Obstruction of justice case may be shaping up against Trump

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“Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Sater emailed Trump Organization executive vice president Michael Cohen, detailed by The New York Times… 

We have become inured to Trumpian self-dealing, from doubling membership fees at Mar-a-Lago to profiting off his government-owned D.C. hotel. This one goes beyond pure greed. It edges into serious questions about whether Trump’s positions on Putin and Russia have been and remain tainted by considerations not of what is best for the nation but what benefits Trump’s bottom line.”

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    Obstruction of justice case against Trump

 

 

How an obstruction of justice case may be shaping up against Trump – GS

Story image for Obstruction of justice case against Trump from The Guardian

How an obstruction of justice case may be shaping up against Trump

The Guardian2 hours ago
He reportedly possesses a draft letter explaining Trump’s rationale for … In any obstruction of justice case against Trump, Mueller might also …
3 Things to Know About the Trump Lawyers’ Memos to Mueller
The National Law Journal (registration)17 hours ago
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Source: How an obstruction of justice case may be shaping up against Trump | US news | The Guardian

“Certain additional documents whose existence was revealed for the first time – meeting notes taken by the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and a letter of intent reportedly signed by Trump to build a tower in Moscow – seemed to undercut previous statements by the president, his son and others about relationships now under the scrutiny of Mueller’s team…

Draft letter

The documents were still flowing on Friday afternoon, with a New York Times report that Mueller was in possession of a draft letter explaining Trump’s rationale for firing Comey. The draft was reportedly written by Trump and an aide, Stephen Miller, but rejected by the White House counsel, on unknown grounds…

Other documents

revealed a changing narrative in Trump campaign contacts with Russian agents. The Washington Post reported Monday that during the campaign, Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen wrote an email to an aide to Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, asking for help with a real estate deal.

It was further revealed that early on in the presidential campaign, Trump signed a non-binding letter of intent to build a tower in Moscow, Cohen confirmed in a statement to ABC News. Trump claimed during the campaign that he “knows nothing about Russia” and had “no loans” and “no deals” there…

The details of any Trump deal or debt with a Russian connection, if any exist, are not publicly known – but yet another headline this week indicated that Mueller may have gained insight on the subject. According to a Daily Beast report on Thursday, the special counsel has enlisted the help of agents from the criminal investigation unit of the Internal Revenue Service.”

Trump has disingenuously downplayed his financial interests in Russia

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WASHINGTON — There comes a point in the unspooling of every complex political-financial-legal scandal when the story becomes so complicated that it’s easy to lose the thread of what matters. The facts dribble out, in ever more confusing increments. The lengthy cast of characters resembles a Russian novel. Competing news demands our attention.

That is where we are now when it comes to the investigation of President Trump and Russia. Harvey deluged the Gulf Coast, drowning out the news about Trump’s involvement with Russia. Still, that news is, or should be, huge. The latest revelations feel, at least for now, like more of a political bombshell than a legal problem, but the two are closely related; consider how many public officials have landed themselves in legal jeopardy trying to save their political hides.

Still, that news is, or should be, huge. The latest revelations feel, at least for now, like more of a political bombshell than a legal problem, but the two are closely related; consider how many public officials have landed themselves in legal jeopardy trying to save their political hides.

To recap, what we know now that we did not know a week ago:

While he ran for president, Trump was simultaneously — and secretly — pursuing financial opportunities with a foreign adversary. Not just any adversary, but Russia, a country described by his party’s previous presidential nominee as the United States’ “No. 1 geopolitical foe.” And not just pursuing financial opportunities in Russia, but actively seeking the help of at least one senior Russian official to gain government approval for the project.

Once again: This is not OK. When you run for president, you cannot — you should not — put yourself in the position of using that candidacy as a door-opening business opportunity. You cannot — even if the prospect of winning seems remote — put yourself in a position of being financially beholden to a hostile foreign power.

Trump Tower Moscow was not another instance of Trump as unabashed cross-promoter-in-chief, like using the campaign press corps to help tout the reopening of his Scottish golf course. It represented something much more disturbing, even unpatriotic.

It was possible, when The Washington Post first broke the news of the failed deal, to discount the proposal as braggadocio from Felix Sater, the Russian-born real estate developer pushing the deal.

“Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Sater emailed Trump Organization executive vice president Michael Cohen, detailed by The New York Times.

But as it turned out, this was more than Sater freelancing in Trump’s name. The Post next reported that Cohen emailed Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov in January 2016 in a bid to save the languishing deal; that Cohen discussed the project with Trump on three occasions; and that the effort was dropped when Russian government permission was unforthcoming.

The Trump Organization not only pursued this opportunity in secret, it — indeed, Trump himself — actively misled the public. Imagine how much more sharply people would have responded to Trump’s already repulsive praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin during that time — “He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader, you know, unlike what we have in this country” — if they knew that Trump had just signed a letter of intent with a Russian firm to develop a Trump-branded tower in Moscow.

And as the question of Trump’s Russian connections became increasingly controversial, he somehow omitted the just-abandoned deal. “For the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia,” he tweeted in July 2016. This past January, as Trump prepared to take office, he reiterated, “I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA — NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!” Shades of Bill Clinton — it depends on what the meaning of “have” is.

As recently as his interview this summer with The New York Times, Trump disingenuously downplayed his financial interests in Russia. “I mean, it’s possible there’s a condo or something, so, you know, I sell a lot of condo units, and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows? …They said I own buildings in Russia. I don’t. They said I made money from Russia. I don’t. It’s not my thing. I don’t, I don’t do that. Over the years, I’ve looked at maybe doing a deal in Russia, but I never did one.” Including the one he was pursuing while running for president, but failed to mention.

