2:37 PM 9/16/2017 – Mueller obtains warrant for Russia linked Facebook ads and accounts: Legal experts say the revelation has enormous implications for the trajectory of Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election interference

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Mueller obtains warrant for Russia linked Facebook ads and accounts

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  • robert muellerRobert Mueller. Thomson Reuters
  • Robert Mueller obtained a search warrant for records of “inauthentic” Facebook accounts
  • It’s bad news for Russian election interference “deniers”
  • Mueller may be looking to charge specific foreign entities with a crime

FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller reportedly obtained a search warrant for records of the “inauthentic” accounts Facebook shut down earlier this month and the targeted ads these accounts purchased during the 2016 election.

The warrant was first disclosed by the Wall Street Journal on Friday night and the news was later confirmed by CNN.

Legal experts say the revelation has enormous implications for the trajectory of Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election interference, and whether Moscow had any help from President Donald Trump’s campaign team.

“This is big news — and potentially bad news for the Russian election interference ‘deniers,'” said Asha Rangappa, a former FBI counterintelligence agent.

Rangappa, now an associate dean at Yale Law School, explained that to obtain a search warrant a prosecutor needs to prove to a judge that there is reason to believe a crime has been committed. The prosecutor then has to show that the information being sought will provide evidence of that crime.

Mueller would not have sought a warrant targeting Facebook as a company, Rangappa noted. Rather, he would have been interested in learning more about specific accounts.

“The key here, though, is that Mueller clearly already has enough information on these accounts — and their link to a potential crime to justify forcing [Facebook] to give up the info,” she said. “That means that he has uncovered a great deal of evidence through other avenues of Russian election interference.”

It also means that Mueller is no longer looking at Russia’s election interference from a strict counterintelligence standpoint — rather, he now believes he may be able to obtain enough evidence to charge specific foreign entities with a crime.

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti, now a partner at Thompson Coburn LLP, said that the revelation Mueller obtained a search warrant for Facebook content “may be the biggest news in the case since the Manafort raid.”

The FBI conducted a predawn July raid on the home of Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, in late July. The bureau is reportedly investigating Manafort’s financial history and overseas business dealings as part of its probe into possible collusion between the campaign and Moscow.

jared kushnerWhite House senior adviser Jared Kushner listens as President Donald Trump answer questions regarding the ongoing situation in North Korea, Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. Associated Press/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The Facebook warrant “means that Mueller has concluded that specific foreign individuals committed a crime by making a ‘contribution’ in connection with an election,” Mariotti wrote on Saturday.

“It also means that he has evidence of that crime that convinced a federal magistrate judge of two things: first, that there was good reason to believe that the foreign individual committed the crime. Second, that evidence of the crime existed on Facebook.”

That has implications for Trump and his associates, too, Mariotti said.

“It is a crime to know that a crime is taking place and to help it succeed. That’s aiding and abetting. If any Trump associate knew about the foreign contributions that Mueller’s search warrant focused on and helped that effort in a tangible way, they could be charged.”

Congressional intelligence committees are homing in on the campaign’s data operation as a potential trove of incriminating information.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, told MSNBC earlier this month that he wants to know how sophisticated the Russian-bought ads were — in terms of their content and targets — to determine whether they had any help from the Trump campaign.

The House Intelligence Committee also wants to interview the digital director for Trump’s campaign, Brad Parscale, who worked closely with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Kushner was put in charge of the campaign’s entire data operation and is  now being scrutinized by the FBI over his contacts with Russia’s ambassador and the CEO of a sanctioned Russian bank in December.

Facebook said in its initial statement that about 25% of the ads purchased by Russians during the election “were geographically targeted,” and many analysts have found it difficult to believe that foreign entities would have had the kind of granular knowledge of American politics necessary to target specific demographics and voting precincts.

In a post-election interview, Kushner told Forbes that he had been keenly interested in Facebook’s “micro-targeting” capabilities from early on.

“I called somebody who works for one of the technology companies that I work with, and I had them give me a tutorial on how to use Facebook micro-targeting,” Kushner said.

“We brought in Cambridge Analytica. I called some of my friends from Silicon Valley who were some of the best digital marketers in the world,” Kushner said. ”

And I asked them how to scale this stuff . . . We basically had to build a $400 million operation with 1,500 people operating in 50 states, in five months to then be taken apart. We started really from scratch,” he added.

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Mueller just obtained a warrant that could change the entire nature of the Russia investigation – Business Insider

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Business Insider
Mueller just obtained a warrant that could change the entire nature of the Russia investigation
Business Insider
Legal experts say the revelation has enormous implications for the trajectory of Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election interference, and whether Moscow had any help from President Donald Trump’s campaign team. “This is big news — and 
New Legislation to Protect Russia Investigation’s Robert Mueller From TrumpNewsweek
Facebook handed Russia-linked ads over to Mueller under search warrantCNNMoney
Report: Facebook gave special investigator Robert Mueller detailed info on Russian ad buysTechCrunch
CBS News –Bloomberg –CNET
all 33 news articles »

The Latest: Rally near White House seeks moves against Putin – ABC News

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The Latest: Rally near White House seeks moves against Putin
ABC News
About two dozen protesters have kicked off a day of diverse demonstrations in the nation’s capital with a rally demanding that President Donald Trump take strong action against Russian leader Vladimir Putin. The protesters who gathered in Lafayette and more »

Robert Mueller’s latest hire reveals new twist in Trump-Russia probe 

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Robert Mueller spent the summer assembling a dream team for his Trump-Russia probe, and in the process he revealed something crucial. Everyone he hired was a prosecutor, not an investigator, which pointed to how he planned to approach his takedown of Trump: by prosecuting everyone around him for their various crimes and thus prompting some of them to flip on him. Now Mueller has doubled back and made another major hire, which reveals a new development in his investigation.

