By Katelyn Polantz, Kara Scannell and Jeremy Herb, CNN
Washington (CNN) Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators were allowed to review years of Michael Cohen's emails and other online data from the time he worked under Donald Trump, according to federal warrants released Tuesday. The documents show that Cohen, Trump's former lawyer and fixer, was a target of Mueller almost immediately after the special counsel was appointed in May 2017 and how extensively Mueller tracked computer data of those close to then-candidate Trump in the early days of his presidency. In all, prosecutors and the FBI received permission to execute four search warrants for Cohen's two Gmail accounts and stored data in his Apple iCloud account in July, August and November 2017 -- long before Cohen's office was raided in April 2018 and he pleaded guilty in an illegal campaign contribution and tax prosecution led by Manhattan federal prosecutors. Mueller also received approval on two separate occasions to track the numbers of Cohen's incoming and outgoing calls. Mueller also received approval on two separate occasions to track the numbers of Cohen's incoming and outgoing calls. Cohen has become a centerpiece of the sprawling investigations into Trump from both federal prosecutors and the Democratic-controlled Congress -- prompting the President to relentlessly attack Cohen as a "rat" after he began cooperating with federal authorities last year. The warrants provide new information about Cohen's financial crimes, but details about Cohen's campaign finance violations -- the hush-money payments made to women to keep silent about alleged affairs with Trump -- are nearly entirely redacted in the unsealed documents. The search warrants released Tuesday say that the special counsel's office referred "certain aspects" of its investigation into Cohen to the New York-based US Attorney's Office. After pleading guilty in the Manhattan probe, Cohen also later pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in a case brought by Mueller's investigators. They have said he's been helpful to them, but have not revealed how so.
Mueller's search warrant justifications related to Cohen that were provided to DC federal court are not yet public. The searches done by Mueller are described as part of the probable cause that led prosecutors to seek electronic phone and other data from Cohen in their illegal campaign contribution investigation, for which he was charged. Mueller also received warrant approvals on November 7, 2017, and January 4, 2018, to track the numbers of Cohen's incoming and outgoing phone calls and other phone call metadata. Mueller's team then handed over that data to the Manhattan federal prosecutors, and the Manhattan prosecutors also sought additional information filtered out of the Mueller searches. At the time, Mueller's team was investigating Cohen for a host of crimes, including some for which he's not been charged, such as money laundering and acting as an illegal agent of a foreign government.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has reached an agreement with Attorney General William Barr to stay on at the Justice Department “a little while longer,” according to Fox News. DOJ officials previously briefed that Rosenstein—who appointed the special counsel to investigate ties between Russia and the Trump campaign—would step down from his role in mid-March, but he’s reportedly yet to hand in his two weeks’ notice. It was thought he would quit as soon as Barr took office. Fox News reports Rosenstein would like to stay in his post until the Mueller investigation concludes, and sources confirmed to the channel that he’s still the primary liaison between department headquarters and Mueller’s office. However, Barr now has ultimate oversight over the Russia investigation. The probe is believed to be entering its final stages before its findings are handed to the DOJ.
By Tucker Higgins, Dan Mangan
Special counsel Robert Mueller obtained a search warrant targeting President Donald Trump’s then-personal lawyer Michael Cohen in July 2017, more than a half year before a raid on Cohen’s home and office. Mueller obtained a warrant for one of Cohen’s Gmail accounts on July 18, 2017, according to partially unsealed documents released on Tuesday. The special counsel obtained another warrants for “content stored in the iCloud account” associated with Cohen’s Apple ID in August of that year. The documents show that Mueller obtained a search warrant for emails “sent or received” by an account belonging to Cohen stretching back to June 2015, the same month that Trump announced his candidacy for president. Mueller’s office referred “certain aspects of its investigation” to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York in Manhattan months after it obtained the warrants, according to the documents. The FBI raided Cohen’s home and office in April 2018 as part of the probe by federal prosecutors in Manhattan that led months later to the now-disbarred lawyer pleading guilty to multiple crimes. The filing partially unsealed and released Tuesday shows that Mueller was eyeing Cohen for a crime that has not been previously disclosed: Acting as an unregistered foreign agent. Cohen was never charged with such a crime. Mueller was also investigating Cohen for false bank entries, false statement to a financial institution, bank fraud, wire fraud and money laundering, the documents show. Those other areas were known to be subject matters of interest to the special counsel. Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to five counts of tax fraud, one count of making false statements to a financial institution, one count of making unlawful campaign contributions, a single count of excessive campaign contributions, and making false statements to Congress. The campaign crimes relate to Cohen facilitating hush money payments to two women, porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, in exchange for their silence about their alleged affairs with Trump.
