Trump’s lawyer clear as mud about whether he wants us to think his client is or is not under investigation

 

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In Trump-Russia investigation, Mueller follows the money

Business Insider reports: Robert Mueller in recent days has hired lawyers with extensive experience in dealing with fraud, racketeering, and other financial crimes to help him investigate whether President Donald Trump’s associates colluded with Russia to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

Mueller, who was appointed as special counsel last month to lead the probe into Russia’s election interference, is also homing in on money laundering and the business dealings of Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, according to reports in The New York Times and The Washington Post.

The developments indicate Mueller is taking a follow-the-money approach to the investigation that could leave Trump’s sprawling business empire hugely vulnerable.

Mueller has hired Lisa Page and Andrew Weissmann. Page is a trial attorney in the Justice Department’s organized-crime section whose cases centered on international organized crime and money laundering, and Weissmann is a seasoned prosecutor who oversaw cases against high-ranking organized criminals on Wall Street in the early 1990s and, later, against 30 people implicated in the Enron fraud scandal.

Mueller has also recruited James Quarles, who specialized in campaign-finance research for the Watergate task force, according to Wired; Michael Dreeben, considered by some to be “the best criminal appellate lawyer in America”; and Aaron Zebley, a former senior counselor in the DOJ’s National Security Division specializing in cybersecurity. [Continue reading…]

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Under pressure from a Trump tweet, is Rod Rosenstein now obliged to recuse himself?

Noah Feldman writes: Is President Donald Trump trying to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein without actually firing him? That’s the logical inference from the president’s tweet Friday morning asserting that he’s being investigated for firing FBI Director James Comey by the person who told him to fire Comey, namely Rosenstein. The immediate effect of the tweet is to pressure Rosenstein to recuse himself from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Rosenstein will now have to do so — soon.


Whether Trump has thought it through or not, that will leave Rosenstein’s supervisory obligations in the hands of Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand. She’s a horse of a different color from career prosecutors such as Rosenstein, Comey and Mueller. Brand is more like Trump Supreme Court appointee Neil Gorsuch: a high-powered conservative appellate lawyer who clerked for the U.S. Supreme Court, worked in the George W. Bush administration, and is prominent in Federalist Society circles. Her attitude toward the investigation is likely to be a bit different from Rosenstein’s, more informed by the structure of presidential authority and less by unwritten norms of prosecutorial independence.

Even before Trump commenced his assault on Rosenstein for conflict of interest, it was becoming conceivable that the deputy attorney general would have to recuse himself from supervising Mueller. If Mueller is focused on the Comey firing as a potential obstruction of justice, he would want or maybe need to know the details of how Trump interacted with Rosenstein around that decision.

The facts of whether Trump had already decided to fire Comey before getting Rosenstein to write the memo justifying the firing are unclear and at least partially contested. That would make Rosenstein into an important witness for the Mueller investigation — which would in turn make it difficult for him to be the figure to whom Mueller is supposed to report. Rosenstein acknowledged something like this in a recent meeting, according to reporting by ABC News.

Nonetheless, without Trump’s Twitter barrage, Rosenstein could potentially have refused to recuse himself by saying that Mueller, not he, is doing the investigating. The Department of Justice regulations do after all say that “the Special Counsel shall not be subject to the day-to-day supervision of any official of the Department.”

Rosenstein could have asserted that although the regulations allow the attorney general (here Rosenstein because of Jeff Sessions’s recusal) to ask for explanations of the special counsel’s investigative process, and require periodic reports from the special counsel to the attorney general, he wasn’t going to be supervising Mueller’s investigation.

After Trump’s tweet, that course of action isn’t really available to Rosenstein. Trump not only made a concrete argument that Rosenstein has a conflict of interest, but also deepened that conflict by asserting that firing Comey was Rosenstein’s idea. If firing Comey was indeed obstruction of justice, then, according to Trump’s implicit logic, Rosenstein could be guilty of a crime of obstruction.