We have become inured to Trumpian self-dealing, from doubling membership fees at Mar-a-Lago to profiting off his government-owned D.C. hotel. This one goes beyond pure greed. It edges into serious questions about whether Trump’s positions on Putin and Russia have been and remain tainted by considerations not of what is best for the nation but what benefits Trump’s bottom line.

Ruth Marcus’ email address is ruthmarcus@washpost.com.


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8:22 PM 8/30/2017 – RUSSIAN LOBBYIST TESTIFIES TO MUELLER GRAND JURY – FINANCIAL TIMES

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A medium-range ballistic missile target is launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii, during Flight Test Standard Missile-27, Event 2. The target was successfully intercepted by SM-6 missiles fired from the guided-missile destroyer destroyer USS John Paul Jones.

1. News in Photos from mikenova (4 sites)
Day in Photos – Voice of America: August 30, 2017

A look at the best news photos from around the world.
Day in Photos – Voice of America

 

Saved Stories – None
Russian lobbyist gave evidence to grand jury on Trump Jr meeting
Trump’s Foreign Policy Outlines Come into Focus – Voice of America
Mayor Of Hell, Inspired By Trump, Declares Heterosexuality Illegal
US Deputy Attorney General Warns About the Right-Wing Terror Threat Trump Ignores – Mother Jones
Federal investigation launched into Donald Trumps Washington DC hotel
Lousy tank driver swerves into car on public road – Boing Boing
Senate Intel Committee targets Russian puppet Congressman Dana Rohrabacher
The World News and Times theworldnewsandtimes.com Information Management Serv…
Sebastian Gorka, the West Wing’s Phony Foreign-Policy Guru – RollingStone.com
Sebastian Gorka’s PhD adviser: “I would not call him an expert in … – CNN
Civil and Human Rights Coalition Welcomes Departure of Sebastian … – Civilrights.org
Tillerson: Sebastian Gorka Is “Completely Wrong” About Radical Islam, Afghanistan, “Globalism vs. America First” – RealClearPolitics
Sebastian Gorka Is Forced Out as White House Adviser, Officials Say – New York Times
Sebastian Gorka and Another Broken Trump Promise – PJ Media
Melania wears her heels to Harvey hell zone – New York Post
Sebastian Gorka, former Trump adviser, placed on White House ‘Do Not Admit’ list: Report – Washington Times
House Financial Services panel leaders spar over Trump, Russia – The Hill
The Web World News webwn.com Links: 1:11 PM 8/29/2017 Selected Articles Review
LINKS Reviewed on 10:37 AM 8/29/2017
Trump: All options are on the table following North Korea missile launch over Japan
Torrential rains for Texas continue into…
Mika: Is Arpaio pardon just first of many…
Harvey Live Updates: Trump Heads to a Rain-Battered Texas
Have the ‘full-on crazy’ WH aides finally…

 

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Russian lobbyist testifies to Mueller grand jury – Financial Times
 


Financial Times
Russian lobbyist testifies to Mueller grand jury
Financial Times
Mr Akhmetshin gave testimony under oath for several hours on Friday August 11, in a sign that special counsel Robert Mueller is looking at the 2016 meeting as part of his investigation into links between Donald Trump’s election campaign and Russia. The 
Republican congressman floats amendment to end Mueller probeWashington Postall 109 news articles »

Russian lobbyist gave evidence to grand jury on Trump Jr meeting

Rinat Akhmetshin testified as part of special counsel Robert Muellers investigation
Trump’s Foreign Policy Outlines Come into Focus – Voice of America
 

Trump’s Foreign Policy Outlines Come into Focus
Voice of America
But many experts say that on key issues, such as Afghanistan, Syria and North Korea, Trump is continuing along a traditional U.S. foreign policy path similar to his predecessor, former President Barack Obama. … Previous U.S. presidents also embraced  

Mayor Of Hell, Inspired By Trump, Declares Heterosexuality Illegal

Elijah Daniel was impeached shortly after the anti-straight people decree.
US Deputy Attorney General Warns About the Right-Wing Terror Threat Trump Ignores – Mother Jones
 


Mother Jones
US Deputy Attorney General Warns About the Right-Wing Terror Threat Trump Ignores
Mother Jones
Trump also has a long history of downplaying, if not downright ignoring right-wing terror attacks, as I’ve also documented. But in a speech at a national security conference in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein went …and more »

Federal investigation launched into Donald Trumps Washington DC hotel

Since his broadly offensive and divisive foray into politics began, Donald Trump has seen many of his hotels and properties lose business. The key exception has been his recently opened Trump International Hotel, which is located near the White House in Washington, DC. Trump has routinely used his office to steer business to the hotel, which is booming. But now a federal investigation has been launched into the property.

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What Does the Special Counsel Need to Prove? | The 20 Key Questions Mueller’s Russia Investigation of Trump Must Answer

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What Does the Special Counsel Need to Prove?

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Despite intense debate about the scope of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, there is broad agreement that “collusion” with the Russian government is at the heart of it. Yet that term, which is used on a daily basis on cable news, has no legal meaning. Mueller’s recent moves—from subpoenaing Paul Manafort’s financial records to working with a Ukrainian hacker—make more sense if you understand how working with the Russians can be a crime.

As a legal matter, what’s significant is whether an American “conspired” with a representative of the Russian government. Conspiracy is just a legal term that means an agreement to commit a crime. An American can also commit a crime by “aiding and abetting” a criminal act committed by someone else. That means that the American knew of the criminal activity and helped make it succeed. It is also a federal crime to actively conceal a felony, even after the crime has already been committed.

The common thread underlying all of these things is that the American has to know that a crime has been committed and somehow assist in committing or concealing it. Merely working with the Russians, receiving aid from the Russians or meeting with the Russians is not enough.