By Kevin Breuninger
Former Trump campaign official Rick Gates “continues to cooperate with respect to several ongoing investigations,” special counsel Robert Mueller said in a court filing Friday. The joint report from Mueller and Gates’ attorney, which asks a federal judge for 60 more days before providing the next update on Gates’ status, comes amid increasing speculation that the special counsel’s Russia probe is coming to an end. The filing also arrives two days after Gates’ longtime business partner and former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, received his final prison sentence on charges lodged by Mueller in federal court. Gates, alongside Manafort, had initially been charged by Mueller’s prosecutors with money laundering, misleading investigators and other crimes. In February 2018, Gates struck a deal with prosecutors, pleading guilty to two criminal counts including conspiracy and lying to FBI agents. Since then, Gates appears to have cooperated extensively with Mueller’s team. His most visible role as a cooperating witness came in August, when he testified against Manafort in his tax and bank fraud trial in Virginia federal court. Manafort was convicted on eight of the 18 counts lodged against him in that case. He struck his own plea deal on the eve of a second Mueller trial in Washington, D.C., federal court. Mueller is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and possible collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign. Trump has denied collusion or any other wrongdoing.
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort received a total sentence of about 7 1/2 years in federal prison on Wednesday following the guilty plea in his Washington, D.C., conspiracy case. Judge Amy Berman Jackson effectively added about 3 1/2 years in prison to the sentence Manafort received last week from a different judge in the Eastern District of Virginia. Jackson said Manafort could serve some of the prison sentence at the same time he was serving in prison for his other case. But the judge in Washington ultimately increased the total amount of prison time. A federal judge in Virginia had sentenced Manafort to just under four years in federal prison and ordered that he pay $24.8 million in restitution and a $50,000 fine.
Charges in New York City
Separately on Wednesday, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced that a grand jury in New York City had returned an indictment of its own against Manafort. Vance's statement described "a yearlong residential mortgage fraud scheme through which Manafort and others falsified business records to illegally obtain millions of dollars." The New York City case not only added to Manafort's legal woes but also multiplied them. If convicted and imprisoned in New York, a presidential pardon could not provide him clemency on the state charges. The New York City case not only added to Manafort's legal woes but also multiplied them. If convicted and imprisoned in New York, a presidential pardon could not provide him clemency on the state charges.
By Tony Platt
For the second time in a week, Paul Manafort on Wednesday will face a judge for sentencing. Last Thursday, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III decided President Trump’s former campaign manager deserved just 47 months in prison for defrauding banks and avoiding taxes, not the 19 to 25 years that federal guidelines called for. Now it’s U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s turn, in a separate case in which Manafort pleaded guilty to conspiracy involving more bank and tax fraud and assorted similar crimes. If Jackson hands out another comparatively light sentence, she’ll be right in line with the practices in most U.S. courtrooms. Corporate and financial criminals typically do not serve even one day in a prison cell. Baggy pants and a barbecue in the frontyard might get you jail time if you live in a place like Ferguson, Mo.; but, if you’re a global bank such as HSBC, laundering money for a Mexican cartel implicated in thousands of murders (among other skulduggery) yields a fine that sounds high but is actually just the equivalent to four weeks of profits. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time can get you stopped, frisked and arrested — as federal investigators said the Baltimore police did to about 250,000 mostly African American suspects from 2010 to 2015. However, engaging in systematic corporate fraud against millions of clients, as the Los Angeles Times discovered Wells Fargo did, results in corner office resignations, firing of low-level employees, and fines that were more than compensated for by the Trump administration’s tax cuts. No executive did any time.
Christina Wilkie, White House reporter for CNBC.com, talks with Rachel Maddow about her reporting on how a Paul Manafort lie led to the discovery of an apparent kickback scheme in the Donald Trump campaign's largest PAC, and the new questions that have followed.
The special counsel isn’t only looking for crimes: He continues the counterintelligence investigation that started with suspicious Trump-Russia contacts in 2016.
