Former Intelligence Chiefs Blast Trump’s ‘reprehensible’ Attacks, Naive Embrace of Putin

by Yvette Cabrera – “It’s either naïveté, ignorance or fear.” Two of the country’s highest ranking former intelligence officials took President Donald Trump to task on Sunday for his continued refusal to acknowledge Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections, a stance that they say puts the United States in danger. “Putin is committed to undermining our system, our democracy and our whole process,” former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Jake Tapper on CNN’s State of the Union. “And to try to paint it in any other way is, I think, astounding and, in fact, poses a peril to this country.” Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan were responding to comments Trump made on Saturday during his five-nation tour of Asia. Trump criticized multiple congressional and special investigations underway into Russia’s interference, claimed that his campaign did not collude with the Russians, and suggested that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin...

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Why George Papadopoulos is Trump’s New Nightmare

by Steven Harper – It’s not the indictment of his former campaign manager that Trump should worry about. It’s what we’re learning about his little-known foreign policy aide, George Papadopoulos. In isolation, George Papadopoulos’ guilty plea rebuts the claim that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is a “hoax.” In context, Papadopoulos’ confession fits into a bigger picture. Increasingly, it appears that Putin expected a Trump administration to soften US policy toward Russia and even eliminate debilitating sanctions imposed after its incursion into Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. Roll the tape: On March 6, 2016, only three other Republican presidential contenders (Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH)) remained when Trump campaign co-chair Sam Clovis told 28-year-old George Papadopoulos that he would be joining the campaign as a foreign policy adviser. Clovis also told Papadopoulos that a principal foreign policy focus would be improved relations with Russia. On March 14,...

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Manafort Could Face up to 40 Years in Prison

by Addy Baird – The violation of a money laundering statute alone could carry up to 20 years. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort surrendered to the FBI Monday morning, and he could face up to 40 years in prison if he is found guilty on all charges. Manafort was charged along with a former business associate, Rick Gates. Last year, Reuters reported that Gates acted as an unpaid, de facto campaign manager for then-candidate Donald Trump for two months and worked for a super PAC supporting Trump during the campaign. The pair was charged with 12 counts, according to the indictment unsealed Monday morning: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts. Shannon Pettypiece  ✔@spettypi Statement from DOJ 9:04 AM – Oct 30, 2017 Manafort and Gates could...

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The Many Pieces of Evidence Suggesting Trump Obstructed Justice

by Steven Harper – Firing James Comey wasn’t the only thing Trump did that could bring about an obstruction of justice charge. On Oct. 4, 2017, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) said that all issues relating to the investigation into Russian interference with the election remain open. But with respect to the firing of FBI Director James Comey, the committee had gone as far as it could and was passing the baton: “Future questions surrounding Comey’s firing are better answered by the counsel or by the Justice Department,” Burr said. Special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly investigating whether Trump’s interactions with Comey amount to obstruction of justice. The charge can be leveled at anyone, including the president, who attempts to influence, obstruct or impede a federal investigation or a judicial process. Most people assume that Comey’s firing is the linchpin of any obstruction of justice case against Donald Trump. And while it’s certainly...

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Senate Investigation Update: ‘Collusion is still an open question,’ but Russian Interference is Sure

by Mark Sumner – Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr and ranking Democratic member Mark Warner appeared on Wednesday to give an update on the committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. While the committee was not ready to give definitive answers on any topic, they indicated that they were very close to closing out a few issues. An example: the original intelligence assessment indicating that Russia was behind actions to steal and distribute Democratic emails was accurate. While most of the focus was on the extent of the investigation to this point—over 100 interviews, over 100,000 documents, thousands of hours of evaluation—there were several points on which Burr and Warner would not give a definitive statement. In particular, when it comes to the central issue of whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials, Burr would only say that the issue of collusion was “still open.” Burr had effusive praise...

