and six touchdowns with the Raiders in 2018.

–Defensive end Vinny Curry is returning to the Philadelphia Eagles, agreeing to a deal after playing one season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Curry, 30, was released by the Bucs in March in a move that cleared $8 million in 2019 cap space. He won a Super Bowl with the Eagles two years ago and adds depth to a defensive line that has lost Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata.

–New Orleans Saints wide receiver Cameron Meredith agreed to a pay cut that saves the team $2.3 million in cap space for the upcoming season. His cap hit is now $4.15 million, down from $6.45 million.

A knee injury limited Meredith, 26, to just six games in the 2018 season. He caught nine passes for 114 yards and a touchdown last season. He has 86 catches and five touchdowns in his three-year career.

–The Arizona Cardinals reached a two-year deal with defensive lineman Darius Philon, the NFL Network reported. The deal is worth $10 million — $12 million with incentives — with $5 million guaranteed, according to the report.

Philon, 25, played in all 16 games with the Chargers last season, starting 13. He recorded four sacks, 33 tackles and a forced fumble.

–Field Level Media

Source: OANN

James Comey claimed in an op-ed Thursday that he does not care one way or the other whether special counsel Robert Mueller finds evidence that President Donald Trump conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election or obstructed the FBI’s collusion probe.

But the claim, which Comey made in The New York Times, is at odds with the former FBI director’s testimony about his actions shortly after being fired by Trump in May 2017.

Comey testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee in June 2017 that he leaked memos he wrote after conversations with Trump in order to force the appointment of a special counsel.

“I asked a friend of mine to share the content of a memo with the reporter, I didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons, but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel,” Comey testified June 8, 2017. (RELATED: James Comey Denies Being A Leaker)

Comey instructed his friend, Daniel Richman, to give the Times a memo he wrote about a conversation he had with Trump on Feb. 14, 2017. Comey claimed Trump asked him to shut down an investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Comey’s ploy worked, as Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel May 17, 2017.

WATCH:

Though Comey clearly pushed for the special counsel’s probe, he now claims that he has no preference as to what Mueller will write in a report of the 22-month-long investigation.

“Even though I believe Mr. Trump is morally unfit to be president of the United States, I’m not rooting for Mr. Mueller to demonstrate that he is a criminal,” Comey wrote in his op-ed.

“I’m also not rooting for Mr. Mueller to ‘clear’ the president. I’m not rooting for anything at all, except that the special counsel be permitted to finish his work, charge whatever cases warrant charging and report on his work.”

Comey, who oversaw the FBI’s collusion investigation for more than nine months until his firing, said that he has “no idea” whether Mueller will conclude that Trump knowing colluded with Russia. He also does not know whether Trump obstructed justice.

“I also don’t care,” he said.

“I care only that the work be done, well and completely. If it is, justice will have prevailed and core American values been protected at a time when so much of our national leadership has abandoned its commitment to truth and the rule of law.”

Comey also said in the op-ed he does not want to see Trump impeached. Instead, he said he hopes Trump is voted out of office in 2020.

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James Comey claimed in an op-ed Thursday that he does not care one way or the other whether special counsel Robert Mueller finds evidence that President Donald Trump conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election or obstructed the FBI’s collusion probe.

But the claim, which Comey made in The New York Times, is at odds with the former FBI director’s testimony about his actions shortly after being fired by Trump in May 2017.

Comey testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee in June 2017 that he leaked memos he wrote after conversations with Trump in order to force the appointment of a special counsel.

“I asked a friend of mine to share the content of a memo with the reporter, I didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons, but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel,” Comey testified June 8, 2017. (RELATED: James Comey Denies Being A Leaker)

Comey instructed his friend, Daniel Richman, to give the Times a memo he wrote about a conversation he had with Trump on Feb. 14, 2017. Comey claimed Trump asked him to shut down an investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Comey’s ploy worked, as Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel May 17, 2017.

WATCH:

Though Comey clearly pushed for the special counsel’s probe, he now claims that he has no preference as to what Mueller will write in a report of the 22-month-long investigation.

“Even though I believe Mr. Trump is morally unfit to be president of the United States, I’m not rooting for Mr. Mueller to demonstrate that he is a criminal,” Comey wrote in his op-ed.

“I’m also not rooting for Mr. Mueller to ‘clear’ the president. I’m not rooting for anything at all, except that the special counsel be permitted to finish his work, charge whatever cases warrant charging and report on his work.”

Comey, who oversaw the FBI’s collusion investigation for more than nine months until his firing, said that he has “no idea” whether Mueller will conclude that Trump knowing colluded with Russia. He also does not know whether Trump obstructed justice.

“I also don’t care,” he said.

“I care only that the work be done, well and completely. If it is, justice will have prevailed and core American values been protected at a time when so much of our national leadership has abandoned its commitment to truth and the rule of law.”

Comey also said in the op-ed he does not want to see Trump impeached. Instead, he said he hopes Trump is voted out of office in 2020.

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James Comey claimed in an op-ed Thursday that he does not care one way or the other whether special counsel Robert Mueller finds evidence that President Donald Trump conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election or obstructed the FBI’s collusion probe.

But the claim, which Comey made in The New York Times, is at odds with the former FBI director’s testimony about his actions shortly after being fired by Trump in May 2017.

Comey testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee in June 2017 that he leaked memos he wrote after conversations with Trump in order to force the appointment of a special counsel.

“I asked a friend of mine to share the content of a memo with the reporter, I didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons, but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel,” Comey testified June 8, 2017. (RELATED: James Comey Denies Being A Leaker)

Comey instructed his friend, Daniel Richman, to give the Times a memo he wrote about a conversation he had with Trump on Feb. 14, 2017. Comey claimed Trump asked him to shut down an investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Comey’s ploy worked, as Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel May 17, 2017.

WATCH:

Though Comey clearly pushed for the special counsel’s probe, he now claims that he has no preference as to what Mueller will write in a report of the 22-month-long investigation.

“Even though I believe Mr. Trump is morally unfit to be president of the United States, I’m not rooting for Mr. Mueller to demonstrate that he is a criminal,” Comey wrote in his op-ed.

“I’m also not rooting for Mr. Mueller to ‘clear’ the president. I’m not rooting for anything at all, except that the special counsel be permitted to finish his work, charge whatever cases warrant charging and report on his work.”

Comey, who oversaw the FBI’s collusion investigation for more than nine months until his firing, said that he has “no idea” whether Mueller will conclude that Trump knowing colluded with Russia. He also does not know whether Trump obstructed justice.

“I also don’t care,” he said.

“I care only that the work be done, well and completely. If it is, justice will have prevailed and core American values been protected at a time when so much of our national leadership has abandoned its commitment to truth and the rule of law.”

Comey also said in the op-ed he does not want to see Trump impeached. Instead, he said he hopes Trump is voted out of office in 2020.

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America has been engulfed by the opioid epidemic for nearly two decades, and today, more people are dying as a result than ever before. From 1999 to 2017, almost as many Americans died of an opioid overdose as died fighting in World War II. While it is more critical now than ever before that we draw attention to this epidemic,  the media — and cable news in particular — has continually ignored the magnitude of the issue.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that more than 400,000 Americans have died of an overdose involving opioids since 1999. At its current rate, the opioid epidemic’s death totals are set to surpass the 418,500 American lives lost throughout all of World War II this year alone. If serious action is not taken to combat this crisis, the epidemic may even eclipse the staggering number of causalities from the Civil War by 2025.

While the opioid epidemic was previously concentrated in poorer, whiter, and more economically depressed areas of the country, it has since exploded to more urban, diverse regions. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the number of Black and Hispanic Americans killed of an opioid overdose increased by nearly 50 percent between 2015 and 2016.

So how is cable news covering this generational crisis? Mostly by staying mum.

The website Pudding.cool, calculated how often certain words were used on major cable news stations between Aug. 25, 2017, and Jan. 21, 2018.

According to their data, the words “opioid,” “heroin,” and “drug” were used a total of 6,300 times during the five month period. While that may seem like a lot, it is dwarfed by other issues that aren’t claiming tens-of-thousands American lives every year.The NFL national anthem controversy was covered twice as much as the opioid epidemic by cable news channels. Words like “anthem,” “kneel,” Kaepernick,” and “NFL” were said 13,220 times during those same five months.

Cable news was even more fixated on the Russia investigation, stories of possible collusion, Robert Mueller, and General Flynn. The words “Mueller,” “Flynn,” “Russia,” and “Putin” were said nearly 50,000 times on Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN. In all, the Russia investigation and related matters were discussed nearly eight times as often as the opioid epidemic that’s ravaging our country.

Major media outlets would instead obsess about the president’s latest tweet, Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for the flag, or the endless conspiracies of “Russian collusion,” than the most severe health crisis our country has ever faced.

Maybe the lack of media coverage is due to the fact that it’s not a sexy issue, or that those most affected are in the forgotten towns of middle America — in red counties, in red states, that Beltway Insiders have no interest in visiting. It’s also possible that the media is ignoring the issue because over 90 percent of heroin and fentanyl flows across the border from Mexico and greater exposure to the facts could increase support for President Trump’s border wall. But while cable news may turn a blind eye, that does not make this crisis any less real for the people suffering from its consequences every day.

Here is another story the media has neglected to tell: The Trump Administration has done more to fight the opioid epidemic than any other administration. In October of 2018, President Trump signed legislation to provide research funding to find treatment options for pain management that are not addictive, as well as expanding coverage for Medicaid patients fighting substance abuse.

The administration has also partnered with a large number of organizations in the private sector that have committed to fighting the opioid epidemic through drug disposal programs, streamlining medical records, supporting patients in addiction recovery and increasing education on opioids.

At a recent townhall in Las Vegas, First Lady Melania Trump remarked, “I’d also like to take a moment to challenge the media to cover this very real issue as often as possible. In 2017, we lost at least 72,000 Americans to overdoses — that’s 197 lost American lives per day, more than 8 lost lives per hour.” She continued, “I challenge the press to devote as much time to the lives lost and the potential lives that could be saved by dedicating the same amount of coverage that you do to idle gossip or trivial stories.”

I couldn’t agree with her more.  Without more significant public exposure to the facts and consequences, and more intense pressure from the media, it’s unlikely that our elected officials will ever take the hard steps needed to end this epidemic.

The media needs to start paying more attention to the opioid crisis; lives are literally depending on it.

Amy Kremer (@AmyKremer) is cofounder and chairwoman of Women for Trump, a PAC for women who support Donald Trump.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

Source: The Daily Caller

  • Robert Mueller is widely believed to be close to turning over a report of his Russia investigation to the Justice Department.
  • The report will be the culmination of perhaps the most closely watched investigation in U.S. history.
  • Will the report be made public? When will it drop? Here is a primer on what happens next.

With the Mueller report expected to drop any day, here is a guide to what the special counsel investigated and how this heavily anticipated document will be released.

Spoiler alert: A lot of questions about the report’s release and its contents have no clear answer. That’s largely a function of the lack of leaks from the special counsel’s office and the stoic approach Mueller has taken during the 22-month investigation.

When will the report be finished?

All signs point to Mueller nearing the very end of the investigation.

Several top prosecutors working on the investigation are leaving the special counsel’s office, including Andrew Weissmann and Zainab Ahmad. Weissmann was the lead prosecutor on Mueller’s case against Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who was sentenced to prison on charges related to his work for the Ukrainian government.

Reporters have also seen Mueller team members removing boxes of files from their offices in Washington, D.C.