So Rosenstein will have to recuse himself. And that leaves Brand as the next highest Senate-confirmed official in the Department of Justice. [Continue reading…]

Before Trump’s tweet, I can see why Rosenstein might have felt he needed to recuse himself, but it seems like Trump has now provided a strong justification for Rosenstein to stay put.

By recusing himself, he would appear to be acceding to Trump’s pressure.

Trump has zero interest in the completion of an investigation whose outcome is determined by the facts. On the contrary, he wants an investigation that gets wrapped up as swiftly as possible and exonerates him fully. In other words, Trump is sparing no effort to rig the investigation.

Trump’s pressure on Rosenstein is nothing less than the latest example of Trump’s relentless effort to obstruct justice. So rather than bowing to such pressure, Rosenstein should resist it.

Rosenstein effectively recused himself by appointing Mueller. So why should he need to recuse himself twice?

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Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein acknowledges he may need to recuse himself from Russia probe, sources say

ABC News reports: The senior Justice Department official with ultimate authority over the special counsel’s probe of Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election has privately acknowledged to colleagues that he may have to recuse himself from the matter, which he took charge of only after Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ own recusal, sources tell ABC News.

Those private remarks from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein are significant because they reflect the widening nature of the federal probe, which now includes a preliminary inquiry into whether President Donald Trump attempted to obstruct justice when he allegedly tried to curtail the probe and then fired James Comey as FBI director.

Rosenstein, who authored an extensive and publicly-released memorandum recommending Comey’s firing, raised the possibility of his recusal during a recent meeting with Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, the Justice Department’s new third-in-command, according to sources.

Although Rosenstein appointed a special counsel to lead the federal probe, he still makes the final decisions about resources, personnel and — if necessary — any prosecutions.

In the recent meeting with Brand, Rosenstein told her that if he were to recuse himself, she would have to step in and take over those responsibilities. She was sworn-in little more than a month ago. [Continue reading…]

Eric Levitz writes: Brand boasts the quintessential résumé for a GOP Justice Department appointee. A graduate of Harvard Law School, where she was active in the arch-conservative Federalist Society, Brand clerked for Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy before joining a white-shoe law firm, lending a hand to Elizabeth Dole’s presidential campaign, and then taking a job in the George W. Bush administration.

During the Bush years, Brand first worked under White House counsel Alberto Gonzales (where she may have learned a thing or two about politicizing law enforcement), and then in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy.

Once Bush gave up steering America into epochal domestic and foreign policy crises for watercolor painting, Brand returned to the private sector. [Continue reading…]

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Trump’s dilemma: Answer for his previous offenses or commit new ones

Mark Joseph Stern writes: hat you don’t know can hurt you very badly, and there is a great deal that Republicans do not know about Donald Trump. From shady business dealings to questionable tax schemes to potential Russian collusion, the president is dogged by scandals whose depth and significance remain unclear. With few exceptions, Republicans are eager to protect Trump from serious inquiries, running interference where they can while pushing through their legislative agenda as quickly and secretively as possible. The GOP isn’t quite sure what it’s helping Trump to cover up—but as long as he promises to sign its bills, the party will condone his outrageous misdeeds.

This strategy now appears poised to backfire spectacularly. On Wednesday, both the New York Times and the Washington Post reported that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Trump’s inner circle for financial crimes. This aggressive shift toward Trump associates’ personal dealings is disastrous news for the president, his allies, and his enablers. At long last, federal investigators will probe Trump’s sprawling network for wrongdoing, picking up where reporters left off, only this time with subpoena power. And Trump can only stop them by firing Mueller—a blatant obstruction of justice that would likely be more damaging than any crime the president may have committed in the past. [Continue reading…]

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Mueller, known for being above the fray, is now in the thick of it

The New York Times reports: Robert S. Mueller III managed in a dozen years as F.B.I. director to stay above the partisan fray, carefully cultivating a rare reputation for independence and fairness. But his appointment as special counsel overseeing the Trump-Russia investigation has thrown him into the middle of the most charged political brawl of his career — especially since his early hires include several prosecutors who have donated to Democratic candidates in the past.

