Trump draws attention to worst of Mueller report and himself

The Mueller report should have been reasonably good news for Donald Trump. It cleared himself of collusion with the Russians, and he wasn’t charged with obstruction of justice despite attempts to so.

But instead of highlighting the positives, he accentuated the negatives – his behaviour. He behaved badly in response to the report. He abused White House staff who testified that he was an obnoxious liar, as they were required to do under the law, and abused staff who ignored his his demands to sack people involved in the special investigation, which would have obstructed justice.

Trump was lucky that he didn’t get into legal trouble over attempting to obstruct justice, but he his added fuel to the fire raging about his actions and attempted actions as president.

Real Clear Politics: Trump Laces Into Ex-Advisers Who Spoke With Mueller

President Donald Trump lashed out Friday at current and former aides who cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, insisting the deeply unflattering picture they painted of him and the White House was “total bullshit.”

In a series of angry tweets from rainy Palm Beach, Florida, Trump laced into those who, under oath, had shared with Mueller their accounts of how Trump tried numerous times to squash or influence the investigation and portrayed the White House as infected by a culture of lies, deceit and deception.

The attacks were a dramatic departure from the upbeat public face the White House had put on it just 24 hours earlier, when Trump celebrated the report’s findings as full exoneration and his counselor Kellyanne Conway called it “the best day” for Trump’s team since his election.

While the president, according to people close to him, did feel vindicated by the report, he also felt betrayed by those who had painted him in an unflattering light — even though they were speaking under oath and had been directed by the White House to cooperate fully with Mueller’s team.

While Mueller found no criminal evidence that Trump or his campaign aides colluded in Russian election meddling and did not recommend obstruction charges against the president, the 448-page report released Thursday nonetheless paints a damaging picture of the president, describing numerous cases where he discouraged witnesses from cooperating with prosecutors and prodded aides to mislead the public on his behalf to hamper the Russia probe he feared would cripple his presidency.

Whether the special investigation was justified or not (there were serious concerns about Russian interference in the US election that should have at least been investigated, and it was difficult to separate Trump’s campaign from that due to a number of connections between his campaign staff and Russian interests), it happened, and those being investigated, including Trump, should have properly complied with legal processes.

The report concluded that one reason Trump managed to stay out of trouble was that his “efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful … largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”

He abused those who saved him from more serious problems.

Trump appeared to be especially angry with former White House counsel Don McGahn, who sat with Mueller for about 30 hours of interviews, and is referenced numerous times in the report.

In one particularly vivid passage, Mueller recounts how Trump called McGahn twice at home and directed him to set in motion Mueller’s firing. McGahn recoiled, packed up his office and threatened to resign, fearing the move would trigger a potential crisis akin to the Saturday Night Massacre of firings during the Watergate era.

In another section, Mueller details how Trump questioned McGahn’s note-taking, telling the White House counsel that, “Lawyers don ’t take notes” and that he’d “never had a lawyer who took notes.”

“Watch out for people that take so-called “notes,” when the notes never existed until needed,” Trump said in one of his tweets Friday. Others whose contemporaneous notes were referenced in the report include former staff secretary Rob Porter and Reince Priebus, Trump’s first chief of staff.

Notes of meetings are important for those who want to properly record political or legal matters. Trump has been criticised for having meetings with no records taken, including a meeting with Vladimir Putin.

This braises serious questions about whether adequate notes are taken of Trump’s meetings generally. If he despises and discourages note taking, is he pressuring staff into breaking the law? Or do they take the notes they are required to take despite him, and under threat of abuse form him?

Trump ended his tweet with the word, “a…” suggesting more was coming. More than eight hours later, he finally completed his thought, calling the probe a “big, fat, waste of time, energy and money” and threatening investigators by saying, “It is now finally time to turn the tables and bring justice to some very sick and dangerous people who have committed very serious crimes, perhaps even Spying or Treason.” There is no evidence of either.

Trump, and some supporters of Trump who have complained bitterly about the special investigation taking place, want investigations that suit their purposes, with less justification than the Mueller investigation.