By Nelson W. Cunningham
Breathless media alerts notwithstanding, there is reason to be skeptical that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report is imminent. There are just too many loose ends, including the just-begun Roger Stone prosecution and the not-yet-finished litigation over “Corporation A” and other grand jury witnesses, not to mention the glaring absence of any testimony yet from Donald Trump himself. There may certainly be signs the Mueller investigation is entering its final phases—just not this week. Still, it’s clearly time to consider the shape of what Mueller will produce as he finishes. The reporting requirements of the special counsel regulations have been exhaustively picked over. What must Mueller report to the attorney general? What may the attorney general do with the report? Will Congress and the public ever see it? The ins and outs of the special counsel report regulations played a significant role in Attorney General William Barr’s January confirmation hearings. But we may be focusing on the wrong report. There may in fact be two Mueller reports. This is because from the very beginning, Mueller has worn two hats and borne two missions relating to the Russia investigation. The most public and familiar one is as a criminal investigator under the special counsel regulations. But Mueller has also carried a second charge, as a counterintelligence expert, with a much broader charge to determine and report the scope of any interference and any links to the Trump campaign—what Trump himself might refer to as “collusion.” In March 2017, then-FBI Director James Comey testified that the Russia investigation was commenced “as part of our counterintelligence mission . . . also includ[ing] an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s May 17, 2017 order appointing Mueller special counsel specifically and carefully incorporated this announced scope and mission. From the start, then, Mueller has been conducting a counterintelligence investigation, while “also” assessing whether any crimes were committed. Not the other way around.
By Rachel Weiner, Lynh Bui, Justin Jouvenal and Devlin Barrett
Paul Manafort, who once served as President Trump’s campaign chairman, was sentenced to nearly four years in prison Thursday for cheating on his taxes and bank fraud — a spectacular fall for a once high-flying political consultant who told the judge he is now “humiliated and ashamed.” Manafort had faced up to 24 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, but U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis called that calculation “excessive” and sentenced him instead to 47 months. Ellis said the sentence he imposed was more in line with others who had been convicted on similar crimes. “The government cannot sweep away the history of all these previous sentences” for similar crimes, the judge said. Ellis noted that he must consider the entirety of Manafort’s life when issuing a sentence, noting Manafort has been “a good friend” and a “generous person” but that “can’t erase the criminal activity.” Manafort’s tax crimes, the judge said, were “a theft of money from everyone who pays taxes.” But the judge expressed some sympathy for Manafort, a 69-year-old GOP consultant who worked on the presidential campaigns of Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. “He’s lived an otherwise blameless life,” Ellis said. The judged noted Manafort has no past criminal history and “earned the admiration of a number of people” who wrote letters to the court support Manafort. Wearing a green jail uniform with the words “ALEXANDRIA INMATE” in block letters on the back, Manafort entered the courtroom in a wheelchair. “The last two years have been the most difficult years for my family and I,” Manafort told the judge. “To say that I feel humiliated and ashamed would be a gross understatement.” He asked the judge “for compassion,” adding, “I know it is my conduct that has brought me here.” Speaking from his chair, Manafort did not apologize for his crimes, but thanked the judge for how he had conducted the trial. “I appreciate the fairness of the trial you conducted,” he said. “My life is professionally and financially in shambles.” Manafort said the “media frenzy” surrounding the case had taken a toll on him, but that he hopes “to turn the notoriety into a positive and show who I really am.” The worst pain, he said, “is the pain my family is feeling, ” adding that he drew strength from the “outpouring of support” he had received. The hearing came just days before Manafort is set to be sentenced for related conspiracy charges in a case in D.C. federal court. Manafort’s trial last year documented his career as an international lobbyist whose profligate spending habits were part of the evidence showing he’d cheated the Internal Revenue Service out of $6 million by hiding $16 million in income. Prosecutors painted the former Trump campaign chairman as an incorrigible cheat who must be made to understand the seriousness of his wrongdoing. Manafort contends he is mere collateral damage in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election. At the outset of the hearing, Ellis addressed the larger special counsel investigation, saying Manafort was not convicted “for anything to do with Russian colluding in the presidential election.” But the judge also rejected Manafort’s attorneys claims that the lack of any such evidence undermined the case, saying he had considered that issue at the beginning of the case. “I concluded that it was legitimate” for the special counsel to charge Manafort with financial crimes, Ellis said. Sentencing guidelines in the Virginia case had called for Manafort to serve somewhere between 19½ and 24 years in prison, after a jury found him guilty of eight charges and deadlocked on 10 others. The first skirmish in the sentencing hearing came when Manafort’s attorneys argued with federal prosecutors over whether he deserved any sentenced reduction for “acceptance of responsibility.”
