The Pronk Pops Show 1100, June 28, 2018, Breaking Story 1: Five Dead and Injured 2 At Capital Gazette in Anne Arundel County, Maryland — Shooter in Custody and Being Questioned — Videos — Story 2: Congress Grills Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — Provide The Requested Documents and Comply With Subpoenas and Wrap-up Mueller Investigation — Now or Face Impeachment — Department of Justice and FBI Cover-up Continues of Clinton Obama Criminal Conspiracy to Exonerate Clinton and Frame Trump — Videos — Story 3: Supreme Court Decision Stops Unions From Forcing Public Sector Employee To Joining Union and Collecting Fees — Videos — Story 4: Supreme Court Justice Kennedy Submits Letter of Resignation — President Trump Has List of 25 Possible Replacements — Videos —

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 1100, June 28, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1099, June 26, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1098, June 25, 2018 

Pronk Pops Show 1097, June 21, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1096, June 20, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1095, June 19, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1094, June 18, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1093, June 14, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1092, June 13, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1091, June 12, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1090, June 11, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1089, June 7, 2018

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Pronk Pops Show 1087, June 4, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1086, May 31, 2018

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Pronk Pops Show 1080, May 21, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1079, May 17, 2018

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Pronk Pops Show 1077, May 15, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1076, May 14, 2018

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Pronk Pops Show 1073, May 8, 2018

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Pronk Pops Show 1070, May 3, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1069, May 2, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1068, April 26, 2018

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Pronk Pops Show 1066, April 24, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1065, April 23, 2018

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Pronk Pops Show 1062, April 17, 2018

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Pronk Pops Show 1060, April 12, 2018

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Pronk Pops Show 1057, April 9, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1056, April 4, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1055, April 2, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1054, March 29, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1053, March 28, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1052, March 27, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1051, March 26, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1050, March 23, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1049, March 22, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1048, March 21, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1047, March 20, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1046, March 19, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1045, March 8, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1044, March 7, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1043, March 6, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1042, March 1, 2018

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Breaking Story 1: Five Dead and Injured 2 At Capital Gazette in Anne Arundel County, Maryland — Shooter in Custody and Being Questioned — Videos —

See the source image

See the source image

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Police: Suspect was there to kill as many as he could at Capital Gazette

Police update on Maryland newspaper shooting

Former FBI profiler on the Annapolis shooting suspect

Five people killed in shooting at Capital Gazette newspaper office | ITV News

FIRST REPORTS: Following shooting at Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland (FNN)

BREAKING NEWS Shooting at capital gazette Maryland multiple casualties

Pelosi calls for gun control legislation after Maryland newsroom shooting

At least 5 dead in Annapolis newspaper office shooting

Multiple fatalities in Annapolis newsroom shooting

NYPD’s Miller on why WDBJ shooter was a “classic injustice collector”

Our Brains are Wired to Collect Things | Daniel Krawczyk | TEDxSMU

Understanding the mindset of a mass murderer – Jordan B. Peterson

Jordan Peterson: The Darkest Side Of Humans

Jordan Peterson meets a Serial Killer in Prison

Sunday Special Ep 1: Jordan B Peterson

Jordan B. Peterson on 12 Rules for Life

The BEST relationship advice EVER – Jordan Peterson

Advice for Strong Relationships from Jordan Peterson

Jordan Peterson Explains Self-Authoring (from Joe Rogan Experience #877)

Jordan Peterson – Self Authoring Program

Jordan Peterson – You Need a Routine!

Jordan Peterson – Normal-You and Angry-You

Who are the Injustice Collectors in your life?

I work on a college campus and recently attended a mandatory employee training about what to do in an Active Shooter situation. The term Active Shooter means that someone is actively shooting people at a location. Scary as that may sound it was a great training. I believe that being prepared is essential to surviving any situation especially one where my life could be in danger.

During the presentation, I learned a term that I had never heard before. One that instantly peaked my interest. At one point during the video that we watched, an FBI agent gave tips on how to identify a potential “shooter.” Across the screen flashed pictures of all the recent, and notorious, shooters that have caused irrevocable damage on campuses, in malls, in schools, and elsewhere. The agent said that these shooters had one thing in common: they were injustice collectors. Immediately my curiosity was peaked.

Without even looking up the term “injustice collector,” I perceived that it meant it was someone who collected all the injustices done to them in their mind like a hoarder does things. I couldn’t help but wonder why someone would do this? Can’t people let things go? And then I thought about my own life and the people around me and the answer to that question is: NO. Some people cannot let things go. Some people walk around with the weight of the world on their shoulders convinced that everyone is out to get them. They think that people are constantly talking behind their backs; they think that bad things happen to them because the universe is out to get them; they think that everyone else is creating drama in their life when actually it is them.

After doing some quick Google searches I found numerous articles about injustice collectors and learned that they are narcissists. We all are familiar with narcissism – you either are one or know one, that’s a fact. I wondered, are all narcissists’ injustice collectors who will end up shooting up people? I found out that is not the case but narcissists and injustice collectors do create most of the drama in the world (politicians are a great example) and I think that if we understand where these people are coming from that maybe lives can be saved, or at the very least your relationships can be saved.

Here is a list of Characteristics of Injustice Collectors as identified by Mark Sichel, LCSW*:

  1. Injustice Collectors are convinced that they are never wrong. How is it possible that they are never wrong? It is simple: They are always right.
  2. Injustice Collectors never apologize. Ever. For anything.
  3. Injustice Collectors truly believe that they are morally and ethically superior to others and that others chronically do not hold themselves to the same high standards as the injustice collector does.
  4. Injustice Collectors make the rules, break the rules and enforce the rules of the family. They are a combined legislator, police, and judge and jury of
  5. Injustice Collectors never worry about what is wrong with themselves as their “bad list” grows. Their focus is always on the failings of others.
  6. Injustice Collectors are never upset by the disparity of their rules for others with their own expectations of themselves.
  7. Injustice Collectors rationalize their own behavior with great ease and comfort.


I think that to some degree we all have a tendency to collect injustices in our mind as a way to protect ourselves. In fact, I read an article that said we have been doing that since the dawn of time as a means for survival. Here’s the article:Psychology Today.

However, people with a high degree of injustice hoarding can really make life miserable for the rest of population that is willing to let things go and move on. One thing about injustice collectors is that all they are doing is avoiding responsibility for their own circumstances. Rather than say, yes I screwed up, or yes my boss didn’t give me a raise because I’m not working as hard as I could, or yes I know I hurt your feelings and I’m sorry, an injustice collector will turn the table around and makeyou look like the bad person for feeling hurt or not giving the raise. These people can be very convincing and are very skilled at turning the tables around and making “normal” people question their own sanity.

There is a saying that I love, – Living with resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. In other words, remaining angry or being spiteful only hurts yourself in the long run. This is what injustice collectors do. They drink the poison and try to spit it out at everyone else. How thick is your skin? The only problem is, that by allowing injustice collectors to continue spewing their poison, we, as a society, are ultimately encouraging the creation of Active Shooters. And, while this term was coined mainly to help understand why people commit mass shootings, it also applies to those who won’t take to the gun to “find justice” but will use their mouths to hurt others. These people will continue to hurt others by breaking up relationships with family, friends, and coworkers. Are you willing to keep allowing that to happen?

Unfortunately, I did not find any articles on how to help those people who are injustice collectors other than that they need professional help. Knowing this term may help you, especially if you are an educator, to spot people who may be hoarding injustices and help them understand that they need help learning how to let them go and move on.

For more information on understanding Injustice Collectors, please click the links within this article, including this one: The Temptations of the Injustice Collector.

Maryland newspaper shooting suspect `barricaded exit´

The gunman accused of killing five people at a Maryland newspaper office barricaded the rear exit to stop anyone from escaping, authorities said.

Jarrod W Ramos, 38, was charged with five counts of murder in one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in US history.

Jarrod Warren Ramos

Jarrod Warren Ramos

Anne Arundel County Police Chief Timothy Altomare said: “The fellow was there to kill as many people as he could.”

Ramos’ long-held grudge against the Capital Gazette included a string of angry online messages and a failed defamation lawsuit over a column about him pleading guilty to harassing a woman.

Police looked into the online threats in 2013, but the paper declined to press charges for fear of inflaming the situation, Mr Atltomare said.

“There’s clearly a history there,” the police chief said.

Ramos was denied bail on Friday after a brief court hearing in which he appeared by video, watching attentively but not speaking. Authorities said he was “uncooperative” with interrogators.

Three editors, a reporter and a sales assistant were killed in the shooting on Thursday afternoon.

Capital Gazette


Yes, we’re putting out a damn paper tomorrow. 

The killings initially stirred fears that the recent political attacks on the “fake news media” had exploded into violence, and police tightened security at news organisations in New York and other places.

But Ramos had a specific, long-standing grievance against the paper.

At the White House, US President Donald Trump, who routinely calls reporters “liars” and “enemies of the people,” said: “Journalists, like all Americans, should be free from the fear of being violently attacked while doing their jobs.”

Donald J. Trump


Before going any further today, I want to address the horrific shooting that took place yesterday at the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland. This attack shocked the conscience of our Nation, and filled our hearts with grief…

Prosecutor Wes Adams said Ramos carefully planned the attack, barricading the back door and using “a tactical approach in hunting down and shooting the innocent people”.

Adams said the gunman, who was captured hiding under a desk and did not exchange fire with police, also had an escape plan, but the prosecutor would not elaborate.

The attack began with a shotgun blast that shattered the glass entrance to the open newsroom. Journalists crawled under desks and sought other hiding places, describing agonising minutes of terror as they heard the gunman’s footsteps and the repeated blasts of the weapon.

Phil Davis@PhilDavis_CG

There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload

Some 300 local, state and federal officers converged on the scene and within two minutes police had begun to corner Ramos, a rapid response that “without question” saved lives, Mr Altomare said.

Ramos was identified quickly with the help of facial recognition technology because of a “lag” in running his fingerprints, the chief said. Police denied news reports that Ramos had mutilated his fingertips to avoid identification.

The chief said the weapon was a 12-gauge shotgun, legally purchased about a year ago despite the harassment case against Ramos. Authorities said he also carried smoke grenades.

Ramos apparently held a grudge against the Capital Gazette’s journalists over its 2011 coverage of his harassment of a woman. He filed a defamation suit against the paper in 2012 that was thrown out as groundless.

Governor Larry Hogan


Governor Larry Hogan today released the following statement ordering Maryland flags to be lowered to half-staff to honor the victims of the shooting at the offices of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis on June 28:

He routinely sent profanity-laced tweets about the paper and its writers. Retired publisher Tom Marquardt said he called police in 2013, telling his wife at the time that he thought he could hurt them.

The police chief said the newspaper did not press charges at the time because “there was a fear that doing so would exacerbate an already flammable situation”.

In 2015, Ramos tweeted that he would like to see the paper stop publishing, but “it would be nicer” to see two of its journalists “cease breathing”.

Those killed included Rob Hiaasen, 59, the paper’s assistant managing editor and brother of novelist Carl Hiaasen. Also killed were editorial page editor Gerald Fischman, special projects editor Wendi Winters, reporter John McNamara and sales assistant Rebecca Smith.

The newspaper said two other employees were treated for minor injuries.

The city of Annapolis announced a vigil for the victims on Friday night at a public square near the Capitol.


Five dead in ‘targeted attack’ at Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, police say

A lone gunman blasted his way into the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis with a shotgun Thursday, killing five people dead and injuring two others, authorities said.

Journalists dove under their desks and pleaded for help on social media. One reporter described the scene a “war zone.” A photographer said he jumped over a dead colleague and fled for his life.

The victims were identified as Rob Hiaasen, 59, a former feature writer for The Baltimore Sun who joined the Capital Gazette in 2010 as assistant editor and columnist; Wendi Winters, 65, a community correspondent who headed special publications; Gerald Fischman, 61, the editorial page editor; John McNamara, 56, a staff writer who covered high school, college and professional sports for decades; and Rebecca Smith, 34, a sales assistant hired in November.

Police took a suspect into custody soon after the shootings. He was identified as Jarrod W. Ramos, a 38-year-old Laurel man with a longstanding grudge against the paper.

“This was a targeted attack on the Capital Gazette,” said Anne Arundel County Deputy Police Chief William Krampf. “This person was prepared today to come in. He was prepared to shoot people.”

Local, state and federal law enforcement officials cordoned off the Laurel apartment complex listed as the address for Ramos, whose dispute with the Capital began in July 2011 when a columnist at the paper covered a criminal harassment case against him. In 2012, Ramos brought a defamation suit against the columnist and the paper’s former editor and publisher, but Maryland’s second-highest court upheld in 2015 a ruling in favor of the Capital and a former reporter who were accused by Ramos of defamation.

Police said the suspect, who was taken into custody without any shots being fired by officers, had used “smoke grenades” in the building, located at 888 Bestgate Road. About 170 people were inside at the time of the shooting, they said.

The Capital is owned by The Baltimore Sun.

Phil Davis, a Capital crime reporter who was in the building at the time of the shooting, said multiple people were shot, as others — himself included — hid under their desks. He said there was a lone male gunman.

“Gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees. Can’t say much more and don’t want to declare anyone dead, but it’s bad,” Davis wrote on Twitter as he waited to be interviewed by police.

“There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload.”

In a subsequent interview, Davis said it “was like a war zone” inside the newspaper’s offices — a situation that would be “hard to describe for a while.”

“I’m a police reporter. I write about this stuff — not necessarily to this extent, but shootings and death — all the time,” he said. “But as much as I’m going to try to articulate how traumatizing it is to be hiding under your desk, you don’t know until you’re there and you feel helpless.”

