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IT'S MUELLER TIME!!!

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Quite surprised Trumpty didn't attempt to fire Rosenstein and or Mueller today. Evidently he's more worried now about what the New York division of the FBI found in Cohen's office. Evidently Cohen got ripped a new one in court today. very-interesting-gif.702463

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Just now, jb™ said:

Quite surprised Trumpty didn't attempt to fire Rosenstein and or Mueller today. Evidently he's more worried now about what the New York division of the FBI found in Cohen's office. Evidently Cohen got ripped a new one in court today. very-interesting-gif.702463

 

Yea, you are anxiously awaiting a dick pic of him I'm sure.....

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53 minutes ago, Freebird Lives said:

 

Yea, you are anxiously awaiting a dick pic of him I'm sure.....

Ya want Trump Dick Pics? I'm sure they're out there. I figured news from places other than a State Run media source is pretty valuable. I realize you'd rather look at porn. But Dick Pics of your hero? A bit surprising.;)

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Sources: Mueller has evidence Cohen was in Prague in 2016, confirming part of dossier

By Peter Stone And Greg Gordon

 ggordon@mcclatchydc.com

WASHINGTON
 
Robert Mueller is special counsel for the Department of Justice. He oversees the investigation into Russia's possible connections to the 2016 election and Trump campaign.  Alexa Ard, Maureen Chowdhury, Patrick Gleason McClatchy

The Justice Department special counsel has evidence that Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and confidant, Michael Cohen, secretly made a late-summer trip to Prague during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Confirmation of the trip would lend credence to a retired British spy’s report that Cohen strategized there with a powerful Kremlin figure about Russian meddling in the U.S. election.

It would also be one of the most significant developments thus far in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of whether the Trump campaign and the Kremlin worked together to help Trump win the White House. Undercutting Trump’s repeated pronouncements that “there is no evidence of collusion,” it also could ratchet up the stakes if the president tries, as he has intimated he might for months, to order Mueller’s firing.

Trump’s threats to fire Mueller or the deputy attorney general overseeing the investigation, Rod Rosenstein, grew louder this week when the FBI raided Cohen’s home, hotel room and office on Monday. The raid was unrelated to the Trump-Russia collusion probe, but instead focused on payments made to women who have said they had sexual relationships with Trump.

Cohen has vehemently denied for months that he ever has been in Prague or colluded with Russia during the campaign. Neither he nor his lawyer responded to requests for comment for this story.

It’s unclear whether Mueller’s investigators also have evidence that Cohen actually met with a prominent Russian – purportedly Konstantin Kosachev, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin — in the Czech capital. Kosachev, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee of a body of the Russian legislature, the Federation Council, also has denied visiting Prague during 2016. Earlier this month, Kosachev was among 24 high-profile Russians hit with stiff U.S. sanctions in retaliation for Russia’s meddling.

But investigators have traced evidence that Cohen entered the Czech Republic through Germany, apparently during August or early September of 2016 as the ex-spy reported, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is confidential. He wouldn’t have needed a passport for such a trip, because both countries are in the so-called Schengen Area in which 26 nations operate with open borders. The disclosure still left a puzzle: The sources did not say whether Cohen took a commercial flight or private jet to Europe, and gave no explanation as to why no record of such a trip has surfaced.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller’s office, declined comment.

Unconfirmed reports of a clandestine Prague meeting came to public attention in January 2017, with the publication of a dossier purporting to detail the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russia – a series of reports that former British MI6 officer Christopher Steele gathered from Kremlin sources for Trump’s political opponents, including Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Cohen’s alleged communications with the Russians were mentioned multiple times in Steele’s reports, which he ultimately shared with the FBI.

When the news site Buzzfeed published the entire dossier on Jan. 11, Trump denounced the news organization as “a failing pile of garbage” and said the document was “false and fake.” Cohen tweeted, “I have never been to Prague in my life. #fakenews.”

In the ensuing months, he allowed Buzzfeed to inspect his passport and tweeted: “The #Russian dossier is WRONG!” 

Last August, an attorney for Cohen, Stephen Ryan, delivered to Congress a point-by-point rebuttal of the dossier’s allegations, stating: “Mr. Cohen is not aware of any ‘secret TRUMP campaign/Kremlin relationship.’”

However, Democratic investigators for the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, which are conducting parallel inquiries into Russia’s election interference, also are skeptical about whether Cohen was truthful about his 2016 travels to Europe when he was interviewed by the panels last October, two people familiar with those probes told McClatchy this week. Cohen has publicly acknowledged making three trips to Europe that year – to Italy in July, England in early October and a third after Trump’s November election. The investigators intend to press Cohen for more information, said the sources, who lacked authorization to speak for the record

One of the sources said congressional investigators have “a high level of interest” in Cohen’s European travel, with their doubts fueled by what they deem to be weak documentation Cohen has provided about his whereabouts around the time the Prague meeting was supposed to have occurred.

Cohen has said he was only in New York and briefly in Los Angeles during August, when the meeting may have occurred, though the sources said it also could have been held in early September.

Evidence that Cohen was in Prague “certainly helps undermine his credibility,” said Jill Wine-Banks, a former Watergate prosecutor who lives in Chicago. “It doesn’t matter who he met with. His denial was that I was never in Prague. Having proof that he was is, for most people, going to be more than enough to say I don’t believe anything else he says.”

It doesn’t matter who he met with. His denial was that I was never in Prague. Having proof that he was is, for most people, going to be more than enough to say I don’t believe anything else he says. 

Former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks

“I think that, given the relationship between Michael Cohen and the president,” Wine-Banks said, “it’s not believable that Michael Cohen did not tell him about his trip to Prague.”

The dossier alleges that Cohen, two Russians and several Eastern European hackers met at the Prague office of a Russian government-backed social and cultural organization, Rossotrudnichestvo. The location was selected to provide an alternative explanation in case the rendezvous was exposed, according to Steele’s Kremlin sources, cultivated during 20 years of spying on Russia. It said that Oleg Solodukhin, the deputy chief of Rossotrudnichestvo’s operation in the Czech Republic, attended the meeting, too.

Further, it alleges that Cohen, Kosachev and other attendees discussed “how deniable cash payments were to be made to hackers in Europe who had worked under Kremlin direction against the Clinton campaign.”

U.S. intelligence agencies and cyber experts say Kremlin-backed hackers pirated copies of thousands of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chief John Podesta during 2015 and 2016, some politically damaging, including messages showing that the DNC was biased toward Clinton in the party’s nomination battle pitting her against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Mueller’s investigators have sought to learn who passed the emails to WikiLeaks, a London-based transparency group, which published them in July and October, causing embarrassment to Clinton and her backers.

Citing information from an unnamed “Kremlin insider,” Steele’s dossier says the Prague meeting agenda also included discussion “in cryptic language for security reasons,” of ways to “sweep it all under the carpet and make sure no connection could be fully established or proven.” Romanians were among the hackers present, it says, and the discussion touched on using Bulgaria as a location where they could “lie low.”

It is a felony for anyone to hack email accounts. Other laws forbid foreigners from contributing cash or in-kind services to U.S. political campaigns.