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So what underlying crime could Mueller be investigating? One obvious possibility is hacking the Democratic National Committee and subsequently releasing emails from it via WikiLeaks. Hacking U.S. servers is a crime that is frequently investigated and prosecuted—I handled some of those cases myself. Anyone who agreed to take part in an effort to hack the DNC’s servers committed a crime.

Related: Will Mueller’s probe spiral into disaster?

Special Counsel Robert Mueller (center) departs the Capitol after a closed-door meeting in Washington, D.C., with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about Russian meddling in the election and possible connection to the Trump campaign, on June 21. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

An American could join a Russian conspiracy to hack U.S. servers without ever speaking to the hackers, as long as they knew about the criminal activity and agreed to play a role in it. Conspirators don’t have to know everyone or everything involved a plot—once you join a conspiracy, you’re “all in” and are liable for all foreseeable acts of the other conspirators.

For example, an American who knew about a hacking operation and agreed to distribute or use stolen material could join a conspiracy without knowing the hackers or how the hacking took place. That person could also be charged with abetting the hacking if distributing the stolen material aided in the crime.

That explains why a recent New York Times report that a Ukrainian hacker is helping the FBI with the Russia probe could be important. In order to charge anyone with a crime connected with the Russian hacking, Mueller will first need to prove that the hacking occurred. The testimony of the hacker could establish that the crime occurred, who was responsible for it and how it happened.

The more difficult thing for Mueller to prove is whether an American knowingly joined a Russian criminal conspiracy or aided in one. That’s why recent reports that Mueller is focused on Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer is unsurprising, given the emails Trump Jr. released establish that he knew Moscow wanted to help his father’s campaign and he welcomed the assistance.

As I told The New York Times, that email string is not sufficient to prove that Trump Jr. joined a conspiracy. Again, Mueller needs to prove that Trump Jr. helped commit a crime or agreed to do so.

There are other unrelated criminal acts that Mueller could seek to prove in relation to that meeting. For example, it is a federal crime to receive material that you know is stolen, as long as it is worth more than $5,000 and it crosses state or international boundaries before you receive it. It is also a crime to offer to trade an official act, like reducing sanctions, in exchange for something of value.

Another crime is receiving a “contribution” from a foreign national. But as I told The Daily Beast, violating federal campaign law is not a crime unless it is done “knowingly” and “willfully.” That could be difficult to prove in the case of Trump Jr., although perhaps not for Manafort, who has a lot of campaign experience. Indeed, Mueller could establish Manafort’s state of mind regarding meetings with the Russians. As The Washington Post reported, the GOP operative rejected potential meetings with Moscow in emails that he sent before the Trump Jr. incident. In those emails, retired Admiral Charles Kubic raised concerns that a meeting could expose attendees to legal liability. A juror could conclude that such a correspondence show that Manafort was aware of the legal risks associated with the Trump Jr. meeting before he attended it.

Expect Mueller to interview everyone who attended the meeting and review all communications surrounding it. His primary purpose would be to understand what, if anything, came from it and whether there were subsequent and related talks between the Trump campaign and people who claim to represent the Russian government.

One thing we can be sure about is that Mueller’s inquiry will last many months. The recent suggestion by White House special counsel Ty Cobb that it should wrap up by Thanksgiving is disingenuous. Any lawyer with extensive experience with federal criminal investigations—and Cobb does—knows that a complex probe like this one could take years to complete.

Renato Mariotti was a federal prosecutor in Chicago for more than nine years, prosecuting many complex financial crimes and obstruction of justice cases.

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· · · ·

The 20 Key Questions Mueller’s Russia Investigation of Trump Must Answer

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This article first appeared on the Just Security site.

As speculation continues to swirl about President Donald Trump’s plans to put an end to the investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the ongoing congressional inquiries take on even more significance.

Several committees are investigating overlapping issues related to Russian interference in the 2016 election and any potential involvement of the Trump campaign. Here are 20 questions they must answer as they carry out their investigations.

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Russian Attempts to Influence U.S. Election

Congress must provide the American people with a full accounting of Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, including through cyber operations, leaking stolen private communications, and spreading of demonstrably false facts.

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin at a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 7, 2017. MIKHAIL KLIMENTIEV/AFP/Getty

1. What was the extent of Russian cyber operations focused on voter information held by states?

Publicly available information suggests that Russian agents attempted to penetrate “election systems” in up to 39 states and attempted to alter or delete records in the statewide voter registration database of at least one state, Illinois.

2. What was the extent of Russian cyber operations focused on infiltrating state election systems via a third party? Press reports indicate that the Russians successfully infiltrated the network of a company that sells voter registration software which would allow it to manipulate this data.

3. What was the extent of Russian cyber operations focused on obtaining the confidential communications of private parties and releasing damaging information? The theft of the emails of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and of John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, has been publicly reported.

4. What was the extent of Russian propaganda efforts to influence the election and what methods were used? Publicly reported efforts include the release of emails stolen from the DNC and the Clinton campaign supplemented by the use of human agent and robot computer programs to spread disinformation about these emails and the use of Twitter bots to spread fake news stories about Clinton (e.g., that she had Parkinson’s disease and had murdered a DNC staffer, and that her aides ran a pedophile ring in the basement of a D.C. pizza parlor).

5. Which elements of the Russian government and intermediaries or proxies were involved in these efforts?

6. What was the purpose of their efforts? The intelligence community has concluded the Russian government intended to promote Trump’s candidacy and undermine Clinton’s campaign, an assertion that the president contests – Congress should come to a conclusion on this point.

Is it possible to gauge the impact of Russian interference in the 2016 election and could measures be put in place to do so in the future?

