WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday reacted to the arrest of Steve Bannon, who once served as one of the president’s closest advisors.
“I haven’t been dealing with him for a long period of time as most of the people in the room know,” Trump told reporters. “He was involved in our campaign. He worked for a lot of companies, but he was involved likewise in our campaign and for a small part of the administration, very early on. I haven’t been dealing with him at all.”
Bannon and three other individuals, Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato, and Timothy Shaw, were arrested early Thursday on charges that they had “orchestrated a scheme to defraud hundreds of thousands of dollars” in connection with the “We Build The Wall” online fundraising campaign.
Authorities allege the foursome used hundreds of thousands of dollars from a crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $25 million to build a wall along the U.S. southern border for their own purposes.
“I know nothing about the project other than I didn’t like when I read about it, I didn’t like it,” Trump said. “I said this is for government, this isn’t for private people. It sounded to me like showboating. I think I let my opinion be very strongly stated at the time I didn’t like it. It was showboating and maybe looking for funds…I don’t know that he was in charge. I don’t know any of the other people either.”
“I don’t think that should be a privately financed wall,” the president added. “It’s too complex and too big.
When asked by reporters about others from his 2016 presidential campaign who have since been arrested and convicted, including former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, campaign manager Paul Manafort, attorney Michael Cohen and confidant Roger Stone, Trump lashed back.
“They spied on our campaign illegally and if you look at all of the things and all of the scandals they had, they had tremendous lawlessness.”
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Wednesday ordered a federal judge to drop the criminal case against Michael Flynn effective immediately.
Flynn, who served as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, had been accused of lying to the FBI about Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
In a 2-1 decision, the court ruled in favor of Flynn and the Trump administration, who had sought to prevent U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan from exercising his discretion on whether to proceed with the case.
“In this case, the district court’s actions will result in specific harms to the exercise of the executive branch’s exclusive prosecutorial power,” wrote Judge Neomi Rao. “The contemplated proceedings would likely require the Executive to reveal the internal deliberative process behind its exercise of prosecutorial discretion.”
Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, was one of several former Trump aides charged under former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. He had twice plead guilty to the charge.
In his dissent, Judge Robert Wilkins, an Obama administration appointee, said the Justice Department’s handling of the case raised questions that merited further scrutiny by the District Court.
“In 2017, the then-Acting Attorney General told the Vice President that Flynn’s false statements ‘posed a potential compromise situation for Flynn’ with the Russians,” Wilkins wrote. “Now, in a complete reversal, the government says none of this is true.”
“This is no mere about-face; it is more akin to turning around an aircraft carrier.”
When reached for comment, a Justice Department spokesperson said the agency was “happy” with the court’s decision.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday declared victory after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted report on the Russia scandal absolved him of any wrongdoing.
The report, released Thursday morning, found no evidence that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia and found no causes to justify obstruction of justice.
“It’s a good day,” the president said during a White House event as he welcomed a group of wounded warriors. “This should never be allowed to happen to another president again.”
Trump, who has often times referred to the nearly two-year-long investigation as a “witch hunt,” took to Twitter to declare victory.
“No Collusion. No Obstruction,” the president wrote in a tweet. “For the haters and the radical left Democrats — Game Over.”
One interesting piece of information that came from the Mueller report shows that several times throughout the ordeal Trump pushed Michael Flynn and other members of his administration to track down Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s private emails, which were also at one time the subject of an FBI investigation.
According to an excerpt from Mueller’s report, “Trump asked individuals affiliated with his Campaign to find the deleted Clinton emails. Michael Flynn, who would later serve as National Security Advisor in the Trump Administration – recalled that Trump made this request repeatedly, and Flynn subsequently contacted multiple people in an effort to obtain the emails.”
Clinton’s emails have been at the center of controversy for years. Clinton’s attorneys claim their client deleted approximately 33,000 emails because they were personal and not government related. Republicans, however, have long fought for the release of the emails, claiming they were improperly deleted and hid damaging information.
Mueller’s report, which most political pundits expected to be much more highly redacted, also shows that Trump, outraged at the investigation, tried often to intervene in the investigation.
The report states that in June of 2017, Trump directed White House counsel Don McGahn to call Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw the investigation, to say that Mueller must be ousted because Mueller had conflicts of interest. According to the report’s findings, McGahn refused on the grounds that doing so may indicate impropriety.
In his final summary, Mueller wrote: “While the investigation identified numerous links between individuals with ties to the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign, the evidence was not sufficient to support criminal charges.”