By Tal Axelrod
(The Hill) Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleaded with a federal judge for mercy Thursday at his sentencing trial for a slew of financial crimes. “The last two years have been the most difficult years for my family and I,” Manafort said at the Eastern District of Virginia courtroom. “To say that I feel humiliated and ashamed would be a gross understatement.” Asking for “compassion,” Manafort added that “I know it is my conduct that has brought me here,” according to The Washington Post. Manafort did not apologize for his crimes, but praised Judge T.S. Ellis, saying he steered the hearing in a professional manner. “I appreciate the fairness of the trial you conducted,” he said. “My life is professionally and financially in shambles.” Manafort added that the national scrutiny over his case has weighed on him, though he aims “to turn the notoriety into a positive and show who I really am.” Manafort is being sentenced to bank and tax fraud charges in Virginia Thursday and will be sentenced in a D.C. federal court in the coming days on conspiracy charges related to his lobbying on behalf of the Ukrainian government. His trial over the summer showed Manafort cheated the Internal Revenue Service out of millions of dollars. The former campaign chairman has criticized the financial charges levied against him, noting they fell outside of special counsel Robert Mueller’s initial purview of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. However, Ellis dismissed lawyers’ claims that the widened scope of Mueller’s probe delegitimized the charges against Manafort. “I concluded that it was legitimate” for Mueller to bring forth financial charges, Ellis said. Virginia sentencing guidelines dictate Manafort should serve between 19.5-24 years in prison on the eight financial charges on which he was convicted.
By Richard Leiby
Objecting to an abundance of sealed and redacted records in the criminal case against Paul Manafort, the president’s former campaign chairman, The Washington Post petitioned a federal court Thursday to open those records to public view. The paper’s motion cited “the profound public interest in these proceedings” — as well as in the overall investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into Russia’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election, which has swept up Manafort and scores of others. “The investigation, which concerns the integrity of this country’s elections, goes to the core of the interests protected by the First Amendment,” the motion, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, said. The filing comes as Manafort, 69, faces sentencing Thursday in Virginia and next Wednesday in Washington. He pleaded guilty in Washington to two conspiracy counts of hiding millions he earned as an unregistered lobbyist for Ukrainian politicians over a decade and, after he was charged in October 2017, attempting to tamper with witnesses. He was convicted at a federal trial in Alexandria in August on related charges of bank and tax fraud. At issue are redacted or sealed filings, sentencing memos, hearing transcripts and more than 800 pages of exhibits submitted after the special counsel’s office alleged in November that Manafort voided his cooperation agreement with prosecutors in Washington by lying to them about five subjects over more than 50 hours of interviews before and after his guilty plea. Prosecutors submitted the materials to substantiate their allegations but did so under seal or with heavy redactions, arguing that information related to uncharged individuals or ongoing criminal investigations, including secret grand jury matters, should not become public. “The long-standing principle of open criminal proceedings deserves to be sustained in this important case, especially considering that it comes in the context of an investigation into the integrity of a presidential election and relentless attacks on the investigation itself,” Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron said in a statement. The Supreme Court has recognized the public’s right of access to records under the First Amendment and common law, including to pre- and post-trial documents and court proceedings. However, courts have upheld that the presumption of access can be overcome when the government proves it has a “compelling interest” to protect, such as grand jury secrecy, individuals’ privacy or a pending law enforcement investigation. But such exceptions must be narrowly tailored and can be time-limited, courts have found, given the impact on core First Amendment rights and the principles of self-government and government transparency. Federal judges in Washington have upheld the public’s right to access criminal case materials, particularly in closed investigations, finding that the government can keep matters sealed only by showing a substantial probability that disclosing them would harm the compelling interest at stake and that no alternatives would adequately protect them.
