The Pronk Pops Show 933, July 24, 2017, Story 1: The American People Do Not Care About Phony Russian/Trump Collusion Conspiracy of The Lying Lunatic Left, Delusional Democrats and Big Lie Media — They’re Coming To Take You Away To The Funny Farm To Play with Your Ding-a-Ling — Videos — Story 2: Trump Should Read Saul Alinski Rules For Radicals To Understand What Is Going On — Then Have Department of Justice Investigate The Clinton Charitable Foundation For Public Corruption and  Obama Administration For Abuse of Power Using Intelligence Community for Political Purposes And Then  Fire Mueller For Conflicts of Interests — The Sooner The Better — Go On Offense Stop Playing Defense — Just Do It! — Videos

Posted on July 24, 2017. Filed under: American History, Barack H. Obama, Bill Clinton, Blogroll, Bribery, Business, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Deep State, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Federal Government, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Health, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, History, House of Representatives, James Comey, Law, Media, National Interest, National Security Agency, News, Obama, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, President Trump, Progressives, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Robert S. Mueller III, Rule of Law, Scandals, Senate, United States of America, War, Wealth, Weather | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Project_1

The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 933,  July 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 932,  July 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 931,  July 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 930,  July 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 929,  July 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 928,  July 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 927,  July 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 926,  July 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 925,  July 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 924,  July 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 923,  July 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 922,  July 3, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 921,  June 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 920,  June 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 919,  June 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 918,  June 26, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 917,  June 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 916,  June 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 915,  June 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 914,  June 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 913,  June 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 912,  June 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 911,  June 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 910,  June 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 909,  June 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 908,  June 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 907,  June 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 906,  June 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 905,  June 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 904,  June 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 903,  June 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 902,  May 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 901,  May 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 900,  May 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 899,  May 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 898,  May 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 897,  May 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 896,  May 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 895,  May 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 894,  May 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 893,  May 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 892,  May 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 891,  May 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 890,  May 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 889,  May 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 888,  May 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 887,  May 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 886,  May 4, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 885,  May 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 884,  May 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 883 April 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 882: April 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 881: April 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 880: April 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 879: April 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 878: April 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 877: April 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 876: April 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 875: April 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 874: April 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 873: April 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 872: April 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 871: April 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 870: April 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 869: April 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 868: April 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 867: April 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 866: April 3, 2017

 

Image result for they're coming to take me awayImage result for cartoons trump fires mueller

 

 

Story 1: The American People Do Not Care About Phony Russian/Trump Collusion Conspiracy of The Lying Lunatic Left, Delusional Democrats and Big Lie Media — They’re Coming To Take You Away To The Funny Farm To Play with Your Ding-a-Ling — Videos —

Image result for democrats play with their ding-ling

Russia collusion probe may last entire Trump presidency

“BOTTOM LINE IS WE HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE” – SEBASTIAN GORKA (FULL) INTERVIEW ON FOX AND FRIENDS

Jared Kushner statement following Russia Senate hearing

Kushner says he ‘did not collude with Russia’ during campaign

No One Cares About Jared Kushner Except the MSM and Soft Coup Fascist Deep Staters

Napoleon XIV: ‘They’re coming to take me away’

Chuck Berry – My Ding-A-Ling (1972)

 

STATEMENT OF JARED C. KUSHNER TO CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES

July 24, 2017

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.
I am not a person who has sought the spotlight. First in my business and now in public service, I have worked on achieving goals, and have left it to others to work on media and public perception. Because there has been a great deal of conjecture, speculation, and inaccurate information about me, I am grateful for the opportunity to set the record straight.
My Role in the Trump for President Campaign
Before joining the administration, I worked in the private sector, building and managing companies. My experience was in business, not politics, and it was not my initial intent to play a large role in my father-in-law’s campaign when he decided to run for President. However, as the campaign progressed, I was called on to assist with various tasks and aspects of the campaign, and took on more and more responsibility.
Over the course of the primaries and general election campaign, my role continued to evolve. I ultimately worked with the finance, scheduling, communications, speechwriting, polling, data and digital teams, as well as becoming a point of contact for foreign government officials.
All of these were tasks that I had never performed on a campaign previously. When I was faced with a new challenge, I would reach out to contacts, ask advice, find the right person to manage the specific challenge, and work with that person to develop and execute a plan of action. I was lucky to work with some incredibly talented people along the way, all of whom made significant contributions toward the campaign’s ultimate success. Our nimble culture allowed us to adjust to the ever-changing circumstances and make changes on the fly as the situation warranted. I share this information because these actions should be viewed through the lens of a fast-paced campaign with thousands of meetings and interactions, some of which were impactful and memorable and many of which were not.
It is also important to note that a campaign’s success starts with its message and its messenger. Donald Trump had the right vision for America and delivered his message perfectly. The results speak for themselves. Not only did President Trump defeat sixteen skilled and experienced primary opponents and win the presidency; he did so spending a fraction of what his opponent spent in the general election. He outworked his opponent and ran one of the best campaigns in history using both modern technology and traditional methods to bring his message to the American people.
Campaign Contacts with Foreign Persons
When it became apparent that my father-in-law was going to be the Republican nominee for President, as normally happens, a number of officials from foreign countries attempted to reach out to the campaign. My father-in-law asked me to be a point of contact with these foreign countries. These were not contacts that I initiated, but, over the course of the campaign, I had incoming contacts with people from approximately 15 countries. To put these requests in context, I must have received thousands of calls, letters and emails from people looking to talk or meet on a variety of issues and topics, including hundreds from outside the United States. While I could not be responsive to everyone, I tried to be respectful of any foreign government contacts with whom it would be important to maintain an ongoing, productive working relationship were the candidate to prevail. To that end, I called on a variety of people with deep experience, such as Dr. Henry Kissinger, for advice on policy for the candidate, which countries/representatives with which the campaign should engage, and what messaging would resonate. In addition, it was typical for me to receive 200 or more emails a day during the campaign. I did not have the time to read every one, especially long emails from unknown senders or email chains to which I was added at some later point in the exchange.
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. 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 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. In fact, on November 9, the day after the election, I could not even remember the name of the Russian Ambassador. When the campaign received an email purporting to be an official note of congratulations from President Putin, I was asked how we could verify it was real. To do so I thought the best way would be to ask the only contact I recalled meeting from the Russian government, which was the Ambassador I had met months earlier, so I sent an email asking Mr. Simes, “What is the name of the Russian ambassador?” Through my lawyer, I have asked Reuters to provide the dates on which the calls supposedly occurred or the phone number at which I supposedly reached, or was reached by, Ambassador Kislyak. The journalist refused to provide any corroborating evidence that they occurred.
The only other Russian contact during the campaign is one I did not recall at all until I was reviewing documents and emails in response to congressional requests for information. In June 2016, my brother-in-law, Donald Trump Jr. asked if I was free to stop by a meeting on June 9 at 3:00 p.m. The campaign was headquartered in the same building as his office in Trump Tower, and it was common for each of us to swing by the other’s meetings when requested. He eventually sent me his own email changing the time of the meeting to 4:00 p.m. That email was on top of a long back and forth that I did not read at the time. As I did with most emails when I was working remotely, I quickly reviewed on my iPhone the relevant message that the meeting would occur at 4:00 PM at his office. Documents confirm my memory that this was calendared as “Meeting: Don Jr.| Jared Kushner.” No one else was mentioned.
I arrived at the meeting a little late. When I got there, the person who has since been identified as a Russian attorney was talking about the issue of a ban on U.S. adoptions of Russian children. I had no idea why that topic was being raised and quickly determined that my time was not well-spent at this meeting. Reviewing emails recently confirmed my memory that the meeting was a waste of our time and that, in looking for a polite way to leave and get back to my work, I actually emailed an assistant from the meeting after I had been there for ten or so minutes and wrote “Can u pls call me on my cell? Need excuse to get out of meeting.” I had not met the attorney before the meeting nor spoken with her since. I thought nothing more of this short meeting until it came to my attention recently. I did not read or recall this email exchange before it was shown to me by my lawyers when reviewing documents for submission to the committees. No part of the meeting I attended included anything about the campaign, there was no follow up to the meeting that I am aware of, I do not recall how many people were there (or their names), and I have no knowledge of any documents being offered or accepted. Finally, after seeing the email, I disclosed this meeting prior to it being reported in the press on a supplement to my security clearance form, even if that was not required as meeting the definitions of the form.
There was one more possible contact that I will note. On October 30, 2016, I received a random email from the screenname “Guccifer400.” This email, which I interpreted as a hoax, was an extortion attempt and threatened to reveal candidate Trump’s tax returns and demanded that we send him 52 bitcoins in exchange for not publishing that information. I brought the email to the attention of a U.S. Secret Service agent on the plane we were all travelling on and asked what he thought. He advised me to ignore it and not to reply — which is what I did. The sender never contacted me again.
To the best of my recollection, these were the full extent of contacts I had during the campaign with persons who were or appeared to potentially be representatives of the Russian government.
Transition Contacts with Foreign Persons
The transition period after the election was even more active than the campaign. Starting on election night, we began to receive an incredible volume of messages and invitations from well-wishers in the United States and abroad. Dozens of messages came from foreign officials seeking to set up foreign leader calls and create lines of communication and relationships with what would be the new administration. During this period, I recall having over fifty contacts with people from over fifteen countries. Two of those meetings were with Russians, neither of which I solicited.
On November 16, 2016, my assistant received a request for a meeting from the Russian Ambassador. As I mentioned before, previous to receiving this request, I could not even recall the Russian Ambassador’s name, and had to ask for the name of the individual I had seen at the Mayflower Hotel almost seven months earlier. In addition, far from being urgent, that meeting was not set up for two weeks — on December 1. The meeting occurred in Trump Tower, where we had our transition office, and lasted twenty- thirty minutes. Lt. General Michael Flynn (Ret.), who became the President’s National Security Advisor, also attended. During the meeting, after pleasantries were exchanged, as I had done in many of the meetings I had and would have with foreign officials, I stated our desire for a fresh start in relations. Also, as I had done in other meetings with foreign officials, I asked Ambassador Kislyak if he would identify the best person (whether the Ambassador or someone else) with whom to have direct discussions and who had contact with his President. The fact that I was asking about ways to start a dialogue after Election Day should of course be viewed as strong evidence that I was not aware of one that existed before Election Day.
The Ambassador expressed similar sentiments about relations, and then said he especially wanted to address U.S. policy in Syria, and that he wanted to convey information from what he called his “generals.” He said he wanted to provide information that would help inform the new administration. He said the generals could not easily come to the U.S. to convey this information and he asked if there was a secure line in the transition office to conduct a conversation. General Flynn or I explained that there were no such lines. I believed developing a thoughtful approach on Syria was a very high priority given the ongoing humanitarian crisis, and I asked if they had an existing communications channel at his embassy we could use where they would be comfortable transmitting the information they wanted to relay to General Flynn. The Ambassador said that would not be possible and so we all agreed that we would receive this information after the Inauguration. Nothing else occurred. I did not suggest a “secret back channel.” I did not suggest an on-going secret form of communication for then or for when the administration took office. I did not raise the possibility of using the embassy or any other Russian facility for any purpose other than this one possible conversation in the transition period. We did not discuss sanctions.
Approximately a week later, on December 6, the Embassy asked if I could meet with the Ambassador on December 7. I declined. They then asked if I could meet on December 6; I declined again. They then asked when the earliest was that I could meet. I declined these requests because I was working on many other responsibilities for the transition. He asked if he could meet my assistant instead and, to avoid offending the Ambassador, I agreed. He did so on December 12. My assistant reported that the Ambassador had requested that I meet with a person named Sergey Gorkov who he said was a banker and someone with a direct line to the Russian President who could give insight into how Putin was viewing the new administration and best ways to work together. I agreed to meet Mr. Gorkov because the Ambassador has been so insistent, said he had a direct relationship with the President, and because Mr. Gorkov was only in New York for a couple days. I made room on my schedule for the meeting that occurred the next day, on December 13.
The meeting with Mr. Gorkov lasted twenty to twenty-five minutes. He introduced himself and gave me two gifts — one was a piece of art from Nvgorod, the village where my grandparents were from in Belarus, and the other was a bag of dirt from that same village. (Any notion that I tried to conceal this meeting or that I took it thinking it was in my capacity as a businessman is false. In fact, I gave my assistant these gifts to formally register them with the transition office). After that, he told me a little about his bank and made some statements about the Russian economy. He said that he was friendly with President Putin, expressed disappointment with U.S.-Russia relations under President Obama and hopes for a better relationship in the future. As I did at the meeting with Ambassador Kislyak, I expressed the same sentiments I had with other foreign officials I met. There were no specific policies discussed. We had no discussion about the sanctions imposed by the Obama Administration. At no time was there any discussion about my companies, business transactions, real estate projects, loans, banking arrangements or any private business of any kind. At the end of the short meeting, we thanked each other and I went on to other meetings. I did not know or have any contact with Mr. Gorkov before that meeting, and I have had no reason to connect with him since.
To the best of my recollection, these were the only two contacts I had during the transition with persons who were or appeared to potentially be representatives of the Russian government.
Disclosure of Contacts on My Security Clearance Form
There has been a good deal of misinformation reported about my SF-86 form. As my attorneys and I have previously explained, my SF-86 application was prematurely submitted due to a miscommunication and initially did not list any contacts (not just with Russians) with foreign government officials. Here are some facts about that form and the efforts I have made to supplement it.
In the week before the Inauguration, amid the scramble of finalizing the unwinding of my involvement from my company, moving my family to Washington, completing the paper work to divest assets and resign from my outside positions and complete my security and financial disclosure forms, people at my New York office were helping me find the information, organize it, review it and put it into the electronic form. They sent an email to my assistant in Washington, communicating that the changes to one particular section were complete; my assistant interpreted that message as meaning that the entire form was completed. At that point, the form was a rough draft and still had many omissions including not listing any foreign government contacts and even omitted the address of my father-in-law (which was obviously well known). Because of this miscommunication, my assistant submitted the draft on January 18, 2017.
That evening, when we realized the form had been submitted prematurely, we informed the transition team that we needed to make changes and additions to the form. The very next day, January 19, 2017, we submitted supplemental information to the transition, which confirmed receipt and said they would immediately transmit it to the FBI. The supplement disclosed that I had “numerous contacts with foreign officials” and that we were going through my records to provide an accurate and complete list. I provided a list of those contacts in the normal course, before my background investigation interview and prior to any inquiries or media reports about my form.
It has been reported that my submission omitted only contacts with Russians. That is not the case. In the accidental early submission of the form, all foreign contacts were omitted. The supplemental information later disclosed over one hundred contacts from more than twenty countries that might be responsive to the questions on the form. These included meetings with individuals such as Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Israel’s Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Luis Videgaray Caso and many more. All of these had been left off before.
Over the last six months, I have made every effort to provide the FBI with whatever information is needed to investigate my background. In addition, my attorneys have explained that the security clearance process is one in which supplements are expected and invited. The form itself instructs that, during the interview, the information in the document can be “update[d], clarif[ied], and explain[ed]” as part of the security clearance process. A good example is the June 9 meeting. For reasons that should be clear from the explanation of that meeting I have provided, I did not remember the meeting and certainly did not remember it as one with anyone who had to be included on an SF-86. When documents reviewed for production in connection with committee requests reminded me that meeting had occurred, and because of the language in the email chain that I then read for the first time, I included that meeting on a supplement. I did so even though my attorneys were unable to conclude that the Russian lawyer was a representative of any foreign country and thus fell outside the scope of the form. This supplemental information was also provided voluntarily, well prior to any media inquiries, reporting or request for this information, and it was done soon after I was reminded of the meeting.
****
As I have said from the very first media inquiry, I am happy to share information with the
investigating bodies. I have shown today that I am willing to do so and will continue to cooperate as I have nothing to hide. As I indicated, I know there has been a great deal of speculation and conjecture about my contacts with any officials or people from Russia. I have disclosed these contacts and described them as fully as I can recall. The record and documents I am providing will show that I had perhaps four contacts with Russian representatives out of thousands during the campaign and transition, none of which were impactful in any way to the election or particularly memorable. I am very grateful for the opportunity to set the record straight. I also have tried to provide context for my role in the campaign, and I am proud of the candidate that we supported, of the campaign that we ran, and the victory that we achieved.
It has been my practice not to appear in the media or leak information in my own defense. I have tried to focus on the important work at hand and serve this President and this country to the best of my abilities. I hope that through my answers to questions, written statements and documents I have now been able to demonstrate the entirety of my limited contacts with Russian representatives during the campaign and transition. I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government. 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, above and beyond what is required. Hopefully, this puts these matters to rest.