If Cohen met with Russians and hackers in Prague as described in the dossier, it would provide perhaps the most compelling evidence to date that the Russians and Trump campaign aides were collaborating. Mueller’s office also has focused on two meetings in the spring of 2016 when Russians offered to provide Trump campaign aides with “dirt” on Clinton – thousands of emails in one of the offers.

Cohen is already in the spotlight because of the FBI raids on his offices and home in New York. Various news outlets have reported that investigators principally sought evidence on non-Russia matters, including a covert, $130,000 payment Cohen made days before the 2016 election to porn star Stormy Daniels to silence her about an alleged affair with Trump. The FBI raids also scooped up some of Cohen's computers and cell phones among other evidence, according to these reports. 

CNN, which reported Friday that Cohen’s business dealings have been a subject of a separate months-long investigation by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, also quoted sources as saying that Cohen often taped phone conversations and those tapes also could be in the FBI’s possession.

If the raids turned up evidence that would be useful to Mueller’s investigation, rather than the one being done in New York, it would be shared with Mueller’s team, unless a court imposes conditions regarding the transfer of evidence, said former seniorJustice Department official Michael Zeldin. “Given the sensitivities in this case, I expect evidentiary sharing decisions will be mediated by main DOJ and FBI headquarters,” Zeldin said. 

Prior to Trump’s election, Cohen spent almost a decade in high-profile positions in Trump’s real estate company and grew a reputation as Trump’s “fixer.” During 2016, he was an informal adviser to the Trump campaign, proving to be one of Trump’s fiercest defenders in television interviews.

When Trump took office, Cohen became Trump’s personal attorney.

He also formed a law firm, Michael D. Cohen & Associates, which in April forged a strategic alliance with the powerful Washington lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs. With headlines blaring about Cohen’s role in providing hush money to Daniels, the two firms disclosed this week they had parted company.

Soon after Trump took office, Cohen became embroiled in controversy when The New York Times reported he was involved in promoting a secret “peace plan” for Ukraine and Russia that was the brainchild of a little-known Ukrainian legislator, Andrii Artemenko. The plan would have ended U.S. sanctions against Moscow and allowed Russia, if it pulled back militants invading Ukraine, to keep control of Crimea under a 50- to 100-year lease, if voters approved.

In February 2017, he told the newspaper, he left it on the desk of Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who resigned days later and later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts with the Russian ambassador. But in subsequent interviews, Cohen denied ever delivering the plan to the White House.

Knowledge that Cohen may indeed have traveled to Prague during the campaign could heighten Trump’s risk of being prosecuted for obstruction of justice if news reports are accurate that he is considering firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the Mueller investigation, or Mueller.

“This kind of knowledge impacts his state of mind in taking any action in firing anyone from the Justice Department or Mueller’s office,” Wine-Banks said, because it would be easier for prosecutors to build a criminal case showing he did so to impede Mueller’s investigation.

If the Prague meeting actually occurred, Kosachev’s possible involvement would be especially significant given his close ties to Putin and other roles he has played in covert Moscow efforts to destabilize other countries, Russia experts said.

“While not a member of Putin's innermost circle, (Kosachev) is one of the most influential Russian voices on foreign affairs,” said Michael Carpenter, a former senior Pentagon official. “When Kosachev speaks, everyone knows he's speaking for the Kremlin.”

Kosachev appears to have been a booster of Trump over Clinton in early June of 2016, according to a post on his Facebook page at the time.

“Trump looks slightly more promising,” Kosachev wrote. “At least, he is capable of giving a shake to Washington. He is certainly a pragmatist and not a missionary like his main opponent [Hillary] Clinton.”

The Prague meeting would have occurred during a period when Trump advisers had become jittery about publicity swirling around the campaign’s Russian connections and seemingly friendly posture toward Moscow, according to the dossier and a source familiar with the federal investigation.

Campaign chairman Paul Manafort resigned abruptly on Aug. 19, shortly after the revelation that he had received $12.7 million in secret consulting fees over five years from the pro-Russia Party of Regions in Ukraine. Manafort was instrumental in the 2010 election of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted in early 2014 and fled to Moscow.

Another flap stemmed from a secretive maneuver at the Republican National Convention in July. Party officials weakened language in the 2016 Republican platform calling for a boost in U.S. military aid to support Ukraine’s fight with Russian-backed separatists who invaded Eastern Ukraine and Crimea.

The dossier cited multiple sources as reporting that Kremlin officials also had grown edgy about the possible exposure of their secret “active measures” effort to defeat Clinton and help Trump. According to the dossier, Russian diplomat Mikhail Kalugin was brought home from Russia’s embassy in Washington last August because he had played a key role in coordinating the cyber offensive. McClatchy quoted several Russia experts on Feb. 15 as saying they suspected Kalugin was an intelligence operative. Kalugin has denied any espionage activities. 

Cohen’s attendance at a Prague meeting like the one described in the dossier would have been a logical assignment for him; Trump had long used him to solve business and legal headaches, three Republican operatives who were close to the campaign said.

One source with close ties to the campaign said Cohen “wanted a bigger and more formal role [in the campaign], but there were a lot of long knives out for him within the campaign and the larger GOP infrastructure in part because he was a Democrat and treated people horribly.”

Cohen was best known during the 2016 campaign for his testy interviews defending Trump. In one case, when an interviewer cited poor polling numbers for Trump. Cohen kept aggressively asking, “Says who?”

Beginning last year, he took a hand in fundraising for the Republican National Committee and Trump’s re-election campaign. Cohen was one of four co-chairs of a big fundraiser at the Trump International hotel in mid-2017 that raised about $10 million for the two committees. In April 2017, Cohen was named a national deputy finance chairman at the RNC, not long after his March announcement that he had officially registered as a Republican.

A millionaire with his own New York real estate holdings, Cohen has long had family and business ties to Ukraine. His wife is Ukrainian, and he has had ties to Ukrainian ethanol company. He also once ran a thriving taxi business.

Peter Stone is a McClatchy special correspondent

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Any chance special counsel Robert Mueller had to get an interview with President Trump was likely killed with the unprecedented FBI raid on Trump’s personal attorney, the far-left NBC News reports.

Prior to this week’s raid, which has shifted public opinion against Mueller, detailed that talks had been ongoing between the special counsel’s office and Trump’s attorneys about a potential interview, an opportunity for Mueller to question the president directly. NBC reports that the negotiation was nearly concluded, had reached the “final sticking points” about the “timing, scope and length” of Trump’s testimony.

Things were close enough that, in an effort to fully prepare for the interview, Trump was talking about expanding his legal team.

But the raid, which many see as a mixture of prosecutorial overreach and desperation, has scrambled negotiations. The chances of Trump’s sitting down with a special counsel, who is obviously out of control and working way outside his stated mission to investigate collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, are probably nil.

Moreover, Mueller’s disastrous stunt gives Trump cover with the public to not sit down with Mueller. By all accounts, the FBI’s raid on Michael Cohen is centered on Trump’s personal sex life, including, for some bizarre reason, the Access Hollywood tape and the perfectly legal non-disclosure agreement signed by a porn star and Playboy bunny who claim to have had consensual affairs with Trump more than a decade ago.

The public just does not care about this stuff.