Mueller just hired Kyle Freeny, a prosecutor who specializes in money laundering cases (link). Here’s the thing: he already has a money laundering specialist on his team. Each of the people he’s picked has a different specialty. Now he’s doubling up, and he’s pulling someone from a fairly important federal case to make it happen. The most logical explanation for this comes down to two words: parallel prosecutions.

Let’s say that Mueller’s existing money laundering prosecutor is leading the charge against Paul Manafort. Why bring on a second money laundering prosecutor? It points to pursuing two different money laundering cases at the same time. So who’s the second target? These kinds of probes always work from the bottom of the food chain upward. This new money laundering prosecution would have to be of someone who’s at least as vital and far up the chain as Manafort is.

So now we can presume that, in addition to pursuing Paul Manafort for money laundering, Robert Mueller is also pursuing another key Trump adviser for the same charge – or he’s begun a money laundering case against Donald Trump himself. Mueller’s hires have long telegraphed where he was headed with his strategy and prosecutions. This latest hire is telegraphing that he’s so far along, he’s now pursuing parallel prosecutions of multiple major figures in the scandal.

The post Robert Mueller’s latest hire reveals new twist in Trump-Russia probe appeared first on Palmer Report.

Mueller adds money laundering expert to focus on Kushner’s shady international dealings: report

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Mueller adds money laundering expert to focus on Kushner’s shady international dealings: report

Special counsel Robert Mueller has brought on a Justice Department lawyer specializing in international money laundering, according to a new report in Politico.

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“[Kyle] Freeny, whose assignment to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s staff has not been previously reported, is the 17th lawyer known to be working with the former FBI chief on the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election,” Josh Gerstein reported.

Freeny is a trial attorney from the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section.

“The Justice Department billed the “Wolf of Wall Street” case as a product of the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, an effort to pursue the proceeds of foreign corruption and return such monies to the public in the affected countries,” Politico noted. “Justice Department officials including former Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the same kleptocracy project is probing the transfer of assets overseas by Ukrainian officials, including former President Viktor Yanukovych. Manafort served as a consultant to Yanukovych and his Party of Regions — work that has triggered suspicions about the former Trump campaign chief because of Yanukovych’s warm relationship with Moscow.”

Freeny taught kindergarten in Egypt between achieving her undergrad and law degrees at Harvard.

Her Arabic language skills may be useful after the latest report that Mike Flynn, Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner had a secret meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan about building nuclear reactors in the Middle East.

Mueller has also hired Russian-speaking attorney Elizabeth Prelogar to assist Michael Dreeben — DOJ’s top criminal law expert — in the probe of possible Trump campaign collusion and/or obstruction of justice. Prelogar also graduated from Harvard Law and was a Fulbright scholar in Russia.

Andrew Weissmann headed DOJ’s criminal fraud section before joining Mueller’s team. Weissmann’s speciality is persuading witnesses to turn on friends, colleagues and superiors.

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Why Mueller’s Counterintelligence Effort is Just as Important as His Criminal Probe

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The Trump-Russia investigation: Every day, we hear something new about Robert Mueller’s criminal probe—from rumors of Kremlin-connected money laundering to questions about why the president fired former FBI director James Comey. Considering how polarized this country is, it’s understandable that much of the focus has centered on Mueller’s criminal probe.

But as the special counsel investigates possible coordination between Moscow and the Trump team, he’s not only looking at potential crimes. He’s also overseeing a counterintelligence operation, looking into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It’s this counterintelligence effort, not the criminal investigation, that will unravel why and how Moscow-connected groups spent at least $100,000 on Facebook ads during the campaign. Among other things.

Related: Is Trump really a Russian spy?

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Criminal investigators can’t thwart a foreign intelligence op or fix the gaps that allowed it go undetected. Both are the purview of the FBI’s counterintelligence division. These folks don’t necessarily need arrests to be successful. Take the 1989 case of Felix Bloch, a State Department officer suspected of being a Soviet spy. After attracting the attention of the FBI, the bureau’s counterintelligence officers spotted him meeting a known Soviet agent in Paris with whom he left a bag. Before the FBI could close in, however, an FBI spy named Robert Hansen tipped Bloch off, saying he was under surveillance. When the bureau confronted him about his spying activities, Bloch claimed he was simply passing stamps to the Soviet agent. He was fired, but a case against him never materialized. The good news: Soviet agents never worked with him again, and that was a win for the bureau’s counterintelligence officers.