Davis said he and others were still hiding under their desks when the shooter stopped firing. Police then arrived and surrounded the shooter, Davis said.

Paul Gillespie, a staff photographer, had just finished editing photos from one assignment and was preparing for the next when he heard shots behind him, and the newsroom’s glass doors shatter. Another shot, and Gillespie dove under a co-worker’s desk “and curled up as small as I could,” he said.

“I dove under that desk as fast as I could, and by the grace of God, he didn’t look over there,” he said. “I was curled up, trying not to breathe, trying not to make a sound, and he shot people all around me.”

Gillespie said he heard one colleague scream “No!,” then a shot, then another colleague’s voice, and then another shot. Then came the sound of the gunman getting closer to where he was hiding, Gillespie said.

“I kept thinking, ‘I can’t believe I’m going to die. I can’t believe this.’” Gillespie said.

Instead, the gunman passed him, continuing to shoot, he said. Eventually, there was a lull in the shots, and Gillespie said he stood and ran for the exit, through the shattered glass, jumping over a colleague who he believed was dead as another shot rang out in his direction. Once outside, he ran to a nearby bank, where he screamed for people to call the cops.

“I feel like I should be helping to cover it,” he said of the shooting, “but I’m a mess.”

Authorities said police responded to the scene within a minute of the shooting. “If they were not there as quickly as they were it could have been a lot worse,” Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley said.

Officials at Maryland Shock Trauma Center confirmed the hospital was treating at least one victim. County Executive Steve Schuh said others were being treated at Anne Arundel Medical Center. Loren Farquhar, a medical center spokeswoman, said the hospital received two patients, both with minor injuries not from gunfire. One was discharged and another is expected to be discharged soon, she said.

Renee Mutchnik, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore Sun Media Group, said the company was “deeply saddened” by the shooting.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with our colleagues and their families,” she said. “Our immediate focus is on providing support and resources for all our employees and cooperating with the authorities as this situation is still under investigation.”

Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were on the scene in Annapolis to provide support to local law enforcement, said Amanda Hils, a spokeswoman for the federal agency.

President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter that he had been briefed on the shooting. “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Thank you to all of the First Responders who are currently on the scene,” Trump wrote.

Josh McKerrow, a photographer for 14 years at The Capital, had covered Induction Day at the Naval Academy at sunrise Thursday. He was driving home to celebrate his daughter’s birthday when Capital editor Rick Hutzell called him from out of town.

“He said he’d heard there had been a shooting, and he couldn’t get in touch with anyone in the newsroom,” McKerrow said. Then he heard sirens. “My heart sank and I knew.”

Police in SWAT gear and with assault rifles cordoned off the area around the newsroom and shutdown Bestgate Road. Outside the police tape, McKerrow and reporter Chase Cook called and texted their friends and colleagues, trying to get answers.

Jimmy DeButts, an editor at the Capital, wrote on Twitter that he was “devastated and heartbroken.” He said he could not speak about the shooting, but praised the work of his newspaper.

“There are no 40 hour weeks, no big paydays — just a passion for telling stories from our community,” DeButts wrote. “We keep doing more with less. We find ways to cover high school sports, breaking news, tax hikes, school budgets & local entertainment. We are there in times of tragedy. We do our best to share the stories of people, those who make our community better. Please understand, we do all this to serve our community.”

Gov. Larry Hogan, on Twitter, wrote, “Absolutely devastated to learn of this tragedy in Annapolis.” He said he was in contact with Schuh, and that Maryland State Police were on the scene assisting county police.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch has represented Annapolis since 1987 and said The Capital is “the voice of the community.”

Even with a shrinking staff, Busch said, “they knew the pulse of the community and had a lot of influence on what took place.

“This is a shocker,” Busch said. “Over the years, a lot of these people become friends. They do their job, you do your job, and you respect them for it. A lot of good writers have come out of there.”

The Capital is not the only business in the building where the shooting occurred. There are 30 tenants in the building, including five others on the first floor with The Capital. They include accountants, lawyers, financial and medical offices. The newspaper has been in the building since 2015, according to CoStar, a real estate information company. They have 5,000 square feet of offices.

Aaron Smith and Randall Fisher of the Fisher Law Office were on the fourth floor in the same building as the Capital at the time of the shooting. They didn’t hear or see anything and didn’t know anything was going on until Smith received a text from a colleague saying there was an apparent shooting, he said.

They flipped a desk over in front of the door to the office and stayed there until SWAT officers arrived. They then walked out of the building with their hands on their heads, like everyone else in the building, Fisher said.

Bethany Clasing, who works in second floor of the building, said she heard a single gunshot and then heard the police yell, “Get down! Get down! Don’t move!”

Rayne Foster, of Frost and Associates LLC, said a plainclothes officer came to her fourth-floor office suite and told the receptionist to lock the doors because of an active shooter, and she quickly gathered people together.

Some employees began taking off high heels preparing to flee the building. Others hid. One employee pulled two handguns out of his desk drawer for self defense, she said. Once more police arrived, they all began filing out of the office.Foster said she and her employees kept trying to hold hands to comfort each other, but were told by police to keep their hands in the air.

“You see it on the news,” Foster said of people walking out of buildings after mass shootings, “and you think, ‘These poor people.’ You wonder how they feel. Now I know.”

The Associated Press and Baltimore Sun reporters Scott Dance, Doug Donovan, Tim Prudente, Justin Fenton, Erin Cox, Jessica Anderson and Meredith Cohn contributed to this article.


‘FIVE dead and twenty injured’ in mass shooting at Maryland’s Capital Gazette newspaper building

  • Police were on the scene within 60 seconds of the call of an active shooter at the newsroom in the 800 block of Bestgate Road, Annapolis, at around 2.40pm 
  • Phil Davis, a court and crime reporter for the Gazette, confirmed that multiple people had been shot
  • A suspect has been taken into custody and police are working to understand the motive behind the mass shooting 
  • Davis said that a lone gunman had shot through the glass door of the offices and then opened fire on the newspaper employees
  • ‘A single shooter shot multiple people at my office, some of whom are dead’
  • John McNamara, who has worked for the Gazette, has been confirmed among the shooting victims
  • Intern Anthony Messenger tweeted at 2.43pm there was an ‘active shooter, please help us’
  • One suspect has been taken into custody  
  • The NYPD says it is stationing officers outside the headquarters of major newsrooms throughout the city in the wake of the shooting

Five people have been killed and more than a dozen injured during a mass shooting at Maryland’s Capital Gazette newsroom.

Police were on the scene within 60 seconds of the call of an active shooter at the newsroom in the 800 block of Bestgate Road, Annapolis, at around 2.40pm.

Acting police chief William Kamph confirmed five people had been killed and many more had ‘serious injuries’ in the attack.

The suspect, who has not been named, has been taken into custody. Police say he was the sole shooter and that the building – which was evacuated during the attack – has now been secured. No motive has yet been given for the shooting.

Phil Davis, a court and crime reporter for the Gazette, said that a lone gunman had shot through the glass door of the offices and then opened fire on the newspaper employees.

‘A single shooter shot multiple people at my office, some of whom are dead,’ he tweeted, while he said he was waiting to be interviewed by police.

Scroll down for video 

Multiple people have been shot and killed during a mass shooting at Maryland's Capital Gazette newspaper headquarters

Multiple people have been shot and killed during a mass shooting at Maryland’s Capital Gazette newspaper headquarters

Police respond to a shooting in Annapolis, Maryland, June 28, at the building that houses the Capital Gazette, a daily newspaper published in Annapolis

Police respond to a shooting in Annapolis, Maryland, June 28, at the building that houses the Capital Gazette, a daily newspaper published in Annapolis

Several people were feared killed Thursday in the mass shooting 

A suspect has been taken into custody and police are were working to secure the building at 3.30pm

A suspect has been taken into custody and police are were working to secure the building at 3.30pm

Police, ATV and the FBI shut down the surrounding streets near the newsroom amid the shooting 

Police, ATV and the FBI shut down the surrounding streets near the newsroom amid the shooting

Gazette journalist E.B Furgurson (R) takes notes with two other people as police officers respond to an active shooter inside his newsroom

Anthony Messenger (left) an intern at the Gazette tweeted calling for help 

Anthony Messenger (left) an intern at the Gazette tweeted calling for help

Messenger, tweeted there was an 'active shooter 888 Bestgate please help us'

Messenger, tweeted there was an ‘active shooter 888 Bestgate please help us’

Phil Davis, a court and crime reporter for the Gazette, confirmed that multiple people had been shot

Phil Davis, a court and crime reporter for the Gazette, confirmed that multiple people had been shot

Video playing bottom right…

‘Gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees. Can’t say much more and don’t want to declare anyone dead, but it’s bad.

‘There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload.’

Describing the moment as like being in ‘a war zone’, Davis said he and his colleagues were hiding under their desks, listening to the gunman firing and reloading until there was sudden silence.

‘I don’t know why he stopped,’ he said.

Moments later the police arrived, and surrounded the shooter.

Officers were able to take the suspect down and into custody although Kamph could not confirm whether gunfire was exchanged during the arrest or if the suspect was injured.

‘The suspect is still being interviewed by police,’ he said. ‘The investigation has just started.’

Aerial footage from mass shooting at newspaper in Maryland
Aerial footage shows police at the scene, and staff being lead out after multiple fatalities were reported during a mass shooting at Maryland's Capital Gazette newspaper headquarters

Aerial footage shows police at the scene, and staff being lead out after multiple fatalities were reported during a mass shooting at Maryland’s Capital Gazette newspaper headquarters

A huge police presence is on the scene and aerial footage shows people being led out of the building with their hands raised

A huge police presence is on the scene and aerial footage shows people being led out of the building with their hands raised

Staff are being told to reunite with their families at a nearby Lord & Taylor store

Staff are being told to reunite with their families at a nearby Lord & Taylor store

Cops were still working to secure the area at 3.30pm although one suspect is under arrest 

Cops were still working to secure the area at 3.30pm although one suspect is under arrest

Police officers respond to an active shooter inside the newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland 

Police officers respond to an active shooter inside the newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland

Police were also unable to confirm whether reports that the shooter had used a shotgun were accurate. They did confirm, however, that the building was secure but would remain closed as crime scene investigators got to work.

Davis added in an interview, with the surrounding press outside the newspaper’s headquarters, that while he wrote about mass shootings as part of his crime beat, it was another thing to experience one first hand.

‘I’m a police reporter. I write about this stuff – not necessarily to this extent, but shootings and death – all the time,’ he said. ‘But as much as I’m going to try to articulate how traumatizing it is to be hiding under your desk, you don’t know until you’re there and you feel helpless.’

The shooting sparked a huge police response, with local departments joined by the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Police have also responded to check the Baltimore Sun newsrooms in the wake of the shooting

Police have also responded to check the Baltimore Sun newsrooms in the wake of the shooting

An intern with the Capital Gazette, Anthony Messenger, tweeted at 2.43pm there was an ‘active shooter 888 Bestgate please help us.’

Aerial footage shows people being led out of the building with their hands raised. Medevac helicopters were also at the scene.

John McNamara, who has worked for the Gazette and is the editor of the Bowie Blade-News and the Crofton-West County Gazette, has been confirmed among the shooting victims. It is not clear whether he was injured or a fatality.

Gazette reporter Danielle Ohl added that her colleague Rachael Pacella was among the injured in hospital.

At least one injured victim is being treated at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Anne Arundel Police confirmed that the building had been evacuated and staff have been told to reunite with their families at a nearby Lord & Taylor store.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said during a press conference he was ‘absolutely devastated to learn of this tragedy in Annapolis.

‘I am in contact with County Executive Steve Schuh, and @MDSP is on the scene assisting @AACOPD. Please, heed all warnings and stay away from the area. Praying for those at the scene and for our community.’

‘Your heart goes out to all the people that lost their lives. We have had several fatalities and we have had several people hospi

Gazette reporter E.B Furgurson talks on the phone as police officers respond to the active shooter

Emergency services respond to the shooter at the scene of the mass shooting

Emergency services respond to the shooter at the scene of the mass shooting

Police, ATV and the FBI are among the ten different agencies who responded 

Police, ATV and the FBI are among the ten different agencies who responded


As news of the Capital Gazzette shooting broke on Thursday, many on Twitter pointed out that the tragedy comes just two days after conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos cheered the idea of journalists being murdered.

When asked to comment on two different stories being written by The Daily Beast and The Observer, the alt-right poster boy responded with the same one sentence:

‘I can’t wait for vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on signt.’

When asked by the Observer to elaborate about what had upset them about their story, about a popular GOP watering hole, Yiannopoulos replied that it was his ‘standard response to a request for comment’.

(The Daily Beast’s story was about the UK Independence Party.)

It’s still unclear what inspired Thursday’s shooting. reached out to Yiannopolis for comment, and he responded, saying there was no evidence, as his critics said online, that he may have inspired the attack.

In a longer statement on his website, he said if anyone is to blame, it’s the two outlets that published his statements, which were meant to be private.

‘I sent a troll about “vigilante death squads” as a *private* response to a few hostile journalists who were asking me for comment, basically as a way of saying, “F*** off.” They then published it…

‘If there turns out to be any dimension to this crime related to my private, misreported remarks, the responsibility for that lies squarely and wholly with Will Sommer of the Beast and the Observer’s Davis Richardson for drumming up fake hysteria about a private joke, and with the verified liberals who pretended they thought I was serious,’ he said.

The 33-year-old Brit was forced out of his role as a senior editor at Breitbart in February 2017, after interviews surfaced of him expressing sympathy for pedophiles.

Since then he has self-published an autobiography titled ‘Dangerous’ which became an best seller. Simon & Schuster was originally supposed to release the book, but ended the business deal over the pedophile scandal.