“Now the tables have turned, and it’s time to investigate the liars who instigated this sham investigation into President Trump, motivated by political retribution and based on no evidence whatsoever,” Trump’s re-election campaign manager, Brad Parscale, said in a statement.
Trump’s son, Donald Trump, Jr., who had also been the subject of investigation throughout the Mueller probe, also weighed in on Thursday’s findings.
“Better luck next hoax!” the younger Trump wrote on Twitter.
Calls for statement to a Hillary Clinton spokesperson were met with “no comment.”
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani says there is “no way” that he would permit his client to sit down one-on-one with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the wake of bombshell revelations regarding former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
In an interview with “Fox News Sunday” Giuliani said he would not allow his client to be “railroaded” and “framed” the way he now believes Flynn was.
“What they did to General Flynn should result in discipline,” Giuliani said. “They’re the ones who are violating the law. They’re looking at a non-crime: collusion. The other guys are looking at a non-crime: campaign violation, which are not violations, and they are the ones who are violating the law, the rules, the ethics, nobody wants to look at them. They destroyed Strzok and Page’s 19,000 texts. If he destroyed texts, they would put him in jail, even though they can’t because he’s the president.”
In an often heated series of exchanges with Fox News host Chris Wallace, Giuliani doubled down on his claim that Trump initially “didn’t know about” hush-money paid to two women by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen which prosecutors claim amounted to campaign finance violations.
“Yes, this man is lying — is that a surprise to you, that Michael Cohen is lying?” Giuliani asked. “The man got up in front of a judge and said, ‘I was fiercely loyal to Donald Trump.’ Nonsense. He wasn’t fiercely loyal to him, he taped him. He sat there with [CNN anchor] Chris Cuomo, told him he wasn’t being taped, showed him a drawer and he lied to him and taped him for two hours.”
Asked whether President Trump — who has already provided written responses to inquiries from Mueller — would be willing to meet with Special Counsel, Giuliani responded, “Yeah, good luck, good luck — after what they did to Flynn, the way they trapped him into perjury, and no sentence for him.”
“Over my dead body,” Giuliani added. “But, you know, I could be dead.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Former FBI director James Comey told lawmakers last March that Michael Flynn, who briefly served as National Security Advisor for the Trump administration, that Flynn did not lie to them according to published reports (https://tinyurl.com/y77sxtrl).
The revelation contradicts the findings of a congressional panel who had been tasked with investigating whether or not Russia had interfered with the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Those findings led to Flynn having been charged with a violation of the Logan Act, which prohibits American citizens from negotiating with foreign governments regarding U.S. disputes. In Flynn’s case, he was accused of speaking off the record to Kislyak regarding sanctions the U.S. had placed on Russia.
The Washington Examiner report cites two sources familiar with the case who claims Comey told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that he believed Flynn was telling the truth when asked about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during President Donald Trump’s transition.
Flynn’s being charged with lying to the FBI by special counsel Robert Mueller reportedly came as a surprise to Comey in light of his report to lawmakers, says the report, particularly in light of Comey’s defense of the former general.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team of investigators is continuing its ongoing probe into what, if any, influence the Russian government had on the outcome of Trump’s win in November of 2016. The investigation has resulted in four indictments thus far.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to making false statements to the FBI,
The plea (https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/4318155/Flynn-Plea-Agreement.pdf), part of a deal Flynn struck with investigators regarding Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, related to false statements Flynn now admits to making about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
“On or about January 24, 2017, defendant Michael T. Flynn did willfully and knowingly make materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements and representations in a matter within the jurisdiction of the executive branch of the Government of the United States,” the filing in federal court read.
According to two page indictment (https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/4318008/Flynn-18-USC-1001-a-2-Indictment.pdf), Flynn made the false statements to the FBI on Jan. 24, two days after he was sworn in as national security adviser.
As he stood before a federal judge, Flynn said under oath that he not been coerced to plead guilty or promised a reduced sentence. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison if convicted.
“My guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the Special Counsel’s Office reflect a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country,” Flynn said in a statement shortly after answering to the charges in federal court. “I accept full responsibility for my actions.”
According to court documents, Flynn has told investigators that a “very senior member” of President Donald Trump’s transition team ordered him to contact officials within the Russian government. It is not yet clear who Flynn plans to name.
Flynn is the fourth person connected to Trump’s campaign to be charged as part of Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russian government to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chair deputy campaign chair Rick Gates were both indicted last month; each pleaded not guilty. Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos was also charged with making a false statement to the FBI over contacts with officials connected to the Russian government. He plead guilty to all counts.