Manafort faces up to 24 years for eight convictions in Virginia. Sentencing for other crimes next week in Washington. Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, will be sentenced by a US district judge in Virginia on Thursday for bank and tax fraud uncovered during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election. Judge TS Ellis could effectively deliver a life sentence to Manafort, 69, if he follows federal sentencing guidelines cited by prosecutors that call for 19½ to 24 years in prison for the eight charges the veteran Republican political consultant was convicted of by a jury in Alexandria last August. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for 3.30pm EST. Manafort was convicted after prosecutors accused him of hiding from the US government millions of dollars he earned as a consultant for Ukraine’s former pro-Russia government. After the pro-Kremlin Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych’s ouster, prosecutors said, Manafort lied to banks to secure loans and maintain an opulent lifestyle with luxurious homes, designer suits and even a $15,000 ostrich-skin jacket. Mueller’s charges led to the stunning downfall of Manafort, a prominent figure in Republican party circles for decades who also worked as a consultant to such international figures as the former Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos and Yanukovych. Mueller: Paul Manafort is hardened criminal who 'repeatedly' broke law Manafort faces sentencing in a separate case in Washington on 13 March on two conspiracy charges to which he pleaded guilty last September. While he faces a statutory maximum of 10 years in the Washington case, Judge Amy Berman Jackson potentially could stack that on top of whatever prison time Ellis imposes in Virginia, rather than allowing the sentences to run concurrently. Jackson ruled on 13 February that Manafort had breached his agreement to cooperate with Mueller’s office by lying to prosecutors about three matters pertinent to the Russia investigation including his interactions with a business partner they have said has ties to Russian intelligence. Jackson’s ruling could have an impact on the severity of his sentence in both cases.
By Dan Mangan, Kevin Breuninger
A federal judge on Tuesday blasts Roger Stone over his new book that criticizes special counsel Robert Mueller, and she demands Stone explain his efforts to comply with a gag order that bars him from bad-mouthing Mueller. Judge Amy Berman Jackson, in a court filing, says, there "is no question that the order prohibited and continues to prohibit the defendant from making any public statements, using any medium, concerning the investigation." Stone, a longtime Republican operative and self-described "dirty trickster," is a friend of President Donald Trump. A federal judge on Tuesday blasted Roger Stone over his new book that criticizes special counsel Robert Mueller, and she demanded Stone explain his efforts to comply with a gag order strictly barring him from bad-mouthing Mueller. Judge Amy Berman Jackson, in a court filing, wrote that there "is no question that the order prohibited and continues to prohibit the defendant from making any public statements, using any medium, concerning the investigation." "It does not matter when the defendant may have first formulated the opinions expressed, or when he first put them into words: he may no longer share his views on these particular subjects with the world," Jackson wrote about Stone, a longtime Republican operative and friend of President Donald Trump. Jackson rejected Stone's request that she "clarify" that her gag order on him does not apply to his new book. The judge also chastised Stone's lawyers for misrepresenting the status of the book, which they now admit is already on sale, despite having told the judge last Friday that its publication was "imminent." If Jackson decides that Stone has disobeyed her gag order, she could revoke his $250,000 signature release bond and order him held without bail until his trial on charges of lying to Congress and witness tampering.He has pleaded not guilty in the case, where he is accused of making false statements about his alleged contacts with WikiLeaks in connection with a purported effort to have that document-release group disclose material hacked from Democrats by Russian agents.
By James Comey
James Comey is a former director of the FBI and a former deputy attorney general. Attorney General William P. Barr will decide how much of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s findings and conclusions to share with Congress and the American people. Barr told the Senate Judiciary Committee he would try to be as transparent as possible while abiding by the Justice Department’s long-standing tradition of protecting the privacy rights of the innocent. That makes sense, but past departmental practices suggest he can release far more details than many people may now realize. Providing detailed information about a completed investigation of intense public interest has long been a part of Justice Department practice. It doesn’t happen often, because ordinarily nothing outweighs the privacy interests of the subject of an investigation that ends without public charges. But department tradition recognizes that transparency is especially important where polarized politics and baseless attacks challenge law enforcement’s credibility. In critical matters of national importance, a straightforward report of what facts have been learned and how judgment has been exercised may be the only way to advance the public interest. The Justice Department shared detailed information with the public after the FBI’s investigation of the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. His death at the hands of a white police officer touched off unrest around the country. The Justice Department responded to calls for a federal investigation, sending dozens of FBI special agents into Ferguson. After months of careful work, the department declined to bring a federal criminal prosecution. But the Justice Department didn’t just put the boxes in storage. Because there was intense, legitimate public interest — and significant doubt about law enforcement independence — the department publicly released an 86-page report in March 2015 detailing the entire investigation — what was done, what was found and how the evidence compared to governing legal standards, including an evaluation of the conduct and statements of individuals. In October 2015, the Justice Department again shared information about a case involving corrosive doubts. For years, Republicans claimed that the Internal Revenue Service had illegally targeted tea party groups because of their political beliefs. In response to the allegations, the department did an extensive investigation, which ended with no charges being brought. But it didn’t stop there. Because the case posed a significant challenge to public confidence in the institution, the Justice Department provided Congress with an eight-page, single-spaced public report that laid out the investigation, the evidence found and a legal assessment. The department not only explained why no charges were appropriate but also discussed, by name, the conduct of a key subject of the criminal investigation — IRS supervisor Lois Lerner — writing that she had used “poor judgment” but that “ineffective management is not a crime. . . . What occurred is disquieting and may necessitate corrective action — but does not warrant criminal prosecution.” These cases represent the way the Justice Department has always approached its mission — speak only in prosecuted cases, unless the public really needs to know. In 2004, during the George W. Bush administration, the public needed to know more about José Padilla, an American citizen captured in the United States and held by presidential order as an enemy combatant in a Navy brig. It was a breathtaking exercise of presidential power, one that generated intense and legitimate concern across the political spectrum.
