Zainab Ahmad, a leading Mueller prosecutor who oversaw the investigation of former national security advisor and Trump campaign aide Michael Flynn, has left Mueller’s team, Reuters reports.
Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara told CBS News that it doesn’t appear that special counsel Robert Mueller is preparing to conclude his investigation.
Said Bharara: “I’m an outsider now, and I don’t still run the Southern District of New York, and I’m not aware of what’s going on with various investigations that sometimes intersect with the special counsel’s investigation. But I think people should view with some skepticism the notion that gets breathlessly reported every week that the Mueller investigation is coming to an end.”
“The House passed a resolution—with overwhelming bipartisan support—calling for a public release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s anticipated report on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
The vote was 420 to 0.
“One of the most prominent members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russia’s attack on the 2016 presidential election will soon leave the office and the Justice Department,” NPR reports.
“Andrew Weissmann, the architect of the case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, will study and teach at New York University and work on a variety of public service projects, including his longstanding interest in preventing wrongful convictions by shoring up forensic science standards used in courts… The departure is the strongest sign yet that Mueller and his team have all but concluded their work.”
Daily Beast: “There may in fact be two Mueller reports. This is because from the very beginning, Mueller has worn two hats and borne two missions relating to the Russia investigation.”
“The most public and familiar one is as a criminal investigator under the special counsel regulations. But Mueller has also carried a second charge, as a counterintelligence expert, with a much broader charge to determine and report the scope of any interference and any links to the Trump campaign—what Trump himself might refer to as ‘collusion.'”
“From the start, then, Mueller has been conducting a counterintelligence investigation, while ‘also’ assessing whether any crimes were committed. Not the other way around.”
“Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the team he assembled to investigate President Trump and his associates have been funded through the end of September 2019, an indication that the probe has funding to keep it going for months if need be,” Reuters reports.
Keith Davidson, the former attorney for adult-film star Stormy Daniels and Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal, detailed his role in negotiating hush-money deals to keep both women quiet about alleged affairs with Donald Trump, telling ABC News that a $130,000 payment to Daniels was “done for political reasons.”
Said Davidson: “You cannot talk about Stormy Daniels and the settlement without talking about Access Hollywood. They come hand in hand. It was clear to me that the Access Hollywood tape was the motivating factor in this case resolving.”
“Erik Prince, the founder of the private American security company Blackwater, has admitted to meeting with members of the Trump campaign in August 2016 after apparently failing to disclose the gathering during his testimony in front of the House Intelligence Committee last year,” according to Al Jazeera.
President Trump said that he feels “very badly” for his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, the Daily Beast reports.
Said Trump: “I think it’s been a tough time for him.”
He added: “This had nothing to do with collusion. It’s a collusion hoax. It’s a collusion witch hoax. I don’t collude with Russia.”
New Yorker: “A pair of Fox insiders and a source close to Trump believe that Ailes informed the Trump campaign about Megyn Kelly’s question. Two of those sources say that they know of the tipoff from a purported eyewitness. In addition, a former Trump campaign aide says that a Fox contact gave him advance notice of a different debate question, which asked the candidates whether they would support the Republican nominee, regardless of who won. The former aide says that the heads-up was passed on to Trump, who was the only candidate who said that he wouldn’t automatically support the Party’s nominee — a position that burnished his image as an outsider.”
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) told CBS News that a Russian lawyer’s 2016 offer of damaging information on Hillary Clinton to members of the Trump campaign amounts to “direct evidence” of collusion.
Said Schiff: “I think there is direct evidence in the emails from the Russians through their intermediary offering dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of what is described in writing as the Russian government effort to help elect Donald Trump. They offer that dirt. There is an acceptance of that offer in writing form the president’s son, Don Jr., and there is overt acts and furtherance of that.”
He added: “That to me is direct evidence. But there’s also abundant circumstantial evidence.”
This piece is only available to Political Wire members.
