Apple has agreed to turn over Roger Stone’s iCloud account to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. This comes three years after the company refused to hand over to the federal government access to the devices used by the San Bernardino terrorists who killed and injured dozens in a mass shooting. At the time the company said turning over the info would set a bad precedent. Now, Apple is giving up Stone’s cloud data without a fight.
Despite public statements by top officials indicating Robert Mueller’s probe is nearing completion, recent court filings indicate there could be more indictments coming soon. Language used in the filings referring to “uncharged individuals” point to possible charges related to the case against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and in the case of a Russian “troll farm” that convicted 13 Russians and 3 Russian firms. New convictions would seemingly require new evidence, and it’s unclear whether such evidence has been found yet.
House Intel Committee Chairman Adam Schiff announced a broad new investigation his committee would undertake that goes “beyond Russia” and into whether President Trump’s financial interests are influencing his actions. As Robert Mueller prepares to wrap up his 21-month probe, Schiff said the new investigation would carry on the investigation into the Russia connection but also examine whether foreign agents have financial leverage over the president.
Michael Cohen’s testimony before Congress has been delayed….again. The Trump Organization “fixer” turned informant was supposed to appear before the House Intelligence Committee this week, but committee chairman Rep. Adam Schiff said those plans have been put back to Feb. 28th “in the interests of the investigation.” He’s of course referring to the ongoing Robert Mueller investigation.
Sen. Chuck Grassley says Robert Mueller’s report is about a month away from release. The Iowa Republican on Tuesday said the report should be out within the month, 21 months after the investigation into alleged Trump campaign collusion with Russia to rig the 2016 election first launched. Grassley wants as much of the report to be public as possible, echoing public comments by President Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, William Barr.
Federal investigators seized “voluminous and complex” evidence when they arrested former adviser to President Trump, Roger Stone. That includes multiple hard drives containing years of cellphone and email communication records, the office of Robert Mueller’s investigation said Thursday. At the same time, investigators asked a judge to delay Stone’s trial so investigators have time to review the treasure trove of data.
Russians are using findings from the Robert Mueller investigation for disinformation purposes. That’s according to federal prosecutors, including Mueller himself. According to court filings, trolls working for Russia obtained legal documents and have been using them to discredit the Mueller probe into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is “close to being completed,” according to acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker. While there have been indications the much anticipated report would be coming soon, Whitaker’s comment is the first from a Justice Department official and it comes just days after the latest Mueller indictment, this time of former confidante to President Trump, Roger Stone. Team Mueller had no comment.
President Trump’s nominee for Attorney General says he would resign before firing Robert Mueller “without good cause.” William Barr made the statement to senators on Monday in effort to quell Democrats’ concerns about a memo he sent the DOJ last year critical of the Mueller probe. But what Barr would do with Mueller might be a moot point as murmurs about the impending end of the probe are getting louder.
Roger Stone, a confidante to President Trump, is facing charges of lying and tampering with witnesses. The charges stem from the Robert Mueller investigation into alleged Trump campaign collusion with Russia to win the 2016 campaign. Notably though, Stone is not facing charges of colluding with Russia to help win the 2016 election. If convicted, Stone would be one of numerous Trump associates to go down at Mueller’s hands, but so far none has been actually charged with colluding with Russia. Stone faces seven felonies.
The vast majority of freshman House Democrats aren’t quite onboard with the far-left movement to impeach President Trump. According to Axios, only a tiny fraction of 64 new House Democrats they contacted would support impeachment at this time—among them, 48 said we should wait for Robert Mueller to release his forthcoming report before making a decision.
Special counsel Robert Mueller over the weekend disputed a BuzzFeed story that claimed he was told by Michael Cohen that President Trump directed him to lie to Congress. Cohen said no such thing, the Mueller team said, an unprecedented move by the investigators to refute what is apparently the latest fake news story about Mueller’s investigation. Cohen lied to Congress about his role in negotiations over a new Trump building in Moscow—but the part about Trump ordering him to do so is apparently just more fake news.
MEANWHILE, Mueller might’ve directly contradicted the bogus BuzzFeed fake news story, but a little thing like the truth isn’t going to stop Rep. Adam Schiff from investigating. The top House Democrat told CBS’s “Face The Nation” he would “absolutely” use the debunked report as an excuse for an investigation.
