The Russia probe 2019

Written by  //  January 14, 2019  //  Justice & Law, Russia, U.S.  //  No comments

See also: The Russia probe 2017-18
Robert Mueller III, Special Counsel

Mueller Ready to Pounce on Trumpworld Concessions to Moscow
New court filings by Mueller’s office could answer a central question of the Russia investigation: What did the Kremlin hope to get from its political machinations? 18 December 2018

Subpoena the only other American present at a 2018 Trump-Putin meeting, David Frum argues. Alongside an intensification of the FBI’s investigation of Trump’s Russia ties, the president has taken extreme steps to conceal his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin—from both the public and even officials in his own administration. Last July, Trump met with Putin in Helsinki for more than two hours without any aides present. One other American was in the room—Marina Gross, Trump’s interpreter. Frum makes the case that Congress should take the dire step of subpoenaing her because of the lingering questions of collusion that are dogging Trump’s presidency.

Greg Sargent: Trump is doing immense damage. He has a hidden helper
(WaPost) Two new blockbuster scoops about President Trump’s relations with Russia — combined with fresh signs that Trump will drag out the government shutdown indefinitely — should renew our focus on the quiet but critical role that Mitch McConnell has played in enabling the damage that Trump is doing to the country on so many fronts. … thanks to new reporting over the weekend, the basic question of whether Trump has at pivotal moments acted in Russia’s interests, to the detriment of U.S. interests — is being thrust to the forefront with new urgency.This should cause us to revisit the role that McConnell played during the campaign in preventing members of Congress from showing a united public front against Russian sabotage of the election.
One shadow narrative unfolding in the background over the past two years has been the gradual discovery of just how broad the scope of Russian sabotage of the 2016 election really was. This has made certain events during the campaign appear more serious in retrospect.

11 January
Rudy Giuliani Says Trump’s Team Should Be Able to ‘Correct’ Mueller Report Before It’s Released
(Daily Beast) Rudy Giuliani said President Trump’s legal team should be given the chance to “correct” Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation before it’s released to Congress or the public, The Hill reported Friday. “As a matter of fairness, they should show it to you—so we can correct it if they’re wrong,” the site says the Trump lawyer said in an interview late Thursday. “They’re not God, after all. They could be wrong.” He added that “Of course we have to see [the report] before it goes to Congress. We have reserved executive privilege and we have a right to assert it. The only way we can assert it is if we see what is in the report.” Giuliani also reportedly dismissed the revelation that Michael Cohen will testify in front of the House Oversight and Reform Committee with a sarcastic “Big deal!” and minimized the importance of the allegation that former Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort shared polling data with a Russian protégé with alleged intel-agency ties. “Should he have done it? No. But there’s nothing criminal about it,” Giuliani said.
Rachel Maddow blog: So, in Giuliani’s vision of how the process should work, Mueller and his team would prepare a final report, which may implicate Trump in serious wrongdoing. Before that report is circulated, however, the president’s lawyers would have an opportunity to give the document some touch-ups.
Giuliani’s argument is obviously quite foolish and wholly at odds with how any system of justice is supposed to work. (Name another target of a criminal investigation who’d get the chance to “correct” an investigative report on their suspected misconduct before its release.) But let’s also not forget that this is at odds with Team Trump’s original plan.
In August, Giuliani bragged about a “voluminous” counter-report the president’s legal team was preparing, which would rebut possible allegations raised in Mueller’s findings. As of early December, however, Giuliani’s counter-report didn’t appear to exist.
Now, however, instead of writing their own document to correct the record, Trump’s lawyers would prefer to simply “correct” Mueller’s report itself.
The special counsel probably won’t want to go along with this. Call it a hunch.

9 January
Max Boot: The collusion case against Trump just got a lot stronger
(WaPost) Attorneys for Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, inadvertently included a big reveal in a court filing on Tuesday through their clumsy failure to properly redact key portions. They admitted that during the 2016 campaign Manafort and his longtime associate Konstantin Kilimnik, who the FBI has said has ties to Russian intelligence, discussed a peace plan for Ukraine and that Manafort also shared with him political polling data.
Peace plan? Where have we heard that before? Oh, that’s right: Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen, Trump’s former Mafia-linked, Russian American business associate Felix Sater and Ukrainian politician Andrii Artemenko conspired after the 2016 election to present a peace plan to incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was himself suspiciously friendly to the Russians. The plan would have legitimated Russian annexation of Crimea and lifted sanctions on Russia. In other words, it would have been the payoff that Russian President Vladimir Putin was seeking from his well-documented intervention on behalf of candidate Trump — and it could easily have come to fruition if the Russian election interference had not become a scandal. So now we know that there was yet another senior figure in Trump World who was plotting to sell out Ukraine to the Russians.
But the even more significant part of the Tuesday revelations concerns the polling data that Manafort allegedly shared with Kilimnik. Why would an individual with ties to Russian intelligence need polling data on the U.S. election? There is only on reason I can think of: to help direct the covert social-media propaganda campaign that Russian intelligence was running on Trump’s behalf. The Russians reached 126 million people via Facebook alone and millions more on other social-media platforms. Combined with Russia’s theft and strategically timed release of Democratic Party emails, this most likely swung an exceedingly close election — decided by fewer than 80,000 votes in three states — to Trump.

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