Another Trump associate arrested in Mueller inquiry

Roger Stone, closely associated with Donald Trump (and is also linked to Richard Nixon), is the latest to be arrested as a result of the Robert Mueller inquiry into Russian collusion, for witness tampering, obstruction and false statements – but there is no specific link to collusion in the indictment.

Vox:  Roger Stone’s arrest and indictment, explained

Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone was arrested in connection with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation early Friday morning at his home in Florida. He was indicted for obstruction, making false statements, and witness tampering. You can read the full indictment at this link.

The charges focus on Stone’s alleged lies to the House Intelligence Committee during 2017 about his statements about and efforts to get in touch with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign. The indictment also conspicuously mentions that “a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Stone” about what WikiLeaks might have on Hillary Clinton.

The indictment does not, however, attempt to explain why Stone would lie about this or lay out a definitive story about what did happen between Stone and WikiLeaks back then. Stone also has not been charged with any criminal activity occurring during the campaign.

The hacking and leaking of Democrats’ emails has long been a central part of the Mueller investigation. Mueller has charged several Russian intelligence officers with the hacking.

Various statements by Stone, including many public ones, raised questions about whether he had some sort of inside knowledge about WikiLeaks or its plans. He has denied having any such knowledge — and claimed that anything he knew about WikiLeaks came through an intermediary, radio host Randy Credico.

Now Stone has been accused of lying about this to the House Intelligence Committee in 2017, and trying to tamper with a witness — Credico — so that he would stick to that false story.

He’s not the first Trump associate to be charged with lying to the Mueller investigation. Trumps ex-lawyer Michael Cohen has admitted (or at least claimed) it.

Fox News has mixed coverage of it.

The self-proclaimed “dirty trickster” is well-known for his political antics and hardball tactics. He’s been reveled as a Washington wheeler-dealer dating back to the Nixon administration. Stone has also pushed several conspiracy theories and was an early and vocal supporter of Trump’s candidacy.

In his leading role, Mueller took over an ongoing investigation into Paul Manafort’sfinancial dealings in Ukraine.

Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, and Richard Gates were indicted on Oct. 27, 2017, on multiple counts, including conspiracy against the U.S., conspiracy to launder money, false statements and failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts. Manafort and Gates initially pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Nearly four months later, on Feb. 22, the pair was hit with additional tax evasion and bank fraud charges and the amount of money Manafort was accused of laundering through offshore accounts increased to $30 million.

Gates pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy and false-statements charges on Feb. 23.

Manafort was found guilty of eight financial crimes on Aug. 21 in the first trial victory of the special counsel investigation into the president’s associates. He later pleaded guilty in a second case and agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s team.

Michael Flynn, the administration’s short-lived national security adviser, was charged in December 2017 with lying to the FBI about specific conversations he had with a Russian ambassador. He pleaded guilty.

Additionally, George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in 2017 to one count of making false statements to investigating FBI agents, according to court documents. He was later sentenced to 14 days in jail. Papadopoulos was a foreign policy adviser for Trump’s campaign.

Alex van der Zwaan, an attorney, pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about Gates in the Russia inquiry. In April, he was sentenced to 30 days in prison, making him the first to be sentenced in the investigation. He was released from prison on June 4 and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

On Nov. 29, Michael Cohen, the president’s former personal attorney, pleaded guilty to making false statements before a Senate committee regarding a real estate project in Russia. He “made the false statements to minimize links between the Moscow Project and Individual 1 [Trump] and give the false impression that the Moscow Project ended before ‘the Iowa caucus … the very first primary,” Mueller said.

Richard Pinedo, a California man who sold bank accounts to Russians meddling in the election, pleaded guilty in February 2018 to using stolen identities to set up the accounts. The U.S. government said Pinedo was not aware he was dealing with Russians when he sold the accounts. He was sentenced in October to six months in prison and six months of home confinement.

federal grand jury indicted three Russian entities and 13 Russian nationals on Feb. 16 for allegedly interfering in the election. Mueller’s case claims those involved had a sophisticated plot to wage “information warfare” on the U.S.

However, the Justice Department did not say the actions had an impact on the outcome of the election. Deputy Attorney Gen. Rod Rosenstein said, “There is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity.”

The Justice Department on July 13 announced that 12 Russian intelligence officers were indicted for allegedly hacking the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign during the 2016 election.

Early Jan. 25, former Trump political adviser Roger Stone was indicted on charges of obstruction, making false statements and witness tampering — nothing directly related to Russian collusion. The White House has yet to officially comment on the indictment.