7. What measures should the United States take to prevent such interference in future elections? Is legislation needed to clarify that cooperation with foreign actors in elections is a criminal offense?

Trump Ties to Russia

It is critical that Congress scrutinize connections between Trump and his associates and the Russian government and associated individuals and entities, both to determine whether the Trump campaign cooperated with the Russian attempt to influence the election and whether business dealings between Trump or his associates with Russian entities create vulnerabilities or financial incentives that could be exploited to the detriment of U.S. national interests.

8. Starting from the time of the party primaries in 2015, what contacts did Trump and individuals and entities associated with the Trump campaign have with Russian individuals or entities?

Have these individuals and entities followed legal requirements with respect to such contacts (e.g., registration as foreign agent, reporting of income, and disclosure on security clearance forms) and if not, why not?

The campaign’s denials of contacts with Russians have dissolved in the face of repeated instances where close Trump associates – including Michael Flynn, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Jeff Sessions  – were found to have met or communicated privately with individuals who are reportedly connected to the Russian government.

9. What was the purpose of these contacts? Donald Trump Jr. released emails showing that he had enthusiastically accepted an invitation to obtain information being proffered on behalf of the Russian government that would be damaging to the Clinton campaign.

Did other contacts similarly involve either offers of assistance to the Trump campaign by Russia or offers of assistance to Russia (or Russian interests) by the Trump campaign?

10. What was the extent of the Russian government’s effort to instigate the repeal of the Magnitsky Actand were Trump’s associates involved in these efforts?

11. Is there any evidence – direct or circumstantial – to suggest that Trump was aware of, sanctioned or approved, or directed contacts between his associates and Russian government proxies?

12. What is the full extent of past or existing business dealings between the president and his associates in Russia or with Russian nationals or entities?

Do any of these deals or relationships give Russia leverage over Trump or his associates – for example, if they were illegal or inappropriate, if they are continuing to provide a benefit to Trump’s businesses or associates, or if they resulted in significant debts being owed by Trump or his associates to Russia or Russian nationals?

13. What efforts did the Trump campaign or administration make that would benefit Russia and is there any indication of influence from Russia for these moves? Were moves such as removing the plank of the Republican Party platform that supported sending arms to Ukraine, attempts to try to roll back sanctions against Russia, or a reported deal to give back Russian intelligence-collecting compounds seized by the Obama administration attempts to appease Russia?

14. Is our system of checks and balances sufficiently robust to detect and prevent conflicts of interest on the part of the president or are additional measures, such as legislation requiring greater disclosure of financial information and business interests, needed?

Obstruction of Justice

Regardless of whether the president can be criminally indicted for obstruction of justice, Congress has a duty to ascertain whether he attempted to hinder or influence the FBI’s investigation of issues relating to Russian interference in the 2016 election. Presidential interference with law enforcement investigations is incompatible with the rule of law.

15. Did President Trump ask former FBI Director James Comey to end his investigation of former national security advisor Michael Flynn, as indicated by Comey’s sworn testimony to the Senate Intelligence committee and his contemporaneous record of the meeting?

Did he ask other government officials – such as Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and CIA Director Mike Pompeo – to intervene with Comey on his behalf?

16. Did the president ask Comey to pledge loyalty, as indicated by Comey’s sworn testimony to the Senate Intelligence committee and his contemporaneous record of the meeting?

17. Did Comey request additional resources for the Russia investigation the week before he was dismissed; if so, was this information communicated to the White House?

18. Under what circumstances did Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and Attorney General Sessions undertake to prepare their May 9, 2017 recommendation to dismiss Comey?

What was the nature and extent of their communications with the White House and the Justice Department about the recommendation, both before and after it was made?

19. Why did Trump dismiss Comey?

Was he motivated solely by Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation, as administration spokespersons originally claimed, or was he at least partially motivated by Comey’s handling of the Russia investigation, as publicly stated by the president?

20. Are further measures needed to insulate the FBI or the Department of Justice from political interference?

Faiza Patel is Co-Director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. She was a senior policy officer at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

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· · · · · ·

Inside Robert Mueller’s Army

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Inside Robert Muellers Army | FBI News and Selected Articles in brief 11:18 AM 8/24/2017
An FBI agent says there are 4 types of people and you can’t earn someone’s trust without knowing theirs – Business Insider
FBI’s Manafort raid included a dozen agents, ‘designed to intimidate,’ source says – Fox News
7 times Trump tried to call off the dogs on Russia – Washington Post
FBI arrests Chinese national connected to malware used in OPM data breach – CNN
FBI: 12 People in DC Area Stole Thousands of Credit Card Numbers … – NBC4 Washington
The 20 Key Questions Mueller’s Russia Investigation of Trump Must … – Newsweek
Former FBI Director Comey Joins Howard University For Lecture Series – NPR
Trump, Russian Collusion and Mueller: What Does the Special Counsel Need to Prove? – Newsweek
James Comey will deliver Howard University’s opening convocation keynote address – Washington Post
Howard University Hires Former FBI Director James Comey – TIME
Trump obsessed with Russia probe, rage-dialing GOP over legislation to ban him from firing Mueller – Boing Boing
The generals have Trump surrounded – Washington Post
Mueller issues grand jury subpoenas related to Donald Trump Jr.’s 2016 meeting – Madison.com
Inside Robert Mueller’s Army – Daily Beast
Arkansas Democratic Party calls for resignation of state senator under FBI investigation – Times Record
7:54 AM 8/24/2017 Trump clashed with multiple GOP senators over Russia Politico
8:42 AM 8/24/2017 Selected Stories In Brief: US probe finds another email trying to connect Trump officials, Putin: CNN Reuters and other 25 stories
Clapper said, I cannot make any comment about his mental health, his sanity or any of that sort of thing. All that I can comment on really is the behavior Ive observed, and I find that worrisome. James Clapper: Concerned by Jekyll-Hyde Trump pattern CNN International
Will Trump Be the Death of the Goldwater Rule? The New Yorker | Hundreds of pages of new details on Trump-Russia dossier and Pee Pee Tape are on verge of being released Thursday August 24th, 2017 at 9:30 AM Palmer Report
No, Robert Mueller Is Not Radioactive – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
‘Consumed’ with Russia scandal, Trump keeps clashing with Republicans – MSNBC
CNN: Probe Investigators Find Another Email From A Trump Top Aide About A Russia Meeting
Russia probe: New email found from top Donald Trump aide trying to set up Putin meeting – The Independent
Today in Trumpworld August 24 – Politico

