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Tag: Robert Mueller

Steve Bannon: Firing of Comey Biggest Mistake ‘in Modern Political History’

Steve Bannon on 60 Minutes.

Steve Bannon on 60 Minutes.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former White House strategist Stephen Bannon said President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey was the biggest mistake “maybe in modern political history.”

Bannon made the extraordinary claim during an interview with “60 Minutes” on Sunday.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that if James Comey had not been fired, we would not have a special counsel,” Bannon told interviewer Charlie Rose.

Bannon said the firing opened the door for the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating whether President Trump and his campaign colluded with Russia to win the White House.

“We would not have the Mueller investigation in the breadth that clearly Mr. Mueller is going,” Bannon said.

Bannon described Washington as “a city of institutions, not individuals. And I think you have to look at it as institutions. The FBI is the institution. The speaker of the house is an institution. The majority leader is an institution. Okay? The Justice Department is an institution. They have an institutional logic of how they proceed and what they’re going to do. And you can’t get caught up in individuals.”

Bannon added that he didn’t learn of Comey’s firing until after it had happened.

Mueller’s Team Wants to Interview White House Staffers over Trump Tower Statement

Robert Mueller, via FBI

Robert Mueller, via FBI

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team wants to interview White House staffers who may have been involved or witnessed a misleading statement about Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower, CNN reports

Mueller’s team is trying to learn how the statement aboard Air Force One was crafted and who was involved.

The investigation may determine whether anyone from the White House was trying to obstruct justice by intentionally issuing a misleading statement.

CNN wrote:

The interviews with White House staffers who were aboard Air Force One have not begun, the sources said. They currently involve only a small number of people, but the sources cautioned that number could increase. At this time, Mueller has not asked to interview President Trump. Trump Jr. was on the Hill Thursday for an interview with the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In his first response to a report this summer about his meeting at Trump Tower, the President’s son claimed in a statement that he “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children” during his meeting with a Russian lawyer he believed to be connected to the Russian government. That claim was later debunked by multiple accounts of the meeting.

New FBI Director Says He’s Seen No Evidence of White House Interference in Russian Probe

Christopher Wray is sworn in as the new FBI director. Photo via FBI.

Christopher Wray is sworn in as the new FBI director. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

New FBI Director Christopher Wray insists he’s seen no evidence that the White House tried to interfere in the ongoing investigation into possible collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

“I can say very confidently that I have not detected any whiff of interference with that investigation,” Wray said, according to the Washington Post

Wray added that he has “enormous respect” for Mueller, who was fired earlier this year, prompting an investigation into alleged obstruction of justice.

Wray said the FBI wants to ensure Russians don’t interfere in future elections.

“I’m impressed with the strides that we’ve made on that front,” Wray said.

Facebook Provides Robert Mueller with Facebook Ad Data Involving Russia

Data securityBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Information about Facebook’s discovery that an operation likely based in Russia spent $100,000 on ads on the social media site was turned over to Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel in charge of investigating alleged Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election.

Facebook said the operation promoted thousands of ads in the U.S. on divisive social and political messages, Reuters reports.

The postings ranged from polarizing positions on immigration, gay rights and race.

Reuters wrote:

U.S. election law bars foreign nationals and foreign entities from spending money to expressly advocate the election or defeat of a candidate. Non-U.S. citizens may generally advertise on issues. Other ads, such as those that mention a candidate but do not call for the candidate’s election or defeat, fall into what lawyers have called a legal gray area.

Facebook announced the findings in a blog post by its chief security officer, Alex Stamos, and said that it was cooperating with federal inquiries into influence operations during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Facebook briefed members of both the Senate and House of Representatives intelligence committees on Wednesday about the suspected Russia advertising, according to a congressional source familiar with the matter. Both committees are conducting probes into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, including potential collusion between the campaign of President Donald Trump and Moscow.

House Intelligence Committee Subpoenas FBI, DOJ for Dossier Documents

Donald TrumpBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The House Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed the Justice Department and FBI for records related to the salacious, unverified dossier on President Trump.

Neither agency turned over the records by the Sept. 1 deadline, prompting the committee to issue two more subpoenas to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to explain why the records weren’t disclosed, the Washington Examiner reports

“We got nothing,” said committee member Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who is taking a leading role in the Russia investigation. “The witnesses have not been produced and the documents have not been produced.”

