NRA members also received her invitation to visit Moscow and meet with high-ranking Russian politicians. Torshin and “US Person 1”, whom CNN identified as Butina’s boyfriend Paul Erickson, a GOP political operative, helped her prepare for the trip. After the trip in December 2015, she said to her Russian backer, “We should let them express their gratitude now, we will put pressure on them quietly later.”
If prosecutors bring the charges named in the letter, Erickson would be the first American embroiled in the 2016 Russia investigation charged under a statute that Justice Department lawyers describe as “espionage-lite.”
“Charging an American under 951 in the context of the Russia investigation is especially serious because that statute is generally reserved for espionage-like cases, such as intelligence-gathering on behalf of a foreign government,” said Ryan Goodman, a former Defense Department attorney who now teaches at the New York University School of Law.
Good thing @matt put together an archive.
A conservative operative offered the Trump campaign a “Kremlin Connect” by using an NRA convention to make “first contact.” Russia, Paul Erickson wrote, was “quietly but actively seeking a dialogue with the U.S.” (New York Times)
…the Special Counsel’s Office is ready to outline what cooperating witnesses have told them about foreigners’ plans to help Trump win the presidency. Two sources with knowledge of the probe said Mueller’s team has for months discussed the possibility of issuing new charges on this side of the investigation.
“If this is going to be unveiled, this would be like the surfacing of the submarine but on the other plank [sic – flank?] which we haven’t seen,” said Harry Litman, a former U.S. attorney. “I guess what Mueller has to date has turned out to be pretty rich and detailed and more than we anticipated. This could turn out to be a rich part of the overall story.”…
Flynn was also involved in conversations with representatives and influential individuals from other foreign governments, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Israel—encounters The Daily Beast has reported over the last several months. Flynn’s cooperation with Mueller could bring new details about the scope of the special counsel’s probe into how individuals from those countries offered not only to help Trump win the presidential election, but also how they sought to influence foreign policy in the early days of the administration.
Maybe now we’ll find out why Trump is so eager to help Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman, cover up his role in the heinous torture and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi.
Who knows where the best legal angle to get T out will be…but this Campaign Finance issue does have a lot of back up corroboration.
Regardless if T goes on Fox News and plays it back…playing to his base of course, this is incriminating information **.
The “statement of admitted facts” says that AMI admitted making a $150,000 payment “in concert with the campaign,” and says that Pecker, Cohen and “at least one other member of the campaign” were in the meeting. According to a person familiar with the matter, the “other member” was Trump.
Trump was first identified as attending the meeting by The Wall Street Journal.
Donald Trump Played Central Role in Hush Payoffs to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal
Federal prosecutors have gathered evidence of president’s participation in transactions that violated campaign-finance laws
Senate Intel Committee co-chairs Sen Burr and Sen Warner are prepared to call in those witnesses who have been indicted, provided of course it is ok with Mueller.
This Committee has stood their ground as far as being a fair bi-partisan group.
Let’s do some more digging then.
Now that President Donald Trump’s former “fixer,” Michael Cohen, has been sentenced to prison, leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence committees are preparing to haul him back before Congress before he begins serving time.
He’s not the only one.
The Senate Intelligence Committee is also seeking to speak to other officials in Trump’s orbit who have been charged in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, his former deputy Rick Gates and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, according to committee leaders and sources familiar with the probe.
“I think it’s safe to say if they were indicted, they were on our list,” Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, told CNN. “We potentially will talk to a lot of folks.”
George Conway strikes again (KellyAnne’s other half)
Given that Trump has repeatedly lied about the Daniels and McDougal payments—and given that he lies about virtually everything else, to the point that his own former personal lawyer described him as a “f****ing liar”—why should we take his word over that of federal prosecutors?
7:09 PM - 13 Dec 2018
Special counsel Robert Mueller appeared to be locked in a subpoena battle with a recalcitrant witness Friday in a sealed federal appeals courtroom, the latest development in a mystery case that has piqued the curiosity of Mueller-obsessives and scoop-hungry journalists.
Oral arguments in the highly secretive fight played out behind closed doors under tight security. Officials at the U.S. Courthouse in Washington, D.C. even took the extraordinary measure of shutting down to the public the entire fifth floor, where the hearing was taking place.
More than a dozen reporters who had been staked out in the hallway adjacent to the courtroom — in the hopes of eyeballing attorneys for Mueller or the mystery appellant’s lawyers — were kicked off the floor and lost their best chance to spot anyone involved in the months-long legal dispute as they were entering or exiting the chambers.