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“This is a counterintelligence operation first and foremost.” – Inside Robert Mueller’s Army | FBI News and Selected Articles in brief – 11:18 AM 8/24/2017

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“This is a counterintelligence operation first and foremost.”

To probe alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, the special counsel has essentially built his own miniature Justice Department. Meet the experts he’s recruited.

Source: Inside Robert Mueller’s Army

In conclusion

To be sure, the most interesting parts of Mueller’s investigation are likely happening far from public view. Most of the coverage of the probe has focused on its criminal component. But Mueller’s top priority is likely a counterespionage operation, which James Comey confirmed was underway when he testified before Congress (and before his firing).

Naveed Jamali, a former double agent for the FBI who dealt with Russian espionage in the U.S., said this part of the effort won’t necessarily have to do with criminal charges or court proceedings.

“The goal with a counterintelligence operation is to detect and neutralize threats,” said Jamali, author of How to Catch a Russian Spy. “That’s it. If you apply that to the Mueller probe, anything that was used by the Russians against us during the election is a threat that has to be neutralized. That doesn’t mean that it has to be brought to court.”

Simply proving, beyond a shadow of a doubt, who interfered with the 2016 election on behalf of Russia and how they did it would be a significant success for the probe, he added.

“The legal part of this is so fucking boring,” he added. “This is a counterintelligence operation first and foremost.”

mueller – Google News

Inside Robert Mueller’s Army – Daily Beast


Daily Beast
Inside Robert Mueller’s Army
Daily Beast
The following details—gleaned from conversations with people familiar with President Donald Trump’s legal team, as well as intelligence experts and friends of the people working for special counsel Robert Mueller—help explain the broad range of legal 

Inside Robert Mueller’s Army

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In a secure location in southwest Washington, D.C., with access to a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility for classified material, 16 of the country’s top lawyers have passed the last several months working on an investigation that will likely be as consequential as it is secretive.

The following details—gleaned from conversations with people familiar with President Donald Trump’s legal team, as well as intelligence experts and friends of the people working for special counsel Robert Mueller—help explain the broad range of legal and counterintelligence experts he’s assembled. Mueller has essentially built his own miniature Justice Department.

Andrew Weissmann

Weissmann has spent most of his career in the Justice Department—first in the Eastern District of New York, and now at Main Justice. He’s on detail from his position overseeing fraud prosecutions to work with Mueller.

It isn’t their first tour of duty together. Weissmann was Mueller’s general counsel at the FBI for years.

A former FBI official who worked with him there told The Daily Beast that unlike many government attorneys, Weissmann rarely equivocated or dilly-dallied about decisions.

“He was not a paper tiger,” the former official said.

The former official said Weissmann argued doggedly for the FBI’s positions when officials there disagreed with the legal views of attorneys at DOJ headquarters—and was sometimes willing to raise his voice and use obscenities.

“This isn’t gonna fuckin’ stand!” Weissmann yelled at one meeting where FBI officials discussed their differences with the Justice Department, according to that source.

It’s a trait that won him fans at the FBI, and countless foes among criminal defense lawyers. Weissmann generated enormous anger for the hardball tactics he used when he ran the Enron probe—especially his prosecution of the accounting firm Arthur Andersen, which resulted in more than 20,000 people losing their jobs and zero convictions. One prominent white collar defense attorney vowed that Weissmann would never work in private practice because he was so despised over the Andersen case. Despite that, Weissmann made a pit stop at the private firm Jenner & Block for a few years before returning to the FBI.

James Quarles

Quarles is part of the old guard of Washington lawyers and worked on the Watergate prosecution. Besides Mueller himself, Quarles seems to deal with Trump’s legal team more than just about anybody else on the probe.

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“Ty [Cobb, one of the president’s lawyers] and I have had excellent relations with [Quarles] and Bob [Mueller], and we are very much appreciative,” said John Dowd, one of the president’s attorneys.

Along with Weissmann, Quarles is one of the most senior people on Mueller’s team. A person familiar with Mueller’s management style said it’s safe to assume Weissmann and Quarles have managerial roles on the probe.

Quarles was a partner at WilmerHale—the predominantly Democratic law firm where Mueller worked before becoming the special counsel—along with a host of other attorneys involved in the probe.

Those include Jamie Gorelick, who was second in command at the Justice Department under Janet Reno and who has represented Jared Kushner on issues related to his security clearance; and Reg Brown, also a partner at the firm, who represented Paul Manafort until about two weeks ago. (Multiple sources told The Daily Beast that Manafort is facing financial strain because of legal costs.)

Aaron Zebley

Zebley is a Mueller whisperer. He was Mueller’s chief of staff at the FBI, often acting as a go-between for Mueller and the bureau’s senior officials, according to Ron Hosko, formerly an assistant FBI director. Mueller mentored Zebley and guided him through the bureau, according to a former DOJ official.

Zebley seems to have a pretty good poker face.

