Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
|Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks|
|Who is KT McFarland? Donald Trump’s pick for deputy national security adviser|
This article was originally published on November 28, 2016 and republished after reports of KT McFarland’s involvement in the Trump-Russia probe.
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has filled two more top administration posts.
The incoming president has tapped Fox News analyst Kathleen “KT” McFarland to serve as deputy national security adviser, and campaign attorney Donald McGahn as White House counsel.
Trump confirmed the picks Friday in a statement from his transition team.
He cited McFarland’s “tremendous experience and innate talent,” which he said would “complement the fantastic team we are assembling.”
Trump had already tapped retired Army Gen. Michael Flynn as his national security adviser.
McFarland has most recently served as a Fox News analyst. She served in various posts under former Presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan.
While on Fox News McFarland has offered analysis on various issues of national security, some of which has raised an eyebrow or two over the years.
In 2012 McFarland said to, “Either bomb Iran, or let Iran get the bomb.”
In response to the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, McFarland called for more racial profiling, while blaming the attacks on the failings of political correctness. Candidate Trump echoed McFarland’s sentiments in 2016 following the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, insisting that the U.S. should adapt “Israeli style” racial profiling.
In a segment with Sean Hannity on Fox News, McFarland defended waterboarding saying, “It’s not torture, but even if it is torture, it’s worth doing.”
While discussing Saudi Arabia’s support for the Iran nuclear agreement, McFarland inisted Saudi Arabia was being duplicitous, based upon her reasons that “they are Arabs, they are not going to say something to your face that will upset you… it’s not what they say, it’s what they do.”
McFarland whose national security experience goes as far back as serving on Henry Kissinger’s National Security Council Staff in the Ford administration, wrote a column in 2013 praising Vladimir Putin for his role in the Syrian conflict. She even went as far as to suggest Putin should receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
McFarland’s position does not require Senate confirmation.
|Meet KT McFarland, Trump’s anti-Arab, Putin-praising Former Deputy National Security Adviser – Haaretz|
|Police search for driver who hit at least 4 people in New York City – CBS News|
|Queens New York – Google Search|
New York Daily News–2 hours ago
One dead after hit-and-run driver strikes four people during knife fight outside Queens hookah bar … (Marc A. Hermann for New York Daily News) … An irate hit-and-run driver mowed down at least four people, killing one, after a knife fight outside a Queens hookah bar Sunday morning, according to police …
Hit-and-Run Driver Plows into 4 Pedestrians in Queens, Killing 1 …
Local Source–NBC New York–1 hour ago
CBS News–1 hour ago
NEW YORK — Police are searching for a driver who hit and killed one person and injured three others outside a nightclub in Queens, New York, early Sunday morning, CBS New York reports. Two of the three who are injured are in serious condition, according to the station. Two other people were stabbed …
1 dead after hit-and-run driver strikes several pedestrians in Queens
Local Source–New York’s PIX11 / WPIX-TV–12 minutes ago
New York Daily News–9 hours ago
Medics rushed Lewis to Mount Sinai Hospital Queens, where he died, according to authorities. The 20-year-old man lived in the nearby Queensbridge Houses, police said. Cops from the 114th Precinct in Astoria took to Twitter and asked people to avoid the area as police investigated the slaying.
|BREAKING – Sputnik International|
|Trump: we will grow everything – Google Search|
Telegraph.co.uk–Dec 2, 2017
US corporation tax will drop from 35 per cent to 20 per cent under Donald Trump’s overhaul which has been backed by Congress. The move piles pressure … “We‘re going to grow the country, we‘re going to grow jobs, we‘re going to be growing everything,” Mr Trump said in New York. “We have companies …
Tax bill: Trump victory as Senate backs tax overhaul
BBC News–Dec 2, 2017
Why Republicans Will Insist the Trump Tax Cuts ‘Worked,’ No Matter …
New York Magazine–Dec 1, 2017
Trump lauds GOP as tax bill heads to Senate-House conference
Newsday–20 hours ago
Trump’s team says the tax bill will pay for itself. It won’t.
