JUDICIAL WATCH: Suit Filed for Records of Former FBI Counsel Baker’s Communications with Anti-Trump Dossier Author

(Washington, DC) — Judicial Watch announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice for all records of communication from January 2016 to January 2018 between former FBI General Counsel James Baker and anti-Trump dossier author Christopher Steele.

Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeking to compel the FBI to comply with a January 5, 2018, FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:19-cv-00177). The lawsuit seeks:

Any and all records of communication, including but not limited to emails, text messages and instant chats, sent between Baker and any of the following individuals: former British intelligence officer Steele, principal of Orbis Business Intelligence, Ltd.; Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS; former GPS contractor Nellie Ohr; and/or David Corn, a reporter with Mother Jones magazine.

The FBI claimed it had no responsive records, but Baker was deeply involved with the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign and is currently the subject of a criminal investigation for leaking to the media.

The FBI’s “no records” response is belied by Baker’s closed-door congressional testimony in October 2018, in which he reportedly testified that David Corn, a reporter at the far Left Mother Jones magazine, had provided him with a copy of the anti-Trump dossier the day after President Trump’s 2016 election victory. Baker also reportedly testified that he believed at the time Corn received the dossier from Simpson, the co-founder of Fusion GPS.

Fusion GPS employee Nellie Ohr is the wife of former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, who was a key conduit between dossier author Christopher Steele and the FBI. Former FBI Director James Comey himself called the dossier “salacious and unverified.”

Judicial Watch in August 2018 filed a related lawsuit seeking records about the Ohrs’ involvement in the anti-Trump dossier and the FBI’s meetings with the Democratic National Committee’s law firm Perkins Coie. In November Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit about the firm itself.

Perkins Coie had hired Fusion GPS to dig into President Trump’s background. Baker reportedly told congressional investigators that Perkins Coie lawyer Michael Sussmann “initiated contact with [Baker] and provided documents and computer storage devices on Russian hacking.” The contact was made in late 2016 as federal investigators prepared a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

In August 2018, Judicial Watch released FBI records showing that Steele was cut off as a “Confidential Human Source” after he disclosed his relationship to the FBI to a third party. The documents show at least 11 FBI payments to Steele in 2016.

Baker also advised top FBI officials during the Hillary Clinton email scandal. He left his role as general counsel in January 2018 and resigned from the FBI in May 2018.

“The real collusion scandal of the 2016 election is the effort by the Clinton campaign and the Obama DOJ/FBI to spy on and destroy President Donald Trump,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said. “And it looks like the FBI is covering up documents on this Russiagate scandal, which is why Judicial Watch is again in federal court.”

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HE’S BAAAAACK: Mueller reemerges with questions about Trump, Russia

WASHINGTON (AP) — Robert Mueller is back.

After a quiet few months in the run-up to the midterm elections, the special counsel’s Russia investigation is heating up again with a string of tantalizing new details emerging this week.

None of it answers the central question: Did Donald Trump and his campaign coordinate with Russia to help him win America’s 2016 presidential election. But the new evidence does make clear that some in Trump’s orbit recognized his Russia connections were a problem — so they lied about them.

Mueller has indicated there are more criminal charges to come.

Here’s a look at the key lines of inquiry, what we know and what we don’t.

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WHAT’S THE LATEST?

It’s been a busy week.

On Thursday, Michael Cohen, the longtime Trump lawyer and legal fixer, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about his efforts during the 2016 campaign to line up a Trump Tower Moscow project. The plea was significant because it prominently featured Trump and conversations he and his family had with Cohen about the project.

Prosecutors did not accuse Trump or his grown children of any wrongdoing. But Cohen said he lied to be consistent with Trump’s “political messaging.”

The surprise plea came just days after prosecutors revealed that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s separate plea deal fell apart over allegations that he lied to investigators, a development that could lead to new charges .

Draft court documents made public this week also revealed that Mueller made a plea offer to Jerome Corsi, a conservative writer and conspiracy theorist. The documents accused Corsi of lying about his discussions with Trump confidant Roger Stone about WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.

American intelligence agencies and Mueller have said Russia was the source of hacked material released by WikiLeaks during the campaign that damaged Hillary Clinton’s presidential effort. Mueller’s office is trying to determine whether Corsi and Stone had advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’ plans.