Because it gave Trump what the public will see as a perfectly legitimate excuse not to sit for an interview, the Cohen raid is probably the first big mistake Mueller has made. The interview was Mueller’s best chance to nail the president in a process crime, to lure him into a perjury trap.

As of now, Mueller’s investigation is floundering. Thus far, he has only been able to charge a few people with process or financial crimes, none of which have anything to do with Trump or his campaign.

In another dramatic move, Mueller did indict a handful of Russians, but this ultimately proved to be a showy and symbolic gesture. The accused will never be extradited, will never see the inside of a courtroom, and are not even charged with “election meddling.” Whatever they might be guilty of, it was small potatoes and more anti-Trump than not.

What’s more, the Russian investigation has backfired on the political left. The Democrats and their allies in the media and intelligence community are the ones facing the blowback. Partisan FBI personnel have been fired or demoted, and the congressional investigation into the Obama’s administration’s obvious surveillance abuses has only just begun.

As far as Trump’s obstructing justice, even the non-stop leaks coming from Mueller’s office to anti-Trump outlets like NBC News cannot make anything close to a credible case for that:

Three sources familiar with the investigation said the findings Mueller has collected on Trump’s attempts to obstruct justice include: His intent to fire former FBI Director James Comey; his role in the crafting of a misleading public statement on the nature of a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between his son and Russians; Trump’s dangling of pardons before grand jury witnesses who might testify against him; and pressuring Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

This is a laughable pile of nonsense, and Mueller knows it.

So now, Mueller is chasing the sex angle, but in doing so, he almost certainly blew his chance to achieve his goal of overturning a presidential election with a perjury charge. The only thing that might have persuaded Trump to risk an interview was public pressure, which Trump no longer has to worry about.

Trump has plenty of other things to worry about. Mueller is more likely than not to make more empty but grandiose moves in the hopes of affecting the outcomes of the 2018 mid-terms and Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign. But the interview is where Trump would have faced the most risk, and Mueller appears to have blown that.

Up till now, unlike others at his level under investigation, Trump has been incredibly cooperative. While Obama officials pleaded the Fifth, Hillary deleted and bleached emails, and Bill Clinton hid what he could behind executive privilege, no one on Team Trump has done any of this.

Hopefully, those days are over. 

 

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Time again for some interesting subjects....

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  • Yep 1

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Robert Mueller May or May Not Go, But His Work Won’t Go Anywhere

 

In Slow Burn, a podcast about Watergate, Slate writer and host Leon Neyfakh tells the story of the dedicated team of prosecutors who worked to contain the fallout of the Saturday Night Massacre. When news reached the lawyers that their boss, special prosecutor Archibald Cox, had been fired by Richard Nixon, many of them dropped everything they were doing and rushed to the office to try to salvage their investigative files, just before FBI agents arrived and sealed the place as if it were a crime scene. Carl Feldbaum, one of the young prosecutors, was there was with his wife. He had a novel idea for how to get key files out of the office: “I thought it was the safest thing to give her the evidence, which she stuffed into her jeans,” he recalled.

That’s not an ideal contingency plan. But those were simpler times, before personal computers and cloud technology and electronic court dockets. There’s no telling what lessons from history Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating crimes associated with Russia’s interference in the presidential election, has adopted into his own investigative work. But if Donald Trump’s latest brooding and seething over the Russia inquiry is any indication, it is entirely within the realm of the possible that the president, a kind of Nixon-in-waiting, may fire Mueller before the investigation gets any hotter. As useless as that would be — investigations with a large bureaucracy behind them do not just disappear when the lead prosecutor leaves — it’s the reality of a president who remains ignorant about the firewalls within his own Executive branch.

This is not a drill. With reporting by the New York Times that Trump considered ousting Mueller in December and his early-morning Twitter rant on Thursday that he “would have fired” the special counsel had he really wanted to, we’re ever so close to what Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes calls “the moment of actual confrontation” — a looming reckoning between a sitting president, and one who doesn’t really care much about norms or institutions at that, and a well-regarded prosecutor and public servant he hasn’t yet been able to fire. But not because it’s not in his instincts: James Comey, Sally Yates, and Preet Bharara never stood a chance because each knew and recognized that they served at the pleasure of the nation’s chief executive. And they were gone the moment he said so.

But Mueller, who was appointed under statutes and regulations binding on the Department of Justice, and the government as a whole, doesn’t operate in the same constitutional sphere as a presidentially appointed officer — no matter Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s assertion that the president “certainly believes” in his heart of hearts that he can fire the man probing his Russia connections. Trump believes a lot of things. But right now there’s a fierce academic discussion, far from settled by the courts, about what Trump may or may not do with the special counsel. Uncharted though the waters may be, the dominant view among experts is that Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, is the only one with the power to serve as a check on Mueller. The special counsel’s office said so itself in a recent court filing that characterized Mueller as a “subordinate officer within the Department of Justice” who is beholden to Rosenstein — all the while establishing, as Rosenstein has in public testimony, that he is the one “accountable” and “responsible for” the scope of the Russia investigation.

That court document, authored in part by a longtime career official who has argued more than 100 cases before the Supreme Court, said nothing about Mueller’s subservience to Trump, nor could it. The president’s own solicitor general, in a brieffiled with the high court in an unrelated, wonky dispute over the constitutional status of administrative law judges, acknowledged how the removal regime that applies to Mueller is supposed to work: “The power to remove, being incident to the power of appointment, rests with the appointing authority absent an express statement to the contrary.” Later, the same brief adds: “Other ‘inferior Officers,’ whose appointments have been vested in ‘the Heads of Departments,’ may be removed by those Department Heads — who are themselves removable by the President.” (Don’t let John Yoo convince you otherwise. As Georgetown Law’s Marty Lederman shows, he’s dead wrong.)

Get it? That means no end-runs to giving Mueller the pink slip: Trump must go through Rosenstein, the same way Nixon went through a willing subordinate, Robert Bork, to fire Cox. That there exists a real legal constraint on the president to sack Mueller helps explains why we’re now hearing the likes of Steve Bannon and other Trump acolytes offer wild suggestions on how to stymie the special counsel’s investigation — up to and including canning Rosenstein, the special counsel’s true direct supervisor and someone who has backed his work at every step of the way. The White House seems aware that the law is not on its side: CNN reported Thursday that there’s a bizarre effort afoot to push out talking points to undermine Rosenstein. That’s the kind of petty thing you do when you’re losing on the merits, driving you to dig an even deeper grave of obstruction.

Assuming the worst-case scenario of firing Rosenstein — or maybe the best, because it would afford Trump the cleanest chance to appoint a crony to assert control over the probe — what then? Does it all get shut down and go away? Peter Carr, the special counsel’s spokesman, declined to comment when asked by New York what conversations, if any, Mueller’s elite team of prosecutors has had to protect its own work from presidential interference. But it’s not inconceivable that Mueller has already done his due diligence and has a plan or plans in place in contemplation of his own dismissal.

To wit: The multiple FBI raids on Michael Cohen’s home, office, and hotel room this week — overseen by prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York, which covers Manhattan — resulted from a referral from Mueller to that office. Bharara, who used to run the place before Trump showed him the door, acknowledged in his weekly talk show-cum-podcast that the existence of a wholly independent investigation out of a different office puts the Mueller probe, indirectly, on stronger footing. “I don’t see a way, legitimately or even pragmatically, that you can shut down a separate SDNY investigation once it is started. And boy, it is started,” Bharara said, using the acronym for his former office.