“You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history — led by some very bad and conflicted people!” President Trump wrote on Twitter on Thursday morning. The president’s supporters and conservative news outlets have echoed his message that Mr. Mueller’s investigation is unjustified and its staff biased against Mr. Trump.

Veterans of past Washington battles on the borders of law and politics said that the president’s pushback was to be expected, but that its ferocity and timing were unusual. Just one month into the job, Mr. Mueller has not yet finished hiring staff members or installing a computer network — deliberately segregated from the main Justice Department — in the Patrick Henry Building in downtown Washington.

“It’s early in the game to begin to impugn the prosecutors,” said Philip Allen Lacovara, a Watergate prosecutor and a Republican. “It’s a pre-emptive nuclear strike. If you’re afraid of what the prosecutors are going to find out, you try to debunk anything they might come up with in advance by attacking them.” [Continue reading…]

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Special counsel is investigating Jared Kushner’s business dealings

The Washington Post reports: Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is investigating the finances and business dealings of Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, as part of the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, according to officials familiar with the matter.

FBI agents and federal prosecutors have also been examining the financial dealings of other Trump associates, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Carter Page, who was listed as a foreign-policy adviser for the campaign.

The Washington Post previously reported that investigators were scrutinizing meetings that Kushner held with Russians in December — first with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and then with Sergey Gorkov, the head of a state-owned Russian development bank. At the time of that report, it was not clear that the FBI was investigating Kushner’s business dealings. [Continue reading…]

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‘Dear God, keep him away from Twitter,’ says senior official shortly before Trump’s latest tweet

The Daily Beast reports: It’s exactly the circumstance Donald Trump tried to avoid. But Trump’s own actions have made an FBI investigation into the president himself a reality.

Firing James Comey, the FBI director, was, by Trump’s explanation, a way to stop a “witch hunt” against his team’s alleged ties to Russia. It led, within weeks, to the appointment of a special prosecutor, Comey’s FBI predecessor, Robert Mueller. And now Mueller is investigating Trump himself for possible obstruction of justice—by firing Comey, who had led the FBI inquiry.

With the crisis engulfing Trump’s young presidency intensifying, senators, Trump aides, former prosecutors, and FBI veterans are sending the White House an urgent warning: Whatever you do, don’t. Fire. Mueller.

News of the obstruction investigation, which was first reported by The Washington Post on Wednesday, comes just days after Trump himself began floating the possibility of firing the new head of the investigation: Robert Mueller, the Justice Department special counsel appointed in the wake of Comey’s firing.

The obstruction investigation has raised the stakes for Mueller’s potential ouster. Firing him now, which would require that Trump personally direct DOJ leadership to do so, would create a political firestorm.

“Firing Robert Mueller right now would be a direct attack on the rule of law by Donald Trump,” Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told The Daily Beast. Wyden declined to directly address the Post report.

Trump reportedly floated the possibility of firing Mueller as a way to prod him toward exonerating the president and other Trump associates party to the investigation. The New York Times reported on Tuesday that aides dissuaded him from doing so.

For Ali Soufan, a retired FBI counterterrorism agent, word that Trump is now a target of Mueller’s inquiry explains the trial balloon.

“No wonder President Trump and his surrogates are getting nervous. This explains their sudden attacks on Mueller and the threats to fire him,” Soufan told The Daily Beast.

White House officials are still insisting to the president that he should leave Mueller in his post. “We are all advising him not to [get rid of] Mueller. That has not changed,” one Trump aide told The Daily Beast. “It would be an absolute nuclear explosion if he did.”

Firing Mueller would also put the president in greater legal jeopardy than he already may be in, said former United States attorney Barbara McQuade.

“If Trump were to fire Mueller and it could be shown that his purpose was to impede the investigation, it could be additional evidence of obstruction of justice,” McQuade, who was appointed by President Obama, told The Daily Beast.

But some privately concede that Trump is so unpredictable—and so frustrated with the persistence of the investigation and its cost in political capital—that they’re not ruling it out. Another White House official conceded that it would be “suicide” if Trump sacked Mueller at this point, but “I’d be insincere if I said it wasn’t a concern that the president would try to do it anyway.”

