Raids, warrants, and wiretaps: The Trump-Russia probe ‘has reached a critical stage’ – Business Insider Tuesday September 19th, 2017 at 7:21 AM

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Paul ManafortPaul Manafort Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

It is difficult to predict whether Mueller will charge specific foreign entities with a crime for what could be perceived as illicit campaign contributions — there is little if any precedent for an election interference as brazen and multifaceted as Russia’s. 

Taken together, though, wrote Wittes and Hennessey, the developments signal that “Mueller’s investigation has reached a critical stage — the point at which he may soon start making allegations in public.” 

Raids, warrants, and wiretaps: The Trump-Russia probe ‘has reached a critical stage’

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Recent revelations about special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s election interference and potential collusion with President Donald Trump’s campaign team indicate that the investigation has reached the point where Mueller may soon start announcing criminal charges.

The Wall Street Journal and CNN reported on Friday that Mueller had 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.

Legal experts said the warrant meant Mueller had been able to convince a federal judge that there was good reason to believe a foreign entity had committed a crime by making campaign contributions in the form of ads and the spread of fake news, and that evidence of that crime would be found on Facebook.

Three days later, the New York Times reported that Mueller told Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort he was going to be formally charged with a crime following a raid on his Virginia home over the summer.

Mueller has also issued subpoenas to Manafort’s spokesman Jason Maloni and former attorney Melissa Laurenza to testify before a federal grand jury.

The developments indicate that Mueller’s probe “is nearing the litigation stage,” said Brookings Institution fellows and legal experts Benjamin Wittes and Susan Hennessey.

“Combined with a flurry of stories about subpoenas, grand-jury appearances and other activity, it’s reasonable to expect that Mueller is moving forward on a number of different fronts and is getting close to entering a litigation phase,” wrote Wittes and Hennessey, a former attorney for the National Security Agency.

“The key question is what he will allege, to what extent it will deal with campaign activity, and against whom he will allege it,” they added.

Trump PutinRussian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump AP

CNN reported on Monday that the FBI obtained a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court last year to surveil Manafort, which typically requires “some indication of criminal conduct,” Wittes and Hennessey said, rather than merely “a showing of probable cause that a crime has or will be committed.”

Manafort was previously surveilled under a separate FISA authorization that began in 2014 as the FBI scrutinized his lobbying work on behalf of the pro-Russia Party of Regions in Ukraine and his business dealings with Russian entities.

That surveillance ended due to a lack of evidence, according to CNN, but was later restarted under the new warrant that extended into 2017. Information obtained from the newly discovered FISA warrant was shared with Mueller’s team.

An early foreign policy adviser to Trump’s campaign, Carter Page, was also placed under FBI surveillance following a trip he took to Moscow last July.

It is still unclear whether Manafort has already been indicted, and if so, on what charges. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was recently recruited by Mueller to help investigate Manafort for possible financial crimes and money laundering. The IRS’s criminal-investigations unit has been brought onto the investigation to examine similar issues.

Manafort’s spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

It is difficult to predict whether Mueller will charge specific foreign entities with a crime for what could be perceived as illicit campaign contributions — there is little if any precedent for an election interference as brazen and multifaceted as Russia’s.

Taken together, though, wrote Wittes and Hennessey, the developments signal that “Mueller’s investigation has reached a critical stage — the point at which he may soon start making allegations in public.”

Raids, warrants, and wiretaps: The Trump-Russia probe ‘has reached a critical stage’ – Business Insider

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Business Insider
Raids, warrants, and wiretaps: The Trump-Russia probe ‘has reached a critical stage’
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What ‘Energy Security‘ Looks Like in the 21st Century

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For nearly a decade, lobbyists, academics and politicians alike have hailed the shale revolution as the guarantor of U.S. energy security. U.S. President Donald Trump has even taken their expectations a step further, envisioning a world of American “energy dominance,” where the country’s oil exports would fortify the supplies of its closest allies. But as the severe fuel shortages that swept across Texas and Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Harvey have shown, America still heavily relies on those states’ Gulf coasts to refine crude oil into gasoline, diesel and other petroleum products. True energy security, then, still seems to be just out of the United States’ reach.