Jared Kushner Details Russia Meetings, Denies Collusion

President’s son-in-law and adviser speaks with Senate panel about investigation into Russia

Kushner: ‘I Did Not Collude With Russia’
President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner denied allegations that he colluded with Russian officials, following a meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

WASHINGTON— Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, said Monday he didn’t collude with any Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and rejected the suggestion that Moscow was responsible for the president’s victory.

Speaking outside the White House on Monday, Mr. Kushner said his actions over the last two years “were proper and occurred in the normal course of events in a very unique campaign.”

“I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else on the campaign who did so,” he said.

Mr. Kushner said Mr. Trump defeated Democratic rival Hillary Clinton because he had “a better message and ran a smarter campaign, and that is why he won. Suggesting otherwise ridicules those who voted for him.”

Mr. Kushner addressed the press Monday after concluding an interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee, his first time speaking to congressional investigators who are probing Russian meddling in the election. Mr. Kushner said he would speak to a House panel on Tuesday.

Ahead of the interview on Monday, Mr. Kushner released an 11-page statement detailing his contacts with Russian officials and businesspeople in the two years since Mr. Trump launched his presidential campaign. In that statement, he said he had no improper interactions and that he hadn’t “relied” on Russian funds to “finance [his] business activities.”

A spokesman for Mr. Kushner didn’t immediately respond to a question about whether the statement meant no Russian funds were involved in his businesses.

The written statement included details of a previously undisclosed, brief meeting with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. in April 2016. During the encounter—shortly before Mr. Trump would become the Republican party’s effective nominee—Mr. Kushner met ambassador Sergei Kislyak at an event at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. Mr. Kushner said he was introduced to Mr. Kislyak and three other ambassadors by Dimitri Simes, the publisher of a foreign-policy magazine who was hosting the event, at a reception held directly before it.

Mr. Trump, who gave a speech addressing foreign policy at the event, also greeted Mr. Kislyak and three other foreign ambassadors who came to a VIP reception, The Wall Street Journal reported in May 2016. Mr. Kushner’s account makes no mention of Mr. Trump being present at the reception. Attorney General Jeff Sessions—then a U.S. senator advising the Trump campaign—also attended the event, and said in sworn testimony before a Senate panel this past June that he couldn’t recall whether he had a passing encounter with Mr. Kislyak there.

“The ambassadors…expressed interest in creating a positive relationship should we win the election,” Mr. Kushner wrote in his statement. “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.”

A spokesman for Mr. Kushner had previously denied that Messrs. Kushner and Kislyak met privately at the event. A separate Kushner spokesman said Monday that the statement doesn’t contradict the previous denial because the two met at a reception, not one-on-one.

To underscore the brief nature of the interaction, Mr. Kushner referenced an email he wrote on Nov. 9 after the campaign received a note of congratulations from Russian President Vladimir Putin. “What is the name of the Russian ambassador?” Mr. Kushner asked in an email to Mr. Simes, an American born in Moscow, saying he wanted to verify that the Putin note was real.

In the statement, Mr. Kushner also denied trying to establish any “backchannel” with Russia, though he acknowledged that in a December meeting with Mr. Kislyak, Mr. Kushner proposed receiving information about military operations in Syria via a secure communications line at the Russian embassy, because the Trump transition team had no secure system of its own.

After Mr. Trump’s victory on Election Day, the White House repeatedly denied that there had been any contacts between his campaign and Russian officials. “It never happened,” spokeswoman Hope Hicks told the Associated Press in November. “There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.”

Since then, it has emerged that several members of Mr. Trump’s campaign—some of whom now serve in his administration—did have contact with Russians. They include Mr. Sessions, former national security adviser Mike Flynn and the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr.

Congressional investigators and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is overseeing a criminal probe for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are investigating possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election, as well as whether Trump associates colluded in any meddling.

Mr. Trump and his campaign aides have denied any collusion, and the president has said he questions the U.S. intelligence agencies’ consensus that Moscow sought to intervene during the campaign—a charge that Russian officials have denied.

The Russian Embassy announced on Twitter Saturday that Mr. Kislyak has concluded his assignment in Washington.

Sergei Kislyak, former Russian ambassador to the U.S.
Sergei Kislyak, former Russian ambassador to the U.S. PHOTO: CAROLYN KASTER/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The revelations of the Russia meetings come as Congress considers legislation imposing new sanctions on Russia as retribution for any interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

The bill, which already passed the Senate on a rare and overwhelming bipartisan 98-2 vote, will pose a test for the president, who has expressed skepticism about the intelligence community’s assessment of Moscow’s role in the campaign, from hacking Democratic emails to promoting fake news. The White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Sunday said Mr. Trump was likely to support the legislation.

Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee has summoned Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman for three months in 2016, and Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, to a hearing on Wednesday, along with Russia sanctions activist Bill Browder and Glenn Simpson, the founder of a political intelligence firm in Washington called Fusion GPS. Mr. Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, was subpoenaed to appear before the committee on Friday.