Because the investigation into Michael Cohen is nonpublic and preliminary — and as far as we know, unrelated to the broader Russia investigation — there’s no way to know what crimes, if any, he’ll be charged with, or whether he’ll be charged at all. But it is significant that the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office has evidence that it received from the Justice Department, which in turn served as a basis to gather more evidence of its own from Cohen directly, and that now Trump himself is so invested in the matter that he’s dispatched a lawyer to intervene in a New York case that may turn out to be nothing. Whatever federal prosecutors in New York have on Cohen, the president, or both, is significant enough to keep them on edge. And because the Southern District of New York is renowned for not taking orders from Washington all that easily, this is not something Trump can do much about.

The same would be true of the larger investigation, which has a criminal component now playing out in the courts, as well as a counterintelligence one that remains, in great part, a closely guarded secret. NBC News’ Pete Williams, who has covered federal law enforcement for the better part of the last 25 years, ran through several of the hypotheticals surrounding a Mueller firing and concluded that, in the end, Trump would pay a steep political price but the show would go on. “The probe would simply revert to the FBI and the Justice Department, where prosecutors and federal agents would continue the kind of work they were doing before the special counsel was appointed,” Williams wrote, matter-of-factly. Paul Rosenzweig, a former senior counsel in Kenneth Starr’s investigation into Bill Clinton, more or less landed in the same place. “It would come at severe political cost to the president and, quite likely, have relatively little actual effect on the current investigation,” he wrote for TheAtlantic.

Indeed, Mueller’s office dropped a similar hint about the expected continuity of his work in a recent court filing in the Paul Manafort case, which is being spearheaded by one of his senior deputies, Andrew Weissmann, a veteran of the Justice Department known for his aggressive prosecutorial style. Weissmann, as the filing put it bluntly, “is a longtime, career prosecutor with the internal authority to conduct this prosecution, separate and aside from his role in the Special Counsel’s Office,” emphasis mine. You caught that? “Separate and aside.”

Mueller was deliberate from the outset of his appointment in choosing career lawyers and specialists with credentials and security clearances and relevant portfolios within the Justice Department that won’t vanish simply because their boss has been fired. Yessiree, Bob: Expect them to keep their heads down and continue the work. And to stay on their investigatory leads, to meet their court deadlines, and to attend any hearings they may be required to attend in the cases now public and active — against Manafort, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, and others that are now docketed with the court system. Trump can’t just flush all this work down the toilet. And should blanket pardons be in the offing — the only saving grace for an obstructor-in-chief — they’re ineffectual to stop potential state chargesthat may be in the works in New York or elsewhere.

All of this should be of great comfort to anyone fearing an impulsive Mueller or Rosenstein firing. Not because it may not happen, but because there are so many levels of government and moving parts and Department of Justice officials — to say nothing of the federal judges who are overseeing the active cases — working in tandem to ensure that the wheels of the special counsel’s operation keep turning. Call it the deep state at its finest. Under those conditions, even a Saturday Night Massacre–like ouster, as terrible as that would be, would be insufficient to stop the work already underway. For all we know, there may be already a Leon Jaworski–type replacement for Mueller waiting in the wings. He faithfully picked up where Archibald Cox left off, and we all know how that story ended.

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On 4/13/2018 at 9:27 PM, jb™ said:

Robert Mueller May or May Not Go, But His Work Won’t Go Anywhere

 

In Slow Burn, a podcast about Watergate, Slate writer and host Leon Neyfakh tells the story of the dedicated team of prosecutors who worked to contain the fallout of the Saturday Night Massacre. When news reached the lawyers that their boss, special prosecutor Archibald Cox, had been fired by Richard Nixon, many of them dropped everything they were doing and rushed to the office to try to salvage their investigative files, just before FBI agents arrived and sealed the place as if it were a crime scene. Carl Feldbaum, one of the young prosecutors, was there was with his wife. He had a novel idea for how to get key files out of the office: “I thought it was the safest thing to give her the evidence, which she stuffed into her jeans,” he recalled.

That’s not an ideal contingency plan. But those were simpler times, before personal computers and cloud technology and electronic court dockets. There’s no telling what lessons from history Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating crimes associated with Russia’s interference in the presidential election, has adopted into his own investigative work. But if Donald Trump’s latest brooding and seething over the Russia inquiry is any indication, it is entirely within the realm of the possible that the president, a kind of Nixon-in-waiting, may fire Mueller before the investigation gets any hotter. As useless as that would be — investigations with a large bureaucracy behind them do not just disappear when the lead prosecutor leaves — it’s the reality of a president who remains ignorant about the firewalls within his own Executive branch.

This is not a drill. With reporting by the New York Times that Trump considered ousting Mueller in December and his early-morning Twitter rant on Thursday that he “would have fired” the special counsel had he really wanted to, we’re ever so close to what Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes calls “the moment of actual confrontation” — a looming reckoning between a sitting president, and one who doesn’t really care much about norms or institutions at that, and a well-regarded prosecutor and public servant he hasn’t yet been able to fire. But not because it’s not in his instincts: James Comey, Sally Yates, and Preet Bharara never stood a chance because each knew and recognized that they served at the pleasure of the nation’s chief executive. And they were gone the moment he said so.

But Mueller, who was appointed under statutes and regulations binding on the Department of Justice, and the government as a whole, doesn’t operate in the same constitutional sphere as a presidentially appointed officer — no matter Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s assertion that the president “certainly believes” in his heart of hearts that he can fire the man probing his Russia connections. Trump believes a lot of things. But right now there’s a fierce academic discussion, far from settled by the courts, about what Trump may or may not do with the special counsel. Uncharted though the waters may be, the dominant view among experts is that Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, is the only one with the power to serve as a check on Mueller. The special counsel’s office said so itself in a recent court filing that characterized Mueller as a “subordinate officer within the Department of Justice” who is beholden to Rosenstein — all the while establishing, as Rosenstein has in public testimony, that he is the one “accountable” and “responsible for” the scope of the Russia investigation.

That court document, authored in part by a longtime career official who has argued more than 100 cases before the Supreme Court, said nothing about Mueller’s subservience to Trump, nor could it. The president’s own solicitor general, in a brieffiled with the high court in an unrelated, wonky dispute over the constitutional status of administrative law judges, acknowledged how the removal regime that applies to Mueller is supposed to work: “The power to remove, being incident to the power of appointment, rests with the appointing authority absent an express statement to the contrary.” Later, the same brief adds: “Other ‘inferior Officers,’ whose appointments have been vested in ‘the Heads of Departments,’ may be removed by those Department Heads — who are themselves removable by the President.” (Don’t let John Yoo convince you otherwise. As Georgetown Law’s Marty Lederman shows, he’s dead wrong.)

