2016 Campaign

Mueller Questions Russian Oligarchs

“Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has taken the unusual step of questioning Russian oligarchs who traveled into the US, stopping at least one and searching his electronic devices when his private jet landed at a New York area airport,” CNN reports.

“The situations have one thing in common: Investigators are asking whether wealthy Russians illegally funneled cash donations directly or indirectly into Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and inauguration.”

“One area under scrutiny… is investments Russians made in companies or think tanks that have political action committees that donated to the campaign.”

“Another theory Mueller’s office is pursuing… is whether wealthy Russians used straw donors — Americans with citizenship — as a vessel through which they could pump money into the campaign and inauguration fund.”

Justice Department Thinks Collusion Is a Crime

Jeffrey Toobin: “Is collusion a crime? That is one of the central questions of the investigation into Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. elections. Even if it could be proved that Donald Trump and his supporters worked with the Russian government, or with Russian citizens, to win the Presidential race, would that activity have violated United States law? It’s long been an article of faith for Trump supporters, and for Trump himself, that collusion is not illegal. As the President told the Times in an interview last December, ‘There is no collusion, and even if there was, it’s not a crime.'”

“Now, it appears, Trump’s own Justice Department may have a different view. That conclusion appears in a document released earlier this week, in the course of pre-trial litigation in the case of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, on charges including money laundering.”

Stone Made Prediction Same Day He Dined with Assange

“Roger Stone appeared on the InfoWars radio show the same day he sent an email claiming he dined with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange — and he predicted ‘devastating’ upcoming disclosures about the Clinton Foundation,” CNN reports.

“Stone’s comments in his August 4, 2016, appearance are the earliest known time he claimed to know of forthcoming WikiLeaks documents.”

Trump Was Better at Using Facebook

“Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has boasted often that it made better use of Facebook’s advertising tools than Hillary Clinton’s campaign did. An internal Facebook white paper, published days after the election, shows the company’s data scientists agree,” Bloomberg reports.

“The paper, obtained by Bloomberg and discussed here for the first time, describes in granular detail the difference between Trump’s campaign, which was focused on finding new donors, and Clinton’s campaign, which concentrated on ensuring Clinton had broad appeal. The data scientist says 84% of Trump’s budget asked people on Facebook to take an action, like donating, compared with 56% of Clinton’s.”

Also interesting: “Trump ran 5.9 million different versions of ads during the presidential campaign and rapidly tested them to spread those that generated the most Facebook engagement… Clinton ran 66,000 different kinds of ads in the same period.”

Lawyer Sentenced to 30 Days In Mueller Probe

“A Dutch lawyer tied to former Trump deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates who admitted to lying to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team was sentenced Tuesday to 30 days in jail and ordered to pay a $20,000 fine,” CNN reports.

“Alex van der Zwaan is the first person to be sentenced in Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.”

Mueller Authorized to Investigate Manafort Collusion

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “told special counsel Robert Mueller in a classified August 2, 2017, memo that he should investigate allegations that President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was ‘colluding with Russian government officials’ to interfere in the 2016 presidential election,” CNN reports.

“Mueller was also empowered by Rosenstein to investigate Manafort’s payments from Ukrainian politicians, a cornerstone of the Trump adviser’s decades-long lobbying career that has resulted in several financial criminal charges so far.”

“The revelation of the August 2 memo comes amid a broader court filing from Mueller’s prosecutors that offers a full-throated defense of their investigative powers and indictments thus far.”

Court Will Hand Down First Sentence In Mueller Probe

“Dutch national Alex van der Zwaan is expected to become the first person sentenced in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation on Tuesday in federal court in Washington, having pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents,” ABC News reports.

“Van der Zwaan, 33, the son-in-law of a Russian oligarch, entered his guilty plea in February for lying about his work in Ukraine with Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and deputy Rick Gates.”

Mueller Looks at Roger Stone’s Contacts with WikiLeaks

Special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into longtime adviser Roger Stone’s 2016 claim that he had met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“In an email dated Aug. 4, 2016, Mr. Stone wrote: ‘I dined with Julian Assange last night,’ according to a copy of the message reviewed by The Wall Street Journal… The note, to former Trump adviser Sam Nunberg, adds to a growing number of times Mr. Stone claimed during the campaign to be in contact with WikiLeaks. The next day, Mr. Stone publicly praised Mr. Assange via Twitter .”

Mueller Pushed for Gates’ Help on Collusion

“Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team last year made clear it wanted former Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates’ help, not so much against his former business partner Paul Manafort, but with its central mission: investigating the Trump campaign’s contact with the Russians,” CNN reports.

“Mueller’s team alleges that Gates was in contact with a close colleague of Manafort’s who worked for a Russian intelligence agency — and that Gates knew of the spy service ties in September and October 2016, while he worked on the Trump campaign. Gates would have to talk about the communication with the man if prosecutors wanted.”

Mueller Investigating Russian Contacts at GOP Convention

“Investigators probing whether Donald Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russia have been questioning witnesses about events at the 2016 Republican National Convention,” Reuters reports.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team “has been asking about a convention-related event attended by both Russia’s U.S. ambassador and Jeff Sessions, the first U.S. senator to support Trump and now his attorney general… Another issue Mueller’s team has been asking about is how and why Republican Party platform language hostile to Russia was deleted from a section of the document related to Ukraine.”

Mueller Links Trump Aide to Russian Intel Network

“The special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election revealed Tuesday night that prosecutors say they have connected former Trump deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates to a person with ties to a Russian intelligence service while Gates worked on the campaign,” CNN reports.

“That Gates and the unnamed person, who had lived in Kiev and Moscow and worked for one of Paul Manafort’s companies, were in touch in September and October 2016 was ‘pertinent to the investigation.'”

Washington Post: “The allegations underscore Mueller’s interest in Manafort and Gates, who continued to interact with business associates in Ukraine even as they helped lead Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.”

Manafort Steps Up Challenge to Mueller Indictment

Paul Manafort asked a federal court “to toss out 18 criminal charges against him in Virginia, sharpening his challenge to the legitimacy of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election,” the Washington Post reports.

“The pretrial motions to dismiss an indictment intensified a legal attack mounted by Manafort in a lawsuit in January. In that lawsuit, Manafort contends Mueller has exceeded his legal authority and is asking to void the Justice Department’s appointment of him.”

Mueller Wants Judge to Consider Jailing Lawyer

“In court papers filed late Tuesday, special counsel Robert Mueller’s office argued that a judge shouldn’t rule out jail time for Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer who pleaded guilty to lying to prosecutors and the FBI in the Russia investigation,” BuzzFeed News reports.

“The special counsel’s office did not take a position on what sentence they thought van der Zwaan should get — according to earlier filings, he faces an estimated sentencing guidelines range between zero to six months. But prosecutors pushed back on van der Zwaan’s arguments in favor of no jail time, such as the fact that his wife, who lives in London, is pregnant and is due in August.”