REPORT: Cohen subpoenaed to testify before Senate Intel Committee

WASHINGTON (The Hill) — President Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen has been subpoenaed to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, his spokesman and attorney Lanny Davis confirmed.

“This morning the Senate Intelligence Committee served Michael Cohen with a subpoena,” Davis, an opinion contributor to The Hill, said in a brief statement Thursday.

CNN was first to report the news, saying Cohen was subpoenaed to testify in mid-February before he reports to federal prison.

Cohen was interviewed by committee staff in fall 2017 as part of its ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Since then, he has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about plans to build a Trump property in Moscow and agreed to cooperate in a separate federal probe run by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) has repeatedly signaled the committee would like to bring Cohen back for questioning, raising the possibility he could be subpoenaed if he did not agree to a return appearance. The committee has conducted most of its interviews behind closed doors.

A spokesman for the committee declined to comment.

The subpoena comes one day after Cohen postponed his scheduled testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Feb. 7, citing threats from Trump. That appearance was supposed to be in public.

It remains unclear whether Cohen plans to fight the subpoena to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Cohen has attracted massive attention since April, when a recommendation from Mueller triggered a federal raid of his office and hotel room.

In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to a slew of federal charges, including campaign finance violations stemming from a scheme to pay off women who alleged affairs with Trump before the 2016 election. Cohen implicated Trump in the payment schemes, but the president has denied any wrongdoing. Cohen later pleaded guilty in connection with the Mueller investigation and the special counsel has signaled he offered valuable information.

Trump has attacked his onetime confidant as a liar willing to peddle falsities to prosecutors in order to obtain a lighter prison sentence. In an interview with Fox News’s Jeanine Pirro earlier this month, Trump said Cohen should “give information maybe on his father-in-law, because that’s the one that people want to look at.” Democrats have suggested those comments amounted to witness tampering.

Davis said in a statement Wednesday that Cohen would postpone his testimony to the Oversight and Reform Committee “due to ongoing threats against his family” from Trump and Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Cohen was sentenced to three years in federal prison in December for his crimes. He is due to report to jail in early March.

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BREAKING: Senate confirms Gina Haspel as new CIA director

Washington, D.C. — The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted to confirm President Trump’s choice for CIA Director Gina Haspel after weeks of rigorous debate by lawmakers.

Haspel was confirmed by a 54-44 vote on the Senate floor. The vote came despite protests by a hand full of senators on the Senate Intelligence Committee, who spoke out against her confirmation on Wednesday.

Haspel’s confirmation became all but a done deal on Wednesday despite the pushback when it became clear that she had enough votes to clear the intelligence committee for Thursday’s vote. A vote for yes by Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia tipped the scales in Haspel’s favor.

She will become the first female director of the CIA in U.S. history.

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SUBPOENAED: TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER PAUL MANAFORT CALLED TO TESTIFY IN RUSSIA PROBE

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort has been subpoenaed to testify at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to investigate alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, scheduled for Wednesday.

The unexpected legal maneuver came after officials say members of the committee could not coerce Manafort into a private Q&A with investigators.

“While we were willing to accommodate Mr. Manafort’s request to cooperate with the committee’s investigation without appearing at Wednesday’s hearing, we were unable to reach an agreement for a voluntary transcribed interview with the Judiciary Committee,” Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a joint statement released on Tuesday.

The Judiciary Committee initially said it would not subpoena Mr Manafort, as he had agreed to negotiate a private meeting. But negotiations quickly broke down when Manafort pulled back and agreed only to a single, transcribed interview to Congress that would not be made available to the Judiciary Committee.

“We need answers. That’s why the Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena for Paul Manafort,” Ms Feinstein tweeted on Tuesday.

The subpoena comes after both Manafort and the president’s son, Donald Trump, Jr., were called to give testimony on what, if any, information they have in regard to Russian efforts to sway the outcome of the 2016 election.

Likely a topic of great interest to lawmakers will be the attendance by the pair at a June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and her associates, who reports say offered to help provide “dirt” on then political rival Hillary Clinton. Manafort attended the meeting along with Trump Jr. and Trump, Sr.’s son in law, Jared Kushner, who said he left in the middle of the meeting. The threesome admit to attending the meeting but say it was counterproductive and that no useful information was obtained.

