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Tag: Robert Mueller

Mueller Pursuing Criminal Charges Against Russians Who Stole, Spread Democrats’ Emails

FBI cyber crime agents, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller is building a criminal case against another batch of Russians who hacked and leaked information from Democrats.

The potential charges involve conspiracy, computer fraud and violations of election law, but would rely on intelligence gathered by the CIA, FBI, NSA and Homeland Security, NBC News reported, citing multiple current and former officials familiar with the investigation.

An indictment would reveal for the first time the identities of the hackers, their connection to Moscow and other details behind the theft and public disclosure of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. During the presidential campaign in July 2016, Trump even called on Russia to find and release Clinton’s emails.

One source said charges could be filed in the next few weeks or months.

Last month, Mueller charged 13 Russians and three Russian groups for waging a propaganda campaign to help Trump win.

But so far, no one has been charged with stealing e-mails and leaking them to WikiLeaks.

FBI Investigating Ivanka Trump over International Business Deal

Ivanka Trump, via Twitter

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The FBI has launched an inquiry into an international business deal involving President Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, according to a new report.

Agents are focused on Ivanka Trump’s handing of negotiations and financing for Trump International Tower in Vancouver, a current U.S. official and former U.S. official familiar with the inquiry told CNN.

News of the investigation comes after numerous reports this week that the president, his son Donald Trump Jr. and his son-in-law Jared Kushner have become potential targets in the special counsel investigation that began over Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Among the reevaluations was that Robert Mueller’s legal team is scrutinizing business deals involving the president and Kushner, who is the husband of Ivanka Trump.

Kushner and Trump Jr. also are under investigation for a secret meeting with a Russian lawyer who offered “dirt” on Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign.

The Vancouver development, featuring a trademarked Ivanka Trump spa, opened in February 2017, just a month after Trump’s inauguration.

The president’s attorneys are trying to prevent him from being interviewed by Mueller for fear that Trump will lie under oath and be charged with perjury.

Trump continues to call the investigation a “witch hunt.”

CNN wrote:

The Trump Organization does not own the building. Instead, like other Trump projects, it receives licensing and marketing fees from the developer, Joo Kim Tiah. A scion of one of Malaysia’s wealthiest families, Tiah runs his family’s Canada-based development company Holborn Group. President Trump’s June financial disclosure form said the Trump Organization made more than $5 million in royalties and $21,500 in management fees from the Vancouver property.
The $360 million project, which features 147 guest rooms and 217 luxury residences, quickly became a magnet for foreign buyers.
In the case of Vancouver, it’s not clear why investigators are examining this particular deal. The timing of the deal — as one of the few Trump-branded properties to open since Trump took office — could be of interest. The flow of foreign money, either from the developer or international condo buyers, could also be sparking scrutiny.

Mueller Crosses Red Line with Intensifying Probe of Trump, Family

Donald Trump Jr. and his dad, President Trump, via Twitter

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump cautioned last summer that Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian election interference should not include scrutinizing his family’s finances.

“I think it’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia,” Trump said in July 2017

That red line clearly has been crossed after a series of recent revelations that Mueller is investigating Trump’s business dealings with Russia before his presidential run and whether Moscow had compromising information about him.

Mueller also is investigating whether Trump obstructed justice by firing then-FBI Director James Comey and by threatening to remove Attorney General Sessions and others in the administration.

Trump even reportedly discussed ways to terminate Mueller, who was appointed by the deputy attorney general after Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe.

Mueller must decide whether the president’s goal to remove officials close to the investigation was an attempt to exercise control of the probe, which could amount to obstruction of justice.

This week, NBC reported Mueller was questioning witnesses whether Trump knew about Russian hacking of Democratic emails before the discovery was made public. Trump has claimed that Russia interfering in the election is a “hoax” peddled by the “fake news” and top officials out to get him in the FBI and DOJ.

Also this week, CNN reported that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner was unable to obtain a security clearance because of the Russia investigation. A day earlier, CNN reported that Mueller was investigating Kushner over his business dealings during the presidential transitions. Among the inquiries are Kushner’s contacts with Russia, China and Qatari investors.