Ari Fleischer, who served as White House press secretary to former President George W. Bush, said in an appearance on Fox News that he didn’t understand why Trump decided to send his tweets lashing out at former aides.

“I think it’s over,” he said. “If I were the president, I would have basically declared victory with the Mueller report and everything that came out and move beyond it.”

Still, he said he hoped the White House had learned some lessons.

“The president and his entire team needs to realize how close they came to being charged with obstruction,” Fleischer said. “Asking your staff to lie and engaging in some of the activities that the Mueller report stated the president engaged in is too close to obstruction. And that’s a lesson I hope everybody at the White House takes with them going forward.”

Unfortunately Trump has shown repeatedly that he has trouble moving on. In this case he when he could have simply claimed vindication he chose to highlight his vindictive nature.

Trump doesn’t seem to have learned from it.

White House staff will have learned from it – that they are constantly under pressure and under threat of abuse or being fired by the president for doing their jobs properly.

National Review: The Problem with the Mueller Report

The first volume of the voluminous Mueller report, the half devoted to what was supposed to be the underlying crime of a Trump conspiracy with Russia, came up completely empty. It tells us very little that’s new. There’s no particularly sinister information about Carter Page, the bit player the FBI repeatedly told the FISA court was probably a Russian agent. The operators who portrayed themselves as closest to WikiLeaks or Russia were usually braggarts and liars exaggerating their importance. Nothing came of the infamous Trump Tower meeting. Paul Manafort wasn’t at the center of conspiracy between the campaign and Russia, but operating in his greedy self-interest.

So the investigation didn’t come up empty. It found that Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager, had acted illegally. That must be some justification for the inquiry. As was finding out whether braggarts and liars exaggerating their importance were a cause for concern when working for the chief braggard and liar.

The Trump campaign was amateurish and without scruple in exploiting the WikiLeaks disclosures, but we all could have agreed on that long ago, without a years-long special-counsel investigation.

Indeed, given how unlikely collusion always was and how far the evidence gathered by Mueller is from showing  it, one wonders why the special counsel couldn’t have issued an interim report long ago, dispelling the persistent — and poisonous — idea that Trump was about to be proven a traitor.

Perhaps because there was sufficient information and doubt that warranted a thorough investigation.

One could wonder how different it might have been if Trump had simply claimed there was no collusion, and encouraged his campaign staff and White House staff to cooperate fully with the inquiry. Trump didn’t act like an innocent person, he tried to discredit and obstruct. I think that is likely to have extended the investigation findings timeframe.

The business end of the Mueller report is the second volume, on obstruction. The investigation ended up following the typical pattern of special-counsel probes on a much larger scale — fixating on process crimes even when there is no underlying offence.

But at the process stage it was not known if there was any underlying offences or not. Actually a number of offences have been discovered. Like Mannafort’s offences. And others, like Admitted Russian Agent Butina Asks U.S. Court to Be Lenient – “Maria Butina, who has admitted to working as a Russian agent to infiltrate an influential U.S. gun rights group and make inroads with conservative activists and Republicans, asked the court to sentence her to time served ahead of her April 26 sentencing, according to court documents.”

What about Michael Cohen? He was prosecuted for lying to try to protect Trump. It’s quite feasible that Cohen lied because Trump encouraged him to lie and to obstruct. If that’s the case it’s seriously bad that a president has done that.

Some of Trump’s deceptions were for public consumption, not to influence the investigation.

Deceptions for public consumption may not be a crime, but it emphasises how little trust can be placed on what Trump says “for public consumption”. That may not be a legal problem, but it is a problem for democracy.

Trump’s attempts to fire Mueller and get then-attorney general Jeff Sessions to curtail the investigation came to nothing.

At this stage at least coming to nothing has kept Trump clear of prosecution, but I still find his attempts to obstruct very concerning.

None of this is to deny the report’s distressing portrayal of how President Trump operates. He avoids potentially disastrous missteps, such as firing Mueller, when his aides ignore him and he fails to follow up. His dishonesty constantly creates dilemmas for those around him, forcing them to choose between lying for him or defying him.

At risk of being fired, as has happened to some who have defied Trump.