White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said President Trump has been briefed on the shooting and ‘our thoughts and prayers are with all that are affected.’

Sen. Chris Van Hollen added in a tweet: ‘My heart is with the families, friends, and loved ones of the victims as we learn more about this terrible situation. We must unite to end the violence.’

The Gazette is owned by the Baltimore Sun Media Group, which is owned by Tronc, inc. Police have also responded to check the Baltimore Sun newsrooms in the wake of the shooting.

The NYPD says it is stationing officers outside the headquarters of major newsrooms throughout the city in the wake of the shooting.

The Capital Gazette is a daily newspaper that serves the city of Annapolis, Maryland. It’s sister newspaper, The Maryland Gazette, is one of the oldest American newspapers.

Founded in 1884, it has a circulation of more than 30,000 daily and 35,000 for the Sunday edition.

At least four people have been killed and at least another twenty have been injured during a mass shooting at Maryland's Capital Gazette newspaper headquarters

At least four people have been killed and at least another twenty have been injured during a mass shooting at Maryland’s Capital Gazette newspaper headquarters


Five dead, others ‘gravely injured’ in shooting at Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis

Kevin Rector Contact Reporter

The Baltimore Sun

At least five people were killed and several others were “gravely injured” in a shooting Thursday afternoon at the Capital Gazette in Anne Arundel County, authorities said.

A shooter is in custody, police said. Police would not name the suspect or say what type of weapon was used.

Anne Arundel County Police initially confirmed about 3:15 p.m. that they were responding to an “active shooter” at 888 Bestgate Road, where the newspaper’s offices are located. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also responded to the scene.

The Capital Gazette is owned by The Baltimore Sun.

Phil Davis, a Capital Gazette crime reporter who was in the building at the time of the shooting, said multiple people were shot, as others — himself included — hid under their desks. He said there was a lone male gunman.

“Gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees. Can’t say much more and don’t want to declare anyone dead, but it’s bad,” Davis wrote on Twitter as he waited to be interviewed by police.

“There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload.”

In a subsequent interview, Davis said it “was like a war zone” inside the newspaper’s offices — a situation that would be “hard to describe for a while.”

“I’m a police reporter. I write about this stuff — not necessarily to this extent, but shootings and death — all the time,” he said. “But as much as I’m going to try to articulate how traumatizing it is to be hiding under your desk, you don’t know until you’re there and you feel helpless.”

Davis said he and others were still hiding under their desks when the shooter stopped firing.

“I don’t know why. I don’t know why he stopped,” he said.

Police arrived and surrounded the shooter, Davis said. He declined to elaborate.

Authorities said police responded to the scene within a minute. “If they were not there as quickly as they were it could have been a lot worse,” Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley said.

Agents with the ATF were on the scene in Annapolis to provide support to local law enforcement, said Amanda Hils, a spokeswoman for the federal agency. ATF can help with tracing weapons, conducting interviews and other assistance.

President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter that he had been briefed on the shooting. “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Thank you to all of the First Responders who are currently on the scene,” Trump wrote.

Gov. Larry Hogan, on Twitter, wrote, “Absolutely devastated to learn of this tragedy in Annapolis.”

He said he was in contact with County Executive Steve Schuh, and that Maryland State Police were on the scene assisting county police.

“Please, heed all warnings and stay away from the area. Praying for those at the scene and for our community,” he wrote.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch has represented Annapolis since 1987 and said The Capital is “the voice of the community.”

Even with a shrinking staff, Busch said, “they knew the pulse of the community and had a lot of influence on what took place.

“This is a shocker,” Busch said. “Over the years, a lot of these people become friends. They do their job, you do your job, and you respect them for it. A lot of good writers have come out of there.”

“This is really something that is totally, totally shocking, that we don’t know how to understand.”

Sen. Chris Van Hollen wrote on Twitter, “My heart is with the families, friends, and loved ones of the victims as we learn more about this terrible situation. We must unite to end the violence.”

Police were also at The Baltimore Sun newsroom in Baltimore. Police said there was no threat on the Sun, and that their presence was a precaution.

Baltimore Sun reporters Scott Dance, Doug Donovan, Tim Prudente, Justin Fenton and Erin Cox contributed to this article.


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Rod Rosenstein

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Rod Rosenstein
Rod Rosenstein official portrait.jpg
37th United States Deputy Attorney General
Assumed office
April 26, 2017
President Donald Trump
Preceded by Sally Yates
United States Attorney for the District of Maryland
In office
July 12, 2005 – April 26, 2017
President George W. Bush
Barack Obama
Donald Trump
Preceded by Thomas M. DiBiagio
Succeeded by Robert K. Hur
Personal details
Born Rod Jay Rosenstein
January 13, 1965 (age 53)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political party Republican[1]
Spouse(s) Lisa Barsoomian
Education University of Pennsylvania(BS)
Harvard University (JD)

Rod Jay Rosenstein (/ˈrzənˌstn/;[2] born January 13, 1965) is an American attorney serving as United States Deputy Attorney General since 2017.

Prior to his current appointment, he served as a United States Attorney for the District of Maryland, and during his first 10 years as lead federal prosecutor there, “murders statewide were cut by a third, double the decline at the national level.”[3] At the time of his confirmation as Deputy Attorney General in April 2017, he was the nation’s longest-serving U.S. attorney.[4] Rosenstein was nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, but his nomination was never considered by the U.S. Senate. He is a Republican.[5][6]

President Donald Trump nominated Rosenstein to serve as Deputy Attorney General for the United States Department of Justice on February 1, 2017. Rosenstein was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 25, 2017. In May 2017, he authored a memo which President Trump said was the basis of his decision to dismiss FBI Director James Comey.[7]

Later that month, Rosenstein appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election and related matters based on the firing of Comey.[8]


Early life and family

Rod Jay Rosenstein was born on January 13, 1965 in Philadelphia,[9][10] to Robert, who ran a small business, and Gerri Rosenstein, a bookkeeper and school board president. He grew up in Lower Moreland Township, Pennsylvania.[11] He has one sister, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.[12][13]

Education and clerkship

He graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, with a B.S. degree in economicssumma cum laude in 1986.[14]

He earned his J.D. degree cum laude in 1989 from Harvard Law School,[14] where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. He then served as a law clerk to Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.[15] He was a Wasserstein Fellow at Harvard Law School in 1997-98.[16]


Early career

After his clerkship, Rosenstein joined the U.S. Department of Justice through the Attorney General’s Honors Program. From 1990 to 1993, he prosecuted public corruption cases as a trial attorney with the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division, then led by Assistant Attorney General Robert Mueller.[14][17]

During the Clinton Administration, Rosenstein served as Counsel to Deputy Attorney General Philip B. Heymann (1993–1994) and Special Assistant to Criminal Division Assistant Attorney General Jo Ann Harris (1994–1995). Rosenstein then worked in the United States Office of the Independent Counsel under Ken Starr on the Whitewater investigation into President Bill Clinton.[18] As an Associate Independent Counsel from 1995 to 1997, he was co-counsel in the trial of three defendants who were convicted of fraud, and he supervised the investigation that found no basis for criminal prosecution of White House officials who had obtained FBI background reports.[14]

United States Attorney Lynne A. Battaglia hired Rosenstein as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland in 1997.[14]

From 2001 to 2005, Rosenstein served as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division of the United States Department of Justice. He coordinated the tax enforcement activities of the Tax Division, the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the IRS, and he supervised 90 attorneys and 30 support employees. He oversaw civil litigation and served as the acting head of the Tax Division when Assistant Attorney General Eileen J. O’Connor was unavailable, and he personally briefed and argued civil appeals in several federal appellate courts.[citation needed]

U.S. Attorney

Rosenstein as U.S. Attorney

President George W. Bush nominated Rosenstein to serve as the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland on May 23, 2005. He took office on July 12, 2005, after the United States Senate unanimously confirmed his nomination.[17][19]

As United States Attorney, he oversaw federal civil and criminal litigation, assisted with federal law enforcement strategies in Maryland, and presented cases in the U.S. District Court and in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.[19] During his tenure as U.S. Attorney, Rosenstein successfully prosecuted leaks of classified information, corruption, murders and burglaries, and was “particularly effective taking on corruption within police departments.” [20]

Rosenstein secured several convictions against prison guards in Baltimore for conspiring with the Black Guerrilla Family.[18] He indicted Baltimore police officers Wayne Jenkins, Momodu Gondo, Evodio Hendrix, Daniel Hersl, Jemell Rayam, Marcus Taylor, and Maurice Ward for racketeering.[21] Rosenstein, with the aid of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Drug Enforcement Administration, secured convictions in large scale narcotics cases in the District of Maryland, including the arrest and conviction of Terrell Plummer,[22] Richard Christopher Byrd,[23] James “Brad” LaRocca,[24] and Yasmine Geen Young.[25]

The Attorney General appointed Rosenstein to serve on the Advisory Committee of U.S. Attorneys, which evaluates and recommends policies for the Department of Justice. He was vice-chair of the Violent and Organized Crime Subcommittee and a member of the Subcommittees on White Collar Crime, Sentencing Issues and Cyber/Intellectual Property Crime. He also served on the Attorney General’s Anti-Gang Coordination Committee.

Attorney General Eric Holder appointed Rosenstein to prosecute General James Cartwright, a former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for leaking to reporters.[18] Rosenstein’s aggressive prosecution secured a guilty plea from Cartwright.[18]

Rosenstein served as the U.S. Attorney in Maryland at a time when murders in the state dropped by about a third, which was double the decline at the national level. Robberies and aggravated assaults also fell faster than the national average. According to Thiru Vignarajah, the former deputy attorney general of Maryland, “Collaboration between prosecutors, police, and the community combined with a dogged focus on violent repeat offenders was the anchor of Rosenstein’s approach.” Rosenstein regarded the heroin and opioid epidemic as a public health crisis, hired a re-entry specialist to help ex-offenders adjust to life outside of prison, and prosecuted several individual cases of corrupt police officers.[26]

Judicial nomination

In 2007, President George W. Bush nominated Rosenstein to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Rosenstein was a Maryland resident at the time. Maryland’s Democratic United States SenatorsBarbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, blocked Rosenstein’s confirmation, claiming he did not have strong enough ties to Maryland.[27]

Deputy Attorney General of the United States

Rosenstein being sworn in as Deputy Attorney General

Appointment of Special Counsel to Investigate Russian Interference with the 2016 Presidential Election and Related Matters

President Donald Trump nominated Rosenstein to serve as Deputy Attorney General for the United States Department of Justice on February 1, 2017.[28][29] He was one of the 46 United States Attorneys ordered on March 10, 2017 to resign by Attorney General Jeff Sessions; Trump declined his resignation.[30] Rosenstein was confirmed by the Senate on April 25, 2017, by a vote of 94–6.[31][32]

Comey memo

On May 8, 2017, President Donald Trump directed Sessions and Rosenstein to make a case against FBI Director James Comey in writing. The next day, Rosenstein handed a memo to Sessions providing the basis for Sessions’s recommendation to President Trump that Comey be dismissed.[33][34]

In his memo Rosenstein asserts that the FBI must have “a Director who understands the gravity of the mistakes and pledges never to repeat them”. He ends with an argument against keeping Comey as FBI director, on the grounds that he was given an opportunity to “admit his errors” but that there is no hope that he will “implement the necessary corrective actions.”[35]

Critics[who?] argued that Rosenstein, in enabling the firing of Comey amid an investigation into Russian election interference, damaged his own reputation.[36][37][38][39][40]

After administration officials cited Rosenstein’s memo as the main reason for Comey’s dismissal, an anonymous source in the White House said that Rosenstein threatened to resign.[41]

Rosenstein denied the claim and said he was “not quitting,” when asked directly by a reporter from Sinclair Broadcast Group.[42][43]

On May 17, 2017, Rosenstein told the full Senate he knew that Comey would be fired before he wrote his controversial memo that the White House initially used as justification for President Trump firing Comey.[44]

Special counsel appointment

On May 17, 2017, Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller as a special counsel to conduct the investigation into “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump” as well as any matters arising directly from that investigation.[45] Rosenstein’s order authorizes Mueller to bring criminal charges in the event that he discovers any federal crimes.[45]

Rosenstein said in a statement, “My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination. What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.”[46]

In an interview with the Associated Press, Rosenstein said he would recuse from supervision of Mueller, if he himself were to become a subject in the investigation due to his role in the dismissal of James Comey.[47]

Under that scenario, supervision would have fallen to DOJ’s third-ranking official, Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand.[48] Rachel Brand announced her intention to resign on February 9, 2018 [49]

Michael Cohen investigation

In April 2018, Rosenstein reportedly personally approved the FBI raid on President Donald Trump‘s attorney, Michael Cohen, in which the FBI seized emails, tax documents and records, some of them related to Cohen’s payment to adult-film star Stormy Daniels.[50][51]

After ad interim U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman had recused himself,[why?] the search was executed by others in the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and approved by a federal judge.[52]

Personal life

Rosenstein is married to Lisa Barsoomian, an Armenian American lawyer who works for the National Institutes of Health. They have two daughters.[53]

He is a registered Republican,[54][55] “but he has made no campaign donations to any political candidates, according to election records.”[1]

Rosenstein has served as an adjunct professor, teaching classes on federal criminal prosecution at the University of Maryland School of Law and trial advocacy at the University of Baltimore School of Law.[9]

Rosenstein was a member of Washington D.C.’s Temple Sinai, a Reform Jewish congregation, from 2008 to 2014.[56] According to a questionnaire that Rosenstein completed ahead of a hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee, he was a member of a Jewish Community Center‘s sports league from 1993 to 2012.[56] Rosenstein served on the board of directors of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum from 2001-11.[56]

See also



Story 3: Supreme Court Decision Stops Unions From Forcing Non-union Public Sector Employees To Pay Union Dues and Agency Fees — Videos —

Supreme Court delivers major blow to unions

Supreme Court rules that public sector workers can’t be forced to pay union fees


US Supreme Court curbs power of public sector unions

Mark Janus (R) successfully challenged a 1977 court ruling that public sector workers  can be required to pay a portion of union dues even if they are non members

Mark Janus (R) successfully challenged a 1977 court ruling that public sector workers can be required to pay a portion of union dues even if they are non members

The US Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that non-members cannot be compelled to pay dues to public sector unions, dealing a financial blow to organized labor in the United States.

