Russia Special Counsel Investigation

May 29, 2019 – Mueller, in first comments on Russia inquiry, declines to clear Trump

“Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, declined on Wednesday to clear President Trump of obstruction of justice in his first public characterization of his two-year investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mr. Mueller said, reading from prepared notes behind a lectern at the Justice Department at a hastily called public appearance.

He also noted that while Justice Department policy prohibits charging a sitting president with a crime, the Constitution provides for another remedy to formally accuse a president of wrongdoing — a clear reference to the ability of Congress to conduct impeachment proceedings.

Although it lasted less than 10 minutes, the news conference presented an extraordinary spectacle of a top federal law enforcement official publicly stating that the president’s conduct had warranted criminal investigation, even though it was impossible to indict him for any crimes. Mr. Mueller delivered his statement on his last day as special counsel, saying it was his final word on his investigation and he was returning to private life.

Democratic presidential candidates immediately seized on Mr. Mueller’s refusal to exonerate Mr. Trump to call for the president’s impeachment, intensifying pressure on Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has insisted impeachment proceedings would only play into Mr. Trump’s hands.

The president’s aides and allies tried to cast the event as not even newsworthy, just a summary of a 448-page report released weeks ago. Mr. Mueller “has closed his office and it’s time for everybody to move on,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary.” (Read more: The New York Times, 5/29/2019)

Read the full transcript of Mr. Mueller’s statement.

September 14, 2018 – Opinion: Lisa Page testifies FBI couldn’t prove Trump-Russia collusion before Mueller appointment

Lisa Page arrives on Capitol Hill July 16, 2018, to participate in an interview with the House judiciary and oversight and reform committees. (Credit: Michael Reynolds/EPA-EFE)

By: John Solomon

To date, Lisa Page’s infamy has been driven mostly by the anti-Donald Trump text messages she exchanged with fellow FBI agent Peter Strzok as the two engaged in an affair while investigating the president for alleged election collusion with Russia.

Yet, when history judges the former FBI lawyer years from now, her most consequential pronouncement may not have been typed on her bureau-issued Samsung smartphone to her colleague and lover.

Rather, it might be eight simple words she uttered behind closed doors during a congressional interview a few weeks ago.

“It’s a reflection of us still not knowing,” Page told Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) when questioned about texts she and Strzok exchanged in May 2017 as Robert Mueller was being named a special prosecutor to take over the Russia investigation.

With that statement, Page acknowledged a momentous fact: After nine months of using some of the most awesome surveillance powers afforded to U.S. intelligence, the FBI still had not made a case connecting Trump or his campaign to Russia’s election meddling.

Page opined further, acknowledging “it still existed in the scope of possibility that there would be literally nothing” to connect Trump and Russia, no matter what Mueller or the FBI did.

“As far as May of 2017, we still couldn’t answer the question,” she said at another point.”

(…) “For those who might cast doubt on the word of a single FBI lawyer, there’s more.”  (Read more: The Hill, 9/14/2018)

May 4, 2018 – Comey’s memo leak contact works at FBI for over a year and defends him in media on Clinton probe

Daniel Richman (Credit: Fox News)

(…) “Government transcripts indicate Richman was sent talking points about the FBI’s handling of the Clinton investigation. Those talking points attempted to compare and contrast Clinton’s use of an unsecured personal server exclusively for government business with the case of retired Gen. David Petraeus, who shared classified information with his biographer and mistress Paula Broadwell, as well as the case brought against the late Sandy Berger. The former national security adviser under President Clinton pleaded guilty to the unauthorized removal and retention of classified material from the National Archives.

Since Richman’s time at the bureau, Republican lawmakers have taken interest in his role – specifically in helping Comey leak the contents of at least one memo documenting his private discussions with President Trump to the media, after Richman left the bureau. Richman first emerged last year during Senate testimony as the former FBI director’s contact for getting that information out to the media, to kick-start the Russia special counsel investigation.”

(…) “In an email, Fox News asked Richman a series of questions about his work for Comey as an SGE, including if he worked unpaid between June 2015 and February 2017, and if he engaged with the media about the Clinton email case or other bureau matters at the request of FBI personnel including Comey.

Fox News also asked whether Richman volunteered to media outlets that he was working for Comey as a special government employee when he gave interviews about the Clinton probe. Richman did not respond Wednesday to the email questions. The FBI also has not responded to questions submitted Wednesday by Fox News.

During his Senate Intelligence Committee testimony in June 2017, after his firing, Comey did not volunteer that Richman was also an FBI employee. During a recent interview on Fox News, Comey said “it wasn’t relevant” because Richman left the FBI in February 2017. Comey said he had no other special government employees, and Richman’s job dealt with terrorist communications as well as law enforcement data.” (Read more: Fox News, 5/03/2018)

April 12, 2018 – Rosenstein tells Trump he is not a target of Mueller’s investigation

(Credit: Daily Beast)

“U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told President Donald Trump last week that he is not a target of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, according to a source familiar with the probe.

After the April 12 conversation with Rosenstein, Trump told advisers that he was not inclined to seek the ouster of either man since he is not the target of Mueller’s probe.”

(…) “Under Justice Department policy, a target is someone who is believed to have committed a crime and is likely to face charges, while a subject is someone whose conduct is within the scope of an investigation, said Lisa Kern Griffin, a former federal prosecutor and a professor at Duke University School of Law.

The Washington Post reported earlier this month that Trump is a subject of the probe.

Griffin said the assurance from Rosenstein is not significant because the president could yet become a target of the investigation.

