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Tag: Robert Mueller

Thirteen Russians Charged with Interfering in Election to Help Trump Win

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Thirteen Russian nationals and three Russian organizations have been criminally charged Friday on allegations of interfering in the 2016 presidential election to help Donald Trump win.

Special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to undermine the election, announced a grand jury in Washington D.C. has indicted the Russian nationals and organizations.

The sweeping, 37-page indictment alleges the Russian operation “included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J Trump … and disparaging Hillary Clinton.”

They are accused of using social media to pose as Americans by operating bogus social media accounts, buying advertisements and even staging political rallies. The indictment alleges they stole the identity of real Americans to wage a propaganda campaign on social media and built computer systems in the U.S. to conceal Russia’s participation.

Trump has dismissed his own intelligence agencies’ conclusions that Russia interfered in the election.

Former Trump Aide Finalizing Plea Deal with Special Counsel Mueller

Special counsel Robert Mueller

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates is nearing plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller, CNN reports

Gates and his longtime business partner Paul Manafort were indicted in October on 12 counts involving money laundering, conspiracy against the U.S. and tax fraud. They pleaded not guilty.

Gates has been negotiating a plead deal for nearly a month with the special counsel team investigating whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to undermine the 2016 presidential election.

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

If Gates enters a plea deal, he would become the third known former Trump aide to cooperate in the rapidly evolving investigation. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign foreign-policy adviser George Papadopoulo pleaded guilty late last year to making false statements to federal investigators in exchange for cooperating with the prosecutors.

Mueller’s team is planning to file new tax-related charges against Gates and Manafort, who served as Trump’s campaign chairman.

The charges stem from work Manafort and Gates did with Ukrainian politicians who are allies with Russia. They are accused of laundering tens of millions of dollars from the work through U.S. and foreign companies and bank accounts.

Manafort, who is under house arrest and faces up to 15 years in prison, has pledged to fight the charges and even sued Mueller and the Justice Department, claiming the special counsel probe overreached its authority.

It’s not yet clear what information Gates is offering to prosecutors.

Bannon Met Several Times This Week with Special Counsel Investigating Trump, Russia

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon met several times this week with the special counsel team investigating President Trump and his campaign’s alleged ties to Russia.

The former Breitbart news chief, who continued today to defy a subpoena to testify before a House committee about the Russia and Trump probe, was interviewed for about 20 hours by the team led by Robert Mueller, NBC News reports

Details of the interview are unclear, but Bannon is considered a key witness in the investigation because he was a close confident of Trump and played key roles in both the campaign and the presidential administration.

In an explosive book published last month, Bannon blasted the campaign’s handling of Russia and suggested the Mueller investigation will focus on money laundering. He also said it was “treasonous” for some in the Trump campaign, including the president’s son, to meet with a group of Russians at Trump Tower in June 2016.

Bannon, who resigned in August, is facing contempt charges for continuing to refuse to answer questions by the House Intelligence Committee.

CNN reports that Bannon met briefly with the committee today and told the panel he had been instructed by the Trump administration to invoke executive privilege. 

Trump’s Legal Team Builds Argument Against Sit-Down Interview with Mueller

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump’s legal team is building an argument to prevent the president from a sit-down interview with special counsel Robert Mueller. 

Mueller has requested an interview with Trump as part of the investigation into whether the president obstructed justice.

Although Trump boasted two weeks ago that he has nothing to hide and will answer questions under oath, his lawyers are urging to him to avoid the interview because they fear he will lie and be charged with perjury.

Trump’s legal team plans to present three arguments against an interview, according to the Washington Times

First, they argue, Mueller has been given unprecedented access to White House documents and aides. Second, there is no stated crime. And third, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in 1997, during the Bill Clinton administration, that investigators must first exhaust all other avenues for information before turning to the president.

Watergate Reporter Bernstein: No Modern President Has Lied As Often As Trump

Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein on CNN.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Carl Bernstein, the Washington Post reporter who helped expose the Watergate scandal under President Nixon, is skeptical that Donald Trump will agree to an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller because of the president’s “compulsive, continual lying.”

“I think many of us will believe it when we see him sit down with Mueller. Look, we have no reason to believe almost anything that [Trump] says. What is so extraordinary about him and his presidency is the incessant, compulsive, continual lying,” Bernstein said on CNN

“We’ve never had a president who lies like this, certainly in the modern era. Even Nixon,” he added.

Bernstein’s comments follow news that Mueller, who is investigating Trump, his campaign and Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, wants a sit-down interview with Trump, who boasted two weeks ago that he has nothing to hide and will answer questions under oath.