Of course Fox has some anti-investigation coverage:

On “America’s Newsroom” Friday, Dershowitz, a Harvard Law professor emeritus, said the indictment is full of “stories” of Russian collusion, but all the actual charges are a result of the investigation.

“This is typical of Mueller. He has found almost no crimes that occurred before he was appointed special counsel,” Dershowitz said, adding that’s Mueller was appointed to find such crimes and he’s “virtually failed” in that respect.

“Almost all of his crimes that’s he’s indicted people for are crimes that resulted from his investigation,” Dershowitz said.

He noted, however, the fact that Stone’s alleged crimes were generated by the Mueller probe does not make them any less criminal.

“But it really means that there’s been a failure to uncover the basic crimes for which he was appointed. Namely, before he was appointed, was there illegal collusion, illegal conspiracy with Russia?”

But we don’t know if “there’s been a failure to uncover the basic crimes that occurred before he was appointed special counsel”, because the investigation is continuing, and the arrests of people closely associated to Trump and his campaign keep happening.

Charging people with lying and covering up can be used to pressure them to be more forthcoming with the truth in an investigation, and this has worked with some, like Cohen.

Stone is staunch for now: Ex-Trump adviser blasts ‘politically motivated’ Mueller indictment, says he ‘will never’ turn on Trump

Former Trump adviser Roger Stone vowed during a dramatic press conference outside a federal courthouse in Florida on Friday afternoon to fight the charges of witness tampering, obstruction and false statements brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, calling the charges “politically motivated” while insisting he would not turn against President Trump.

“I will plead not guilty to these charges,” Stone told reporters, speaking over hecklers. “I will defeat them in court. This is a politically-motivated investigation.”

“There is no circumstance whatsovever under which I will bear false witness against the president, nor will I make up lies to ease the pressure on myself,” Stone said.

Stone, who once worked for former President Nixon and has a tattoo of the former president on his back, flashed the Nixon V-signs in front of cameras before he spoke.

Bringing Nixon into the situation seems a bit odd given the history with that president.

The indictment states that during the summer of 2016, Stone spoke to senior Trump campaign officials about WikiLeaks and information it might have had that would be damaging to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

It also said Stone was contacted by senior Trump campaign officials to inquire about future releases, and that Stone continued to communicate with members of the Trump campaign about WikiLeaks.

The 24-page indictment alleges that Stone worked to obstruct the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election by making false statements to the committee, denying he had records sought by the committee and persuading a witness to provide false testimony.

Making false statements to Congress is viewed as a very serious matter. And one could wonder why Trump associates have been lying to Congress in relation to the Russian collusion issue.

Persuading another witness to provide false testimony is probably even more serious.

Time will tell how this all pans out, but at the very least it indicates Trump has associated with a number of dishonest people who have been prepared to put themselves at risk of arrest through by being dishonest and obstructing justice.

US preparing criminal case against Assange

In an apparent accidental revelation it appears that the US are preparing to indict Julian Assange on criminal charges.

Assenge has been confined to the Ecudor’s Embassy in London since 2012 where he received political asylum to protect him from facing charges against him in Sweden.

Assange headed Wikileaks, released hacked Hillary Clinton emails during the 2016 presidential election campaign, which was praised by Donald Trump.

Reuters:  U.S. prepares criminal case against Wikileaks’ Assange

U.S. prosecutors are preparing to pursue a criminal case against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, escalating a long battle targeting his anti-secrecy group.

According to a Thursday filing in an unrelated criminal case in a Virginia federal court, prosecutors have obtained a sealed indictment against Assange.

The charges were not immediately clear. Thursday’s filing had been sealed, but was made public this week for reasons that were also unclear, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Alexandria, Virginia, said the filing was made an error. Wikileaks said it a Twitter post that it was an “apparent cut-and-paste error.”

The disclosure came as U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigates possible Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and possible collusion by U.S. President Donald Trump’s White House campaign.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia obtained material through hacking, and Mueller’s office has brought various criminal charges against Russians and Trump associates.

For its part, Wikileaks has faced scrutiny for publishing emails hacked before the election from the Democratic Party and the campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton, who Trump defeated.

U.S. officials have acknowledged that federal prosecutors in Virginia have been conducting a lengthy criminal probe into Assange and Wikileaks.

Greg Barns, an Australian lawyer advising Assange, said in a statement it was “no surprise” that the United States was seeking to charge Assange, and Australian officials should allow Assange to return there.

I presume the US could seek extradition from Australia.

In a statement on Friday, Wikileaks said Assange was willing to work with British officials as long he was not extradited to the United States.

I don’t know if that sort of a deal protecting him from extradition laws and protocols would be possible.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called Wikileaks a “hostile intelligence service,” making that comment in April 2017 when he ran the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

Trump praised Wikileaks during his 2016 campaign.