“You could you be giving him your view and he could be thinking, ‘This guy’s a complete idiot’ or ‘This information is completely misshaped!’ and you’d never know,” said a former FBI official who worked with him.

Zebley accompanied Mueller when he briefed the Senate Judiciary Committee on his investigation, according to a source familiar with the meeting.

Jeannie Rhee

Besides Weissmann, Rhee is the attorney whose presence on Mueller’s team has most irked the president’s allies. She previously represented the Clinton Foundation and was an official in the Justice Department’s prestigious Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) during the Obama administration.

A person familiar with the president’s legal team said its representatives have tried to communicate to the special counsel that they worry Rhee’s presence on the team could result in it moving in a partisan direction.

People who know Rhee say that’s laughable. John Bies, who worked alongside her in OLC, said Rhee felt deep personal responsibility for the work of the office.

“She was anxious and had a real sense of responsibility about getting it right,” he told The Daily Beast.

Rhee was also a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., where she worked on the prosecution of teachers’ union officials who embezzled millions of dollars to buy tickets to Wizards games and fur coats, according to The Washington Post. And though conservative media figures have criticized Rhee for past contributions to Democrats, she supported the confirmation of Republican Rachel Brand as associate attorney general.

Michael Dreeben

A longtime Washington attorney told The Daily Beast it’s unthinkable that Mueller would have executed the search warrant to raid Manafort’s house without the sign-off of Michael Dreeben.

On the team investigating Russian interference, Dreeben’s legend is second only to that of Mueller’s. Dreeben has spent years in the solicitor general’s office of the Justice Department and has argued before the Supreme Court more than 100 times.

Numerous Washington lawyers said he knows more about U.S. criminal law than anyone else on the planet. One attorney described him as “a demigod of the legal world, respected and feared by everyone in the realm of criminal law.”

Peter Vincent, a former senior DHS official, said Dreeben is an “absolute superstar.” Harold Koh, the top lawyer at the State Department under President Barack Obama, called Dreeben a “brilliant, brilliant lawyer.”

“He’s extremely rational, like Mr. Spock,” Koh added. “He’s not a joker.”

Bies, who has also worked with Dreeben, said the Star Trek comparison was apt “only if you recognize that Dr. Spock was half human, and has emotions in addition to rationality.”

Andrew Goldstein

Goldstein is one of a handful of New Yorkers who headed to D.C. to work on the probe. He’s on detail from his post as head of the Southern District of New York’s public corruption unit. Before taking that job—where he prosecuted New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and helped dismantle the Liberty Reserve criminal enterprise, which laundered hundreds of millions of dollars using online currency—he was a staff writer for Time magazine, where he covered the Columbine shooting.

Goldstein is the son of Jonathan Goldstein, who was the United States attorney for the District of New Jersey. President Richard Nixon nominated him for that post in 1974.

Elkan Abramowitz, a criminal defense attorney who has practiced in New York for years and has dealt with Andrew Goldstein on legal matters, said he’s widely respected.

“What really is important about him is his judgment,” Abramowitz told The Daily Beast. “He’s very temperate and solid. I would trust his judgment. For example, if he were to conclude that there was insufficient evidence, his judgment could be relied on. If he were to conclude otherwise, his judgment also could be relied on.”

Elizabeth Prelogar

Before heading to the firm Hogan and Lovells and then to the solicitor general’s office, Elizabeth Prelogar was a Fulbright scholar in Russia (and speaks Russian). Neal Katyal, who worked with Prelogar and Dreeben as acting solicitor general during the Obama administration, said she was “perhaps the best young lawyer with whom I have ever worked.”

“If I were hand-picking a team of the very best lawyers in the nation, regardless of whatever the issues in a case may be, both of them would be at the top of the list,” he added, “and I know that sentiment is shared by both Republican and Democratic lawyers alike.”

Prelogar is widely viewed as a rising star in the Justice Department.

Brandon Van Grack

Brandon Van Grack is referred to by friends as “BVG.” Josh Geltzer, who heads Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, worked down the hall from Van Grack when they were both in the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

“It would absolutely make sense that a small team like this would want him at their core because of how impossible it is not to get along with him,” Geltzer said.

Van Grack prosecuted counter-espionage cases and is on loan to the probe from the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia, where he is on the national security and international crime unit.

Van Grack has prosecuted a host of crimes that seem to provide extremely relevant experience for his work with Mueller. He’s gone after a member of the Assad-aligned Syrian Electronic Army, helped lock up an Iranian national who tried to smuggle sophisticated technology out of the U.S., and helped successfully prosecute a Michigander who tried to spy for China.

His biggest claim to fame, though—and “fame” may be too strong a word here—is his work prosecuting Ardit Ferizi, a hacker who shared a kill list with ISIS. That was the first time the Justice Department convicted a hacker for providing material support to a terrorist organization.

Rush Atkinson

Like Van Grack, Atkinson has worked in the Eastern District of Virginia on espionage cases and in the DOJ’s National Security Division. He’s on detail to the special counsel from the fraud section of the DOJ’s criminal division, where he worked under Weissmann.

Zainab Ahmad

Of the younger lawyers on Mueller’s team, Ahmad has by far the highest profile. The New Yorker profiled her earlier this year because she has successfully prosecuted 13 terrorism suspects, according to the magazine, and has yet to lose in court.

Aaron Zelinsky

Zelinsky, who went to Yale for undergrad and law school, clerked for Judge Thomas Griffith, a George W. Bush appointee. He also worked under Rod Rosenstein when he was U.S. attorney for Maryland—two GOP-friendly résumé lines that critics of the Mueller probe never mention.

Zelinsky also worked under Koh at the State Department during the Obama administration, where he helped handle hostage negotiations. When American journalist Clare Gillis was held hostage in Libya, Koh said Zelinsky spoke with her family every night.