No president of the United States should ever applaud people for refusing to cooperate with prosecutors, or call someone who cooperates a “rat.” Most White House scandals involve presidents getting ill served by overly zealous, norm-defying advisers. In this episode, Trump flipped the script.

The US presidency, the White House, and agencies run by people appointed by Trump (and who can be fired by Trump) are still operating in this environment, where Trump continues to lie, he continues to abuse, he continues to threaten.

I find that quite troubling.

Yet there are still Trump defenders and apologists who seem to thing this situation and behaviour is ok because others have done it less badly.

I think that a president who can’t be trusted to the degree that Trump shouldn’t be trusted is an ongoing threat not just to the presidency and to the United States but also to the world.

What if Trump manages to appoint staff or public officials who are prepared to lie for him (actually some have, his media spokespeople can’t be trusted either), and who are prepared to break the law and obstruct justice at Trump’s request?

How do we know this hasn’t already happened?

Mueller investigation controversies continue after brief Barr letter

There were immediate celebrations immediately after Attorney General Barr sent out a brief letter summarising the final Mueller investigation report, but the controversies around the investigation, Russian collusion and obstruction of justice have continued.

Donald Trump helped the fiery rhetoric keep burning when he claimed inaccurately that the report totally exonerated him – Barr’s letter made it clear that was not the case.

There are now claims that the letter omitted damaging accusations against Trump.

The Department of Justice  has defended the letter, saying that the report was always going to be released (following redactions).

Trump initially said that the whole report should be released, but has since changed his mind.

Politico:  Dems ratchet up pressure on Barr over Mueller probe

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler is demanding the immediate release of any summaries that Mueller’s team intended to become public.

“You have already provided an interpretation of the Special Counsel’s conclusions in a fashion that appears to minimize the implications of the report as to the President,” Nadler said in a letter to Barr on Thursday. “Releasing the summaries — without delay — would begin to allow the American people to judge the facts for themselves.”

Barr issued his own four-page summary of Mueller’s conclusions two weeks ago, quoting selectively from Mueller’s report in a way Democrats have suggested could be misleading. President Donald Trump has highlighted Mueller’s letter to declare “total exoneration” by Mueller’s investigators.

The Department of Justice on Thursday defended Barr’s summary, saying he couldn’t disclose the full report because it contained protected grand jury information. The statement came after some members of Mueller’s team were reportedly unhappy with Attorney General William Barr’s characterization of their investigatory work.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said Barr provided the initial findings “with the understanding that the report itself would be released after the redaction process” and “does not believe the report should be released in serial or piecemeal fashion.”

NY Times: Some on Mueller’s Team Say Report Was More Damaging Than Barr Revealed

Some of Robert S. Mueller III’s investigators have told associates that Attorney General William P. Barr failed to adequately portray the findings of their inquiry and that they were more troubling for President Trump than Mr. Barr indicated, according to government officials and others familiar with their simmering frustrations.

At stake in the dispute — the first evidence of tension between Mr. Barr and the special counsel’s office — is who shapes the public’s initial understanding of one of the most consequential government investigations in American history. Some members of Mr. Mueller’s team are concerned that, because Mr. Barr created the first narrative of the special counsel’s findings, Americans’ views will have hardened before the investigation’s conclusions become public.

Mr. Barr has said he will move quickly to release the nearly 400-page report but needs time to scrub out confidential information. The special counsel’s investigators had already written multiple summaries of the report, and some team members believe that Mr. Barr should have included more of their material in the four-page letter he wrote on March 24 laying out their main conclusions, according to government officials familiar with the investigation. Mr. Barr only briefly cited the special counsel’s work in his letter.

Fox News:  Trump hits back at NYTimes claim that Barr misled on Mueller report

President Trump on Thursday blasted The New York Times, claiming the outlet had “no legitimate sources” for its latest report that claimed Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report was more damaging to the president that Attorney General William Barr revealed in his summary.

“The New York Times had no legitimate sources, which would be totally illegal, concerning the Mueller Report. In fact, they probably had no sources at all!  They are a Fake News paper who have already been forced to apologize for their incorrect and very bad reporting on me!” Trump tweeted Thursday.

