The Mueller Investigation Page 11
Kyle Freeny and Brandon Van Grack, two prosecutors who worked on Paul Manafort's criminal cases, are ending their tenure working for special counsel Robert Mueller. Van Grack left recently to return to his job in the National Security Division of the Justice Department, and Freeny will leave the office in mid-October to return to the Criminal Division. Both were detailed to Mueller's office over the past year, said special counsel spokesman Peter Carr. Carr would not say whether this indicated that the office was winding down its efforts, as President Donald Trump's lawyers have suggested and several others who've been in contact with the office have speculated. He said the departures were not for any disciplinary reason. The two departures, which leave 13 prosecutors under Mueller (nine detailed from the other Justice Department offices and four that he hired directly), suggest that Mueller's efforts have turned a corner with Manafort's cooperation and that other parts of the department will play greater roles in open cases related to Russia's interference in the 2016 election.Cheri Jacobus says she was subjected to a campaign of online harassment and sabotage after a public fight with the president and one of his top advisers. Federal law enforcement officials have referred a 2-year-old email hacking investigation to special counsel Robert Mueller, according to the Republican operative who was the target of the hack. The referral adds yet another dimension to the special counsel’s sprawling probe, even as some of President Donald Trump’s allies portray Mueller’s work as nearing its conclusion. The operative and Trump critic, Cheri Jacobus, told POLITICO that FBI agents in the bureau’s cyber division informed her in September that they had forwarded their investigation to Mueller because the matter came to exceed the bounds of computer intrusion, the crime that had been the initial focus of the investigation. It is not clear what led the FBI to conclude that Mueller has jurisdiction over the matter. The special counsel has been investigating Russian election meddling, links between Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin, and other suspected wrongdoing, including undisclosed lobbying by foreign governments.A California man who admitted to unwittingly facilitating Russian interference in the 2016 election and later cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the subject now fears for his safety, the man's attorney said in a court filing Wednesday, Richard Pinedo, 28, is set to be sentenced next month for selling bank account numbers to Russian internet trolls who used the numbers to buy web ads aimed at advancing President Donald Trump's campaign and fomenting strife among Americans during the contentious election. In a bid for leniency, defense attorney Jeremy Lessem argued that Pinedo has experienced harassment and death threats over his walk-on role in the Mueller probe. Lessem also suggested that Pinedo has curtailed his activities because fears he could be the victim of attack by Russia, Russian sympathizers, or their opponents. "As a result of the cooperation provided in this case, Mr. Pinedo lives in a constant state of fear, for his own safety and that of his family,"Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former personal lawyer, has been interviewed repeatedly in the past month by prosecutors in the special counsel investigation into whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russian operatives, according to two people with knowledge of the sessions. The interviews, first reported by ABC News, are a further indication of the progress by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, in gathering firsthand accounts from some of the president’s closest advisers both before he ran for president and during the campaign. Last week, Paul Manafort, the president’s former campaign chairman, agreed to cooperate with Mr. Mueller’s inquiry as part of a plea agreement to reduce criminal charges stemming from his political consulting work in Ukraine.Read the full text of Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort’s plea deal. Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chair, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the US and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice on Friday. As part of his plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, Manafort agreed to cooperate with their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. According to his plea agreement Manafort will work with Mueller’s team in part by participating in interviews, turning over documents, and testifying in other proceedings. It’s potentially very bad news for Trump. Manafort took part in the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer who had promised to hand over dirt on Hillary Clinton. And Manafort had close contact with two Russians during the campaign: Oleg Deripaska and Konstantin Kilimnik. Deripaska, a notorious Russian oligarch, was once Manafort’s client. Kilimnik, meanwhile, was formerly Manafort’s longtime business associate — and possibly has ties to Russian intelligence. The plea deal will surely help Mueller learn a lot more about those connections — and what, if anything, Trump knew about it all.Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's cooperation with special counsel Robert Mueller can't be a good thing for President Donald Trump, commentators said Sunday. "Manafort is a key person to help us unwind whether this is the most unlikely string of improbable coincidences or whether this is an active conspiracy," said California Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. Schiff, a former prosecutor, told "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd on Sunday that Manafort's convictions, and eventual decision to cooperate, send the message to those "in Bob Mueller's crosshairs right now: You better get to the special counsel and make your deal now." "Anyone who gets indicted by Bob Mueller goes down," he said, adding that the "longer you wait to come clean, the worse it's going to get."President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort agreed Friday to provide testimony to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III as part of a plea deal that could answer some of the most critical questions about whether any Americans conspired with Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election. The decision to cooperate with Mueller in hopes of a lesser prison sentence is a stunning development, signaling Manafort’s surrender to criminal charges that he cheated the Internal Revenue Service, violated foreign lobbying laws and tried to obstruct justice while opening a new potential legal vulnerability for Trump. “I plead guilty,” Manafort told U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson at a hearing Friday morning in federal court in the District. As part of his plea, Manafort admitted to years of financial crimes to hide his money from the IRS and promised to tell the government about “his participation in and knowledge of all criminal activities.” Flipping Manafort gives Mueller a cooperating witness who was at key events relevant to the Russia investigation — a Trump Tower meeting attended by a Russian lawyer, the Republican National Convention and a host of other behind-the-scenes discussions in the spring and summer of 2016.The plea deal calls for a cap on prison time and dismisses deadlocked charges from an earlier trial pending cooperation with the Mueller probe. President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller under a plea agreement revealed Friday. Manafort appeared in a Washington, D.C., courtroom Friday morning, looking relaxed in a suit and purple tie, to formally announce the deal. The deal dismisses deadlocked charges against Manafort from an earlier trial, but only after "successful cooperation” with Mueller’s probe into Russian election interference and whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Moscow on its efforts. Later, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Manafort is agreeing to "cooperate fully and truthfully" with the investigation. However, a source close to the defense told POLITICO, "the cooperation agreement does not involve the Trump campaign. ... There was no collusion with Russia."Federal prosecutors in New York are weighing criminal charges against former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig as part of an investigation into whether he failed to register as a foreign agent in a probe that is linked to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to sources familiar with the matter. In addition, these sources said, prosecutors in the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York are considering taking action against powerhouse law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, where Craig was a partner during the activity under examination. Prosecutors are considering a civil settlement with the firm or a deferred prosecution agreement with Skadden, these sources said. An attorney for Craig, who left the Skadden firm in April and who was White House counsel under President Barack Obama during the first year of that administration, said his client "was not required to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act." A spokeswoman for Skadden didn't respond to a request for comment.The former Trump campaign adviser’s crime, his plea, and his falling out with Mueller’s team, explained.The two have a joint-defense agreement, which allows their legal teams to share information—and could help the president’s former campaign chairman angle for a pardon. President Donald Trump has tried to distance himself from his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, insisting that Manafort only worked for him for a very short time and that his recent convictions on tax- and bank-fraud charges have nothing to do with the campaign. But Trump’s and Manafort’s legal interests may be more aligned than either of them have let on. According to Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, Manafort and Trump are part of a joint-defense agreement that allows them to share confidential information about the Russia investigation under the protection of attorney-client privilege. “All during the investigation we have an open communication with them,” Giuliani recently told Politico. “Defense lawyers talk to each other all the time, where, as long as our clients authorize it, therefore we have a better idea of what’s going to happen. That’s very common.”Mueller has now indicted or secured guilty pleas from 32 people and three Russian companies. Vox's tally: "four former Trump advisers, 26 Russian nationals, three Russian companies, one California man, and one London-based lawyer. Five of these people (including three former Trump aides) have already pleaded guilty."A Justice Department lawyer whose ties to the infamous dossier about President Donald Trump and Russia has drawn the ire of Republicans told House lawmakers that he was told Russian intelligence thought they had the then-candidate "over a barrel" during