By Dan Mangan, Kevin Breuninger
One of those deletions apparently occurs after CNBC reports Sunday that Stone might have violated the terms of his judicial gag order by posting an image on his Instagram account asking "Who framed Roger Stone." That possible violation is noted to the judge in his case Monday by special counsel Robert Mueller, whose office is prosecuting Stone for lying to Congress, witness tampering and other crimes. Two websites used by President Donald Trump's longtime friend Roger Stone to raise funds for his defense against criminal charges lodged by special counsel Robert Mueller and in civil cases have been deleted. At least one of those deletions apparently occurred after CNBC reported Sunday that the Republican operative might have violated the terms of his judicial gag order by posting an image on his Instagram account asking "Who framed Roger Stone." Another of Stone's websites, which itself was titled whoframedrogerstone.com, has also been deleted. The possible gag-order violation was noted to the judge in his case Monday by Mueller, who has charged Stone in Washington, D.C., federal court with lying to Congress, witness tampering and other crimes. If Judge Amy Berman Jackson finds that Stone broke the gag order, she could revoke his $250,000 signature release bond and send him to jail pending trial. Last year, Jackson jailed Stone's former lobbying partner and ex-Trump campaign boss Paul Manafort after he tried to tamper with a witness in the criminal case against him. On Feb. 21, Jackson barred Stone from criticizing Mueller's team or the case against him. She imposed that gag order after Stone posted an image on Instagram showing Jackson's face next to a rifle scope crosshair. Stone, who has pleaded not guilty in his case, has several websites set up in his name. One, stonezone.com, was operating as of late Sunday, according to data from the internet archival service the Wayback Machine. But on Tuesday, visitors to that page were greeted by a message saying, "This page isn't working. www.stonezone.com is currently unable to handle this request. HTTP ERROR 500." The other site, whoframedrogerstone.com, was operating as of Feb. 6, according to the Wayback Machine. It is not clear when that site was pulled down. But visitors to that address on Tuesday saw the message: "403 - Forbidden Error. You are not allowed to access this address. If the error persists, please contact the website webmaster." Stone on Sunday deleted the "Who framed Roger Stone" image from a series of other rotating images on his Instagram story shortly after CNBC sent an email to his lawyer asking about it. In a court filing to Jackson on Monday, Mueller cited CNBC's story detailing the Instagram post by Stone but did not ask the judge to rule that Stone broke her gag order. Another Stone website, stonecoldtruth.com, remained online Tuesday, as does stonedefensefund.com. Both of those active sites contain links for visitors to donate to his legal defense, as does Stone's active Facebook page. However, Stone has significantly changed the language on one of his remaining legal fundraising sites, apparently to comply with the gag order.