Mr. Simpson’s attorneys have said they are prepared to fight the subpoena. The Judiciary Committee said Donald Trump Jr. and Mr. Manafort are providing documents to the committee and are still negotiating the terms of their testimonies.

The new meeting disclosed on Monday comes on top of three previously confirmed meetings Mr. Kushner has held with Russians. He also disclosed that in October—days before the election—he reported to a Secret Service agent an email he received from someone under the name “Guccifer400” that threatened to “reveal candidate Trump’s tax returns and demanded that we send him 52 bitcoins in exchange for not publishing that information.” The agent advised Mr. Kushner to ignore the email, and Mr. Kushner said he wasn’t contacted by the sender again.

In June 2016, Mr. Kushner met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Mr. Manafort and Donald Trump Jr. in a meeting arranged by the younger Mr. Trump. Emails the president’s son released earlier this month showed the meeting was held to discuss allegedly damaging information about Democrat Hillary Clinton that the Trump campaign was told was being offered by the Russian government in support of the elder Mr. Trump’s candidacy.

In an email to the younger Mr. Trump dated June 3, 2016, a British publicist said that a top Russian prosecutor had “offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.”

The younger Mr. Trump responded: “[If] it’s what you say I love it.”

Mr. Kushner said Monday that he arrived late to the meeting and left early, sending his assistant an email that said: “Can u pls call me on my cell? Need excuse to get out of meeting.” He said that while he was there, the meeting didn’t discuss “anything about the campaign” and said there was no follow-up.

Mr. Kushner disclosed the meeting with Ms. Veselnitskaya earlier this year in a required form to obtain a security clearance. Mr. Kushner initially filed a disclosure that didn’t list any contacts with foreign government officials, but the next day submitted a supplemental disclosure saying that he had engaged in “numerous contacts with foreign officials.”

He said Monday that the omission of foreign contacts was an administrative error.

Mr. Kushner has since submitted information about “over 100 contacts from more than 20 countries,” he said. That information hasn’t been publicly disclosed, but Mr. Kushner said Monday the contacts included meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Luis Videgaray Caso, the secretary of foreign affairs for Mexico.

White House officials also said earlier this year that Mr. Kushner met in December with Messrs. Kislyak and Flynn. Mr. Flynn resigned in February as national security adviser after it was disclosed he misled officials about his contacts with the Russian ambassador.

During that meeting, Mr. Kushner said Monday, he asked Mr. Kislyak to “identify the best person…with whom to have direct discussions and who had contact with his president.” He also expressed a desire for a “fresh start in relations.”

Mr. Kushner subsequently had aide Avraham Berkowitz handle another meeting requested by Mr. Kislyak, during which the ambassador sought to arrange a meeting between Mr. Kushner and Sergei Gorkov, the head of Vneshekonombank, or VEB, the officials said. Mr. Kushner’s meeting with Mr. Gorkov took place in December at a location other than Trump Tower, a senior administration official said.

In 2014 the U.S. imposed sanctions on the Russian development bank, naming entities and individuals operating in Russia’s economy after Moscow’s annexation of Crimea. The Treasury Department sanctions prohibit specified financial contacts with the bank and others on the list.

The White House’s account of that December meeting has differed from that of VEB, which said its leadership met with Mr. Kushner in his capacity as the head of the real-estate firm Kushner Cos. A senior administration official said earlier this year that Mr. Kushner didn’t know the bank was under sanction and “wasn’t there to discuss business.”

On Monday, Mr. Kushner said they discussed “no specific policies” and said Mr. Gorkov “told me a little about his bank and made some statements about the Russian economy.” Mr. Gorkov also said he was “friendly with” Mr. Putin.

In his statement Monday, Mr. Kushner acknowledged that he proposed receiving information about military operations in Syria via a secure communications line at the Russian embassy, but he denied trying to establish any “backchannel” and said his interest in talking to Russia via secure means was solely to obtain information about the conflict in Syria.

The idea to have direct contacts with Russia about Syria during the transition came from Mr. Kislyak, who said at the December meeting in Trump Tower that he wanted to relay information from Russian “generals” who couldn’t come to the U.S., Mr. Kushner said.

The Wall Street Journal previously reported that Mr. Kushner had discussed with the Russian ambassador the possibility of setting up a secure communications line with Russia during the transition and using equipment at the Russian embassy, according to a person familiar with the matters.

A mode of communication like that could have made it more difficult for U.S. intelligence agencies to intercept and listen to conversations. And two other people with knowledge of Mr. Kushner’s activities during the transition said his interest in creating what they described as a “backchannel” with Russia raised concerns among law enforcement and national-security officials about his and the team’s activities.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/jared-kushner-releases-details-on-previously-undisclosed-meeting-with-russian-ambassador-1500890433

Story 2: Trump Should Read Saul Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals To Understand What Is Going On — Then Have Department of Justice Investigate The Clinton Charitable Foundation For Public Corruption and  Obama Administration For Abuse of Power In Office For Using Intelligence Community for Political Purposes And Then  Fire Mueller For Conflicts on Interests — The Sooner The Better — Go On Offense Stop Playing Defense — Just Do It! — Videos

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Dobbs: Deputy AG Rosenstein should fire Robert Mueller and then resign

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Trump’s media allies are making the case for firing Robert Mueller

Saturday Night Massacre, redux?

The appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller to serve as special counsel investigating matters related to Russia and the 2016 presidential campaign served to effectively quell the firestorm of criticism launched by Donald Trump’s decision to fire Mueller’s successor at the FBI. But what if Trump fires Mueller, too, as is his right under the law?

That’s exactly what a growing chorus of voices in pro-Trump media are arguing that he should do, with former House Speaker and leading Trump sycophant Newt Gingrich leading the charge.

Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair. Look who he is hiring.check fec reports. Time to rethink.

It seems that the consensus that there’s a problem with Mueller is somewhat in advance of the consensus on what the problem exactly is. But Trump-friendly pundits are throwing a few different ideas out there.

Any such move would, of course, be politically explosive and draw direct parallels to Richard Nixon’s conduct. But if Republicans on Capitol Hill are willing to go along with it, there’s nobody else out there who can actually stop Trump.

There’s nothing to investigate

Ann Coulter offered the argument that since Comey testified that Trump was not personally under investigation, there is nothing to investigate, and thus no need for a special counsel.

Now that we FINALLY got Comey to admit Trump not under investigation, Sessions should fire Mueller. Why do we need a special counsel now?

The problem here is that even if the president is personally innocent of any wrongdoing, there can still be significant legal jeopardy for people in his orbit.

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn appears to be in hot water regarding his secret sources of foreign income, Attorney General Jeff Sessions made false statements under oath regarding his meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, senior adviser Jared Kushner seems to have made false sworn statements on his security clearance paperwork regarding meeting an executive at a Russian bank that’s widely seen as a front for Russian intelligence, and Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort is facing questions about possible money laundering.

That’s all the kind of thing you might want investigated by someone outside the normal Department of Justice chain of command.

There’s a conflict of interest

Byron York of the Washington Examiner floats a different account: Mueller can’t investigate Comey because they used to work together.

“Comey,” York writes, “is a good friend of special counsel Robert Mueller — such a good friend, for about 15 years now, that the two men have been described as ‘brothers in arms.’”

