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Tag: Robert Mueller

Special Counsel Team Seeks Jail Time Against First Person to Be Sentenced in Russia Probe

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team is urging a judge to impose jail time against Alex van der Zwaan, the first person to be sentenced as part of the probe into Russian interference in the presidential election.

Van der Zwaan, who pleaded guilty to lying to prosecutors and the FBI about the Russia probe, faces an estimated zero to six months in jail, according to sentencing guidelines, BuzzFeed News reports

Mueller’s team didn’t indicate how much time van der Zwaan should be sent to jail, but the attorney is asking for no jail time because his wife, who lives in London is pregnant and due to deliver their child in August.

“To the extent the Court seeks to take into account the circumstances of van der Zwaan’s wife’s pregnancy, consideration of that circumstance would not preclude a term of incarceration,” the special counsel’s office wrote. “In any event, a sentence that ensured van der Zwaan’s return to the United Kingdom for the birth of his child in August 2018 would be within the recommended Guidelines’ range.”

Prosecutors added, ““The defendant was expressly warned by the government that it is a crime to lie to the Special Counsel’s Office, that lying could constitute a federal crime, and that such conduct would carry with it the possibility of going to jail if he were convicted. van der Zwaan stated that he understood. He thereafter deliberately and repeatedly lied.”

The sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 3.

Four others who have pleaded guilty so far – including former Trump campaign deputy chairman Rick Gates, Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos. But their sentencing hearings have been placed on hold while they cooperate with Mueller’s team.

Democratic Senators Urge DOJ to Protect Mueller from Being Fired

U.S. Capitol

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Democratic senators, unable to gain enough support from Republicans to pass a bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller from being fired, are now reaching out to the Justice Department for help. 

Nine Democratic senators sent a letter to the Justice Department, urging top officials to publicly defend Mueller as President Trump escalates his smear campaign against Mueller and his investigation, Huffington Post reports.

“We have significant concerns that the president or his White House could order individuals at the Department of Justice with the authority to oversee Special Counsel Mueller’s probe to interfere with the probe or shut it down,” the letter, released Tuesday, reads. “You fall in the line of succession at the Department of Justice … We write to request that you provide a written and public commitment that you will not interfere.”

The senators are Richard Blumenthal, of Conn., Patrick Leahy, of Vermont, Dick Durbin, of Ill.,  Sheldon Whitehouse, of Rhode Island, Dianne Feinstein, of Calif., Chris Coons, of Del., Mazie Hirono, of Hawaii, Cory Booker, of N.J., and Kamala Harris, of Calif.

The senators point to Trump’s attacks against the Justice Department and FBI and reports that the president ordered the firing of Mueller last summer until his attorney pressed back.

“You have an oath to uphold the rule of law and protect the Constitution,” the senators wrote. “This includes refusing to take part in any effort to deny the American public access to the truth and refusing to participate in any attempt by the president to interfere with a legitimate and critical investigation of national importance.”

Ex-President Carter: Don’t Impeach Trump Even If He Committed Wrongdoing

President Jimmy Carter

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Even if special counsel Robert Mueller finds criminal wrongdoing by Donald Trump, the president should not be impeached, said former President Jimmy Carter.

“You know, I have confidence in the American system of government,” Carter told CBS’ Sunday Morning. “I think ultimately the restraints on a president from the Congress and from the Supreme Court will be adequate to protect our nation, if he serves a full term.”

The 39th president said he believes Trump will serve his full term unless Mueller  files charges against the president. But he added, Mueller should be more forthcoming if Trump is in legal trouble.

 “I think Mueller’s been very successful in keeping his cards close to his vest and not revealing any plans. But my wish is that Mr. Mueller would go ahead and make a decision, even if it’s not anything personally that President Trump has done to violate the law; then I think he ought to make that obvious. And if he has violated the law, that ought to be revealed as well.”

Carter, a Democrat, offered to help Trump and said he believes the president wanted to “do a good job.”

“But my own preference would be that he not be impeached, but that he be able to serve out his term, because I think he wants to do a good job. And I’m willing to help him, if I can help him, and give him the benefit of the doubt,” Carter said.

U.S. Investigators Discovered DNC Hacker Was a Russian Intelligence Operative

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The hacker Guccifer 2.0, who claimed responsibility for providing WikiLeaks with stolen e-mails from the Democratic National Committee, has been identified as a Russian intelligence operative, according to a new report.

Guccifer inadvertently revealed his identity after failing to disguise his IP address by activating a virtual private network – VPN, the Daily Beast reports

That enabled U.S. investigators to capture the Moscow IP address in the logs of a U.S. social media company and track down the hacker’s identity.

Special counsel Robert Mueller, whose investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election has netted indictments against 13 Russians and three Russian companies, has taken over the Guccifer probe.