For the FBI’s criminal division, the outcome was a lot less favorable. Which is why the two divisions are separate: One is a law enforcement agency, the other an intel shop. Law enforcement is interested in perp walks and courtroom presentations. Counterintelligence officers? Not so much. Stopping a foreign intelligence service is best done in secret. “The end goal for a prosecutor is to publicly present everything they’ve uncovered to a jury,” says Vince Houghton, a historian and curator at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. “But in counterintelligence you’d never lay all of your cards out on the table—if you do, you’re just letting your opponent gain the advantage.”

Take my case, for example. When I worked for the bureau as a double agent, my handlers at first wanted me just to watch the Russians. Knowing what they were asking for showed them what Moscow’s military needed, which helps U.S. intelligence. But there was no interest or desire to build a criminal case. (Later, when Russia showed interest in developing me into a spy, my handlers changed my role, making me an asset).

In the Trump-Russia probe, Mueller’s job is twofold: building a criminal case and investigating how the Russians meddled in the election. The former may seem more important for those hoping Trump will be impeached. But if we really want to understand what happened—and how we can make sure Moscow never interferes in our election again—it’s actually the counterintelligence part of the probe that’s paramount.

This part of the investigation may get fewer headlines, but it’s just as important.

Naveed Jamali is the author of How to Catch a Russian Spy, a memoir about working undercover as a double agent for the FBI. He continues to serve as an intelligence officer in the United States Navy Reserve and a senior fellow in the Program on National Security at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

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Trump Holds High Holidays Conference Call With Select Jewish Leaders

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The call exposed a fissure within the American Jewish community on how to approach relations with the White House.

Mnuchin and Pompeo should recuse themselves from the Russia investigation

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Judiciary considers subpoenas for Manafort, FBI officials – Washington Post

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Washington Post
Judiciary considers subpoenas for Manafort, FBI officials
Washington Post
… Senate Judiciary Committee is considering issuing subpoenas to President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman and two FBI officials close to fired director James Comey as part of the panel’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections.
Ex-Trump aide Manafort’s spokesman testifies to Russia probe grand juryReuters.comall 34 news articles »

Judiciary considers subpoenas for Manafort, FBI officials – San Francisco Chronicle

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San Francisco Chronicle
Judiciary considers subpoenas for Manafort, FBI officials
San Francisco Chronicle
FILE – In this July 17, 2016 file photo, then-Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort talks to reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland as Rick Gates listens at back left. Senate Judiciary Committee …and more »

Bill Moyers: Renowned Psychiatrist Warns That Trump Is a Danger to Us All – AlterNet

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AlterNet
Bill Moyers: Renowned Psychiatrist Warns That Trump Is a Danger to Us All
AlterNet
There will not be a book published this fall more urgent, important, or controversial than The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, the work of 27 psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health experts to assess President Trump’s mental health. They had  

Report: Facebook gave special investigator Robert Mueller detailed info on Russian ad buys – TechCrunch

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Newsweek
Report: Facebook gave special investigator Robert Mueller detailed info on Russian ad buys
TechCrunch
An official for Facebook told TechCrunch that the company is “continuing to cooperate with the relevant U.S. authorities,” as investigations into the Russian hack of last year’s presidentialelection continue to expand. In the latest development 
New Legislation to Protect Russia Investigation’s Robert Mueller From TrumpNewsweek
Congress struggles to figure out which Russia investigation trumps the othersUSA TODAY
Facebook gives investigators new details on Russian adsCNET
The Independent –Gears Of Biz –Axios –Wall Street Journal
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Judiciary considers subpoenas for Manafort, FBI officials – Las Vegas Sun

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Judiciary considers subpoenas for Manafort, FBI officials
Las Vegas Sun
WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee is considering issuing subpoenas to President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman and two FBI officials close to fired director James Comey as part of the panel’s investigation into Russian meddling …and more »

Trump coup sees Russian cyber experts arrested and ex-KGB chief found dead

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US president Donald Trump is facing legal challenges to his “extreme vetting” order, which freezes immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries and temporarily bans refugees. Elsewhere, a lesser publicised but highly significant drama is taking place. And it could undermine the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency.

In December, the Russian security service arrested four senior cybersecurity experts as a result of an investigation into the hacking of US Democratic Party emails. The arrests could see further evidence revealed that explains how that hacking helped Trump to win the presidency. It could also provide Russian President Vladimir Putin with another ‘blackmail’ lever to use against Trump.

Meanwhile, a former KGB chief has been found dead under mysterious circumstances.

The arrests

The four men arrested are no lightweights. They include [Russian] Sergei Mikhailov, the most senior cybersecurity officer in Russia’s Federal Security Bureau (FSB, formerly KGB). Mikhailov is accused of treason – specifically, of taking bribes from an unspecified foreign organisation, so as to share data on Russian hacking.

Others arrested include Dmitry Dokuchaev (also of the FSB) and Ruslan Stoyanov [LinkedIn], the lead cybercrime investigator at Kaspersky Labs. Kaspersky is one of the largest cybersecurity firms in Europe. An unidentified man has also been arrested.