Journalists relocated to other stakeout spots, but few new details emerged after several hours of waiting.
Butina’s connection to the NRA was solidified by a signed agreement, pulling in both into the den of legal trouble.
Maria Butina Claimed to Have a “Signed Cooperation Agreement” With the National Rifle Association – Mother Jones
Confessed Russian agent Maria Butina claimed more than five years ago that her gun rights group had entered into a “signed cooperation agreement” with the National Rifle Association, according to a contemporaneous account of a talk Butina gave to an Israeli organization.
Butina, who pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday for her role in a wide-ranging conspiracy to covertly influence American politics, founded the Right to Bear Arms in Moscow in 2010 with support from high-ranking Russian official Alexander Torshin. Prosecutors detailed how Butina used her profile as a gun rights advocate to build a relationship with NRA officials and other influential political figures in the run-up to the 2016 election.
This is a very big deal because it reveals that David Pecker’s value as a cooperating witness may be far greater than previously known.
A couple days ago the news broke that Pecker, Trump’s long-time friend who publishes the National Enquirer, has become a cooperating witness for prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. (BTW, although Pecker was flipped by the SDNY, I’m posting this in the Mueller thread because I’m confident that Mueller will now also be interviewing this cooperating witness – if he hasn’t already.)
The focus so far has been on Pecker’s corroboration of Michael Cohen’s testimony regarding the hush money payments made by Cohen, allegedly at Trump’s direction and allegedly done so with Trump’s full knowledge that the payments were a violation of campaign finance laws (this is one of the crimes for which Cohen himself will be serving prison time). So Pecker’s cooperation is already big news. However, this breaking story from The Daily Beast shows that Pecker may have knowledge that is far more damaging to the Trump administration and Jared Kushner in particular. No specific allegations have been made. However, the fact that Pecker was in close contact with Kushner during the early days of Trump’s presidency and is now spilling everything he knows, has got to be devastating news for Kushner and the Administration.
Another angle here is that we now have reason to believe that Mueller is expanding his investigation into the shady (to say the least) ties between Trump and the Middle East. Kushner is Trump’s point man there and Pecker has close ties there as well, especially with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, accused of ordering the murder of Jamal Kashoogi – Pecker even facilitated a massive publicity blitz for the prince.
Shortly after the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner was handed a task considered critical to the president’s operations. In addition to serving as a senior adviser in the White House, he would also be playing the role of the main conduit between Trump and his friend David Pecker, the National Enquirer publisher and chief executive of AMI, who prosecutors said on Wednesday admitted to making a $150,000 hush-money payment “in concert with” the Trump campaign.
During the early months of the Trump era, Kushner performed the task admirably, discussing with Pecker various issues over the phone, including everything from international relations to media gossip, according to four sources familiar with the situation. Pecker, for his part, bragged to people that he was speaking to the president’s son-in-law and, more generally, about the level of access he had to the upper echelons of the West Wing, two sources with knowledge of the relationship recounted…
Pecker, after all, was no bit player. He has been a valuable asset within Trump’s orbit, at least until federal investigators came knocking. His ties to Trump began well before the president was elected to office. But before Kushner was his main conduit, that role was played by Michael Cohen, the president’s former attorney and fixer…
Pecker had banked on Cohen remaining in Trump’s political inner sanctum after the election. But during the presidential transition, it became clear that Trump’s then-fixer wouldn’t be landing a plum job in the administration…
But Cohen’s slow-burning troubles and exile from Trumpworld nevertheless meant that Pecker needed a new point person in the White House. And according to four sources, he settled on Kushner.
It was an easy choice, given that the two men had a pre-existing relationship. Two people with direct knowledge of their acquaintance say that Kushner and Pecker got to know each other years before Trump’s election, when Pecker was thinking about forging a business relationship with Kushner, who at the time owned The New York Observer…
AMI [Pecker’s media company], like Kushner, cozied up to the despotic Saudi government, which included the production of a glossy propaganda magazine boosting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
In July 2017 … Pecker visited both Trump and Kushner at the White House, bringing along with him Kacy Grine, a French businessman with ties to the Saudi business elite and royal family, as The New York Times reported early this year…
“This is beyond the scope of David Pecker’s collusion or cooperation in snuffing out bad stories,” said Jerry George, a former Enquirer Los Angeles bureau chief and assistant managing editor of all the AMI titles. “It goes to the core of Trumpworld."
Flynn lied to a lot of people…but Mueller’s faith in what Flynn was able to help the investigation with must be very great.
Oops – we’re not supposed to know this, but it looks like Maria Butina will be testifying before a Grand Jury within a month. Could that be Mueller’s Grand Jury?
