Trump and Russia: what does Robert Mueller know? – Financial Times Friday September 15th, 2017 at 3:10 PM

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Trump and Russia: what does Robert Mueller know? – Financial Times – GS

Trump and Russia: Investigative Journalism – GS 

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Trump and Russia: what does Robert Mueller know? – Financial Times

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what does Robert Mueller know?

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A couple of weeks ago, I was chatting with a prominent lawyer in Washington when she lamented that one of her brightest colleagues had just left her firm — and a multimillion-dollar salary — to join the government for a pittance.

Of course, that’s not unheard of; many high-fliers decide to devote part of their careers to public service. But this decision was particularly intriguing, because the senior lawyer in question had joined the secretive team working for Robert Mueller, the former head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who was appointed this year to probe President Donald Trump’s dealings with Russia.

“I was surprised to see [my colleague] go — he gave up a big job,” my lawyer friend said. “But I have to think that Mueller is working on something even bigger.”

Is he? That is the $50m, or $5bn, question sparking endless chatter in Washington right now. As autumn gets under way, the headlines have mostly been dominated by stories such as hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the president’s latest speeches and tweets about immigration and tax reform, and the North Korea crisis.

But while Mueller’s probe has slipped from the spotlight, it is provoking lively — if furtive — gossip behind the scenes. The Trump team insist the probe is merely a procedural matter, sparked by the president’s Democratic opponents. “We are pleased Mueller is investigating,” one White House figure recently declared, insisting the investigation “will just prove that there is nothing there”. After all, these Trump supporters point out, it is notable that nothing incriminating has tumbled out so far from the investigation. Certainly there have been news reports this year that seem damaging: intelligence documents have suggested that Trump’s team have had extensive contact with Russian players, while CIA officials say the Russian government meddled in the election to support Trump.

However, Mueller has not revealed what he is actually investigating. And nobody has produced any public evidence showing that Trump actually colluded with Russians or broke any laws — even though large teams of investigative journalists have been looking into these tales for months. “With so many journalists on this, it’s strange they haven’t found something yet,” one senior Democratic congressman told me last week.

The Trumpians have an explanation: there is nothing to find. But lawyers who know Mueller’s team suspect there might be another explanation: Mueller is doing such a ruthlessly disciplined job that he is preventing any material from leaking. This partly reflects the character of the man, who is respected across party lines as a consummate professional. It also stems from something else: for Mueller and his other former FBI colleagues, this investigation has extraordinary historic importance, given that Trump fired James Comey in May as head of the agency for having mishandled last year’s email investigation into Hillary Clinton. “Mueller is absolutely determined to pursue this to the end — the credibility of the FBI is at stake,” said a lawyer who knows him well.

Then there is the issue of all those lawyers Mueller has hired. These already total 17, many from senior roles. Indeed, the roster is so experienced that it reads like a who’s who of the legal world, featuring prosecutors who are considered top of their field when it comes to pursuing members of the mafia, turning witnesses, and investigating money laundering and other financial crimes.

Take Andrew Weissmann, one lawyer who answered Mueller’s call; a former general counsel to the FBI, he ran the task force that sued Enron more than a decade ago. Before that, he was a federal prosecutor who successfully convicted mafia members and bosses. Then there is James Quarles, a long-time litigator who worked on the Watergate investigation, and Greg Andres, who helped to prosecute the Texas financier Robert Allen Stanford for running an $8bn Ponzi scheme. The list goes on and on.

Nobody outside the team knows exactly what they are doing. But there is speculation that they are now probing questions such as: did the Trump group launder Russian money through its real estate operations? Did Russian banks guarantee loans that big European banks made to Trump? Did the Trump organisation pay bribes to Russian groups? And, most importantly, did anybody around Trump collaborate with the Russians during the recent election to gain their support for his campaign?

As I have said, there is no proof that any of these questions will produce evidence of wrongdoing. And Trump’s supporters dismiss the whole effort as a political attack, particularly since some of Mueller’s team are Democrats. “You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history,” the president tweeted in June, insisting that Mueller’s probe was being “led by some very bad and conflicted people!”.

But don’t expect the rumour mill to stop churning; at least not until Mueller’s team issues its report or, as some Democrats fear, he is fired. One thing is clear — some day, somebody is going to make a stunning film about this drama, with its all-star legal cast. In Trumpland, truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, and less believable.

gillian.tett@ft.com@gilliantett

Illustration by Shonagh Rae


Financial Times
Trump and Russia: what does Robert Mueller know?
Financial Times
And nobody has produced any public evidence showing that Trump actually colluded withRussians or broke any laws — even though large teams of investigative journalists have been looking into these tales for months. “With so many journalists on this, …
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FAKE MEOWS: Trump Fans Share Bogus Snap Of Him Saving Cats From Harvey

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The president grabs two felines from floodwater in the clearly fake picture.