the 2016 campaign, a source with knowledge of the testimony told CNN.The lawyers for former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos say in a new court filing that their client lied to the FBI about his contacts with Russians because he was seeking to get a job in the administration at the time and wanted to preserve his loyalty to “his master” — an apparent reference to President Trump. The new explanation for Papadopoulos’s lies to the FBI came in a 16-page court filing by his lawyers Friday night that also revealed new details about what the former Trump adviser has told special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators, including his claim that Trump himself specifically approved his efforts to set up a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the 2016 campaign.Convicted former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos has publicly contradicted Attorney General Jeff Sessions' sworn testimony to Congress, saying both Sessions and Donald Trump apparently supported his proposal that Trump meet with Vladimir Putin during the 2016 campaign, according to a court filing late Friday night. "While some in the room rebuffed George's offer, Mr. Trump nodded with approval and deferred to Mr. Sessions who appeared to like the idea and stated that the campaign should look into it. George's giddiness over Mr. Trump's recognition was prominent during the days that followed," Papadopoulos' lawyers wrote in a court filing Friday. Papadopoulos' legal team said that he has shared with special counsel Robert Mueller his recollections of the March 31, 2016, meeting.Robert Mueller got another cooperator - Sam Patten, an associate of Paul Manafort and Cambridge Analytica, struck a plea deal.The Mueller investigation has resulted in yet another plea deal. Sam Patten, a Republican lobbyist, pleaded guilty Friday to violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act in his unregistered work for a Ukrainian politician and a Ukrainian oligarch — and agreed to cooperate with the government. Patten was charged by the US attorney’s office for the District of Columbia. But Mueller’s team referred the investigation there and Patten’s plea agreement specifically says he must cooperate with the special counsel’s office. Andrew Weissmann, an attorney on Mueller’s team, attended Patten’s hearing Friday.Donald Trump had decried the special counsel’s work as a ‘witch-hunt’ but the convictions of his ex-campaign chair and former fixer suggest otherwise. A lone protester holds up a sign and American flag outside the courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, after the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was found guilty on eight counts of fraud. A lone protester holds up a sign and American flag outside the courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, after Paul Manafort was found guilty on eight counts of fraud. For Trump, the implications of the Manafort conviction and Cohen plea are ominous. In convicting Manafort, Mueller has won new impetus to prosecute figures even closer to Trump, should the evidence warrant. For Mueller’s team, the guilty verdict represents a substantial victory, a significant hurdle cleared. The case was Mueller’s first outing at trial, and a failure to convict might have called into question Mueller’s broader enterprise.The special counsel has collected a mountain of evidence in the Trump-Russia investigation, but so far only a tiny amount of it has been revealed in official indictments. Here are nine areas where we should expect answers as the inquiry unfolds. When the history books are written, Rod Rosenstein might just be the most interesting figure of the Russia investigation—the beleaguered deputy attorney general whose memo in his first days on the job was used to justify the firing of James Comey.The president was already in jeopardy before Michael Cohen’s guilty plea. President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen says the president ordered him to violate federal campaign finance laws during the 2016 election. As bad as that news is for Trump, the president faces an even more immediate legal peril: Even from the publicly available information, it’s now clear that Trump obstructed justice. Robert Mueller’s team is surely reaching the same conclusion, which means it is highly likely that Mueller will refer an obstruction case to Congress for further action. He could also seek to indict co-conspirators, and he could name the president himself in an indictment. No wonder Trump has resisted an interview with the special counsel.The Mueller investigation is heating up and nearly everyone close to the president is running for the exits.It might even keep the special counsel from sending a report to Congress, shaking Democrats’ hopes that such a document could provide the impetus for impeachment proceedings.Before his trial in Washington, DC, federal court next month, but talks stalled over issues raised by special counsel Robert Mueller, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing people familiar with the matter. Manafort was found guilty last Tuesday in a separate trial in Virginia federal court on eight counts of financial crimes, including tax fraud, bank fraud and hiding foreign bank accounts. He faces a second set of criminal charges next month in Washington of failure to register his foreign lobbying and money laundering conspiracy.A single juror prevented President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort from being convicted this week on all 18 counts of tax evasion and