But White House officials, including his attorneys, are urging the president to avoid the interview because they fear he will lie and be charged with perjury.

Trump has not yet made a final decision on the interview, which has not been scheduled yet.

As Trump Escalates ‘Witch Hunt’ Rhetoric, No. 3 at Justice Department Steps Down

Rachel Brand is stepping down as third in command.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Rachel L. Brand, the third in command at the Justice Department and the first woman to serve as associate attorney general, plans to step down after nine months on the job as President Trump and his allies escalate their criticism of the nation’s top law enforcement agencies.

Brand was in the difficult position of being next in line for deputy attorney general, a post held by Rod Rosenstein, who appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to oversee the Trump and Russia investigation. Rosenstein has been a frequent target of attacks by the president and his allies because he is overseeing what Trump has repeatedly called a “witch hunt.”

Democrats and others who support the investigation are worried Rosenstein will be replaced with a Trump ally who is willing to fire Mueller.

Brand, worked in appointed posts in the past three presidential administrations, will soon begin working in a top level position at Wal-Mart, the New York Times reports

How Special Counsel Probe of Russia Quickly to Trump’s Campaign, Administration

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Motor City Muckraker

The special counsel investigation that began over growing evidence that Russia interfered in the U.S. presidential election quickly expanded to Donald Trump’s campaign and administration officials following mounting allegations of wrongdoing.

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller was appointed by Trump’s Justice Department in May, soon after the president fired then-FBI Director James Comey, who told congressional committees that his termination was an act of retaliation for refusing Tump’s orders to end an investigation into a former campaign and administration official, Michael Flynn.

About a month after taking over the potentially landmark case, Mueller requested documents from the General Services Administration (GSA), which plays a key role during presidential transitions, CNN reports, citing newly released email records. 

Months before Mueller’s appointment, the bureau’s investigation appeared to be limited to Russia’s campaign to undermine the 2016 presidential election, according to newly released documents, which include emails between the FBI and GSA. The probe quickly expanded to encompass the president’s campaign and his new administration’s ties to Russa, resulting so far with the indictments of four former Trump aides.

“As a follow up to our request, we thought it best to send GSA an official preservation letter. Your staff has been extraordinarily responsive and we appreciate their patience with our (my) questions,” the agent wrote, according to the email obtained by CNN. GSA redacted the name of the FBI agent who sent the email.

The special counsel team demanded the preservation of communications, records and electronics involving 13 of Trump’s campaign officials, marking a significant development in the probe.

Unable to fire Mueller, Trump launched a smear campaign against the FBI and DOJ. alleging widespread anti-Trump sentiment in the top law enforcement agencies, which traditionally have been considered widely Republican.

Now that the special counsel investigation has reached the front steps of the White House, following increasing allegations that the president obstructed justice by trying to yield his influence to disrupt a probe that could determine Trump’s fate as president.

Bannon Agrees to Mueller Interview, But May Face Contempt for Defying Congressional Subpoena

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who is facing threats of contempt charges for defying a subpoena ordering him to testify before a House committee’s investigation of President Trump and Russia, plans to meet with special counsel Robert Mueller next week and answer all of his questions.

The former Breitbart News chief agreed last week to meet with Robert Mueller’s team and fully cooperate as part of a deal to avoid testifying before a grand jury.

But Bannon continues to defy a subpoena compelling him to testify before the House Intelligence Committee, prompting U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff on Tuesday to pledge to “enforce the subpoena on Bannon” by beginning contempt proceedings, The Hill reports

“Testifying before the special counsel does not obviate Mr. Bannon’s obligations under the subpoena issued by the committee. Should Bannon maintain his refusal to return and testify fully to all questions, the committee should begin contempt proceedings to compel his testimony,” Schiff said in a statement.

Schiff said Bannon’s attorney informed the committee that his client does not plan to testify during a committee hearing next week.

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski also plans to skip out on the hearing.

“Neither Bannon nor Lewandowski have articulated legitimate grounds for refusing to appear and answer questions before Congress, and we fully expect them to return,” Schiff said.

Bannon, who resigned in August, is considered a key witness in the investigation because he was a close confident of Trump and played key roles in both the campaign and the presidential administration.

In an explosive book published last month, Bannon blasted the campaign’s handling of Russia and suggested the Mueller investigation will focus on money laundering. He also said it was “treasonous” for some in the Trump campaign, including the president’s son, to meet with a group of Russians at Trump Tower in June 2016.