Corsi has denied lying and rejected the plea offer. Stone has also denied having any contact with WikiLeaks or knowledge of its plans.

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WHAT DO WE KNOW FOR SURE?

There were a lot of contacts between Russia and people close to Trump. And the Kremlin mounted a large-scale operation that sought to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Trump, according to Mueller and U.S intelligence agencies .

In public court filings, Mueller has woven a narrative of events that he believes are significant. They include contacts between a little-known campaign foreign policy adviser and Russian intermediaries, conversations the president and his family had with Cohen about a proposed Trump Tower Moscow and contacts between senior advisers in Trump’s incoming administration and Russian officials during the transition period.

Much of that has become public because key participants — Cohen, ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and ex-Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos— lied to federal agents about it.

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WHAT REMAINS UNKNOWN?

Mueller has yet to answer definitively the central questions in the Russia probe.

Did any Trump associates coordinate with Russia in an attempt to sway the 2016 presidential election? And did the president cross the line and obstruct justice in his efforts to stymie the Russia investigation?

Mueller’s team is also intently focused on WikiLeaks and whether anyone close to Trump or his campaign knew in advance about the group’s plans to release the material hacked by Russia.

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WHO HAS BEEN ACCUSED OF CRIMES?

Thirty-three people and three companies.

Since Mueller’s appointment in May 2017, he’s obtained guilty pleas from seven people including five involved in the Trump campaign. Flynn and Papadopoulos both admitted to lying about their contacts with Russians or Russian intermediaries.

Mueller also brought a series of charges against Manafort over undisclosed foreign lobbying on behalf of Ukraine and millions of dollars that were never reported to the IRS. Manafort was convicted by a jury of eight felony counts. His right-hand man, Rick Gates, took a plea deal , and Mueller brought obstruction charges against Konstantin Kilimnik, a Manafort associate who prosecutors say has ties to Russian intelligence.

In addition, Mueller has brought sweeping indictments against Russians. That includes charging 13 Russians and three companies with orchestrating a covert effort to flood American social media with disinformation to sow discord during the U.S. election campaign. One company is fighting the charges. Twelve Russian intelligence officers were also accused of hacking Democratic organizations during the 2016 campaign.

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WHAT ABOUT TRUMP?

The president is angry to the point of boiling about the Mueller probe — and he’s hinted he may do something about it.

Trump has heightened his attacks in recent weeks, blasting the special counsel as corrupt and unethical. He’s even accused Mueller of pressuring people to lie.

In a tweet, Trump floated the idea of giving those caught up in the investigation some ”relief .” And this week, he said he hasn’t ruled out a pardon for Manafort.

All of this came as his attorneys turned over Trump’s written answers to Mueller’s questions about his knowledge of any ties between his campaign and Russia.

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WHEN WILL WE FIND OUT MORE?

It’s not clear.

Mueller’s indictments and guilty pleas are not announced ahead of time. The special counsel also hasn’t said when he will complete any report of his findings.

But there are several deadlines coming up where Mueller will have to disclose at least some new details about his investigation.

Next week, prosecutors will have to disclose what lies they say Manafort told them after he agreed to cooperate. Prosecutors will also have lay out the nature of the cooperation by Cohen and Flynn in the next few weeks.

All of those filings will be closely watched to see what they say about where Mueller is going.

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Chad Day of the Associated Press contributed to the contents of this report.

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REPORT: Judicial Watch lawsuit seeks records on Hillary Clinton’s security clearance

WASHINGTON— Judicial Watch announced Thursday that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. State Department requesting all records regarding the security clearance status of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and four of her top aides during her tenure at the State Department.

Clinton’s security clearance reportedly was withdrawn at her request on August 30 – which is nine days after Judicial Watch filed an August 21 FOIA request seeking information on the former Secretary of State’s security clearance status.

Judicial Watch filed its lawsuit (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (1:18-cv-02496)) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the State Department failed to respond to the August 21 FOIA request seeking:

Any and all records concerning, regarding, or relating to the security clearance status of Clinton, Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, Jacob Sullivan and Phillipe Reines.

In a September 21 letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, Acting Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs Charles S. Faulkner said that, at her request, Clinton’s security clearance was “administratively withdrawn” on August 30.

