it's mueller time
March 14, 2019

Everyone wants to see the Mueller report. Yes, literally everyone.

Attorney General William Barr has so far refused to promise to make the contents of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe public — an issue that led most Senate Democrats to oppose his confirmation in the first place. Yet it seems even Republicans are fed up with the secrecy, as the House voted unanimously Thursday on a resolution demanding the report be made public.

Both sides of the aisle teamed up, voting 420-0 to make Mueller's report on potential ties between President Trump's campaign and Russian election interference available to Congress and the public. Eight members of Congress didn't vote and four Republicans voted "present," but no one voted against the non-binding resolution. The decision can't force Barr to release the entire report to the public or even Congress, prompting some Republicans to say it was a "waste of time," The Washington Post notes. There's also no indication that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will bring it for a vote.

Still, the resolution serves as an overwhelming reminder to Barr of what many lawmakers want from him. House Democrats have already started their own probe into the Trump campaign and administration, potentially to duplicate and expand on Mueller's or provide what Barr may withhold. Mueller has reportedly been wrapping up his investigation, and is expected to release it to Barr in the next few months. Kathryn Krawczyk

February 7, 2019

A redacted transcript released Thursday shows that Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, was still working in Ukraine after he was indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and that prosecutors believe he may have lied in order to help boost his chances for a presidential pardon.

In the hearing, held Monday, prosecutor Andrew Weissmann told Judge Amy Berman Jackson that the special counsel was extremely interested in a meeting Manafort had with Russian political consultant Konstantin Kilimnik in 2016. Mueller indicted Manafort in 2017, and last September, he reached a deal with prosecutors, pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy and witness tampering. He agreed to be a cooperating witness, but in November, the special counsel said Manafort had lied multiple times, voiding their agreement.

Manafort told the special counsel the last time he discussed Ukrainian policy with Kilimnik was at the 2016 meeting, but prosecutors now say the pair met to talk about Ukrainian policy throughout 2017 and in 2018.

The transcript reveals that prosecutors also believe Manafort lied about "an extremely sensitive matter" related to his former deputy, Rick Gates. It is thought that Manafort lied about this because being truthful would lead to "negative consequences in terms of the other motive that Mr. Manafort could have, which is to at least augment his chances for a pardon." Read more about the transcript at NBC News. Catherine Garcia

January 31, 2019

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office is still sifting through "voluminous and complex" evidence seized from Roger Stone's Florida home and office, and asked a judge on Thursday to delay his trial so they can have enough time to look through everything.

Stone, a Republican operative and longtime friend and adviser to President Trump, was arrested last week and charged with making false statements, witness tampering, and "obstruction of proceeding." Investigators are looking into whether he knew in advance that WikiLeaks was going to release hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 presidential election; he has denied having close ties to WikiLeaks.

In a court filing, prosecutors said hard drives containing several terabytes worth of information were seized from Stone's house, and they are now looking through "FBI case reports, search warrant applications and results (e.g. Apple iCloud accounts and email accounts), bank and financial records, and the contents of numerous physical devices (e.g. cellular phones, computers, and hard drives)." The FBI is now doing a "filter review," NBC News reports, meaning they are putting to the side any evidence they find that is privileged, and thus cannot be admissible in court. Catherine Garcia

January 30, 2019

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office filed a complaint on Wednesday, saying a Twitter account, in an attempt to discredit the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, released more than 1,000 sensitive files from an active criminal case.

The Mueller filing objects to a discovery request from Concord Management and Consulting, a Russian agency owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In February 2018, Concord, Prigozhin, and other Russian individuals were indicted, accused of disrupting the 2016 election.

Concord is being represented by the U.S. law firm Reed Smith, and through discovery, Reed Smith lawyers were given access to about four million documents from Mueller's office, most of them marked sensitive. A judge in June told the lawyers they could only discuss or share the sensitive materials if they received court approval, and they could not be "disclosed, transported, or transmitted outside the United States," Politico reports.