President Trump is reportedly not thrilled with William Barr’s close relationship with Robert Mueller. In recent testimony as he seeks the Senate’s OK as the next attorney general, Barr mentioned his close ties with the special counsel, a longstanding friendship. Sources cited by CNN don’t think the president’s reaction will jeopardize Barr’s path to the job.
Attorney General nominee William Barr faced the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday, answering a barrage of questions in a calm and cool manner. Barr, President Trump’s choice to replace Jeff Sessions at the Department of Justice, said he supports letting Robert Mueller finish his investigation. Under intense grilling by Democrats, Barr also insisted he won’t be bullied into changing how he would do the job and said he will not recuse himself from the Russia probe.
ABC’s Jon Karl believes Robert Mueller’s much-hyped report could hit with a thud. Karl on Sunday told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that people close to the Mueller investigation are telling him the upcoming report is “certain to be anti-climactic” and contain no bombshell revelations. The comments come days after a New York Times article about the FBI’s investigation into President Trump shortly after he fired James Comey—an investigation that also went nowhere.
President Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, William Barr, will let Robert Mueller finish his investigation if confirmed to the post. That’s according to prepared remarks he’ll deliver at Tuesday’s confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “The country needs a credible resolution of these issues,” he will say. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are preparing to grill Barr over the Mueller issue, afraid Trump is only nominating Barr—who also served as AG under President George H.W. Bush—because he’ll be a presidential stooge.
Some Democrats in Congress are starting to get concerned about Robert Mueller’s probe. They’re worried that Mueller’s upcoming report—more than a year and a half in the making—won’t be thorough enough. Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat, says he’s worried Mueller isn’t investigating President Trump’s private business dealings as much as they want.
President Trump’s legal team is working to block parts of the forthcoming report by special counsel Robert Mueller. Trump attorney Rudy Guiliani says no decision has been made yet, but the White House could claim executive privilege to keep portions out of public view. There is no legal requirement that the entire report be made public, just that it be submitted to Justice Department leaders.
Attorney General nominee William Barr criticized Robert Mueller’s tactics in a memo sent to the Department of Justice. In particular, President Trump did not commit obstruction of justice by firing FBI Director James Comey—because Comey serves at the pleasure of the president. Barr sent the memo to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the Mueller investigation—and the memo shouldn’t come as any surprise, because it tracks with his previous opinions on such matters over the years, including during his time as AG for President George H. W. Bush.
—QUOTABLE: “As I understand it, [Mueller’s] theory is premised on a novel and legally insupportable reading of the law…It is time to travel well-worn paths; not to veer into novel, unsettled or contested areas of the law; and not to indulge the fancies by overly-zealous prosecutors.” -Barr memo
A federal judge has delayed the sentencing of former National Security Adviser to President Trump, Michael Flynn. Judge Emmett Sullivan unloaded on Flynn at a Tuesday sentencing hearing, saying Flynn arguably sold his country out by his activities on behalf of foreign countries like Turkey. The judge walked back several accusations during the bizarre proceedings, including noting that some of his comments shouldn’t be taken too seriously and admitting Flynn’s crimes were not treasonous. Nonetheless, the judge reprimanded Flynn for patterns of being less than loyal to the U.S. and his role as National Security Adviser.
—QUOTABLE: “All along, you were an unregistered agent of a foreign country while serving as the National Security Adviser to the President of the United States. That undermines everything this flag over here stands for. Arguably you sold your country out.” -Judge Sullivan
MEANWHILE—Robert Mueller on Monday released a memo detailing Michael Flynn’s interview with the FBI in which he repeatedly lied about his contact with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The memo came after Flynn’s supporters claimed that the former national security adviser was railroaded by the FBI because the agency didn’t tell him it was illegal to lie to the FBI.
A reporter who played a central role in publicizing the infamous Steele Dossier isn’t so sure anymore that the document is to be believed. Journalist Michael Isikoff was asked by Mediaite columnist John Ziegler if he agrees that much of the salacious anti-Trump document has been vindicated. Isikoff flatly said no, and that many of the allegations it contains are “likely false.” The Dossier fueled early accusations that President Trump’s campaign has colluded with Russia to rig the 2016 election. But as Robert Mueller’s probe into those charges wraps up, Isikoff—one of just a few reporters to write about the Dossier before the election—now says Mueller probably won’t turn up much after all.
