Politics: Highlights from the newly released FBI Mueller investigation notes - - PressFrom - US
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Politics Highlights from the newly released FBI Mueller investigation notes

06:10  03 december  2019
06:10  03 december  2019 Source:   cnn.com

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The Special Counsel investigation was an investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections and suspicious links between Trump associates and Russian officials

This weekend's release of interview notes from Robert Mueller 's investigation marks the first publicly available behind-the-scenes look at the special counsel's investigative work outside of court proceedings and the report itself.

Robert Mueller et al. sitting at a table: Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller arrives to testify about his Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election during a House Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, July 24, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)© SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller arrives to testify about his Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election during a House Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, July 24, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

The Justice Department, responding to a lawsuit by CNN and BuzzFeed, released 295 pages of witness memoranda and notes from FBI interviews that were part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference, including contacts with Donald Trump's 2016 campaign.

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President Donald Trump and other top 2016 Trump campaign officials repeatedly privately discussed how the campaign could get access to stolen Democratic emails WikiLeaks had in 2016, according to newly released interview notes from Robert Mueller 's special counsel investigation .

Mueller 's team files FBI special agent Jeffrey Weyland's partially redacted statement detailing the Barr refuses to commit to recusing himself from the Mueller investigation or release Mueller 's March 24: Attorney General William Barr releases a four-page letter to Congress highlighting the

The witnesses include: former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, former Trump 2016 campaign aide Rick Gates, former White House chief of staff John Kelly, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, former White House communications director Hope Hicks and former campaign aide Corey Lewandowski.

This is the second release of interview notes from Mueller's special counsel investigation sparked by lawsuits from CNN and BuzzFeed.

Here are highlights from the documents:

Rosenstein and Jeff Sessions discussed replacing Comey during presidential transition

Rosenstein said in his FBI interview that he had discussed with former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in late 2016 or early 2017 the possibility of replacing FBI Director James Comey. Rosenstein said he thought Comey's public statements on the Hillary Clinton email investigation violated the Justice Department rules and that the FBI needed new leadership.

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The findings from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, are now available to the public. 1 In looking for evidence of a criminal conspiracy, Mr. Mueller said he was instead looking for whether there was evidence of “coordination” between the Trump campaign and Russia in its election interference

Special counsel Robert Mueller 's Russia investigation has concluded, and he has now submitted his long-awaited report to Attorney General William Barr. Here are some key dates from the Mueller probe: 2013: The FBI conducts interviews of Trump associates Paul Manafort and Carter Page as it

Rosenstein said he even reached out to "a few people" as potential candidates for the job. That search was shelved when Rosenstein heard Trump give public backing to Comey remaining in the post.

Rosenstein: 'angry, ashamed, horrified and embarrassed' at handling of Comey firing

Rosenstein would also tell FBI interviewers that he was "angry, ashamed, horrified and embarrassed," at how the White House handled Comey's firing in May 2017.

He said he appointed a special counsel to oversee the Russia investigation not because of a lack of confidence into how the investigation would be handled, but because of a concern about the public perception of the process. He first reached out to Mueller early on May 10, 2017, the day after Comey's firing.

Rosenstein said he later learned that Comey had been notified of his firing by email and not, as Rosenstein had assumed it would be handled, either by the President directly or by Sessions or Rosenstein, as direct supervisors to the FBI director.

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As expected, Mueller didn't really stray from the confines of the report and refused to answer questions he deemed to be The other was from Republicans, who pushed Mueller on the origins of the Russia investigation , and attempted Mueller responds to Trump's claim he interviewed for FBI director job.

Notes from Rosenstein's May 23, 2017 interview were made public on Monday as the result of a court ruling in BuzzFeed News' Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Justice Department. The document sheds new light on the circumstances of Trump's May 16, 2017 meeting with Mueller in the

Rosenstein also was surprised when he learned that the White House was portraying the firing as Rosenstein's idea. Rosenstein said that by the evening of May 9, it was clear that White House officials had been telling the story of Comey's firing in a manner "inconsistent with my experience and personal knowledge."

Rosenstein said he refused a White House request to attend a press conference on the Comey firing and told the Justice public affairs chief that the Justice Department "cannot participate in putting out a false story."

Hope Hicks discusses how to handle Trump Tower meeting

In a June 29, 2017, meeting with Hicks, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and the President, Hicks advocated for getting in front of the emails about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting. Hicks wanted Donald Trump Jr. to do an interview with "softball questions" to get the emails out. Kushner didn't believe the story was a big deal.

Hicks told the President "this is going to be a massive story." According to the document, "The President did not want to talk about it and did not want the details."

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller has urged a federal judge to reject an attempt by Michael Flynn “to minimise the seriousness” of him lying to the FBI . Here is another choice quote from the Mueller filing today: "The defendant undoubtedly was aware, in light of his ‘many years’ working with the FBI

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On July 8, 2017, at the G-20 summit, Hicks told Trump about the upcoming New York Times story about the Trump Tower meeting: "The President asked what the meeting was about. Hicks told him Kushner and Junior had told her the meeting was about Russian adoption. The President said words to the effect of, 'then just say that' and dictated what she should say."

Pence pushed Trump to fire Flynn, Gates said

Gates pinned some of the decision to fire national security adviser Michael Flynn on Vice President Mike Pence.

"Gates said Pence went to Trump about firing Flynn and he thought it was one of the few times Pence pushed Trump hard like that," Mueller's team wrote in the summary of Gates' April 2018 cooperation interview.

Investigators also noted that Gates thought Trump and Flynn had a good relationship, and that Trump didn't want to fire his national security adviser but "felt like he had no choice" after Flynn lied to Pence about his contact with the Russian ambassador.