At the center of the collusion investigation is a meeting between Kushner, Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a Russian lawyer who pledged to provide “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. 

Manafort faces trial in September after Mueller charged him with numberous counts of conspiracy, bank fraud and money laundering.

The president’s attorneys are trying to prevent him from being interviewed by Mueller for fear that Trump will lie under oath and be charged with perjury.

Trump continues to call the investigation a “witch hunt.”

Mueller’s Potential Obstruction of Justice Case Against Trump Hones in on Fiery Relationship with AG Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies before the House Judiciary Committee in November 2017.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump’s public humiliation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions has caught the attention of the special counsel team investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether the president obstructed justice.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is honing in on a period of time last summer when Trump reportedly met privately with his advisers to discuss replacing Sessions, whose recusal from the Russian probe has infuriated the president. To some in Trump’s inner circle, removing Sessions would make it easier to fire Mueller III, whose fate ultimately is determined by the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The authority to fire Rosenstein, a move that could help the president fire Mueller, belongs to Sessions, not Trump. 

Trump has publicly berated Sessions for recusing himself. If Sessions quit, Trump could replace him with someone willing to fire Mueller, who so far has gained indictments against four former Trump aides, a prominent attorney, 13 Russians and three Russian groups.

As Mueller builds an obstruction of justice case against the president, prosecutors are especially interested in the discussions between Trump and others about removing Sessions – a move that could be seen as an attempt to intervene in the probe, the Washington Post reported

Mueller’s team has questioned witnesses in recent months about those discussions and Trump’s state of mind in late July and early August of last year. Around the same time, Trump belittled Sessions on Twitter, calling him a “beleaguered” attorney general.

Hours before the Washington Post broke the story Wednesday about Mueller’s interest in any attempts to remove Sessions, Trump lashed out at the attorney general again on Twitter over the handling of Republican claims of misconduct in the FBI: “Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!”

A little over a week ago, Trump blasted Sessions again over the president’s calls for an investigation into the Obama administration. 

Mueller was appointed on May 17, 2017, to investigate Russian interference in the election. Eight days earlier, Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey, who told Congress he rebuffed the president’s request to drop an investigation of his former campaign aide and national security adviser Michael Flynn, who has since been indicted on charges tied to the Mueller investigation.

Since then, Mueller’s team has been investigating whether the president obstructed justice by firing Comey for failing to stop a federal investigation.

On Wednesday, Sessions responded to Trump’s criticisms about the Justice Department’s handling of Republican allegations that the FBI and DOJ inappropriately obtained a surveillance warrant for Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aide who was suspected of being a Russian operative.

In an unusual public statement, Sessions responded, “We have initiated the appropriate process that will ensure complaints against this Department will be fully and fairly acted upon if necessary. As long as I am the Attorney General, I will continue to discharge my duties with integrity and honor, and this Department will continue to do its work in a fair and impartial manner according to the law and Constitution.”

Trump’s Ex-Campaign Chairman Manafort Faces Sept. 17 Trial After Pleading Not Guilty

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is facing the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison on numerous charges related to his business dealing in eastern Europe, pleaded not guilty in federal court Wednesday and is scheduled for a trial beginning Sept. 17.

Unless Manafort strikes a deal with prosecutors, the former high-paid political consultant is expected to face the first trial to emerge from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to undermine the 2016 presidential election.

Manafort’s longtime business partner, Rick Gates, is among three former Trump aides who have pleaded guilty to assortment of charges and have agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s team of prosecutors. Gates, who also served on Trump’s campaign, is expected to provide information about crimes he said he and Manafort committed as business partners.

Gates and Manafort were both charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, tax fraud and money laundering stemming from lobbying and consulting work related to Ukrainian politicians who are strong allies of Russia.

Because of his age, Manafort could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted.

On Friday, Gates pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conceal tens of millions of dollars while working with Manafort.

The indictments do not mention work they did for Trump’s campaign, but Gates and Manafort played a prominent role in the campaign and have drawn suspicion because of their ties with pro-Russian factions in eastern Europe.