“The guy was mid- to late-20s, talking to a family that doesn’t know whether their daughter is alive or dead, and are eager for scraps of info,” Koh said. “And he showed tremendous discretion. He never over-promised.”

Koh said Zelinsky also had impressive foresight. At one point, the State Department determined Gillis’s captors were moving her toward Tripoli.

“Aaron comes to me and says, ‘I think we need to call NATO HQ and tell them not to bomb that road,’” Koh said.

Gillis was ultimately freed, along with fellow hostage James Foley. Foley was later taken captive in Syria and beheaded in 2014 by ISIS fighters.

Adam Jed

Jed is one of the only people on Mueller’s team who has never worked as a prosecutor. The Harvard Law graduate has held several posts in the Justice Department, most recently handling appellate litigation in the Civil Division.

“He’s a very smart careful appellate lawyer,” said Bies. “The fact that him and the other solicitor general’s office people were brought in shows Mueller’s playing the long game and thinking carefully about where things will go—not just in the investigation, but down the road when they have to litigate issues in the courts.”

One attorney who practices federal criminal defense noted that Jed has experience handling asset forfeiture, which could be useful if the probe deals with property purchased using criminal proceeds.

Greg Andres

Like Weissmann and Ahmad, Andres worked in the Eastern District of New York U.S. attorney’s office—where Judge Beryl Howell, who is overseeing Mueller’s D.C. grand jury, and former attorney general Loretta Lynch were also prosecutors. During Andres’ time in Brooklyn, he worked on organized crime cases, just like Weissmann.

Andres’ wife, Judge Ronnie Abrams, recused herself from two cases involving the Trump family because of her husband’s work.

Andres is one of the most celebrated trial lawyers currently practicing law. He prosecuted mafia figures and white collar criminals before going into private practice.

In an interview with Law360 published in May 2016, Andres said trial lawyers should always project confidence.

“Be confident, straightforward and well prepared,” he said. “Judges, juries and adversaries can sense a lack of conviction and are unforgiving with respect to overstatement or misrepresentations. Emphasize the strengths of your case but acknowledge and concede the weak facts or legal precedent. Failing to cite adverse authority or hiding bad facts can be devastating.”

In conclusion

To be sure, the most interesting parts of Mueller’s investigation are likely happening far from public view. Most of the coverage of the probe has focused on its criminal component. But Mueller’s top priority is likely a counterespionage operation, which James Comey confirmed was underway when he testified before Congress (and before his firing).

Naveed Jamali, a former double agent for the FBI who dealt with Russian espionage in the U.S., said this part of the effort won’t necessarily have to do with criminal charges or court proceedings.

“The goal with a counterintelligence operation is to detect and neutralize threats,” said Jamali, author of How to Catch a Russian Spy. “That’s it. If you apply that to the Mueller probe, anything that was used by the Russians against us during the election is a threat that has to be neutralized. That doesn’t mean that it has to be brought to court.”

Simply proving, beyond a shadow of a doubt, who interfered with the 2016 election on behalf of Russia and how they did it would be a significant success for the probe, he added.

“The legal part of this is so fucking boring,” he added. “This is a counterintelligence operation first and foremost.”

 __________________________________________

CNN: Probe Investigators Find Another Email From A Trump Top Aide About A Russia Meeting

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Rick Dearborn sent an email to campaign officials with information about a person trying to connect them with Putin, CNN said.

Thursday’s Morning Email: Government Shutdown Threat Looms Over Border Wall Faceoff

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Neither side looks ready to compromise.

Will Trump Be the Death of the Goldwater Rule?

