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Comey: Trump “obviously” obstructed justice in 2017

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Comey: Trump “obviously” obstructed justice in 2017.    NBC News


What James Comey said, and didn’t say, during his latest sojourn to Capitol Hill.    The Atlantic


James blames Rudy for what James did to HIllary.    Esquire

A look at where the investigations related to Trump stand

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A look at where the investigations related to President Donald Trump stand and what may lie ahead for him.

WHAT’S THIS ALL ABOUT?

Trump is facing criminal investigations in Washington and New York.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia and whether the president obstructed the investigation. Trump also plays a central role in a separate case in New York, where prosecutors have implicated him in a crime. They say Trump directed his personal lawyer Michael Cohen to make illegal hush money payments to two women as a way to quash potential sex scandals during the campaign.

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SO ... DID THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN COLLUDE WITH RUSSIA?

There is no smoking gun when it comes to the question of Russia collusion. But the evidence so far shows a broad range of Trump associates had Russia-related contacts during the 2016 presidential campaign and transition period, and that several lied about the communication.

There is also evidence that some people in Trump’s orbit were discussing a possible email dump from WikiLeaks before it occurred. American intelligence agencies and Mueller have said Russia was the source of hacked material released by WikiLeaks during the campaign that was damaging to Hillary Clinton’s presidential effort.

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OTHER QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:

—WHAT ABOUT OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE? That is another unresolved question that Mueller is pursuing. Investigators have examined key episodes such as Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey and his fury over the recusal from the investigation of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

—WHAT DOES TRUMP HAVE TO SAY ABOUT ALL THIS? Trump has repeatedly slammed the Mueller investigation as a “witch hunt” and insisted there was “NO COLLUSION” with Russia. He also says his now-former lawyer, Cohen, lied to get a lighter sentence in New York.

—WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW TODAY? Cohen, who as Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer once vowed he would “take a bullet” for his boss, was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for an array of crimes that included arranging the payment of hush money to two women that he says was done at the direction of Trump. The sentence was in line with what federal prosecutors asked for. He is ordered to surrender March 6.

—OTHER DEVELOPMENTS THIS WEEK:

Two former Trump aides pleaded their case to judges Tuesday in hopes of easing the punishment they could face for their crimes.

Lawyers for former Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn asked a judge Tuesday to spare him prison time, saying he had devoted his career to his country and taken responsibility for an “uncharacteristic error in judgment.” Flynn has admitted lying to the FBI just days after Trump took office about conversations he had during the transition with the then-Russian ambassador to the United States.

Also Tuesday, lawyers for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort said they were still deciding whether to dispute allegations that he lied to investigators and breached a plea agreement. Manafort has been convicted in Washington and Virginia of crimes related to years of Ukrainian political consulting work. Although the charges don’t directly touch Trump, Manafort was a central figure during the campaign, which means he could pass along potentially damaging information.

Why Trump is likely to be indicted by federal prosecutors

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Why Trump is likely to be indicted by federal prosecutors. By Andrew McCarthy.    Fox News


The law must apply to Donald Trump.  Crooked Media


A clear message to witnesses from Mueller and federal prosecutors: it goes better for you when you don’t lie about campaign finance violations.    Just Security


The quid pro quo with Russia was even tighter than we thought.    Emptywheel


All the lies have one thing in common: Russia.    The Washington Post


A “simple, private transaction,” says Trump.    The New York Times

Accused Russian Spy to Plead Guilty

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According to a court filing Monday, 30-year-old Maria Butina has agreed to plead guilty this week to a single felony count of conspiracy.

Federal prosecutors say the former American University graduate student, who’d previously pleaded not guilty, sought to infiltrate the National Rifle Association to nurture political contacts and influence U.S. policy toward Moscow.

They also claimed she was being directed by a Russian official who was under sanctions for alleged ties to President Vladimir Putin. Butina, who was arrested in July, is due in court today.


Learn More:    The Guardian    CBS

Trump Ally Files ‘Blackmail’ Suit Against Mueller

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It’s a “legal coup d’etat.”

So charges a lawsuit against special counsel Robert Mueller, who on Friday filed documents further linking President Trump’s campaign to Russian 2016 election interference.

Conspiracy theorist and former InfoWars contributor Jerome Corsi is seeking $350 million in damages, alleging Mueller blackmailed him — by threatening imprisonment — to lie about being an intermediary between WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone.

Media reports indicated that Corsi emailed Stone in 2016 advising that WikiLeaks would release damaging emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.


Learn More:    NBC    Fox News

Black Friday for Trump and company

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Fleshing out a story of cooperation with Russia.    Lawfare


DOJ regulars meanwhile focus on illegal campaign contributions.    The New York Times


All the president’s men are in big trouble.      The Atlantic


Ominous signs for the president. National Review Federal memos loaded with intention.      Slate


Mueller has been issuing his “report” one indictment, one court document, at a time.      The Washington Post


The investigation into the Trump team presaged the special counsel.    CNN


The 14 questions Robert Mueller can answer but we can’t.    Wired


Andrew Napolitano stands up for Robert Mueller and lashes out at Rudy Giuliani.      Fox News

Tillerson on Trump: He’s ‘Pretty Undisciplined’

Rex Tillerson has been relatively tight-lipped about his time in the Trump White House. But, some nine months after Trump fired him (an “unceremonious firing by tweet,” Politico recalls), the former secretary of state has finally spoken publicly about his interactions with the president in a “rare interview” with Bob Schieffer of CBS, the Washington Post reports, adding that in the interview “he didn’t call Trump a ‘moron,’ but he didn’t exactly suggest that Trump was a scholar.” Tillerson did reportedly say that the president is “pretty undisciplined,” which was a challenge for Tillerson “coming from the disciplined, highly process-oriented ExxonMobil corporation.” Here’s more from Tillerson’s interview with Schieffer:

  • On Trump clashing with Tillerson: “Obviously we are starkly different in our styles. We did not have a common value system. When the president would say, ‘Here’s what I want to do and here’s how I want to do it,‘ I’d have to say to him, ‘Mr. President, I understand what you want to do, but you can’t do it that way. It violates the law. It violates a treaty.‘ You know, he got really frustrated.“
  • On Trump’s leadership style: “He acts on his instincts; in some respects, that looks like impulsiveness. But it’s not his intent to act on impulse. I think he really is trying to act on his instincts.”
  • On Trump’s decision-making: “[Trump] doesn’t like to read, doesn’t read briefing reports, doesn’t like to get into the details of a lot of things, but rather just kind of says, ‘This is what I believe.’”

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