Vox–Nov 30, 2017
Hours after Senate GOP passes tax bill, Trump says he’ll consider …
In-Depth–Washington Post–11 hours ago
Washington Times–18 hours ago
President Donald Trump speaks at a fundraiser at Cipriani in New York, Saturday, Dec. … The president gave the rosy assessment based on the economic upswing since he took office, which the president believes will be supercharged by tax cuts … We‘re going to be growing everything,” Mr. Trump said.
|defense forum in Simi Valley – Google Search|
Ventura County Star–8 hours ago
H.R. McMaster, said Saturday at an annual national defense forum at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. “Does an event like the indictment of your predecessor carry some kind of foreign policy or national security impact?” McMaster was asked by Fox News anchor Bret Baier during a luncheon …
McMaster: North Korean threat increasing every day
ABC News–10 hours ago
Risk of war with North Korea grows each day, says Trump’s security …
The Guardian–7 hours ago
HR McMaster brushes off reports that North Korea ICBM broke up
Washington Examiner–13 hours ago
McMaster: Russia Probe Not Impeding NSA’s Work or US Allies
Newsmax–11 hours ago
McMaster: Potential for war with North Korea ‘increasing every day’
Highly Cited–CNN–11 hours ago
Washington Examiner–9 hours ago
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. — Top military officials, industry leaders, and experts all gathered here for the Reagan National Defense Forum on Saturday to discuss the big defense issues facing the United States, but most conversations kept swerving to budget woes on Capitol Hill. Amid North Korean missile tests …
|Two CIA directors spar over President Trump’s tweets – Los Angeles Times|
|CIA chief Pompeo says he warned Iran’s Soleimani over Iraq aggression|
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (Reuters) – U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo said on Saturday he sent a letter to Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani and Iranian leaders expressing concern regarding Iran’s increasingly threatening behavior in Iraq.
Speaking during a panel at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in Southern California, Pompeo said he sent the letter after the senior Iranian military commander had indicated that forces under his control might attack U.S. forces in Iraq. He did not specify the date.
“What we were communicating to him in that letter was that we will hold he and Iran accountable for any attacks on American interests in Iraq by forces that are under their control,” Pompeo told the panel.
“We wanted to make sure he and the leadership in Iran understood that in a way that was crystal clear.”
Soleimani, who is the commander of foreign operations for Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, refused to open the letter, according to Pompeo, who took over the CIA in January.
Iranian media earlier quoted Mohammad Mohammadi Golpayegani, a senior aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as saying an unnamed CIA contact had tried to give a letter to Soleimani when he was in the Syrian town of Albu Kamal in November during the fighting against Islamic State.
“I will not take your letter nor read it and I have nothing to say to these people,” Golpayegani quoted Soleimani as saying, according to the semi-official news agency Fars.
Reuters reported in October that Soleimani had repeatedly warned Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq to withdraw from the oil city of Kirkuk or face an onslaught by Iraqi forces and allied Iranian-backed fighters, and had traveled to Iraq’s Kurdistan region to meet Kurdish leaders.
The presence of Soleimani on the frontlines highlights Tehran’s heavy sway over policy in Iraq, and comes as Shi‘ite Iran seeks to win a proxy war in the Middle East with its regional rival and U.S. ally, Sunni Saudi Arabia.
A U.S.-led coalition has been fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and is often in proximity to Iran-allied militia fighting Isis there.
“You need to only look to the past few weeks and the efforts of the Iranians to exert influence now in Northern Iraq in addition to other places in Iraq to see that Iranian efforts to be the hegemonic power throughout the Middle East continues to increase,” Pompeo said.
The CIA chief said Saudi Arabia had grown more willing to share intelligence with other Middle Eastern nations regarding Iran and Islamist extremism.
The Israeli government said last month that Israel had covert contacts with Saudi Arabia amid common concerns over Iran, a first disclosure by a senior official from either country of long-rumoured secret dealings.
“We’ve seen them work with the Israelis to push back against terrorism throughout the Middle East, to the extent we can continue to develop those relationships and work alongside them – the Gulf states and broader Middle East will likely be more secure,” said Pompeo.