For now, officials are simply concerned with limiting fallout from what is sure to be a thunderous reaction from the president to news that he is personally the target of the FBI’s probe.

Asked what the internal game plan should be, one senior Trump administration official replied, “Keep him away from Twitter, dear God, keep him away from Twitter.”

“The president did this to himself,” the official added. [Continue reading…]

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Special counsel is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice, officials say

The Washington Post reports: The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe that now includes an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said.

The move by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Trump’s conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation, which until recently focused on Russian meddling during the presidential campaign and on whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Investigators have also been looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates, officials said.

Trump had received private assurances from then-FBI Director James B. Comey starting in January that he was not personally under investigation. Officials say that changed shortly after Comey’s firing.

Five people briefed on the requests, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said Daniel Coats, the current director of national intelligence, Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, and Rogers’s recently departed deputy, Richard Ledgett, agreed to be interviewed by Mueller’s investigators as early as this week. The investigation has been cloaked in secrecy, and it is unclear how many others have been questioned by the FBI. [Continue reading…]

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Robert Mueller chooses his investigatory dream team

Garrett M Graff writes: President Donald Trump had almost certainly never heard the name Aaron Zebley before the announcement that the former FBI agent was joining the special counsel investigation into ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia. But to those who have followed the arc of the bureau during the past twenty years, Zebley’s is a name that underscores just how far-reaching and dogged—and potentially long—the probe will likely be.

Just ask Steve Gaudin’s ex-girlfriend.

She wasn’t at all happy when Zebley, her boyfriend’s FBI partner, called at 3 one morning in August, 1999. Despite all of Gaudin’s international travel, chasing al Qaeda long before the terrorist group was a household name, he and his girlfriend had managed to settle down in New York City and carve out a life together in between his overseas terrorist hunts. The couple was even looking forward to an imminent, albeit brief, summer vacation.

But then came the call from Zebley.

“I’ve found Ali Mandela,” Zebley said, excitedly. Mandela, the fugitive terrorist suspected of helping execute the previous year’s bombings of US embassies in East Africa, appeared to still be on the continent, he told Gaudin. Somewhere in South Africa. They had to leave immediately.

Angry at yet another sleepless night—and vacation—ruined by the bureau’s demands, Gaudin’s girlfriend gave him some advice: Don’t bother coming back.

But that was just the way it was for the elite agents on one of the FBI’s most storied squads. Nothing could come between them and their search for justice.

The details of that trip—and the subsequent capture of one of America’s most wanted terrorists by Zebley and Gaudin—help illuminate the makeup of the special counsel team that former FBI director Robert Mueller is assembling. It’s a team that contains some of the nation’s top investigators and leading experts on seemingly every aspect of the potential investigation—from specific crimes like money laundering and campaign finance violations to understanding how to navigate both sprawling globe-spanning cases and the complex local dynamics of Washington power politics. [Continue reading…]

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How the U.S. triggered a massacre in Mexico

ProPublica reports: There’s no missing the signs that something unspeakable happened in Allende, a quiet ranching town of about 23,000, just a 40-minute drive from Eagle Pass, Texas. Entire blocks of some of the town’s busiest streets lie in ruins. Once garish mansions are now crumbling shells, with gaping holes in the walls, charred ceilings, cracked marble countertops and toppled columns. Strewn among the rubble are tattered, mud-covered remnants of lives torn apart: shoes, wedding invitations, medications, television sets, toys.

In March 2011 gunmen from the Zetas cartel, one of the most violent drug trafficking organizations in the world, swept through Allende and nearby towns like a flash flood, demolishing homes and businesses and kidnapping and killing dozens, possibly hundreds, of men, women and children.

The destruction and disappearances went on in fits and starts for weeks. Only a few of the victims’ relatives — mostly those who didn’t live in Allende or had fled — dared to seek help. “I would like to make clear that Allende looks like a war zone,” reads one missing person report. “Most people who I questioned about my relatives responded that I shouldn’t go on looking for them because outsiders were not wanted, and were disappeared.”