According to Manafort’s attorney, Jason Maloni, Manafort spoke to investigators for the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday morning to avoid another subpoena, but the subpoena issued by the Judiciary Committee still stands.

“Paul Manafort met this morning, by previous agreement, with the bipartisan staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee and answered their questions fully,” Maloni said.

For his part, the president took to Twitter on Tuesday morning to call the probe into his staff a “witch hunt”.

“Jared Kushner did very well yesterday in proving he did not collude with the Russians,” Trump wrote on Twitter in regard to Kushner’s testimony before the investigative panel. “Witch Hunt. Next up, 11 year old Barron Trump!”

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‘WASTE OF OUR TIME’: A DEFIANT JARED KUSHNER DENIES COLLUSION WITH RUSSIA IN RESPONSE TO CONGRESSIONAL PROBE

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Jared Kushner on Monday denied colluding with Russian officials to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election and called a congressional probe into his potential involvement in the matter a “waste of our time”.

President Trump’s son-in-law, who also serves as an advisor in the Trump administration, slammed allegations of wrongdoing in a statement released Monday morning as he met with congressional investigators.

“I am voluntarily providing this statement, submitting documents, and sitting for interviews in order to shed light on issues that have been raised about my role in the Trump for President Campaign and during the transition period,” the statement reads.

“I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government,” the statement continues. “I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector. I have tried to be fully transparent with regard to the filing of my SF-86 form [security clearance], above and beyond what is required. Hopefully, this puts these matters to rest.”

In his statement Kushner also provides specific details in regard to contacts he had with Russian officials during the course of the 2016 election and post-election transition:

“With respect to my contacts with Russia or Russian representatives during the campaign, there were hardly any. The first that I can recall was at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. in April 2016. This was when then candidate Trump was delivering a major foreign policy speech. Doing the event and speech had been my idea, and I oversaw its execution,” the statement reads.

“I arrived at the hotel early to make sure all logistics were in order. After that, I stopped into the reception to thank the host of the event, Dimitri Simes, the publisher of the bi-monthly foreign policy magazine, The National Interest, who had done a great job putting everything together. Mr. Simes and his group had created the guest list and extended the invitations for the event. He introduced me to several guests, among them four ambassadors, including Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. With all the ambassadors, including Mr. Kislyak, we shook hands, exchanged brief pleasantries and I thanked them for attending the event and said I hoped they would like candidate Trump’s speech and his ideas for a fresh approach to America’s foreign policy,” the statement continues.

“The ambassadors also expressed interest in creating a positive relationship should we win the election. Each exchange lasted less than a minute; some gave me their business cards and invited me to lunch at their embassies. I never took them up on any of these invitations and that was the extent of the interactions. Reuters news service has reported that I had two calls with Ambassador Kislyak at some time between April and November of 2016. While I participated in thousands of calls during this period, I do not recall any such calls with the Russian Ambassador. We have reviewed the phone records available to us and have not been able to identify any calls to any number we know to be associated with Ambassador Kislyak and I am highly skeptical these calls took place. A comprehensive review of my land line and cell phone records from the time does not reveal those calls. I had no ongoing relationship with the Ambassador before the election, and had limited knowledge about him then.”

Kushner is being grilled on what, if any, involvement he had in regard to Russian intereferance in the 2016 election in a closed door meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday. A second meeting is expected to occur on Tuesday with the House Intelligence Committee.

His appearance before the committees marks a turning point in the investigations of Russian meddling, as he is the first of the president’s closest advisers to appear before them.

You can read Jared Kushner’s full statement by clicking on the link below:
https://app.box.com/embed/preview/4c3lig06934ua4hg2dayn5kj7vrxr6f3?direction=ASC&theme=dark

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CALLED TO TESTIFY: SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE WANTS TRUMP JR UNDER OATH AMID RUSSIAN MEETING REVELATIONS

WASHINGTON, D.C.– The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee has announced it will call Donald Trump, Jr. to testify before lawmakers amid revelations that the president’s son met with a Russian attorney who promised “dirt” on the president’s then rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton, in the Spring of 2016 according to a report published on Tuesday by Reuters.

