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Tag: Russia

Ex-Trump Aide Papadopoulos Said He Lied to FBI to Protect the President

Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, via LinkedIn.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

George Papadopoulos, the former Trump campaign aide who was sentenced to 14 days in federal prison, said he lied to the FBI to protect the president.

“At the time of my interview with the FBI, I think around three or four days before that, I was at the inauguration attending parties with senior-level transition officials,” Papadopoulos told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.” “I understood that there was an incipient investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.”

He continued, “And I found myself as somebody who worked incredibly hard over the past year with the campaign to actually have the candidate Trump be elected. And then I found myself pinned between the Department of Justice and the sitting president and having probing questions that I thought might incriminate the sitting president.”

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in October to lying to the FBI about meetings in London he had with a Maltese professor, Joseph Mifsud, who claimed to have troves of emails related to the Clinton campaign.

“He sat me down and he was quite giddy,” Papadopoulos said. “And he told me, ‘I have information that the Russians have thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails.’”

When asked whether be believed special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation had enough evidence to demonstrate coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, Papadopoulos responded, “I have no idea.”

“All I can say is that my testimony might have helped move something towards that, but I have no idea.”

Ex-Trump Campaign Adviser Papadopoulos Considers Withdrawing Guilty Plea in Russia Probe

Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, via LinkedIn.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos is strongly considering withdrawing his guilty plea after special counsel prosecutors recommended a six-month jail sentence, according to his wife Simona Mangiante Papadopoulos.

Papadopoulos struck a deal with prosecutors last year, pleading guilty to misleading FBI agents during the Russian election meddling investigation. In exchange for his cooperation, Robert Mueller’s team was going to recommend leniency.

But a six-month jail sentence is not what he was expecting.

His wife told ABC that “he will make his final decision” Tuesday.

“He needs a serious conversation with his attorney.”

On Monday, Papadopoulos tweeted, “Been a hell of a year. Decision.”

Mueller’s prosecutors recommended jail time because they said Papadopoulos “caused damage” to the investigation by misleading investigators.

In October, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations he had with a professor, identified in news reports as Joseph Mifsud, who said he had dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Trump Changes Story, Admits His Son Met with Russian Operative at Trump Tower

Trump Tower

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump last summer cried “fake news” and “witch hunt” when the media first reported that his campaign team, including his son Donald Trump Jr., met with a Russian attorney at Trump Tower to get dirt on Hillary Clinton in June 2016.

When the New York Times broke the story in July 2017, the Trump administration released a statement suggesting the gathering was about an obscure Russian adoption policy, not a meeting to get information obtain damaging information on his Democratic opponent.

In a series of tweets Sunday, the president acknowledged the meeting “was to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere.”

“Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower,” Trump tweeted.

It has been widely reported that special counsel Robert Mueller was investigating whether the meeting constituted collusion with Russia. 

The question becomes: Was it illegal to meet with a foreign political operative to get dirt on a political opponent?

NPR reports that campaign finance laws prohibits foreign nationals from “directly or indirectly, make a contribution or a donation of money or other thing of value.” 

“Hard to see how there is not a serious case here of solicitation. Trump Jr. appears to have knowledge of the foreign source and is asking to see it,” Rick Hasen, a campaign finance law expert wrote on his blog last year. “Such information can be considered a ‘thing of value’ for purposes of the campaign finance law.”

NPR’s Brian Naylor reported that if Trump was aware of the meeting in advance, “or cast doubt on denials by Trump and Trump Jr., it would be a dramatic addition to Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference in the 2016 presidential race and possible collusion by the Trump campaign.”

Giuliani: Trump’s Legal Team Preparing ‘Counter-Report’ to Rebut Mueller’s Findings on Russia Probe

Rudy Giuliani, president Trump’s attorney.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani said Wednesday his legal team is preparing a rebuttal in the form a “counter-report” to counter accusations that special counsel Robert Mueller’s is expected to outline a report about the Russia investigation.

Giuliani told the USA Today said he suspects Mueller’s team of prosecutors is “writing the report as we speak.” 

Giuliani said the counter-report would be released after his legal  team reviewed Mueller’s filing with the Justice Department.