The letter added that, on September 20, security clearances were “administratively withdrawn” for Clinton aide Cheryl Mills and four other redacted names who “had been granted access to classified information through a request made by Secretary Clinton designating them as researchers.” The letter also suggests that Mrs. Clinton and her aides may have been cited for “valid security incidents.”

An October 12 news release from the Senate Judiciary Committee said that the news on Clinton’s security clearance was part of an update from the State Department of “its ongoing review of the mishandling of classified information related to the use of Clinton’s non-government email server…. Department authorities are continuing to review tens of thousands of documents for classified content.”

“The State Department needs to provide the full truth on the security clearances of Hillary Clinton and her top aides,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said, “and why the agency allowed Mrs. Clinton to keep her clearance despite her mishandling of classified information and related false statements.”

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SUSPECT CAUGHT? Man detained in connection to recent bombs sent to high profile Dems

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal authorities took a man into custody Friday in Florida in connection with the mail-bomb scare that earlier widened to 12 suspicious packages, the FBI and Justice Department said.

The man was identified by law enforcement officials as Cesar Sayoc, 56, of Aventura, Florida. He was arrested at an auto parts store in the nearby city of Plantation.

Court records show Sayoc has a history of arrests.

Law enforcement officers were seen on television examining a white van, its windows covered with an assortment of stickers, in the city of Plantation in the Miami area. Authorities covered the vehicle with a blue tarp and took it away on the back of a flatbed truck.

The stickers included images of American flags and what appeared to be logos of the Republican National Committee and CNN, though the writing surrounding those images was unclear.

President Donald Trump said he expected to speak about the investigation at a youth summit on Friday.

The development came amid a coast-to-coast manhunt for the person responsible for a series of explosive devices addressed to Democrats including former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton.

Law enforcement officials said they had intercepted a dozen packages in states across the country. None had exploded, and it wasn’t immediately clear if they were intended to cause physical harm or simply sow fear and anxiety.

Earlier Friday, authorities said suspicious packages addressed to New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and former National Intelligence Director James Clapper — both similar to those containing pipe bombs sent to other prominent critics of President Donald Trump— had been intercepted.

Investigators believe the mailings were staggered. The U.S. Postal Service searched their facilities 48 hours ago and the most recent packages didn’t turn up. Officials don’t think they were sitting in the system without being spotted. They were working to determine for sure. The officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

The FBI said the package to Booker was intercepted in Florida. The one discovered at a Manhattan postal facility was addressed to Clapper at CNN’s address. An earlier package had been sent to former Obama CIA Director John Brennan via CNN in New York.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Friday the Justice Department was dedicating every available resource to the investigation “and I can tell you this: We will find the person or persons responsible. We will bring them to justice.”

Trump, on the other hand, complained that “this ‘bomb’ stuff” was taking attention away from the upcoming election and said critics were wrongly blaming him and his heated rhetoric.

Investigators were analyzing the innards of the crude devices to reveal whether they were intended to detonate or simply sow fear just before Election Day.

Law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that the devices, containing timers and batteries, were not rigged to explode upon opening. But they were uncertain whether the devices were poorly designed or never intended to cause physical harm.

Most of those targeted were past or present U.S. officials, but one was sent to actor Robert De Niro and billionaire George Soros. The bombs have been sent across the country – from New York, Delaware and Washington, D.C., to Florida and California, where Rep. Maxine Waters was targeted. They bore the return address of Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

The common thread among the bomb targets was obvious: their critical words for Trump and his frequent, harsher criticism in return.

Trump claimed Friday he was being blamed for the mail bombs, complaining in a tweet sent before dawn: “Funny how lowly rated CNN, and others, can criticize me at will, even blaming me for the current spate of Bombs and ridiculously comparing this to September 11th and the Oklahoma City bombing, yet when I criticize them they go wild and scream, ‘it’s just not Presidential!’”

The package to Clapper was addressed to him at CNN’s Midtown Manhattan address. Clapper, a frequent Trump critic, told CNN that he was not surprised he was targeted and that he considered the actions “definitely domestic terrorism.”

Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN Worldwide, said in a note to staff that all mail to CNN domestic offices was being screened at off-site facilities. He said there was no imminent danger to the Time Warner Center, where CNN’s New York office is located.

