Robert Mueller is reportedly digging into a meeting between Michael Flynn and a notoriously pro-Russia congressman
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election has turned its attention to an alleged meeting between former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and pro-Russia Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), NBC News reports. The meeting reportedly occurred in September 2016 and was also attended by Flynn's son, among other people.
As NBC notes, "Mueller's interest in the nature of Flynn and Rohrabacher's discussion marks the first known time a member of Congress could be wrapped into the investigation."
On Sunday, NBC News reported that Mueller already has enough evidence to indict Flynn, who resigned from his position as national security adviser less than a month into the Trump administration after apparently lying to Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russia, and failing to register as an agent of the Turkish government.
For his part, Rohrabacher has long been viewed as a friend of Russia. In 2012, the FBI reportedly warned Rohrabacher that Russian spies were actively trying to recruit him. And in May, The Washington Post published audio of a conversation in which House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told Republican lawmakers, "There's two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump." A spokesman for McCarthy initially denied the exchange ever occurred, but eventually told the Post that it was "a failed attempt at humor." Kelly O'Meara Morales
The Senate Judiciary Committee announced Friday that it is expanding its probe into Russia's influence over the 2016 election to include an investigation of the firing of FBI Director James Comey and, by extension, former President Barack Obama's attorney general, Loretta Lynch, and her "alleged political interference," CBS News reports.
The committee is interested in a New York Times article from April that cited a hacked Russian intelligence memo that quoted a Democratic operative as "express[ing] confidence that Ms. Lynch would keep the [investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server] from going too far." Many U.S. intelligence officials, including the FBI, believe the memo is unreliable or an outright fake.
"Still, the document, according to The Washington Post, factored into then-FBI Director James Comey's controversial decision to publicly announce the end of the Clinton email investigation — without discussing it in advance with Lynch," CBS News writes. And in his letter to President Trump recommending the firing of Comey, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote that Comey "was wrong to usurp [Lynch's] authority on July 5, 2016, and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution. It is not the function of the director to make such an announcement."
The Senate Judiciary Committee letter announcing the new probe was signed by Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) as well as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Jeva Lange
The Washington Post published its latest scoop related to President Trump on Wednesday night — five different officials told the paper that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice — and as soon as the Republican National Committee wrote its talking points in response to the story, the pages were leaked to the Post's Philip Rucker.
On Twitter, Rucker shared the talking points that were put together in an attempt to discredit his paper's report, saying they were sent to him by a source. The document mentions leaks several times, calling them "inexcusable, outrageous, and illegal. The leaks are the only crime here." The investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia is a "fishing expedition," and if the investigators "had a real case, they wouldn't be leaking information," the RNC argued. The Republican talking-point creators concluded that the obstruction of justice charges are "baseless" and it's time to "get back to the real issues that matter to Americans." Maybe tomorrow there will be a leak about the leak about the leaks. Catherine Garcia
A federal contractor has been charged with leaking a classified National Security Agency document on Russian hacking before the 2016 presidential election to an online media outlet, the Department of Justice announced Monday.
Reality Leigh Winner, 25, of Pluribus International Corporation in Georgia, admitted to purposely leaking the information, prosecutors said, and she was arrested on June 3. "Releasing classified material without authorization threatens our nation's security and undermines public faith in government," Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a statement Monday. "People who are trusted with classified information and pledge to protect it must be held accountable when they violate that obligation."
Winner had top secret security clearance, and an internal audit found that she was one of just six people who printed the leaked document, and the sole person to have made contact via email with a news outlet. While the Department of Justice did not say who she leaked the document to, several people with knowledge of the situation told CNN the information she leaked was the basis for an article The Intercept published on Monday regarding a cyberattack by Russian military intelligence against a U.S. voting software supplier before last year's election. Catherine Garcia
U.S. Treasury Department agents investigating former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's work in Eastern Europe have received information this year about Manafort's offshore financial transactions in Cyprus, The Associated Press reported early Thursday, citing "a person familiar with the case." Cypriot investigators reportedly turned over the documents to the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and the Cyprus attorney general was aware of the U.S. request. Manafort declined to comment to the AP and a Treasury spokesman said he could not confirm or deny potential investigations.
The time period covered under the requested documents isn't clear, AP says, though federal prosecutors have been interested in Manafort's actions in relation to stolen Ukrainian assets since one of his clients, pro-Moscow former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, was ousted in 2014. (No U.S. charges have been filed in that case.) AP — which reported on Wednesday that Manafort signed a $10 million annual contract in 2006 with Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch close to Russian President Vladimir Putin — says U.S. investigators are expected to examine millions of dollars in wire transfers to Cyprus. Manafort is known to use Cyprus to route money, AP says, including from Deripaska, as detailed in a 2014 lawsuit. Those secretive transfers are not in themselves illegal.
On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says President Trump was unaware of Manafort's work for Deripaska. Democrats said the Trump-Russian connections keep piling up. AP's reporting "undermines the groundless assertions that the administration has been making that there are no ties between President Trump and Russia. This is not a drip, drip, drip," said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee. "This is now dam-breaking with water flushing out with all kinds of entanglements." You can read more at AP. Peter Weber