But unlike most places in Mexico that have been ravaged by the drug war, what happened in Allende didn’t have its origins in Mexico. It began in the United States, when the Drug Enforcement Administration scored an unexpected coup. An agent persuaded a high-level Zetas operative to hand over the trackable cellphone identification numbers for two of the cartel’s most wanted kingpins, Miguel Ángel Treviño and his ​brother Omar.

Then the DEA took a gamble. It shared the intelligence with a Mexican federal police unit that has long had problems with leaks — even though its members had been trained and vetted by the DEA. Almost immediately, the Treviños learned they’d been betrayed. The brothers set out to exact vengeance against the presumed snitches, their families and anyone remotely connected to them.
Their savagery in Allende was particularly surprising because the Treviños not only did business there — moving tens of millions of dollars in drugs and guns through the area each month — they’d also made it their home.

For years after the massacre, Mexican authorities made only desultory efforts to investigate. They erected a monument in Allende to honor the victims without fully determining their fates or punishing those responsible. American authorities eventually helped Mexico capture the Treviños but never acknowledged the devastating cost. In Allende, people suffered mostly in silence, too afraid to talk publicly.

A year ago ProPublica and National Geographic set out to piece together what happened in this town in the state of Coahuila — to let those who bore the brunt of the attack, and those who played roles in triggering it, tell the story in their own words. They did so often at great personal risk. Voices like these have rarely been heard during the drug war: Local officials who abandoned their posts; families preyed upon by both the cartel and their own neighbors; cartel operatives who cooperated with the DEA and saw their friends and families slaughtered; the U.S. prosecutor who oversaw the case; and the DEA agent who led the investigation and who, like most people in this story, has family ties on both sides of the border. [Continue reading…]

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Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, boasted that he got U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara fired

By Jesse Eisinger and Justin Elliott, ProPublica, June 13, 2017

Marc Kasowitz, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer in the Russia investigation, has boasted to friends and colleagues that he played a central role in the firing of Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, according to four people familiar with the conversations.

Kasowitz told Trump, “This guy is going to get you,” according to a person familiar with Kasowitz’s account.

Those who know Kasowitz say he is sometimes prone to exaggerating when regaling them with his exploits. But if true, his assertion adds to the mystery surrounding the motive and timing of Bharara’s firing.

New presidents typically ask U.S. attorneys to resign and have the power to fire them. But Trump asked Bharara to stay in his job when they met in November at Trump Tower, as Bharara announced after the meeting.

In early March, Trump reversed himself. He asked all the remaining U.S. attorneys to resign, including Bharara. Bharara, a telegenic prosecutor with a history of taking on powerful politicians, refused and was fired March 11.

As ProPublica previously reported, at the time of Bharara’s firing the Southern District was conducting an investigation into Trump’s secretary of health and human services, Tom Price.

Kasowitz and the White House did not respond to requests for comment.

Kasowitz became a nationally recognized figure last week, after he acted as Trump’s designated spokesman to respond to former FBI Director James Comey’s landmark Senate testimony.

Kasowitz’s claimed role in the Bharara firing appears to be a sign that the New York lawyer has been inserting himself into matters of governance and not just advising the president on personal legal matters.

Kasowitz has also said in private conversations that Trump asked him to be attorney general, according to four people familiar with the matter. Kasowitz said he turned down the role. Ultimately, Trump decided to give the position to then-Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.

The Southern District of New York conducts some of the highest profile corporate investigations in the country. According to news reports, it is currently probing Fox News over payments made to settle sexual harassment charges against the network’s former chairman, the late Roger Ailes. The office is also looking into Russian money-laundering allegations at Deutsche Bank, Trump’s principal private lender.

Kasowitz has represented Trump over the years on matters including his failed libel lawsuit against a journalist, the Trump University case, and then-candidate Trump’s response to allegations of sexual assault by multiple women last year. Trump retained him to be his personal attorney in the Russia investigation last month.

The New York Times reported Sunday that Kasowitz has advised White House staffers about whether they need personal attorneys, raising conflict of interest questions.