Get it? That means no end-runs to giving Mueller the pink slip: Trump must go through Rosenstein, the same way Nixon went through a willing subordinate, Robert Bork, to fire Cox. That there exists a real legal constraint on the president to sack Mueller helps explains why we’re now hearing the likes of Steve Bannon and other Trump acolytes offer wild suggestions on how to stymie the special counsel’s investigation — up to and including canning Rosenstein, the special counsel’s true direct supervisor and someone who has backed his work at every step of the way. The White House seems aware that the law is not on its side: CNN reported Thursday that there’s a bizarre effort afoot to push out talking points to undermine Rosenstein. That’s the kind of petty thing you do when you’re losing on the merits, driving you to dig an even deeper grave of obstruction.

Assuming the worst-case scenario of firing Rosenstein — or maybe the best, because it would afford Trump the cleanest chance to appoint a crony to assert control over the probe — what then? Does it all get shut down and go away? Peter Carr, the special counsel’s spokesman, declined to comment when asked by New York what conversations, if any, Mueller’s elite team of prosecutors has had to protect its own work from presidential interference. But it’s not inconceivable that Mueller has already done his due diligence and has a plan or plans in place in contemplation of his own dismissal.

To wit: The multiple FBI raids on Michael Cohen’s home, office, and hotel room this week — overseen by prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York, which covers Manhattan — resulted from a referral from Mueller to that office. Bharara, who used to run the place before Trump showed him the door, acknowledged in his weekly talk show-cum-podcast that the existence of a wholly independent investigation out of a different office puts the Mueller probe, indirectly, on stronger footing. “I don’t see a way, legitimately or even pragmatically, that you can shut down a separate SDNY investigation once it is started. And boy, it is started,” Bharara said, using the acronym for his former office.

Because the investigation into Michael Cohen is nonpublic and preliminary — and as far as we know, unrelated to the broader Russia investigation — there’s no way to know what crimes, if any, he’ll be charged with, or whether he’ll be charged at all. But it is significant that the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office has evidence that it received from the Justice Department, which in turn served as a basis to gather more evidence of its own from Cohen directly, and that now Trump himself is so invested in the matter that he’s dispatched a lawyer to intervene in a New York case that may turn out to be nothing. Whatever federal prosecutors in New York have on Cohen, the president, or both, is significant enough to keep them on edge. And because the Southern District of New York is renowned for not taking orders from Washington all that easily, this is not something Trump can do much about.

The same would be true of the larger investigation, which has a criminal component now playing out in the courts, as well as a counterintelligence one that remains, in great part, a closely guarded secret. NBC News’ Pete Williams, who has covered federal law enforcement for the better part of the last 25 years, ran through several of the hypotheticals surrounding a Mueller firing and concluded that, in the end, Trump would pay a steep political price but the show would go on. “The probe would simply revert to the FBI and the Justice Department, where prosecutors and federal agents would continue the kind of work they were doing before the special counsel was appointed,” Williams wrote, matter-of-factly. Paul Rosenzweig, a former senior counsel in Kenneth Starr’s investigation into Bill Clinton, more or less landed in the same place. “It would come at severe political cost to the president and, quite likely, have relatively little actual effect on the current investigation,” he wrote for TheAtlantic.

Indeed, Mueller’s office dropped a similar hint about the expected continuity of his work in a recent court filing in the Paul Manafort case, which is being spearheaded by one of his senior deputies, Andrew Weissmann, a veteran of the Justice Department known for his aggressive prosecutorial style. Weissmann, as the filing put it bluntly, “is a longtime, career prosecutor with the internal authority to conduct this prosecution, separate and aside from his role in the Special Counsel’s Office,” emphasis mine. You caught that? “Separate and aside.”

Mueller was deliberate from the outset of his appointment in choosing career lawyers and specialists with credentials and security clearances and relevant portfolios within the Justice Department that won’t vanish simply because their boss has been fired. Yessiree, Bob: Expect them to keep their heads down and continue the work. And to stay on their investigatory leads, to meet their court deadlines, and to attend any hearings they may be required to attend in the cases now public and active — against Manafort, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, and others that are now docketed with the court system. Trump can’t just flush all this work down the toilet. And should blanket pardons be in the offing — the only saving grace for an obstructor-in-chief — they’re ineffectual to stop potential state chargesthat may be in the works in New York or elsewhere.

All of this should be of great comfort to anyone fearing an impulsive Mueller or Rosenstein firing. Not because it may not happen, but because there are so many levels of government and moving parts and Department of Justice officials — to say nothing of the federal judges who are overseeing the active cases — working in tandem to ensure that the wheels of the special counsel’s operation keep turning. Call it the deep state at its finest. Under those conditions, even a Saturday Night Massacre–like ouster, as terrible as that would be, would be insufficient to stop the work already underway. For all we know, there may be already a Leon Jaworski–type replacement for Mueller waiting in the wings. He faithfully picked up where Archibald Cox left off, and we all know how that story ended.

 

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Nearly 500 Former Justice Department Employees Ask Congress to Act 'Forcefully' If Trump Fires Robert Mueller

Nearly 500 former Department of Justice employees have signed on to a statement calling on Congress to “swiftly and forcefully” intervene if President Trump moves to oust Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

First published on Friday, the letter has since garnered 496 signatures. Concern about the future of Special Counsel Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing that investigation, has grown in the past week as Trump has publicly fumed over a raid on his attorney Michael Cohen’s office and hotel room.

In the statement, which was published on Medium, former Justice officials say they have been “deeply disturbed” by the President’s attacks on the Department of Justice. “Not only is it an insult to their public service, but any attempt to corrupt or undermine the even-handed application of the rule of law threatens the foundation of our Republic,” the letter reads.

The Justice alum say that it is on elected officials to reject any attempt by the White House to interfere with the work of Department officials.

“But it is up to the rest of us, and especially our elected representatives, to come to their defense and oppose any attempt by the President or others to improperly interfere in the Department’s work, including by firing either Mr. Mueller, Mr. Rosenstein or other Department leadership or officials for the purpose of interfering in their investigations,” the letter continues. “Should the President take such a step, we call on Congress to swiftly and forcefully respond to protect the founding principles of our Republic and the rule of law.”

 

 

The President has been furious in the wake of an Federal Bureau of Investigations raid on Cohen’s home and work. While federal prosecutors in New York obtained and carried out the warrant to raid Cohen’s office, it was reportedly done on a referral from the Special Counsel.

Since, Trump has harshly criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Rosenstein, railed against the FBI, and tweeted that “attorney client privilege is now a thing of the past.” The White House has also said the President believes he has the power to fire Mueller.

Congress has taken some steps to protect the Special Counsel should Trump move to fire him. Last week, a bipartisan group of Senators introduced legislation that would ensure that the Special Counsel could only be fired by a senior Justice Department official and allow the Counsel to contest the firing before a federal judge.

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NOT from the WaPo or NYT....this time from TRUMP CENTRAL in Kansas City. It seems NOT everyone out there is as brainwashed as the majority of the morons that post here.

Will Missouri and Kansas senators protect Robert Mueller from President Trump?

By The Kansas City Star Editorial Board

 
 
Republican Sens. Roy Blunt, Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts File photos

If there ever was a moment when we should demand that our Republican senators from Missouri and Kansas step up, this is it.