The grand jury Mueller used in the investigation has also reportedly not heard from witnesses since Jan. 24, the same day Trump confidant Roger Stone was indicted.

What happens when Mueller finishes the report?

Once Mueller finalizes his report, he is expected to notify Attorney General William Barr. What happens then is up in the air.

Barr could announce that he has received the report, or he could provide portions of it directly to leaders on the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.

William Barr testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his nomination to be attorney general of the United States on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 15, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Congressional sources familiar with those committees’ business say they are as in the dark as anyone else about how the process will unfold. Barr could announce he has the Mueller document before or after he informs Congress. He could avoid a public announcement and inform Congress that Mueller concluded the investigation.

What will be in the report?

As with most questions about Mueller’s findings, it is unclear what he will actually say in the document provided to Barr.

Barr testified at his confirmation hearing that under the current statute governing special counsels, Mueller will be required to provide a summary of his findings to the Justice Department along with a rationale for any decisions to decline specific prosecutions.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw the investigation since its inception May 17, 2017, recently laid out what information Barr is legally required to share with Congress.

“If the special counsel proposes to take an action and is overruled by the attorney general … we’re required to report that to the Congress,” he said at an event Feb. 25.

The report might also be hindered by legal restrictions against indicting sitting presidents. But Mueller could, if he sees fit, suggest areas where Trump could face impeachment proceedings.

What will the public see? 

That also remains unclear.

Barr could release as much of the report as he wants, but he is first expected to write a summary of Mueller’s findings.

Whatever documents are eventually made public are likely to contain redactions for classified information. It is also unlikely that the report will contain any information gleaned from grand jury testimony.

Legal observers cautioned the public against expecting Mueller to lay out all of the details of his investigation. But they also said it is unlikely Mueller and Barr can completely avoid explaining whether or not Trump colluded with Russia or obstructed justice.

Congressional Democrats vowed to subpoena the report if Barr withholds it. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff also pledged to subpoena Mueller if details of the report are withheld from Congress.

What will Trump do?

The answer to that question likely hinges on what the report says.

Trump has given mixed signals about how he will handle Mueller’s findings. He said Wednesday that the public should see the document, but he added that he would like to review it beforehand.

“Let it come out. Let people see it,” he said, before adding that the final decision is up to Barr.

The Republican has long decried the Mueller probe as a “witch hunt.”

What has Mueller investigated?

Mueller was appointed special counsel May 17, 2017, eight days after President Donald Trump fired James Comey as FBI director. A former FBI director himself, Mueller inherited “Crossfire Hurricane,” the FBI’s code name for the counterintelligence investigation into Trump campaign associates’ possible ties to Russia.

FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok opened Crossfire Hurricane on July 31, 2016. The probe targeted Trump aides George Papadopoulos, Carter Page, Manafort and Michael Flynn.

After Comey’s firing, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe expanded the probe to include Trump himself. McCabe ordered an investigation into whether Trump himself was a Russian agent as well as whether he obstructed justice by firing Comey.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a ceremony to sign an executive order on veterans suicide prevention in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 5, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a ceremony to sign an executive order on veterans suicide prevention in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 5, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Mueller’s investigation has expanded in numerous directions since its beginning.

He indicted or secured guilty pleas from 34 individuals, including six Trump associates. But so far, none of the indictments have involved coordination between Trump associates and Russians.

Mueller indicted 25 Russian operatives accused of hacking Democrats’ emails or planting disinformation on social media networks.

Four Trump associates — George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn, Rick Gates and Michael Cohen — pleaded guilty in the special counsel’s investigation.

Stone, a longtime Trump confidant, was indicted Jan. 24 on seven counts related to the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe. Mueller’s team alleges Stone lied about his communications with associates and Trump campaign officials regarding WikiLeaks. (RELATED: Trump Confidant Roger Stone Indicted In Mueller Probe)

Manafort was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison on a variety of charges related to his consulting work in Ukraine.

Mueller also secured guilty pleas from Alex van der Zwaan and Richard Pinedo, both of whom appear to have no direct links to Trump. Konstantin Kilimnik, a Manafort business partner suspected of having links to Russian intelligence, was also indicted on witness tampering charges.

Has Mueller found any evidence of collusion?

Most of what Mueller has found in his investigation remains secret, but some clues have come out through the numerous indictments and guilty pleas secured during the probe.

And so far, none of those cases revealed evidence that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with Russians to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

The source of the collusion conspiracy theory — the Steele dossier — has come under intense scrutiny since it was published in January 2017.

The dossier, which was funded by the Clinton campaign and Russian government, accused Page, Cohen and Manafort of conspiring with Kremlin officials to influence the election. The dossier also alleged that the Russian government was blackmailing Trump with video of him with prostitutes in Moscow in 2013.

Circumstantial evidence has cut against the Steele dossier. Page has appeared before Mueller’s grand jury, but has not been charged with any crimes. Prosecutors have never accused Manafort of conspiring with Russia, even though he has already been sentenced in two cases brought by Mueller’s team.

Cohen, who is a cooperating witness for Mueller, undercut the dossier’s most specific allegation about collusion during congressional testimony in February.

The former Trump fixer testified under oath Feb. 27 that he has never visited Prague. The dossier claims Cohen visited there in August 2016 to meet with Kremlin officials to discuss paying off Russian hackers.

Are more indictments on the way?

This is another question that remains to be seen. Trump critics have held out hope that Mueller will issue a barrage of indictments against Trump family members like Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner just as he submits his report to the Justice Department.

Mueller has investigated a variety of areas that have so far not resulted in indictments. Mueller’s prosecutors also offered a plea deal to Jerome Corsi, a conspiracy theorist who was in close contact with Stone during the 2016 campaign. Corsi has said Mueller believes he might have had contact during the campaign with WikiLeaks, the group that published emails stolen from Democrats.

Mueller’s grand jury heard testimony from Corsi’s stepson on the same day the indictment against Stone was handed down.

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David Hookstead | Reporter

Colin Kaepernick might not have been paid well at all to settle with the NFL.

Kaepernick recently settled his collusion case with the NFL after he claimed the league blackballed him for kneeling during the national anthem. There was a ton of speculation that he made bank. We might want to pump the brakes on claims of a gigantic windfall.

The Wall Street Journal reported the following Thursday:

Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, the NFL stars who alleged the league’s teams colluded to keep them off the field after they led protests during the national anthem, will receive less than $10 million to settle grievances with the league, according to people briefed on the deal.

The confidential agreement was widely celebrated as a victory for the players. But the settlement is far less than the tens of millions of dollars Mr. Kaepernick, especially, would have likely been owed if his grievance had prevailed. It couldn’t be determined how the payment is divided between the players and how much they will net after legal fees.

He reportedly settled for only $10 million? That’s not much cash at all. There was speculation the number could be tens and tens of millions of dollars. (RELATED: Nike Sells Out Of Colin Kaepernick ‘Icon’ Jerseys)

It’s also not clear how the money was divided up. How much did Kaepernick get compared to Reid? What a massive let-down. I thought we were about to see major dollar signs. That doesn’t seem to be the case at all.

I hope this was all worth it for him. That’s not generational money at all, and there’s also pretty much no shot he ever plays in the NFL again.

Was taking a knee worth it? That’ll ultimately only be up to him to decide.

As for we fans, this is hilarious if true. The Kaepernick saga dragged on for years, and it ended without a bang. You just hate to see it!

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Source: The Daily Caller

Michael Cohen’s business partner on the failed Trump Tower Moscow project will testify publicly before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 27, the committee announced.

Felix Sater will testify “about his business ventures with the Trump Organization and the potential Trump Tower Moscow deal,” according to a Thursday press release from the committee.

The committee will also have an open hearing on March 28 on “Putin’s Playbook: The Kremlin’s Use of Oligarchs, Money and Intelligence in 2016 and Beyond.”

The hearings are the first under Democratic Chairman Adam Schiff’s tenure.

Sater, a real estate executive who has worked as an informant for the U.S. government for decades, worked with Cohen beginning in late 2015 to build a Trump-branded skyscraper in Moscow. (RELATED: Bruce Ohr Testimony Undercuts Adam Schiff’s Theory About FBI’s Handling Of Dossier)

Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, speaks about President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, during an interview with Mike Allen of Axios, on Jan. 31, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Sater sent several text messages touting the project and pledging to get the support of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He also came up with the idea to offer Putin a $50 million penthouse as part of the negotiation to secure the deal. Sater said the offer was part of a “marketing conversation” he had with Cohen.

Cohen pleaded guilty in the special counsel’s probe to lying to Congress about the timeline of his work on the Trump Tower project. He claimed that negotiations ended in January 2016, before the beginning of the 2016 primaries. Cohen acknowledged in his Nov. 29 plea agreement that he continued his efforts through June 2016.

Sater, who has known Cohen since childhood, has said he saw no evidence of election-related collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.

Schiff, a California Democrat, has shifted his focus recently from the question of collusion to whether Russia or other foreign countries have compromised President Donald Trump through lucrative business deals.

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  • Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe has repeatedly spread conspiracy theories. 
  • Tribe has amplified conspiracies about President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia teaming up to expose Jeff Bezos and Russia orchestrating a plane crash to cover up collusion, among others.
  • Tribe’s role as internet conspiracist hasn’t kept media outlets from promoting him on TV and in news articles.

Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe has habitually spread conspiracy theories, but that hasn’t prevented him from maintaining a presence in the national media.

Tribe was among several high-profile figures to amplify a false conspiracy theory in February that President Donald Trump had teamed up with Saudi Arabian Prince Mohammed bin Salman to leak Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s affair to the National Enquirer.

“Are Donald Trump and the murderous Saudi Prince bin Salman co-conspirators with David Pecker and AMI in a failed criminal plot to blackmail and extort Jeff Bezos as owner of the Washington Post? Asking for a friend in the Southern District of New York,” Tribe wrote on Twitter, where he has more than 492,000 followers. (RELATED: Majority Of Democrats Believe A Straight-Up Conspiracy Theory)

His conspiratorial post was shared thousands of times across Twitter.

Screenshot/Twitter

Screenshot/Twitter

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the Enquirer had paid the brother of Bezos’s mistress $200,000 for text messages between the two lovers, confirming a Daily Beast report that identified the brother — not the Saudis — as the Enquirer’s source. Tribe’s tweet was still up as of Wednesday evening.

The Harvard Law professor has made a habit of spreading baseless conspiracy theories, seemingly without repercussion.

(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Attorney Laurence H. Tribe attends The ACLU of Southern California’s 2011 Bill of Rights Dinner at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on Dec. 12, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

In one instance, Tribe implied that a Russian plane crash in February 2018 was a cover-up of collusion between Trump and Russia.

His tweet, which again received thousands of retweets, read: “Among those killed in the tragic plane crash yesterday: Sergei Millian, a Papadopoulis [sic] friend who had emailed Kushner and is said to be behind one of the most salacious claims in the dossier on Trump’s involvement with Russia. Probably just coincidence. .”

He sarcastically added that the “coincidence” “[s]ounds plausible.”

Tribe’s viral claim was nowhere close to the truth. Millian wasn’t on the plane.

In December 2018, Tribe shared a left-wing blog post titled “Mueller Hints That Mike Pence May Be Indicted Soon.” There is no evidence to support that headline, and the vice president has not been indicted.

“The title of this piece gets well ahead of its skis in terms of actual substance,” Tribe conceded, before continuing “but the evidence described provides rich food for thought. And if Pence is truly in Mueller’s cross-hairs, that’s a huge game-changer.”