In a statement following Flynn’s plea, White House attorney Ty Cobb said Flynn’s lies were the same he told Trump administration officials, resulting in Flynn’s being fired in February.
“Today, Michael Flynn, a former national security adviser at the White House for 25 days during the Trump Administration, and a former Obama administration official, entered a guilty plea to a single count of making a false statement to the FBI,” Cobb said. “The false statements involved mirror the false statements to White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this year. Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn.”
“The conclusion of this phase of the special counsel’s work demonstrates again that the special counsel is moving with all deliberate speed and clears the way for a prompt and reasonable conclusion,” Cobb concluded.
Michael Flynn served as National Security Advisor under the Trump administration from Jan. 22 until his forced resignation on Feb. 14.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Thursday to deny the existence of audio recordings between he and ousted former FBI director James Comey.
“With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information,” Trump tweeted he has “no idea” whether or not “tapes” or recordings of the two men’s conversations exist, but said he “did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.”
The clarification was in follow up to a tweet the president sent out several weeks ago after Comey went public with claims that he was pressured by Trump to pull back on the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s dealings with a Russian diplomat.
“Better hope that there are no `tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press,” Trump tweeted the day after Comey’s claim.
Comey responded by saying that if tapes do exist he’s certain they would back up his version of events. “Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” Comey declared while testifying before the House intelligence committee.
Since then, the president has played coy as to whether or not the illusive tapes actually exist.
Two weeks ago during a press conference in the White House Rose Garden, Trump teased the press by saying that they’d get their answer “maybe sometime in the very near future.”
“You are going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer,” he added.
White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said Wednesday that an answer would be provided this week, presumably by the Friday deadline set by the House intelligence committee for turning over any tapes.
The House intelligence committee assigned to look into whether Russia played any role in interfering with the 2016 presidential election asked White House counsel Don McGahn to clarify the existence of the tapes by Friday. The president’s statement on Thursday seems to have done just that.
Per the Presidential Records Act, a law passed in response to the controversy surrounding Watergate, recordings made by presidents belong to the people and must be preserved. Destruction of the Comey tapes, if they ever existed, would be a violation of federal law.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In one of the most anticipated testimonies to hit the nation’s capital in years, fired FBI director James Comey unleashed on his former boss today, accusing President Donald Trump of being, among other things, a liar.
Comey, who was discharged from his position as FBI director by Trump in May, came out swinging against the president, whom he accused of defaming him.
“I knew there might come a day when I might need a record of what happened not only to defend myself but to protect the FBI,” said Comey who called allegations by Trump that he was fired for incompetence in his handling of the Hillary Clinton investigation, “lies, plain and simple.”
Comey went on to testify that he believes he was fired because of the Russia investigation and that in a closed door meeting in February, Trump pressured him to ease off an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s communications with a Russian ambassador.
When pressed by Democrat members of the House Intelligence Committee, however, Comey told lawmakers that Trump never asked him to end the Russia investigation, which presented a serious blow to anti-Trump activists who hoped to gain ammunition to use toward impeachment.
“Not to my understanding, no,” Comey replied, when asked by Committee Chairman Richard Burr, (R)-N.C if the president even once asked him to pull back on the investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.
In some of the most shocking testimony of the day, Comey admitted to orchestrating leaks to the press in the hope of prompting the appointment of a special prosecutor in the FBI’s Russia probe.
“The president tweeted on Friday after I got fired that I better hope there’s not tapes,” Comey testified. “I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday night cause it didn’t dawn on me originally that there might be corroboration for our conversation, and my judgement was I needed to get that out into the public square and so I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter, didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons, but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.“
Trump allies and family members were quick to respond to the allegation with Donald Trump, Jr., tweeting,” Did I miss something or did Comey just say he asked a friend to leak information to the press? Is this a joke?”
Another major revelation that surfaced from Comey’s testimony was his admission that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch ordered him to describe the Hillary Clinton email probe as a “matter,” instead of an investigation in an effort to align the DOJ’s comments with those of the Clinton campaign.
After his testimony was over, Trump spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders was quick to condemn Comey’s comments, telling reporters at a press briefing, “I can definitively say the president is not a liar.”
The president’s long time personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz, also hit back at Comey’s allegations and hinted that the former FBI boss may be facing jail time of his own.