With President Donald Trump rattling his saber about the possibility that he may soon fire special counsel Robert Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the country appears on the brink of a constitutional crisis that could lead to impeachment. Once again, the phrase “obstruction of justice” hangs in the air, and memories of Richard Nixon’s “Saturday Night massacre” have resurfaced.

This is a defining moment for the nation and for Trump’s presidency, which already has had plenty of them. Few of our nation’s leaders question the grave nature of what could occur in Washington any day now.

Our GOP senators acknowledge that Mueller, whose probe now appears to extend far beyond its initial focus of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, should continue his investigation. But many of their statements lack urgency and the forceful rhetroric so important at a time like this. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, for one, has said that firing Mueller would mark “the beginning of the end of (Trump’s) presidency.” Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley said such a move would be “suicide” for Trump. Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch tweeted that anyone advising the president to fire Mueller “does not have the president’s or the nation’s best interest at heart.”

But comments like that are too rare among Republicans and are a far cry from what we’re hearing here in Missouri and Kansas. At a time when a bright red line must be drawn, our senators are painting in pastels.

Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts: “The independent counsel must be allowed to finish his work.”

In a statement, Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran called Mueller “well-respected and known to be a person of integrity” whose work “to this point should give the American people confidence in his process.”

“Given the clear evidence of Russian interference in our elections, I have long supported a special counsel investigation,” Moran continued. “The distractions should stop, permitting the special counsel to do his job unimpeded and make certain we prevent future interference by Russia.”

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt said in a January radio interview that switching investigators at this point “wouldn’t solve the problem.” Mueller, he added, has made some errors, but “it would be a mistake for the president to do anything other than to let him complete that investigation.” Firing Mueller “would be a big mistake.” 

Some on Capitol Hill have expressed interest in a resolution spelling out in clear terms what the consequences would be for the firing of either Mueller or Rosenstein. Such a move has merit and would underscore for the American people what’s at stake here.

But our senators are saying nothing about that. Nor are they denouncing Trump’s attacks on the special counsel that continue to drive Mueller’s poll numbers dangerously downward. Republicans and Democrats now see his work in starkly different terms, even though this is a time when country clearly should outrank party.

More than 500 former Justice Department officials who have worked in both Republican and Democratic administrations have signed a petition urging Congress to act “swiftly and forcefully” if Trump fires Mueller. 

This is a chance to be on the right side of history. Our senators should seize it.

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Pittsburgh police ordered to bring riot gear in case Trump fires Mueller

 

(CNN)  Pittsburgh police ordered its detectives to bring riot gear to work Thursday in anticipation of protests should President Donald Trump fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Police Cmdr. Victor Joseph reportedly sent an email Wednesday, instructing Major Crimes detectives to bring full uniforms and riot gear to work "until further notice."

In the internal memo obtained by local media, Joseph said "there is a belief" Mueller may be fired, and "large-scale" protests are expected in the central business district within 24 hours if it happens. 

"The protest would be semi-spontaneous and more than likely happen on short notice," the memo said. "Based on this information, beginning tomorrow, April 19, 2018, all Major Crimes detectives are required to bring a full uniform and any issued protective equipment (riot gear) with them to work until further notice."

Mueller is investigating Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential electionand possible collusion with the Trump campaign. The President has described the allegations as a hoax created by Democrats after their loss in the election. 

 

Preparation is a precaution 

 

Pittsburgh police declined to comment further. CNN has not independently obtained a copy of the memo.

In a statement, Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said the city's police officials evaluate and prepare for such situations as a precaution.

"We receive information regularly about potential events and/or threats, assess the credibility of the information and plan for a potential event," Hissrich said.

"In this case, we have not assessed the credibility of the potential for disturbances, and we do not have any knowledge of the President's decision-making process."

A group has called for a "Nobody is Above the Law" rally in Pittsburgh if Mueller gets fired, but it's unclear whether the police response is based on that. 

"We are getting ready in Pittsburgh to respond quickly and forcefully to a clear obstruction of justice," the group says online. It says simultaneous emergency rallies are planned nationwide. 

 

Trump: 'They're still here' 

 

Trump on Wednesday downplayed speculation that he's planning to fire Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the investigation. 

"They've been saying I'm going to get rid of them for the last three months, four months, five months and they're still here," the President told reporters.

 

Speculation on Mueller's fate grew after the FBI raided the house, office and hotel room of Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, last week. 

Since then, the President has openly mulled whether to fire Mueller and repeated his attack on the special counsel's investigation as a "witch hunt." Trump is also considering axing Rosenstein as a way to limit Mueller's investigation, multiple people familiar with the discussions told CNN.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters last week that Trump believes he has the power to fire Mueller.

Rosenstein, the Justice Department's No. 2 official, inherited the oversight of the special counsel's probe into Russia and any potential links it had with Trump campaign associates. 

His boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, recused himself from investigating matters related to the presidential campaign.

CNN's Dave Alsup contributed to this report.

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Rosenstein tells Trump he is not a target of Michael Cohen investigation

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told President Trump last week that the president is not a target in the Michael Cohen investigation, and that the investigation is focused solely on Cohen, the president's personal attorney, a source familiar with the probe told Fox News on Thursday.

Trump has been told previously that he is not a target of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

The source also said the Cohen investigation, together with the abrupt departure of John Dowd from Trump's legal team, slowed, but did not halt talks about Trump sitting down for a potential interview with Mueller.

The FBI last week raided the office, home and hotel room of Cohen. Federal agents reportedly obtained documents related to several issues, including Cohen's payments to adult-film star Stormy Daniels in the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

The Justice Department, meantime, denied comment on the Rosenstein report. “As Department officials have said consistently in testimony and elsewhere, we don’t comment on conversations with the President,” the DOJ told Fox News.

Separately, President Trump’s in-house counsel Ty Cobb said no firings are currently under consideration, including those of Rosenstein or Mueller.

Earlier Thursday, Bloomberg reported that Rosenstein told Trump that he was not being targeted in the wider Mueller probe.

Asked on Wednesday if he was considering removing Rosenstein or Mueller, Trump simply noted that they're "still here."

“They’ve been saying I’m going to get rid of them for the last three months, four months, five months,” Trump said at a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “And they’re still here. We want to get the investigation over with, done with, put it behind us. And we have to get back to business.”

In an interview on Thursday with CNN, former FBI director James Comey addressed the reports about Rosenstein's reported conversation with Trump.

"I don’t know what it means," Comey said. "It’s a fairly standard part of any investigation, trying to decide whether a person you’re encountering is a witness, a subject or a target. A target is someone on whom the investigation, the grand jury has developed … evidence sufficient to charge. Witness is somebody who has nothing to do with any exposure and a subject is everybody in the middle. So, I don’t know the context in which the Deputy Attorney General did that, but that’s the general framework."

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On 4/13/2018 at 7:36 PM, jb™ said:

Sources: Mueller has evidence Cohen was in Prague in 2016, confirming part of dossier

By Peter Stone And Greg Gordon

 ggordon@mcclatchydc.com

WASHINGTON
 
Robert Mueller is special counsel for the Department of Justice. He oversees the investigation into Russia's possible connections to the 2016 election and Trump campaign.  Alexa Ard, Maureen Chowdhury, Patrick Gleason McClatchy

The Justice Department special counsel has evidence that Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and confidant, Michael Cohen, secretly made a late-summer trip to Prague during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Confirmation of the trip would lend credence to a retired British spy’s report that Cohen strategized there with a powerful Kremlin figure about Russian meddling in the U.S. election.

