Jun 15 2017

The Russian Connection: Yes, Mr. Trump, You Are under Investigation

It was said about Watergate, a two bit burglary of the Democratic National Committee campaign headquarters, was that it wasn’t the crime that got everyone into so much trouble but the cover-up. Donald Trump fired FBI Director after he refused to end the investigation of former National Security advisor Michael Flynn and publicly affirm that he, personally, was not under investigation even though Comey had told him privately that he was not, at that time. Since then Trump has admitted he reasons for firing Comey were the investigation into his campaign’s involvement with the Russian interference into the 2016 election. After former Director Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Trump and his private lawyer, Marc Kasowi made public statements that Trump was fully vindicated regarding the Russian connection. That ended Tuesday evening.

Special counsel is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice, officials say
By Devlin Barrett, Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima, Sari Horwitz

The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe that now includes an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said.

The move by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Trump’s conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation, which until recently focused on Russian meddling during the presidential campaign and on whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Investigators have also been looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates, officials said.

Trump had received private assurances from then-FBI Director James B. Comey starting in January that he was not personally under investigation. Officials say that changed shortly after Comey’s firing.

Five people briefed on the requests, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said Daniel Coats, the current director of national intelligence, Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, and Rogers’s recently departed deputy, Richard Ledgett, agreed to be interviewed by Mueller’s investigators as early as this week. The investigation has been cloaked in secrecy, and it is unclear how many others have been questioned by the FBI.

The NSA said in statement that it will “fully cooperate with the special counsel” and declined to comment further. The office of the director of national intelligence and Ledgett declined to comment.

As Josh Marshal at TPM so aptly put it: Zero to Obstruction in under 5 months

Josh also has a good analysis of the Post article and the “world of hurt” that may come for Trump and his associates

Washington Post reporter Sari Horwitz explains the breaking report that Special Counsel Robert Muller has widened the investigation to look into the president and obstruction of justice.

The news broke shorty after, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IO) announced that the Senate Judiciary Committee would investigate the possibility that Trump obstructed justice in firing Comey. The investigation was requested by the ranking member of the committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

The special counsel is also looking into the possibility of money laundering by Trump’s associates.

“A former senior official said Mr. Mueller’s investigation was looking at money laundering by Trump associates,” a source told the Times. “The suspicion is that any cooperation with Russian officials would most likely have been done in exchange for some kind of financial payoff, and that there would have been an effort to hide the payoffs, most likely by routing them through offshore banking centers.”

The FBI and, now Mueller, have been following the money since last year when the investigation into then Trump campaign adviser Lt. General (ret.) Michael Flynn began. It has now sucked in former campaign manager Paul Manafort, Trump’s lawyer and spokesperson Michael Cohen, and possibly his son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Trump was contemplating firing Mueller, despite the warnings from close associates and congress members. It’s pretty obvious why the revelation that Trump himself, is under scrutiny was made by the special counsel’s office. If Trump moves to dismiss Mueller now, it will very hard for congress not to start impeachment proceedings.