Mueller’s office declined to comment, and it’s unclear whether he’s even working on such a report.

Giuliani said he expects Mueller to turn over the report on Sept. 1, which is two months before the midterm elections.

FBI Urges People to Reboot Routers to Fend Off Russian Malware

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is recommending owners of small office and home office routers reboot the devices to temporarily disrupt the malware and aid the potential identification of infected devices linked to Russia that has infected hundreds of thousands of internet routers.

The culprits are using VPNFilter malware that is able to perform multiple functions, including possible information collection, device exploitation, and blocking network traffic, the FBI said in a press releases.

The malware targets routers produced by several manufacturers and network-attached storage devices by at least one manufacturer, the FBI said. The initial infection vector for this malware is currently unknown.

VPNFilter is able to render small office and home office routers inoperable. The malware can potentially also collect information passing through the router. Detection and analysis of the malware’s network activity is complicated by its use of encryption and misattributable networks, the release said.

 

Donald Trump’s Persistent Campaign Against Federal Law Enforcement and the Intelligence Agencies

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

President Donald Trump’s attacks on federal law enforcement and the intelligence agencies have been persistent and consistent since taking office.

Natasha Bertrand of The Atlantic writes:  

In the 22 months since the FBI launched its counterintelligence investigation into potential coordination between members of Trump’s campaign and Russia, Trump has attacked his own intelligence and law-enforcement communities far more often than he has condemned Moscow for its election interference. The president has chided the FBI, former FBI Director James Comey, Mueller, the Russia “witch hunt,” and the “deep state” in more than four dozen tweets since April alone. He used Twitter to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first and only time on April 8. On March 21, Trump tweeted: “Getting along with Russia (and others) is a good thing, not a bad thing.” On April 2, he called the FBI and Justice Department’s desire to withhold sensitive information related to the ongoing investigation “an embarrassment to our country.”

Former CIA Director John Brennan—a frequent Trump critic who saw early intelligence about Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 Presidential election and has landed in the president’s crosshairs—told me that this administration’s posture toward the intelligence community stands in “stark contrast” to what he experienced while working under former Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama. “They looked upon me as representing the views and concerns of the intelligence community,” Brennan said of the former presidents. “I was frequently challenged, but it was always done respectfully. That stands in stark contrast to what I’ve seen of this administration from the outside, and during the campaign.”

FBI Seizes Control of Key Server in Kremlin’s Global Botnet

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI, through a court order, has seized control of a key server in the Kremlin’s global botnet of 500,000 hacked routers, The Daily Beast reports.

The move will allow the bureau to build a comprehensive list of victims of the attack, and short-circuits Moscow’s ability to reinfect its targets.

The FBI counter-operation goes after  “VPN Filter,” a piece of sophisticated malware linked to the same Russian hacking group, known as Fancy Bear, that breached the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign during the 2016 election, the Daily Beast explains. On Wednesday security researchers at Cisco and Symantec separately provided new details on the malware, which has turned up in 54 countries including the United States.

 

Matthew Miller: Rod Rosenstein’s Decision Shows ‘The System is Failing’

Matthew Miller was director of the Justice Department’s public affairs office from 2009 to 2011.

By Matthew Miller
For the Washington Post

Rod Rosenstein

President Trump on Sunday launched his most direct attack on the Justice Department’s independence since he fired FBI Director James B. Comey, taking to Twitter to “hereby demand” that it open a counter-investigation of the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Trump’s demand crossed every institutional norm that has long safeguarded the Justice Department’s independence. The president was calling for an investigation into both political opponents from the former administration and career law enforcement agents, without evidence of wrongdoing, for the obvious purpose of undermining a criminal probe into his own conduct and that of his associates. Trump was clearly testing the limits of the system that constrains presidential interference with the Justice Department. And the response so far — including Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein’s decision to refer the matter to the department’s inspector general — shows that the system is failing.

There is no legitimate justification for asking the inspector general to investigate a hyped-up claim that the FBI inappropriately infiltrated the Trump campaign. Just as in February there was no legitimate justification for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in response to claims by House Republicans, asking the inspector general to investigate alleged — and debunked — abuses by the department in securing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant against former Trump aide Carter Page.

To read the full column click here.

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