Accusations

According to The Moscow Times, a report in Novaya Gazeta claims Mikhailov implicated Vladimir Fomenko and his server rental company King Servers. In September 2016, ThreatConnect (a US cyber investigations agency) accused King Servers of involvement in the hacking of the Arizona and Illinois voting systems. And according to The New York Times, Fomenko claims he was unaware that this had happened until ThreatConnect released its findings.

Stoyanov was in charge of investigating the alleged hacking for Kaspersky Labs. He has been charged with treason. There is speculation that he passed on details of the hacking to US intelligence agents investigating alleged Russian interference in the US elections. But according to Forbes, Stoyanov’s arrest is in connection with the bribery allegations levelled against Mikhailov.

Teddy bears picnicking or hacking?

Then there are the teddy bear hackers.

ThreatConnect has accused the FSB of being the base for hacking group ‘Cozy Bear’. The GRU (Russia’s equivalent of the America’s National Security Agency (NSA)) is accused of being the base for hackers at ‘Fancy Bear‘ (aka APT 28, Strontium, and the Sofacy Group). German intelligence has agreed [German pdf] with ThreatConnect’s assessments.

It was Fancy Bear that allegedly released information which ultimately helped undermine America’s Democratic National Committee. That hack undoubtedly helped Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Unanswered questions

On 16 January, The Canary published an article about the so-called dossier on Trump, authored by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele. After summarising the history of that dossier, I concluded:

If Steele’s allegations are genuine, he should come in from the cold, face off his critics, and provide back-up evidence. If only 10% of his claims are shown to be true, there would be grounds for Trump’s impeachment.

To date, that has not happened.

The arrests of cybersecurity specialists in Russia could be interpreted as an attempt by the Kremlin to prevent further information about the alleged hacking being released. Information that could damage Putin’s relationship with Trump. And possibly damage even further the legitimacy of the US elections – and Trump’s victory.

Mysterious death

Meanwhile, linked to the Steele dossier case is the unexplained death [Russian] of a former KGB chief. Oleg Erovinkin was found dead in his Lexus on Boxing Day 2016. That was only days before the Steele dossier was made public.

According to one Kremlin watcher, after leaving the FSB, Erovinkin was appointed deputy to Igor Sechin of state-owned oil giant Rosneft. In his dossier, Christopher Steele referred to Sechin and an alleged meeting with Trump’s foreign affairs adviser, Carter Page.

screenshot-from-2017-01-15-13-28-35

Steele also added:

“A source close to Rosneft President, Putin close associate and US-sanctioned Igor Sechin, confided details of a recent secret meeting between him and visiting Foreign Affairs Adviser to Donald TRUMP, Carter Page.”

This story is still evolving and may well take centre stage again. We will be following the situation closely as it develops.

Get Involved!

– See other Canary articles about Donald Trump and the BuzzFeed dossier saga at The Canary Global.

– Visit our Facebook and Twitter pages for more of our international coverage.

Featured image via Flickr Creative Commons

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Trump coup sees Russian cyber experts arrested and ex-KGB chief found dead – The Canary

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The Canary
Trump coup sees Russian cyber experts arrested and ex-KGB chief found dead
The Canary
They include [Russian] Sergei Mikhailov, the most senior cybersecurity officer in Russia’s Federal Security Bureau (FSB, formerly KGB). Mikhailov is accused of treason – specifically, of taking bribes from an unspecified foreign organisation, so as to  

Two FBI officials, Jim Rybicki and Carl Ghattas, are considered to be subpoenaed, in addition to Manafort 

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Investigate the Investigators!

Save America!

Reform the FBI!

Two FBI officials, Jim Rybicki and Carl Ghattas, are considered to be subpoenaed 

See also: 

FBI – Current News and Selected Articles Review

Peter Stzork | Peter Strzok and elections 2016

James Comey | James Comey and elections 2016

James Kallstrom | James Kallstrom and elections 2016

Rudy Giuliani | Rudy Giuliani and elections 2016

“It would be the first subpoenas for the two FBI officials, Jim Rybicki and Carl Ghattas, after the Justice Department reiterated in a letter this week that it won’t permit the two men to testify. The department had initially declined the panel’s request in July.

Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd said in the letter that the overlapping areas of the committee’s investigation and special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe had not yet been sorted out.”

Judiciary considers subpoenas for Manafort, FBI officials – ABC News

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CNN
Judiciary considers subpoenas for Manafort, FBI officials
ABC News
The Senate Judiciary Committee is considering issuing subpoenas to President Donald Trump’sformer campaign chairman and two FBI officials close to fired director James Comey as part of the panel’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 …
Ex-Trump aide Manafort’s spokesman goes before Russia probe grand juryReuters
Ex-Trump aide Manafort’s spokesman testifies to Russia probe grand juryReuters.comall 42 news articles »

Trump Russia Investigation and Facebook: Why Mueller’s Counterintelligence Effort is Just as Important as His … – Newsweek

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Newsweek
Trump Russia Investigation and Facebook: Why Mueller’s Counterintelligence Effort is Just as Important as His …
Newsweek
The Trump-Russia investigation: Every day, we hear something new about Robert Mueller’s criminal probe—from rumors of Kremlin-connected money laundering to questions about why the president fired former FBI director James Comey. Considering how …

what does Robert Mueller know?

