2016 Campaign

Trump Tries to Limit Scope of Mueller Interview

President Trump’s legal team is trying to narrow the scope of his potential interview with special counsel Robert Mueller to questions on Russia-related matters that occurred before Trump’s election, CNN reports.

“Trump’s lawyers, who are urging Mueller to wrap up his investigation, are looking for a way to get him to agree to limit — or eliminate — questions regarding Trump’s conduct after he won the presidency, especially those related to whether he might have obstructed justice while in office.”

Where’s the Hacking Indictment?

“In the year since the start of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, one thing has been notably absent: a public indictment of any Russians for the hacking of the Democratic National Committee,” The Hill reports.

“Mueller has charged President Trump’s former campaign chief, secured guilty pleas from several individuals in Trump’s orbit and indicted 13 Russians for an elaborate plot to leverage social media to influence the American electorate.”

“But the special counsel has yet to announce charges for the hacking of the DNC, even though the intelligence community and private cybersecurity experts linked the attack to the Russian government more than a year ago. Legal experts say there are several possible explanations.”

Why Is Trump Freaking Out Now?

Jonathan Chait: “This weekend, the New York Times revealed that, in August 2016, Donald Trump Jr. met in Trump Tower with representatives of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who offered campaign help… The deeper question is how closely related the Gulf story is to the heart of the Russia question. Was it just another one of Donald Jr.’s legal misadventures? Or did Nader, Prince, and the Gulf States play a central role in facilitating a corrupt deal with Russia?”

“Trump’s furious lashing out, including his reckless escalation of a crisis with the Department of Justice this weekend, provides interesting clues. Trump has no poker face, no chill. The closer the investigators get to incriminating evidence, the more intensely he rages. He resembles a suspect at a crime scene screaming at the police not to go into the attic. And now that attic is looking awfully interesting.”

First Read: “Don’t get distracted — that reporting of a second Trump Tower meeting in 2016 was the biggest news from the weekend.”

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.”

It Wasn’t Just Russia That Tried to Help Trump

“Three months before the 2016 election, a small group gathered at Trump Tower to meet with Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son. One was an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation. Another was an emissary for two wealthy Arab princes. The third was a Republican donor with a controversial past in the Middle East as a private security contractor,” the New York Times reports.

“The meeting was convened primarily to offer help to the Trump team, and it forged relationships between the men and Trump insiders that would develop over the coming months — past the election and well into President Trump’s first year in office.”

“The meetings, which have not been reported previously, are the first indication that countries other than Russia may have offered assistance to the Trump campaign in the months before the presidential election. The interactions are a focus of the investigation by Robert Mueller, the special counsel, who was originally tasked with examining possible Trump campaign coordination with Russia in the election.”

FBI Source Met with 3 Trump Advisers During Campaign

“A retired American professor in 2016 began working as a secret informant for the FBI as it investigated Russia’s interference in the U.S. presidential campaign, and he contacted three Trump advisers in the summer and fall of that year,” the Washington Post reports.

“The role played by the source is now at the center of a battle that has pitted President Trump against his own Justice Department and fueled the president’s attacks on the special counsel investigation. The Washington Post has confirmed the informant’s identity with multiple people familiar with his role but is not reporting his name following warnings from U.S. intelligence officials that exposing him could endanger him or his contacts.”

New York Times: “The role of the informant is at the heart of the newest battle between top law enforcement officials and Mr. Trump’s congressional allies over the F.B.I.’s most politically charged investigations in decades. The lawmakers, who say they are concerned that federal investigators are abusing their authority, have demanded documents from the Justice Department about the informant.”

Mueller Subpoenas Another Roger Stone Aide

Special counsel Robert Mueller “has subpoenaed a key assistant of long-time Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone… the latest sign that Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election is increasingly focusing on Stone,” Reuters reports.

“The subpoena was recently served on John Kakanis, 30, who has worked as a driver, accountant and operative for Stone.”

Cohen Secretly Tried to Arrange Meeting with Putin

Michael Cohen worked secretly to negotiate a business venture and a meeting between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow aven after Trump denied doing business in Russia, BuzzFeed News reports.

“While fragments of the Trump Moscow venture have trickled out — most recently in a report last night by Yahoo News — this is the definitive story of the Moscow tower, told from a trove of emails, text messages, congressional testimony, architectural renderings, and other documents obtained exclusively by BuzzFeed News, as well as interviews with key players and investigators. The documents reveal a detailed and plausible plan, well-connected Russian counterparts, and an effort that extended from spearfishing with a Russian developer on a private island to planning for a mid-campaign trip to Moscow for the presidential candidate himself.”

Trump Advisers Met with Government Informant

The New York Times reports that “at least one” U.S. government informant met with Trump campaign officials during the 2016 presidential election. That person met “several times” with campaign advisers Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.

“That has become a politically contentious point, with Mr. Trump’s allies questioning whether the F.B.I. was spying on the Trump campaign or trying to entrap campaign officials.”

President Trump tweets: “If so, this is bigger than Watergate!”

Cambridge Analytica Shared Data with Russians

A whistleblower told Congress that Cambridge Analytica used Russian researchers and shared data with companies linked to Russian intelligence, AFP reports.

“Christopher Wylie, who leaked information on the British-based firm’s hijacking of data on millions of Facebook users, told a Senate panel he believes Russian intelligence services had access to data harvested by the consultancy.”

Mueller Issues Subpoenas for Roger Stone Adviser

Special counsel Robert Mueller has issued two subpoenas to a social media expert who worked for longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone during the 2016 presidential election campaign, Reuters reports.

“The subpoenas were delivered late last week to lawyers representing Jason Sullivan, a social media and Twitter specialist Stone hired to work for an independent political action committee he set up to support Trump, Knut Johnson, a lawyer for Sullivan.”

‘Crossfire Hurricane’

“Within hours of opening an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia in the summer of 2016, the F.B.I. dispatched a pair of agents to London on a mission so secretive that all but a handful of officials were kept in the dark,” the New York Times reports.

“Their assignment, which has not been previously reported, was to meet the Australian ambassador, who had evidence that one of Donald J. Trump’s advisers knew in advance about Russian election meddling. After tense deliberations between Washington and Canberra, top Australian officials broke with diplomatic protocol and allowed the ambassador, Alexander Downer, to sit for an F.B.I. interview to describe his meeting with the campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos.”

“The agents summarized their highly unusual interview and sent word to Washington on Aug. 2, 2016, two days after the investigation was opened. Their report helped provide the foundation for a case that, a year ago Thursday, became the special counsel investigation. But at the time, a small group of F.B.I. officials knew it by its code name: Crossfire Hurricane.”