By Laura Jarrett, CNN
(CNN) The Justice Department announced Monday that Attorney General Bill Barr will not step aside from overseeing the special counsel's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, as anticipation grows over when Robert Mueller will deliver his report to the department. "Following General Barr's confirmation, senior career ethics officials advised that General Barr should not recuse himself from the Special Counsel's investigation," Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said in a statement Monday. "Consistent with that advice, General Barr has decided not to recuse." Prior to his Senate confirmation last month, Democrats had raised concerns about a 19-page memo Barr authored in June 2018 as a private citizen, detailing why he believed President Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey a year earlier should not constitute obstruction of justice. He also previously offered mixed opinions about the Russia investigation, having praised Mueller but also publicly criticized political donations that several members of the special counsel's team had made to Democrats. Barr told lawmakers he would consult with ethics officials on the recusal issue, but he did not make any pledge to necessarily follow their advice on the Russia probe. Now cleared by ethics officials, the attorney general is poised to receive Mueller's confidential report at any time. As CNN has previously reported, Barr has been closely consulting with top Justice Department officials on the outlines of plans to handle the highly anticipated report, including to what extent it should be shared with Congress, and by extension the public.
By Dan Mangan
(CNBC) Special counsel Robert Mueller on Monday notified a federal judge about an Instagram post by President Donald Trump's friend Roger Stone that could be in violation of the judge's strict gag order on Stone. The filing by Mueller notes CNBC's story on Sunday detailing the post by Stone, which contained an image of him under the words "Who framed Roger Stone." Stone, 66, is barred from commenting on Mueller's team of prosecutors under the gag order imposed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson in late February. Special counsel Robert Mueller on Monday notified a federal judge about an Instagram post by President Donald Trump's friend Roger Stone that could be in violation of the judge's strict gag order on Stone. The filing by Mueller noted CNBC's story on Sunday detailing the post by Stone, which contained an image of him under the words "Who framed Roger Stone." Mueller did not ask Judge Amy Berman to find Stone in violation of her gag order in the case, where he is accused of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing justice. Stone, 66, is barred from criticizing Mueller's team of prosecutors under the gag imposed on Feb. 21 after he posted an Instagram image of Jackson's face next to a rifle scope's crosshair. If Stone is found by Jackson to have violated that order, she could have him jailed without bail pending his trial. Stone deleted "Who framed Roger Stone" image from a series of other rotating images on his Instagram story Sunday shortly after CNBC sent an email to his lawyer asking about it. The other images suggested that people donate to Stone's legal defense fund, with one saying "I am committed to proving my innocence. But I need your help," and another saying, "I've always had Trump's back. Will you have mine?" "We note for the Court that according to public reporting, on March 3, 2019, the defendant's Instagram account shared an image with the title 'who framed Roger Stone.' A copy of the image is submitted under seal as Exhibit C. 1," Mueller said in the court filing in federal court in Washington, D.C. Stone's posted the "Framed" Instagram image two days after Jackson ordered his defense lawyers to explain why they did not tell her about the planned publication of a book by Stone that could violate her gag order. That order prohibits Stone from "making statements to the media or in public settings about the Special Counsel's investigation or this case or any of the participants in the investigation or the case." The gag covers "posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other form of social media," as well as other forms of communication. Mueller's spokesman, who declined to comment on Stone's post on Sunday, did not immediately return a request for comment. Stone's lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Earlier Monday, Stone's attorneys told Jackson in a filing that they belived his new book, which has an updated introduction discussing his case, should be allowed to be published because it was written and edited before the judge issued her gag order. But Mueller's filing afterward noted that, "A preview of the defendant's book, including the updated Introduction referenced in the defendant's Motion to Clarify, is currently publicly available on Amazon.com and Google Books."
(Axios) - After nearly two years, special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation has netted 199 criminal charges, 37 indictments or guilty pleas, and 4 prison sentences. Driving the news: Mueller filed an 800+ page sentencing memo, with attachments, for President Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort, in which he called Manafort a "hardened" criminal who "repeatedly and brazenly" broke the law for over a decade, even after being indicted. Manafort will be sentenced in two separate cases next month, and could spend the rest of his life in prison.
May 17: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appoints Robert Mueller as special counsel to the Russia probe.
June 14: Mueller's probe expands to investigate Trump for possible obstruction of justice.
Oct. 30: Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates are indicted on 12 counts, including conspiracy against the U.S. and money laundering. The same day, Trump's former campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, pleads guilty to making false statements to the FBI regarding his contact with Russian leadership. He later claims he misled agents to protect the president.
Dec. 1: Former national security advisor Michael Flynn pleads guilty to "willfully and knowingly [making] false, fictitious and fraudulent statements and representations" to the FBI regarding his conversations with Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.