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A couple of weeks ago, I was chatting with a prominent lawyer in Washington when she lamented that one of her brightest colleagues had just left her firm — and a multimillion-dollar salary — to join the government for a pittance.

Of course, that’s not unheard of; many high-fliers decide to devote part of their careers to public service. But this decision was particularly intriguing, because the senior lawyer in question had joined the secretive team working for Robert Mueller, the former head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who was appointed this year to probe President Donald Trump’s dealings with Russia.

“I was surprised to see [my colleague] go — he gave up a big job,” my lawyer friend said. “But I have to think that Mueller is working on something even bigger.”

Is he? That is the $50m, or $5bn, question sparking endless chatter in Washington right now. As autumn gets under way, the headlines have mostly been dominated by stories such as hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the president’s latest speeches and tweets about immigration and tax reform, and the North Korea crisis.

But while Mueller’s probe has slipped from the spotlight, it is provoking lively — if furtive — gossip behind the scenes. The Trump team insist the probe is merely a procedural matter, sparked by the president’s Democratic opponents. “We are pleased Mueller is investigating,” one White House figure recently declared, insisting the investigation “will just prove that there is nothing there”. After all, these Trump supporters point out, it is notable that nothing incriminating has tumbled out so far from the investigation. Certainly there have been news reports this year that seem damaging: intelligence documents have suggested that Trump’s team have had extensive contact with Russian players, while CIA officials say the Russian government meddled in the election to support Trump.

However, Mueller has not revealed what he is actually investigating. And nobody has produced any public evidence showing that Trump actually colluded with Russians or broke any laws — even though large teams of investigative journalists have been looking into these tales for months. “With so many journalists on this, it’s strange they haven’t found something yet,” one senior Democratic congressman told me last week.

The Trumpians have an explanation: there is nothing to find. But lawyers who know Mueller’s team suspect there might be another explanation: Mueller is doing such a ruthlessly disciplined job that he is preventing any material from leaking. This partly reflects the character of the man, who is respected across party lines as a consummate professional. It also stems from something else: for Mueller and his other former FBI colleagues, this investigation has extraordinary historic importance, given that Trump fired James Comey in May as head of the agency for having mishandled last year’s email investigation into Hillary Clinton. “Mueller is absolutely determined to pursue this to the end — the credibility of the FBI is at stake,” said a lawyer who knows him well.

Then there is the issue of all those lawyers Mueller has hired. These already total 17, many from senior roles. Indeed, the roster is so experienced that it reads like a who’s who of the legal world, featuring prosecutors who are considered top of their field when it comes to pursuing members of the mafia, turning witnesses, and investigating money laundering and other financial crimes.

Take Andrew Weissmann, one lawyer who answered Mueller’s call; a former general counsel to the FBI, he ran the task force that sued Enron more than a decade ago. Before that, he was a federal prosecutor who successfully convicted mafia members and bosses. Then there is James Quarles, a long-time litigator who worked on the Watergate investigation, and Greg Andres, who helped to prosecute the Texas financier Robert Allen Stanford for running an $8bn Ponzi scheme. The list goes on and on.

Nobody outside the team knows exactly what they are doing. But there is speculation that they are now probing questions such as: did the Trump group launder Russian money through its real estate operations? Did Russian banks guarantee loans that big European banks made to Trump? Did the Trump organisation pay bribes to Russian groups? And, most importantly, did anybody around Trump collaborate with the Russians during the recent election to gain their support for his campaign?

As I have said, there is no proof that any of these questions will produce evidence of wrongdoing. And Trump’s supporters dismiss the whole effort as a political attack, particularly since some of Mueller’s team are Democrats. “You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history,” the president tweeted in June, insisting that Mueller’s probe was being “led by some very bad and conflicted people!”.

But don’t expect the rumour mill to stop churning; at least not until Mueller’s team issues its report or, as some Democrats fear, he is fired. One thing is clear — some day, somebody is going to make a stunning film about this drama, with its all-star legal cast. In Trumpland, truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, and less believable.

gillian.tett@ft.com@gilliantett

Illustration by Shonagh Rae

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Trump and Russia: what does Robert Mueller know? – Financial Times

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Financial Times
Trump and Russia: what does Robert Mueller know?
Financial Times
And nobody has produced any public evidence showing that Trump actually colluded withRussians or broke any laws — even though large teams of investigative journalists have been looking into these tales for months. “With so many journalists on this, …
New Legislation to Protect Russia Investigation’s Robert Mueller From TrumpNewsweek
Why Mueller is drilling into Trump’s role in drafting Don Jr.’s false Russia statementVox
Robert Mueller’s Russia probe has a ‘red-hot’ focus on Facebook and other social mediaThe Independent
USA TODAY –Axios –The Inquisitr –Axios
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FAKE MEOWS: Trump Fans Share Bogus Snap Of Him Saving Cats From Harvey

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The president grabs two felines from floodwater in the clearly fake picture.