“It’s high time to address research into medical marijuana,”

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“It’s high time to address research into medical marijuana,”

NC senator Thom Tillis wants to remove barriers to research on marijuana

Sen. Thom Tillis is backing the Marijuana Effective Drug Study (MEDS) Act of 2017, which was introduced Wednesday by Sen. Orrin Hatch.

Who needs the “false”, pretended, “make believe” improvement, rather than the real one? The Russians have the incorrigible historical affliction with the “Potyomkin villages”, which the American side does not share, wisely and luckily.

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mikenova shared this story from  Trump Investigations Report.

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M.N.: The improvement in the US – Russia relations is needed (it looks like they cannot descend any lower) and is desirable, but: 

Who needs the “false”, pretended, “make believe” improvement, rather than the real one? The Russians have the incorrigible historical affliction with the “Potyomkin villages”, which the American side does not share, wisely and luckily. 

Address the real issues and problems, formulate and resolve the bones of contention, share honestly and fully all the information (and I mean all the information) on the present crisis, clear the mess honestly, in good faith, in-depth. And only after that, you can start rebuilding. 

The key quote: “It just ignores everything that caused the relationship to deteriorate and pretends that the election interference and the Ukraine crisis never happened,” Angela Stent, a former national intelligence officer on Russia during the Bush administration (who reviewed the document) told BuzzFeed.

“Russia confirmed that it sought to reset relations with the Trump administration but was not met with “reciprocity,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said yesterday in response to reports that Russia sent a document to the U.S. in March setting out various initiatives. Thomas Grove reports at the Wall Street Journal.”

See also:

How did these 650,000 emails get into the Abedin -Weiner laptop? | Lawyers: Teen girl Weiner sexted wanted to affect election | EXCLUSIVE: HOW TRUMP BACKERS WEAPONIZED ANTHONY WEINER TO DEFEAT CLINTON

TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION – 9.14.17

The son of Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn has been a subject of the Russia investigation, according to current and former government officials, the probe into Michael G. Flynn has been focused at least partly on his work with his father’s lobbying firm, Flynn Intel Group. Carol E. Lee, Julia Ainsley and Ken Dilanian report at NBC News.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation includes a “red-hot” focus on Russian activities on social media, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter, Mueller’s team has also been seeking additional information from companies like Facebook and Twitter. Chris Strohm reports at Bloomberg.

The representatives of social media companies should appear before the House Intelligence Committee as part of the investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 electionRep. Adam Schiff (D-Califf.) said yesterday, Max Greenwood reporting at the Hill.

Facebook cannot “speculate” whether users will be told that they were targeted by Russian propaganda, a Facebook representative said yesterday, stating that the social media company’s focus is to cooperate with the Russia investigations. Ben Collins and Spencer Ackerman report at The Daily Beast.

Allies of former F.B.I. Director James Comey have hit back at the White House for comments made by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders this week suggesting that Comey should be investigated for criminal activity, Comey’s defenders arguing that the allegations are a political attempt to discredit the original investigator into connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. Niall Stanage reports at the Hill.

The White House smears against Comey have been riddled with flaws and have sometimes offered ridiculous legal arguments that have undermined the credibility of the Trump’s team, and they need “far better legal arguments” if they want to continue the campaign against Comey. Bradley P. Moss writes at POLITICO Magazine.

The revelations connecting the Trump campaign and Russia are likely to continue throughout Trump’s presidency and, as a frenzied summer full of major political stories draws to a close, “let’s not lose sight of the Kremlingate scandal.” Max Boot writes at Foreign Policy, giving an overview of the evidence of collusion that emerged over the summer.

RUSSIA-BELARUS MILITARY EXERCISES

The Russia-Belarus joint “Zapad” military exercises starting today have caused alarm in Western nations concerned that the large-scale war games could be used as a cover for Moscow to establish a permanent military presence on the border with N.A.T.O. countries, with the Secretary General of N.A.T.O. Jens Stoltenberg stating that the “lack of transparency increases the risk of misunderstanding, miscalculations, accidents and incidents that can become dangerous.” Andrew Higgins reports at the New York Times.

The exercises simulate a separatist incursion into Belarus by three imaginary countries and will be overseen by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, demonstrating the importance that Putin attaches to the drills who has promised to prevent “color revolutions” in the former Soviet regions. David Filipov reports at the Washington Post.

Sweden has launched its largest military exercise in two decades amid the “Zapad” exercises, the neutral, non-N.A.T.O. country simulating an attack from the east on a Swedish Baltic island. Johan Ahlander reports at Reuters.

The fears about “Zapad” have been unduly heightened as there is no current political crisis on Russia’s northwestern border that Moscow could take advantage of; instead the West should see the exercise as an opportunity to understand the capabilities of the Russian military. Keir Giles writes at POLITICO.

