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Trump Russia affair: Key questions answered - BBC News
For nearly two years the Trump-Russia affair has dominated front pages and mired the president's administration in conflict and controversy. But what is it exactly? How did it begin? And where is it going?
The inquiry is being led by Robert Mueller, a widely respected former director of the FBI. Holed up in an unremarkable office in Washington DC, Mr Mueller's team is quietly going about one of the most high-profile political inquiries in US history.
Five people connected with Donald Trump's campaign and presidency have been charged with criminal offences.
One of them, his former lawyer Michael Cohen, could be jailed on Wednesday on several charges, making him the first member of the president's inner circle to be imprisoned in relation to the inquiry.
President Trump denies any wrongdoing and says the charges against his former staff are "peanuts".
We've put together a straightforward guide to what we know, what we don't know, and what Mr Mueller may know that we don't.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump  bbc 
3 minutes ago by rgl7194
Trump inaugural committee under criminal investigation - CNNPolitics
Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump's 2017 inaugural committee is currently being investigated by federal prosecutors in New York for possible financial abuses related to the more than $100 million in donations raised for his inauguration, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The investigation was first reported by The Wall Street Journal Thursday afternoon.
Citing conversations with people familiar with the investigation, which is being handled by the US Attorney's office in Manhattan, the Journal reported that prosecutors are also looking into whether the committee accepted donations from individuals looking to gain influence in or access to the new administration.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump 
1 hour ago by rgl7194
Mueller should try to indict Trump. It would guarantee his report goes public. - The Washington Post
The attorney general would have to tell Congress about denying a request to prosecute the president.
Now that Michael Cohen has placed President Trump squarely in criminal crosshairs, a constitutional crisis appears to be looming: If there is evidence that Trump committed a crime, can he be indicted while in office?
This isn’t settled law, though most legal analysts conclude that an indictment is unlikely — the Justice Department has had an internal policy since 1973 that sitting presidents cannot be indicted. But there is another policy that can use the 1973 Office of Legal Counsel opinion to its advantage and achieve the same effect as an indictment without having to issue one: the special counsel regulations under which Robert S. Mueller III is appointed.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump  op-ed 
1 hour ago by rgl7194
Subpoenas Coming Soon In Trump Emoluments Lawsuit : NPR
The attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia are preparing to move forward with subpoenas for President Trump's businesses in their lawsuit alleging he is in violation of the U.S. Constitution's emoluments clauses.
U.S. District Court Judge Peter J. Messitte gave the order for discovery in the case to proceed to D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, who have accused Trump of illegally profiting off the presidency. The list of subpoena targets will be released on Tuesday.
"We will now serve subpoenas to third-party organizations and federal agencies to gather the necessary evidence to prove that President Trump is violating the Constitution's emoluments clauses — our nation's original anti-corruption laws," Racine said in a statement.
fraud  trump  corruption  legal  gov2.0  politics  scam 
yesterday by rgl7194
Trump's countless scams are finally catching up to him | Rebecca Solnit | Opinion | The Guardian
The daily news drip can make it difficult to recognize the immense scale of the president’s legal troubles
The news is generally reported piecemeal, with a focus on what just happened or the specifics of one story. The result is that the cumulative effect often escapes detection. Journalism tends to describe the fragments and not the pattern they make up, which for readers can be like watching a movie shot entirely in closeups. So it is with the travails of Donald J Trump. He is in so many kinds of legal hot water, and the explosive new stories tend to erase the earlier ones from view, just as his own transgressions tend to overshadow his earlier misconduct.
Who talks of how grotesquely he groveled before Vladimir Putin and denied his own intelligence agencies’ conclusions in the long-ago, far-away world of July 2018 when so much has happened since? Who remembers the abrupt firing of the FBI director James Comey in the ancient days of May 2017, when the abrupt firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions on 7 November is so fresh? The Washington Post’s running list of lies (up to 5,000 in September) and the New York Times catalogue of people, places, and things he’s insulted on Twitter (548 as of Monday) are helpful.
fraud  trump  corruption  legal  gov2.0  politics  scam 
yesterday by rgl7194
Flynn Memo: Mueller’s Not Just Chasing Process Crime - The Atlantic
The word lie has lost its power in the Trump era. Try replacing it with fraud.