No reporting to date supports the claim that Pence is “in Mueller’s cross-hairs.” The blog Tribe cited, PoliticusUSA.com, has a track record of spreading misinformation.

In January, Tribe cited the same blog to say that Trump’s announcement of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plans to travel to Afghanistan during the government shutdown bordered on “treason” by giving “aid and comfort” to the Taliban.

Tribe’s role as internet conspiracist hasn’t prevented national media outlets from elevating his profile, quoting him in their articles and hosting him on their panels.

Tribe has appeared on MSNBC five times this year, according to a transcript search on the media monitoring service Grabien.

The Washington Post cited Tribe in an article Monday about Republican Iowa Rep. Steve King, who shared a meme on Facebook saying that Republican states would win in a civil war because they have “8 trillion more bullets.” King deleted the post after criticism.

The Post quoted a tweet from Tribe, who said that King “isn’t actually COMMITTING treason, but he is fomenting and inciting it.” Tribe said King’s meme provided the House of Representatives “[a]mple reason to expel him.”

Tribe’s media appearances have continued long after a May 2017 BuzzFeed report noted his established track record of spreading anti-Trump conspiracy theories.

In one instance BuzzFeed documented, Tribe shared an article from the Palmer Report, a left-wing blog known for spreading misinformation, that claimed Trump had paid then-Republican Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz “$10 million in Russian money” in advance of the 2016 election.

The only source for the conspiracy theory was a tweet from an anonymous Twitter user.

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President Donald Trump on Wednesday criticized the forthcoming report from special counsel Robert Mueller, but said he has no qualms about the document being made public.

“Let it come out. Let people see it. That’s up to the attorney general,” Trump told reporters outside the White House.

“We have a very good attorney general. He’s a very highly respected man, and we’ll see what happens,” he continued, referring to Attorney General William Barr.

Barr will have the final say on how much of Mueller’s report to make public. Mueller is believed to be writing a lengthy report summarizing his investigation, which has focused on possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia as well as any obstruction of justice on the part of Trump. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Trump Says He Will Leave Mueller Report Decision To DOJ)

Mueller will provide the report to Barr when it is finalized. Barr is required to notify Congress when he receives the report and can decide whether to release parts of the report to lawmakers or the public.

He has not committed to releasing the entire document, much to the chagrin of congressional Democrats.

In his rambling commentary Wednesday, Trump suggested he wants to see Mueller’s report before it is made public. He also took thinly veiled shots at Mueller, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

“It’s very interesting that a man just out of the blue writes a report,” Trump said, referring to Mueller, whom Rosenstein appointed special counsel May 17, 2017.

Rosenstein oversaw the probe after then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from Russia-related matters.

“I don’t mind, I mean frankly I told the House, ‘If you want, let them see it,’” said Trump, adding: “I think it’s ridiculous, but I want to see the report.”

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FILE PHOTO: Acting U.S. Attorney General Whitaker testifies before House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker testifies before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of the Justice Department on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 8, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

March 20, 2019

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A leading House Democrat said on Tuesday that President Donald Trump appears to have influenced former acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to raise doubts about the campaign finance case against Trump’s former lawyer.

U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said Whitaker described interactions with Justice Department staff about the case against former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, which involved hush money payments to women who claimed to have affairs with Trump, during a March 13 closed-door meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

In a letter on Tuesday to Assistant Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel, Nadler said Whitaker expressed to staff concerns that campaign finance charges against Cohen may have been “specious” and raised “serious questions” about the theory of the case overseen by federal prosecutors in New York.

Whitaker also had concerns about U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman’s recusal from the case, saying the terms of the recusal were “convoluted,” according to the letter.

“It is reasonable to believe that this activity – the questions Mr Whitaker asked about Mr Cohen’s case, and the manner in which he asked them – reflected fears about the case that were likely expressed to Mr Whitaker by the president himself,” Nadler said.

Whitaker appeared never to have taken official action to intervene in the Cohen case, Nadler said.

Officials at the Justice Department and White House were not immediately available for comment.

Cohen pleaded guilty in August to orchestrating the hush money payments, which he said Trump directed him to make.

Nadler’s committee, which has jurisdiction over impeachment issues, is trying to determine whether the president has sought to obstruct justice by influencing investigations that involve him.

Trump may have urged Whitaker to Berman in charge of the Cohen case, according to a New York Times report that Trump has denied. Berman, a Trump campaign donor and former law partner of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, is recused from the case.

Nadler said his committee has identified individuals who claim to have direct knowledge of conversations between Whitaker and Trump.

But during their meeting on Capitol Hill, Nadler said Whitaker refused to answer questions about any conversations he may have had with Trump “on the basis that the president may one day want to invoke executive privilege.”

Whitaker, who left the Justice Department after Attorney General William Barr’s arrival last month, was appointed acting attorney general without Senate confirmation in November after Trump ousted former Attorney Jeff Sessions.

Democrats feared he could interfere with U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. Nadler said he accepts that Whitaker never gave the White House “any promises or commitments concerning the Special Counsel’s investigation.”

Nadler rejected Whitaker’s decision not to answer questions because of possible executive privilege. He asked Engel, who heads the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, to determine whether the White House would actually invoke executive privilege.

(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Source: OANN

U.S. President Donald Trump and Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro hold a joint news conference at the White House in Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a joint news conference with Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

March 19, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that social media platforms discriminated against members of his party, and accused the companies of collusion.

“It seems to be if they’re conservative, if they’re Republicans, if they’re in a certain group, there’s discrimination, and big discrimination, and I see it absolutely on Twitter and Facebook … and others,” Trump said at a joint White House news conference with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

“We use the word ‘collusion’ very loosely all the time, and I will tell you there is collusion with respect to that because something has to be going on,” Trump said.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; writing by Mohammad Zargham; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Source: OANN

Special counsel Robert Mueller obtained the first of three search warrants for former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s email accounts in July 2017, much earlier than previously known.

Mueller’s office sought evidence of money laundering, bank fraud and that Cohen acted as an unregistered foreign agent, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday.

U.S. District Court Beryl Howell granted the warrants. The first was granted on July 18, 2017, two months after Mueller was appointed special counsel.

Mueller’s office on Feb. 8, 2018 handed over some of the seized material to prosecutors in Manhattan who were investigating Cohen over various financial crimes. Prosecutors there executed search warrants on Cohen’s home, hotel room and office on April 9, 2018.

The former Trump fixer pleaded guilty on Aug. 21, 2018 to bank fraud, tax evasion and making an illegal campaign contribution in the form of a payment to Stormy Daniels, the porn star who claims she had an affair with Donald Trump in 2006.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 21: Special counsel Robert Mueller (L) arrives at the U.S. Capitol for closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee June 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. The committee meets with Mueller to discuss the firing of former FBI Director James Comey. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Special counsel Robert Mueller (L) arrives at the U.S. Capitol for closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee June 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Cohen pleaded guilty in the Mueller probe on Nov. 29, 2018 to making false statements to Congress regarding the extent of his efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Cohen testified in 2017 that he ended those negotiations in January 2016, before the start of the Republican presidential primaries. In his plea, Cohen admitted he continued working to build the Russian skyscraper through June 2016.

Mueller’s search warrants sought information from two of Cohen’s Gmail accounts and another account by a company called 1&1 Internet, Inc. The first warrant sought information stretching back to Jan. 1, 2016.

Cohen will begin serving a three-year prison sentence on May 6.

Mueller’s search for evidence that Cohen acted as a foreign agent is perhaps the most intriguing revelation in the heavily redacted documents. Mueller’s investigation, which began on May 17, 2017, initially focused on whether Trump associates conspired with Russians to influence the 2016 election. Cohen is accused in the Steele dossier of visiting Prague in August 2016 to meet with Russian officials regarding the hacking of Democrats’ emails.

Cohen has not faced any charges related to collusion or acting as a foreign agent. He took on several foreign clients after Trump won the election, but there is no evidence that he worked directly for foreign governments.

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FILE PHOTO: Special Counsel Mueller departs after briefing members of the U.S. Senate on his investigation in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Special Counsel Robert Mueller (R) departs after briefing members of the U.S. Senate on his investigation into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

March 19, 2019

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Special Counsel Robert Mueller, examining potential conspiracy between President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia, is leading the latest in a series of U.S. investigations conducted by prosecutors outside usual Justice Department channels in recent decades.

The release of the findings by previous investigators analogous to Mueller has been handled differently over the years, sometimes with voluminous reports and other times with no reports or with key elements kept under wraps for months and even years.

Mueller is preparing to submit a report to U.S. Attorney General William Barr on his findings, including Russia’s role in the election and whether Trump unlawfully sought to obstruct the probe. Trump has denied collusion and obstruction. Russia has denied election interference.

Barr already is coming under pressure from lawmakers to make the entire document public quickly, though he has wide latitude in what to release.

Here is an explanation of some past high-profile U.S. investigations and how their findings were made public.

WATERGATE SCANDAL

The Justice Department named a special prosecutor to investigate the Watergate scandal that eventually forced Republican Richard Nixon in 1974 to become the only U.S. president to resign from office. At the time, no specific regulations or laws governed special prosecutors.

Attorney General Elliot Richardson, as a condition of his Senate confirmation, appointed Archibald Cox as a special prosecutor to examine the 1972 break-in by Republican operatives at Democratic headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington.

Cox found himself at odds with Nixon over subpoenas to obtain taped White House conversations. Nixon ultimately ordered the firing of Cox, and several top Justice Department officials resigned in protest including Richardson, in an event dubbed the Saturday Night Massacre.

Leon Jaworski, subsequently named as the new Watergate special prosecutor, prepared a report with his findings, known as the “road map,” to assist Congress with possible impeachment proceedings to remove Nixon from office.

The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee used it as a basis for hearings and passed articles of impeachment, though Nixon quit before the full House could act. The “road map” remained under seal by a federal court for 55 years until it was released by federal archivists in 2018.

IRAN-CONTRA AFFAIR

The job of independent counsel, with broader powers, was created by Congress after the Watergate scandal. In 1986, Lawrence Walsh was named as independent counsel to investigate the Iran-Contra affair involving illegal arms sales to Iran under Republican President Ronald Reagan, with the proceeds diverted to fund rebels in Nicaragua called Contras.

The probe lasted nearly seven years and led to criminal charges against 14 people. The convictions of some prominent officials – Oliver North and John Poindexter – were overturned on appeal. In 1992, Republican President George H.W. Bush pardoned others.

Walsh submitted his final report to a federal court in 1993, which had the power to release it publicly but was not required to do so. Its release was delayed after people named in the report sued to keep it suppressed. A federal appeals court ruled in 1994 that it should be released in the public interest. Walsh then unveiled it at a news conference.

WHITEWATER AND LEWINSKY SCANDALS

Attorney General Janet Reno in 1994 appointed Robert Fiske as a independent counsel to investigate allegations of impropriety by Democratic President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton regarding real estate investments in the Whitewater Development Corporation. Fiske’s probe was expanded to include reviewing the death of Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster, which police had ruled a suicide.

Fiske, who was not subject to the independent counsel law because it had temporarily lapsed, publicly released a 200-page interim report in 1994 clearing White House officials of wrongdoing in the Whitewater affair and confirming that Foster’s death was a suicide unrelated to Whitewater.

On that same day, Clinton signed a law reauthorizing the independent counsel statute, which paved the way for a federal court to replace Fiske as independent counsel with Kenneth Starr. Starr turned in a report on Foster’s death to federal courts in 1997, also finding no foul play. It remained under seal for three months before being released.