The idea that Mueller is unfit to investigate a Republican administration because he served alongside Comey as a high-level appointee in the previous Republican administration is too ridiculous for York to outright endorse, so instead he frames his article as a reporting mission in which he consults with experts on the question of whether or not there’s a conflict of interest. York is unable to find a single person willing to go on the record as supporting his conflict of interest theory.

But he does find four anonymous lawyers, three of whom worked at one point for the Justice Department, to say it’s inappropriate for Mueller to head an investigation that involves Comey as a witness.

Mueller’s team is biased

Gingrich’s argument is more straightforward: Mueller is biased and unfair.

This is a bit of a hard sell. Mueller won a bronze star as a Marine in the Vietnam War. Ronald Reagan appointed him as US attorney for Massachusetts, George H.W. Bush appointed him an assistant attorney general, and George W. Bush as deputy attorney general and then later FBI director. He’s not a particularly partisan figure (he also served a couple of years as a Clinton-appointed US attorney, and Barack Obama extended his term as FBI director by two years,) but he’s generally regarded as a Republican, and has received Senate-confirmed appointments by each of the past five presidents.

But Gingrich’s suggestion that we “look at who he is hiring” and “check FEC reports” hints at the broad outline of a case.

  • Andrew Weissmann, the head of the DOJ Criminal Division’s fraud section, for example, has gone to work for Mueller. That seems natural enough since Weissmann served as general counsel of the FBI when Mueller was director. But FEC reports show that Weissmann donated about $2,300 to the Obama/Biden campaign in 2008.
  • Jeannie Rhee, a former Justice Department lawyer who’s now a colleague of Mueller’s at Wilmer Hale donated to Obama, to Hillary Clinton, and to a few of Democratic senate candidates over the years.
  • James Quarles, a Watergate prosecutor and longtime Wilmer Hale attorney, was also a donor to Obama in 2008 and Clinton in 2016.

An explosive move, but a tempting one

Obviously, to fire a well-regarded special prosecutor who is investigating your own administration would be an explosive political move.

When Richard Nixon did this in the Saturday Night Massacre it was a major scandal that, in many respects, kicked the Watergate investigation into overdrive. And, indeed, it was the political backlash to firing Comey that saddled Trump with the Mueller investigation in the first place. Prudent counselors might advise him that firing Mueller will only serve to further exacerbate his problems.

On the other hand, while firing Comey was not exactly well-received on Capitol Hill, the vast majority of congressional Republicans were eager to rally around the idea that Trump was within his legal rights to fire the FBI director. One clear takeaway from Comey’s public testimony last week is that congressional Republicans do not believe that asking an FBI director to stymie an investigation, then firing him when he doesn’t do it, then lying to the public about why you fired him constitutes obstruction of justice or abuse of power in the relevant sense.

Given that standard, they might well conclude that firing Mueller is okay too. Trump’s legal authority to do this, after all, is perfectly clear. The only check is political backlash on Capitol Hill, where Republicans hold majorities in both houses and have thus far shown little inclination to check Trump.

Last but by no means least, one advantage Trump has in Russia-related decision-making is that he knows more than either his allies or his antagonists in Congress about what the underlying facts of the case are. Trump is in a unique position to evaluate whether the political costs of a cover-up exceed the political costs of a thorough investigation. In the case of, for example, his still-secret tax returns and personal finances, Trump has decided that the cover-up is the wiser path — and it’s certainly possible he’ll reach the same conclusion with regard to Mueller.

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/6/12/15782092/fire-robert-mueller

When Will President Trump Fire Robert Mueller?

The White House is threatening the special counsel and trying to dig up dirt on him, and the prospect that the president will try to fire him now seems very real.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller
J. Scott Applewhite / AP
The idea that Donald Trump might fire—or try to fire—Special Counsel Robert Mueller has bubbled up enough times to seem possible, but still improbable. For one thing (as Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer, among others, can attest) press reports that this president might fire someone are frequently wrong. For another, it seemed that even Trump was prudent enough to avoid making the mistake that ended Richard Nixon’s presidency.Yet Trump has a knack for making the wildly implausible suddenly imminent.  In the last 36 hours, the idea of Mueller being fired—and the political crisis it would likely set off—has become distinctly real. In an interview with The New York Times, Trump all but said he would fire Mueller if his investigation went into places Trump didn’t like. Since then, several reports have suggested that Trump’s defense strategy, as investigations probe deeper into his life and administration, is to attack Mueller and attempt to discredit him. Increasingly, the operative question seems not to be whether Trump will try to fire Mueller, but when he will do so and what will push him over the edge.

Firing Mueller would likely create a reprise of the October 1973 “Saturday Night Massacre,” in which Richard Nixon tried to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox. When the attorney general and his deputy both refused and resigned, Nixon eventually got Solicitor General Robert Bork to do the deed. But a judge ruled the firing illegal, Cox was replaced by Leon Jaworski, and Nixon had to resign within a year.

If Trump did fire Mueller, it would be the third time in his tenure that Trump tried to get a law-enforcement official who was investigating him or his associates to close a case and, having failed, fired the official.

Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, was, according to a Bloomberg report on Thursday, investigating financial dealings involving Trump, his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and others. After winning the presidency, Trump told Bharara he intended to keep him in his job. Trump then worked to cultivate Bharara, placing repeated phone calls to him. Bharara refused to take the calls, saying they violated protocol. Trump then fired him, along with most other U.S. attorneys, in March. (Bloomberg reports Mueller has taken over the investigation Bharara started.)Something similar happened with FBI Director James Comey. Trump invited Comey to dinner in January, where, according to Comey, Trump asked him for loyalty; Comey offered only “honest loyalty.” The following month, after National-Security Adviser Michael Flynn was forced to step down for lying to Vice President Pence about conversations with the Russian ambassador, Trump asked Comey to find a way to let Flynn ago, according to memos Comey wrote at the time. Comey did not, and in May, Trump fired him—citing the Russia probe as the reason in an interview with NBC News’s Lester Holt.Mueller’s situation now looks eerily similar. The special counsel is known to be looking into Trump and his associates, both in their relations with Russia in the campaign and in their business dealings. Trump sent two of his lawyers to meet with Mueller, to ask him to wrap the investigation swiftly. Now, he has issued a warning to Mueller through the press. (His lawyers say they are cooperating with the investigation.) It’s difficult to believe that the special counsel will be intimidated. Mueller, himself a former FBI director, has a strong reputation for independence and doggedness. He might be even less susceptible to political pressure than Bharara and Comey, both of whom, while well-regarded for honesty, are sometimes accused of political ambition. (Mueller’s aversion to attention means it’s harder to know what’s going on inside his team, which doesn’t leak much.)
This places Trump and Mueller on a collision path. Either the president will have to fire the special counsel for doing exactly the same things that got Bharara and Comey axed, or he’ll have to sit and seethe as Mueller pokes into his taxes, his business, and who knows what else.In mid-June, Chris Ruddy, a friend of Trump’s and the CEO of Newsmax, told PBS’s NewsHour that Trump was considering firing Mueller, on the basis that he had spoken to Mueller about the job of FBI director days before Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed him special counsel. The president felt that created a conflict of interest, but cooler heads in the White House seem to have convinced him firing Mueller was unwise.Legal experts think Trump could fire Mueller in several ways. He could direct Rosenstein to do so, but Rosenstein would probably refuse unless there was a strong legal justification. Trump could also try to change the rules for firing, but that would also have to go through Rosenstein. Either path is fraught with likely firings or resignations at the Justice Department.Yet in the eye-popping Times interview Wednesday, reporter Michael Schmidt asked, “If Mueller was looking at your finances and your family finances, unrelated to Russia—is that a red line?” Trump said, “I would say yeah. I would say yes … I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia. So I think if he wants to go, my finances are extremely good, my company is an unbelievably successful company.” Trump wouldn’t actually commit to firing Mueller if he did, though: “I can’t, I can’t answer that question because I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
Since then, the flood. The Washington Post reports that Trump is seeking ways to box in Mueller’s probe and limit its scope, as well as exploring the limits of his power to pardon aides, or, potentially, himself. “They are actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work, according to several of Trump’s legal advisers,” the paper adds. The New York Times had a similar report.The Trump team seems to be targeting Mueller from two angles. The first is conflicts of interest. Trump seems to have little understanding of what constitutes a conflict; he has remained deeply entangled in his private business while serving as president, and accused multiple figures of conflicts of interest in his Times interview, even as he evinced no understanding of the conflict that forced Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from Russia matters. But the Justice Department has explicit rules for what constitutes an improper conflict. It doesn’t appear that what the Trump team has come up with so far—Mueller’s conversation with Trump, or political donations by members of his team—would meet the standards in that policy.The second tack is to try to prevent Mueller from moving into areas Trump doesn’t want him to explore. “The president’s making clear that the special counsel should not move outside the scope of the investigation,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Thursday. Yet any argument that the investigation must stay within its own scope begs the question: Who is to determine what the scope of the investigation is, after all? Rosenstein’s letter appointing Mueller seems to offer the prosecutor a great deal of leeway, including authorizing “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”
Take the Trump team’s warnings to Mueller to stick to Russia. The problem is that, as Trump surely knows, business doesn’t stop neatly at international borders. For example: Trump banks with Deutsche Bank, a German bank. Deutsche Bank works with Vnesheconombank, a state-owned Russian bank with whose chief executive Kushner had a questionable conversation in December. Or: Paul Manafort is reportedly being investigated for transactions through Cyprus, where Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev is chairman of the Bank of the Cyprus; Rybolovlev in 2015 bought a house in Florida from Trump for a huge profit. How does one draw a line between what is “Russian” and what is not?While Mueller is not speaking to the press, various reports have emerged about the scope of his investigation, and they suggest that Mueller intends to follow each thread as far as he can. The historical precedent, as I have written before, is the Whitewater investigation into the Clintons. That inquiry didn’t end up finding wrongdoing in the 1970s real-estate deal that gave the scandal its name, but once a special prosecutor begins combing over someone’s affairs, he tends to find something. In Clinton’s case, the end game was impeachment in the Monica Lewinsky case, an affair that hadn’t even begun when the investigation opened.Trump, who has made a career in business out of frequently bending or even simply breaking the rules, may have good reason to be concerned. The question is about what. The Post reports:

Trump has been fuming about the probe in recent weeks as he has been informed about the legal questions that he and his family could face. His primary frustration centers on why allegations that his campaign coordinated with Russia should spread into scrutinizing many years of Trump dealmaking. He has told aides he was especially disturbed after learning Mueller would be able to access several years of his tax returns.

Trump has famously refused to release his taxes, breaking a precedent that has endured since Watergate. During the campaign, he claimed he couldn’t release the taxes because he was under audit (he never proved that, and the IRS said there was no reason he couldn’t release the returns anyway), but since winning election, he has made clear he actually has no intention of releasing them.

The complaint about tax returns suggests two possible worries. One is that he thinks his returns will reveal improprieties or illegal behavior. The other is that Trump’s taxes will show that he is not worth as much as he claims he is, or that they will show that his debt dwarfs his assets. Being revealed to be in debt, or less rich than claimed, might be a strange reason to risk blowing up one’s presidency and by extension reputation and legacy. But Trump has both consistently exaggerated his wealth, attributing huge value to intangible things, and has fought bitterly when anyone has questioned his figures.When journalist Tim O’Brien wrote that Trump was worth only $150 to $250 million, Trump sued him for libel in 2006, demanding $5 billion in damages. (That’s one way to build up net worth.) The suit didn’t go well. In a deposition for the case, Trump had to admit lying 30 times, and a judge dismissed the suit.It is impossible to predict what might happen if Trump did fire Mueller. Republicans in Congress have shown relatively little interest in aggressively holding the president accountable. As McKay Coppins reported this week, many of them are dubious that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia. But the collapse of the health-care bill combined with Trump’s threats against Mueller has aroused new ire among members. Senator Susan Collins of Maine told CNN, “It would be catastrophic if the president were to fire the special counsel.” Others expressed grave concerns, though not attaching their name.
Yet talk now and action later are two different things. On the one hand, plenty of Republicans have been critical of Trump but continue to mostly go with the flow. On the other, congressional Republicans were slow to turn on Nixon, too. In the event of a firing, James Fallows writes, holding Trump accountable would hinge on finding three Republican senators willing to buck the White House.In some ways, Trump is already following in the steps of the 37th president. A friend of Donald Trump Jr. recently compared him to Nixon giving his famous 1952 Checkers speech, in which the then-vice presidential candidate defended himself against accusations of financial impropriety. That speech was a political triumph: It convinced Dwight Eisenhower to leave him on the ticket, Eisenhower won the presidency, and Nixon came back from the political dead, not for the last time. Biographer Jack Farrell notes that Nixon’s impetus for firing Cox was his fury that the special prosecutor had expanded the scope of his investigation past Watergate and into Nixon’s personal affairs. What is less remembered about the Checkers speech is that, as the Watergate investigation found, Nixon’s financial affairs really were dubious; he was wildly underpaying taxes. A politician can stave off the inevitable with public rhetoric and even firings for a time, but investigators often have the last word.https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/07/when-will-president-trump-fire-robert-mueller/534459/

Trump leaves Sessions twisting in the wind while berating him publicly


Attorney General Jeff Sessions walks down the stairs of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Monday. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

July 24 at 7:15 PM

President Trump and his advisers are privately discussing the possibility of replacing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and some confidants are floating prospects who could take his place were he to resign or be fired, according to people familiar with the talks.Members of Trump’s circle, including White House officials, have increasingly raised the question among themselves in recent days as the president has continued to vent his frustration with the attorney general, the people said.Replacing Sessions is seen by some Trump associates as potentially being part of a strategy to fire special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and end his investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.The president took another swipe at Sessions on Monday, calling his attorney general “our beleaguered A.G.” and asking why Sessions was not “looking into Crooked Hillary’s crimes & Russia relations?”Both points are notable. Sessions was once considered one of Trump’s closest advisers and enjoyed access few others had. Now he is left to endure regular public criticism by his boss.

Trump’s attack on Sessions raises more questions about the Russia investigation

Trump’s suggestion, too, that his top law enforcement official investigate a former political rival is astounding, and even his allies have said in the past that such a move would be unheard of in the United States. Trump, after the election, had backed away from the idea of possibly prosecuting Hillary Clinton.

Sessions has seen his tight relationship with Trump and the White House unravel since he recused himself in March from the Russia probe. The president had privately complained about that decision for weeks, and in an interview with the New York Times last week he said he would not have appointed Sessions as attorney general had he known in advance of the recusal.