The Trump administration has introduced the country to a colorful troupe of liars like none other in memory. Starting with the president himself, the past two years have brought to the national stage a phenomenal array of promiscuous fabricators. It therefore stands to reason that so many of the offenses ferreted out by Special Counsel Robert Mueller are crimes of dishonesty. Prosecutors take their crimes where they find them, particularly as they work their way up the ladder to the most important targets.
Defenders of the president lately have taken to disparaging Mueller’s charges as mere “process crimes.” Senator Lindsey Graham called Michael Cohen’s Friday plea a “process crime,” and Rush Limbaugh chimed in that “every one of Mueller’s indictments is a process crime.” Presumably, Graham and Limbaugh would also apply that term to the case against Michael Flynn, who in December 2017 pleaded guilty to one charge of making materially false statements to the FBI. That case moved toward its conclusion Tuesday night with Mueller’s sentencing memorandum recommending no time in prison.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump 
yesterday by rgl7194
Michael Flynn has given 'substantial assistance' to the special counsel - CNNPolitics
Washington (CNN)Special counsel Robert Mueller told a federal court Tuesday that former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn has given "substantial assistance" to the Russia investigation and should not get jail time.
Flynn has sat for 19 interviews with the special counsel and other Justice Department offices, and his early cooperation gave prosecutors a road map for their Russia investigation and may have helped to encourage others to cooperate, the filing states.
The new details explaining how Flynn has helped the special counsel investigation will ratchet up the pressure on President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly attacked the Mueller probe as a "witch hunt."
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump 
yesterday by rgl7194
No Single News Event Will Take Down Trump - The Atlantic
It won’t be a single news event that takes down the president.
“Today is the first day I actually thought Donald Trump might not finish his term in office,” said the legal commentator Jeffrey Toobin on CNN last Thursday.
“This is the beginning of the end for Trump,” declared Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general, on MSNBC.
“The deal may be among the biggest news in the nearly 18-month investigation,” wrote Barry Berke, Noah Bookbinder, and Norman Eisen in The New York Times.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump 
yesterday by rgl7194
The Mueller investigation is closing in on Trump | Jill Abramson | Opinion | The Guardian
What a catalogue of rogues – and what a tantalizing pile of clues. Surely we will soon know where all this leads
The rogues’ gallery exposed in Robert Mueller’s court filings last week make the Watergate burglars look positively classy.
Even veteran lawyers who were involved in the investigations of Richard Nixon say they’ve never seen this level of chicanery. Most importantly, last week’s events showed that Special Counsel Mueller is getting closer to exposing the scope and depth of it all. His most recent filings make clear that considerable evidence touches the president himself.
The disclosures from Michael Cohen, the former Trump fixer who is now a cooperating witness, drew the connection tighter. In his guilty plea to an additional charge of lying to Congress, Cohen revealed, and Trump confirmed, that the Trump Organization was pursuing a luxury skyscraper deal in Moscow while Donald Trump, identified as “Individual 1” in the latest court filings, was sewing up the Republican party presidential nomination.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump 
yesterday by rgl7194
Newly Disclosed Clinton-era Memo Says Presidents Can Be Indicted - The New York Times
Although nothing in the Constitution or federal law explicitly says presidents are immune from indictment while they remain in office, the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel has asserted that they are. A newly disclosed legal memo from the office of Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who investigated President Clinton, challenges that analysis. The National Archives made the memo public in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The New York Times.
gov2.0  politics  legal  POTUS  nytimes 
yesterday by rgl7194
Constitution rules out immunity for sitting presidents - The Boston Globe
Only President Trump seems not to have noticed — or at least refuses to acknowledge — that the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, in his Dec. 7 memo regarding Michael Cohen’s sentencing, has laid the predicate for indicting the president for feloniously “directing” a scheme to defraud the public into voting for him under false pretenses.
Trump’s lawyers may well have advised him not to worry about that minor matter because the Justice Department policy of not indicting a sitting president will presumably be followed by all Justice Department prosecutors, including both special counsel Robert Mueller and the prosecutors of the Southern District.
gov2.0  politics  trump  legal 
yesterday by rgl7194
The GOP Maneuvers to Rule as a Minority Party - The Atlantic
The document itself essentially admits both to the fact that the Republican Party was a party of white men, and that the only way to compete would be to neutralize the “demographic destiny” of Democrats, embracing immigration reform and becoming a true multiracial and multiethnic “big tent.” It’s a strikingly candid report. It reads like speculative fiction today.