Starr’s probe expanded into other areas, including a sexual affair between Clinton and White House intern Monica Lewinsky and alleged improprieties in the White House travel office. His expansive 445-page report, containing explicit details on Clinton’s sexual affair, was sent to Congress in 1998. Two days later, lawmakers voted to release it publicly. Its findings triggered an unsuccessful Republican effort to remove Clinton from office through the impeachment process.

Congress let the independent counsel law expire, with some lawmakers believing Starr went too far. The Justice Department in 1999 wrote regulations creating the new job of special counsel, with more limited powers.

FEDERAL RAID AT WACO

Reno in 1999 appointed John Danforth as special counsel to investigate the 1993 federal raid on the Branch Davidian cult compound in Waco, Texas. The FBI used tear gas and a fire broke out, killing more than 70 people including cult leader David Koresh.

Danforth was the first person appointed under the 1999 regulations, the rules that now apply to Mueller. Under those rules, a special counsel must submit a confidential report to the attorney general, who then has discretion to publicly release some or all of it. The attorney general must weigh the public interest. But he also must consider thorny issues such as secrecy of grand jury testimony, protecting classified information, communications with the White House possibly subject to the principle of executive privilege shielding certain information from disclosure, and safeguarding confidential reasons for why some individuals were not charged.

Reno specifically instructed Danforth to prepare two versions of his report, a confidential one and another for public release. Rod Rosenstein, the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, gave no such instruction to Mueller when he appointed him in May 2017.

In 2000, Danforth held a news conference to publicly release his report, exonerating federal agents and Justice Department officials of any wrongdoing.

OUTING OF CIA AGENT PLAME

In 2003, James Comey, then the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, appointed Patrick Fitzgerald as special counsel to investigate how CIA operative Valerie Plame’s cover was blown through media leaks. Fitzgerald was not appointed under the 1999 regulations and was not bound by them.

Fitzgerald held a 2005 news conference to announce that a grand jury had returned a five-count indictment against Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, for obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements. Fitzgerald never published a final report on his findings.

A jury convicted Libby. Republican President George H.W. Bush commuted his sentence in 2007. Trump gave Libby a full pardon in 2018.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Will Dunham)

Source: OANN

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Burr arrives inside Hart Senate Office Building in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) arrives inside the Hart Senate Office Building before former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen testified behind closed doors before the committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

March 19, 2019

By Mark Hosenball and David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, known as perhaps Congress’ most bipartisan panel, is split along party lines over whether Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, sources told Reuters.

The division is unsurprising in Washington’s bitterly partisan climate but raises a broader question: If the Senate intelligence panel cannot produce a consensus view of what happened with Trump and the Russians, what committee can?

It would in turn stir doubts about whether congressional investigations into Trump will result in lawmakers trying to start impeachment proceedings against the Republican president.

At least six congressional committees are probing whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow in its efforts to sway U.S. voters to support Trump in 2016; whether Trump has tried to obstruct investigations; whether his businesses have ties to Moscow; and whether he has used his office to enrich himself.

The inquiries have months to go and much could change, especially with a long-running probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller not yet completed and many hours of congressional hearings, both open and closed, still to play out.

But at the moment, sources said, Intelligence Committee members have been considering the production of dueling final reports, one from the committee’s eight Republicans and one from its seven Democrats, reaching different conclusions.

Congressional sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that both Republicans and Democrats on Senate Intelligence agreed there was a lack of direct evidence pointing to collusion. The two sides disagree on circumstantial evidence.

The Democrats say there is enough circumstantial evidence to support a finding of collusion in the committee’s final report. Trump’s fellow Republicans on the panel say there is not.

“There is no hard evidence of collusion,” a Democratic source said, but “plenty of circumstantial evidence.”

Senate Intelligence oversees America’s spy agencies, from the CIA to the intelligence-related functions of the FBI.

Led by Republican Chairman Richard Burr, the panel’s members also include Republicans Marco Rubio and Susan Collins, as well as Democrats Mark Warner, Dianne Feinstein and Ron Wyden.

A spokeswoman for Burr declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Wyden, a senior committee Democrat.

Burr told CBS last month that the committee, at that time, had found no proof that Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow.

Trump denies any collusion occurred and has repeatedly blasted such inquiries as a “witch hunt.”

DUELING REPORTS

If Senate Intelligence, and possibly other committees in Congress, end up producing conflicting reports, Americans looking to Congress for explanations about links between Moscow and the Trump campaign are likely to be disappointed.

Moreover, experts said, such an outcome could reduce the odds of an eventual Trump impeachment. Under the Constitution, the impeachment process would begin in the Democratic-led House of Representatives, but it would fall to the Republican-led Senate to decide whether to remove Trump from office.

“This may indicate that Republicans don’t think there’s a smoking gun, nothing that ties the president to a conspiracy,” said Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, a think tank in Washington.

“It leaves things with no impeachment, probably. … If the Republicans are saying: ‘Uh uh, this is not impeachable,’ then I don’t think it’s going to happen,” she said.

Entrusted with some of the most sensitive U.S. secrets, Senate Intelligence began its Trump-Russia probe shortly after Trump took office. It is now moving to re-interview key witnesses, with senators joining staff investigators in the questioning for the first time, the sources said.

The committee will assess a January 2017 report from the U.S. spy agencies that found Russia interfered in the 2016 election in various ways. Russia denies any meddling.

Also being scrutinized by the panel are the role of social media in the 2016 campaign, the security of U.S. voting systems and steps former President Barack Obama’s administration took – or did not take – after initial reports of Russian interference.

But the central topic of the committee’s probe will be the question of collusion.

Bipartisan oversight on those questions is crucial, said Norman Ornstein, a political analyst at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

“If there is a bipartisan report of the Senate Intelligence Committee, assuming it’s a full exposition, that would make a difference, even if Burr and Warner had different interpretations,” he said.

Separate, partisan reports would tell a more familiar story, he said. “Then we’re back to the dynamic where Republicans will believe the Burr report, while Democrats, the mainstream media, the intellectual community and the Never-Trumpers are going to believe the Warner report,” Ornstein said.

(Reporting by Mark Hosenball and David Morgan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Peter Cooney)

Source: OANN

Scott Morefield | Reporter

President Donald Trump on Monday tweeted nearly five minutes of Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s Monday night show, which featured a detailed explanation of how the “Russia hoax began in the first place” as a tool to delegitimize the president.

Carlson compared how Democrats said the contention that “Barack Obama was born in Kenya” “hurt America” and “delegitimized” the former president. “Fair points,” he contended, but “somehow Democrats learned the opposite lesson.”

“For three years they pushed their own far more harmful conspiracy, the theory of Russia collusion,” said the Fox News host before laying out the timeline of how the infamous Steele dossier was created, publicized and used as a weapon against the president.

“It was fake then, it is fake now,” said Carlson. “But it still caused an awful lot of damage,” including helping “destroy our relationship with Russia.” (RELATED: Tucker Carlson: ‘If Michael Cohen Had The Dime’ On Trump, ‘He Would Drop It’)

What then, Carlson asked, will Democrats “explain to their followers” when the Mueller report drops with no evidence against the president? “Will those people be disappointed? Or will they assume that Putin got to Mueller too?”

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Source: The Daily Caller

U.S. President Trump walks down Capitol steps with Speaker of the House Pelosi after they attended luncheon at U.S. Capitol in Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump walks down the U.S Capitol steps with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) after they both attended the 37th annual Friends of Ireland luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

March 18, 2019

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Democratic-led U.S. House Judiciary Committee said on Monday that it expects to receive tens of thousands of documents as part of its wide-ranging corruption and obstruction of justice probe of Republican President Donald Trump.

Two weeks ago, the committee requested documents from 81 individuals, government agencies and other entities including Trump family members, current and former business employees, Republican campaign staffers and former White House aides, the FBI, White House and WikiLeaks.

The probe, which Republicans have denounced as an overreach of congressional authority, is aimed at determining whether Trump has used his office to enrich himself or has sought to obstruct investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and any collusion by his campaign.

Trump maintains that his campaign did not collude with Russia and has dismissed the probe as a “political hoax.”

In a statement issued as Monday’s deadline for document submissions expired, the House of Representatives committee said it has heard from “a large number” of those who received document requests on March 4 and that many have either sent or agreed to send documents to the committee.

“Those documents already number in the tens of thousands,” the statement said.

“The committee continues to be in discussions with others, including some who have requested a subpoena … before they are comfortable supplying the information requested,” it said. The statement did not say which recipients have submitted or agreed to submit material.

Among the recipients were the president’s sons Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump, as well as his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former White House counsel Don McGahn.

The committee has also sought documents from among those already charged in U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, including former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former Trump adviser Roger Stone and former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.

“I am encouraged by the responses we have received since sending these initial letters two weeks ago,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Nadler said in the statement.

“It is my hope that we will receive cooperation from the remainder of the list, and will be working to find an appropriate accommodation with any individual who may be reluctant to cooperate with our investigation.” 

The Republican president faces several investigations including congressional committee inquiries and Mueller’s probe into Russian campaign interference and any Trump campaign role.

(Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Cynthia Osterman)

Source: OANN

A new survey found that the majority of Americans trust Congressional Democrats and special counsel Robert Mueller investigating President Donald Trump and his administration.

Key figures in the poll from The Hill and HarrisX:

  • 19 percent trust Mueller, who is leading the Department of Justice probe into Russian collusion.
  • 10 percent trust Congressional Democrats, who have launched a wide-ranging investigation into Trump's background.
  • 28 percent trust both.
  • A combined 57 percent trust either Mueller, Democrats, or both.
  • 43 percent trust neither of the aforementioned parties, including 67 percent of Republicans and 15 percent of Democrats surveyed.

"I think that a lot of Americans out there just don't care that much about these investigations," Cato Institute director of polling Emily Ekins told Hill.TV. "Now, if the investigation uncovered something real and concrete and clear, that would absolutely make a difference, including for a certain set of pivotal voters in Trump's coalition."

The findings are in contrast to another poll from USA Today and Suffolk University, which found that 50.3 percent of those polled agreed with Trump that Mueller's investigation is a "witch hunt."

Source: NewsMax

Amber Athey | White House Correspondent

A new poll found half of Americans agree with President Donald Trump that the special counsel’s investigation into Russian collusion is a “witch hunt” as trust in Robert Mueller hit an all-time low.

The poll, conducted by USA TODAY/Suffolk University, asked 1,000 registered voters about their views on the Mueller investigation as the special counsel is expected to soon deliver his final report to Attorney General Bill Barr. (RELATED: Trump: Approval Rating Would Be 75 Percent Without ‘Russia Witch Hunt’)

Fifty percent of voters said that they believe Mueller’s investigation is a “witch hunt,” agreeing with Trump’s constant assertions that he is being investigated over politics rather than credible allegations of wrongdoing.

Just 28 percent of those surveyed said they have trust in Mueller’s ability to be fair and accurate in his investigation, the lowest level polled to date.

In fact, more people now believe Trump’s denials about collusion than trust Mueller — 30 percent expressed “a lot of trust” in the president’s claims that his campaign did not collude with Russia.

Trump tweeted about the poll Monday, indicating that “very few think [the investigation] is legit.”

“We will soon find out?” the president asked, perhaps referencing the fact that the investigation is reportedly reaching a conclusion.

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump participates in briefing on southern U.S. border in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump participates in a briefing on “drug trafficking on the southern border” in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

March 18, 2019

By Jan Wolfe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An intriguing area of focus in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Kremlin’s role in the 2016 U.S. election is a proposed Moscow real estate deal that Donald Trump pursued while running for president despite denying at the time any links to Russia.