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Judiciary considers subpoenas for Manafort, FBI officials – ABC News

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CNN
Judiciary considers subpoenas for Manafort, FBI officials
ABC News
The Senate Judiciary Committee is considering issuing subpoenas to President Donald Trump’sformer campaign chairman and two FBI officials close to fired director James Comey as part of the panel’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 …
Ex-Trump aide Manafort’s spokesman goes before Russia probe grand juryReuters
Ex-Trump aide Manafort’s spokesman testifies to Russia probe grand juryReuters.comall 42 news articles »

Trump Russia Investigation and Facebook: Why Mueller’s Counterintelligence Effort is Just as Important as His … – Newsweek

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Newsweek
Trump Russia Investigation and Facebook: Why Mueller’s Counterintelligence Effort is Just as Important as His …
Newsweek
The Trump-Russia investigation: Every day, we hear something new about Robert Mueller’s criminal probe—from rumors of Kremlin-connected money laundering to questions about why the president fired former FBI director James Comey. Considering how … 

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what does Robert Mueller know?

1 Share

A couple of weeks ago, I was chatting with a prominent lawyer in Washington when she lamented that one of her brightest colleagues had just left her firm — and a multimillion-dollar salary — to join the government for a pittance.

Of course, that’s not unheard of; many high-fliers decide to devote part of their careers to public service. But this decision was particularly intriguing, because the senior lawyer in question had joined the secretive team working for Robert Mueller, the former head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who was appointed this year to probe President Donald Trump’s dealings with Russia.

“I was surprised to see [my colleague] go — he gave up a big job,” my lawyer friend said. “But I have to think that Mueller is working on something even bigger.”

Is he? That is the $50m, or $5bn, question sparking endless chatter in Washington right now. As autumn gets under way, the headlines have mostly been dominated by stories such as hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the president’s latest speeches and tweets about immigration and tax reform, and the North Korea crisis.

But while Mueller’s probe has slipped from the spotlight, it is provoking lively — if furtive — gossip behind the scenes. The Trump team insist the probe is merely a procedural matter, sparked by the president’s Democratic opponents. “We are pleased Mueller is investigating,” one White House figure recently declared, insisting the investigation “will just prove that there is nothing there”. After all, these Trump supporters point out, it is notable that nothing incriminating has tumbled out so far from the investigation. Certainly there have been news reports this year that seem damaging: intelligence documents have suggested that Trump’s team have had extensive contact with Russian players, while CIA officials say the Russian government meddled in the election to support Trump.

However, Mueller has not revealed what he is actually investigating. And nobody has produced any public evidence showing that Trump actually colluded with Russians or broke any laws — even though large teams of investigative journalists have been looking into these tales for months. “With so many journalists on this, it’s strange they haven’t found something yet,” one senior Democratic congressman told me last week.

The Trumpians have an explanation: there is nothing to find. But lawyers who know Mueller’s team suspect there might be another explanation: Mueller is doing such a ruthlessly disciplined job that he is preventing any material from leaking. This partly reflects the character of the man, who is respected across party lines as a consummate professional. It also stems from something else: for Mueller and his other former FBI colleagues, this investigation has extraordinary historic importance, given that Trump fired James Comey in May as head of the agency for having mishandled last year’s email investigation into Hillary Clinton. “Mueller is absolutely determined to pursue this to the end — the credibility of the FBI is at stake,” said a lawyer who knows him well.

Then there is the issue of all those lawyers Mueller has hired. These already total 17, many from senior roles. Indeed, the roster is so experienced that it reads like a who’s who of the legal world, featuring prosecutors who are considered top of their field when it comes to pursuing members of the mafia, turning witnesses, and investigating money laundering and other financial crimes.

Take Andrew Weissmann, one lawyer who answered Mueller’s call; a former general counsel to the FBI, he ran the task force that sued Enron more than a decade ago. Before that, he was a federal prosecutor who successfully convicted mafia members and bosses. Then there is James Quarles, a long-time litigator who worked on the Watergate investigation, and Greg Andres, who helped to prosecute the Texas financier Robert Allen Stanford for running an $8bn Ponzi scheme. The list goes on and on.

Nobody outside the team knows exactly what they are doing. But there is speculation that they are now probing questions such as: did the Trump group launder Russian money through its real estate operations? Did Russian banks guarantee loans that big European banks made to Trump? Did the Trump organisation pay bribes to Russian groups? And, most importantly, did anybody around Trump collaborate with the Russians during the recent election to gain their support for his campaign?

As I have said, there is no proof that any of these questions will produce evidence of wrongdoing. And Trump’s supporters dismiss the whole effort as a political attack, particularly since some of Mueller’s team are Democrats. “You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history,” the president tweeted in June, insisting that Mueller’s probe was being “led by some very bad and conflicted people!”.