bank fraud, according to fellow juror Paula Duncan, who offered insight into the four days of their deliberations.The trial was the first public test of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible Russian meddling and obstruction of justice by Trump.White House counsel Donald McGahn has cooperated extensively with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia's meddling with the 2016 presidential election, sources with knowledge of his interviews tell ABC News. McGahn has met with Mueller’s team at least three times and has been questioned by the special counsel’s team more extensively than any other member of the White House staff who has gone for an interview, the sources said.Donald F. McGahn II, has cooperated extensively in the special counsel investigation, sharing detailed accounts about the episodes at the heart of the inquiry into whether President Trump obstructed justice, including some that investigators would not have learned of otherwise, according to a dozen current and former White House officials and others briefed on the matter.The Russia investigation (or Special Counsel Investigation) began as a probe into Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election. As of July 2018 U.S. law enforcement agencies, the FBI and the CIA as well as Congress are investigating any links between the presidential campaign of Donald Trump and Russia. This investigation is being perceived differently from the right and left.Elie Honig, a former federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, who suggested Trump’s revocation of security clearances could be construed as retaliation against witnesses. “It’s a federal crime -- §1513 if anyone wants to look it up -- to retaliate against someone for providing truthful information to law enforcement,” he said. “So he’s getting closer and closer to really dangerous ground here.”The jury in the Paul Manafort trial sent a note to the judge with a list of questions, including wanting to know the definition of "reasonable doubt." CNN's Kara Scannell reports.Closing statement have concluded in the financial crimes trial of Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman for Donald Trump, and prosecutors took the opportunity to paint Manafort as a liar and a schemer. "When you follow the trail of Mr. Manafort's money, it's littered with lies,” special counsel prosecutor Greg Andres said in federal court on Wednesday, telling jurors that Manafort is “not above the law.”After his defense of Rick Gates’ testimony, prosecutor Greg Andres moved into the details of Paul Manafort’s alleged bank fraud. “Time and time again, Mr. Manafort provided false information” to banks, Andres said, adding that “any number of bank documents that Mr. Manafort signed” explicitly say that doing so is a crime. The fraud was necessary, Andres explained, because Manafort’s Ukrainian patron Viktor Yanukovych “was out of power,” and “Mr. Manafort couldn’t pay his bills.”The special counsel is ramping up interviews with Stone associates, and paging through potentially damning e-mails. As Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference churns on, the list of individuals the special counsel hasn’t interviewed is arguably as interesting as those he has. And given his communications with WikiLeaks and Russian hacker Guccifer 2.0, professional ratfucker and longtime Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone ranks near the top. Stone has yet to be called in for questioning himself, but reports suggest Mueller has taken an interest in Stone, probing said WikiLeaks links, as well as his relationship with Rick Gates, the former deputy chairman of the Trump campaign who’s cooperating with the government.Defense rests in Paul Manafort trial; closing arguments WednesdayThe defense rested its case Tuesday morning in the trial against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort without calling any witnesses, setting the stage for closing arguments Wednesday morning. Manafort spoke for the first time in court during the trial, saying he will not testify.Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner is now officially part of the trove of evidence in Paul Manafort's criminal trial, as part of an email exchange with the former campaign chairman about potential senior administration jobs. Manafort sent Kushner a recommendation to appoint Federal Savings Bank chair Stephen Calk as secretary of the Army in a November 30, 2016, email released Monday by the Justice Department. At the same time, Manafort had received the first part of what would be $16 million in loans from Calk's bank, according to testimony Monday from James Brennan, the bank's vice president. Manafort also suggested two other possible Trump appointees, Pat Sink and Vernon Parker, according to the email released Monday.Paul Manafort or his agents neglected to mention mortgages on two New York properties when he sought $16 million in loans. A vice president of Federal Savings Bank said he wouldn’t have approved the $16 million loans, but the bank CEO pushed them through. The prosecution rested its case in chief, and the defense will argue its motion to acquit on Tuesday.The chief executive officer of a small Chicago bank that approved $16 million in loans to former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort was seeking a post in the new administration, a witness testified on Friday in Manafort’s fraud trial.Paul Manafort trial Day 9: Prosecutors again ask Judge Ellis to correct one of his quips before juryPaul Manafort, President Trump’s onetime campaign chairman, is