The special counsel has revealed in court filings numerous details about the project, which never came to fruition. Further information has come from Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer who was instrumental in the negotiations, in congressional testimony and in his guilty plea to a charge of lying to Congress about the project.

Mueller’s team said in a December 2018 court filing that “the Moscow Project was a lucrative business opportunity that sought, and likely required, the assistance of the Russian government. If the project was completed, the Company (the Trump Organization) could have received hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian sources in licensing fees and other revenues.”

The project is significant because it shows Trump was chasing a lucrative business deal in Russia at the same time that President Vladimir Putin’s government, according to U.S. intelligence agencies, was conducting a hacking and propaganda campaign to boost his candidacy. The project also coincided with Trump’s positive comments as a candidate about Putin and his questioning of U.S. sanctions against Russia.

Mueller is preparing to submit to U.S. Attorney General William Barr the report on his investigation into whether Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia and whether the Republican president has unlawfully tried to obstruct the probe. Trump has denied collusion and obstruction. Russia has denied election interference.

Here is an explanation of the Trump Moscow tower project and what the president has said about it.

WHAT IS TRUMP’S HISTORY IN MOSCOW?

Trump, a wealthy New York real estate developer, had discussed expanding his business empire into Russia for more than three decades. In 2013, after visiting Russia and hosting his Miss Universe pageant there, he wrote on Twitter: “TRUMP TOWER-MOSCOW is next.” The Trump Organization’s longtime partner in the project was Felix Sater, a Russian-born, Brooklyn-raised real estate developer, according to company emails released to congressional investigators.

WHAT WAS THE TRUMP TOWER MOSCOW PROJECT?

Trump in October 2015 signed a non-binding letter of intent to move forward with a Moscow tower project with a Russian development firm. The firm, I.C. Expert Investment Co, agreed to construct the skyscraper, and the Trump Organization agreed to license its name and manage the building’s operations. The letter of intent described a building in a Moscow business district with 250 luxury residential condominiums, at least 150 hotel rooms and a luxury spa.

Sater, who has served prison time in the United States for assault and later became an FBI informant on organized crime, assured Cohen in a November 2015 email he could get the Russian government to support a Trump property in Moscow.

“I know how to play it and we will get this done. Buddy our boy can become President of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putin’s team to buy in on this,” Sater told Cohen in that email.

Trump had announced his presidential candidacy in June 2015.

In testimony last month to the House of Representatives Oversight and Reform Committee, Cohen said Sater came up with a “marketing stunt” of offering Putin a free penthouse in the tower to drive up unit prices, “no different than in any condo where they start listing celebrities that live in the property.”

Cohen’s House testimony portrayed Trump as keenly interested in completing the deal even as he campaigned for president. “Mr. Trump knew of and directed the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it. He lied about it because he never expected to win the election. He also lied about it because he stood to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the Moscow real estate project,” Cohen testified.

In his guilty plea, Cohen admitted he had lied to Congress in a 2017 letter that claimed he had only discussed the negotiations with Trump three times and that the project talks ended in January 2016. Cohen said he lied to Congress to minimize links between Trump and the project and give the false impression that the proposal had ended before key early milestones in the 2016 race to determine the Republican presidential nominee.

Cohen in his guilty plea said the project was discussed within the Trump Organization multiple times and that he spoke with Sater about obtaining Russian governmental approval as late as June 2016, after Trump had clinched the Republican nomination.

WHY DID THE NEGOTIATIONS END?

Legal filings in Cohen’s plea deal did not make clear why the negotiations ended. But June 2016 was the month when the Washington Post first reported that Russian hackers had penetrated the Democratic National Committee’s computers, a cyber operation that was a key part of Moscow’s interference in the presidential race, as described by U.S. intelligence.

One of Trump’s lawyers, Rudy Giuliani, indicated in January 2019 that the Moscow tower discussions had continued through the November 2016 election, though he later backtracked.

WHAT HAS TRUMP SAID?

Trump’s public statements about business dealings in Russia have evolved over time. In July 2016, Trump told a news conference: “I have nothing to do with Russia.” Nine days before becoming president, Trump wrote on Twitter, “Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!”

In November 2018, after Cohen’s guilty plea, Trump told reporters that in 2016 he was in a position “to possibly do a deal to build a building of some kind in Moscow.” Trump added, “There would be nothing wrong if I did do it. I was running my business while I was campaigning. There was a good chance that I wouldn’t have won, in which case I would have gotten back into the business. And why should I lose lots of opportunities?” Cohen told the House panel Trump made clear to him that he should lie about when the negotiations ended.

Trump and his allies have called Cohen a liar trying to reduce his prison time after pleading guilty to a series of federal criminal charges.

WHAT ROLE DID TRUMP’S CHILDREN PLAY?

Cohen told the House panel that he briefed the president’s son and daughter, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, about the tower negotiations. Donald Trump Jr., an executive at the Trump Organization, told Congress in September 2017 he was only “peripherally aware” of the talks during the campaign. Ivanka Trump, a former Trump Organization executive, told ABC News last month she knew “literally almost nothing” about the project, saying there were “40 or 50 deals like that were floating around, that somebody was looking at.”

(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Will Dunham)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: The logo of commodities trader Glencore is pictured in Baar
FILE PHOTO: The logo of commodities trader Glencore is pictured in front of the company’s headquarters in Baar, Switzerland, July 18, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

March 16, 2019

By Aditya Kalra and Mayank Bhardwaj

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s antitrust watchdog raided units of global commodities trader Glencore and two other firms in Mumbai on Saturday in an inquiry into alleged collusion on the price of pulses, four sources with knowledge of the raids told Reuters.

More than 25 antitrust officials carried out the raids at the offices of local units of Glencore and Africa’s Export Trading Group, and India’s Edelweiss group which previously had a commodities business, two government sources told Reuters.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has been investigating allegations that the companies formed a cartel to discuss the pricing of pulses while importing and selling them in the Indian market at higher prices in 2015 and 2016, when India faced an acute shortage, the sources said.

A spokesman for Switzerland-based Glencore, Charles Watenphul, declined to comment, while India’s Edelweiss, which sold its commodities trading business in November 2016, and the Export Trading Group did not respond to requests for comment.

Two years of drought pushed up prices of pulses such as chickpeas and black grams, which are a staple of Indian cuisine, in 2015 and forced New Delhi to offer duty-free imports, encouraging foreign and Indian traders who imported pulses to sell locally.

“The collusion by these companies led to higher prices of pulses,” one of the government sources said, adding that the CCI’s inquiry started three months ago.

The investigation will also assess whether the companies have continued their alleged collusion even after the prices of pulses stabilized in recent years, the source said.

IMPORT PRICES

The raids on five company offices in India’s financial capital began on Friday and were concluded on Saturday.

Antitrust officials collected evidence, including documents and e-mails, and questioned company officials during the raids, a second government source said.

Another source, an industry executive, told Reuters that CCI’s search involved going through company records at Glencore’s office in Mumbai, confirming it was part of the watchdog’s probe into accusations of fixing import prices.

The drought during 2015 wilted crops and exacerbated shortages of food such as protein-rich pulses and India, which consumes about 22 million tonnes of pulses annually, faced a shortfall of 7-8 million tonnes in 2015-16.

The CCI’s raids on commodities traders mark only its fourth such search operation in its near 10-year history. They can only be conducted with approval from a judge.

In October, the CCI raided the offices of global brewers such as Carlsberg and Anheuser Busch InBev and found e-mails which allegedly showed violations of Indian anti-trust laws. (https://reut.rs/2JeQKEs)

The brewing companies have pleaded leniency under a CCI program, Reuters has reported.

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra and Mayank Bhardwaj; Additional reporting by Rajendra Jadhav and Aditi Shah; Editing by Alexander Smith)

Source: OANN

  • CNN’s Erin Burnett claimed Friday that the Steele dossier was first funded by Republicans, an allegation that has long been debunked. 
  • Burnett also said a report published by a CNN contributor on behalf of BuzzFeed supported the dossier’s claims about a Russian tech executive alleged to have hacked Democrats’ computers during the 2016 campaign.
  • But the report stopped far short of providing evidence that the Russian, Aleksej Gubarev, hacked computers. 

CNN anchor Erin Burnett made multiple false claims Friday about the Steele dossier, including the long-debunked assertion that the salacious anti-Trump report was first funded by Republicans.

During her show, Burnett also falsely claimed that a newly released report produced on behalf of BuzzFeed News supported allegations that dossier author Christopher Steele made about Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian tech executive. She also asserted, without citing evidence, that many of the claims made in the dossier have been verified.

“New tonight, President Trump slamming the Steele dossier on Twitter calling it the, quote, ‘fake dossier paid for by crooked Hillary,’” Burnett began, referring to a Trump tweet earlier on Friday.

“Let’s just make sure we share the facts with you,” said Burnett. “It was paid for, right, by a conservative website funded by a Republican donor. That was the firm that paid for the dossier to get it started. As far as it being fake, we have a lot we don’t know. We do know several allegations in the dossier are true and tonight we’re learning more.”

In reality, Steele was working for Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm that was hired by the Clinton campaign and DNC to investigate Donald Trump. Prior to being hired by Democrats, Fusion GPS worked for The Washington Free Beacon, a website funded by Republican billionaire Paul Singer. That contract ended when Trump won the Republican primaries.

And contrary to what Burnett claimed on her show, none of the dossier’s key allegations about collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia have been verified in the two-plus years since its publication. And one of its most serious claims — that Michael Cohen visited Prague to pay off hackers — was disputed by the former Trump attorney during a sworn congressional hearing in February.

Burnett joins a long list of journalists who have made the false claim about the dossier’s funding. Former FBI Director James Comey has also falsely claimed Republicans first funded Steele’s report. (RELATED: Media Still Pinning Still Dossier On Republicans)

WATCH:

During her show, Burnett touted a report produced by Anthony Ferrante, a former FBI agent who was hired by BuzzFeed as part of its legal battle with Gubarev.

Steele claimed in one of his dossier’s memos that Gubarev was recruited under “duress” by Russian spies and played a “significant” role in hacking Democrats’ computer systems. Gubarev sued Steele and BuzzFeed, which published the dossier Jan. 10, 2017, for defamation.

Ferrante’s final investigative report and deposition were unsealed Thursday along with a slew of other documents from the lawsuit.

Ferrante, who was paid $4.1 million by BuzzFeed, found no evidence supporting the key claim about Gubarev. Instead, he determined only that Gubarev’s companies “have provided gateways to the internet for cybercriminals and Russian state sponsored actors to launch and control large scale malware campaigns over the past decade.”

Ferrante, who joined CNN as a contributor in January, also dinged Gubarev for failing to “actively prevent cybercriminals from using their infrastructure.”

Gubarev’s lawyer, Evan Fray-Witzer, dismissed the BuzzFeed-funded report in a statement Thursday.

“Buzzfeed spent $4.1 million on a team of former FBI agents to try to prove that Gubarev and his companies did what was alleged in the Steele Dossier and came up empty-handed,” he said.

“The Dossier didn’t say: ‘hey, someone might have misused XBT’s networks as part of the hack of the DNC,’” said Fray-Witzer.

“The Dossier directly and unequivocally accused Alex Gubarev of having been corrupted by the FSB and having personally hacked (or directed others to hack) the DNC. And that defamatory statement was, and is, a lie, plain and simple.”

