Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime informal adviser to President Trump, was charged as part of the special counsel investigation over his communications with WikiLeaks, the organization behind the release of thousands of stolen Democratic emails during the 2016 campaign, in an indictment unsealed Friday. Mr. Stone was charged with seven counts, including obstruction of an official proceeding, making false statements and witness tampering, according to the special counsel’s office. Before dawn on Friday, F.B.I. agents arrested Mr. Stone at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and he was expected to appear in a federal courthouse there later in the morning. The indictment is the first in months by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who is investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and possible coordination with Trump campaign associates. Mr. Stone’s lawyer, Grant Smith, dismissed the charges, calling them “ridiculous,” and said, “this is all about a minor charge about lying to Congress about something that was apparently found later.”
CNN)An attempt before the Supreme Court for a company to dodge a grand jury subpoena related to the Mueller investigation revealed a new twist Tuesday: that the company is wholly owned by a foreign government. In essence, the foreign nation is fighting off the US Justice Department's attempt to collect information as it builds a criminal case. The development comes in a redacted petition the country filed with the Supreme Court that was made public Tuesday. The case concerns an unnamed corporation that is fighting a subpoena request from a DC-based grand jury. Lower courts have ruled that the company must turn over the information and imposed a $50,000 fine for every day it failed to do so following the appeal. CNN previously reported that prosecutors from the special counsel's office were involved in the case at its early stages, suggesting that special counsel Robert Mueller sought the information from the company for grand jury proceedings related to his criminal investigations. The case then continued through the court system with an unusual amount of secrecy around it, so that even the lawyers involved could not be seen at a later hearing. In ruling against the company, the appeals court said the request fell within an exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act that limits foreign governments from being sued in US courts. The court also held that the company had not shown that its own country's law bar compliance. Overall, the country argues to the Supreme Court that a ruling forcing it to turn over information to the US in a criminal investigation will upset international diplomacy. "The D.C. circuit's parade of horribles finds no support in U.S. history. Since America's founding, foreign states have been immune from American criminal jurisdiction, and yet the United States is not overrun with criminal syndicates backed by foreign states," the attorneys for the foreign country wrote. Regarding hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines it will have to pay for noncompliance, "The conflict is real and, like the other questions presented, has ramifications for America's relationships with other countries," the filing adds.
(CNN)Special counsel Robert Mueller's team has expressed interest in the Trump campaign's relationship with the National Rifle Association during the 2016 campaign. "When I was interviewed by the special counsel's office, I was asked about the Trump campaign and our dealings with the NRA," Sam Nunberg, a former Trump campaign aide, told CNN. The special counsel's team was curious to learn more about how Donald Trump and his operatives first formed a relationship with the NRA and how Trump wound up speaking at the group's annual meeting in 2015, just months before announcing his presidential bid, Nunberg said. Nunberg's interview with Mueller's team in February 2018 offers the first indication that the special counsel has been probing the Trump campaign's ties to the powerful gun-rights group. As recently as about a month ago, Mueller's investigators were still raising questions about the relationship between the campaign and the gun group, CNN has learned. A spokesman for the special counsel's office declined to comment. The NRA did not respond to a request for comment. President Trump was not asked about his connection with the NRA in the written questions Mueller posed to him, according to a source familiar with the questions. The NRA had already come under scrutiny from lawmakers for its massive spending in support of Trump in 2016 and its ties to Russian nationals. Maria Butina, a Russian national, pleaded guilty in DC federal court in December to engaging in a conspiracy against the US. As part of her plea, she acknowledged that she attempted to infiltrate GOP political circles and influence US relations with Russia, in part by building ties with prominent members of the NRA.
President Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, Bill Barr, agreed during sworn testimony earlier this week that a president who persuades someone to commit perjury is committing the crime of obstruction of justice. Barr’s answer to Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., went viral after a BuzzFeed report that Trump had directed his then-personal lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about an aborted plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Trump currently is being investigated for obstruction of justice by special counsel Robert Mueller. Just because the president does it doesn’t make it legal, President Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general says. William Barr, Trump’s nominee for attorney, earlier this week agreed during sworn testimony in the Senate that a president who persuades someone to commit perjury is committing the crime of obstruction of justice. “Any person who persuades another to” commit perjury has obstructed justice, Barr told Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., on Tuesday at his confirmation hearing at the Judiciary Committee. Barr’s televised admission of that otherwise uncontroversial fact rocketed around social media Thursday night after a bombshell BuzzFeed report. BuzzFeed, citing law-enforcement sources, said Trump directed his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen in 2017 to lie to Congress in sworn statements about details of an aborted effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, Russia. - Trump has committed obstruction of justice multiple times LOCK HIM UP!
