2016 Campaign

Trump Adviser Bragged of Kremlin Ties In 2013

Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page bragged that he was an adviser to the Kremlin in a letter obtained by Time that raises new questions about the extent of Page’s contacts with the Russian government.

From the letter, dated Aug. 25, 2013: “Over the past half year, I have had the privilege to serve as an informal advisor to the staff of the Kremlin in preparation for their Presidency of the G-20 Summit next month, where energy issues will be a prominent point on the agenda.”

What Happens If Mueller Gets Fired?

Garrett Graff: “If you’re confused about how the GOP could be criticizing McCabe for appearing to aid Hillary Clinton’s campaign when deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein’s memo accusing Jim Comey and the FBI of treating her unfairly was the purported basis for his firing by Trump last May, well, you’re not alone — this investigation increasingly appears to be taking America through the looking glass.”

“There’s no reason to believe, in fact, that Mueller… hasn’t been organizing his investigation since day one with the expectation that he’d someday be fired and worked to ensure that this, his final chapter in a lifetime of public service at the Justice Department, won’t be curtailed before it has gotten to what Mueller calls ‘ground truth.'”

Controversial Agent Wrote Draft of Explosive Comey Letter

Newly-obtained emails “show the FBI agent at the center of a Capitol Hill storm played a key role in a controversial FBI decision that upended Hillary Clinton’s campaign just days before the 2016 election: the letter to Congress by then-FBI Director James Comey announcing the bureau was investigating newly discovered Clinton emails,” CNN reports.

“The new revelation about FBI agent Peter Strzok comes as Republicans accuse him of being sympathetic to Clinton while seeking to undermine Donald Trump during the heat of the 2016 campaign season.”

“Strzok, who co-wrote what appears to be the first draft that formed the basis of the letter Comey sent to Congress, also supported reopening the Clinton investigation once the emails were discovered on disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s laptop.”

Probe Eyes McCabe’s Role In Final Weeks of Election

“The Justice Department’s inspector general has been focused for months on why Andrew McCabe, as the No. 2 official at the FBI, appeared not to act for about three weeks on a request to examine a batch of Hillary Clinton-related emails found in the latter stages of the 2016 election campaign,” the Washington Post reports.

“The inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, has been asking witnesses why FBI leadership seemed unwilling to move forward on the examination of emails found on the laptop of former congressman Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) until late October — about three weeks after first being alerted to the issue.”

“A key question of the internal investigation is whether McCabe or anyone else at the FBI wanted to avoid taking action on the laptop findings until after the Nov. 8 election.”

The Russia Investigation Is Very Real

First Read: “Here’s an important reminder: The investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election — and its ties to the Trump campaign — is real. And everything we’ve learned over the past year has only confirmed that reality… Indeed, there hasn’t been one development that has lessened suspicion of Russia’s ties and contacts to the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.”

Axios: 10 undisputed facts behind the Russia investigation.

House GOP Votes to Release Secret Memo on Russia Probe

“Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, disregarding Justice Department warnings that their actions would be ‘extraordinarily reckless,’ voted Monday evening to release a contentious secret memorandum said to accuse the department and the F.B.I. of misusing their authority to obtain a secret surveillance order on a former Trump campaign associate,” the New York Times reports.

“The vote, made along party lines, threw fuel on an already fiery partisan conflict over the investigations into Russia’s brazen meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Republicans invoked a power never before used by the secretive committee to effectively declassify the memo that they had compiled.”

Washington Post: “The committee also voted along party lines against releasing a rebuttal memo from Democrats, who denounced both moves upon leaving the closed-door hearing.”

BuzzFeed News: Here’s what the memo is all about.

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I think there was a lot of false equivalence in the 2016 campaign. That every time we said something, pointed out something about Donald Trump — whether it was his business interests, or grab ’em by the pussy, we felt like, ‘Oh, we gotta, like, talk about — we gotta say something bad about Hillary.’ And I think it led to a sense of false equivalence that was misleading, and I regret my role in doing that.”

— CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, quoted by the Washington Post.

Mueller Has Interviewed Facebook Staff

Special counsel Robert Mueller and his office “have interviewed at least one member of Facebook’s team that was associated with President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign,” Wired reports.

“Facebook and other social platforms have emerged as a key part of that investigation, not only because the company embedded staff with the San Antonio-based digital team working on Trump’s campaign, but also because it sold more than 3,000 Facebook and Instagram ads to fake accounts linked to the Russian propaganda group Internet Research Agency.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I will say this with great conviction, that had the opposing party won, in my opinion, because they would have added tremendous regulation, I believe the markets would’ve been down anywhere from 25 to 50 percent.”

— President Trump, quoted by Axios, during a meeting at the World Economic Forum at Davos.

Russians Got Thousands to RSVP for Phony Events

“Russian operatives used Facebook to publicize 129 phony event announcements during the 2016 presidential campaign, drawing the attention of nearly 340,000 users — many of whom said they were planning to attend,” the Washington Post reports.

It’s not possible to know how often people gathered in response to the sham announcements, but the numbers highlight how Russian operatives were successful in prompting Americans to express a willingness to take action. In some cases, Russians allegedly working in an office building in St. Petersburg motivated at least some people to mobilize behind various causes, a striking accomplishment for a foreign influence operation.

Quote of the Day

“The fact is — you people won’t say this, but I’ll say it: I was a much better candidate than her. You always say she was a bad candidate. You never say I was a good candidate. I was one of the greatest candidates. Nobody else would have beaten the Clinton machine, as crooked as it was. But I was a great candidate. Someday you’re going to say that.”

— President Trump, quoted by the Washington Post.