Trump praises anyone who helps his cause.

12 Russian Intel officials indicted for allegedly hacking Clinton campaign

The US Justice department has indicted 12 Russian intelligence officials for alleged hacking of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign in 2016.

Fox News:  12 Russian Intel officials indicted for allegedly hacking Clinton campaign, DNC emails

The Justice Department announced charges Friday against 12 Russian intelligence officers for allegedly hacking the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign during the 2016 presidential election.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein held a news conference earlier in the day to discuss the charges, which stem from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Aspen Daily News: White House sees vindication in indictment

The White House is stressing that the new indictment against 12 Russian military intelligence officers contains no allegations of knowing involvement by anyone on the Trump campaign or that the hacking the Russians are accused of conducting affected the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

Spokeswoman Lindsay Walters adds in her statement that “this is consistent with what we have been saying all along.”

It is nothing like vindication, it just means that Trump or his campaign are not implicated in this indictment. In fact it trashes a Trump conspiracy theory – see below.

Rosenstein said the investigation is continuing.

There could be more to come. And that may or may not drag the Trump campaign into the legal actions.

The Kremlin is reaffirming its denial of meddling in the U.S. election.

President Vladimir Putin’s foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov reaffirmed that “the Russian state has never interfered and has no intention of interfering in U.S. elections.”

Ushakov spoke Friday, just hours before the U.S. Justice Department announced charges against 12 Russian military intelligence officers accused of hacking into Democratic accounts during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

He said the Kremlin believes there are “no objective reasons” for the current tensions, and that Moscow and Washington must join efforts to tackle global challenges such as international terrorism.

Putin and President Donald Trump are meeting Monday in Helsinki.

This latest legal move could add tension to that meeting (on top of Trump blasting Germany for dealing with Russia.

NY Times: Rod Rosenstein and Robert Mueller officially rebuke a major Trump conspiracy theory

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein on Friday announced the indictments of 12 Russian intelligence officials on charges stemming from the hacking of Democrats during the 2016 election.

And with that, yet another President Trump conspiracy theory is thoroughly rebuked by the Russia investigation.

Trump has regularly cast doubt upon the idea that the Democratic National Committee was hacked by the Russians — and that it was hacked at all. At one point he even reportedly dispatched a conspiracy theorist to meet with then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo. (Pompeo is now secretary of state.)

“This is all information that has been out there for many years. Much of it is false and/or entirely inaccurate,” Trump said in a statement after the DNC hack was revealed in the summer of 2016. “We believe it was the DNC that did the ‘hacking’ as a way to distract from the many issues facing their deeply flawed candidate and failed party leader. Too bad the DNC doesn’t hack Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 missing emails.”

So Trump’s claims of ‘no collusion’ have to be viewed with scepticism, given his growing record of making false claims.

PBS: Read Mueller’s full indictment against 12 Russian officers for election interference

 

 

Another indictment in Mueller inquiry

The Mueller inquiry into possible Russian interference in the 2016 US election continues to proceed slowly, with another indictment added to the list.

Bloomberg: Mueller Indicts Konstantin Kilimnik, Manafort’s Ukraine Fixer

Konstantin Kilimnik, who worked with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on a U.S. lobbying effort on Ukraine’s behalf, was indicted on federal charges Friday by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The indictment comes as part of an existing money-laundering case against Manafort, and charges him and Kilimnik with obstructing justice. On June 5, Mueller accused Manafort of attempting to tamper with witnesses in his case, saying Manafort and another person tried to contact witnesses to secure false testimony about work done for Ukraine.

The new charges identify that person as Kilimnik, charging him with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Kilimnik is a Ukraine-born Russian speaker who has been tied in previous court filings to Russian intelligence, including one citing an FBI assessment that his ties to Russian intelligence continued into the 2016 election. Kilimnik’s whereabouts are unknown.

Kilimnik worked for Manafort’s longtime business partner, Rick Gates, when they served as political consultants in Ukraine. Prosecutors have previously said Manafort and Gates secretly coordinated an extensive lobbying campaign in the U.S. to benefit former President Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine before he fled to Moscow. Gates is cooperating with prosecutors in the case against Manafort.

It’s likely to be some time yet before it will be known what come worms out of the woodwork.

While Mueller and his investigation team are drip feeding progress via legal processes Donald Trump and his lawyers keep trying to play public opinion – it’s hard to know why they are doing this as it shouldn’t effect law and facts, and it has some risks.

And it doesn’t seem to be moving public opinion in their favour (but it could be stemming leakage of support).