Speaking at a post-testimony press conference, Kasowitz said (https://rebekahworsham.org/2017/06/08/potus-swings-back-trumps-attorney-issues-formal-response-to-allegations-put-forth-by-james-comey/):
“Today, Mr. Comey admitted that he unilaterally and surreptitiously made unauthorized disclosures to the press of privileged communications with the President. The leaks of this privileged information began no later than March 2017 when friends of Mr. Comey have stated he disclosed to them the conversations he had with the President during their January 27, 2017 dinner and February 14, 2017 White House meeting. Today, Mr. Comey admitted that he leaked to friends his purported memos of these privileged conversations, one of which he testified was classified. He also testified that immediately after he was terminated he authorized his friends to leak the contents of these memos to the press in order to “prompt the appointment of a special counsel.” Although Mr. Comey testified he only leaked the memos in response to a tweet, the public record reveals that the New York Times was quoting from these memos the day before the referenced tweet, which belies Mr. Comey’s excuse for this unauthorized disclosure of privileged information and appears to entirely retaliatory. We will leave it the appropriate authorities to determine whether this leaks should be investigated along with all those others being investigated.”
Referencing Comey’s testimony that Trump never asked Comey or anyone on his team to halt the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, allegations that Democrats have been putting forth for months, Kasowitz added that president “feels completely vindicated”.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In advance of his expected testimony before the House Senate Intelligence Committee, former FBI director James Comey, in a letter to Congress on Wednesday, claimed president Donald Trump coerced him to shut down his investigation into ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Flynn, who Democrats claim had inappropriate communications with Russia, resigned just weeks after being appointed by Trump amid revelations that he had not been forthcoming to Vice President Mike Pence in regard to his dealings with a Russian diplomat.
The letter, which includes a seven page opening statement filed with the Senate Intelligence Committee (https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/sites/default/files/documents/os-jcomey-060817.pdf), details nine separate meetings with President Trump, including a Jan. 27 dinner in which Trump allegedly told Comey: “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.’’
“I didn’t move, speak or change my facial expression any way during the awkward silence that followed,’’ Comey said of the encounter.
On another occasion, Comey says Trump all but demanded that he halt his investigation into whether Flynn’s communications with the Russian diplomat had anything to do with election tampering.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go,’’ Comey quotes the president as saying. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.’’
At one point, claims Comey, the exchanges between himself and the president became so uncomfortable that he confronted Attorney General Jeff Sessions and said he did not want to be left alone again with the president.
“Throughout history, some Presidents have decided that because ‘problems’ come from Justice, they should try to hold the Department close,” Comey wrote in the letter to Congress. “But blurring those boundaries ultimately makes the problems worse by undermining public trust in the institutions and their work.”
Comey’s letter to Congress also sheds light upon the impact the Russia scandal was having at the time on President Trump and his young administration.
“On the morning of March 30, the President called me at the FBI,” Comey writes in the letter. “He described the Russia investigation as “a cloud” that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country. He said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia. He asked what we could do to “lift the cloud.” I responded that we were investigating the matter as quickly as we could, and that there would be great benefit, if we didn’t find anything, to our having done the work well. He agreed, but then re-emphasized the problems this was causing him.”
The relationship between himself and the president only worsened from there, claims Comey.
“On the morning of April 11, the President called me and asked what I had done about his request that I “get out” that he is not personally under investigation,” Comey writes. “I replied that I had passed his request to the Acting Deputy Attorney General, but I had not heard back. He replied that “the cloud” was getting in the way of his ability to do his job. He said that perhaps he would have his people reach out to the Acting Deputy Attorney General. I said that was the way his request should be handled. I said the White House Counsel should contact the leadership of DOJ to make the request, which was the traditional channel.
He said he would do that and added, “Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.” I did not reply or ask him what he meant by “that thing.” I said only that the way to handle it was to have the White House Counsel call the Acting Deputy Attorney General. He said that was what he would do and the call ended.
That was the last time I spoke with President Trump.”
The president has denied any wrongdoing in his firing of Comey, claiming that his decision to terminate him from the role of FBI director was based primarily on Comey’s sub par handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
Democrats, however, argue that Comey was fired in an effort to cover up a conspiracy by the president and his staff to collaborate with Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
On Wednesday it was announced that Texas Democrat Al Green had begun impeachment proceedings against the president (https://rebekahworsham.org/2017/06/07/potus-under-attack-texas-democrat-starts-impeachment-process-against-trump/) on the grounds of obstruction of justice.
Comey’s testimony is scheduled to begin on Thursday starting at 10 am EST.