on trial in federal court in Alexandria on bank and tax fraud charges. Prosecutors allege he failed to pay taxes on millions he made from his work for a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party, then lied to get loans when the cash stopped coming in.The ongoing Special Counsel investigation is a United States law enforcement and counterintelligence investigation of the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, including an investigation of any possible links and/or coordination between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and the Russian government, "and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation."Prosecutors say a back and forth over an expert witness in front of the jury could have left a negative impression in their minds. The federal judge overseeing the Paul Manafort trial conceded Thursday morning that he made a mistake in chastising special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors a day earlier in front of the jury.The indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking Democrats’ and Hillary Clinton’s emails said they began going after the former first lady’s personal emails “on or about July 27, 2016” — the same day Donald Trump called on Russia to find her missing emails. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said, looking directly into TV cameras, at a press conference in Florida that day in which he also cast doubt that Russia was behind the hacking.Paul Manafort collected more than $65 million in foreign accounts for his Ukrainian political work from 2010-2014 and spent more than $15 million in the same period on real estate, landscaping, home improvement and luxury items like his ostrich and python jackets, an FBI witness told jurorsTrial lawyers know that judicial grumbling is not a reliable predictor of results. Ellis is plain-spoken and forceful and doesn’t hesitate to criticize the prosecutors. The news has been filled with stories of his rebukes, including interrupting the prosecutors’ opening statements to remind them that Manafort's being wealthy isn’t a crime, berating them for introducing exhibits too slowly, demanding that they move faster, narrowing the evidence they’re allowed to present and accusing a prosecutor of “tearing up” during a tense exchange. He even takes shots at the prosecution’s witnesses, as when he told Rick Gates that Manafort couldn’t have kept too close an eye on his money if Gates was able to steal some of it.Paul Manafort trial Day 7: Manafort took in $60 million over five years, including $31 million from Ukraine in 2012Prosecutors are using IRS agent Michael Welch to state clearly what they argued in opening statements and have had witnesses testify on for several days now — Paul Manafort did not pay taxes on all of the income he earned in Ukraine between 2010 and 2014. Welch said Manafort received about $15.5 million from Ukraine which he then paid directly to vendors, and which he did not report or pay taxes on.Mr. Manafort’s case is separate from the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and any ties to the Trump campaign, though this is the first trial stemming from the investigation of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel.Paul Manafort trial Day 5: Rick Gates testifies he committed bank, tax fraud at Manafort’s directionRick Gates, Paul Manafort’s longtime business partner, testifies they committed bank and tax fraud. Gates admits he embezzled hundreds of thousands from ManafortFormer Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is on trial in Alexandria, Virginia, for tax evasion and money laundering. The trial is the first to arise from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into election interference.Mueller Passes 3 Cases Focused on Illicit Foreign Lobbying to Prosecutors in New York - Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, has referred three investigations into possible illicit foreign lobbying by Washington insiders to federal prosecutors in New York who are already handling the case against President Trump’s former lawyer, according to multiple people familiar with the cases.The biggest test of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election begins Tuesday with the trial of Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign can be a lot to keep up with.The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, is scrutinizing tweets and negative statements from the president about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey, according to three people briefed on the matter.A federal judge in Alexandria, Virginia, has granted the request for five witnesses to testify with immunity in the criminal trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.The documents appear to discount claims made by some Republicans that the FBI failed to properly disclose sources of information used to seek it.Robert Mueller's special counsel office on Wednesday released an itemized list of evidence prosecutors are considering for use against Paul Manafort as the former Trump aide's Washington D.C. trial approaches.The Justice Department announced indictments against 12 Russian nationals as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, accusing them of engaging in a "sustained effort" to hack Democrats' emails and computer networks. All 12 defendants are members of the GRU, a Russian federation intelligence agency within the main intelligence directorate of the Russian military, who were acting in "their official capacities."
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