Giuliani wouldn't have recused himself on Russia investigation, Gates said

Gates told the special counsel's office -- as they investigated possible obstruction of justice by the President -- that if Rudy Giuliani had been the attorney general, some believed he wouldn't have recused himself from the Russia investigation, which at times targeted Trump's campaign advisers.

Barr: Horowitz report shows FBI launched Trump campaign investigation on 'thinnest of suspicions'

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The newly released documents confirm those claims. The documents include then- FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s notes after talking with Flynn to arrange The January 2017 interview with the FBI was the basis of Flynn’s guilty plea to making false statements in a deal with Mueller 's team.

The notes of the FBI 's interview with Flynn on Jan. 24, 2017, were filed with some parts redacted on Monday. The agents reported that Flynn denied discussing In their sentencing memo to Sullivan last week, Mueller 's prosecutors also said Flynn also lied to the Justice Department about his ties to Turkey.

Trump had wanted Mueller fired at one point, and was irate over Sessions' recusal from overseeing the Mueller investigation, Mueller ultimately found.

"After the recusal, he recalled conversations where people offered their opinion that had Rudy Giuliani been attorney general, he would not have recused himself. Gates knew Giuliani had been the first choice for attorney general, but turned it down because he wanted to be Secretary of State instead," the FBI summary of the interview with Gates said.

Sekulow said it wasn't necessary to elaborate on Trump Tower Moscow talks, Cohen says

Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen told Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow that there were details about the Trump Tower Moscow discussions that were not included in the statement they were providing Congress, including more communications with Russia and more communications with Donald Trump.

But Sekulow told him it was "not necessary to elaborate or include those details because the transaction did not take place."

"Sekulow said it did not matter and Cohen should not contradict Trump and that it was time to move on," according to the summary of Cohen's interview.

Sekulow assured Cohen that Trump was happy with him. Cohen also told investigators that he was told that as a member of a joint defense agreement he was "protected" but he would not be if he "went rogue." The section around the this statement is heavily redacted and it isn't clear who told this to Cohen.

Cohen later pleaded guilty to lying to Congress by withholding contacts he had with the Russian government, the number of communications he had with Trump and their discussions to fly to Moscow in the summer of 2016, months before the election.

Trump’s Russia-probe defense, led by Barr, is already moving on from Horowitz

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Cohen also recalled talking to Trump about his call with someone from the Kremlin -- Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov's assistant -- who he said asked great questions about a possible Trump Tower in Moscow and noted that he wished the Trump Organization had assistants as competent as she was.

Manafort made clear Trump and others were behind him, Mueller learned

The documents detail how much former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was coaxing his aide Gates not to flip, and include several examples where Manafort told Gates what he was supposedly hearing from Trump, Trump's then-personal attorney John Dowd and White House adviser Jared Kushner.

At one point, Manafort had apparently been speaking with attorneys and heard Trump say in the room "stay strong," Gates said Manafort had told him.

Manafort also said to Gates he had an email of support from Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, Gates told the FBI.

Though Gates recounted these messages from Manafort as they both faced indictment, Gates noted to investigators that he was unsure if Manafort's stories were true.

The details, which were not previously known, highlight how significant it was for Manafort to have agreed to cooperate, then lie to Mueller, potentially blocking the special counsel from getting to the truth of what happened. Manafort's interview notes from the Mueller investigation are not yet publicly available. Dowd was not interviewed by the special counsel's office. (He was involved in another conversation where he apparently pressed Flynn's lawyers not to flip.)

"I talked to Dowd. I've covered you at the White House," Manafort had said to Gates, Mueller learned in April 2018. Manafort also told Gates about two pots of money -- legal defense funds -- including one that Manafort and Gates could benefit from as they fought their charges. Manafort discussed these with Dowd, Gates said.

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"Manafort told Gates it was stupid to plead and that he would get a better deal down the road," the memos state. "Manafort said he had been in touch with Dowd and repeated they should 'sit tight' and 'we'll be taken care of.' Manafort never explicitly mentioned pardons," the FBI wrote about Gates' retelling.

Kelly backed up McGahn's testimony

The document dump sheds new light on what Mueller learned from former White House chief of staff John Kelly, who sat for an interview in August 2018.

Investigators quizzed Kelly about Trump's efforts to fire Mueller in June 2017, and his efforts to contain the fallout when The New York Times revealed the unsuccessful attempt in a January 2018 article. The Mueller report determined that there was substantial evidence that both of these episodes constituted obstruction of justice, though Trump could not be charged due to Justice Department policy

Kelly told investigators about a "tense" conversation in the Oval Office that he witnessed between Trump and then-White House counsel Don McGahn, where Trump asked McGahn to "correct the record" after the Times article came out, but McGahn maintained that there was nothing to fix.

After the meeting, McGahn privately told Kelly that he "did have that conversation" with Trump, presumably about firing Mueller. (The memo is heavily redacted but the implication is clear.)

Cohen asked about a pardon from Trump

Cohen asked Sekulow about the possibility of a pardon some time after his apartment and hotel room were raided by the FBI in April 2018. Cohen noted he had been loyal to the President.

"Cohen said it was an uncomfortable position to be in and wanted to know what was in it for him," one memo states.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

Rick Gates Seeks to Avoid Jail at Sentencing for Conspiracy .
Former Trump campaign official Rick Gates asked a judge to put him on probation and order him to do community service for his crimes of conspiracy and lying to federal investigators. © Bloomberg Rick Gates was a key witness in the Mueller investigation.In a court filing Monday, Gates said he has accepted responsibility “in every way possible.” He’s scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington on Dec. 17. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.

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