Trump has also turned to Kasowitz’s firm to fill jobs in the administration. David Friedman, a former name partner of the firm, is now ambassador to Israel. Trump considered former senator and Kasowitz Senior Counsel Joseph Lieberman to replace Comey.

One of the names floated to replace Bharara is Edward McNally, a partner at Kasowitz’s law firm. More than three months after Bharara was fired, Trump has not nominated anyone to fill the Southern District job or most of the other U.S. attorney positions.

Bharara’s firing on March 11 came two months before the firing of Comey, head of the FBI. Critics charge that Trump obstructed justice in forcing Comey out.

Comey testified last week that Trump had tried to “create some sort of patronage relationship.” Bharara said in a television interview Sunday that Trump had attempted something similar with him: Comey’s testimony “felt a little bit like déjà vu.”

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.


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Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says only he has the power to fire special counsel on Russia

The Washington Post reports: Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein testified Tuesday that if the president ordered him to fire the special counsel handling the Russia investigation, he would only comply if the request was “lawful and appropriate.”

Rosenstein was answering questions from the Senate Appropriations Committee regarding comments Monday from Christopher Ruddy, the chief executive of Newsmax Media and a friend of Donald Trump, that Trump might fire Robert S. Mueller III. Mueller was recently appointed to lead the investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Rosenstein, who has been on the job for six weeks, said only he could fire Mueller, and only if he found good cause to do so. He described Mueller as operating independently from the Justice Department in his investigation.

Asked what he would do if the president ordered him to fire Mueller, Rosenstein said, “I’m not going to follow any orders unless I believe those are lawful and appropriate orders.” He added later: “As long as I’m in this position, he’s not going to be fired without good cause,” which he said he would have to put in writing. [Continue reading…]

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Gingrich on Mueller: ‘superb choice’ as special counsel’; now says GOP must focus on ‘closing down’ investigation

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What was the real reason for Jeff Sessions repeatedly meeting Sergey Kislyak?

Julia Ioffe writes: It can be hard to get a straight answer out of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

When Senator Al Franken asked then-Senator Sessions at his Senate confirmation hearing on January 10 whether he “communicated with the Russian government,” he said, “I’m not aware of any of those activities.” Unprompted, Sessions then went further, saying, “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I didn’t have—did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.” Then less than two months later, on March 1, The Washington Post reported that Sessions had, in fact, met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak—not once, but twice.

It was a serious omission, especially for the nation’s top law-enforcement officer, and one who is a vocal advocate for law and order. Scrambling to contain the damage, Sessions issued a statement that attempted to draw a very subtle distinction. Calling the report “false,” he said that he had “never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign.” His spokeswoman, Sarah Isgur Flores, spelled it out even more clearly: “He was asked during the hearing about communications between Russia and the Trump campaign—not about meetings he took as a senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee,” she said. (In fact, Franken had made no such qualification) And a White House official insisted that Sessions had “met with the ambassador in an official capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee,” not a campaign surrogate. [Continue reading…]

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Secret Service has no audio or transcripts of any tapes made in Trump White House

The Wall Street Journal reports: The U.S. Secret Service has no audio copies or transcripts of any tapes recorded within President Donald Trump’s White House, the agency said on Monday.

The agency’s response to a freedom of information request submitted by The Wall Street Journal doesn’t exclude the possibility that recordings could have been created by another entity.

The Secret Service handled recording systems within the White House for past presidents, including Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy.

The question of a White House recording system has lingered for more than a month since Mr. Trump first raised the possibility in a provocative tweet about former FBI Director James Comey.

In recent days, the two men have offered differing accounts of whether Mr. Trump asked Mr. Comey in private conversations within the White House complex to ease off the FBI’s probe of former national security adviser Mike Flynn.

On Friday, Mr. Trump kept the tapes mystery alive, telling reporters in the White House Rose Garden, “I’ll tell you about that maybe sometime in the very near future.” He added, “Oh, you’re going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer, don’t worry.” [Continue reading…]

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