The court ruled by five to four that the practice of forcing workers to pay for unions that they do not belong to, even though the unions may work on their behalf, was unconstitutional.

President Donald Trump immediately welcomed the decision, a further blow to a US labor movement already in decline.

Trump said on Twitter that non-union workers “are now, as an example, able to support a candidate of his or her choice without having those who control the Union deciding for them. Big loss for the coffers of the Democrats!”

The case was brought by Illinois public sector worker Mark Janus, who challenged a 1977 court ruling that public sector workers can be required to pay a portion of union dues in order to cover their expenses and stop non-members from becoming “free-riders” — reaping the benefits of collective bargaining without assuming the costs.

Justice Samuel Alito, writing the majority opinion, said the 1977 ruling violated the First Amendment’s stipulations about freedom of speech.

“Under Illinois law, public employees are forced to subsidize a union, even if they choose not to join and strongly object to the positions the union takes in collective bargaining and related activities,” the conservative justice wrote.

“We conclude that this arrangement violates the free speech rights of non-members by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern.”

Alito added that “compelling individuals to mouth support for views they find objectionable violates that cardinal constitutional command, and in most contexts, any such effort would be universally condemned.”

The ruling came a day after the top court dealt two other wins to conservative groups, upholding the president’s controversial travel ban and coming down in favor of anti-abortion centers in another sensitive case.


Story 4: Supreme Court Justice Kennedy Submits Letter of Resignation — President Trump Has List of 25 Possible Replacements — Videos —

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The 25 people most likely to replace Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court

President Donald Trump will soon nominate a person to take the place of Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court.

The president previously released a list of candidates back in November, preceding Kennedy’s retirement announcement on Wednesday.

After the announcement, Trump that Kennedy’s replacement would come from the list, and that the process would “begin immediately.”

Here’s who Trump is considering:

1. Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

2. Keith Blackwell of Georgia, Supreme Court of Georgia

3. Charles Canady of Florida, Supreme Court of Florida

4. Steven Colloton of Iowa, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

5. Allison Eid of Colorado, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

6. Britt Grant of Georgia, Supreme Court of Georgia

7. Raymond Gruender of Missouri, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

8. Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

9. Brett Kavanaugh of Maryland, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

10. Raymond Kethledge of Michigan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

11. Joan Larsen of Michigan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

12. Mike Lee of Utah, U.S. senator

13. Thomas Lee of Utah, Supreme Court of Utah

14. Edward Mansfield of Iowa, Supreme Court of Iowa

15. Federico Moreno of Florida, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida

16. Kevin Newsom of Alabama, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

17. William Pryor of Alabama, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

18. Margaret Ryan of Virginia, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces

19. David Stras of Minnesota, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

20. Diane Sykes of Wisconsin, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

21. Amul Thapar of Kentucky, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

22. Timothy Tymkovich of Colorado, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

23. Robert Young of Michigan, Supreme Court of Michigan (retired)

24. Don Willett of Texas, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

25. Patrick Wyrick of Oklahoma, Supreme Court of Oklahoma


Supreme Court of the United States

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Supreme Court of the United States
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Established March 4, 1789; 229 years ago[1]
Country United States
Location Washington, D.C., U.S.
Coordinates 38°53′26″N 77°00′16″WCoordinates38°53′26″N 77°00′16″W
Composition method Presidential nomination with Senate confirmation
Authorized by United States Constitution
Judge term length Life tenure
No. of positions 9 by statute
Chief Justice of the United States
Currently John Roberts
Since September 29, 2005; 12 years ago

The Supreme Court of the United States (sometimes colloquially referred to by the acronym SCOTUS)[2] is the highest federal court of the United States. Established pursuant to Article Three of the United States Constitution in 1789, it has ultimate (and largely discretionaryappellate jurisdiction over all federal courts and state court cases involving issues of federal law plus original jurisdiction over a small range of cases. In the legal system of the United States, the Supreme Court is generally the final interpreter of federal law including the United States Constitution, but it may act only within the context of a case in which it has jurisdiction. The Court may decide cases having political overtones but does not have power to decide nonjusticiable political questions, and its enforcement arm is in the executive rather than judicial branch of government.

According to federal statute, the Court normally consists of the Chief Justice of the United States and eight associate justices who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Once appointed, justices have lifetime tenure unless they resign, retire, or are removed after impeachment.[3] In modern discourse, the justices are often categorized as having conservativemoderate, or liberal philosophies of law and of judicial interpretation. Each justice has one vote, and while a far greater number of cases in recent history have been decided unanimously, decisions in cases of the highest profile have often come down to just one single vote, thereby exposing the justices’ ideological beliefs that track with those philosophical or political categories. The Court meets in the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C.


Supreme Court of the United States

The ratification of the United States Constitution established the Supreme Court in 1789. Its powers are detailed in Article Three of the Constitution. The Supreme Court was the only court specifically established by the Constitution while all other federal courts were created by Congress. Congress is also responsible for conferring the title of “justice” to its members, who are known to scold lawyers for inaccurately referring to them as “judge”, even though it is the term used in the Constitution.[4]

The Court first convened on February 2, 1790,[5] with six judges where only five of its six initial positions were filled. According to historian Fergus Bordewich, in its first session: “[T]he Supreme Court convened for the first time at the Royal Exchange Building on Broad Street, a few steps from Federal Hall. Symbolically, the moment was pregnant with promise for the republic, this birth of a new national institution whose future power, admittedly, still existed only in the eyes and minds of just a few visionary Americans. Impressively bewigged and swathed in their robes of office, Chief Justice John Jay and three associate justices — William Cushing of Massachusetts, James Wilson of Pennsylvania, and John Blair of Virginia — sat augustly before a throng of spectators and waited for something to happen. Nothing did. They had no cases to consider. After a week of inactivity, they adjourned until September, and everyone went home.”[6]

The sixth member, James Iredell, was not confirmed until May 12, 1790. Because the full Court had only six members, every decision that it made by a majority was also made by two-thirds (voting four to two).[7] However, Congress has always allowed less than the Court’s full membership to make decisions, starting with a quorum of four justices in 1789.[8]

Earliest beginnings to Marshall

Chief Justice Marshall

Under Chief Justices JayRutledge, and Ellsworth (1789–1801), the Court heard few cases; its first decision was West v. Barnes (1791), a case involving a procedural issue.[9] The Court lacked a home of its own and had little prestige,[10] a situation not helped by the highest-profile case of the era, Chisholm v. Georgia (1793), which was reversed within two years by the adoption of the Eleventh Amendment.[11]

The Court’s power and prestige grew substantially during the Marshall Court (1801–35).[12] Under Marshall, the Court established the power of judicial review over acts of Congress,[13] including specifying itself as the supreme expositor of the Constitution (Marbury v. Madison)[14][15] and made several important constitutional rulings giving shape and substance to the balance of power between the federal government and the states (prominently, Martin v. Hunter’s LesseeMcCulloch v. Maryland and Gibbons v. Ogden).[16][17][18][19]

The Marshall Court also ended the practice of each justice issuing his opinion seriatim,[20] a remnant of British tradition,[21] and instead issuing a single majority opinion.[20] Also during Marshall’s tenure, although beyond the Court’s control, the impeachment and acquittal of Justice Samuel Chase in 1804–05 helped cement the principle of judicial independence.[22][23]

From Taney to Taft

The Taney Court (1836–64) made several important rulings, such as Sheldon v. Sill, which held that while Congress may not limit the subjects the Supreme Court may hear, it may limit the jurisdiction of the lower federal courts to prevent them from hearing cases dealing with certain subjects.[24] Nevertheless, it is primarily remembered for its ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford,[25] which helped precipitate the Civil War.[26] In the Reconstruction era, the ChaseWaite, and FullerCourts (1864–1910) interpreted the new Civil War amendments to the Constitution[19] and developed the doctrine of substantive due process (Lochner v. New York;[27] Adair v. United States).[28]

Under the White and Taft Courts (1910–30), the Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment had incorporated some guarantees of the Bill of Rights against the states (Gitlow v. New York),[29] grappled with the new antitrust statutes (Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey v. United States), upheld the constitutionality of military conscription (Selective Draft Law Cases)[30] and brought the substantive due process doctrine to its first apogee (Adkins v. Children’s Hospital).[31]

The New Deal era

During the HughesStone, and Vinson Courts (1930–53), the Court gained its own accommodation in 1935[32] and changed its interpretation of the Constitution, giving a broader reading to the powers of the federal government to facilitate President Franklin Roosevelt‘s New Deal (most prominently West Coast Hotel Co. v. ParrishWickard v. FilburnUnited States v. Darby and United States v. Butler).[33][34][35] During World War II, the Court continued to favor government power, upholding the internment of Japanese citizens (Korematsu v. United States) and the mandatory pledge of allegiance (Minersville School District v. Gobitis). Nevertheless, Gobitis was soon repudiated (West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette), and the Steel Seizure Case restricted the pro-government trend.

Warren and Burger

The Warren Court (1953–69) dramatically expanded the force of Constitutional civil liberties.[36] It held that segregation in public schools violates equal protection (Brown v. Board of EducationBolling v. Sharpe and Green v. County School Bd.)[37] and that traditional legislative district boundaries violated the right to vote (Reynolds v. Sims). It created a general right to privacy (Griswold v. Connecticut),[38] limited the role of religion in public school (most prominently Engel v. Vitale and Abington School District v. Schempp),[39][40]incorporated most guarantees of the Bill of Rights against the States—prominently Mapp v. Ohio (the exclusionary rule) and Gideon v. Wainwright (right to appointed counsel),[41][42]—and required that criminal suspects be apprised of all these rights by police (Miranda v. Arizona).[43] At the same time, however, the Court limited defamation suits by public figures (New York Times v. Sullivan) and supplied the government with an unbroken run of antitrust victories.[44]

The Burger Court (1969–86) marked a conservative shift.[45] It also expanded Griswold’s right to privacy to strike down abortion laws (Roe v. Wade),[46] but divided deeply on affirmative action (Regents of the University of California v. Bakke)[47] and campaign finance regulation (Buckley v. Valeo),[48] and dithered on the death penalty, ruling first that most applications were defective (Furman v. Georgia),[49] then that the death penalty itself was not unconstitutional (Gregg v. Georgia).[49][50][51]

Rehnquist and Roberts

Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court in October 2005

The Rehnquist Court (1986–2005) was noted for its revival of judicial enforcement of federalism,[52] emphasizing the limits of the Constitution’s affirmative grants of power (United States v. Lopez) and the force of its restrictions on those powers (Seminole Tribe v. FloridaCity of Boerne v. Flores).[53][54][55][56][57] It struck down single-sex state schools as a violation of equal protection (United States v. Virginia), laws against sodomy as violations of substantive due process (Lawrence v. Texas),[58] and the line item veto (Clinton v. New York), but upheld school vouchers (Zelman v. Simmons-Harris) and reaffirmed Roe’s restrictions on abortion laws (Planned Parenthood v. Casey).[59] The Court’s decision in Bush v. Gore, which ended the electoral recount during the presidential election of 2000, was especially controversial.[60][61]

The Roberts Court (2005–present) is regarded by some as more conservative than the Rehnquist Court.[62][63] Some of its major rulings have concerned federal preemption (Wyeth v. Levine), civil procedure (TwomblyIqbal), abortion (Gonzales v. Carhart),[64] climate change (Massachusetts v. EPA), same-sex marriage (United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges) and the Bill of Rights, notably in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission(First Amendment),[65] HellerMcDonald (Second Amendment)[66] and Baze v. Rees (Eighth Amendment).[67][68]


Size of the Court

Article III of the United States Constitution does not specify the number of justices. The Judiciary Act of 1789 called for the appointment of six “judges”. Although an 1801 act would have reduced the size of the court to five members upon its next vacancy, an 1802 actpromptly negated the 1801 act, legally restoring the court’s size to six members before any such vacancy occurred. As the nation’s boundaries grew, Congress added justices to correspond with the growing number of judicial circuits: seven in 1807nine in 1837, and ten in 1863.[69]

In 1866, at the behest of Chief Justice Chase, Congress passed an act providing that the next three justices to retire would not be replaced, which would thin the bench to seven justices by attrition. Consequently, one seat was removed in 1866 and a second in 1867. In 1869, however, the Circuit Judges Act returned the number of justices to nine,[70] where it has since remained.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt attempted to expand the Court in 1937. His proposal envisioned appointment of one additional justice for each incumbent justice who reached the age of 70 years 6 months and refused retirement, up to a maximum bench of 15 justices. The proposal was ostensibly to ease the burden of the docket on elderly judges, but the actual purpose was widely understood as an effort to “pack” the Court with justices who would support Roosevelt’s New Deal.[71] The plan, usually called the “court-packing plan“, failed in Congress.[72] Nevertheless, the Court’s balance began to shift within months when Justice Willis Van Devanter retired and was replaced by Senator Hugo Black. By the end of 1941, Roosevelt had appointed seven justices and elevated Harlan Fiske Stone to Chief Justice.[73]

Appointment and confirmation

The Roberts Court (April 2017–present). Front row (left to right): Ruth Bader GinsburgAnthony KennedyJohn Roberts (Chief Justice), Clarence Thomas, and Stephen Breyer. Back row (left to right): Elena KaganSamuel A. AlitoSonia Sotomayor, and Neil Gorsuch.