At a press conference Thursday, officials in New York would not discuss possible motives or details on how the packages found their way into the postal system. Nor would they say why the packages hadn’t detonated, but they stressed they were still treating them as “live devices.”

The devices were packaged in manila envelopes and carried U.S. postage stamps. They were being examined by technicians at the FBI’s forensic lab in Quantico, Virginia.

The packages stoked nationwide tensions ahead of the Nov. 6 election to determine control of Congress — a campaign both major political parties have described in near-apocalyptic terms. Politicians from both parties used the threats to decry a toxic political climate and lay blame.

Trump, in a tweet Thursday, blamed the “Mainstream Media” for the anger in society. Brennan responded, tweeting that Trump should “Stop blaming others. Look in the mirror.”

The bombs are about 6 inches (15 centimeters) long and packed with powder and broken glass, according to a law enforcement official who viewed X-ray images. The official said the devices were made from PVC pipe and covered with black tape.

The first bomb discovered was delivered Monday to the suburban New York compound of Soros, a major contributor to Democratic causes. Soros has called Trump’s presidency “dangerous.”

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Associated Press writers Laurie Kellman, Ken Thomas, Jill Colvin and Chad Day in Washington and Jim Mustian, Deepti Hajela, Tom Hays and Michael R. Sisak in New York contributed to the contents of this report.

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CLOSING IN: Package bombs contain ‘treasure trove’ of evidence, say officials

WASHINGTON – Investigators working around the clock to identify the culprit behind a series of package bombs sent to an array of high-profile Democrats this week say the devices themselves contain a ‘treasure trove’ of evidence that they’re certain will lead them their sender.

“There’s DNA that can be recovered from the device,” Ryan Morris, founder of Tripwire Operation Group, a company that provides explosives training to law enforcement and military officials, told Fox News Thursday.

“If there is a human involved, there is a high probability you’re going to get somewhere investigative,” Larry Johnson, a former head of criminal investigations for the U.S. Secret Service told The Associated Press. “There will be no stone left unturned.”

James Fitzgerald, a retired FBI profiler and forensic linguist who, in 1996, helped catch “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski, agrees.

“The linguist in me noticed that Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the last name is spelled missing a ‘c’ and John Brennan’s name is spelled missing an ‘n’ and that kind of surprised me and I have a feeling that was done on purpose to make this look like somebody who doesn’t really know who these people are and that it wasn’t an honest mistake. If he had this much anger and vitriol against these people, you would think he would know how to spell their names,” Fitzgerald told Fox News.

Fitzgerald also added that additional evidence may present itself to lend clues to the would-be bomber’s identity.

“There may be some sort of a letter or social media aspect or videotape, or something equivalent to that comes in the mail, a DVD or whatever that claims responsibility for this, but we’re too early, this person had a point they had to make with these devices and quite frankly they’ve made it.”

Fran Townsend, former Homeland Security Advisor in the George W Bush administration, told CBS News on Thursday that the bombs were “not a standard recipe”.

“He didn’t go on the internet and just pull down the standard Al Qaeda recipe which we’ve seen before, so he’s left his own signature, there’s something unique about the way this has been put together which will be very helpful for investigators,” said Thompson, who added that the suspect’s sloppiness will certainly play into law enforcement’s hands.

“This is somebody who has made plenty of mistakes – the wrong address to Eric Holder, misspelling John Brennan’s name, John Brennan doesn’t work at CNN, he works at NBC, so this is somebody who has made plenty of mistakes along the way. All the outside packages are identical – six stamps, two tiers, printed labels. This is somebody who has likely left a lot of clues.”

Packages containing explosive devices were sent this week to the homes and offices of former presidents Barack Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton, Democratic Senator Debbie Wasserman- Schultz, billionaire business tycoon George Soros and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Fortunately, none of the devices received exploded and no one was hurt in either instance.

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OUT POPS THE WEINER: Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner to be sprung early for good behavior

DEVENS, Mass. — Former Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner will be released early from federal prison as a reward for “good behavior” according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Weiner, 54, began serving a 21 months sentence for sexting an underage girl at the Federal Medical Center in Devens, Massachusetts in 2017. Prison records show he is scheduled to be released in May 2019, three months ahead of his scheduled release date of August 2019.

According to federal prison officials, parole is not offered to federal inmates, but inmates can earn early release as a reward for good behavior.