It would also be one of the most significant developments thus far in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of whether the Trump campaign and the Kremlin worked together to help Trump win the White House. Undercutting Trump’s repeated pronouncements that “there is no evidence of collusion,” it also could ratchet up the stakes if the president tries, as he has intimated he might for months, to order Mueller’s firing.

Trump’s threats to fire Mueller or the deputy attorney general overseeing the investigation, Rod Rosenstein, grew louder this week when the FBI raided Cohen’s home, hotel room and office on Monday. The raid was unrelated to the Trump-Russia collusion probe, but instead focused on payments made to women who have said they had sexual relationships with Trump.

Cohen has vehemently denied for months that he ever has been in Prague or colluded with Russia during the campaign. Neither he nor his lawyer responded to requests for comment for this story.

It’s unclear whether Mueller’s investigators also have evidence that Cohen actually met with a prominent Russian – purportedly Konstantin Kosachev, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin — in the Czech capital. Kosachev, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee of a body of the Russian legislature, the Federation Council, also has denied visiting Prague during 2016. Earlier this month, Kosachev was among 24 high-profile Russians hit with stiff U.S. sanctions in retaliation for Russia’s meddling.

But investigators have traced evidence that Cohen entered the Czech Republic through Germany, apparently during August or early September of 2016 as the ex-spy reported, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is confidential. He wouldn’t have needed a passport for such a trip, because both countries are in the so-called Schengen Area in which 26 nations operate with open borders. The disclosure still left a puzzle: The sources did not say whether Cohen took a commercial flight or private jet to Europe, and gave no explanation as to why no record of such a trip has surfaced.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller’s office, declined comment.

Unconfirmed reports of a clandestine Prague meeting came to public attention in January 2017, with the publication of a dossier purporting to detail the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russia – a series of reports that former British MI6 officer Christopher Steele gathered from Kremlin sources for Trump’s political opponents, including Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Cohen’s alleged communications with the Russians were mentioned multiple times in Steele’s reports, which he ultimately shared with the FBI.

When the news site Buzzfeed published the entire dossier on Jan. 11, Trump denounced the news organization as “a failing pile of garbage” and said the document was “false and fake.” Cohen tweeted, “I have never been to Prague in my life. #fakenews.”

In the ensuing months, he allowed Buzzfeed to inspect his passport and tweeted: “The #Russian dossier is WRONG!” 

Last August, an attorney for Cohen, Stephen Ryan, delivered to Congress a point-by-point rebuttal of the dossier’s allegations, stating: “Mr. Cohen is not aware of any ‘secret TRUMP campaign/Kremlin relationship.’”

However, Democratic investigators for the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, which are conducting parallel inquiries into Russia’s election interference, also are skeptical about whether Cohen was truthful about his 2016 travels to Europe when he was interviewed by the panels last October, two people familiar with those probes told McClatchy this week. Cohen has publicly acknowledged making three trips to Europe that year – to Italy in July, England in early October and a third after Trump’s November election. The investigators intend to press Cohen for more information, said the sources, who lacked authorization to speak for the record

One of the sources said congressional investigators have “a high level of interest” in Cohen’s European travel, with their doubts fueled by what they deem to be weak documentation Cohen has provided about his whereabouts around the time the Prague meeting was supposed to have occurred.

Cohen has said he was only in New York and briefly in Los Angeles during August, when the meeting may have occurred, though the sources said it also could have been held in early September.

Evidence that Cohen was in Prague “certainly helps undermine his credibility,” said Jill Wine-Banks, a former Watergate prosecutor who lives in Chicago. “It doesn’t matter who he met with. His denial was that I was never in Prague. Having proof that he was is, for most people, going to be more than enough to say I don’t believe anything else he says.”

It doesn’t matter who he met with. His denial was that I was never in Prague. Having proof that he was is, for most people, going to be more than enough to say I don’t believe anything else he says. 

Former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks

“I think that, given the relationship between Michael Cohen and the president,” Wine-Banks said, “it’s not believable that Michael Cohen did not tell him about his trip to Prague.”

The dossier alleges that Cohen, two Russians and several Eastern European hackers met at the Prague office of a Russian government-backed social and cultural organization, Rossotrudnichestvo. The location was selected to provide an alternative explanation in case the rendezvous was exposed, according to Steele’s Kremlin sources, cultivated during 20 years of spying on Russia. It said that Oleg Solodukhin, the deputy chief of Rossotrudnichestvo’s operation in the Czech Republic, attended the meeting, too.

Further, it alleges that Cohen, Kosachev and other attendees discussed “how deniable cash payments were to be made to hackers in Europe who had worked under Kremlin direction against the Clinton campaign.”

U.S. intelligence agencies and cyber experts say Kremlin-backed hackers pirated copies of thousands of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chief John Podesta during 2015 and 2016, some politically damaging, including messages showing that the DNC was biased toward Clinton in the party’s nomination battle pitting her against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Mueller’s investigators have sought to learn who passed the emails to WikiLeaks, a London-based transparency group, which published them in July and October, causing embarrassment to Clinton and her backers.

Citing information from an unnamed “Kremlin insider,” Steele’s dossier says the Prague meeting agenda also included discussion “in cryptic language for security reasons,” of ways to “sweep it all under the carpet and make sure no connection could be fully established or proven.” Romanians were among the hackers present, it says, and the discussion touched on using Bulgaria as a location where they could “lie low.”

It is a felony for anyone to hack email accounts. Other laws forbid foreigners from contributing cash or in-kind services to U.S. political campaigns.

If Cohen met with Russians and hackers in Prague as described in the dossier, it would provide perhaps the most compelling evidence to date that the Russians and Trump campaign aides were collaborating. Mueller’s office also has focused on two meetings in the spring of 2016 when Russians offered to provide Trump campaign aides with “dirt” on Clinton – thousands of emails in one of the offers.

Cohen is already in the spotlight because of the FBI raids on his offices and home in New York. Various news outlets have reported that investigators principally sought evidence on non-Russia matters, including a covert, $130,000 payment Cohen made days before the 2016 election to porn star Stormy Daniels to silence her about an alleged affair with Trump. The FBI raids also scooped up some of Cohen's computers and cell phones among other evidence, according to these reports. 

CNN, which reported Friday that Cohen’s business dealings have been a subject of a separate months-long investigation by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, also quoted sources as saying that Cohen often taped phone conversations and those tapes also could be in the FBI’s possession.

If the raids turned up evidence that would be useful to Mueller’s investigation, rather than the one being done in New York, it would be shared with Mueller’s team, unless a court imposes conditions regarding the transfer of evidence, said former seniorJustice Department official Michael Zeldin. “Given the sensitivities in this case, I expect evidentiary sharing decisions will be mediated by main DOJ and FBI headquarters,” Zeldin said. 

Prior to Trump’s election, Cohen spent almost a decade in high-profile positions in Trump’s real estate company and grew a reputation as Trump’s “fixer.” During 2016, he was an informal adviser to the Trump campaign, proving to be one of Trump’s fiercest defenders in television interviews.