The large-scale “Zapad” exercises have increased tensions and caused concerns, Ishaan Tharoor explains the key points about the military drills at the Washington Post.

RUSSIA-U.S. RELATIONS

Russia confirmed that it sought to reset relations with the Trump administration but was not met with “reciprocity,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said yesterday in response to reports that Russia sent a document to the U.S. in March setting out various initiatives. Thomas Grove reports at the Wall Street Journal.

The Trump administration’s decision to stop using products from the Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab moves back the “prospects of bilateral ties recovery,” the Russian embassy in the U.S. said in a statement yesterday, also calling for the U.S. to consider a Russian proposal to form a joint group to address cyber security issues. Reuters reports.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu arrived in Damascus for a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad yesterday, Shoigu handing Assad a letter from Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulating him on lifting the Islamic State group’s siege on the eastern city of Deir al-Zour, the meeting also taking place ahead of a new round of peace talks at the Kazakh capital of Astana due to take place today and tomorrow. Al Jazeera reports.

IRAQ

The Iraqi Kurdistan region “should be aware that there will almost certainly be a price to pay for insisting on its approach for a referendum,” a statement from Turkey’s Foreign ministry said today, the APreports.

The decision to hold a referendum on Sept. 25 “is a historic mistake,” Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said today, welcoming the Iraqi parliament’s vote to reject the referendum. Reuters reports.

The impending defeat of the Islamic State group in Mosul carries risks for the future of the city, opening up the possibility of reemerging sectarian divides, posing challenges in terms of rebuilding and has also been complicated by the upcoming referendum for an independent Iraqi Kurdistan. Liz Sly and Aaso Ameen Schwan explain at the Washington Post.

TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION – 9.13.17

The Department of Justice should “look at” prosecuting former F.B.I. Director James Comey, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said yesterday, emphasizing that the President was “100 percent right” in firing Comey because of his “improper” actions that “likely could have been illegal.” Anne Gearan reports at the Washington Post.

Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn refused to comply with a new request to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee, a congressional source said yesterday, Jim Sciutto reporting at CNN.

RUSSIA

Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed the full normalization of relations with the U.S. in an effort that began in April, according to a document obtained by BuzzFeed News, which called for a reset of diplomatic, military and intelligence interactions to the position before Russia’s interventions in Ukraine and Syria. John Hudson reports at BuzzFeed News.

Two Russian government-backed news outlets have come under the scrutiny of the Justice Department, which is seeking to establish whether they are operating in the U.S. as foreign agents. Byron Tau reports at the Wall Street Journal.

Turkish President Reçep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed concerns raised by N.A.T.O. allies over a deal to purchase Russian air missile defense systems, adding that Turkey would “continue to take precautions when it comes to our security and we’ll fend for ourselves,” the AP reports.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FOREIGN POLICY

Trump is likely to visit China in November during his first official visit to Asia where he is scheduled to attend three summits, a U.S. official said yesterday, Reuters reports.

Russia Sought A Broad Reset With Trump, Secret Document Shows

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A Russian proposal obtained by BuzzFeed News reveals Moscow’s ambitious plan to break with the past and launch a major rapprochement with the United States.

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us russia relations – Google Search

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Story image for us russia relations from Axios

Putin proposed a full reset on USRussia relations

AxiosSep 12, 2017
Despite Trump’s public comments on Russia (“I would love to be able to get along with Russia“), engagement between the U.S. and Russia has …

‘Probably bigger than Watergate’: Hillary Clinton frets over Russian influence in 2016 election – Business Insider

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Business Insider
‘Probably bigger than Watergate’: Hillary Clinton frets over Russian influence in 2016 election
Business Insider
While promoting her new memoir on the contentious 2016 US presidential election, Hillary Clinton on Wednesday offered her thoughts on the assessment that Russia had interfered in theelection and potentially colluded with the Trump campaign. “This is a …and more »

 

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Ex-US congressman Weiner seeks to avoid prison in teen ‘sexting’ case – Business Insider

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Daily Mail
Ex-US congressman Weiner seeks to avoid prison in teen ‘sexting’ case
Business Insider
The discovery prompted James Comey, then director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to announce in late October that the agency was reviewing the messages to determine whether toreopen its investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email 
Anthony Weiner And Huma Abedin Appear In Divorce CourtHuffPost
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Huma Abedin begs for mercy for ex-husband Anthony Weiner asking for sentence for sexting a 15-year-old girl not to …Daily Mail
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Special operations forces injured in explosion at Fort Bragg – WLOS

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WLOS
Special operations forces injured in explosion at Fort Bragg
WLOS
Bockholt didn’t yet know the number of soldiers injured or the extent of those injuries. He also could not say what exactly caused them. “There was an incident that occurred on one of the ranges,” Bockholt said, adding that the command is investigating 

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