“The projected release date for Anthony Weiner is May 14, 2019,” a spokesperson for the Bureau of Prisons said in a released statement. “This projected release date includes credit for good conduct time that may be earned throughout the remainder of his sentence. Good conduct time is governed by Title 18 U.S. Code Section 3624(b), which provides for inmates to earn up to 54 days of good conduct time credit for each year served.”

Weiner plead guilty in 2017 to sexting a 15-year-old girl and will be registered as a sex offender for the remainder of his life.

Following his sentencing, Weiner’s wife Huma Abedin filed for divorce, only to withdraw the papers earlier this year.

Abedin served as chair of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. Prior to that, Abedin was deputy chief of staff to Clinton, who served as U.S. Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013.

Former U.S. Congressman and New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner speaks with reporters at campaign event in New York

TICK TOCK: Judicial Watch sues Justice Dept. for contents of Anthony Weiner laptop

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Judicial Watch announced Tuesday that it has filed suit against the Justice Department to turn over all emails found on the laptop of convicted New York Congressman Anthony Weiner.

The conservative watchdog group says it wants access to all records relating to the FBI’s investigation into then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server. They’re also demanding all communication records between FBI officials regarding Clinton’s knowledge of “illicit activities” involving Weiner, who was married at the time of his arrest to Huma Abedin, vice chair of Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

“The Anthony Weiner laptop-Clinton email cover-up by the Obama DOJ and FBI is central to uncovering the corrupt politicization of those agencies,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement Tuesday. “The same FBI that provided cover for Hillary Clinton was going full bore against then-candidate Trump and this lawsuit aims to uncover the full truth about that corruption.”

As stated on the Judicial Watch website, a separate Judicial Watch lawsuit already uncovered at least 18 classified emails from the Clinton server on the Weiner laptop.

In a related case, Judicial Watch uncovered 424 pages of FBI records that include an email revealing that fired FBI official Peter Strzok created the initial draft of the October 2016 letter then-FBI director James Comey sent to Congress notifying lawmakers of the discovery of Hillary Clinton emails on Weiner’s laptop.

The notification, according to the DOJ IG, came a full month after the emails were discovered by the FBI on Weiner’s laptop. The delay, Judicial Watch suggests, may have been the result of anti-Trump bias by FBI official Peter Strzok and others.

At the time of his arrest, it was rumored that Weiner’s laptop contained “secret file” titled “insurance” which supposedly related to Clinton. The contents of the supposed file, although the topic of much speculation, have never been authenticated or revealed.

Weiner was convicted in a sexting scandal in 2017 after sending sexually explicit photos to a 15-year-old girl. He was sentenced to 21 months in prison.

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WAR ON CONSERVATIVES: Justice Department announces it will take on social media sites over alleged censoring of the right

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Justice Department on Wednesday announced Attorney General Jeff Sessions will investigate claims that social media giants such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are censoring pages based on their conservative views.

The announcement came after a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing was held in which top officials from Facebook and Twitter faced often intense grilling on whether or not they had ever targeted or “shadow banned” conservative pages for political gain, claims Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has repeatedly denied.

“The Attorney General has convened a meeting with a number of state attorneys general this month to discuss a growing concern that these companies may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms,” the statement said.

President Donald Trump has claimed that he, himself, has been the target of censorship and “fake news” by both the mainstream press and on social media and that he believes platforms including Facebook and Twitter often discriminate against conservatives based on their own left-leaning political bias.

“Maybe I did a better job because I’m good with the Twitter and I’m good at social media, but the truth is they were all on Hillary Clinton’s side, and if you look at what was going on with Facebook and with Google and all of it, they were very much on her side,” Trump said.

“What we’re concerned about is how Twitter has in some ways it looks like selectively, adversely affected conservatives,” Rep. Steve Scalise, (R)-La., said during Wednesday’s House hearing.

Scalise cited Rep. Marsha Blackburn, (R)-Tenn., who claimed her Senate campaign announcement video was taken down by Twitter as an example. In response, Twitter claimed that the removal of Blackburn’s campaign video was “a mistake” which was quickly corrected, and apologized for the “error”.

Throughout his testimony, Dorsey pushed back several times, denying claims that he nor anyone to his knowledge at Twitter had ever targeted conservatives to further a political agenda.

