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Tag: Russia

White House Counsel Predicts ‘Narrow’ Probe of Russia Will Be Quick

President Trump, via White House

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

White House special counsel Ty Cobb has a positive forecast for the investigation into Russians interfering with the presidential election.

Cobb told Reuters that he believes the probe led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller will wrap up quickly and exonerate Trump. 

Cobb, who said he’s in contact with Mueller’s investigative team, contends the probe appears to be “narrow” and should be over by the end of the year.

“I’d be embarrassed if this is still haunting the White House by Thanksgiving and worse if it’s still haunting him by year end,” Cobb told Reuters, adding: “I think the relevant areas of inquiry by the special counsel are narrow.”

Cobb provided no evidence to back up his claims.

Ukrainian Hacker Cooperating with FBI in Investigation of Russia, Trump Campaign

hacker-artBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A hacker in Ukraine known as “Profexer” is cooperating with the FBI as it investigates Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election, the New York Times revealed Wednesday evening. 

Profexer, who wrote and sold malware on the dark web, is accused of writing a program used to break into the Democratic National Committee  servers and obtain thousands of emails that were leaked ahead of the election.

The hacker, whose real identity has not been released, turned himself into the FBI earlier this year and became a witness in the case. He has not been arrested, and there is no proof that he worked for Russian intelligence, according to Ukranian police.

But U.S. intelligence officials, based on a sample of the malware, believe Russians used the program to hack into the DNC.

The FBI, federal lawmakers and special counsel Robert Mueller are investigating whether Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to leak damaging information about Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.

FBI Veteran Leaves Special Counsel Mueller’s Investigation of Russia

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, who is now special counsel for the Russia investigation.

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, who is now special counsel for the Russia investigation.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has lost one of its top FBI investigators.

Sources told ABC News that FBI veteran Peter Strzok stepped down for unknown reasons, marking the first known hitch in the investigation. 

Strzok, who is a counterintelligence expert, is now working for the FBI’s human resources division.

ABC wrote:

He is no stranger to complex and controversial investigations.

As chief of the FBI’s counterespionage section last year, he helped oversee the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, and he took part in the FBI interview of the Democratic presidential candidate.

Within weeks of the Clinton probe ending, Strzok found his office facing a new challenge: investigating Russia’s alleged efforts to influence last year’s presidential election, including a cyberattack on the Democratic National Committee.

A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment.

Former U.S. Attorney: Good Reason to Believe Mueller Has Obtained Trump’s Tax Returns

President Trump, via White House

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said there’s good reason to believe special counsel Robert Mueller already has President Trump’s tax returns as part of his investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 general election.

“Based on my years of experience conducting complex white-collar investigations as a federal prosecutor, it suggests to me that Mueller has already obtained tax returns as part of his investigation,” Renato Mariotti,  a former federal prosecutor in the Securities and Commodities Fraud Section of the United States Attorney’s Office in Chicago, wrote in a column for The Hill

Mariotti notes that Mueller’s ability to obtain a search warrant to raid the home of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort indicates the special counsel has a good reason to believe a federal crime was committed.

Mariotti wrote:

One typical step that federal prosecutors take near the beginning of white-collar investigations is obtaining tax returns. I worked with federal prosecutors who obtained tax returns in every single white-collar investigation they worked on. I didn’t do that, but I obtained tax returns in most white-collar cases I investigated, particularly cases involving financial transactions.

Obtaining a subject’s tax returns can be a useful tool in almost any investigation. They tell you where the person invests their money, where their bank accounts are, where they have debts and who they’ve given money to. Often the information found in a tax return can tell a prosecutor which financial institutions and corporate entities to subpoena for records.

At times, obtaining tax returns can lead to evidence of tax offenses. If an individual receives money that is not reported in the tax return or is misrepresented, that can be charged as a separate federal crime. Hiding financial transactions also can be used as evidence that the subject knew that the underlying source of the money was illegal. 

Other Stories of Interest

Special Counsel Mueller’s Investigation Reaches White House

Robert Mueller

Robert Mueller

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s interference in the presidential election has reached the White House.

Mueller and his team are negotiating interviews with current and former senior administration officials, including recently ousted White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, the New York Times reports. 

Mueller is inquiring about specific meeting and any documents or material related to them. Mueller also plans to ask officials about the firing of then-FBI Director James Comey.

Ty Cobb, a special counsel to the president, declined to comment on details of the investigation but said there White House will “continue to fully cooperate.”

Trump on Special Counsel Mueller, Russia Probe: ‘I’m Not Dismissing Anybody’

President Trump

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump has complained that the federal investigation into Russia’s interference with the election is a “witch hunt” or a “hoax” by Democrats who want to destroy his presidency.

But on Thursday, the president told reporters that he has no intention of trying to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, who is overseeing the investigation.

“I haven’t given it any thought,” Trump told reporters at his golf club in New Jersey, where he’s been on a working vacation, USA Today reports. “I’ve been reading about it from you people. You say, ‘Oh, I’m going to dismiss him.’ No, I’m not dismissing anybody.”

Trump even said he supports the investigation and the probe by federal lawmakers.

“I want them to get on with the task,” Trump said. “But I also want the Senate and the House to come out with their findings.”

Trump’s comments are curious since he and his allies have tried to discredit Mueller and his team as the leaders of a “witch hunt.”

Manafort Alerted Lawmakers to Trump Jr.’s Meeting with Russian Lawyer

Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort tipped off authorities to a meeting between between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer during the presidential campaign.

Manafort, whose home was raided by the FBI late last month, divulged the meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya about three months ago, Bloomberg News reported Thursday. 

The controversial meeting involved Trump’s son, other campaign representatives and a Russian lawyer who pledged to have compromising information about Hilary Clinton.

Manafort divulged the meeting to lawmakers following a congressional request for Russia-related information during the campaign.

Manafort also handed over more than 300 documents to Congress.

Other Stories of Interest

What FBI Raid of Manafort’s Home Shows about Probe of Russia And Trump’s Campaign

Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s raid of the home of Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort shows that the investigation of Russia meddling in the presidential election is ramping up.

The longtime Republican operative and lobbyist is under investigation by both special counsel Robert Mueller and the Senate Judiciary Committee for his alleged role in colluding with Russia to help get Trump elected.

“It is a big deal,” former Justice Department prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg told Politico. “Prosecutors do not take aggressive steps like this with subjects who the government feels are being open and cooperative. And they also do not do this to ‘send a message.’ They do it because they think there is evidence to be found and that if they do not act aggressively, it could be destroyed.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said the raid is “clear evidence” connecting him to “some criminal wrongdoing.”

“This highly significant step reaffirms the reasons that I first urged the appointment of a Special Counsel with the power to execute such investigative measures and bring criminal charges and redoubles my determination to protect this investigation from political interference,” Blumenthal said in a statement.

Duke Law School professor and former federal prosecutor Samuel Buell said the search warrant “confirms, beyond doubt, serious, criminal investigative focus on Manafort.”