“It is possible to progress from being a subject to being a target if the necessary substantive and structural support emerges later,” she said.” (Read more: Reuters, April 19, 2018)

August, 2017 – Special counsel Robert Mueller removes Peter Strzok from his team of investigators

“It was revealed on Saturday that Strzok was removed from Mueller’s team in August after the Department of Justice’s inspector general discovered that he exchanged anti-Trump and pro-Hillary Clinton text messages with his mistress, an FBI lawyer named Lisa Page who also worked on the Mueller team.

Strzok was sent to the FBI’s human resources department. The circumstances of the demotion remained a mystery for several months, with Mueller’s office refusing to provide background information on the personnel move.

The revelation of Strzok’s biased texts is significant because of his central role in both the Russia investigation and the Clinton email probe. As the FBI’s No. 2 counter-terrorism official, Strzok helped start both of the investigations. He also conducted interviews with former national security adviser Michael Flynn in the Russia investigation and with Clinton and several of her top aides in the email inquiry.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 12/05/2017)

April 11, 2017 – Mueller’s top investigator arranges meeting with reporters to discuss Manafort investigation

Andrew Weissmann (Credit: public domain)

“Justice Department documents released on Friday confirm that the DOJ attorney known as Robert Mueller’s “pit bull” arranged a meeting with journalists in April 2017 to discuss an investigation into Paul Manafort.

The documents show that Andrew Weissmann arranged a meeting with DOJ and FBI officials and four Associated Press reporters on April 11, 2017, just over a month before Mueller was appointed special counsel.

Manafort’s lawyers obtained the documents on June 29 and revealed them in a briefing filed in federal court in Virginia. The attorneys are pushing for a hearing into what they say are possible leaks of secret grand jury information, false information and potentially classified materials from the meeting.

“The meeting raises serious concerns about whether a violation of grand jury secrecy occurred,” a lawyer for Manafort, Kevin Downing, wrote in a motion requesting a hearing. “Based on the FBI’s own notes of the meeting, it is beyond question that a hearing is warranted.”

Manafort’s attorneys have for months questioned whether Weissmann, the number two official on the Mueller team, leaked information about Manafort to The AP. At the time of the meeting, Weissmann served as chief of the Justice Department’s criminal fraud section.

He previously served as general counsel to Mueller when he was FBI director. Weissmann joined the special counsel’s investigation when it was formed on May 17, 2017. (Read more: Daily Caller, 7/08/2018)

July 7, 2016 – Carter Page speaks at the New Economic School in Moscow and that is the catalyst for the FBI investigation

Carter Page speaks at the New Economic School in Moscow on July 7, 2016.(Credit: Anton Denisov/Sputnik/The Associated Press)

(…) “That trip last July was a catalyst for the F.B.I. investigation into connections between Russia and President Trump’s campaign, according to current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials.

It is unclear exactly what about Mr. Page’s visit drew the F.B.I.’s interest: meetings he had during his three days in Moscow, intercepted communications of Russian officials speaking about him, or something else.

After Mr. Page, 45 — a Navy veteran and businessman who had lived in Moscow for three years — stepped down from the Trump campaign in September, the F.B.I. obtained a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court allowing the authorities to monitor his communications on the suspicion that he was a Russian agent.”

(…) “In his talk at the New Economic School in Moscow, Mr. Page criticized American policy toward Russia in terms that echoed the position of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, declaring, “Washington and other Western capitals have impeded potential progress through their often hypocritical focus on ideas such as democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change.” His remarks accorded with Mr. Trump’s positive view of the Russian president, which had prompted speculation about what Mr. Trump saw in Mr. Putin — more commonly denounced in the United States as a ruthless, anti-Western autocrat.

Mr. Page’s relationship with Mr. Trump appears to have been fleeting. According to former Trump campaign officials, the two men have never met, though Mr. Page has said he attended some meetings where Mr. Trump was present.” (Read more: New York Times, 4/19/2017)

March 4, 2016 – Strzok and Page texts are favorable toward Clinton, not so favorable toward Trump, at same time both are being investigated by FBI

“FBI agent Peter Strzok praised Hillary Clinton and said he would vote for her for president while also leading the investigation into her possible mishandling of classified information.

In March 2016, Strzok sent his mistress Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer, text messages saying that “Hillary should win 100,000,000 – 0.”

And asked who he would vote for in the election, Strzok told Page: “I suppose Hillary.”

Strzok and Page also sent messages disparaging Trump, calling him an “idiot.”

(…) “Strzok and Page’s politically-charged texts continued as he transitioned from the Clinton investigation to the Russia probe.

On July 27, 2016, Page wrote of Clinton, “She just has to to win now.”

“I’m not going to lie, I got a flash of nervousness yesterday about Trump,” she said.

According to various news reports, Strzok was picked to lead the Russia investigation at around the time that message was sent.

It was revealed earlier this month that Strzok is the FBI official who watered down the language in a statement prepared for Comey. Instead of using the legal term “grossly negligent” to describe Clinton’s email activities, Strzok inserted the phrase “extremely careless.”

Strzok also appears to have gone much easier on Clinton aides that he interviewed in the email probe than he did on Trump associates he met with during the Russia investigation.

Abedin and Mills, the two Clinton aides, appear to have given misleading statements in their interviews about what they knew about Clinton’s use of a private email server. But neither faced charges for the false statements.

In contrast, former national security adviser Michael Flynn was charged for lying to the FBI during an interview in January. Strzok was one of the agents who conducted the interview.” (Read more: Daily Caller, 12/12/2016) (Strzok/Page Text Documents)