Fray-Witzer also noted Gubarev has not been approached by special counsel Robert Mueller. Gubarev and his companies have also not been mentioned in Mueller’s indictments of Russian nationals accused of hacking Democrats’ email systems.

While Burnett was quick to claim that parts of the dossier have been verified, CNN has generally avoided discussing a recent development that undercut one of the Steele report’s most startling claims: that former Trump fixer Michael Cohen visited Prague during the 2016 campaign to pay off hackers.

That allegation suffered a fatal blow Feb. 27, when Cohen denied during a congressional hearing that he has ever visited Prague or the Czech Republic. (RELATED: Michael Cohen Puts Dagger In Heart Of Steele Dossier)

CNN’s own Jake Tapper has also undercut the Cohen allegation. On Jan. 11, 2017, the day after BuzzFeed published the dossier, Tapper claimed on air that a U.S. government official told him a different Michael Cohen had visited Prague. Tapper and CNN have since not revisited that statement.

Cohen’s Prague denial was mentioned on Burnett’s show Friday, but it came at the tail end of the segment fluffing the dossier’s claims about Gubarev.

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Harmeet K. Dhillon | Republican National Lawyers Association

The Democratic Party has been amplifying fake scandals about President Trump ever since he was elected — and now we know why.

Democrats are desperate to conceal their own history of deception, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into nonexistent collusion was the perfect way to distract the American people from their poor record of pulling punches when it came to prosecuting wrongdoing within the Obama administration.

According to a new transcript, former FBI legal counsel Lisa Page told lawmakers under oath last year that President Obama’s Justice Department ordered the FBI not to charge Hillary Clinton with gross negligence for using a private email server to send and receive classified materials.

During the closed-door testimony, Page told Rep. John Ratcliffe that he was “correct” in assuming that Obama’s Department of Justice asked the FBI not to charge Clinton for mishandling classified information while she was Secretary of State.

“[W]hen you say advice you got from the Department, you’re making it sound like it was the Department that told you: You’re not going to charge gross negligence because we’re the prosecutors and we’re telling you we’re not going to [bring a case based on that?]” Ratcliffe asked.

“That is correct,” Page answered.

How could the FBI conduct an unbiased investigation and reach an independent conclusion if its agents were told not to go after the top target — Hillary Clinton — by the DOJ? Notably, Page also said that the DOJ had “multiple conversations … about charging gross negligence,” but decided that “they did not feel they could sustain a charge” because they considered the term “constitutionally vague.”

Of course, former FBI Director James Comey previously told the House Oversight Committee that the bureau’s decision not to prosecute Clinton was unanimous — a narrative that is clearly contradicted by Page’s testimony.

“Comey testified (under oath) that it was a ‘unanimous’ decision on Crooked Hillary,” President Trump tweeted in response to the unearthed testimony. “Lisa Page transcripts show he LIED.”

Sadly, Page’s remarks only confirm what many Republicans have suspected from the very beginning — that biased individuals within the FBI and DOJ abused the bureau’s power to tip the 2016 election in Clinton’s favor.

When this corrupt plan failed, the same individuals conspired to launch an investigation into made-up allegations of collusion between President Trump and Russia — a$25 million (and counting) witch hunt that never had any chance of producing even a shred of evidence. Many insiders have suggested that the Mueller investigation is the manifestation of the Peter Strzok/Lisa Page text messages referencing an “insurance policy” in case things didn’t go their way in the 2016 election.

It is becoming increasingly clear that there really was a collusion plot to influence the result of the 2016 election — but it was conceived by the Obama administration and carried out by partisan investigators at the FBI. And nobody has seen the inside of a courtroom for the real collusion yet, nearly three years later.

Harmeet K. Dhillon (@Pnjabanis the Republican National Committeewoman from California and vice president of communications for the Republican National Lawyers Association. She is a partner at the Dhillon Law Group.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

Source: The Daily Caller

Amber Athey | White House Correspondent

Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke asserted without evidence that President Donald Trump attempted to collude with Russia to win the 2016 election.

In an interview with CBS’ Gayle King that aired Friday morning, O’Rourke did not reiterate his prior calls to impeach the president, but did say he believes Trump attempted to either collude or obstruct justice. (RELATED: Beto Says He’s Open To Packing The Supreme Court)

WATCH:

“It’s beyond a shadow of a doubt that if there was not collusion, there was at least the effort to collude with a foreign power,” O’Rourke said. “Beyond the shadow of a doubt that if there was not obstruction of justice there certainly was the effort to obstruct justice.”

O’Rourke said that Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey is proof that he may have obstructed justice.

“How Congress chooses to address those sets of facts and findings … is up to them,” he continued. “I think the American people are going to have a chance to decide this at the ballot box in November 2020 and perhaps that’s the best way for us to resolve these outstanding questions.”

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Source: The Daily Caller

President Donald Trump, blasting the special counsel’s investigation as “illegal” and “conflicted,” said there should be no final report by Robert Mueller.

His comments came in three tweets posted Friday.

Trump wrote: “So, if there was knowingly & acknowledged to be “zero” crime when the Special Counsel was appointed, and if the appointment was made based on the Fake Dossier (paid for by Crooked Hillary) and now disgraced Andrew McCabe (he & all stated no crime), then the Special Counsel…….

“….should never have been appointed and there should be no Mueller Report. This was an illegal & conflicted investigation in search of a crime. Russian Collusion was nothing more than an excuse by the Democrats for losing an Election that they thought they were going to win…..

…..THIS SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN TO A PRESIDENT AGAIN!”

Trump’s latest attack on the special counsel’s probe came as transcripts were released from fired FBI special Agent Peter Strzok’s and former FBI counsel Lisa Page’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee last year, Fox News reported.

Page, in her testimony, revealed FBI officials had little evidence at the start of the probe, according to the news network.

Meanwhile, the House voted 420-0 on Thursday to approve a nonbinding resolution calling for Mueller’s upcoming report to be released to Congress and the public.

Source: NewsMax

Sidney Powell | Former Federal Prosecutor

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s “pit bull” Andrew Weissmann is leaving the squad — a sure sign the “witch-hunt” is over — but there’s likely more to come.

Weissmann has a pattern of wrecking lives with his prosecutorial terrorist tactics, then slinking away when someone catches on to his tactics and before the reversals start rolling in. Now, President Trump has his first real attorney general who likely would not allow Weissmann’s abuses, and thanks to the good work of two lawyers — Margot Cleveland and “Techno_Fog” — a Houston court has finally unsealed old evidence proving Weissmann’s egregious threats against witnesses. The disclosure this week of Bruce Ohr’s testimony also implicates Weissmann in a world of problems.

Mueller wouldn’t want to sully his hands or perhaps even know how to run a prosecution as nasty as his has been without Weissmann to do the dirty work for him.

It takes a special someone to order a military-style pre-dawn assault against 69-year-old Paul Manafort in his home and have his wife searched at gun point while in her nightgown in their bed — all over a tax violation. There were predawn home raids of all the Hollywood celebrities, lawyers, corporate executives, and elites over their significant frauds, tax issues, lies and cheating, right?

And not just anyone would order the similarly dramatic, heavily-armed raid of 66-year-old Roger Stone — especially during a government shutdown when resources were scarce. Stone not only had counsel but certainly would have turned himself in to authorities. He had appeared many times. But hey, those 29 federal agents, 17 vehicles, a helicopter, a boat, and frogmen were all required — with CNN pre-positioned on site — because Stone was obviously dangerous. In fact, Stone’s so dangerous, the judge immediately released him on his own recognizance.

Weissmann’s modus operandi is to terrorize and humiliate his targets. That’s why Mueller brought him on the squad. If that’s what one thinks a federal prosecutor is supposed to be, then Weissmann is your man.

And he is obviously Mueller’s, as “Bob” has been protecting and promoting him for at least 20 years, despite the misconduct documented heavily in other Enron cases, my book, and in the grievance we filed with the New York Bar — which was swept under the rug by the DOJ’s “Office of Professional Responsibility” — while Weissmann was Mueller’s general counsel at the FBI.

While we don’t doubt that Weissmann has had some valid convictions and done some good work, we take serious issue with the irreparable damage his abusive, corrupt, unethical, and dishonest tactics have done to countless people over the last two decades.

The NPR article extolling his virtues and “effectiveness” notably quotes — without context — two of his most prominent co-conspirators in infamous abuses of law. Leslie Caldwell was the head of the Enron Task Force, who with Weissmann brought the bogus indictment against the venerable accounting firm Arthur Andersen LLP.

The minute they unsealed the indictment, they destroyed Andersen and its 85,000 jobs worldwide. That was exactly what they intended — and it was all a power play. The Supreme Court unanimously reversed Andersen several years later — not just because of the jury instructions, but primarily because Caldwell and Weissmann made up a crime. They indicted Andersen for conduct that was not criminal.

Does anyone see a problem with that? Ask the 85,000 employees who lost their jobs and the partners who did nothing wrong and lost everything.

Reporting on Weissmann’s departure, NPR quoted Kathryn Ruemmler — another priceless choice. Ruemmler was Weissmann’s protégé on the Enron Task Force — in my Merrill Lynch case. It took six years to uncover the evidence they had hidden that showed the defendants were innocent.

Again, Weissmann and Ruemmler contrived a crime, but this time, they sent four Merrill Lynch executives to prison for up to a year on an indictment criminalizing innocent conduct. At the same time, they hid evidence they had yellow-highlighted before the trial that directly contradicted their witnesses and showed the defendants were innocent. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that Weissmann, Ruemmler and company “plainly suppressed” evidence favorable to the defense.

Even the notorious Strzok-Page text messages reference the tight bond between these former Enron Task Force prosecutors and how they have protected each other. The NPR article proves they continue to protect each other — no matter the cost to justice — and doubtless always will.

Weissmann and his “colleagues” routinely threatened witnesses with dire consequences and made good on the threats. People found themselves in solitary confinement until they sang to Weissmann’s tune. He piled on additional charges, indicted family members, and as of this week, despite evidence of his misconduct mysteriously going missing, we know that he also plainly told witnesses that if they so much as talked to the defense, he “would make them pay.”

Weissmann was so “persuasive” he even bludgeoned people into pleading guilty to things that were not crimes, and guilty pleas had to be withdrawn years later.

In fact, all the Enron Task Force cases were rife with prosecutorial misconduct, and Weissmann quietly left that Task Force as more misconduct was coming to light in the disastrous prosecution of the Enron Broadband cases. Is that part of what is happening again now?

Weissmann has used the same tactics throughout the Mueller operation, and we are only beginning to scratch the surface of his involvement now that we have the testimony of Bruce Ohr and know that Weissmann was wrongly part of the back-channel of the entire Russia collusion frame of President Trump — thanks to Leslie Caldwell bringing him back into DOJ under Loretta Lynch.

While we can take some comfort in the fact Weissmann is leaving the Department of Justice, it is stunning that he claims an interest in “preventing wrongful convictions.”

Thankfully, he has taken the first step toward that goal by resigning as a prosecutor. But given his prosecutorial record of the last two decades — littered with every prosecutorial abuse imaginable, multiple wrongful convictions and countless wrongly-ruined lives — there’s a long list of people who question his ability even to define justice.

Sidney Powell, a former federal prosecutor and veteran of 500 federal appeals, is the author of “LICENSED TO LIE: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice.” She is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

Source: The Daily Caller

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke said during his campaign against Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018 that he thought President Donald Trump should be impeached, but now he thinks that maybe the best way to unseat the president is at the ballot box in 2020.