U.S. intelligence agency suspected Guccifer was a Russian military operation at least as early as January 2017.

Trump’s Legal Team Shrinks As Mueller Investigation inches Closer

President Trump at the White House, via the White House.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump’s team of lawyers continues to shrink as special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation inches closer to the president.

Trump opted against hiring two lawyers whose appointments were announced less than a week ago.

“The president is disappointed that conflicts prevent Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing from joining the president’s special counsel legal team,” Trump’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, said in a statement to the New York Times. “However, those conflicts do not prevent them from assisting the president in other legal matters. The president looks forward to working with them.”

The conflict stems from Toensing’s representation of Mark Corallo, the former spokesman for Trump’s legal team who told investigators he believed Trump aide, Hope Hicks, may have been trying to hide evidence related to a secret meeting between a Russian lawyer and campaign aides, including Donald Trump Jr.

DiGenova and Toensing are married.

Also last week, Trump’s top lawyer in the special counsel probe, John Dowd, quit after the president ramped up his rhetoric against Mueller.

Trump denied reports over the weekend that he was having trouble finding attorneys willing to represent him.

“Many lawyers and top law firms want to represent me in the Russia case…don’t believe the Fake News narrative that it is hard to find a lawyer who wants to take this on. Fame & fortune will NEVER be turned down by a lawyer, though some are conflicted. Problem is that a new lawyer or law firm will take months to get up to speed (if for no other reason than they can bill more), which is unfair to our great country – and I am very happy with my existing team. Besides, there was NO COLLUSION with Russia, except by Crooked Hillary and the Dems!” Trump tweeted Sunday.

$130,000 Payment to Stormy Daniels May Have Violated Campaign Finance Laws

Stormy Daniels speaks out on “60 Minutes.”

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Hush money paid to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels may have amounted to an illegal campaign contribution to Donald Trump’s campaign, according to  Trevor Potter, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, previously acknowledged he used $130,000 of his own money to pay Daniels keep quiet about an alleged 2006 affair with Trump.

Potter told Anderson Cooper in a “60 Minutes” interview on Sunday that the payment may have violated campaign-finance laws. 

Special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Trump’s campaign and his time in office, could take up the issue.

“The payment of the money just creates an enormous legal mess for, I think, Trump, for Cohen and anyone else who was involved in this in the campaign,” Potter said.

Fired FBI Deputy Director McCabe Denies Wrongdoing, Speaks of Trump’s ‘Cruelty’

Fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe spoke out about his termination, denying in a Washington Post op-ed that he did anything wrong. 

“Not in my worst nightmares did I ever dream my FBI career would end this way,” McCabe wrote. 

McCabe denied Justice Department allegations of “lack of candor,” saying, “That is not true. I did not knowingly mislead or lie to investigators.”

He added, “I answered questions as completely and accurately as I could. And when I realized that some of my answers were not fully accurate or may have been misunderstood, I took the initiative to correct them.”

McCabe responded to Trump’s tweet celebrating the firing.

“I was sad, but not surprised, to see that such unhinged public attacks on me would continue into my life after my service to the FBI,” McCabe wrote. “President Trump’s cruelty reminded me of the days immediately following the firing of James B. Comey, as the White House desperately tried to push the falsehood that people in the FBI were celebrating the loss of our director. The president’s comments about me were equally hurtful and false, which shows that he has no idea how FBI people feel about their leaders.

Last week, it was revealed that McCabe had overseen an investigation into whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions committed perjury in congressional testimony about his contacts with Russia.

Sessions ultimately made the decision to fire McCabe for essentially the same allegations that the attorney general was accused of.

Other Stories of Interest

Trump’s Defiance of Legal Team Prompts Departure of Top Lawyer in Special Counsel Probe

Trump’s former lead attorney John Dowd.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump’s lead lawyer for the special counsel investigation resigned Thursday, just days after the president escalated his high-stakes campaign to discredit federal investigators and called for an end to the 10-month probe.

Dowd had become increasingly frustrated with the president for ignoring his legal advice and had considered leaving for several months, the New York Times and other media outlets reported.

Until this weekend, the president had heeded his legal team’s advice to refrain from criticizing special counsel Robert Mueller. But a day after the controversial firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe on Friday, Trump unleashed a series of hyperbolic, misleading and inflammatory tweets, some of which for the first time took aim at Mueller and his investigation. 

In a written statement to the media, Dowd did not indicate why he left.

“I love the President and I wish him well,” Dowd said in a written statement.

Trump, who has discounted recent reports of turbulence in his legal team as “fake news,” added conspiracy theorist and longtime Washington D.C. lawyer Joseph diGenova to his legal team.

“John Dowd is a friend and has been a valuable member of our legal team,” Sekulow said in a statement to The Hill. “We will continue our ongoing representation of the president and our cooperation with the office of the special counsel.”