—QUOTABLE: “All the signs to me are that Mueller is reaching his end game, and we may see less than many people want him to find…When you actually get into the details of the Steele dossier, the specific allegations, we have not seen the evidence to support them, and in fact, there is good grounds to think that some of the more sensational allegations will never be proven and are likely false.” -Isikoff to Ziegler
Michael Cohen is going to the clink. The former Trump Organization insider and lawyer was sentenced on Wednesday to three years in prison for his role in what U.S. Judge William Pauley III called a “smorgasbord of criminal conduct.” Cohen, the fourth person to go down in the wake of Robert Mueller’s investigation, landed behind bars for lying to Congress and for campaign finance violations after orchestrating hush money payments to two porn stars who claimed to have had affairs with President Trump a decade ago.
—QUOTABLE: “The charges portray a pattern of deception of brazenness and of greed…Mr. Cohen has eroded faith in the electoral process and compromised the rule of law.” –New York prosecutor Nicholas Roos
ALSO—Cohen once famously claimed he would “take a bullet” for his former boss, President Trump. But commenting during his sentencing, he completely threw Trump under the bus. “It is my own weakness and blind loyalty to this man [Trump] that led me to pursue a path of darkness,” said Cohen, who once relished his nickname within the Trump Organization, ‘Tom Hagen,’ a reference to Robert Duvall’s mob lawyer-fixer character in The Godfather. “History will not remember me as the villain of this story,” he said.
Alan Simpson has apparently had it with CNN and the media’s gotcha tactics. The former GOP senator from Wyoming and bipartisan icon told CNN host Alisyn Camerota to stop giving politicians proctology exams over old sins when she asked about President Trump’s transgressions and told her to find a new job. She played a clip of Sen. Orrin Hatch saying he doesn’t care about special counsel Robert Mueller’s forthcoming report and tried getting Simpson to trash his former colleague, the president, or really any Republican. Camerota should “find some new work,” and “stop picking old scabs,” Simpson said to the dismay of the drive-by journalist.
—QUOTABLE: “Orrin — I care deeply for. I care deeply for [former Vice President] Joe Biden. I loved them all. And I got along with them all and we made it work. So, if you want to pick old scabs, you better pick a new guy to get on the show…Go back and look into Professor [Anita] Hill and [Supreme Court Justice] Clarence Thomas…Why don’t you leave people alone and go find some new work?” -Simpson
As Robert Mueller starts wrapping up his probe, damning details are starting to leak out. Mainly, the probe will connect President Trump with directing hush money payments prior to the 2016 election, which if true would be a federal crime. While it doesn’t look like there’s proof Trump knowingly and purposely directed his lawyer, Michael Cohen, to pay porn stars Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal to keep quiet about their affairs with Trump a decade earlier, prosectors in Cohen’s case clearly believe Trump knew about the payments.
MEANWHILE—Rep. Adam Schiff says President Trump might be facing the “real prospect of jail time” after prosecutors last week indicated he may have directed illegal hush money payments during the 2016 presidential campaign. That may not happen until he leaves office, Schiff said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” But it could also fuel Dems’ calls for impeaching the president.
—QUOTABLE: “There’s a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office, the Justice Department may indict him. That he may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time.” -Schiff
Former FBI Director James Comey says the FBI’s probe of Russia initially looked into the activities of four Americans. In newly released closed-door testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Comey said the counterintelligence investigation probed the four Americans with Trump campaign connections and their possible connections with efforts by Russia to interfere in the 2016 election, but he did not name who they were. Those investigations happened before the Steele Dossier came to light. Comey also denied having any personal connection with special counsel Robert Mueller, despite the insistence by President Trump that they’re practically golfing buddies.
—QUOTABLE: “I admire the heck out of the man [Mueller], but I don’t know his phone number, I’ve never been to his house, I don’t know his children’s names…” -Comey said, adding he has “never hugged or kissed the man…A relief to my wife.”
ALSO—Comey told the congressional panel during closed-door testimony on Friday that he ordered a leak probe into the FBI’s New York field office after he suspected agents were leaking top-level information to Trump supporter Rudy Guiliani. He suspected the leaking was happening after Guiliani made public statements indicating he had inside knowledge of the FBI probe at the time.