When Trump took office, Cohen became Trump’s personal attorney.

He also formed a law firm, Michael D. Cohen & Associates, which in April forged a strategic alliance with the powerful Washington lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs. With headlines blaring about Cohen’s role in providing hush money to Daniels, the two firms disclosed this week they had parted company.

Soon after Trump took office, Cohen became embroiled in controversy when The New York Times reported he was involved in promoting a secret “peace plan” for Ukraine and Russia that was the brainchild of a little-known Ukrainian legislator, Andrii Artemenko. The plan would have ended U.S. sanctions against Moscow and allowed Russia, if it pulled back militants invading Ukraine, to keep control of Crimea under a 50- to 100-year lease, if voters approved.

In February 2017, he told the newspaper, he left it on the desk of Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who resigned days later and later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts with the Russian ambassador. But in subsequent interviews, Cohen denied ever delivering the plan to the White House.

Knowledge that Cohen may indeed have traveled to Prague during the campaign could heighten Trump’s risk of being prosecuted for obstruction of justice if news reports are accurate that he is considering firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the Mueller investigation, or Mueller.

“This kind of knowledge impacts his state of mind in taking any action in firing anyone from the Justice Department or Mueller’s office,” Wine-Banks said, because it would be easier for prosecutors to build a criminal case showing he did so to impede Mueller’s investigation.

If the Prague meeting actually occurred, Kosachev’s possible involvement would be especially significant given his close ties to Putin and other roles he has played in covert Moscow efforts to destabilize other countries, Russia experts said.

“While not a member of Putin's innermost circle, (Kosachev) is one of the most influential Russian voices on foreign affairs,” said Michael Carpenter, a former senior Pentagon official. “When Kosachev speaks, everyone knows he's speaking for the Kremlin.”

Kosachev appears to have been a booster of Trump over Clinton in early June of 2016, according to a post on his Facebook page at the time.

“Trump looks slightly more promising,” Kosachev wrote. “At least, he is capable of giving a shake to Washington. He is certainly a pragmatist and not a missionary like his main opponent [Hillary] Clinton.”

The Prague meeting would have occurred during a period when Trump advisers had become jittery about publicity swirling around the campaign’s Russian connections and seemingly friendly posture toward Moscow, according to the dossier and a source familiar with the federal investigation.

Campaign chairman Paul Manafort resigned abruptly on Aug. 19, shortly after the revelation that he had received $12.7 million in secret consulting fees over five years from the pro-Russia Party of Regions in Ukraine. Manafort was instrumental in the 2010 election of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted in early 2014 and fled to Moscow.

Another flap stemmed from a secretive maneuver at the Republican National Convention in July. Party officials weakened language in the 2016 Republican platform calling for a boost in U.S. military aid to support Ukraine’s fight with Russian-backed separatists who invaded Eastern Ukraine and Crimea.

The dossier cited multiple sources as reporting that Kremlin officials also had grown edgy about the possible exposure of their secret “active measures” effort to defeat Clinton and help Trump. According to the dossier, Russian diplomat Mikhail Kalugin was brought home from Russia’s embassy in Washington last August because he had played a key role in coordinating the cyber offensive. McClatchy quoted several Russia experts on Feb. 15 as saying they suspected Kalugin was an intelligence operative. Kalugin has denied any espionage activities. 

Cohen’s attendance at a Prague meeting like the one described in the dossier would have been a logical assignment for him; Trump had long used him to solve business and legal headaches, three Republican operatives who were close to the campaign said.

One source with close ties to the campaign said Cohen “wanted a bigger and more formal role [in the campaign], but there were a lot of long knives out for him within the campaign and the larger GOP infrastructure in part because he was a Democrat and treated people horribly.”

Cohen was best known during the 2016 campaign for his testy interviews defending Trump. In one case, when an interviewer cited poor polling numbers for Trump. Cohen kept aggressively asking, “Says who?”

Beginning last year, he took a hand in fundraising for the Republican National Committee and Trump’s re-election campaign. Cohen was one of four co-chairs of a big fundraiser at the Trump International hotel in mid-2017 that raised about $10 million for the two committees. In April 2017, Cohen was named a national deputy finance chairman at the RNC, not long after his March announcement that he had officially registered as a Republican.

A millionaire with his own New York real estate holdings, Cohen has long had family and business ties to Ukraine. His wife is Ukrainian, and he has had ties to Ukrainian ethanol company. He also once ran a thriving taxi business.

Peter Stone is a McClatchy special correspondent

 

 

WOMP < WOMP<WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

 

100% Fiction

 

like every other piece of Left Wing Garbage you have posted the last 2 yrs....

 

how many more Dicks of Disappoint do you have to suck to see that Trump is not going anywhere man...

 

if everything goes down in Korea like its looking ? History will remember these Libtards as Americans who could not stand a President that did more in his time in office than the previous 4 admins Combined did in 25 fucking years ..... The President who Lowered our Taxes, Enforced our Borders, Got us out of Bad Trade Deals , Brought Companies and Jobs back to America , Defeated Isis, and Ended the 72 yr old war in Korea ....

 

in less than 3 yrs

  • Yep 2

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20 hours ago, treefiddy said:

Rosenstein tells Trump he is not a target of Michael Cohen investigation

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told President Trump last week that the president is not a target in the Michael Cohen investigation, and that the investigation is focused solely on Cohen, the president's personal attorney, a source familiar with the probe told Fox News on Thursday.

Trump has been told previously that he is not a target of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

The source also said the Cohen investigation, together with the abrupt departure of John Dowd from Trump's legal team, slowed, but did not halt talks about Trump sitting down for a potential interview with Mueller.

The FBI last week raided the office, home and hotel room of Cohen. Federal agents reportedly obtained documents related to several issues, including Cohen's payments to adult-film star Stormy Daniels in the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

The Justice Department, meantime, denied comment on the Rosenstein report. “As Department officials have said consistently in testimony and elsewhere, we don’t comment on conversations with the President,” the DOJ told Fox News.

Separately, President Trump’s in-house counsel Ty Cobb said no firings are currently under consideration, including those of Rosenstein or Mueller.

Earlier Thursday, Bloomberg reported that Rosenstein told Trump that he was not being targeted in the wider Mueller probe.

Asked on Wednesday if he was considering removing Rosenstein or Mueller, Trump simply noted that they're "still here."

“They’ve been saying I’m going to get rid of them for the last three months, four months, five months,” Trump said at a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “And they’re still here. We want to get the investigation over with, done with, put it behind us. And we have to get back to business.”

In an interview on Thursday with CNN, former FBI director James Comey addressed the reports about Rosenstein's reported conversation with Trump.

"I don’t know what it means," Comey said. "It’s a fairly standard part of any investigation, trying to decide whether a person you’re encountering is a witness, a subject or a target. A target is someone on whom the investigation, the grand jury has developed … evidence sufficient to charge. Witness is somebody who has nothing to do with any exposure and a subject is everybody in the middle. So, I don’t know the context in which the Deputy Attorney General did that, but that’s the general framework."

That's all apart of the plan...

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38 minutes ago, Beef, Arthur, & Trump Threesomes said:

That's all apart of the plan...

Sure it is. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.

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