U.S. prosecutors on Friday asked a federal judge for permission to move Maria Butina to and from jail for ongoing interviews, including potentially to testify before a grand jury, in a filing intended to be sealed that appeared on the public docket for her case.
Butina, 30, pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of the Russian government to infiltrate the National Rifle Association and the wider conservative movement to set up back-channel communications with leading Republicans around the time of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
As part of her plea deal, she agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
In a seven-page document filed Friday afternoon to a judge, prosecutors said they were making their travel request under seal because disclosing Butina’s movements from Alexandria City Jail, where she has been held since July, “may jeopardize defendant’s safety and may jeopardize the ongoing investigation.”
“The proposed order references defendant Butina’s possible transportation to a grand jury,” which is a confidential proceeding under federal criminal rules, they added.
The request asks to cover movements through Jan. 17…
Although the request stated it was being filed under seal, and included a proposed order allowing it to be filed under seal, it was posted shortly before 5 p.m. on the court’s public docket. It remained viewable only briefly, before the online link to the filing was disabled.
Here’s more from what Flynn’s cooperation with Mueller must have revealed, leading to this indictment. It was part of some of the sealed indictments which are slowly surfacing.
@jamditis just posted in the recap as well.
A former business partner of Michael T. Flynn has been charged with conspiracy and acting as an agent of a foreign government for his efforts to have Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen extradited from the United States.
Bijan Kian made his first appearance in Alexandria federal court Monday morning. According to the indictment, Kian, who ran a lobbying firm with Flynn, conspired with a Turkish businessman to illegally influence government officials and public opinion in the United States against Gulen.
The indictment demonstrates the extent to which Flynn was secretly working to advance the interests of his Turkish clients while publicly serving as a key surrogate to Donald Trump and auditioning for a role in his administration. According to the newly unsealed court document, Flynn was texting and emailing frequently about how to advance the Turkish agenda throughout the final weeks of the presidential campaign.
To me, the real question now becomes, “As head of the Transition Team that vetted Flynn, what did Pence know and when did he know it?” Since Flynn and many others are cooperating with Mueller, this question has undoubtedly already been answered – now it’s just a matter of time until we find out, too.
Yes, perplexing…and very important for us to know to not have this Elf-on-the-Shelf not be our president.
Who would know? Flynn, Trump, Gates (2 of the 3 have plea bargains…) So the odds are in our favor, that this truth will be coughed up.
At the very least Pence should have known what was going on during the transition. It was his responsibility. Wasn’t Pence handpicked by Manafort for VP?
What makes it all the more confounding is that it is hard to have any assumptions about Pence…
Pence appears God-fearing and squeaky clean (first clue of trouble ahead perhaps)
Pence should have known all the transition information…but there were some built-in’s already. People knew that Flynn and T got along really well, talked politics a LOT (or Flynn mentored T)…
Yes, Pence was picked by Manafort, and that might harken back to Manafort’s R strategist side, where he knows Conservative Right politics and not necessarily any connection with Manafort’s allegiences to autocrat’s and Russians.
Gates also took a role in the transition, so he might have known the ‘dirtier’ elements perhaps.
Pence could have been intentionally lied to by Flynn etc. A lot of MSM is still sticking by this point, Alibi…until proven differently.
Does Pence have an air of quiltiness on him? What is it called, suspicion of guilt. He says nothing, rocks no boat…AND he acts Presidential when necessary to show up T.
Agreed, he’s not covered the same way Trump is covered by the press. However I believe theory #5 applies to Pence as head of the Trump transition team. He either knew about the corruption or he should have known.
I guess we’ll find out in the next few months…
Live updates from Flynn sentencing happening now…
Flynn stands firm on guilty plea under judge’s questioning
“I do not” seek to withdraw the plea, Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn just told the judge overing seeing his sentencing for lying to the FBI.
Flynn said he is satisfied by his attorney representation, does not want extra time to speak with them, and does not want to speak with another, different attorney before this proceeds.
“Are you continuing to accept responsibility for his false statements?” Judge Emmet Sullivan asked. "I am, you’re honor," Flynn loudly responded.
Sullivan asks Flynn if he would like to postpone the sentencing, and Flynn says no.
What this means: He is standing firm on his decision to plead guilty to this crime.
Today, the President’s current lawyer said this of his last lawyer:
He lies to fit the situation he’s in;
He talked to a dozen reporters and lied and deceived them;
He’s changed his story three or four times;
He’s a serial liar.
What about the guy that hired them both?