In October, the Twitter account @HackingRedstone tweeted they had hacked into the Mueller investigation's database, and leaked what it described as "files Mueller had about the IRA [Internet Research Agency] and Russian collusion." There were 300,000 files on the website, and the Mueller team and FBI determined that more than 1,000 had watermarks unique to materials shared with Concord during discovery, Politico reports. The FBI also found that the website was registered a week before the tweet was sent, with the IP address in Russia. There was "no evidence" any of Mueller's servers were hacked, the special counsel wrote, and the materials were likely released "to discredit the investigation." Catherine Garcia

January 22, 2019

A former Trump campaign aide told CNN on Tuesday that when he was interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team, investigators asked him about how the National Rifle Association forged a relationship with the campaign.

Sam Nunberg said he was also questioned about President Trump's speech at the NRA's annual meeting in 2015, and how that opportunity came up. Nunberg was interviewed in February 2018, but CNN reports that as recently as a month ago, investigators were asking about ties between the NRA and the campaign.

The NRA spent $30 million to support Trump's candidacy, more than the organization spent on presidential, House, and Senate races combined in 2008 and 2012. People familiar with the matter told CNN that Mueller did not ask Trump about the NRA in the written questions he sent him.

Last month, Russian national Maria Butina pleaded guilty to conspiring against the United States, and has acknowledged forming friendships with prominent NRA members in order to gain access to GOP political circles. She said she was working under the direction of Alexander Torshin, a former Russian central banker and lifetime member of the NRA. Catherine Garcia

December 20, 2018

There are signs that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election is winding down, several government officials told NBC News on Thursday, and he could submit his confidential report to the attorney general as soon as February.

"They are clearly tying up loose ends," one person said. Since his appointment in May 2017, Mueller has charged 33 people and convicted three — Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former National Security Advisdr Michael Flynn, and Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen. Manafort, Flynn, and Cohen all cooperated at one point or another with Mueller, and will soon be sentenced. Legal experts told NBC News prosecutors try to hold off on sentencing cooperating witnesses while they still need to retain leverage over them, and this is a sign that Mueller is wrapping up the inquiry. Catherine Garcia

December 19, 2018

On Friday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller requested that the House Intelligence Committee turn over an official transcript of Roger Stone's closed-door testimony from September 2017, people familiar with the matter told The Washington Post on Wednesday.

This is the first time Mueller has formally asked the committee for material collected during its investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign, people with knowledge of the matter said, and it's a sign he may be preparing to charge Stone with a crime. "Prosecutors can't bring a charge without an original certified copy of the transcript that shows the witness lied," former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirshner told the Post.

Stone is one of President Trump's longtime friends and informal advisers, and Mueller has been investigating whether Stone knew in advance that WikiLeaks planned on releasing hacked Democratic emails during the presidential campaign. Stone accurately predicted the document dump and bragged about being in contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but has since said he was exaggerating. Catherine Garcia

December 7, 2018

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is due to file two important documents on Friday: a sentencing memo for President Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen and a report explaining the alleged "crimes and lies" of Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

In August, Manafort was found guilty of tax and bank fraud in Virginia. He agreed in September to cooperate with Mueller's team to avoid a second trial on financial fraud charges in the District of Columbia. Last week, Mueller's office accused Manafort of violating his plea agreement by repeatedly lying to investigators. The special counsel said it would file a document detailing Manafort's "crimes and lies" for the court to take into consideration when sentencing him. "In Manafort's case, we are likely to learn of what may have pushed him to commit legal suicide," former federal prosecutor Kendall Coffey told USA Today.

Cohen has made two separate plea agreements: one with federal prosecutors in New York, and the other with Mueller's team. He pleaded guilty in August to campaign finance violations, and last week, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the scrapped Trump Tower Moscow project. Mueller's Cohen memo is expected to explain how he cooperated with the special counsel's office. "Given his proximity and centrality to Trump's operation before and after the election, it would be difficult to find any better cooperating witness than Michael Cohen," Coffey said.

On Tuesday, Mueller's office recommended in a sentencing memo that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn not receive any prison time, because he had offered "substantial assistance." Flynn provided aid not only with the Russia probe, but two other investigations that remain sealed, including one criminal inquiry.

Also on Friday, former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos will be released from prison after serving a 14-day sentence. He was the first person to plead guilty in the Mueller probe, after lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians. Catherine Garcia

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