Tht’s typical Trump – trying to discredit critical media. His claims of innocence and being the victim can’t be taken seriously on their own.

A senior Justice Department official told Fox News that The Post’s reporting was “not true,” and claimed the outlet is guilty of “misreporting.”

“Given the extraordinary public interest in the matter, the Attorney General decided to release the report’s bottom-line findings and his conclusions immediately — without attempting to summarize the report — with the understanding that the report itself would be released after the redaction process.”

She added: “As the Attorney General stated in his March 29th letter to Chairman Graham and Chairman Nadler, he does not believe the report should be released in ‘serial or piecemeal fashion.’ The Department continues to work with the Special Counsel on appropriate redactions to the report so that it can be released to Congress and the public.”

The Attorney General and his advisers should have known that very brief ‘bottom-line findings’ would themselves be controversial, and used to stoke controversies further.

Barr has said that the report should be released by mid-April, but that is unlikely to quell the self interested claims.

‘Appropriate redactions’ are likely to ensure that the bickering and the bull will continue unabated.

Trump’s campaign of pressure and intimidation against investigations

If this is anywhere near accurate it is alarming – and it is obviously at least partly true as Trump has openly attacked aa number of aspects of investigations into what he and his campaign have done.

This examination by , , and reveals the extent of an even more sustained, more secretive assault by President Trump on the machinery of federal law enforcement unlike any before seen in American history.

Interviews with dozens of current and former U.S. government officials and others close to President Trump, as well as a review of confidential White House documents, reveal numerous unreported episodes in a 2-year drama.

The White House and the Department of Justice declined to comment for this article. Matthew Whitaker referred inquiries to the Justice Department.

Our reporting details how President Trump has attacked the law enforcement apparatus of his own government like no other president in history, and how he has turned the effort into an obsession.

President Trump has publicly attacked the federal inquiries into contacts between his campaign and Russia more than 1,100 times, according to our analysis of nearly every public statement or tweet that he has made while in office

During a lunch with one of his longtime allies, Chris Christie, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, Mr. Trump said that firing Mr. Flynn would end the Russia inquiry.

“This Russia thing is all over now because I fired Flynn,” Mr. Trump said, according to a new book by Mr. Christie.

Mr. Christie disagreed with that assessment. “This Russia thing is far from over,” Mr. Christie wrote that he told Mr. Trump, who responded: “What do you mean? Flynn met with the Russians. That was the problem. I fired Flynn. It’s over.”

Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, was also at the lunch with Mr. Christie and viewed the firing the way his father-in-law did. “That’s right, firing Flynn ends the whole Russia thing,” Mr. Kushner said, according to Mr. Christie’s book.

So Trump and Kushner thought he had successfully stopped the investigation into himself. That the president should even attempt to stop investigations into himself is bad enough (but seems to be largely accepted as just what trump does), but thinking he had done something to stop the investigation completely shows clear intent to put himself above and beyond the law,

That should be alarming.

So should Trump’s predictable response.

This is a pathetic continuation of his attempts to paint himself as the victim of persecution, and to paint media who investigate him and hold him to account as enemies. The only thing not alarming about this is that he has done it so often it has become normal behaviour from him.

Media have been far from perfect in how they have dealt with the Trump phenomenon, and the investigations, but Trump’s attacks against them, and his attempts to discredit any media that doesn’t laud and applaud him, and his attempts to make his own Twitter feed as the only authority on him, is quite disgraceful in a supposed open democracy and free society.

Despite his success in trivialising serious matters and creating a numbness in response to his ongoing outrageous behaviour, it is gradually backfiring on Trump. He has many loyal supporters but his support is not increasing to a popular level, Poll ‘approval’ has not been above 45% since just after he took over in early 2017, and disapproval has not been below 50% (RCP).

Much of his entrenched support is because the people wanting certain things done want them done regardless of democracy or proper process so are willing to excuse his attempts to abuse his power. But he is gradually disappointing different groups through his failures and his u-turns and his excuses.

His attacks on media are forcing them to be more accurate in their investigations of him. And he has challenged and provoked them into doing better investigations. This is exposing him as a bullying buffoon who would be dangerous if the US checks on power and a compliant media allowed him.

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.