"How Congress chooses to address those sets of facts and the findings which I believe we are soon to see from the [Robert] Mueller report is up to them," the former Texas representative told CBS This Morning co-anchor Gayle King, in an interview airing Friday. "I think the American people are going to have a chance to decide this at the ballot box in November 2020, and perhaps that's the best way for us to resolve these outstanding questions."

He added that he thinks it's "beyond a shadow of a doubt" that even if there was no collusion, there was the effort to collude, and that there was "certainly" the effort to obstruct justice.

O'Rourke said he's running because he wants to bring Americans together. He also pointed out that while there have been complaints about his experience, he's served in local government as an El Paso councilman and for six years in the U.S. House of Representatives in the minority party.

While in Congress, O'Rourke supported legalizing marijuana, investments in clean energy, LGBT rights, and pro-choice on marijuana rights. He's also a critic of President Donald Trump's immigration policies and believes in universal healthcare that supplements private insurance with the ability to be covered under Medicare.

He also said he'd plan to raise taxes on the wealthy, particularly corporations, and promised a diverse Cabinet if elected.

Source: NewsMax

Military honour guards attend a flag-lowering ceremony at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei
Military honour guards attend a flag-lowering ceremony at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan January 22, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

March 15, 2019

By James Pomfret and Yimou Lee

HONG KONG/TAIPEI (Reuters) – As Beijing grows wary of pro-independence groups seeking to forge closer ties in Hong Kong and Taiwan, activists say they are coming under increased surveillance and harassment from pro-China media outlets and unofficial “operatives.”

Visits to Taiwan in January by several Hong Kong activists including Tony Chung generated heavy coverage by two pro-China newspapers, including detailed reports of their movements and meetings.

The coverage prompted Taiwan to investigate the activities of the Hong Kong-based Wen Wei Po and Ta Kung Pao newspapers on “national security” grounds.

The government found that the papers committed “unlawful” acts, including invasive surveillance, and spread “fake news.” Officials said journalists from those papers would be banned from traveling to Taiwan for up to three years if the media outlets did not provide a “reasonable explanation” for their activities there.

A Reuters examination of both papers’ articles show that at least 25 people linked to anti-China and independence causes have been the subject of intense coverage, including covert photography and the reporting of personal details, in Taiwan during the past three years.

Ta Kung Pao and Wen Wei Po did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Such papers, which typically take a pro-Beijing stance, would be expected to pay close attention to activists pursuing causes that upset the Chinese government.

But activists say their coverage stretches into the realm of harassment, including surveillance on overseas trips, and publishing details of their private lives, including homes, work and daily movements.

“It’s obvious that there’s intervention from outside forces with an aim to intimidate people,” Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng told Reuters, referring to the coverage from the pro-China papers.

The coverage raised concerns about the activities of “Chinese and Hong Kong intelligence operatives” on the island, Chiu added, including people working for pro-China media outlets.

Activists have also been physically attacked during trips to Taiwan.

In July 2018, two Taiwanese were convicted of assaulting Hong Kong activists meeting with independence advocates in Taiwan. Three Hong Kong men were later named in Taiwanese media coverage as helping facilitate the attack.

“I was followed until I almost left the airport,” Andy Chan, one of the Hong Kong activists, said of his time in Taiwan. “There are operatives for China everywhere.”

BEIJING WORRIED

China considers Hong Kong and Taiwan to be inalienable parts of its territory, and has branded pro-independence activists on both sides of the Taiwan Strait as “separatists.”

In an annual report to the U.S. Congress, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission noted in November that since president Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016, Beijing has feared “collusion between ‘separatist forces’ in Taiwan and Hong Kong.”

“Beijing is trying everything in its power to prevent this,” said a security source in the Taiwan government, who declined to be named given the sensitivity of the issue.

The source and a second Taiwanese security official involved in national security say China has been quietly ramping up the number of intelligence operatives in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Wu Jieh-min, a Taiwan scholar who has researched civil movements in Hong Kong and Taiwan, says he was barred from entering Hong Kong for an academic conference in late 2016.

Beijing is “very worried about the exchange of ideas. If the ideas of civil society are not hindered, their power will be greatly enhanced,” said Wu, a research fellow with the government-backed Academia Sinica.

Wu noted that mass, protracted protests in Taiwan and Hong Kong in 2014 that railed against Chinese interference were a catalyst for deepening activist ties on both sides.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office and main representative body in Hong Kong, the Liaison Office, did not respond to requests for comment.

The Wen Wei Po has also paid close attention to foreigners in contact with Hong Kong activists.

In December, Wen Wei Pao reporters and photographers covered the daily activities of Kevin Carrico, an Australia-based political scientist, during a visit to Hong Kong in which he met with independence advocates, and featured him on the front page.

“I was a little creeped out by the fact that the article discussed my presentation. There were only 15 people there,” he said of a private meeting in the basement of a Hong Kong building.

He said there had been “a real escalation of Beijing’s political operations in Hong Kong.”

HOTEL ATTACK

Activists in Hong Kong and Taiwan describe an increase in unknown individuals shadowing their meetings and events, sometimes taking photographs or recording their conversations.

In some cases activists have been attacked, and the assailants identified.

Two Taiwanese, Zhang Xiuye and Jhang Jhih-min, were found guilty last July of a 2016 assault on two Hong Kong independence activists, Andy Chan and Jason Chow, at a Taipei hotel.

Zhang and Jhang were convicted of defamation and fined T$6,000 ($195) and T$8,000 ($260) respectively; Jhang was also found guilty of “intimidating and endangering the safety” of Chan.

Zhang and Jhang were among at least eight people who beat Chan and Chow and called them China “traitors” at the Caesar Park Hotel, according to Taipei court documents.

Chan told Reuters he was at the hotel to meet with Ouyang Jin, a journalist with a little-known Hong Kong publication called Pacific Magazine.

Zhang is a senior member of the Chinese Concentric Patriotism Party, which advocates unification of China and Taiwan, according to the group’s website.

“It was purely an accident” that they ran into Chan at the hotel, Zhang told Reuters.

($1 = 7.8484 Hong Kong dollars)

($1 = 30.7550 Taiwan dollars)

(Additional reporting by Jessie Pang in Hong Kong and Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Gerry Doyle)

Source: OANN

A Justice Department official described as special counsel Robert Mueller’s “pit bull” is leaving the Russia investigation, signaling that the probe is nearing its end.

Andrew Weissmann will leave the special counsel’s office to study and teach law at New York University, NPR first reported. Weissmann led the prosecution of Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who was sentenced to a total of seven-and-a-half years in prison for financial crimes and work he did for the Ukrainian government.

Weissmann is the best known member of the special counsel’s team other than Mueller himself. Conservatives criticized Weissmann after it was discovered that he attended Hillary Clinton’s party on Election Day 2016. He also met with Associated Press reporters on April 11, 2017 to discuss a case against Manafort. Mueller would not be appointed special counsel until a month later, on May 17, 2017. (RELATED: Mueller’s ‘Pit Bull’ Attended Hillary Clinton’s Election Night Party)

Weissmann’s departure is the clearest sign yet that Mueller’s investigation is wrapping up.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 21: Special counsel Robert Mueller (L) arrives at the U.S. Capitol for closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee June 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. The committee meets with Mueller to discuss the firing of former FBI Director James Comey. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Special counsel Robert Mueller (L) arrives at the U.S. Capitol for closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee June 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

News outlets have reported that Mueller & Co. were in the process of writing a final report on the investigation, which looked into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia as well as possible obstruction of justice on the part of President Trump.

Some news outlets have reported that the report would be given to the Justice Department by the middle of March.

Mueller has indicted more than three dozen individuals, including 25 Russian nationals and several Trump associates. But none of the indictments have been for conspiracy between Trump allies and Russians.

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Freeny and Weissmann, members of special counsel Robert Mueller's team of prosecutors leave court in Washington D.C.
FILE PHOTO: Kyle Freeny (C) and Andrew Weissmann (R), members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team of prosecutors investigating potential ties between Russia and U.S. Presidential Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, leave court in Washington D.C., U.S., September 29, 2017. REUTERS/Nathan Layne

March 14, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – One of U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s top prosecutors is leaving the Department of Justice, according to a National Public Radio report on Thursday, possibly signaling the end of the federal investigation into alleged Russian interference in the presidential election.

Andrew Weissmann is departing the Special Counsel’s Office to teach at New York University (NYU), the NPR report said, citing two sources close to the matter. Politico also reported his departure, citing one source familiar with the move.

A spokesman for Mueller, whose team has been investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign, had no comment on the reports.

Representatives for NYU did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Weissmann led the case against U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was sentenced this week in a second federal criminal case and faces more than seven years in prison for crimes ranging from tax and bank fraud to conspiracy.

Mueller has led the U.S. probe into Russia since 2017, four months after Trump took office in the White House. The investigation so far has charged numerous people, including several top Trump advisers and a series of Russians, with a range of crimes.

Moscow has denied any election interference, and Trump has repeatedly called the investigation a “witch hunt” and said there was no collusion.

(Additional reporting by Karen Freifeld; Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Source: OANN

Phillip Stucky | Contributor

In this week’s edition of Unfake the News, The Daily Caller’s Vince Coglianese investigates if the national news media will ever learn from their constant misreporting of the news.

We begin by highlighting ABC News National Correspondent Terry Moran’s statement that the news media will face a “reckoning” if it turns out that the Mueller report finds no collusion between President Donald Trump and Russia.

We then go on to explain every time the national news media got the story wrong and refused to learn from their mistakes, starting with the New York Times’ projection that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a 95 percent chance to win the White House during the 2016 presidential election.

Next up is the shameful coverage of the Covington kids, followed by the series of scandals involving the leadership of Virginia. Notice that the news media decided to stop covering the potentially career-ending scandals due to the fact that all three of the top Democrats in the state could possibly lose their jobs.

“Yeah, the media face a reckoning, Terry Moran,” Coglianese said. “When you said that, there was a part of me that was like, ‘Yeah, I hope that’s right.’ But then there was the other part of me—the sensible one—and that part told me, ‘That’s bullshit, that’ll never happen.’”

This is Unfake the News.

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NOW CHECK OUT the most recent “Unfake The News” video: Unfake The News: Andrew McCabe Is Misleading America And The Media Is Giving Him A Pass

NOW CHECK OUT the most recent “Unfake The News” video: Unfake The News: MSNBC Resists No Collusion, Rachel Maddow Won’t Go Down Without A Fight

Source: The Daily Caller

George Conway on Wednesday questioned President Donald Trump's sanity in a series of tweets.

"Have we ever seen this degree of brazen, pathological mendacity in American public life? One day he makes a harmless slip of the tongue, something any mentally balanced person would laugh off," said Conway, the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.

"But instead he lies about it. He denies what the world can see on videotape. Even his donors and supporters wonder, what is wrong with him? Why would be feel compelled to tell such an absurd lie?"

"But one lie on any subject is never enough for Donald Trump," he added. "So, he next tells a different lie. Yes, I omitted a word, but to save time. A ridiculous assertion, of course — he really said 'Tim Apple' instead of 'Tim Cook of Apple' to save **a third of a second**?"

Conway went on to call Trump pathological and irrational and suggested he had a disorder.

"Whether or not impeachment is in order, a serious inquiry needs to be made about this man's condition of mind," he said.

Conway was reacting to Trump's claim Judge Amy Berman Jackson exonerated him of collusion.