Writing by Michelle Price in WASHINGTON, additional reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Mary Milliken and Michael Perry
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
|6:31 PM 12/2/2017 To Promote Global Security and Tackle Extremism, Decriminalize Drugs World Politics Review|
Saved Stories Saved Stories – None The Latest: Trump expresses no concern about Flynn plea deal Kaspersky Lab, Russian antivirus vendor, singled out in warning issued by U.K. cybersecurity chief FBI Warns of Mounting Collaboration Between Nations, Criminals to Launch Cyberattacks Trump Calls Reports That He Will Fire Tillerson Fake News Mattis Begins Five-Day Tour … Continue reading“6:31 PM 12/2/2017 – To Promote Global Security and Tackle Extremism, Decriminalize Drugs – World Politics Review”
|To Promote Global Security and Tackle Extremism, Decriminalize Drugs|
|plan to privatize CIA operations – Google Search|
BuzzFeed News–Nov 30, 2017
Amyntor’s officials and employees include veterans of a variety of US covert operations, ranging from the Reagan-era Iran–Contra affair to more recent … A source speaking on behalf of the company stressed that while Amyntor officials are aware of and involved in the rendition plan, the company itself …
White House, CIA reportedly considering proposals to privatize …
The Week Magazine–Nov 30, 2017
Carbonated.tv (blog)–14 hours ago
President Donald Trump’s administration is reportedly planning to pay millions to a private international security firm and is also considering allowing former U.S. … intelligence on terrorists using “a network of assets in a denied area”, an online propaganda operation to counter Islamic extremism, and the rendition plan.
Truth-Out–Nov 27, 2017
Is Steve Bannon Planning to Unleash Erik Prince on Wyoming Sen. … a former Australian air force pilot, and a lawyer with dual citizenship in the U.S. and Israel . . . to secretly rebuild his private CIA and special operations enterprise by setting up foreign shell companies and offering paramilitary services.”.
The Intercept–Nov 15, 2017
Trump has granted the CIA and military sweeping authorities to conduct lethal operations, all while laughing it up with the murderous despot, Rodrigo ….. JS: Right, and Erik Prince publicly is pushing this Afghanistan plan to privatize the war and, you know, I think he secretly wants to be or not so secretly …
Reuters–Oct 26, 2017
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The founder of private military contractor Blackwater is trying to interest U.S. intelligence agencies in his plan to privatize … U.S. government sources say Prince has recently floated his Afghanistan proposal to spy agencies including the CIA but it is not clear how much support it …
|FBI Warns of Mounting Collaboration Between Nations, Criminals to Launch Cyberattacks|
FBI Director Christopher Wray warned Thursday that adversarial governments are more often collaborating with criminals to carryout cyber attacks against the United States.
Wray said the indictment of a Canadian national who pleaded guilty on Tuesday to helping Russian spies hack into Yahoo email accounts reflect “one of the more dangerous, emerging threats” facing the United States today, known in the intelligence community as a “blended threat.”
“We are seeing an emergence of that kind of collaboration,” Wray testified before the House Homeland Security Committee, noting that until recently governments and criminals worked separately. “Now there’s this collusion, if you will, that’s occurring on a number of instances like mercenaries being used to commit cyber attacks.”
The Justice Department announced charges in March against Karim Baratov, a 22-year-old Canadian citizen, and three other men, including two officers of Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, for their involvement in the 2014 hack into Yahoo that affected 500 million accounts.
U.S. law enforcement officials said Baratov, who they dubbed a “hacker-for-hire,” acknowledged breaking into email accounts and selling the passwords to an agent of the FSB, a Russian intelligence agency.
The individuals targeted included Russian officials, a European diplomat, a former economic minister from a neighboring country, and a prominent banker.
The case confirmed longstanding suspicions that Russia’s government hires non-government hackers and uses its spy services to facilitate criminal activity in addition to conducting espionage.
Wray, who President Donald Trump handpicked to replace ousted FBI Director James Comey in June, said Russia is attempting to assert its dominance in the world by relying on asymmetric warfare to “damage and weaken” the United States
To combat the threat, Wray said he has set up a “foreign influence task force” within the bureau made up of different divisions, including counterintelligence, cyber, and criminal investigation. He said the agency would also coordinate closely with the Department of Homeland Security, which is charged with overseeing critical election infrastructure, to prevent against cyberattacks.
The post FBI Warns of Mounting Collaboration Between Nations, Criminals to Launch Cyberattacksappeared first on Washington Free Beacon.
|Trump administration allegedly considering plan to privatize CIA operations|
The United States Central Intelligence Agency and the White House are considering several proposals to hire private companies to carry out covert operations abroad, according to a report.
|To Promote Global Security and Tackle Extremism, Decriminalize Drugs – World Politics Review|
|FBI, DHS Warn of Hacker Mercenaries Funded by Nation-States|
A screenshot of the warning screen from a purported ransomware attack, as captured by a computer user in Taiwan, is seen on a laptop in Beijing, May 13, 2017.