Saved Stories – 1. FBI
Inside Robert Mueller’s Army – Daily Beast
Arkansas Democratic Party calls for resignation of state senator under FBI investigation – Times Record
7:54 AM 8/24/2017 Trump clashed with multiple GOP senators over Russia Politico
8:42 AM 8/24/2017 Selected Stories In Brief: US probe finds another email trying to connect Trump officials, Putin: CNN Reuters and other 25 stories
Clapper said, I cannot make any comment about his mental health, his sanity or any of that sort of thing. All that I can comment on really is the behavior Ive observed, and I find that worrisome. James Clapper: Concerned by Jekyll-Hyde Trump pattern CNN International
Will Trump Be the Death of the Goldwater Rule? The New Yorker | Hundreds of pages of new details on Trump-Russia dossier and Pee Pee Tape are on verge of being released Thursday August 24th, 2017 at 9:30 AM Palmer Report
No, Robert Mueller Is Not Radioactive – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Mueller Turns Up The Heat With Unusual Search Warrant In Russia Probe – NPR
Senate confirms Wray as FBI director – Washington Post
Ivanka to the rescue? Her interruptions have eased two recent interviews with President Trump. – Washington Post
James Comey has book deal; publication set for next spring – Washington Times
Justice Department to examine race-based admissions in universities – Los Angeles Times
James Comey is writing a book and we know he’s been keeping thorough notes – Washington Post
James Comey, Former F.B.I. Director, to Publish a Book Next Spring
The Police State Trump Is Building Is Far More Destructive to American Democracy Than Any Collusion with Russia – AlterNet
Statement by FBI Director Christopher Wray – Federal Bureau of Investigation (press release) (blog)
New FBI director tells agents: ‘You can count on me to stand with you’ – ABC News
Chris Wray sworn in as FBI director – CNN
New FBI Director FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation (press release) (blog)
Former FBI Director James Comey gets book deal; plans to tell ‘unheard anecdotes’ – WCVB Boston
FBI officials warned they might have to testify against Trump: report – The Hill
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FBI Arrested Cyber Expert Who Ended WannaCry Attack: US Marshall Service – New York Times
FBI arrests security expert who stopped WannaCry ransomware attack (Updated) – TNW
Becoming an Agent – Federal Bureau of Investigation (press release) (blog)
Saved Stories – None
Inside Robert Muellers Army | FBI News and Selected Articles in brief 11:18 AM 8/24/2017
An FBI agent says there are 4 types of people and you can’t earn someone’s trust without knowing theirs – Business Insider
FBI’s Manafort raid included a dozen agents, ‘designed to intimidate,’ source says – Fox News
7 times Trump tried to call off the dogs on Russia – Washington Post
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Former FBI Director Comey Joins Howard University For Lecture Series – NPR
Trump, Russian Collusion and Mueller: What Does the Special Counsel Need to Prove? – Newsweek
James Comey will deliver Howard University’s opening convocation keynote address – Washington Post
Howard University Hires Former FBI Director James Comey – TIME
Trump obsessed with Russia probe, rage-dialing GOP over legislation to ban him from firing Mueller – Boing Boing
The generals have Trump surrounded – Washington Post
Mueller issues grand jury subpoenas related to Donald Trump Jr.’s 2016 meeting – Madison.com
Inside Robert Mueller’s Army – Daily Beast
Arkansas Democratic Party calls for resignation of state senator under FBI investigation – Times Record
7:54 AM 8/24/2017 Trump clashed with multiple GOP senators over Russia Politico
8:42 AM 8/24/2017 Selected Stories In Brief: US probe finds another email trying to connect Trump officials, Putin: CNN Reuters and other 25 stories
Clapper said, I cannot make any comment about his mental health, his sanity or any of that sort of thing. All that I can comment on really is the behavior Ive observed, and I find that worrisome. James Clapper: Concerned by Jekyll-Hyde Trump pattern CNN International
Will Trump Be the Death of the Goldwater Rule? The New Yorker | Hundreds of pages of new details on Trump-Russia dossier and Pee Pee Tape are on verge of being released Thursday August 24th, 2017 at 9:30 AM Palmer Report
No, Robert Mueller Is Not Radioactive – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
‘Consumed’ with Russia scandal, Trump keeps clashing with Republicans – MSNBC
CNN: Probe Investigators Find Another Email From A Trump Top Aide About A Russia Meeting
Russia probe: New email found from top Donald Trump aide trying to set up Putin meeting – The Independent
Today in Trumpworld August 24 – Politico
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mueller – Google News: No, Robert Mueller Is Not Radioactive – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
The World Web Times wwtimes.com: Will Trump Be the Death of the Goldwater Rule? The New Yorker | Hundreds of pages of new details on Trump-Russia dossier and Pee Pee Tape are on verge of being released Thursday August 24th, 2017 at 9:30 AM Palmer Report
The World Web Times wwtimes.com: Clapper said, I cannot make any comment about his mental health, his sanity or any of that sort of thing. All that I can comment on really is the behavior Ive observed, and I find that worrisome. James Clapper: Concerned by Jekyll-Hyde Trump pattern CNN International
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Damnatio memoriae: No further news transpired on Peter Strzok’s departure from the Mueller’s Investigative team, and no explanations or additional information were provided so far. The mystery is deep… – M.N. – peter strzok – Google Search

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Image result for damnatio memoriae

No further news transpired on Peter Strzok’s departure from the Mueller’s Investigative team, and no explanations or additional information were provided so far. The mystery is deep… Curiously enough, it looks like the FBI site blocked all the information about him. Apparently, it was needed. That what they advised:

“No results found. Search instead for:

All these are very interesting search terms, but we would really like to learn more about Mr. Strzok. 

In history, this FBI’s tool of blocking the inconvenient information was called the “damnatio memoriae” and was used without any compunctions and broadly in Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s Germany. The American idiom for this psychological device is quite straightforward but somewhat superficial and concrete: “Out of sight (and the website, we should add), out of mind”. I doubt very much that this dictum will work sufficiently in the case of Mr. Strzok and the panoply of the related issues connected with him. 

Dear FBI, the suspense and the expectations of the future revelations in your coming arias are quite high in this unforgettable masterpiece of a political opera. Sing! Sing! Sing!

What is going on? 

Is FBI the Stalinist organization? (Sh, sh, sh – do not disclose this best-kept secret in Washington, D.C.)

Please, contact us if you have any valuable information on this subject. 

M.N.

Source: peter strzok – Google Search

Story image for peter strzok from Business Insider

A top FBI investigator has unexpectedly stepped away from special …

Business InsiderAug 16, 2017
Peter Strzok, a veteran counterintelligence investigator, is now working for the FBI’s human resources division, according to ABC. It is unclear …
The following article describes Mr. Strzok’s role in “Clinton emails investigation”: 
“The two letters, dated October 23, 2015 and January 20, 2016, and marked “For Official Use Only,” were written by Peter Strzok and Charles H. Kable IV, the section chiefs of the FBI’s counterespionage section, and sent to Gregory B. Starr, the assistant secretary at the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security. They were written while the FBI was investigating Clinton’s use of an unsecure, private email server and the dissemination of classified information.”
M.N.: The issue of Clinton’s emails might very well has been used as a distraction, to deflect the attention and to divert the resources from Trump and his campaign. By whom? The role of the Russians is very well known and indisputable, but the ultimate players: the Germans? the Israelis? the Mafia? – remain a mystery also, and the most intriguing one. 
Were there any connections between these hypothetical players and Mr. Strzok? This is the hypothetical but not the unreasonable question, and we do not have any answers, or even the attempts to answer, or even the attention and the willingness to discuss this subject in depth, that it deserves, in the mainstream media. Not yet. 

peter strzok is removed – Google News

 

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