Robert Mueller

‘This is RICO 101’

Vanity Fair: “The Trump camp’s witch-hunt talking points are now dominating the news—but the media battle may be the wrong way to beat Mueller.”

Said a former FBI official: “This investigation is classic Mueller: he is doing a classic, organized crime case. This is RICO 101, working your way up and sideways. You pop a few guys for gambling, and no one is going to do a million years for gambling, but you’re gonna get their scratch pads, then you move on to their associates. You flip one guy who you arrest with no fanfare. It’s exactly what Mueller has been doing his whole goddamn life. It’s just that this time the boss of the family happens to be the leader of the free world. Mueller doesn’t care if he gets Trump. He doesn’t care if he doesn’t get Trump. He has no political agenda. He is digging through the layers and bringing back the truth, and the truth is going to be whatever it is going to be.”

Most Don’t Know Mueller Has Uncovered Crimes

A new Navigator Research survey finds that 59% of Americans believe that special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation has not yet uncovered evidence of crimes, even though Mueller has already obtained five guilty pleas and 17 criminal indictments.

Matthew Yglesias: “That suggests that the press as a whole has not done a good job of actually conveying factual information to our audience, that Democrats’ messaging on the investigation has not been clear enough on the most damning point (Trump, even if otherwise innocent, is guilty of hiring crooks and trying to prevent an investigation into their activity), and that Trump’s counterstrategy of muddying the waters around the investigation has been fairly successful.”

Giuliani Made Up September 1 Deadline

Rudy Giuliani was quoted over the weekend saying that special counsel Robert Mueller told him the investigation would wrap up by September 1, but a source familiar with the probe tells Reuters that the deadline was “entirely made-up” and “another apparent effort to pressure the special counsel to hasten the end of his work.”

Said the source: “He’ll wrap it up when he thinks he’s turned over every rock, and when that is will depend on how cooperative witnesses, persons of interest and maybe even some targets are, if any of those emerge, and on what new evidence he finds, not on some arbitrary, first-of-the-month deadline one of the president’s attorneys cooks up.”

Mueller Probe Expands to Israeli Entrepreneur

“Special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe is looking more closely into Middle Eastern involvement during Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, as it is now exploring the role of an Israeli entrepreneur with ties to a Gulf monarchy,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Mueller has been conducting interviews about the work of Joel Zamel, an Australia-born Israeli businessman with experience in social media and intelligence gathering… Mr. Zamel met with Donald Trump Jr. , Mr. Trump’s eldest son, at Trump Tower in the months before the 2016 election along with George Nader, a top adviser to the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates, to discuss an offer to help boost the campaign. Erik Prince, a U.S. defense contractor who specializes in the Middle East and had close ties to the campaign, also attended the meeting, which was first reported by the New York Times on Saturday.”

“Following Mr. Trump’s election, Mr. Nader made a payment to Mr. Zamel of $2 million, which a person familiar with the payment described as unrelated to the campaign.”

Mueller’s Probe is Even More Expansive Than It Seems

The Atlantic: “FBI agents working for special counsel Robert Mueller allegedly detained a lawyer with ties to Russia who is closely associated with Joseph Mifsud, the shadowy professor who claimed during the election that Russia had ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton.”

“The revelation was made in a book co-written by that lawyer, Stephan Roh, and set to be published next month. The Faking of RUSSIA-GATE: The Papadopoulos Case is the latest in a stream of books aiming to capitalize on the chaos of this political moment. But it sheds new light on the expansive nature of Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election interference and possible ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign team and Moscow. It also highlights Mueller’s interest in answering one of the probe’s biggest outstanding questions: whether the campaign knew in advance that Russia planned to interfere in the election.”

Most Now Say Mueller Is Politically Motivated

A new CBS News poll finds a slight majority of Americans thinks that special counsel Robert Muerller’s investigation is politically motivated, 53% to 44%.

“The shift reveals a hardening stance among Republicans, who are now even more critical of the investigation. While a large majority of Republicans has always seen the investigation as politically motivated, the percentage that thinks so has risen seven points since December. There is an even larger shift when it comes to whether Republicans think Mr. Trump should cooperate with the special counsel. In January, 73% said he should cooperate, but now just 53% do.”

Will Mueller Probe Go Dark for Midterm Elections?

Wall Street Journal: “The clock is ticking for special counsel Robert Mueller. With six months to go until November’s midterm elections, Mr. Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign will soon run into a dead zone of sorts, in which former prosecutors say they expect him either to wrap up, or lie low and take no visible steps until after the election.”

“Though Mr. Mueller doesn’t face any specific legal deadline, the fall midterms amount to a political one, according to experts and prosecutors. He will reach a point this summer when Justice Department habits dictate that he will have to either finish his inquiries or go dark and stretch out his work until past November so he doesn’t appear to be trying to sway voters’ decisions, which would be at odds with Justice Department guidelines for prosecutors.”

Mueller Zeroes In on Roger Stone

Special counsel Robert Mueller “is focusing intensely on alleged interactions between former top Trump campaign official Rick Gates and political operative Roger Stone, one of President Trump’s closest confidants,” CNBC reports.

“The questions have been largely about what was discussed at meetings, including dinners, between Stone and Gates, before and during the campaign… The new developments indicate that Mueller’s team is interested in Stone beyond his interactions with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange during the campaign.”

Trump Hires Clinton Impeachment Lawyer

President Trump “plans to hire Emmet T. Flood, the veteran Washington lawyer who represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment, to replace Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer who has taken the lead in dealing with the special counsel investigation, who is retiring,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Flood is expected to take a more adversarial approach to the investigation than Mr. Cobb, who had pushed Mr. Trump to strike a cooperative tone.”

“It was not clear what prompted Mr. Flood to sign on. The president’s legal team for the special counsel investigation has been marked by turnover and uncertain strategy, complicated by a client liable to dismiss his lawyers’ advice. That factor prompted Mr. Trump’s lead lawyer on the case, John Dowd, to quit this year.”

Mueller Asks to Delay Michael Flynn’s Sentencing

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office “wants two more months before it looks toward sentencing former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who has pleaded guilty to lying to investigators and is cooperating in the Russia probe,” CNN reports.

Prosecutors told the court: “Due to the status of the special counsel’s investigation, the parties do not believe that this matter is ready to be scheduled for a sentencing hearing at this time.”

Questions Show Mueller’s Probe Is Far-Reaching

First Read: “Yes, the reported list of questions that special counsel Robert Mueller wants to ask President Donald Trump, according to The New York Times, appears to be just starter questions. And yes, the list comes from Trump’s orbit… But taken together, the questions underscore the magnitude of the Russia probe — a story that’s been reported in bits and pieces over the last 17 months.

“The Russia story has always been complicated. But these questions — taken together — combine all of the different strands of the potential story. And they’re a reminder that the obstruction angle — regarding Comey and Flynn — might be the smallest part of this investigation.”

“Oh, and one other thing: If Mueller is asking these questions, the possibility exists that he already knows the answers.”