|Defense Intelligence Agency – Google Search|
Washington Post–Nov 28, 2017
WASHINGTON — The Defense Intelligence Agency is refusing to release a wide array of documents related to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, saying that turning them over could interfere with ongoing congressional and federal investigations. Flynn, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general …
Mueller may be looking at Flynn’s time as DIA chief: report
The Hill–Nov 28, 2017
Speculation mounts Flynn is cooperating with Mueller probe
Washington Times–Nov 28, 2017
Citing ‘Investigative Activities,’ Military Agency Refuses To Releases …
The Daily Caller–Nov 28, 2017
Report: Mueller May Be Probing Flynn’s Tenure as DIA Chief
Daily Beast–Nov 28, 2017
The Spokesman-Review–5 hours ago
A retired U.S. Army lt. general and former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency during the Obama administration, Flynn served for less than a month as President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser. He was fired in mid-February by Trump after officials said that he had misled Vice President …
Trump says Flynn’s actions during presidential transition were ‘lawful’
AOL–52 minutes ago
Trump’s favorite general: Michael Flynn’s rise and fall
Stars and Stripes–4 hours ago
Aide carrying nuclear football reminds us Trump is in control of …
Metro–4 hours ago
Donald Trump’s best and worst day as president: An analysis
Opinion–<a href=”http://NOLA.com” rel=”nofollow”>NOLA.com</a>–4 hours ago
Emails Dispute White House Claims That Flynn Acted Independently …
In-Depth–New York Times–1 hour ago
|Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley – Google Search|
DVIDS (press release)–Nov 8, 2017
DIA Director Army Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley hosted the visit, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats accompanied the vice president. “DIA officers play a crucial role in our intelligence apparatus,” Pence said in a statement. “We are grateful for their work and sacrifice.” The vice president received …
Homeland Preparedness News–Aug 24, 2017
Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley, Jr., U.S. Army, was recently confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the 21st Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Currently serving as deputy chief of staff, G-2, for the U.S. Army, Ashley is scheduled to begin his duties as DIA director in October, where he takes over for Lt.
ExecutiveGov–Apr 20, 2017
The team will present findings to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and host an industry day on June 29 to discuss its findings, Judson reported. Ashley said the assessment will cover the areas of open-source intelligence, interrogation, certification process for analysts, counterintelligence, collection …
Army looks to revamp its intelligence enterprise from the ‘bottom-up’
<a href=”http://FederalNewsRadio.com” rel=”nofollow”>FederalNewsRadio.com</a>–Apr 20, 2017
Department of Defense–Oct 4, 2017
Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Vincent R. Stewart turned over the reins to Army Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley during the ceremony at the agency’s Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling headquarters. Deputy Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan represented Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at the ceremony and presided over it.
Voice of America–Oct 3, 2017
Army Lt. Gen, Robert Ashley takes over. Stewart is now set to become deputy commander at U.S. Cyber Command, a move approved by lawmakers this past July. The new DIA chief, Army Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, previously served as director of intelligence at both U.S. Central Command and Joint Special …
Intelligence Online–Sep 5, 2017
Army Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, the new head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Pentagon’s intelligence agency, was appointed on August 21 having only just finished carrying out an audit of the US Army’s intelligence services. As director of intelligence, or G2, of the army, he launched a …
Defense Systems–May 9, 2017
Electronic signals emitted by U.S. forces make it easier for tech-savvy enemies to keep tabs on units’ locations and movements. The spying tools are relatively cheap and ubiquitous: iPhones, Goggle maps, commercial tracking software. “It’s an unbounded battle space,” said Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley Jr., Army …
|Vice President Pence visits DIA HQ|
Vice President Mike Pence visited the Defense Intelligence Agency Headquarters at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling Nov. 6, to receive classified intelligence briefings and meet with DIA officers.
|Flynn Flipped. Whos Next?|
Michael Flynns guilty plea raises obvious questions: What did President Trump know? And when did he know it?
|Mueller Removed Top F.B.I. Agent Over Possible Anti-Trump Texts|
The special counsel had a top agent removed from his inquiry after the Justice Departments inspector general began examining whether the agent sent texts expressing political views.
|Mueller unearths more lies, a key witness but no smoking gun in Flynn|
Michael Flynn’s guilty plea Friday and all of the criminal cases thus far have not resolved the fundamental question special counsel Robert Mueller is seeking to answer: Did Trump’s campaign collude with Russia to win the election?
|US agent who got prostitutes, cash from Colombian drug lord headed to prison|
The bribes federal agent Christopher Ciccione accepted from a wanted Colombian drug lord $18,000 in cash, prostitutes, restaurant meals and a hotel room have cost him his career. Yet, “Chris is a good man who served his country for more than 20 years both in the military and as a federal agent,” his defense attorney said.
|Inside the secretive nerve center of the Mueller investigation – The Washington Post|
A white sedan whisked a man into the loading dock of a glass and concrete building in a drab office district in Southwest Washington. Security guards quickly waved the vehicle inside, then pushed a button that closed the garage door and shielded the guest’s arrival from public view.