“I want to start by making something clear: we don’t consider political viewpoints, perspectives, or party affiliation in any of our policies or enforcement decisions. Period,” he said. “Impartiality is our guiding principle.”

The Justice Department did not set a date for the upcoming meeting and it has not yet been revealed how many attorneys general will attend.

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REPORT: Jury selected in trial of former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A jury set to decide the fate of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was selected Tuesday, and opening statements in his tax evasion and bank fraud trial were expected in the afternoon.

It’s the first trial arising from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential ties between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia. Four alternate jurors were selected in addition to the panel of six men and six women.

While prosecutors weren’t expected to address the question of possible collusion between Trump and Russia, Manafort’s case was widely viewed as a test to the legitimacy of Mueller’s ongoing probe, which Trump has dismissed as a “witch hunt.”

“There was No Collusion (except by Crooked Hillary and the Democrats)!” Trump tweeted early Tuesday.

Manafort, who is already in custody and could spend the rest of his life in jail, appeared in the federal courtroom in Alexandria, in a dark suit with his wife, Kathleen.

He is accused of trying to hide tens of millions of dollars in Ukrainian political consulting fees and using that money to fund a lavish lifestyle. He is the only American charged by Mueller to opt for a trial.

Prosecutors have lined up 35 witnesses and more than 500 pieces of evidence they say will show how Manafort earned more than $60 million from his Ukrainian work and then concealed a “significant percentage” of that money from the IRS. Prosecutors will also argue that Manafort fraudulently obtained millions more in bank loans, including during his time on the campaign.

The pool of jurors faced questions from both sides and U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III as they tried to weed out potential prejudice in what has become a highly publicized and politically divisive investigation.

Prosecutors say they will introduce evidence that a chairman of one of the banks allowed Manafort to file inaccurate loan information in exchange for a role on the Republican campaign and the promise of a job in the Trump administration that never materialized.

Before the start of jury selection Tuesday, prosecutors filed an expanded list of its evidence exhibits, including several email chains between Manafort and Stephen Calk, the Chicago bank chairman. The added evidence also appears to include documents related to bank accounts in Cyprus.

At the center of much of the trial will be another Trump campaign aide, Rick Gates, who spent years working for Manafort in Ukraine and is also accused of helping him falsify paperwork used to obtain the bank loans. Gates, who cut a plea deal with Mueller earlier this year, is expected to testify against his former mentor.

Gates is also expected to play a key role in Manafort’s second trial, scheduled for September. That trial, set in the District of Columbia, involves allegations that the longtime political consultant acted as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian interests and made false statements to the U.S. government.

The other 31 people charged by Mueller so far have either pleaded guilty or are Russians seen as unlikely to enter an American courtroom. Three Russian companies have also been charged. One of those companies has pleaded not guilty and is fighting the allegations in federal court in Washington.

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Associated Press Writer Stephen Braun contributed to this report.

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‘WITCH HUNT!’: Trump delays Puting meeting until 2019 citing Mueller probe

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced his intent to delay the upcoming DC visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Citing the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, Trump said he thought it best to delay Putin’s scheduled visit to the US this autumn.

In a statement, National security adviser John Bolton said Trump believed his next meeting with Putin should take place “after the Russia witch hunt is over”.

“The President believes that the next bilateral meeting with President Putin should take place after the Russia witch hunt is over, so we’ve agreed that it will be after the first of the year,” Bolton said.

Last week, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders announced that Trump had directed Bolton to extend an invitation to Putin to visit Washington later this year, days after the two met for a summit in Helsinki, Finland, which quickly turned controversial.

In comments following the meeting, the president appeared to suggest that he believed Russia played no role in influencing the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, despite the findings of US intelligence officials.

Trump’s decision to invite Putin for a second meeting came as the White House sought to quell the controversy that arose over the president’s comments.

Trump later clarified his previous statement, stating that he had simply misspoke.

Mueller’s team has been for months investigating nearly everyone associated with Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and has thus far found no proof of wrongdoing by the president.

However, earlier this month, a federal grand jury indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers on allegations of hacking emails belonging to the Hillary Clinton campaign and DNC during the 2016 election. All 12 defendants have been identified as members of GRU, a Russian intelligence agency.

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