After Sessions recused himself, he passed on the responsibility to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who then appointed Mueller as special counsel overseeing the Russia probe.

Trump could order Rosenstein — and then Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand — to fire Mueller. If they quit instead of doing so, he could appoint an acting attorney general who would. Trump could also appoint an acting attorney general with them in place — effectively passing over Rosenstein and Brand — and order that person to remove the special counsel.

Trump’s authority to jump Rosenstein and Brand, though, is murky. The Justice Department has issued opinions in the past saying both that such a move is and isn’t permissible. And his pick for an acting attorney general would have to have Senate confirmation and be serving elsewhere in the government or have worked in the Justice Department for 90 days within the past 365 and be at a certain senior pay level.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he is “totally confident that we can continue to run this office in an effective way” on July 20 after President Trump criticized Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia probe. (The Washington Post)

Another scenario is that Trump could make a recess appointment, said University of Texas School of Law professor Steve Vladeck. Under that plan, Trump could choose an attorney general during the August recess who would serve until the end of the next Senate session, which could be early January. That person would have the same authority as someone who is confirmed by the Senate, Vladeck said.

Among the names being floated as possible Sessions replacements are Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and former New York City mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, according to people familiar with the conversations.

Giuliani dismissed a report floating his name as a possible attorney general and told CNN that Sessions “made the right decision under the rules of the Justice Department” to recuse himself. He did not return a message seeking comment.

Cruz had said previously that he “did not think it was necessary to appoint a special counsel,” but when Mueller was appointed, he praised him as “an excellent choice.” A spokesman for Cruz could not be reached for comment.

Some Trump advisers said that this process could be agonizing for the attorney general, with the president’s anger flaring but no decision being reached for weeks or maybe months, leaving Sessions isolated from the White House. Sessions was at the White House complex on Monday for a routine meeting but did not meet with the president.

But not all in Trump’s orbit share the view that Sessions’s days are numbered.

Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director, told CNN on Monday afternoon that Trump and Sessions “need to sit down face-to-face and have a reconciliation and a discussion of the future.”

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, a vigorous Trump ally, said in an interview that he and Trump had talked about Sessions and that Trump had indicated “he was very unhappy both with the recusal and the fact that Jeff didn’t talk to him beforehand.” But Gingrich said he would “strongly oppose” the firing of Sessions, because “I think his base likes Sessions.”

“His base thinks that on things like [violent street gangs] and sanctuary cities that Sessions is doing a fine job, and I think his base would be confused,” Gingrich said.

Gingrich also said he believed Sessions could survive the president’s criticisms.

“He said he’s beleaguered, not failed, and he is a little beleaguered,” Gingrich said. “This whole thing has been a mess.”

Trump, though, continues to let Sessions twist in the wind. One person close to Trump said the president asked him about how firing Sessions “would play in the conservative media.” Trump also asked him whether it would help to replace Sessions “with a major conservative,” the person said.

For his part, Sessions shows no signs of stepping down.

On Friday, Sessions traveled to Philadelphia to meet with law enforcement officials. In his speech, he vowed to crack down on illegal immigration and on “sanctuary cities” that are not communicating with federal authorities about undocumented immigrants. He spoke of how hard he is working, despite having none of his U.S. attorneys in place and most of his senior officials still not confirmed by the Senate.

“I do my best every day,” Sessions said, “to fulfill the goals the president and I share.”

Several of Session’s Republican former colleagues on Capitol Hill have defended him in the face of the president’s criticism.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), a close friend, said that Sessions was “doing just fine.” He also encouraged the president to try to patch up his relationship with his attorney general.

“They’re both adults, and they can work it out,” Cornyn said.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-leaves-sessions-twisting-in-the-wind-while-berating-him-publicly/2017/07/24/ce3bf142-708b-11e7-9eac-d56bd5568db8_story.html?utm_term=.05e68b29868f

Meet President Trump’s Outside Legal Team

June 24, 20177:00 AM ET

Marc Kasowitz, attorney for President Trump, departs after speaking at the National Press Club on June 8, responding to former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump has brought on an eclectic team of outside lawyers to help him navigate the various investigations into Russian meddling in the election. At least six congressional committees are investigating. And, in addition to activities around the election, special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly now also looking into possible obstruction of justice by the president.

If you asked a Washington insider to come up with a legal dream team for a situation like this, it’s highly unlikely this is who they would come up with. But President Trump came into office as an outsider and continues to operate that way, and in a way his legal team is a reflection of that as well.

Here’s an introduction to the men representing Trump:

Marc Kasowitz

Shortly after former FBI Director James Comey finished testifying before a Senate committee, a white-haired man in a suit walked up to a lectern at the National Press Club and faced reporters.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I’m Marc Kasowitz, president Trump’s personal lawyer,” he said, launching into prepared statement.

Kasowitz has represented Trump for 15 years in a wide range of cases related to Trump’s business and personal life — and now he’s leading the president’s outside legal team.

“The president feels completely vindicated and is eager to continue moving forward with his agenda, with the business of this country and with this public cloud removed,” Kasowitz read, then promptly left without taking questions.

He hasn’t made any public remarks since.

Over the years, Kasowitz has represented Trump on real estate transactions, libel cases (Trump filed a lot of them) and in the Trump University fraud law suit, settled late last year for $25 million.

In the New York Times, he was described as “more of a scrappy upstart than a member of the city’s white-shoe legal machine … the Donald Trump of lawyering.”

Kasowitz founded his own law firm in 1993, bringing with him a valuable client, Celanese Chemicals, involved in long-term product liability litigation over pipes installed in more than 6 million homes that had begun leaking. The firm started small and has grown to have some 300 lawyers, with offices in nine U.S. cities. On its website, Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP lists its primary focus as complex commercial litigation.

“He’s a general, and I mean that in a very complimentary way,” said Charles Barrett, an attorney at Neal & Harwell, who started his career at Kasowitz’s firm. “He’s very smart. He’s a really good leader and great tactician. He’s the one you want running point on an important operation.”

Barrett added Kasowitz is “tough, really tough.”

That description is one Kasowitz seems to savor, as the word “toughest” appears in the first line of his bio.

Perhaps his highest profile case came just a couple of years after establishing his firm. Kasowitz represented Liggett — the smallest of the big tobacco companies. At his suggestion, Liggett broke with the industry and began settling lawsuits filed by smokers and states seeking damages for smoking-related illnesses. Up until that point the tobacco companies had been united in denying that cigarettes were addictive or dangerous.

“Today for the first time one of the five major tobacco companies in the United States is prepared to break this conspiracy,” said Grant Woods, Arizona’s attorney general at the time, as he announced one of the settlements. “Liggett will now fully cooperate in every sense with these 22 attorneys general as we fight the other four tobacco companies in courts across this country.”

Liggett’s move ultimately forced the other tobacco companies to settle, too.

Another one of Kasowitz’s clients is Sberbank. As BuzzFeed has reported, Sberbank is fighting “claims that it helped a granite-mining company raid and kill off its main competitor in the Russian market.”

Kasowitz’s firm takes on cases other firms would shy away from — including whistleblower suits and going after big financial institutions.

But civil litigation and white-collar defense are two very different types of law.