The U.S. Constitution states that the President “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Judges of the Supreme Court.”[74] Most presidents nominate candidates who broadly share their ideological views, although a justice’s decisions may end up being contrary to a president’s expectations. Because the Constitution sets no qualifications for service as a justice, a president may nominate anyone to serve, subject to Senate confirmation.

In modern times, the confirmation process has attracted considerable attention from the press and advocacy groups, which lobby senators to confirm or to reject a nominee depending on whether their track record aligns with the group’s views. The Senate Judiciary Committee conducts hearings and votes on whether the nomination should go to the full Senate with a positive, negative or neutral report. The committee’s practice of personally interviewing nominees is relatively recent. The first nominee to appear before the committee was Harlan Fiske Stone in 1925, who sought to quell concerns about his links to Wall Street, and the modern practice of questioning began with John Marshall Harlan II in 1955.[75] Once the committee reports out the nomination, the full Senate considers it. Rejections are relatively uncommon; the Senate has explicitly rejected twelve Supreme Court nominees, most recently Robert Bork, nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1987.

Although Senate rules do not necessarily allow a negative vote in committee to block a nomination, prior to 2017 a nomination could be blocked by filibuster once debate had begun in the full Senate. President Lyndon Johnson‘s nomination of sitting Associate Justice Abe Fortas to succeed Earl Warren as Chief Justice in 1968 was the first successful filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee. It included both Republican and Democratic senators concerned with Fortas’s ethics. President Donald Trump‘s nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the seat left vacant by Antonin Scalia‘s death was the second. Unlike the Fortas filibuster, however, only Democratic Senators voted against cloture on the Gorsuch nomination, citing his perceived conservative judicial philosophy, and the Republican majority’s prior refusal to take up President Barack Obama‘s nomination of Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy.[76][77] This led the Republican majority to change the rules and eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations.[78]

Not every Supreme Court nominee has received a floor vote in the Senate. A president may withdraw a nomination before an actual confirmation vote occurs, typically because it is clear that the Senate will reject the nominee; this occurred most recently with the nomination of Harriet Miers in 2006. The Senate may also fail to act on a nomination, which expires at the end of the session. For example, President Dwight Eisenhower‘s first nomination of John Marshall Harlan II in November 1954 was not acted on by the Senate; Eisenhower re-nominated Harlan in January 1955, and Harlan was confirmed two months later. Most recently, as previously noted, the Senate failed to act on the March 2016 nomination of Merrick Garland; the nomination expired in January 2017, and the vacancy was later filled by President Trump‘s appointment of Neil Gorsuch.[79]

Once the Senate confirms a nomination, the president must prepare and sign a commission, to which the Seal of the Department of Justice must be affixed, before the new justice can take office.[80] The seniority of an associate justice is based on the commissioning date, not the confirmation or swearing-in date.[81] The importance of commissioning is underscored by the case of Edwin M. Stanton. Although appointed to the court on December 19, 1869 by President Ulysses S. Grant and confirmed by the Senate a few days later, Stanton died on Dec 24, prior to receiving his commission. He is not, therefore, considered to have been an actual member of the court.

Before 1981, the approval process of justices was usually rapid. From the Truman through Nixon administrations, justices were typically approved within one month. From the Reagan administration to the present, however, the process has taken much longer. Some believe this is because Congress sees justices as playing a more political role than in the past.[82] According to the Congressional Research Service, the average number of days from nomination to final Senate vote since 1975 is 67 days (2.2 months), while the median is 71 days (or 2.3 months).[83][84]

Recess appointments

When the Senate is in recess, a president may make temporary appointments to fill vacancies. Recess appointees hold office only until the end of the next Senate session (less than two years). The Senate must confirm the nominee for them to continue serving; of the two chief justices and eleven associate justices who have received recess appointments, only Chief Justice John Rutledge was not subsequently confirmed.[85]

No president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has made a recess appointment to the Court, and the practice has become rare and controversial even in lower federal courts.[86] In 1960, after Eisenhower had made three such appointments, the Senate passed a “sense of the Senate” resolution that recess appointments to the Court should only be made in “unusual circumstances.”[87] Such resolutions are not legally binding but are an expression of Congress’s views in the hope of guiding executive action.[87][88]

The Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning limited the ability of the President to make recess appointments (including appointments to the Supreme Court), ruling that the Senate decides when the Senate is in session (or in recess). Writing for the Court, Justice Breyer stated, “We hold that, for purposes of the Recess Appointments Clause, the Senate is in session when it says it is, provided that, under its own rules, it retains the capacity to transact Senate business.”[89] This ruling allows the Senate to prevent recess appointments through the use of pro-forma sessions.[90]


The Constitution provides that justices “shall hold their offices during good behavior” (unless appointed during a Senate recess). The term “good behavior” is understood to mean justices may serve for the remainder of their lives, unless they are impeached and convictedby Congress, resign, or retire.[91] Only one justice has been impeached by the House of Representatives (Samuel Chase, March 1804), but he was acquitted in the Senate (March 1805).[92] Moves to impeach sitting justices have occurred more recently (for example, William O. Douglas was the subject of hearings twice, in 1953 and again in 1970; and Abe Fortas resigned while hearings were being organized in 1969), but they did not reach a vote in the House. No mechanism exists for removing a justice who is permanently incapacitated by illness or injury, but unable (or unwilling) to resign.[93]

Because justices have indefinite tenure, timing of vacancies can be unpredictable. Sometimes vacancies arise in quick succession, as in the early 1970s when Lewis Franklin Powell, Jr. and William Rehnquist were nominated to replace Hugo Black and John Marshall Harlan II, who retired within a week of each other. Sometimes a great length of time passes between nominations, such as the eleven years between Stephen Breyer‘s nomination in 1994 to succeed Harry Blackmun and the nomination of John Roberts in 2005 to fill the seat of Sandra Day O’Connor (though Roberts’ nomination was withdrawn and resubmitted for the role of Chief Justice after Rehnquist died).

Despite the variability, all but four presidents have been able to appoint at least one justice. William Henry Harrison died a month after taking office, though his successor (John Tyler) made an appointment during that presidential term. Likewise, Zachary Taylor died 16 months after taking office, but his successor (Millard Fillmore) also made a Supreme Court nomination before the end of that term. Andrew Johnson, who became president after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, was denied the opportunity to appoint a justice by a reduction in the size of the CourtJimmy Carter is the only person elected president to have left office after at least one full term without having the opportunity to appoint a justice. Somewhat similarly, presidents James MonroeFranklin D. Roosevelt, and George W. Busheach served a full term without an opportunity to appoint a justice, but made appointments during their subsequent terms in office. No president who has served more than one full term has gone without at least one opportunity to make an appointment.

Three presidents have appointed justices who together served more than a century. Andrew JacksonAbraham Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.[94]


Current justices

The court is currently filled with nine Justices. The most recent justice to join the court was Neil Gorsuch, who was nominated by President Donald Trump on January 31, 2017, and confirmed on April 7, 2017, by the U.S. Senate. Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his intention to retire effective July 31, 2018, on the last day of the October 2017 term.[95]

Name Birth Appointed by Senate confirmation vote Age at appointment Current age First day /
Length of service
Previous positions Succeeded
RobertsJohn Roberts
(Chief Justice)
January 27, 1955
Buffalo, New York
George W. Bush 78–22 50 63 September 29, 2005
12 years, 8 months
Circuit Judge, Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (2003–2005);
Principal Deputy Solicitor General (1989–1993);
Associate Counsel to the President (1982–1986)
William Rehnquist
KennedyAnthony Kennedy July 23, 1936
Sacramento, California
Ronald Reagan 97–0 51 81 February 18, 1988
30 years, 4 months
Circuit Judge, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (1975–1988);
Private practice (1963–1975)
Lewis Powell
ThomasClarence Thomas June 23, 1948
Pin Point, Georgia
George H. W. Bush 52–48 43 70 October 23, 1991
26 years, 8 months
Circuit Judge, Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (1990–1991);
Chairman, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (1982–1990);
Assistant Attorney General in Missouri under State Attorney General John Danforth(1974–1977)
Thurgood Marshall
GinsburgRuth Bader Ginsburg March 15, 1933
Brooklyn, New York
Bill Clinton 96–3 60 85 August 10, 1993
24 years, 10 months
Circuit Judge, Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (1980–1993);
General Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union (1973–1980)
Byron White
BreyerStephen Breyer August 15, 1938
San Francisco, California
87–9 55 79 August 3, 1994
23 years, 10 months
Chief Judge, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (1990–1994);
Circuit Judge, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (1980–1990)
Harry Blackmun
AlitoSamuel Alito April 1, 1950
Trenton, New Jersey
George W. Bush 58–42 55 68 January 31, 2006
12 years, 4 months
Circuit Judge, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (1990–2006);
U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey (1987–1990);
Deputy Assistant Attorney General (1985–1987);
Assistant to the Solicitor General (1981–1985)
Sandra Day O’Connor
SotomayorSonia Sotomayor June 25, 1954
The Bronx, New York
Barack Obama 68–31 55 64 August 8, 2009
8 years, 10 months
Circuit Judge, Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (1998–2009);
District Judge, District Court for the Southern District of New York (1992–1998)
David Souter
KaganElena Kagan April 28, 1960
Manhattan, New York
63–37 50 58 August 7, 2010
7 years, 10 months
Solicitor General of the United States (2009–2010);
Dean of Harvard Law School (2003–2009);
Associate White House Counsel (1995–1999);
Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council (1995–1999);
John Paul Stevens
GorsuchNeil Gorsuch August 29, 1967
Denver, Colorado
Donald Trump 54–45 49 50 April 10, 2017
1 year, 2 months
Circuit Judge, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (2006–2017);
Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General and Acting Associate Attorney General(2005–2006);
Antonin Scalia

Court demographics

The Court currently has six male and three female justices. Among the nine justices, there is one African-American (Justice Thomas) and one Hispanic (Justice Sotomayor). Two of the justices were born to at least one immigrant parent: Justice Alito’s parents were born in Italy,[96][97] and Justice Ginsburg’s father was born in Russia.[98] At least five justices are Roman Catholics and three are Jewish; it is unclear whether Neil Gorsuch considers himself a Catholic or an Episcopalian.[99] The average age is 67 years and 4 months. Every current justice has an Ivy League background.[100] Four justices are from the state of New York, two from California, one from New Jersey, one from Georgia, and one from Colorado.[101] In the 19th century, every justice was a man of European descent (usually Northern European), and almost always Protestant. Concerns about diversity focused on geography, to represent all regions of the country, rather than religious, ethnic, or gender diversity.[102]

Most justices have been Protestants, including 36 Episcopalians, 19 Presbyterians, 10 Unitarians, 5 Methodists, and 3 Baptists.[103][104] The first Catholic justice was Roger Taney in 1836,[105] and 1916 saw the appointment of the first Jewish justice, Louis Brandeis.[106]Several Catholic and Jewish justices have since been appointed, and in recent years the situation has reversed. The Court currently has at least five Catholic justices, and three Jewish justices.[99]

Racial, ethnic, and gender diversity in the Court began to increase in the late 20th century. Thurgood Marshall became the first African American justice in 1967.[106] Sandra Day O’Connor became the first female justice in 1981.[106] Marshall was succeeded by African-American Clarence Thomas in 1991.[107] O’Connor was joined by Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1993.[108] After O’Connor’s retirement Ginsburg was joined in 2009 by Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic and Latina justice,[106] and in 2010 by Elena Kagan, for a total of four female justices in the Court’s history.[108]

There have been six foreign-born justices in the Court’s history: James Wilson (1789–1798), born in CaskardyScotlandJames Iredell (1790–1799), born in LewesEnglandWilliam Paterson (1793–1806), born in County AntrimIrelandDavid Brewer (1889–1910), born in SmyrnaTurkeyGeorge Sutherland (1922–1939), born in Buckinghamshire, England; and Felix Frankfurter (1939–1962), born in ViennaAustria.[106]

Retired justices

There are currently three living retired justices of the Supreme Court of the United States: John Paul StevensSandra Day O’Connor and David Souter. As retired justices, they no longer participate in the work of the Supreme Court, but may be designated for temporary assignments to sit on lower federal courts, usually the United States Courts of Appeals. Such assignments are formally made by the Chief Justice, on request of the chief judge of the lower court and with the consent of the retired justice. In recent years, Justice O’Connor has sat with several Courts of Appeals around the country, and Justice Souter has frequently sat on the First Circuit, the court of which he was briefly a member before joining the Supreme Court.

The status of a retired justice is analogous to that of a circuit or district court judge who has taken senior status, and eligibility of a supreme court justice to assume retired status (rather than simply resign from the bench) is governed by the same age and service criteria.