According to the report (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-russia-senate-idUSKBN19W24F?il=0), the committee will seek to obtain all documents pertaining to any communications Trump, Jr. or members of the Trump administration had with Russian officials during the time leading up to the November, 2016 election.

As reported earlier (https://rebekahworsham.org/2017/07/11/don-comes-clean-trump-jr-releases-full-transcript-of-email-interaction-with-russian-lawyer-who-sought-to-stop-hillary/), Trump, Jr. released a chain of emails to social media on Tuesday which documented a high ranking Russian attorney’s apparent offer to provide information that would “incriminate” Trump’s then Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

As of press time there has been no date set for the testimony as the committee is still in the process of sending Trump’s eldest son a formal request for information.

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, a senior Democrat on the committee, say the emails prove that the Trump campaign “sought to collude with a hostile foreign power to subvert America’s democracy.”

“The question is how far the coordination goes,” said Wyden.

Trump, Jr. claims no wrongdoing in regard to the email communication nor the subsequent meeting that followed. In a statement released on Tuesday, the president’s eldest son claims the meeting turned out to be fruitless and a waste of time.

“I first wanted to just have a phone call but when they didn’t work out, they said the woman would be in New York and asked if I would meet. I decided to take the meeting…As Rob Goldstone said just today in the press, the entire meeting was ‘the most insane nonsense I ever heard. And I was actually agitated by it’” the statement reads.

Although Trump Jr. tweeted Monday that he would be “happy to work with the committee to pass on what I know,” a spokesperson for the Trump Organization has confirmed that he has hired a lawyer, Alan Futerfas, to represent him in regard to the Russia probes.

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TRUMP: ‘NO TAPES ‘: PRESIDENT DENIES EXISTENCE OF COMEY RECORDINGS

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.

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‘SWEAR ME IN’: FIERY PRESIDENT SAYS HE’S ‘100 PERCENT’ PREPARED TO RESPOND TO COMEY ALLEGATIONS UNDER OATH

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A visibly angry President Trump said on Friday he’s ready, willing and able to respond to the allegations put forth during fired FBI James Comey’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday and he’s prepared to do it under oath.

Speaking at a joint press conference in the Rose Garden with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Trump called Comey a “leaker” and maintained that his decision to fire the former fed was directly related to his sub par handling of the probe into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“I didn’t say that,” Trump told reporters when asked about Comey’s claim that the president pressured the then FBI director to back off on the probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Asked if he would be willing to give his version of events under oath, Trump replied: “100 percent.”

“I would be glad to tell him exactly what I told you,” the president added.

When pressed for further comment on whether or not he was willing to say that Comey lied under oath, Trump stopped short of flat out calling Comey a liar.

“There would be nothing wrong if I did say it, according to everybody that I’ve read today,” Trump said. “But I did not say that.”

On Comey’s allegation that Trump told him he “demanded loyalty”, the president responded, “I hardly know the man, I’m gonna say, ‘I want you to pledge allegiance.’ Who would ask a man to pledge allegiance under oath?”

When asked about the existence of tapes that may contain the recorded conversations between Trump and Comey –a possibility that Trump himself hinted of on Twitter — the president played coy.

“I’ll tell you about that maybe sometime in the near future,” he said. “You’re going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer, don’t worry,” he intimated.

As for why Democrats he feels his detractors are pushing so hard for “proof” of collusion between himself and Russia, the president said the could only surmise the attempt “an excuse by the Democrats who lost an election that some people think they shouldn’t have lost.”

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HE SAID; HE SAID: FIRED FBI DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY ACCUSES TRUMP OF LIES; ADMITS TO BEING SOURCE BEHIND MEMO LEAK

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”.

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COMEY LETTER TO CONGRESS: I WAS PRESSURED BY TRUMP TO SHUT DOWN FLYNN INVESTIGATION

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.

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