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Mueller Brings Elite IRS Unit Into the Expanding Trump–Russia Investigation Team

by Mark Sumner – Betsy Woodruff is reporting that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is working with yet another investigative team. According to sources familiar with his investigation into alleged Russian election interference, his probe has enlisted the help of agents from the IRS’ Criminal Investigations unit. Finances have long been at the heart of the Trump–Russia investigation. Trump was on the receiving end of hundreds of millions from oligarchs attempting to get funds out of Eastern Europe. That money recharged Trump’s bankrupt real estate business and gave him a second wind as a premiere route for money laundering. In other words, after his business crashed, Trump was floated and made to appear to operate a successful business enterprise through the infusion of hundreds in millions of cash from dark Russian sources. Donald Trump’s purposely entangled “empire” of over 500 companies, the obscure foreign sources of much of his funding, and the contradictions between his...

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Dan Rather: Mueller’s Russia Investigation Has Trump ‘Seized With Fear’ (VIDEO)

by April Hamlin – Legendary journalist Dan Rather says that Robert Mueller’s ongoing Russia investigation has Donald Trump “seized with fear.” Speaking to MSNBC on Wednesday, Rather explained that the investigation into Trump’s possible collusion with Russia has Trump scared out of his mind. “Donald Trump is afraid. He’s trying to exude power and strength. He’s afraid of something that Mueller and the prosecutors are going to find out.” “A political hurricane is out there at sea for him, we’ll call it Hurricane Vladimir if you will, the whole Russian thing.” “It’s still pretty far out at sea, but each day … this hurricane, this political hurricane … is building in intensity.” Mueller’s investigation has been steadily picking up steam. It was reported on Wednesday that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is now working with Mueller to take an even deeper look at Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn...

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What Robert Mueller Learned From Enron

by Jesse Eisinger – The patient, sophisticated and very aggressive prosecution of the energy giant could signal how he will handle the Russia investigation. It seems safe to assume that nobody read Donald Trump Jr.’s damning emails with a Kremlin-connected lawyer more closely than Robert Mueller. Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, will surely be making calls to everyone involved in the now infamous meeting, including the president’s son; the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and his campaign chairman at the time, Paul Manafort. As he does, the question is whether Mueller will be able to build a case that goes all the way to the top. That could depend on what lessons he learned from overseeing the task force that investigated one of the biggest fraud cases in American history: the collapse of the energy giant Enron. In December 2001, Enron filed what...

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Mueller v. Trump: The Ultimate Lawsuit

by STEVEN HARPER – Odds are that Trump will eventually fire special counsel Robert Mueller. Lawyer Steven Harper games out what would happen next. Eventually, Trump is likely to fire special counsel Robert Mueller. Trump’s repeated statements about the Russia “hoax” — along with his apparent attempts to influence the FBI’s investigation — warrant a close look at the process by which he could do so. Equally important are the limited ways to stop him. Whether by design, inadvertence or a combination of both, Trump and his minions — including Newt Gingrich and Trump’s lawyers — have been laying the groundwork for what could become America’s defining moment.   The Rules and the Players To stop the investigation, Trump’s cleanest path requires that one of his loyalists occupy a Senate-confirmed position in the Justice Department’s chain of command. With Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal, the power to end the inquiry has now landed in Deputy Attorney General...

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Nunes’ Sources Revealed: White House Lawyer and Michael Flynn Flunkie who Trump Kept in Place

by Mark Sumner – The New York Times has tracked down the people who slipped info to Devin Nunes, and the reason he was never, ever going to reveal his sources seems clear enough. A pair of White House officials played a role in providing Representative Devin Nunes of California, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, with the intelligence reports that showed President Trump and his associates were incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies. The two sources turn out to be Michael Ellis, a lawyer in the White House Counsel’s office who used to work with Nunes at the House Intelligence Committee, and Ezra Cohen-Watnick, who is the Senior Director for Intelligence at the National Security Council. If you’re thinking that Cohen-Watnick’s name in this pairing redeems Nunes’ statement that he had gathered his secret info from an intelligence official, note that Cohen-Watnick is in his...

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