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

 

 

Michael Cohen less loyal to Trump

President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney and a former executive vice president at the Trump Organization — has always insisted he would remain loyal to the president.

He was the fix-it guy, the pit bull so fiercely protective of his boss that he’d once described himself as “the guy who would take a bullet” for the president.

But in his first in-depth interview since the FBI raided his office and homes in April, Cohen strongly signaled his willingness to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York — even if that puts President Trump in jeopardy.

“My wife, my daughter and my son have my first loyalty and always will,” Cohen told me. “I put family and country first.”

When I asked Cohen directly what he would do if prosecutors forced him to choose between protecting the president and protecting his family, he said his family is “my first priority.”

Cohen added: “Once I understand what charges might be filed against me, if any at all, I will defer to my new counsel, Guy Petrillo, for guidance.”

But when I pointed out to Cohen that he wasn’t repeating past vows to “take a bullet” and “do anything” to protect the president, the longtime Trump loyalist left little doubt about where he stands now, saying simply: “To be crystal clear, my wife, my daughter and my son, and this country have my first loyalty.”

Once Petrillo fully assumes his role, a joint defense agreement Cohen shared with the president, which allowed their lawyers to share information and documents with each other, will come to an end, ABC News has learned.

Prosecutors in New York’s Southern District are investigating Cohen for alleged violations of election law and possible financial crimes associated with his personal business dealings.

He hasn’t been charged with a specific crime yet. He wouldn’t answer questions about specific legal questions.

His attitude to the FBI and to Mueller’s investigation contrasts with Trump’s.

After federal agents searched Cohen’s New York properties, Trump described the raid as a break-in, an “attack on our country, in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for.”

“I don’t agree with those who demonize or vilify the FBI. I respect the FBI as an institution, as well as their agents. When they searched my hotel room and my home, it was obviously upsetting to me and my family. Nonetheless, the agents were respectful, courteous and professional. I thanked them for their service and as they left, we shook hands.”

Cohen also refused to criticize the Mueller investigation.

“I don’t like the term witch hunt,” he said, adding that he condemned Russia for interfering in the 2016 election.

“As an American, I repudiate Russia’s or any other foreign government’s attempt to interfere or meddle in our democratic process, and I would call on all Americans to do the same”.

And in a direct rebuttal to President Trump, who sent out a tweet last week repeating Vladimir Putin’s claim that Russia did not interfere in our election, Cohen added this: “Simply accepting the denial of Mr. Putin is unsustainable.”

He denies he acted improperly, but criticises some from the Trump campaign.

Cohen believes Mueller will not find any evidence that he had any illegal or improper dealings with the Russians.

But Cohen did criticize those members of the Trump campaign who participated in that now infamous Trump Tower meeting in June of 2016 with several Russians after being promised dirt on Hillary Clinton.

“I believe it was a mistake by those from the Trump campaign who did participate,” he said. “It was simply an example of poor judgment.”

He said he tried to make ‘good faith judgments’, but acknowledges he is not perfect.

This interview, he hopes, will be a first step towards his ultimate goal: “Resolution.”

“I want to regain my name and my reputation and my life back,” he said.

Whether that will be at the cost of other people’s reputations is yet to be seen as his prosecution and the Mueller investigation grind on.

CNN  last Friday on others being investigated: Mueller wants to delay sentencing for Michael Flynn

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office is still working with former national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to a status report before his sentencing Friday.

“Due to the status of the Special Counsel’s investigation, the parties do not believe this matter is ready to be scheduled at this time,” the filing said.

Two other defendants in the special counsel’s investigation, however, are moving toward sentencing.

Campaign aide George Papadopoulos is scheduled for sentencing on September 7 for lying.

Richard Pinedo, an online auctioneer of fake IDs, will be sentenced in mid-September or later for identity fraud.

Mueller’s prosecutors have continued to bring witnesses before a federal grand jury in DC in recent weeks, indicating they hope to levy more criminal charges.

This all looks like taking some time to come to a conclusion.

McCabe seeks immunity, Giuliani seeks diversion

Former deputy director of the FBI Andrew McCabe, sacked two days before he was due to retire, has asked for immunity in order to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

And Rudy Giuliani, supposedly acting as a lawyer for Donald Trump but spending more time on diversionary PR, claims that Trump is being framed. This is playing to public opinion but has no effect on legal implications – and is a risky PR strategy.

Daily Caller:  ANDREW MCCABE SEEKS IMMUNITY FOR SENATE TESTIMONY

“This is a textbook case for granting use immunity,” Michael Bromwich, an attorney for McCabe, wrote Monday in a letter to Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the chairman of the judiciary panel.

“Mr. McCabe is willing to testify, but because of the criminal referral, he must be afforded suitable legal protection,” Bromwich said. “Accordingly, we hereby request that the Judiciary Committee authorize a grant of use immunity to Mr. McCabe.”

McCabe was fired in March, two days before his retirement, for a “lack of candor” during interviews with the office of the inspector general (OIG) and the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility about his role in authorizing FBI contacts with the media about the Clinton probe.

Bromwich decried “a stream of leaks” from the Justice Department about McCabe’s case in his letter to Grassley. He said leaks from the agency revealed the OIG made a criminal referral on McCabe to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C.

“Even though Mr. McCabe committed no crime, these leaks have forced us to acknowledge the criminal referral,” said Bromwich, who added that he and McCabe “are outraged by these leaks.”

Immunity is warranted because “Mr. McCabe is eager to give such testimony; he has a legitimate fear of criminal prosecution based on the criminal referral that has already been made, the irregularities in the process by which he was terminated, and the improper command influence that continues to be exercised by the President of the United States.”

Bromwich has accused President Donald Trump of improperly targeting McCabe in a series of tweets about political donations that McCabe’s wife received in 2015 from then–Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, a longtime Clinton ally.