Last week, the men’s Russian-connected attorney Alex Van der Zwaan was charged with misleading the FBI about work he did for Manafort and Gates. 

About two weeks ago, 13 Russians were charged in a sweeping indictment alleging they waged a propaganda campaign to help Trump get elected. 

The other former Trump associates who have pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors are Trump’s former national security adviser Mike Flynn and ex-campaign adviser George Papadopoulos.

In March 2017, Mueller was appointed to investigate Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election. Since then, the former FBI director has broadened the scope of the probe to include Trump’s business dealings https://www.ticklethewire.com/2018/02/28/special-counsels-probe-focuses-trumps-business-ties-prior-presidential-run/ and his firing of then-FBI Director James Comey.

Trump, who suggested Russian election meddling was “a hoax” peddled by the “fake media,” claims the special counsel probe is a “witch hunt” by the upper ranks of the FBI and Justice Department to bring him down.

His attorneys are trying to find a legal argument to prevent Trump from being interviewed by Mueller because they fear he will lie and commit perjury.

Special Counsel’s Probe Focuses on Trump’s Business Ties Prior to Presidential Run

President Trump, via the White House

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump’s business ties to Russia before he ran for president has come under the scope of the widening special counsel investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow to help get him elected.

Witnesses in the probe are repeatedly being asked about when Trump decided to run, whether Russia has compromising information on the president and why efforts to brand a Trump Tower in Moscow fizzled, CNN reported

Mueller’s prosecutors are trying to determine whether Russians sought to influence Trump when he was negotiating business deals with Russia and considering a run for president. Several of Trump’s former campaign and administration aides have already been indicted and at least three have agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

Some of the questions are focused on the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, which Trump partnered with Russian property magnate Aras Agalarov and his son Emin Agalarov.

Emin’s publicist Rob Goldstone set up a meeting between Russian officials offering “dirt” on Russia and Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr.; his son-in-law Jared Kushner and campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who has been indicted on numerous fraud and money laundering charges.

Investigators appear to be looking into allegations in a former British spy’s dossier that claims Russia had compromising information on Trump, making him vulnerable to blackmail.

Poll: Most Americans Trust Special Counsel Mueller Over Trump

President Trump, via the White House.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Most Americans aren’t buying President Trump’s relentless campaign to undermine confidence in the special counsel team investigating whether his campaign colluded with Russia.

A new USA Today/Suffolk University Poll finds a majority of Americans trust Robert Mueller’s investigation over the president’s denials of collusion. 

Of the 1,000 registered voters polled after the indictments of 13 Russians and three companies, 58% said they have a lot or some trust in Mueller’s probe, while 57% said they have little or no trust in Trump’s denials.

The survey also found that more Americans are taking seriously the allegations that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Of those polled, 75% take the charges filed by Mueller seriously, while just one in five don’t.

In March 2017, another USA Today/Suffolk Poll found that 63% took Russian interference seriously, while 31% did not.

The survey’s findings spell trouble for the president, who continues to insist the investigation is a “witch hunt” perpetuated by his own FBI and Justice to take him down.

Trump’s Attorneys Explore Ways to Limit President’s Testimony in Mueller Probe

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump’s lawyers, who have been exploring legal routes to prevent the president from testifying in the special counsel investigation, are willing to consider a sit-down interview if the questions are “limited in scope.”

The president’s lawyers are considering whether to give Trump the green light to testify on conditions that the questions “don’t test his recollections in ways that amount to a potential perjury trap,” a source close to Trump’s legal team told the Wall Street Journal

For now, Trump’s lawyers are exploring all options for Trump’s testimony before Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the president obstructed justice and if his campaign team colluded with Russia to undermine the presidential election.

“Everything is on the table,” the source said.

Those options include providing written responses and limited verbal testimony.

Trump initially boasted that he would testify, but his lawyers strongly discouraged an interview, fearing the president would lie and perjure himself.

Mueller’s team repeatedly wants to question Trump’s decisions to fire then-FBI Director James Comey and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who has been indicted in the probe.