“People who do real estate and commercial things really do not have the kind of experience that is useful when you’re dealing with any prosecutor and especially somebody with the experience of Bob Mueller,” said Stephen Saltzburg, a professor at the George Washington University Law School.

Saltzburg was part of the special prosecutor’s team during the Iran Contra investigation, so he’s seen one of these sorts of investigations from the inside. One thing Kasowitz does have going for him, Saltzburg said, is that the president knows him and respects him.

“He may be able to say something to the president that the president wouldn’t hear from another lawyer,” said Saltzburg.

And Kasowitz has brought on other lawyers.

Jay Sekulow

The face of Trump’s team has become Jay Sekulow. On Sunday, he appeared on four different network and cable shows. The next day he did at least three more TV appearances.

Jay Sekulow, a religious rights lawyer and a new member of the president’s legal team, introduces Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at Regent University in Florida in 2015.

Steve Helber/AP

“Let me be crystal clear so you — you completely understand. We have not received nor are we aware of any investigation of the president of the United States, period,” said Sekulow on Fox News Sunday.

That appearance turned south, with Sekulow getting tied up by questioning from Chris Wallace.

Sekulow later admitted he can’t be sure the president isn’t being looked at as part of the special counsel investigation. The Washington Post reported on June 14 that Mueller’s team was looking into whether Trump obstructed justice and that investigators had reached out to national security officials for interviews.

For regular cable news viewers (like, say, President Trump), Sekulow is a familiar face. His specialty isn’t white-collar defense, but rather religious liberty. He’s argued 12 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, starting in 1987 in a case that pitted the Los Angeles airport against Jews for Jesus. He argued members of the group should be able to pass out literature at the airport.

“There is no justification for a sweeping ban on First Amendment activities which would subordinate cherished First Amendment freedoms,” he argued before facing a volley of questions from the justices.

Sekulow wasn’t just the lawyer for Jews for Jesus. He grew up Jewish in Long Island and came to believe Jesus is the messiah while attending a Baptist college. Around that time he was introduced to Jews for Jesus.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in the group’s favor, helping Sekulow make a name for himself.

In 1990 he founded the American Center for Law and Justice, or ACLJ, with evangelical minister Pat Robertson. ACLJ was meant to be a Christian conservative answer to the American Civil Liberties Union. Not only does ACLJ pursue religious liberty cases, it fought the building of a mosque near Ground Zero in Manhattan and even has a call-in show that airs on hundreds of stations nationwide. It’s called Jay Sekulow Live! and is hosted by Sekulow and his sons. A spokesman says he plans to continue hosting the show even as he now represents Trump.

On top of all that, Sekulow plays drums in a Christian rock band, The Jay Sekulow Band. One of his bandmates was the frontman for the popular rock band Kansas in the early 1980s. On Facebook, more than 110,000 people follow the band, which has numerous slickly produced performance videos.

John Dowd

John Dowd is best known as the author of the Dowd Report, which led to Pete Rose’s lifetime ban from baseball for gambling on the game.

“I’m very, very happy and very proud of the commissioner of baseball for protecting the game,” Dowd told NPR two years ago, when Major League Baseball denied Rose’s request to be reinstated. “In this day and age, protecting the integrity of anything is a big deal.”

In 2011, Dowd represented Raj Rajaratnam in a major insider-trading case. Rajaratnam was convicted on all counts and walking out of the courtroom Dowd offered some choice words to a CNBC reporter, flipping off the camera.

Attorney John Dowd (left), who now is part of the legal team working for Trump, leaves U.S. District Court with his client Raj Rajaratnam after jury deliberations about an insider trading case in New York in 2011.

Kathy Willens/AP

But more to the point, Dowd is a seasoned Washington hand who represented Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in the Keating Five scandal (McCain was cleared) and helped a retired Air Force colonel get immunity to testify in the Iran Contra scandal.

That’s experience that would be quite valuable if the president is in fact being investigated for obstruction of justice by the special counsel.

Michael Bowe

Michael Bowe is a partner at Kasowitz’s law firm and has worked on a number of high-profile cases. He went after a hedge fund that had been shorting his client Fairfax Financial. The deposition from that case played a prominent role in a Frontline documentary and also aided federal authorities in an investigation of that fund for insider trading.

His bio on the firm’s website says Bowe “has successfully litigated virtually every type of high-stakes business and personal case, on both the plaintiff and defense side, and at both the trial and appellate level. He has also navigated to safety many companies and high net worth individuals facing serious law enforcement and regulatory jeopardy. And he has provided sage crisis management advice during these periods of substantial duress.”

http://www.npr.org/2017/06/24/533785914/meet-president-trumps-outside-legal-team

Special Counsel Mueller Lets His Actions Do The Talking: 15 Hires, More to ComeJuly 8, 20177:00 AM ET

Special counsel Robert Mueller departs after a June 21 closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible connections to the Trump campaign.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Robert Mueller has made no public comment since he was named to lead the Department of Justice investigation into Russian interference in last year’s election.

Instead, he has let his actions do the talking. The former FBI director and decorated U.S. Marine has submitted a budget and quietly hired an all-star team that includes 15 Justice Department prosecutors. And, a spokesman for Mueller said, he’s not done bringing on new lawyers.

That has gotten the attention of supporters of President Trump, who recently made an attack ad calling the investigation a “rigged game” and blasting the special counsel for hiring at least four lawyers who have donated to Democrats.

Mueller has not described the scope of what his team will examine.

But members of Congress and other lawyers involved in the probe described the main lines of inquiry as: Russian meddling in the presidential election; whether anyone inside the United States conspired to help; and whether any wrongdoing has been committed in the surprise firing of FBI Director James Comey, who said he believed he was let go to relieve pressure on the Russia probe.

There’s no timetable or deadline for the job. Given that it’s the most sensitive Justice Department investigation in the last decade or more, it’s unlikely that prosecutors will rush.

And for someone like Mueller, the 2018 midterm elections are not going to be a factor.

Here are some of the attorneys Mueller has hired:

  • Zainab Ahmad, a top national security prosecutor on detail from U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York.
  • Rush Atkinson, an attorney on detail from the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section at the Department of Justice.
  • Michael Dreeben, an appellate attorney on detail from the Office of the Solicitor General, described by former colleagues as one of the brightest criminal law experts of the past two generations.
  • Andrew Goldstein, a public corruption prosecutor on detail from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York.
  • Adam Jed, an appellate attorney on detail from DOJ’s Civil Division.
  • Lisa Page, an attorney on detail from the FBI’s Office of the General Counsel and a former trial attorney with the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section.
  • Elizabeth Prelogar, an appellate attorney on detail from the Office of the Solicitor General.
  • James Quarles, a former partner at WilmerHale and a former assistant special prosecutor for the Watergate Special Prosecution Force.
  • Jeannie Rhee, a former partner at WilmerHale who has served in the Office of Legal Counsel at DOJ and as an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.
  • Brandon Van Grack, an attorney on detail from the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
  • Andrew Weissmann, who is on detail from the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and who has served as general counsel at the FBI and as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
  • Aaron Zebley, a former partner at WilmerHale who has previously served with Mueller at the FBI and has served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia.
  • Aaron Zelinsky, an attorney on detail from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Maryland.

http://www.npr.org/2017/07/08/535813901/special-counsel-mueller-lets-his-actions-do-the-talking-15-hires-more-to-come

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