It’s hard to know what all this means until it plays out.

It’s more obvious what Giuliani is up to. CNBC: Giuliani says Mueller’s team is trying to frame Trump

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani says special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is trying to frame President Donald Trump.

Giuliani, who has been serving as Trump’s lawyer amid the Russiascandal, says Wednesday in Israel that Mueller’s team includes “13 highly partisan Democrats … (who) are trying very very hard to frame him to get him in trouble when he hasn’t done anything wrong.”

Speaking to the Globes capital market conference in Tel Aviv, Giuliani says Trump has the power to pardon himself but won’t because he is innocent.

That looks like a hypothetical diversion.

It was the latest in Giuliani’s often contradictory comments surrounding the probe into Russia’s potential meddling in U.S. elections.

Giuliani has become a lightning rod during his tenure on Trump’s team, drawing the president’s ire for a series of scattershot interviews.

There must be some method in Giuliani’s madcap media mushing but while it may divert from the key issues in the short term it could blow back badly.

The Mueller investigation will plod on. Despite attempts by some to claim a lack of legal details now means something, what ends up in court and what ends up proven will have to be waited for, perhaps for some time yet.

In the meantime the circus will continue. One guaranteed loser is US credibility. The Russians could hardly have hoped for a better election outcome.

Roger Stone under scrutiny in Mueller investigation

Roger Stone, a supporter of and adviser to Donald Trump, is under increasing scrutiny in the Mueller investigation.

He has been connected to Julian Assange and Wikileaks, who drip fed hacked emails related to the Hillary Clinton campaign.

CNN: Roger Stone’s finances examined by special counsel

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has been probing Roger Stone’s finances as it summons a series of witnesses to gather more information about one of President Donald Trump’s longtime advisers, according to people familiar with the situation. Mueller’s team has questioned associates about Stone’s finances, including his tax returns.

The interest in Stone’s finances could be tied to Mueller’s charge of investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election and potential collusion, though another possibility is Mueller is pursuing something unrelated that turned up in the course of the investigation.

Even after he officially parted ways with Trump’s presidential campaign in its early days, Stone remained a staunch supporter and friend of Trump’s. During the campaign, he launched a pro-Trump super PAC called Committee to Restore America’s Greatness.

Now, the interest in Stone’s finances has created a new sense of alarm among his associates.

Whatever the reasoning, the probe into Stone’s finances should give him cause for concern, Zeldin said. Stone appears to recognize that.

“The special counsel having found no evidence or proof whatsoever of Russian collusion, trafficking in allegedly hacked emails with WikiLeaks or advance knowledge of the publication of (then-Clinton campaign chair John) Podesta’s emails now seems to be combing through every molecule of my existence including my personal life, political activities and business affairs to conjure up some offense to charge me with either to silence me or induce me to testify against the President,” Stone told CNN. “I have no intention of being silenced or turning my back on President Trump.”

Stone has come under public scrutiny, in part, because of a prescient prediction during the 2016 campaign. In a now-infamous tweet, Stone predicted trouble for Podesta, weeks before WikiLeaks began releasing thousands of Podesta’s emails. Stone denies having any advance knowledge of the Podesta leaks.

The email in question:

 

“I sleep well at night because I know what I have and have not done,” Stone told CNN. “There’s no inappropriate activity pertaining to Russian collusion. I obtained nothing from WikiLeaks or Julian Assange. I never passed anything on to WikiLeaks or Julian Assange.”

But Wall Street reports: Roger Stone Sought Information on Clinton From Assange, Emails Show

Former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone privately sought information he considered damaging to Hillary Clinton from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The emails could raise new questions about Mr. Stone’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in September, in which he said he “merely wanted confirmation” from an acquaintance that Mr. Assange had information about Mrs. Clinton, according to a portion of the transcript…

The rest is behind a pay wall, but more here: The email Roger Stone didn’t want anyone to see

Emails obtained by the Wall Street Journal indicate that longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone withheld key documents from the House Intelligence Committee — documents indicating he lied about his communications with a radio host he hoped would serve as a backchannel to WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.

According to the Journal, in a message sent on September 18, 2016, Stone wrote to Randy Credico, a New York radio personality who interviewed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange several weeks earlier, and asked him to:

“Please ask Assange for any State or HRC e-mail from August 10 to August 30–particularly on August 20, 2011.”

That email, which indicates Stone sought help colluding with a website that the U.S. intelligence community has accused of laundering emails stolen by Russian hackers, contradicts Stone’s September 2017 testimony to the House Intelligence Committee that he “merely wanted confirmation” from Credico that Assange had information about Clinton. It also contradicts statements Stone has made on his Facebook page and website about how his communications with Credico about Wikileaks merely “asked Randy to confirm that the Australian journalist had credible information on Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”

The Journal details Credico’s response, which suggests that he had asked Assange for favors on Stone’s behalf on previous occasions.

Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Credico initially responded to Mr. Stone that what he was requesting would be on WikiLeaks’ website if it existed, according to an email reviewed by the Journal. Mr. Stone, the emails show, replied: “Why do we assume WikiLeaks has released everything they have ???”

In another email, Mr. Credico then asked Mr. Stone to give him a “little bit of time,” saying he thought Mr. Assange might appear on his radio show the next day.

A few hours later, Mr. Credico wrote: “That batch probably coming out in the next drop…I can’t ask them favors every other day .I asked one of his lawyers…they have major legal headaches riggt now..relax.”

About two weeks later Stone tweeted:

That raised suspicions about what he knew, how he knew it, and how this might be linked to the Trump campaign.

The campaign against Clinton by Wikileaks deserves more attention too.

A tangled web that may or may not be unravelled by the Mueller investigation.