With his stealth morning arrival Thursday, White House Counsel Donald F. McGahn II became the latest in a string of high-level witnesses to enter the secretive nerve center of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Twenty hours later, Mueller and his team emerged into public view to rattle Washington with the dramatic announcement that former national security adviser Michael Flynn would plead guilty to lying to the FBI.
The ensnaring of Flynn, the second former aide to President Trump to cooperate with the inquiry, serves as the latest indication that Mueller’s operation is rapidly pursuing an expansive mission, drilling deeper into Trump’s inner circle.
In the past two months, Mueller and his deputies have received private debriefs from two dozen current and former Trump advisers, each of whom has made the trek to the special counsel’s secure office suite.
Once inside, most witnesses are seated in a windowless conference room where two- and three-person teams of FBI agents and prosecutors rotate in and out, pressing them for answers.
Among the topics that have been of keen interest to investigators: how foreign government officials and their emissaries contacted Trump officials, as well as the actions and interplay of Flynn and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law.
Often listening in is the special counsel himself, a sphinx-like presence who sits quietly along the wall for portions of key interviews.
This picture of Mueller’s operation — drawn from descriptions of witnesses, lawyers and others briefed on the interviews — provides a rare look inside the high-stakes investigation that could implicate Trump’s circle and determine the future of his presidency.
The locked-down nature of the probe has left both the witnesses and the public scrutinizing every move of the special counsel for meaning, without any certainty about the full scope of his investigation.
Trump and his lawyers have expressed confidence that Mueller will swiftly conclude his examination of the White House, perhaps even by the year’s end. Trump’s Democratic opponents hope the investigation will uncover more crimes and ultimately force the president’s removal from office.
Meanwhile, some witnesses who have been interviewed came away with the impression that the probe is unfolding and far from over.
“When they were questioning me, it seemed like they were still trying to get a feel of the basic landscape of the place,” said one witness who was questioned in late October for several hours and, like others, requested anonymity to describe the confidential sessions. “I didn’t get the sense they had anything incriminating on the president. Nor were they anywhere close to done.”
A spokesman for Mueller declined to comment, citing the sensitivity of the ongoing investigation.
White House lawyer Ty Cobb said he believes the probe’s focus on Trump’s White House is wrapping up, noting that all White House staffer interviews will be completed by the end of next week.
“At the end of the interviews, it would be reasonable to expect that it would not take long to bring this to conclusion,” Cobb said. “I commend the Office of Special Counsel for their acknowledged hard work on behalf of the country, to undertake this serious responsibility, and to perform it in an expedited but deliberate, thorough way.”
At least two dozen people who traveled in Trump’s orbit in 2016 and 2017 — on the campaign trail, in his transition operation and then in the White House — have been questioned in the past 10 weeks, according to people familiar with the interviews.
The most high profile is Kushner, who met with Mueller’s team in November, as well as former chief of staff Reince Priebus and former press secretary Sean Spicer. Former foreign policy adviser J.D. Gordon has also been interviewed.
White House communications director Hope Hicks was scheduled to sit down with Mueller’s team a few days before Thanksgiving. Mueller’s team has also indicated plans to interview senior associate White House counsel James Burnham and policy adviser Stephen Miller.
McGahn, who was interviewed by Mueller’s prosecutors for a full day Thursday, was scheduled to return Friday to complete his interview. However, the special counsel postponed the session as a courtesy to allow McGahn to help the White House manage the response to Flynn’s plea, a person familiar with the interview said.
Cobb declined to say which White House aides remain to be interviewed.
Several people who worked shoulder to shoulder with Flynn have also been interviewed by Mueller’s operation. That includes retired Gen. Keith Kellogg, the chief of staff to the National Security Council, as well as several people who worked with Flynn Intel Group, a now-shuttered private consulting firm.
Mueller’s group has also inquired whether Flynn recommended specific foreign meetings to senior aides, including Kushner. Investigators were particularly interested in how certain foreign officials got on Kushner’s calendar and the discussions that Flynn and Kushner had about those encounters, according to people familiar with the questions.