But around the same time, darker clouds appeared on the horizon. The RealClearPolitics analyst Sean Trende wrote an influential series on “missing white voters” rebutting the demographic arguments of the GOP report, saying that Republicans could still build a reliable coalition solely by picking up more “downscale white voters,” and reversing its movement toward immigration reform.

In 2014, while Republicans deliberated internally over whether to allow an immigration-reform package through the House, a group of pollsters—including the current White House adviser Kellyanne Conway—released findings indicating that an anti-immigration message could serve as a GOP base-builder. These findings became the underpinnings of the strategy that brought President Donald Trump to the White House, while also cementing the GOP as a white man’s party—the party of the minority.

That strategy is newly relevant now, as the Republican Party looks to complete lame-duck-session power grabs in state legislatures in Wisconsin and Michigan, preemptively stripping power away from incoming Democratic governors. Those moves are characterized by Democrats as brazen and unprecedented “coups” by a party that was soundly beaten in the midterms but, through anti-democratic means, has managed to exert undue power.

But those midwestern power grabs are not necessarily shocking or unpredictable. Rather, they are an extension of the underlying strategy that had already been the major organizing principle of the GOP even as Priebus wrote his report. For decades, the Republican Party prepared to keep power even as it represented a coalition that became the minority. Now, the plan is in full effect.

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment when this became the destiny of the Republican Party. One could go all the way back to when the 1964 Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater broke the Democratic stranglehold on the Jim Crow South, picking up Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas on an anti-civil-rights agenda, initiating the proto “southern strategy” and sparking a realignment of white conservatism with the GOP. Or the story could start just a year later, when the Voting Rights Act ushered in the first era of anything resembling true democracy in the country’s history, and also set in motion an anti-voting-rights insurgency in the South.

Closer still, the gerrymandering and geographic polarization that have become so critical to modern Republican plans might not have been possible without the “white flight” in the 1960s and ’70s associated with that conservatism, and with the nascence of white suburban evangelicals as a political force under Ronald Reagan. The deep partisan differences creating unbridgeable policy divides in swing states might not have been so deep without the scorched-earth politics of the 1990s, and the power of technocratic tinkering at the margins of elections and voting rights might not have been so apparent without the infamous presidential election in Florida in 2000.

Even nearer to the modern moment, perhaps Wisconsin and Michigan are the end results of a chain of events that only became inevitable with the dawn of technologically sophisticated GOP redistricting campaigns in 2000 and 2010, with the reality-warping corporate bonanza of the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision, or with 2013’s Shelby County v. Holder, which defanged federal enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.

Any one of these moments could be a viable starting point for assessing just what happened in the 2018 election, when Republicans lost the popular-vote margins at just about every level of politics, but still managed to limit Democratic power in some meaningful ways. There’s Wisconsin, where—relying on surging turnout across the board, and a spike in black and Latino voters—the Democratic challenger Tony Evers defeated the GOP incumbent Scott Walker to claim the governor’s mansion. Republican state legislators moved quickly to handcuff Evers’s office.

After the Republican Robin Vos, the speaker of the Wisconsin Statehouse, said that “if you took Madison and Milwaukee out of the state election formula, we would have a clear majority,” the legislature moved to limit the governor’s power to administer the government or be involved in lawsuits without legislative approval. Evers is reportedly not confident that direct pressure on Walker will convince the outgoing governor to veto the lame-duck bills, although Democrats in the state have threatened litigation of their own.

As my colleague Russell Berman reports, Michigan is on a similar path as Wisconsin. “The Michigan GOP proposals did not go as far and were not moving quite as fast as those in Wisconsin,” Berman writes, “but they would similarly shift power to intervene in litigation from the governor’s and attorney general’s offices to the legislature, where Republicans maintain a majority.”
america  authoritarianism  populism  history  legal 
yesterday by corrales

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