In recent times, justices tend to strategically plan their decisions to leave the bench with personal, institutional, ideological, partisan and sometimes even political factors playing a role.[109][110] The fear of mental decline and death often motivates justices to step down. The desire to maximize the Court’s strength and legitimacy through one retirement at a time, when the Court is in recess, and during non-presidential election years suggests a concern for institutional health. Finally, especially in recent decades, many justices have timed their departure to coincide with a philosophically compatible president holding office, to ensure that a like-minded successor would be appointed.[111][112]

Name Date of birth Appointed by Retired under Confirmation vote Age at appointment Current age First day Date of retirement Length of tenure
StevensJohn Paul Stevens April 20, 1920
Gerald Ford Barack Obama 98–0 55 98 December 19, 1975 June 29, 2010 (age 90) 34 years, 6 months and 10 days
O'ConnorSandra Day O’Connor March 26, 1930
El Paso, Texas
Ronald Reagan George W. Bush 99–0 51 88 September 25, 1981 January 31, 2006 (age 75) 24 years, 4 months and 6 days
SouterDavid Souter September 17, 1939
Melrose, Massachusetts
George H. W. Bush Barack Obama 90–9 51 78 October 9, 1990 June 29, 2009 (age 69) 18 years, 8 months and 20 days

Seniority and seating

Many of the internal operations of the Court are organized by seniority of justices; the chief justice is considered the most senior member of the court, regardless of the length of his or her service. The associate justices are then ranked by the length of their service.

The interior of the United States Supreme Court

The interior of the United States Supreme Court

During Court sessions, the justices sit according to seniority, with the Chief Justice in the center, and the Associate Justices on alternating sides, with the most senior Associate Justice on the Chief Justice’s immediate right, and the most junior Associate Justice seated on the left farthest away from the Chief Justice. Therefore, the current court sits as follows from left to right, from the perspective of those facing the Court: Kagan, Alito, Ginsburg, Kennedy (most senior Associate Justice), Roberts (Chief Justice), Thomas, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Gorsuch. In the official yearly Court photograph, justices are arranged similarly, with the five most senior members sitting in the front row in the same order as they would sit during Court sessions (The most recent photograph includes Ginsburg, Kennedy, Roberts, Thomas, Breyer), and the four most junior justices standing behind them, again in the same order as they would sit during Court sessions (Kagan, Alito, Sotomayor, Gorsuch).

In the justices’ private conferences, current practice is for them to speak and vote in order of seniority to begin with the chief justice first and end with the most junior associate justice. The most junior associate justice in these conferences is charged with any menial tasks the justices may require as they convene alone, such as answering the door of their conference room, serving beverages and transmitting orders of the court to the clerk.[113] Justice Joseph Story served the longest as junior justice, from February 3, 1812, to September 1, 1823, for a total of 4,228 days. Justice Stephen Breyer follows very closely behind serving from August 3, 1994, to January 31, 2006, for a total of 4,199 days.[114] Justice Elena Kagan comes in at a distant third serving from August 6, 2010, to April 10, 2017, for a total of 2,439 days.


As of 2018, associate justices are paid $255,300 and the chief justice $267,000.[115] Article III, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution prohibits Congress from reducing the pay for incumbent justices. Once a justice meets age and service requirements, the justice may retire. Judicial pensions are based on the same formula used for federal employees, but a justice’s pension, as with other federal courts judges, can never be less than their salary at the time of retirement.

Judicial leanings

Although justices are nominated by the president in power, justices do not represent or receive official endorsements from political parties, as is accepted practice in the legislative and executive branches. Jurists are, however, informally categorized in legal and political circles as being judicial conservatives, moderates, or liberals. Such leanings, however, generally refer to legal outlook rather than a political or legislative one. The nominations of justices are endorsed by individual politicians in the legislative branch who vote their approval or disapproval of the nominated justice.

Following the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch in 2017, the Court consists of five justices appointed by Republican presidents and four appointed by Democratic presidents. It is popularly accepted that Chief Justice Roberts and associate justices ThomasAlito, and Gorsuch, appointed by Republican presidents, comprise the Court’s conservative wing. Justices GinsburgBreyerSotomayor and Kagan, appointed by Democratic presidents, comprise the Court’s liberal wing. Justice Kennedy, appointed by Republican president Reagan, is generally considered “a conservative who has occasionally voted with liberals”,[116] and up until Justice Scalia’s death, he was often the swing vote that determined the outcome of cases divided between the conservative and liberal wings.[117][118][119] Gorsuch had a track record as a reliably conservative judge in the 10th circuit.[120]

Tom Goldstein argued in an article in SCOTUSblog in 2010, that the popular view of the Supreme Court as sharply divided along ideological lines and each side pushing an agenda at every turn is “in significant part a caricature designed to fit certain preconceptions.”[121]He pointed out that in the 2009 term, almost half the cases were decided unanimously, and only about 20% were decided by a 5-to-4 vote. Barely one in ten cases involved the narrow liberal/conservative divide (fewer if the cases where Sotomayor recused herself are not included). He also pointed to several cases that defied the popular conception of the ideological lines of the Court.[122] Goldstein further argued that the large number of pro-criminal-defendant summary dismissals (usually cases where the justices decide that the lower courts significantly misapplied precedent and reverse the case without briefing or argument) were an illustration that the conservative justices had not been aggressively ideological. Likewise, Goldstein stated that the critique that the liberal justices are more likely to invalidate acts of Congress, show inadequate deference to the political process, and be disrespectful of precedent, also lacked merit: Thomas has most often called for overruling prior precedent (even if long standing) that he views as having been wrongly decided, and during the 2009 term Scalia and Thomas voted most often to invalidate legislation.

According to statistics compiled by SCOTUSblog, in the twelve terms from 2000 to 2011, an average of 19 of the opinions on major issues (22%) were decided by a 5–4 vote, with an average of 70% of those split opinions decided by a Court divided along the traditionally perceived ideological lines (about 15% of all opinions issued). Over that period, the conservative bloc has been in the majority about 62% of the time that the Court has divided along ideological lines, which represents about 44% of all the 5–4 decisions.[123]

In the October 2010 term, the Court decided 86 cases, including 75 signed opinions and 5 summary reversals (where the Court reverses a lower court without arguments and without issuing an opinion on the case).[124][125] Four were decided with unsigned opinions, two cases affirmed by an equally divided Court, and two cases were dismissed as improvidently granted. Justice Kagan recused herself from 26 of the cases due to her prior role as United States Solicitor General. Of the 80 cases, 38 (about 48%, the highest percentage since the October 2005 term) were decided unanimously (9–0 or 8–0), and 16 decisions were made by a 5–4 vote (about 20%, compared to 18% in the October 2009 term, and 29% in the October 2008 term).[126] However, in fourteen of the sixteen 5–4 decisions, the Court divided along the traditional ideological lines (with Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan on the liberal side, and Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito on the conservative, and Kennedy providing the “swing vote”). This represents 87% of those 16 cases, the highest rate in the past 10 years. The conservative bloc, joined by Kennedy, formed the majority in 63% of the 5–4 decisions, the highest cohesion rate of that bloc in the Roberts Court.[124][127][128][129][130]

In the October 2011 term, the Court decided 75 cases. Of these, 33 (44%) were decided unanimously, and 15 (20%, the same percentage as in the previous term) were decided by a vote of 5–4. Of the latter 15, the Court divided along the perceived ideological lines 10 times with Justice Kennedy joining the conservative justices (Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito) five times and with the liberal justices (Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan) five times.[123][131][132]

In the October 2012 term, the Court decided 78 cases. Five of them were decided in unsigned opinions. 38 out of the 78 decisions (representing 49% of the decisions) were unanimous in judgement, with 24 decisions being completely unanimous (a single opinion with every justice that participated joining it). This was the largest percentage of unanimous decisions that the Court had in ten years, since the October 2002 term (when 51% of the decisions handed down were unanimous). The Court split 5–4 in 23 cases (29% of the total); of these, 16 broke down along the traditionally perceived ideological lines, with Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito on one side, Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan on the other, and Justice Kennedy holding the balance. Of these 16 cases, Justice Kennedy sided with the conservatives on 10 cases, and with the liberals on 6. Three cases were decided by an interesting alignment of justices, with Chief Justice Roberts joined by Justices Kennedy, Thomas, Breyer and Alito in the majority, with Justices Scalia, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan in the minority. The greatest agreement between justices was between Ginsburg and Kagan, who agreed on 72 of the 75 (96%) cases, in which both voted; the lowest agreement between justices was between Ginsburg and Alito, who agreed only on 45 out of 77 (54%) cases, in which they both participated. Justice Kennedy was in the majority of 5–4 decisions on 20 out of 24 (83%) cases, and in 71 of 78 (91%) cases during the term, in line with his position as the “swing vote” of the Court.[133][134]


The present U.S. Supreme Court building as viewed from the front

From the 1860s until the 1930s, the court sat in the Old Senate Chamber of the U.S. Capitol.

The Supreme Court first met on February 1, 1790, at the Merchants’ Exchange Building in New York City. When Philadelphia became the capital, the Court met briefly in Independence Hall before settling in Old City Hall from 1791 until 1800. After the government moved to Washington, D.C., the Court occupied various spaces in the United States Capitol building until 1935, when it moved into its own purpose-built home. The four-story building was designed by Cass Gilbert in a classical style sympathetic to the surrounding buildings of the Capitol and Library of Congress, and is clad in marble. The building includes the courtroom, justices’ chambers, an extensive law library, various meeting spaces, and auxiliary services including a gymnasium. The Supreme Court building is within the ambit of the Architect of the Capitol, but maintains its own police force separate from the Capitol Police.[135]

Located across First Street from the United States Capitol at One First Street NE and Maryland Avenue,[136][137] the building is open to the public from 9 am to 4:30 pm weekdays but closed on weekends and holidays.[136] Visitors may not tour the actual courtroom unaccompanied. There is a cafeteria, a gift shop, exhibits, and a half-hour informational film.[135] When the Court is not in session, lectures about the courtroom are held hourly from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm and reservations are not necessary.[135] When the Court is in session the public may attend oral arguments, which are held twice each morning (and sometimes afternoons) on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays in two-week intervals from October through late April, with breaks during December and February. Visitors are seated on a first-come first-served basis. One estimate is there are about 250 seats available.[138] The number of open seats varies from case to case; for important cases, some visitors arrive the day before and wait through the night. From mid-May until the end of June, the court releases orders and opinions beginning at 10 am, and these 15 to 30-minute sessions are open to the public on a similar basis.[135] Supreme Court Police are available to answer questions.[136]


Inscription on the wall of the Supreme Court Building from Marbury v. Madison, in which Chief Justice John Marshall outlined the concept of judicial review

Congress is authorized by Article III of the federal Constitution to regulate the Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction. The Supreme Court has original and exclusive jurisdiction over cases between two or more states,[139] but may decline to hear such cases.[140] It also possesses original, but not exclusive, jurisdiction to hear “all actions or proceedings to which ambassadors, other public ministers, consuls, or vice consuls of foreign states are parties; all controversies between the United States and a State; and all actions or proceedings by a State against the citizens of another State or against aliens.”[141]

In 1906, the Court asserted its original jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for contempt of court in United States v. Shipp.[142] The resulting proceeding remains the only contempt proceeding and only criminal trial in the Court’s history.[143][144] The contempt proceeding arose from the lynching of Ed Johnson in ChattanoogaTennessee the evening after Justice John Marshall Harlan granted Johnson a stay of execution to allow his lawyers to file an appeal. Johnson was removed from his jail cell by a lynch mob—aided by the local sheriff who left the prison virtually unguarded—and hung from a bridge, after which a deputy sheriff pinned a note on Johnson’s body reading: “To Justice Harlan. Come get your nigger now.”[143] The local sheriff, John Shipp, cited the Supreme Court’s intervention as the rationale for the lynching. The Court appointed its deputy clerk as special master to preside over the trial in Chattanooga with closing arguments made in Washington before the Supreme Court justices, who found nine individuals guilty of contempt, sentencing three to 90 days in jail and the rest to 60 days in jail.[143][144][145]

In all other cases, however, the Court has only appellate jurisdiction, including the ability to issue writs of mandamus and writs of prohibition to lower courts. It considers cases based on its original jurisdiction very rarely; almost all cases are brought to the Supreme Court on appeal. In practice, the only original jurisdiction cases heard by the Court are disputes between two or more states.[citation needed]

The Court’s appellate jurisdiction consists of appeals from federal courts of appeal (through certioraricertiorari before judgment, and certified questions),[146] the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (through certiorari),[147] the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico (through certiorari),[148] the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands (through certiorari),[149] the District of Columbia Court of Appeals (through certiorari),[150] and “final judgments or decrees rendered by the highest court of a State in which a decision could be had” (through certiorari).[150] In the last case, an appeal may be made to the Supreme Court from a lower state court if the state’s highest court declined to hear an appeal or lacks jurisdiction to hear an appeal. For example, a decision rendered by one of the Florida District Courts of Appeal can be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court if (a) the Supreme Court of Florida declined to grant certiorari, e.g. Florida Star v. B. J. F., or (b) the district court of appeal issued a per curiam decision simply affirming the lower court’s decision without discussing the merits of the case, since the Supreme Court of Florida lacks jurisdiction to hear appeals of such decisions.[151] The power of the Supreme Court to consider appeals from state courts, rather than just federal courts, was created by the Judiciary Act of 1789 and upheld early in the Court’s history, by its rulings in Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee (1816) and Cohens v. Virginia (1821). The Supreme Court is the only federal court that has jurisdiction over direct appeals from state court decisions, although there are several devices that permit so-called “collateral review” of state cases. It has to be noted that this “collateral review” often only applies to individuals on death row and not through the regular judicial system.[152]

Since Article Three of the United States Constitution stipulates that federal courts may only entertain “cases” or “controversies”, the Supreme Court cannot decide cases that are moot and it does not render advisory opinions, as the supreme courts of some states may do. For example, in DeFunis v. Odegaard416 U.S. 312 (1974), the Court dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a law school affirmative action policy because the plaintiff student had graduated since he began the lawsuit, and a decision from the Court on his claim would not be able to redress any injury he had suffered. However, the Court recognizes some circumstances where it is appropriate to hear a case that is seemingly moot. If an issue is “capable of repetition yet evading review”, the Court will address it even though the party before the Court would not himself be made whole by a favorable result. In Roe v. Wade410 U.S. 113 (1973), and other abortion cases, the Court addresses the merits of claims pressed by pregnant women seeking abortions even if they are no longer pregnant because it takes longer than the typical human gestation period to appeal a case through the lower courts to the Supreme Court. Another mootness exception is voluntary cessation of unlawful conduct, in which the Court considers the probability of recurrence and plaintiff’s need for relief.[153]

Justices as circuit justices

The United States is divided into thirteen circuit courts of appeals, each of which is assigned a “circuit justice” from the Supreme Court. Although this concept has been in continuous existence throughout the history of the republic, its meaning has changed through time.