During the transition, Kushner and Flynn met with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. At the early December meeting, Kushner suggested establishing a secure communications line between Trump officials and the Kremlin at a Russian diplomatic facility, according to U.S. officials who reviewed intelligence reports describing Kislyak’s account.
Kushner has said that Kislyak sought the secure line as a way for Russian generals to communicate to the incoming administration about U.S. policy on Syria.
Trump’s son-in-law has also been identified by people familiar with his role as the “very senior member” of the transition team who directed Flynn in December to reach out to Kislyak and lobby him about a U.N. resolution on Israeli settlements, according to new court filings.
The volume of questions about Kushner in their interviews surprised some witnesses.
“I remember specifically being asked about Jared a number of times,” said one witness.
Another witness said agents and prosecutors repeatedly asked him about Trump’s decision-making during the May weekend he decided to fire FBI Director James B. Comey. Prosecutors inquired whether Kushner had pushed the president to jettison Comey, according to two people familiar with the interview.
Kushner attorney Abbe Lowell declined to comment on what the president’s son-in-law discussed at his November session with Mueller. “Mr. Kushner has voluntarily cooperated with all relevant inquiries and will continue to do so,” he said.
Two administration officials said that it would be natural for investigators to ask a lot of questions about Kushner, whom Trump put in charge of communicating with foreign officials, adding that such inquiries do not indicate he is a target.
The special counsel has continued to make ongoing requests for records from associates of the Trump campaign, according to two people familiar with the requests. The campaign associates aren’t expected to finish producing these documents by the end of the year. Mueller’s team is also newly scrutinizing an Alexandria-based office and advisers who worked there on foreign policy for the campaign.
In the past several weeks, Mueller’s operation has reached out to new witnesses in Trump’s circle, telling them they may be asked to come in for an interview. One person who was recently contacted said it is hard to find a lawyer available for advice on how to interact with the special counsel because so many Trump aides have already hired attorneys.
“It was kind of a pain,” the person said. “It’s hard to find a lawyer who wasn’t already conflicted out.”
People who have gone before Mueller’s team describe polite but detailed and intense grillings that at times have lasted all day and involved more than a dozen investigators. Spicer, for example, was in the office from about 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. for his fall session. Mueller’s team has recommended nearby lunch spots, but many witnesses have food brought in for fear of being spotted if they go outside.
Mueller has attended some interviews, introducing himself to witnesses when he enters and then sitting along the wall. Sometimes he is joined by his deputy, longtime friend and law partner James Quarles, a former Watergate prosecutor who is the main point of contact for the White House.
Investigators bring large binders filled with emails and documents into the interview room. One witness described the ricochet of questions that followed each time an agent passed them a copy of an email they had been copied on: “Do you remember this email? How does the White House work? How does the transition work? Who was taking the lead on foreign contacts? How did that work? Who was involved in this decision? Who was there that weekend?”
Some witnesses were introduced to so many federal agents and lawyers that they later lamented that they had largely forgotten many of their names by the time one team left the room and a new team entered.
“They say, ‘Hey, we’re not trying to be rude, but people are going to come in and out a lot,’ ” one witness explained about the teams. “They kind of cycle in and out of the room.”
One contingent of investigators is focused on whether Trump tried to obstruct justice and head off the investigation into Russian meddling by firing Comey in May. Prosecutors Brandon Van Grack and Jeannie Rhee have been involved in matters related to Flynn.
Yet another team is led by the former head of the Justice Department’s fraud prosecutions, Andrew Weissman, and foreign bribery expert Greg Andres. Those investigators queried lobbyists from some of the most powerful lobby shops in town about their interactions with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and campaign adviser Rick Gates.
Mueller’s team charged Manafort and Gates last month with engaging in a conspiracy to hide millions of dollars in hidden foreign accounts and secretly creating an elaborate cover story to conceal their lobbying work for a former Ukrainian president and his pro-Russia political party. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Lawyers familiar with prosecutors’ questions about Manafort said they expect several more charges to come from this portion of the case.
People familiar with the Mueller team said they convey a sense of calm that is unsettling.
“These guys are confident, impressive, pretty friendly — joking a little, even,” one lawyer said. When prosecutors strike that kind of tone, he said, defense lawyers tend to think: “Uh oh, my guy is in a heap of trouble.”
Rosalind S. Helderman contributed to this report.
|Inside the secretive nerve center of the Mueller investigation – Washington Post|