Feb. 16: Mueller indicts 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for violating criminal laws to interfere with the 2016 U.S. election. The same day, Richard Pinedo pleads guilty to identity fraud for selling bank account numbers to Russians involved in election interference.
Feb. 20: Dutch lawyer Alex van der Zwaan pleads guilty after being charged on Feb. 16 with lying to FBI investigators about his interactions with Rick Gates and an unidentified individual, labeled "Person A" in court documents.
Feb. 22: Mueller files 32 new financial charges, including money laundering and bank fraud, against Manafort and Gates in the Eastern District of Virginia.
Feb. 23: Gates pleads guilty to conspiracy and lying to investigators. A federal grand jury also brings a superseding indictment against Manafort, alleging he "secretly retained a group of former senior European politicians to take positions favorable to Ukraine, including by lobbying in the United States."
March 15: Manafort's lawyers file a motion to dismiss Mueller's D.C. indictment.
March 27: Manafort's legal team files a motion to dismiss Mueller's Virginia indictment.
April 3: Alex van der Zwaan is sentenced to 30 days in prison and $20,000 in fines for lying to FBI investigators. The decision marks the first sentencing in Mueller's probe.
April 9: The home, hotel room and office of Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen is raided by FBI agents.
June 8: Mueller brings new charges against former Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik, a former aide to Manafort who has been suspected of having ties to Russian intelligence. The charges against both Manafort and Kilimnik include conspiracy and obstruction of justice in an alleged attempt to influence other testimonies. Mueller also charges Manafort with conspiracy to launder money, acting as an unregistered foreign agent and lying to authorities against Manafort.
July 13: Mueller indicts 12 Russian military intelligence officers for hacking and releasing Democratic emails during the 2016 campaign.
Aug. 21: Manafort is found guilty by a Virginia jury on eight counts of fraud. That same day, Cohen pleads guilty in a Manhattan courtroom to eight counts related to tax fraud and campaign finance violations related to the Southern District of New York's investigation. Over the next few months, Cohen reportedly spent more than 70 hours in interviews with the special counsel.
Sept. 7: Papadopoulos is sentenced to 14 days in prison for lying to the FBI.
Sept. 14: Manafort pleads guilty to charges brought by the special counsel and enters into a "cooperation agreement."
Nov. 8: Attorney General Jeff Sessions submits his resignation at the request of President Trump. Sessions' chief of staff Matthew Whitaker, a public critic of the Mueller investigation, is appointed acting AG.
Nov. 20: Trump's lawyers say they've submitted written answers to questions from the special counsel.
Nov. 29: Cohen pleads guilty in the Mueller investigation to lying to Congress about the length and scope of his work on plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Trump's business entanglements are publicly brought into the Mueller investigation for the first time, with Trump himself reportedly referred to as "Individual 1" in court documents.
Dec. 4: Mueller files a memo recommending no prison time for Flynn, citing his "substantial assistance" and cooperation in the special counsel's investigation.
Dec. 7: Prosecutors from New York’s Southern District recommend a "substantial term of imprisonment" for Michael Cohen for campaign finance and tax violations, as well as lying to Congress, despite his cooperation with the investigation. Mueller also filed a memo on Cohen stating that he is not taking a position on what amount of prison time Cohen should serve, but said "any sentence of incarceration" the court in New York recommends would be "appropriate." Mueller filed a second document revealing that Manafort lied to the FBI and the Special Counsel's Office about his contact with administration officials, a Russian political consultant, a wire transfer, and information related to another DOJ investigation.
Dec. 12: Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison on charges related to campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress. In his guilty plea, Cohen claimed then-candidate Donald Trump directed him in 2016 to pay hush money to two women who alleged affairs.
Jan. 25: Roger Stone, a longtime Trump associate, was arrested following an indictment in the Mueller investigation.
Feb. 15: Mueller's team recommended that Manafort should serve between 19.5 and 24.5 years in prison in a court filing.
Feb. 22: Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued a full gag order in Stone's case, after he posted an Instagram photo of her with a crosshairs symbol near her head.
Feb. 23: Mueller filed an 800+ page sentencing memo for Paul Manafort, in which he called Trump's former campaign manager a "hardened" criminal who "repeatedly and brazenly" broke the law for over a decade, even after being indicted. Manafort will be sentenced in two separate cases next month, and could spend the rest of his life in prison.