Under the Judiciary Act of 1789, each justice was required to “ride circuit”, or to travel within the assigned circuit and consider cases alongside local judges. This practice encountered opposition from many justices, who cited the difficulty of travel. Moreover, there was a potential for a conflict of interest on the Court if a justice had previously decided the same case while riding circuit. Circuit riding was abolished in 1891.

Today, the circuit justice for each circuit is responsible for dealing with certain types of applications that, under the Court’s rules, may be addressed by a single justice. These include applications for emergency stays (including stays of execution in death-penalty cases) and injunctions pursuant to the All Writs Act arising from cases within that circuit, as well as routine requests such as requests for extensions of time. In the past, circuit justices also sometimes ruled on motions for bail in criminal cases, writs of habeas corpus, and applications for writs of error granting permission to appeal. Ordinarily, a justice will resolve such an application by simply endorsing it “granted” or “denied” or entering a standard form of order. However, the justice may elect to write an opinion—referred to as an in-chambers opinion—in such matters if he or she wishes.

A circuit justice may sit as a judge on the Court of Appeals of that circuit, but over the past hundred years, this has rarely occurred. A circuit justice sitting with the Court of Appeals has seniority over the chief judge of the circuit.

The chief justice has traditionally been assigned to the District of Columbia Circuit, the Fourth Circuit (which includes Maryland and Virginia, the states surrounding the District of Columbia), and since it was established, the Federal Circuit. Each associate justice is assigned to one or two judicial circuits.

As of June 27, 2017, the allotment of the justices among the circuits is:[154]

Circuit Justice
District of Columbia Circuit Chief Justice Roberts
First Circuit Justice Breyer
Second Circuit Justice Ginsburg
Third Circuit Justice Alito
Fourth Circuit Chief Justice Roberts
Fifth Circuit Justice Alito
Sixth Circuit Justice Kagan
Seventh Circuit Justice Kagan
Eighth Circuit Justice Gorsuch
Ninth Circuit Justice Kennedy
Tenth Circuit Justice Sotomayor
Eleventh Circuit Justice Thomas
Federal Circuit Chief Justice Roberts

Four of the current justices are assigned to circuits on which they previously sat as circuit judges: Chief Justice Roberts (D.C. Circuit), Justice Breyer (First Circuit), Justice Alito (Third Circuit), and Justice Kennedy (Ninth Circuit).


A term of the Supreme Court commences on the first Monday of each October, and continues until June or early July of the following year. Each term consists of alternating periods of around two weeks known as “sittings” and “recesses.” Justices hear cases and deliver rulings during sittings; they discuss cases and write opinions during recesses.

Case selection

Nearly all cases come before the court by way of petitions for writs of certiorari, commonly referred to as “cert”. The Court may review any case in the federal courts of appeals “by writ of certiorari granted upon the petition of any party to any civil or criminal case.”[155]Court may only review “final judgments rendered by the highest court of a state in which a decision could be had” if those judgments involve a question of federal statutory or constitutional law.[156] The party that appealed to the Court is the petitioner and the non-mover is the respondent. All case names before the Court are styled petitioner v. respondent, regardless of which party initiated the lawsuit in the trial court. For example, criminal prosecutions are brought in the name of the state and against an individual, as in State of Arizona v. Ernesto Miranda. If the defendant is convicted, and his conviction then is affirmed on appeal in the state supreme court, when he petitions for cert the name of the case becomes Miranda v. Arizona.

There are situations where the Court has original jurisdiction, such as when two states have a dispute against each other, or when there is a dispute between the United States and a state. In such instances, a case is filed with the Supreme Court directly. Examples of such cases include United States v. Texas, a case to determine whether a parcel of land belonged to the United States or to Texas, and Virginia v. Tennessee, a case turning on whether an incorrectly drawn boundary between two states can be changed by a state court, and whether the setting of the correct boundary requires Congressional approval. Although it has not happened since 1794 in the case of Georgia v. Brailsford,[157] parties in an action at law in which the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction may request that a jurydetermine issues of fact.[158] Two other original jurisdiction cases involve colonial era borders and rights under navigable waters in New Jersey v. Delaware, and water rights between riparian states upstream of navigable waters in Kansas v. Colorado.

A cert petition is voted on at a session of the court called a conference. A conference is a private meeting of the nine Justices by themselves; the public and the Justices’ clerks are excluded. The rule of four permits four of the nine justices to grant a writ of certiorari. If it is granted, the case proceeds to the briefing stage; otherwise, the case ends. Except in death penalty cases and other cases in which the Court orders briefing from the respondent, the respondent may, but is not required to, file a response to the cert petition.

The court grants a petition for cert only for “compelling reasons”, spelled out in the court’s Rule 10. Such reasons include:

  • Resolving a conflict in the interpretation of a federal law or a provision of the federal Constitution
  • Correcting an egregious departure from the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings
  • Resolving an important question of federal law, or to expressly review a decision of a lower court that conflicts directly with a previous decision of the Court.

When a conflict of interpretations arises from differing interpretations of the same law or constitutional provision issued by different federal circuit courts of appeals, lawyers call this situation a “circuit split.” If the court votes to deny a cert petition, as it does in the vast majority of such petitions that come before it, it does so typically without comment. A denial of a cert petition is not a judgment on the merits of a case, and the decision of the lower court stands as the final ruling in the case.

To manage the high volume of cert petitions received by the Court each year (of the more than 7,000 petitions the Court receives each year, it will usually request briefing and hear oral argument in 100 or fewer), the Court employs an internal case management tool known as the “cert pool.” Currently, all justices except for Justices Alito and Gorsuch participate in the cert pool.[159][160][161] [162]

Oral argument

When the Court grants a cert petition, the case is set for oral argument. Both parties will file briefs on the merits of the case, as distinct from the reasons they may have argued for granting or denying the cert petition. With the consent of the parties or approval of the Court, amici curiae, or “friends of the court”, may also file briefs. The Court holds two-week oral argument sessions each month from October through April. Each side has thirty minutes to present its argument (the Court may choose to give more time, though this is rare),[163]and during that time, the Justices may interrupt the advocate and ask questions. The petitioner gives the first presentation, and may reserve some time to rebut the respondent’s arguments after the respondent has concluded. Amici curiae may also present oral argument on behalf of one party if that party agrees. The Court advises counsel to assume that the Justices are familiar with and have read the briefs filed in a case.

Supreme Court bar

In order to plead before the court, an attorney must first be admitted to the court’s bar. Approximately 4,000 lawyers join the bar each year. The bar contains an estimated 230,000 members. In reality, pleading is limited to several hundred attorneys. The rest join for a one-time fee of $200, earning the court about $750,000 annually. Attorneys can be admitted as either individuals or as groups. The group admission is held before the current justices of the Supreme Court, wherein the Chief Justice approves a motion to admit the new attorneys.[164] Lawyers commonly apply for the cosmetic value of a certificate to display in their office or on their resume. They also receive access to better seating if they wish to attend an oral argument.[165] Members of the Supreme Court Bar are also granted access to the collections of the Supreme Court Library.[166]


At the conclusion of oral argument, the case is submitted for decision. Cases are decided by majority vote of the Justices. It is the Court’s practice to issue decisions in all cases argued in a particular Term by the end of that Term. Within that Term, however, the Court is under no obligation to release a decision within any set time after oral argument. At the conclusion of oral argument, the Justices retire to another conference at which the preliminary votes are tallied, and the most senior Justice in the majority assigns the initial draft of the Court’s opinion to a Justice on his or her side. Drafts of the Court’s opinion, as well as any concurring or dissenting opinions,[167] circulate among the Justices until the Court is prepared to announce the judgment in a particular case. Since recording devices are banned inside the courtroom of the United States Supreme Court Building, the delivery of the decision to the media is done via paper copies and is known as the Running of the Interns.[168][169]

It is possible that, through recusals or vacancies, the Court divides evenly on a case. If that occurs, then the decision of the court below is affirmed, but does not establish binding precedent. In effect, it results in a return to the status quo ante. For a case to be heard, there must be a quorum of at least six justices.[170] If a quorum is not available to hear a case and a majority of qualified justices believes that the case cannot be heard and determined in the next term, then the judgment of the court below is affirmed as if the Court had been evenly divided. For cases brought to the Supreme Court by direct appeal from a United States District Court, the Chief Justice may order the case remanded to the appropriate U.S. Court of Appeals for a final decision there.[171] This has only occurred once in U.S. history, in the case of United States v. Alcoa (1945).[172]

Published opinions

The Court’s opinions are published in three stages. First, a slip opinion is made available on the Court’s web site and through other outlets. Next, several opinions and lists of the court’s orders are bound together in paperback form, called a preliminary print of United States Reports, the official series of books in which the final version of the Court’s opinions appears. About a year after the preliminary prints are issued, a final bound volume of U.S. Reports is issued. The individual volumes of U.S. Reports are numbered so that users may cite this set of reports—or a competing version published by another commercial legal publisher but containing parallel citations—to allow those who read their pleadings and other briefs to find the cases quickly and easily.

As of the beginning of October 2016 term, there are:

  • 564 final bound volumes of U.S. Reports, covering cases through the end of October 2010 term, which ended on September 28, 2011.[173]
  • 16 volumes’ worth of opinions available in slip opinion form (volumes 565–580)[174]

As of March 2012, the U.S. Reports have published a total of 30,161 Supreme Court opinions, covering the decisions handed down from February 1790 to March 2012.[citation needed] This figure does not reflect the number of cases the Court has taken up, as several cases can be addressed by a single opinion (see, for example, Parents v. Seattle, where Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education was also decided in the same opinion; by a similar logic, Miranda v. Arizona actually decided not only Miranda but also three other cases: Vignera v. New YorkWestover v. United States, and California v. Stewart). A more unusual example is The Telephone Cases, which comprise a single set of interlinked opinions that take up the entire 126th volume of the U.S. Reports.

Opinions are also collected and published in two unofficial, parallel reporters: Supreme Court Reporter, published by West (now a part of Thomson Reuters), and United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers’ Edition (simply known as Lawyers’ Edition), published by LexisNexis. In court documents, legal periodicals and other legal media, case citations generally contain cites from each of the three reporters; for example, citation to Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission is presented as Citizens United v. Federal Election Com’n, 585 U.S. 50, 130 S. Ct. 876, 175 L. Ed. 2d 753 (2010), with “S. Ct.” representing the Supreme Court Reporter, and “L. Ed.” representing the Lawyers’ Edition.[175][176]

Citations to published opinions

Lawyers use an abbreviated format to cite cases, in the form “vol U.S. pagepin (year)”, where vol is the volume number, page is the page number on which the opinion begins, and year is the year in which the case was decided. Optionally, pin is used to “pinpoint” to a specific page number within the opinion. For instance, the citation for Roe v. Wade is 410 U.S. 113 (1973), which means the case was decided in 1973 and appears on page 113 of volume 410 of U.S. Reports. For opinions or orders that have not yet been published in the preliminary print, the volume and page numbers may be replaced with “___”.

Institutional powers and constraints

The Federal court system and the judicial authority to interpret the Constitution received little attention in the debates over the drafting and ratification of the Constitution. The power of judicial review, in fact, is nowhere mentioned in it. Over the ensuing years, the question of whether the power of judicial review was even intended by the drafters of the Constitution was quickly frustrated by the lack of evidence bearing on the question either way.[177] Nevertheless, the power of judiciary to overturn laws and executive actions it determines are unlawful or unconstitutional is a well-established precedent. Many of the Founding Fathers accepted the notion of judicial review; in Federalist No. 78Alexander Hamilton wrote: “A Constitution is, in fact, and must be regarded by the judges, as a fundamental law. It therefore belongs to them to ascertain its meaning, as well as the meaning of any particular act proceeding from the legislative body. If there should happen to be an irreconcilable variance between the two, that which has the superior obligation and validity ought, of course, to be preferred; or, in other words, the Constitution ought to be preferred to the statute.”