Rep. Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., said during an appearance on MSNBC that Republicans are trying to “discredit” the author of the dossier “rather than looking into how many of the allegations he wrote were true.”

“What we should be most concerned about is whether those sources of the information in the report are true, not in discrediting the author of that report,” Schiff said.

The FBI said it needs more time to determine whether disclosing the documents will interfere with the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller.

Manafort Blocks FBI from Obtaining Transcript of Interview with Senate Committee

Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

    Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorneys for Paul Manafort, who served as President Trump’s campaign chairman, is trying to prevent special counsel Robert Mueller from acquiring a transcript of his interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee in July.

CNN reports that the FBI said it obtained permission from Manafort’s attorney to view the transcript, but the committee says it was instructed to not disclose the document. 

Although Mueller’s team apparently received permission to view documents that Manafort submitted to the committee, those records have not yet been turned over.

The documents are related to a meeting that Manafort attended with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and two Russian lobbyists at Trump Tower last July.

CNN reports:

The previously undisclosed fight, described to CNN by multiple sources, underscores the new challenges as congressional committees and Mueller’s operation head into a more intense phase of their parallel — and sometimes, conflicting — investigations into Russian election meddling and any collusion with Trump associates.

There are three committees on Capitol Hill competing for information and witnesses — and there is little, if any, communication among them, even as congressional officials say they all are preparing to intensify the pace of their inquiries this fall. While the Hill investigations into Russia’s meddling have been underway since the beginning of the year, the next few months could be the most consequential in terms of hearing from witnesses and gathering documents, sources say.

That could mean early signs of tension between the special counsel and the Hill become more pronounced as the competing congressional inquiries try to determine whether there was any collusion and as Mueller potentially pursues criminal charges.

Other Stories of Interest

Post-Dispatch: Mueller May Find Smoking Gun in Cast of Bad Characters

Robert Mueller, via FBI

Robert Mueller, via FBI

By Editorial Board
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Donald Trump presidential campaign and agents of the Russian government has been remarkably discreet, as it should be. But other sources have leaked three names — Michael D. CohenFelix Sater and Eric Schneiderman — that indicate that Mueller’s team is probing very deeply. If there’s a smoking gun to be found, Mueller is getting closer to it.

Cohen is Trump’s longtime lawyer and executive vice president of the Trump Organization. Sater is a childhood friend of Cohen, a former business associate of Trump, and a onetime government informant with ties to all manner of unsavory people, including Russian oligarchs. Schneiderman, at the opposite end of the probity scale, is New York state’s attorney general.

Cohen and Sater are making big blips on Mueller’s radar screen, as well as those of congressional committees looking into possible election collusion. Last week, The New York Times reported that Cohen had written an eight-page letter to the House Intelligence Committee vehemently denying allegations that he was a central figure in contacts between the Trump campaign and agents of the Russian government.

The allegations were made in a controversial dossier compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. That dossier identified Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary for Russian President Vladimir Putin, as the man in charge of a Kremlin operation to damage Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and promote Trump’s.

To read more click here. 

Mueller, Congressional Committees Clashing Over Investigations into Russian Meddling

US CapitolBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The special counsel investigation into Russia’s election meddling is beginning to clash with three different congressional probes of the same issue.

CNN reports that special counsel Robert Mueller was blocked from obtaining the Senate Intelligence Committee’s transcript of an interview with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. 

The various congressional committees aren’t sharing a lot of information, and Mueller is keeping lawmakers “out of the loop,” CNN reported.

CNN wrote:

The previously undisclosed fight, described to CNN by multiple sources, underscores the new challenges as congressional committees and Mueller’s operation head into a more intense phase of their parallel — and sometimes, conflicting — investigations into Russian election meddling and any collusion with Trump associates.

There are three committees on Capitol Hill competing for information and witnesses — and there is little, if any, communication among them, even as congressional officials say they all are preparing to intensify the pace of their inquiries this fall. While the Hill investigations into Russia’s meddling have been underway since the beginning of the year, the next few months could be the most consequential in terms of hearing from witnesses and gathering documents, sources say.