But don’t expect the rumour mill to stop churning; at least not until Mueller’s team issues its report or, as some Democrats fear, he is fired. One thing is clear — some day, somebody is going to make a stunning film about this drama, with its all-star legal cast. In Trumpland, truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, and less believable.

gillian.tett@ft.com@gilliantett

Illustration by Shonagh Rae

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Trump and Russia: what does Robert Mueller know? – Financial Times

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Financial Times
Trump and Russia: what does Robert Mueller know?
Financial Times
And nobody has produced any public evidence showing that Trump actually colluded withRussians or broke any laws — even though large teams of investigative journalists have been looking into these tales for months. “With so many journalists on this, …
New Legislation to Protect Russia Investigation’s Robert Mueller From TrumpNewsweek
Why Mueller is drilling into Trump’s role in drafting Don Jr.’s false Russia statementVox
Robert Mueller’s Russia probe has a ‘red-hot’ focus on Facebook and other social mediaThe Independent
USA TODAY –Axios –The Inquisitr –Axios
all 52 news articles »

FAKE MEOWS: Trump Fans Share Bogus Snap Of Him Saving Cats From Harvey

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The president grabs two felines from floodwater in the clearly fake picture.

“It’s high time to address research into medical marijuana,”

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“It’s high time to address research into medical marijuana,”

NC senator Thom Tillis wants to remove barriers to research on marijuana

Sen. Thom Tillis is backing the Marijuana Effective Drug Study (MEDS) Act of 2017, which was introduced Wednesday by Sen. Orrin Hatch.

Who needs the “false”, pretended, “make believe” improvement, rather than the real one? The Russians have the incorrigible historical affliction with the “Potyomkin villages”, which the American side does not share, wisely and luckily.

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mikenova shared this story from  Trump Investigations Report.

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M.N.: The improvement in the US – Russia relations is needed (it looks like they cannot descend any lower) and is desirable, but: 

Who needs the “false”, pretended, “make believe” improvement, rather than the real one? The Russians have the incorrigible historical affliction with the “Potyomkin villages”, which the American side does not share, wisely and luckily. 

Address the real issues and problems, formulate and resolve the bones of contention, share honestly and fully all the information (and I mean all the information) on the present crisis, clear the mess honestly, in good faith, in-depth. And only after that, you can start rebuilding. 

The key quote: “It just ignores everything that caused the relationship to deteriorate and pretends that the election interference and the Ukraine crisis never happened,” Angela Stent, a former national intelligence officer on Russia during the Bush administration (who reviewed the document) told BuzzFeed.

“Russia confirmed that it sought to reset relations with the Trump administration but was not met with “reciprocity,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said yesterday in response to reports that Russia sent a document to the U.S. in March setting out various initiatives. Thomas Grove reports at the Wall Street Journal.”

See also:

How did these 650,000 emails get into the Abedin -Weiner laptop? | Lawyers: Teen girl Weiner sexted wanted to affect election | EXCLUSIVE: HOW TRUMP BACKERS WEAPONIZED ANTHONY WEINER TO DEFEAT CLINTON

TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION – 9.14.17

The son of Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn has been a subject of the Russia investigation, according to current and former government officials, the probe into Michael G. Flynn has been focused at least partly on his work with his father’s lobbying firm, Flynn Intel Group. Carol E. Lee, Julia Ainsley and Ken Dilanian report at NBC News.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation includes a “red-hot” focus on Russian activities on social media, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter, Mueller’s team has also been seeking additional information from companies like Facebook and Twitter. Chris Strohm reports at Bloomberg.

The representatives of social media companies should appear before the House Intelligence Committee as part of the investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 electionRep. Adam Schiff (D-Califf.) said yesterday, Max Greenwood reporting at the Hill.

Facebook cannot “speculate” whether users will be told that they were targeted by Russian propaganda, a Facebook representative said yesterday, stating that the social media company’s focus is to cooperate with the Russia investigations. Ben Collins and Spencer Ackerman report at The Daily Beast.

Allies of former F.B.I. Director James Comey have hit back at the White House for comments made by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders this week suggesting that Comey should be investigated for criminal activity, Comey’s defenders arguing that the allegations are a political attempt to discredit the original investigator into connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. Niall Stanage reports at the Hill.

The White House smears against Comey have been riddled with flaws and have sometimes offered ridiculous legal arguments that have undermined the credibility of the Trump’s team, and they need “far better legal arguments” if they want to continue the campaign against Comey. Bradley P. Moss writes at POLITICO Magazine.

The revelations connecting the Trump campaign and Russia are likely to continue throughout Trump’s presidency and, as a frenzied summer full of major political stories draws to a close, “let’s not lose sight of the Kremlingate scandal.” Max Boot writes at Foreign Policy, giving an overview of the evidence of collusion that emerged over the summer.

RUSSIA-BELARUS MILITARY EXERCISES

The Russia-Belarus joint “Zapad” military exercises starting today have caused alarm in Western nations concerned that the large-scale war games could be used as a cover for Moscow to establish a permanent military presence on the border with N.A.T.O. countries, with the Secretary General of N.A.T.O. Jens Stoltenberg stating that the “lack of transparency increases the risk of misunderstanding, miscalculations, accidents and incidents that can become dangerous.” Andrew Higgins reports at the New York Times.

The exercises simulate a separatist incursion into Belarus by three imaginary countries and will be overseen by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, demonstrating the importance that Putin attaches to the drills who has promised to prevent “color revolutions” in the former Soviet regions. David Filipov reports at the Washington Post.