Psy Group delivered plans for ‘social media manipulation’ in 2016 and the special counsel is digging in as part of his probe into Mideast influence. Rick Gates, the former campaign aide to Donald Trump, is cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into whether individuals from the Middle East worked with the Trump campaign to influence the election, according to two individuals with first-hand knowledge of the investigation. Gates has answered questions specifically about Psy Group, an Israeli firm that ex-employees say drew up social media manipulation plans to help the Trump campaign, according to sources familiar with the questions. Mueller’s team also asked Gates about interactions with Psy Group’s owner, Joel Zamel, and Lebanese-American businessman George Nader, who worked as an emissary for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the sources said. On Tuesday, Mueller’s team said that Gates was cooperating with “several ongoing investigations” in asking a federal judge to delay his sentencing for financial crimes he pleaded guilty to committing with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. One of the ongoing investigations is into possible Middle Eastern election influence, three people with knowledge of the probe told The Daily Beast.
(Politico) At least 33 people and three companies have been charged so far as a result of the special counsel’s investigation into 2016 election tampering. Since former FBI chief Robert Mueller was appointed to probe potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russians during the 2016 campaign, the special counsel has held Americans spellbound. His investigation has exposed illegal schemes across international borders and produced more than 100 criminal charges. Inside the White House, the probe has, at times, consumed President Donald Trump and his inner circle. Here are all the people Mueller has charged so far.
Special counsel Robert Mueller has zeroed in on at least three new witnesses associated with a conservative commentator connected to former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone, signaling that investigators remain focused on the activities of Stone and his associates despite the continued public silence on a matter long thought to be close to resolution. ABC News has learned that at least three new witnesses connected to Stone associate Jerome Corsi – the former Washington, D.C., bureau chief for the far-right internet site Infowars – have been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury hearing testimony on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Copies of those subpoenas delivered to two individuals late last year bear Mueller’s name and call for the retention and producing of documents, communication logs and other records involving two people: Corsi and Stone.
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort spoke to a federal grand jury last fall about his communications with Konstantin Kilimnik, including regarding an in-person meeting with the Russian associate and an email with him, special counsel Robert Mueller revealed Tuesday. The 31-page filing gives an unprecedented window into Mueller's work with the grand jury, which is typically secret. It's also the first confirmation from prosecutors that Kilimnik is still central to the grand jury's efforts. Based on recent filings from Mueller's team, Kilimnik appears to be at the heart of pieces of Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The special counsel kept more details about the meeting secret in its Tuesday filing, such as what the in-person meeting was about and when it took place. An accompanying document with about 70 exhibits is also mostly redacted. Mueller's team has been redacting information in its recent court filings to protect other individuals and to keep secret its ongoing investigations, of which there are multiple still in the works. But the special counsel has not redacted Kilimnik's name. Mueller also revealed Tuesday that Manafort communicated with Kilimnik beginning on August 2, 2016.
Devin Nunes has been a pitbull for the president, growling at the prosecutors investigating Trumpworld. Now an event that Nunes himself attended is under Mueller’s microscope. The Special Counsel’s Office and federal prosecutors in Manhattan are scrutinizing a meeting involving former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, one-time National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and dozens of foreign officials, according to three sources familiar with the investigations. The breakfast event, which was first reported by The Daily Sabah, a pro-government Turkish paper, took place at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. at 8.30 a.m. on Jan. 18, 2017—two days before President Donald Trump’s inauguration. About 60 people were invited, including diplomats from governments around the world, according to those same sources. The breakfast has come under scrutiny by federal prosecutors in Manhattan as part of their probe into whether the Trump inaugural committee misspent funds and if donors tried to buy influence in the White House. The existence of that probe was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. The Special Counsel’s Office is also looking at the breakfast as part of its investigation into whether foreigners contributed money to the Trump inaugural fund and PAC by possibly using American intermediaries, as first reported by The New York Times. Robert Mueller’s team has asked Flynn about the event, according to two sources familiar with the Special Counsel’s Office questioning.
Legendary journalist Carl Bernstein has said that he’s been told that special counsel Robert Mueller’s report will show how President Donald Trump helped Russia “destabilize the United States.” Bernstein, who is renowned for his coverage of the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of former President Richard Nixon, appeared on CNN’s Reliable Sources on Sunday to discuss two bombshell reports released this weekend, one from The New York Times and one from The Washington Post, which revealed new details about whether or not Trump and his aides have colluded with Russia. The Post reported that Trump has gone to “extraordinary lengths” to conceal direct conversations he has had with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Times article revealed that the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into Trump after he fired former bureau director James Comey in 2017, suspecting the president could be working on behalf of Russia. Trump has angrily denied allegations that he worked with Russia and has regularly attacked the media for reporting on the investigation. But Bernstein slammed Trump’s dismissal of the probe. “This is about the most serious counterintelligence people we have in the U.S. government saying, ‘Oh, my God, the president’s words and actions lead us to conclude that somehow he has become a witting, unwitting, or half-witting pawn, certainly in some regards, to Vladimir Putin,'” Bernstein explained during his appearance on Reliable Sources.
President Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, including on at least one occasion taking possession of the notes of his own interpreter and instructing the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials, current and former U.S. officials said. Trump did so after a meeting with Putin in 2017 in Hamburg that was also attended by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. U.S. officials learned of Trump’s actions when a White House adviser and a senior State Department official sought information from the interpreter beyond a readout shared by Tillerson. The constraints that Trump imposed are part of a broader pattern by the president of shielding his communications with Putin from public scrutiny and preventing even high-ranking officials in his own administration from fully knowing what he has told one of the United States’ main adversaries. - What is Trump hiding from the American people? What classified information did Trump give Putin? Will the American people ever know what Trump and his handler talked about?
Following a report that the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into President Donald Trump's relationship with Russia, former Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Frank Figliuzzi said it is likely that Robert Mueller indeed has "classified" evidence. “I think this is particularly sobering, even for career counterintelligence professionals who always in the back of their minds think there is an outside possibility someone could rise to high office who might be playing for another team,” Figliuzzi said during an appearance on MSNBC's AM Joy. "To see this in writing, to hear this report — if it’s accurate to say the bureau actually opened a case on Donald J. Trump — is really like hitting the American people in the gut." Figluizzi and AM Joy host Joy Reid referenced a report from the New York Times, published on Friday, which revealed that the FBI began the counterintelligence investigation just days after former FBI director James Comey was fired. The goal of the investigation, the Times said, was to determine if Trump "was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence." While Mueller took over the counterintelligence case and combined it with his own investigation, the Times was unable to determine if he is still pursuing the counterintelligence matter.
Friday night, the New York Times published a bombshell report that the FBI has been investigating whether President Trump “had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.” The story reframes the focus and purpose of the investigation now headed by Robert Mueller. The probe is not just about Russian election interference, or about Trump’s obstruction of the probe — it is about the secret relationship between Trump and Russia that appears to be causing both these things to happen. The first question to ask yourself when absorbing this story is, what does it mean for a president to be working for Russia, and against the United States? Trump frequently says the United States would be better off if it got along better with Russia — and that position, right or wrong, is certainly not criminally suspect. Presidents obviously have the right to change American foreign policy, and to forge friendships with countries that had been previously hostile. Nixon’s overtures to China, or Obama’s opening of relations with Cuba, did not set off criminal investigations. The FBI would not investigate a president simply for harboring friendly views of a rival state. The potential that Trump is working on behalf of Russia, therefore, by definition posits some kind of corrupt secret relationship. That is to say, it’s an investigation into whether Trump is a Russian asset.
Special counsel Robert Mueller has looked into the presence of several Ukrainian officials at President Trump's inauguration, The New York Times reported Thursday. The news outlet reported that federal prosecutors have interviewed witnesses about how the Ukrainians gained access to inaugural events and what they discussed during meetings while in the U.S. At least a dozen Ukrainians attended the inauguration, including several who were at the official Liberty Ball, The Times reported. The officials also stopped by the Trump International Hotel and brushed with congressional Republicans and Trump allies, the news outlet said. Investigators are reportedly looking into evidence that at least some of the Ukrainians held agendas that aligned with Russian interests, including some who sought to ease sanctions on Moscow and pitch a peace plan between Russia and the Ukraine.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators met last year with a pollster who worked on Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, CNN reports. GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio is a former associate of Trump’s one-time campaign chief Paul Manafort. The report adds more intrigue to the recent revelation that Manafort himself was accused by Mueller of sharing polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, whom Mueller has alleged holds “ties to a Russian intelligence service.” Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators met last year with a pollster who worked on Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and is a former associate of Trump’s ex-campaign chief Paul Manafort, according to a new report. The report from CNN adds more intrigue to the recent revelation that Manafort himself was accused by Mueller of sharing polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, whom Mueller has alleged holds “ties to a Russian intelligence service,” during the 2016 election. Mueller has been investigating Russia’s meddling in that election, as well as possible coordination between the Kremlin and Trump campaign-related figures. Some Democrats and pundits see Manafort’s distribution of the polling data as new evidence of possible collusion.
FOX News host Shep Smith talks to network legal correspondent Judge Andrew Napolitano about Paul Manafort sharing polling data with a person who is believed to "source for Russian intelligence." Napolitano said, "if this is collusion, "though collusion isn't a crime, this would be collusion." JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO: This shows that Bob Mueller can demonstrate to a court, without the testimony of Paul Manafort, that the campaign had a connection to Russian intelligence and the connection involved information going from the campaign to the Russians. The question is, was this in return for a promise of something from the Russians, and did the candidate, now the president, know about it? SHEP SMITH: And would that be a conspiracy? NAPOLITANO: Yes. Conspiracy is an agreement to commit a crime. The crime would be to receive something of value from the foreign person or government during a campaign. Whether or not the thing of value arrives, the agreement is what is the crime. There was apparently an agreement between the campaign manager and this Russian oligarch. What the oligarch did with the material we gave him, who the campaign manager, Manafort, spoke to in the campaign, Bob Mueller has yet to reveal... SHEP SMITH: If this is collusion, though collusion isn't a crime, this would be collusion. NAPOLITANO: The crime is the conspiracy, the agreement. Collusion is a nonlegal term. SMITH: Oh, I know, but if there's collusion, giving stuff to the Russians about polling data. NAPOLITANO: That would probably fit into that kind of a category.