Your support makes this site possible. Join today for the complete Political Wire experience and get exclusive analysis, new features and no advertising.
Sign in to your account or join today!
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) told CNN that she has “no regrets, but plenty of unfinished business.”
Said Warren: “You can’t go back. Bernie and I have been friends for a long, long time. I’m sure far before I ever thought I was going to be in the electoral end of politics. I get out there every day; Bernie gets out there every day. And so do a lot of other good people.”
Renato Mariotti: “This is due in part to Trump’s successful disinformation crusade, which has worked to raise a nearly impossible and definitely illogical bar for Mueller to clear: proving ‘collusion’ and charging a grand criminal conspiracy involving the Trump campaign and the Russian government. But it is also due to Trump’s critics, who have responded to Trump’s ‘No collusion!’ mantra by shouting back, ‘Yes, collusion!'”
“The word collusion appears nowhere in the order authorizing Mueller’s investigation. There is not even a relevant crime called ‘collusion.’ What Mueller is tasked with is investigating ‘any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with’ the Trump campaign.”
“If ‘links and/or coordination’ also don’t sound like crimes, that’s because they aren’t. While Mueller is directed to charge and prosecute crimes he discovers, his is primarily a counterintelligence investigation — not a criminal one — the purpose of which is to identify threats to our national security, potentially including the President of the United States and his associates.”
“The foreign-linked mystery company fighting to avoid handing over records demanded by special counsel Robert Mueller appears to have incurred a fine of $2.25 million as it presses its legal fight,” Politico reports.
“The $50,000-a-day penalty a federal judge imposed on the foreign-government-owned firm continues to grow and might be boosted to accrue at a higher rate in the future, one court order made public indicates.”
Michael Cohen will tell Congress that President Trump knew his longtime adviser Roger Stone was communicating with WikiLeaks about publishing stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee, the Washington Post reports.
“In the prepared remarks, Cohen calls Trump a ‘racist,’ a ‘conman’ and a ‘cheat’ and also levels accusations that the president personally signed a check to cover ‘hush money payments’ to keep quiet an affair with adult-film actress Stormy Daniels. Cohen says Trump never directly told him to lie to Congress about his business dealings in Moscow, but claims the president implicitly encouraged him to do so.”
New York Times: “The testimony underscores many of the unsavory themes and stories that have recurred in public reporting about Mr. Trump — he inflates his wealth, makes racist remarks, threatens his enemies and tries to bend the law to his favor — but puts them on the record, under oath, in the voice of a man who was one of Mr. Trump’s closest aides.”
Playbook: “Republicans are going to do their best to remind the public that his testimony reeks of opportunism as the man is on the brink of prison. But so few people have made it into Trump’s inner circle, and Cohen was in it for a decade. That’s why this is incredibly compelling. Now he’s going to prison with little else to lose, and a man with nothing to lose in a circumstance like this seems like he will have a lot to say.”
Marcy Wheeler notes that redacted court filings suggest that Paul Manafort gave Konstantin Kilimnik — whom Special Counsel Robert Mueller has alleged is a Russian spy — 75 pages of recent polling data.
The data was referenced in an email with Manafort’s associate, Rick Gates, and in emails sent by Kilimnik.
“A staffer on Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign says he kissed her without her consent at a small gathering of supporters before a Florida rally, an interaction that she alleges in a new lawsuit still causes her anguish,” the Washington Post reports.
“In interviews with The Washington Post, and in the lawsuit, Alva Johnson said Trump grabbed her hand and leaned in to kiss her on the lips as he exited an RV outside the rally in Tampa on Aug. 24, 2016. Johnson said she turned her head and the unwanted kiss landed on the side of her mouth, which she called ‘super-creepy and inappropriate.'”
Said Johnson: “I immediately felt violated because I wasn’t expecting it or wanting it. I can still see his lips coming straight for my face.”
Ronan Farrow notes the lawsuit is the latest challenge to Trump’s insistence on having staffers sign non-disclosure agreements.