"That was proven today – no collusion," Trump said following the additional sentencing of his ex-campaign chief, Paul Manafort. "There was no collusion . . . it was all a big hoax . . . Today, again, 'no collusion.'"

Source: NewsMax

FILE PHOTO: Acting U.S. Attorney General Whitaker testifies before House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker testifies before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of the Justice Department on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., Feb. 8, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

March 13, 2019

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee emerged from a closed-door meeting with former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker on Wednesday with conflicting accounts of their conversation with the controversial Trump ally.

Whitaker was called to Capitol Hill to clarify his testimony at a combative Feb. 8 committee hearing, during which he denied speaking with President Donald Trump about a federal case involving Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, who met for two hours with Whitaker and the panel’s top Republican, Representative Doug Collins, said Whitaker no longer denied speaking to Trump about Cohen or about the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York.

“Unlike in the hearing room, Mr. Whitaker did not deny that the president called him to discuss the Michael Cohen case and personnel decisions in the Southern District,” the New York Democrat told reporters.

Nadler also said Whitaker told the lawmakers that he was involved in conversations about U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman’s recusal from the Cohen investigation in the Southern District of New York and about whether its campaign finance case involving hush money payments to two women who claim they had affairs with Trump had gone too far.

Nadler’s committee is seeking evidence that Trump may have urged Whitaker to put the investigations under the supervision of Berman, a Trump donor and former law partner of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani who is recused.

But Collins, a Georgia Republican, contradicted much of Nadler’s account.

“He (Whitaker) said that he had not talked with the president about Mr. Cohen at all,” Collins told reporters.

Collins described Whitaker’s conversations about Berman and the campaign finance case as questions for his personal staff. “(Whitaker) had no conversations with the Southern District of New York,” he said.

Collins also dismissed a Nadler statement that Whitaker was involved in conversations about firing one or more U.S. attorneys as “normal personnel issues.”

Whitaker, who left the Justice Department after Attorney General William Barr’s arrival last month, caused alarm among Democrats when Trump appointed him acting attorney general without Senate confirmation in November, after ousting former Attorney Jeff Sessions last November.

Democrats warned that he could interfere with U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. In his February testimony, Whitaker denied interfering in the Mueller probe.

The campaign finance case in New York mentioned by Nadler involves hush money payments made to adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, known as Stormy Daniels, and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, just before the 2016 election.

Both women have claimed they had affairs with Trump. Trump has denied those claims.

Whitaker refused to answer questions about the topic during the hearing. He also denied media reports that Trump had lashed out at him after learning that Cohen would plead guilty for lying to Congress about a proposed Trump tower in Moscow.

Cohen was sentenced in December to three years in prison after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations, including making the hush money payments. Cohen said he made the payments at the direction of Trump.

(Reporting by David Morgan, editing by G Crosse)

Source: OANN

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., says pardoning Paul Manafort would be a "political disaster" for President Donald Trump and advises him not to do so.

Manafort, 69, was sentenced to 47 months of prison for financial fraud convictions obtained by special counsel Robert Mueller as he investigated Manafort's alleged collusion with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election.

He was also indicted Wednesday in New York on fresh charges of residential mortgage fraud and sentenced to another three-and-a-half years in prison after a federal judge rejected his appeal for no additional time and rebuked him for his crimes and years of lies. 

"Pardoning Manafort would be seen as a political disaster for the president," Sen. Graham lawmaker told reporters. "There may come a day down the road after the politics have changed that you'd want to consider an application of him like everybody else, but now would be a disaster."

Fellow Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., issued a similar message in December, saying it would be a "terrible mistake" for Trump as "pardons should be used judiciously."

Trump on Wednesday said he has not thought about pardoning his former campaign chairman, though he said he felt bad for him.

"I think it's a very bad situation,” he said.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and former Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., have also cautioned against a pardon.

Source: NewsMax

There was not any evidence of collusion with Russia in connection with President Donald Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort's conviction, but Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said Wednesday his offenses are still serious and he does not feel sorry for him.

"Mr. Manafort was convicted of bank fraud and tax fraud," Sen. Kennedy told Fox News' "America's Newsroom" before Manafort was to be sentenced in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. "There was no evidence of any collusion with Russia or any of that, but bank and tax fraud are serious offenses against the American people and he always played on the margins."

Further, Kennedy said he thinks he has called Manafort a "sleaze" in the past, and "he is. I don't have any sympathy for him."

Kennedy also said Wednesday he found revelations in testimony documents released by House Judiciary Committee Republicans from last year's questioning of former FBI attorney Lisa Page "disgusting."

"Ninety-nine percent of the men and women at the FBI and at Justice are good people," said Kennedy, "but you've got a 99 small minority over there, or you did, maybe you still do, most of them appear to be anti-Trump though I'm sure there are some anti-[Hillary] Clinton but they'll act from their political beliefs. Then they want to go out and sell books."

Deputy FBI Director Andy McCabe, in particular, "acts like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth," but everyone forgets he was fired for lying to the FBI, Kennedy said.

Source: NewsMax

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., sentenced Paul Manafort to 73 months in prison Wednesday, days after the former Trump campaign chairman received a 47-month sentence in a separate case in Virginia.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that Manafort will serve some of his sentence concurrently with his sentence in Virginia. In all, Manafort will spend around seven-and-a-half years in jail for a variety of crimes related to consulting work he did in Ukraine prior to joining the Trump campaign.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Jackson noted that prosecutors with the special counsel’s office did not present evidence of collusion between Manafort, the Trump campaign and Russians to influence the 2016 election.

“The question of whether there was any collusion with Russia…was not presented in this case, period, therefore it was not resolved by this case,” said Jackson.

Manafort, 69, apologized during brief remarks before Jackson handed down the sentence.

“I am sorry for what I have done and for all the activities that have gotten us here today,” said Manafort.

The longtime GOP operative faced between 19 and 24.5 years in prison in the Virginia case, but U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III issued a sentence far below federal sentencing guidelines.

Manafort was convicted of and pleaded guilty to charges related to political consulting work he did in Ukraine prior to joining the Trump campaign in 2016.

Manafort pleaded guilty on Sept. 14, 2018 in the Washington, D.C., case to charges of conspiracy to launder money, acting as a foreign agent of Ukraine, and witness tampering. He was convicted on Aug. 21, 2018 in Virginia on tax evasion and bank fraud charges. (RELATED: Paul Manafort Sentenced To 47 Months In Prison In Fraud Case)

Jackson sentenced Manafort to 60 months on the conspiracy charge and 13 months on the witness tampering offense. Thirty months of that sentence will run concurrently with the sentence handed down in the Virginia case. The additional 43 months will be tacked on to Manafort’s Virginia sentence, meaning that he will serve 90 months — or seven-and-a-half years — in jail, in all.

FBI Director Robert Mueller III testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee during a oversight hearing on Capitol Hill December 14, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The special counsel alleged that Manafort lied to prosecutors even after entering a plea agreement that could have seen time shaved off his prison term. Prosecutors claimed that Manafort lied about his interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik, a former Manafort business partner who is suspected of having ties to Russian intelligence.

Most of the charges Manafort faced dealt with consulting work that the longtime political consultant did in Ukraine from 2004 to 2014. He worked as a PR guru for Viktor Yanukovych, the former Ukrainian president.

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Source: The Daily Caller

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Wednesday that while he does "wholly concur" with Speaker Nancy Pelosi's opinion that impeaching President Donald Trump would create divisions in the party, the Department of Justice still must release the results of special counsel Robert Mueller's extensive investigation to Congress.

"We are certainly considering whatever is necessary to make sure this is not buried," Rep. Schiff told MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "The public gets to see this report. More than that, we have access in Congress to the supporting evidence. We can bring Mueller in to testify and we take it to court if necessary."

Further, he said, if the DOJ takes the position that a sitting president cannot be indicted, while not sharing information about Mueller's investigation with Congress so that it can determine if impeachment is warranted, "that amounts to immunity for the president," Schiff said.

Schiff said he believes there is both "direct and circumstantial evidence" of collusion between the President Donald Trump's campaign and Russia, and "whether that evidence amounts to beyond a reasonable doubt of criminal conspiracy, we have to wait for Bob Mueller on that."

Schiff also commented on complaints former Trump attorney Michael Cohen had several areas of inconsistency with his testimony, particularly on the issue of whether he had sought a pardon from Trump.

"We questioned him about the dangling of pardons and communication with the president or people on his team," said Schiff, whose committee heard Cohen's testimony behind closed doors. "We'll be releasing his transcript at the appropriate point. We may have to interview other witnesses before we do so."

Source: NewsMax

Jessica Kramer | Contributor

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday that trying to impeach President Donald Trump was not worth it.

So, The Daily Caller News Foundation decided to ask students at Georgetown University whether or not they agreed with Pelosi.

It was split on whether that was the right call, but every student who spoke with TheDCNF said they were ultimately hoping for evidence of Russian collusion that will come out in the Robert Muller report released later in March.

One student said her reaction to finding out there was evidence of Russian collusion would be: “F**k yes, get him out.”

While another student said he would eat his shoes if no evidence is found. (RELATED: Bar-Hopping With Liberals On Election Night)

Watch some of TheDCNF’s other videos and subscribe to our YouTube channel to make sure you never miss out on a great video.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].

Source: The Daily Caller

Saagar Enjeti | White House Correspondent

President Donald Trump reacted to the recently revealed transcripts from former FBI lawyer Lisa Page’s testimony before Congress, in a Wednesday tweet.

Trump’s tweet comes after Congressman Doug Collins released 370 pages of Page’s transcript testimony on his own volition, and promised that he would release even more in the future. Page exchanged thousands of text messages with her lover and then-top FBI agent Peter Strzok about the investigations into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Trump 2016 campaign.

Lisa Page (Mark Wilson/Getty Images); Peter Strzok (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Lisa Page (Mark Wilson/Getty Images); Peter Strzok (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Page testified before the House Judiciary Committee in July 2018. The transcripts reveal the context of Page’s texts to Strzok including the idea of having an “insurance policy” in the case of his election. (RELATED: ‘We Can’t Take That Risk’ — FBI Officials Discussed ‘Insurance Policy’ Against Trump Presidency)

“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way [Trump] gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” Strzok wrote in a cryptic text message to Page, adding “it’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 12: Deputy Assistant FBI Director Peter Strzok testifies before a joint committee hearing of the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill July 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. While involved in the probe into Hillary ClintonÕs use of a private email server in 2016, Strzok exchanged text messages with FBI attorney Lisa Page that were critical of Trump. After learning about the messages, Mueller removed Strzok from his investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 12: Deputy Assistant FBI Director Peter Strzok testifies before a joint committee hearing of the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Strzok also texted Page, “F Trump,” and called him a “f*cking idiot.” At one point, Page suggested that his presence on the investigation allowed him to “protect the country.”

Page explained that the the “insurance policy” text message referred to the FBI investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign the Russian government.

Source: The Daily Caller

President Donald Trump and Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agree: He shouldn't be impeached.

Trump tweeted Wednesday he greatly appreciates Pelosi's "statement against impeachment" but says "everyone must remember the minor fact that I never did anything wrong." Trump claimed his first years in office have been "the most successful first two years in history" and asks how anyone with such a record can be removed from office when "impeachment is for 'high crimes and misdemeanors'?"

Special counsel Robert Mueller is examining whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russia and whether Trump tried to obstruct the investigation. Trump insists "there was no collusion."

Pelosi told The Washington Post this week she's not for impeachment, at least for now, saying the Republican president is "just not worth it" without overwhelming support for his removal.

Source: NewsMax


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