At least, it is based on some definitions of energy security, of which there are many. To the International Energy Agency, the term refers to “the uninterrupted availability of energy sources at an affordable price.” But even this simple explanation raises more questions than it answers: What is an affordable price, and what’s the tradeoff between the affordability and reliability of supplies? Faced with unique challenges in the energy sector, every nation would respond to these questions in a slightly different way based on their own priorities. And as technological progress reshapes the structure of global energy markets in the 21st century, the priorities of producers and consumers around the world will doubtless change.

U.S.: Steadying Prices and Loosening Up Logistics

For its part, the United States has traditionally centered its energy policy on the goal of self-sufficiency. Driven by fears of the price shocks that OPEC’s 1973 oil embargo triggered, American politicians have long touted the idea of reducing the country’s dependence on Middle Eastern producers. In doing so, they hoped, U.S. interests in the region would decline by default, creating room for the United States to someday withdraw from it entirely.

That belief, though certainly applicable in the 1970s, is now largely outdated. In a physical sense, U.S. energy supplies are quite secure: The country is already a net exporter of coal, and it is expected to become a net exporter of natural gas by the end of the year. Meanwhile, though the United States still imports about 8 million barrels per day of oil, the international oil market has become so flexible — and oil so fungible — that the United States could counter any shortfalls in supplies from one producer with output from another. Even in the worst-case scenario, in which oil trade through the all-important Strait of Hormuz ceases, Washington could mitigate oil shortages for some time by tapping into its strategic petroleum reserve.

Rather than preserving its access to oil, then, the United States is more interested in protecting itself from price changes in the market at large. After all, sharp dips in Middle Eastern oil production would push energy prices upward worldwide — including in the United States. A lengthy shipping shutdown in the Strait of Hormuz, moreover, would wreak havoc among Asian economies by restricting their energy supplies, carrying consequences that would ripple throughout the global economy as well. In light of these concerns, it is no surprise that the United States and Saudi Arabia remain such close allies: Riyadh has a long-standing policy of maintaining enough spare capacity to quickly ramp up its production in order to stabilize oil-starved markets.

The United States’ energy strategy abroad, therefore, is simply an extension of its broader imperative to keep global sea lanes open. But as hurricanes Katrina and Harvey have made clear, the greatest threats can come from within. The United States’ rigid distribution systems have opened the door to short-term supply crises, and though the country is unlikely to move its refining centers away from the coast, it may seek to build more flexibility into supply lines at home in order to mitigate the risk of severe shortages in petroleum products down the road.

Europe: Weaning Off Russian Supplies

Across the Atlantic, Europe is coming to grips with a problem of its own: For the Continent, there is no real substitute for Russian natural gas. Last year, European countries imported 190 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas via pipeline, a volume equal to more than half the amount of liquefied natural gas traded by sea each year. To make matters worse, most Central and Eastern European nations lack the physical infrastructure that would be needed to bring in supplies from non-Russian producers — a shortcoming made painfully clear in the 2000s, when Russia twice cut off natural gas flows to Europe as a means to political ends. Consequently, Europe’s energy policy revolves around Russia’s ability to use energy supplies as a political weapon, and the Continent’s inability to stop it.

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Here’s the buried bombshell: “White House officials privately express fear that colleagues may be wearing a wire to surreptitiously record conversations for Mr. Mueller.”

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Trump Lawyers Clash Over How Much to Cooperate With Russia … New York Times–Sep 17, 2017 The debate in Mr. Trump’s West Wing has pitted Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, against Ty Cobb, a lawyer brought in to … Tuesday September 19th, 2017 at 4:50 AM 1 Share ty cobb trump – Google Search Tuesday September 19th, 2017 at 5:05 AM … Continue reading “Here’s the buried bombshell: “White House officials privately express fear that colleagues may be wearing a wire to surreptitiously record conversations for Mr. Mueller.””

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