Sweden has launched its largest military exercise in two decades amid the “Zapad” exercises, the neutral, non-N.A.T.O. country simulating an attack from the east on a Swedish Baltic island. Johan Ahlander reports at Reuters.

The fears about “Zapad” have been unduly heightened as there is no current political crisis on Russia’s northwestern border that Moscow could take advantage of; instead the West should see the exercise as an opportunity to understand the capabilities of the Russian military. Keir Giles writes at POLITICO.

The large-scale “Zapad” exercises have increased tensions and caused concerns, Ishaan Tharoor explains the key points about the military drills at the Washington Post.

RUSSIA-U.S. RELATIONS

Russia confirmed that it sought to reset relations with the Trump administration but was not met with “reciprocity,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said yesterday in response to reports that Russia sent a document to the U.S. in March setting out various initiatives. Thomas Grove reports at the Wall Street Journal.

The Trump administration’s decision to stop using products from the Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab moves back the “prospects of bilateral ties recovery,” the Russian embassy in the U.S. said in a statement yesterday, also calling for the U.S. to consider a Russian proposal to form a joint group to address cyber security issues. Reuters reports.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu arrived in Damascus for a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad yesterday, Shoigu handing Assad a letter from Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulating him on lifting the Islamic State group’s siege on the eastern city of Deir al-Zour, the meeting also taking place ahead of a new round of peace talks at the Kazakh capital of Astana due to take place today and tomorrow. Al Jazeera reports.

IRAQ

The Iraqi Kurdistan region “should be aware that there will almost certainly be a price to pay for insisting on its approach for a referendum,” a statement from Turkey’s Foreign ministry said today, the APreports.

The decision to hold a referendum on Sept. 25 “is a historic mistake,” Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said today, welcoming the Iraqi parliament’s vote to reject the referendum. Reuters reports.

The impending defeat of the Islamic State group in Mosul carries risks for the future of the city, opening up the possibility of reemerging sectarian divides, posing challenges in terms of rebuilding and has also been complicated by the upcoming referendum for an independent Iraqi Kurdistan. Liz Sly and Aaso Ameen Schwan explain at the Washington Post.

TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION – 9.13.17

The Department of Justice should “look at” prosecuting former F.B.I. Director James Comey, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said yesterday, emphasizing that the President was “100 percent right” in firing Comey because of his “improper” actions that “likely could have been illegal.” Anne Gearan reports at the Washington Post.

Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn refused to comply with a new request to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee, a congressional source said yesterday, Jim Sciutto reporting at CNN.

RUSSIA

Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed the full normalization of relations with the U.S. in an effort that began in April, according to a document obtained by BuzzFeed News, which called for a reset of diplomatic, military and intelligence interactions to the position before Russia’s interventions in Ukraine and Syria. John Hudson reports at BuzzFeed News.

Two Russian government-backed news outlets have come under the scrutiny of the Justice Department, which is seeking to establish whether they are operating in the U.S. as foreign agents. Byron Tau reports at the Wall Street Journal.

Turkish President Reçep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed concerns raised by N.A.T.O. allies over a deal to purchase Russian air missile defense systems, adding that Turkey would “continue to take precautions when it comes to our security and we’ll fend for ourselves,” the AP reports.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FOREIGN POLICY

Trump is likely to visit China in November during his first official visit to Asia where he is scheduled to attend three summits, a U.S. official said yesterday, Reuters reports.

Russia Sought A Broad Reset With Trump, Secret Document Shows

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A Russian proposal obtained by BuzzFeed News reveals Moscow’s ambitious plan to break with the past and launch a major rapprochement with the United States.

Originally posted on
Updated on

us russia relations – Google Search

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Story image for us russia relations from Axios

Putin proposed a full reset on USRussia relations

AxiosSep 12, 2017
Despite Trump’s public comments on Russia (“I would love to be able to get along with Russia“), engagement between the U.S. and Russia has …

‘Probably bigger than Watergate’: Hillary Clinton frets over Russian influence in 2016 election – Business Insider

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Business Insider
‘Probably bigger than Watergate’: Hillary Clinton frets over Russian influence in 2016 election
Business Insider
While promoting her new memoir on the contentious 2016 US presidential election, Hillary Clinton on Wednesday offered her thoughts on the assessment that Russia had interfered in theelection and potentially colluded with the Trump campaign. “This is a …and more »

 

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Ex-US congressman Weiner seeks to avoid prison in teen ‘sexting’ case – Business Insider

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Daily Mail
Ex-US congressman Weiner seeks to avoid prison in teen ‘sexting’ case
Business Insider
The discovery prompted James Comey, then director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to announce in late October that the agency was reviewing the messages to determine whether toreopen its investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email 
Anthony Weiner And Huma Abedin Appear In Divorce CourtHuffPost
Anthony Weiner: I ‘crushed the aspirations’ of Huma AbedinPolitico
Huma Abedin begs for mercy for ex-husband Anthony Weiner asking for sentence for sexting a 15-year-old girl not to …Daily Mail
BuzzFeed NewsCBS News
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