The Supreme Court firmly established its power to declare laws unconstitutional in Marbury v. Madison (1803), consummating the American system of checks and balances. In explaining the power of judicial review, Chief Justice John Marshall stated that the authority to interpret the law was the particular province of the courts, part of the duty of the judicial department to say what the law is. His contention was not that the Court had privileged insight into constitutional requirements, but that it was the constitutional duty of the judiciary, as well as the other branches of government, to read and obey the dictates of the Constitution.[177]

Since the founding of the republic, there has been a tension between the practice of judicial review and the democratic ideals of egalitarianism, self-government, self-determination and freedom of conscience. At one pole are those who view the Federal Judiciary and especially the Supreme Court as being “the most separated and least checked of all branches of government.”[178] Indeed, federal judges and justices on the Supreme Court are not required to stand for election by virtue of their tenure “during good behavior”, and their pay may “not be diminished” while they hold their position (Section 1 of Article Three). Though subject to the process of impeachment, only one Justice has ever been impeached and no Supreme Court Justice has been removed from office. At the other pole are those who view the judiciary as the least dangerous branch, with little ability to resist the exhortations of the other branches of government.[177] The Supreme Court, it is noted, cannot directly enforce its rulings; instead, it relies on respect for the Constitution and for the law for adherence to its judgments. One notable instance of nonacquiescence came in 1832, when the state of Georgia ignored the Supreme Court’s decision in Worcester v. Georgia. President Andrew Jackson, who sided with the Georgia courts, is supposed to have remarked, “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!”;[179] however, this alleged quotation has been disputed. Some state governments in the South also resisted the desegregation of public schools after the 1954 judgment Brown v. Board of Education. More recently, many feared that President Nixon would refuse to comply with the Court’s order in United States v. Nixon (1974) to surrender the Watergate tapes. Nixon, however, ultimately complied with the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Supreme Court decisions can be (and have been) purposefully overturned by constitutional amendment, which has happened on five occasions:

When the Court rules on matters involving the interpretation of laws rather than of the Constitution, simple legislative action can reverse the decisions (for example, in 2009 Congress passed the Lilly Ledbetter act, superseding the limitations given in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. in 2007). Also, the Supreme Court is not immune from political and institutional consideration: lower federal courts and state courts sometimes resist doctrinal innovations, as do law enforcement officials.[180]

In addition, the other two branches can restrain the Court through other mechanisms. Congress can increase the number of justices, giving the President power to influence future decisions by appointments (as in Roosevelt’s Court Packing Plan discussed above). Congress can pass legislation that restricts the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and other federal courts over certain topics and cases: this is suggested by language in Section 2 of Article Three, where the appellate jurisdiction is granted “with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.” The Court sanctioned such congressional action in the Reconstruction case ex parte McCardle (1869), though it rejected Congress’ power to dictate how particular cases must be decided in United States v. Klein(1871).

On the other hand, through its power of judicial review, the Supreme Court has defined the scope and nature of the powers and separation between the legislative and executive branches of the federal government; for example, in United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp. (1936), Dames & Moore v. Regan (1981), and notably in Goldwater v. Carter (1979), (where it effectively gave the Presidency the power to terminate ratified treaties without the consent of Congress or the Senate). The Court’s decisions can also impose limitations on the scope of Executive authority, as in Humphrey’s Executor v. United States (1935), the Steel Seizure Case (1952), and United States v. Nixon (1974).

Law clerks

Each Supreme Court justice hires several law Clerks to review petitions for writ of certiorariresearch them, prepare bench memorandums, and draft opinions. Associate justices are allowed four clerks. The chief justice is allowed five clerks, but Chief Justice Rehnquist hired only three per year, and Chief Justice Roberts usually hires only four.[181] Generally, law clerks serve a term of one to two years.

The first law clerk was hired by Associate Justice Horace Gray in 1882.[181][182] Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. and Louis Brandeis were the first Supreme Court justices to use recent law school graduates as clerks, rather than hiring a “stenographer-secretary”.[183] Most law clerks are recent law school graduates.

The first female clerk was Lucile Lomen, hired in 1944 by Justice William O. Douglas.[181] The first African-American, William T. Coleman, Jr., was hired in 1948 by Justice Felix Frankfurter.[181] A disproportionately large number of law clerks have obtained law degrees from elite law schools, especially Harvard, Yale, the University of Chicago, Columbia, and Stanford. From 1882 to 1940, 62% of law clerks were graduates of Harvard Law School.[181] Those chosen to be Supreme Court law clerks usually have graduated in the top of their law school class and were often an editor of the law review or a member of the moot court board. By the mid-1970s, clerking previously for a judge in a federal court of appeals had also become a prerequisite to clerking for a Supreme Court justice.[184]

Seven Supreme Court justices previously clerked for other justices: Byron White for Frederick M. VinsonJohn Paul Stevens for Wiley RutledgeWilliam Rehnquist for Robert H. JacksonStephen Breyer for Arthur GoldbergJohn Roberts for William RehnquistElena Kagan for Thurgood Marshall and Neil Gorsuch for both Byron White and Anthony Kennedy. Gorsuch is the first justice to serve alongside a justice for whom he or she clerked.

Several current Supreme Court justices have also clerked in the federal courts of appeals: John Roberts for Judge Henry Friendly of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Justice Samuel Alito for Judge Leonard I. Garth of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third CircuitElena Kagan for Judge Abner J. Mikva of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and Neil Gorsuch for Judge David B. Sentelle of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Politicization of the Court

Clerks hired by each of the justices of the Supreme Court are often given considerable leeway in the opinions they draft. “Supreme Court clerkship appeared to be a nonpartisan institution from the 1940s into the 1980s”, according to a study published in 2009 by the law review of Vanderbilt University Law School.[185][186] “As law has moved closer to mere politics, political affiliations have naturally and predictably become proxies for the different political agendas that have been pressed in and through the courts”, former federal court of appeals judge J. Michael Luttig said.[185] David J. Garrow, professor of history at the University of Cambridge, stated that the Court had thus begun to mirror the political branches of government. “We are getting a composition of the clerk workforce that is getting to be like the House of Representatives”, Professor Garrow said. “Each side is putting forward only ideological purists.”[185]

According to the Vanderbilt Law Review study, this politicized hiring trend reinforces the impression that the Supreme Court is “a superlegislature responding to ideological arguments rather than a legal institution responding to concerns grounded in the rule of law.”[185] A poll conducted in June 2012 by The New York Times and CBS News showed just 44% of Americans approve of the job the Supreme Court is doing. Three-quarters said justices’ decisions are sometimes influenced by their political or personal views.[187]


The court has been the object of criticisms on a range of issues. Among them:

Judicial activism

The Supreme Court has been criticized for not keeping within Constitutional bounds by engaging in judicial activism, rather than merely interpreting law and exercising judicial restraint. Claims of judicial activism are not confined to any particular ideology.[188] An often cited example of conservative judicial activism is the 1905 decision in Lochner v. New York, which has been criticized by many prominent thinkers, including Robert Bork, Justice Antonin Scalia, and Chief Justice John Roberts,[188][189] and which was reversed in the 1930s.[190][191][192] An often cited example of liberal judicial activism is Roe v. Wade (1973), which legalized abortion in part on the basis of the “right to privacy” inferred from the Fourteenth Amendment, a reasoning that some critics argued was circuitous.[188] Legal scholars,[193][194] justices,[195] and presidential candidates[196] have criticized the Roe decision. The progressive Brown v. Board of Education decision has been criticized by conservatives such as Patrick Buchanan[197] and former presidential contender Barry Goldwater.[198] More recently, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was criticized for expanding upon the precedent in First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti (1978) that the First Amendment applies to corporations.[199] Lincoln warned, referring to the Dred Scott decision, that if government policy became “irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court…the people will have ceased to be their own rulers.”[200] Former justice Thurgood Marshall justified judicial activism with these words: “You do what you think is right and let the law catch up.”[201] During different historical periods, the Court has leaned in different directions.[202][203] Critics from both sides complain that activist-judges abandon the Constitution and substitute their own views instead.[204][205][206] Critics include writers such as Andrew Napolitano,[207] Phyllis Schlafly,[208] Mark R. Levin,[209] Mark I. Sutherland,[210] and James MacGregor Burns.[211][212] Past presidents from both parties have attacked judicial activism, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan.[213][214]Failed Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork wrote: “What judges have wrought is a coup d’état, – slow-moving and genteel, but a coup d’état nonetheless.”[215] Senator Al Franken quipped that when politicians talk about judicial activism, “their definition of an activist judge is one who votes differently than they would like.”[216] Brian Leiter wrote that “Given the complexity of the law and the complexity involved in saying what really happened in a given dispute, all judges, and especially those on the Supreme Court, often have to exercise a quasi-legislative power,” and “Supreme Court nominations are controversial because the court is a super-legislature, and because its moral and political judgments are controversial.”[217]

Failing to protect individual rights

Court decisions have been criticized for failing to protect individual rights: the Dred Scott (1857) decision upheld slavery;[218] Plessy v Ferguson (1896) upheld segregation under the doctrine of separate but equal;[219] Kelo v. City of New London (2005) was criticized by prominent politicians, including New Jersey governor Jon Corzine, as undermining property rights.[220][221] Some critics suggest the 2009 bench with a conservative majority has “become increasingly hostile to voters” by siding with Indiana’s voter identification laws which tend to “disenfranchise large numbers of people without driver’s licenses, especially poor and minority voters”, according to one report.[222] Senator Al Franken criticized the Court for “eroding individual rights.”[216] However, others argue that the Court is too protective of some individual rights, particularly those of people accused of crimes or in detention. For example, Chief Justice Warren Burger was an outspoken critic of the exclusionary rule, and Justice Scalia criticized the Court’s decision in Boumediene v. Bush for being too protective of the rights of Guantanamo detainees, on the grounds that habeas corpus was “limited” to sovereign territory.[223]

Supreme Court has too much power

This criticism is related to complaints about judicial activism. George Will wrote that the Court has an “increasingly central role in American governance.”[224] It was criticized for intervening in bankruptcy proceedings regarding ailing carmaker Chrysler Corporation in 2009.[225] A reporter wrote that “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg‘s intervention in the Chrysler bankruptcy” left open the “possibility of further judicial review” but argued overall that the intervention was a proper use of Supreme Court power to check the executive branch.[225]Warren E. Burger, before becoming Chief Justice, argued that since the Supreme Court has such “unreviewable power” it is likely to “self-indulge itself” and unlikely to “engage in dispassionate analysis”.[226] Larry Sabato wrote “excessive authority has accrued to the federal courts, especially the Supreme Court.”[227]

Courts are poor check on executive power

British constitutional scholar Adam Tomkins sees flaws in the American system of having courts (and specifically the Supreme Court) act as checks on the Executive and Legislative branches; he argues that because the courts must wait, sometimes for years, for cases to navigate their way through the system, their ability to restrain other branches is severely weakened.[228][229] In contrast, the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany for example, can directly declare a law unconstitutional upon request.

Federal versus state power

There has been debate throughout American history about the boundary between federal and state power. While Framers such as James Madison[230] and Alexander Hamilton[231] argued in The Federalist Papers that their then-proposed Constitution would not infringe on the power of state governments,[232][233][234][235] others argue that expansive federal power is good and consistent with the Framers’ wishes.[236] The Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution explicitly grants “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The Supreme Court has been criticized for giving the federal government too much power to interfere with state authority. One criticism is that it has allowed the federal government to misuse the Commerce Clause by upholding regulations and legislation which have little to do with interstate commerce, but that were enacted under the guise of regulating interstate commerce; and by voiding state legislation for allegedly interfering with interstate commerce. For example, the Commerce Clause was used by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the Endangered Species Act, thus protecting six endemic species of insect near Austin, Texas, despite the fact that the insects had no commercial value and did not travel across state lines; the Supreme Court let that ruling stand without comment in 2005.[237] Chief Justice John Marshall asserted Congress’s power over interstate commerce was “complete in itself, may be exercised to its utmost extent, and acknowledges no limitations, other than are prescribed in the Constitution.”[238] Justice Alito said congressional authority under the Commerce Clause is “quite broad.”[239] Modern day theorist Robert B. Reich suggests debate over the Commerce Clause continues today.[238] Advocates of states’ rights such as constitutional scholar Kevin Gutzman have also criticized the Court, saying it has misused the Fourteenth Amendment to undermine state authority. Justice Brandeis, in arguing for allowing the states to operate without federal interference, suggested that states should be laboratories of democracy.[240] One critic wrote “the great majority of Supreme Court rulings of unconstitutionality involve state, not federal, law.”[241] However, others see the Fourteenth Amendment as a positive force that extends “protection of those rights and guarantees to the state level.”[242]

Secretive proceedings

The Court has been criticized for keeping its deliberations hidden from public view.[243] According to a review of Jeffrey Toobin‘s expose The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court; “Its inner workings are difficult for reporters to cover, like a closed ‘cartel’, only revealing itself through ‘public events and printed releases, with nothing about its inner workings.’[244] The reviewer writes: “few (reporters) dig deeply into court affairs. It all works very neatly; the only ones hurt are the American people, who know little about nine individuals with enormous power over their lives.”[244] Larry Sabato complains about the Court’s “insularity.”[227] A Fairleigh Dickinson University poll conducted in 2010 found that 61% of American voters agreed that televising Court hearings would “be good for democracy”, and 50% of voters stated they would watch Court proceedings if they were televised.[245][246] In recent years, many justices have appeared on television, written books and made public statements to journalists.[247][248] In a 2009 interview on C-SPAN, journalists Joan Biskupic (of USA Today) and Lyle Denniston (of SCOTUSblog) argued that the Court is a “very open” institution with only the justices’ private conferences inaccessible to others.[247] In October 2010, the Court began the practice of posting on its website recordings and transcripts of oral arguments on the Friday after they occur.

Judicial interference in political disputes

Some Court decisions have been criticized for injecting the Court into the political arena, and deciding questions that are the purview of the other two branches of government. The Bush v. Gore decision, in which the Supreme Court intervened in the 2000 presidential election and effectively chose George W. Bush over Al Gore, has been criticized extensively, particularly by liberals.[244][249][250][251][252][253] Another example are Court decisions on apportionment and re-districting: in Baker v. Carr, the court decided it could rule on apportionment questions; Justice Frankfurter in a “scathing dissent” argued against the court wading into so-called political questions.[254]

Not choosing enough cases to review

Senator Arlen Specter said the Court should “decide more cases”.[216] On the other hand, although Justice Scalia acknowledged in a 2009 interview that the number of cases that the Court hears now is smaller today than when he first joined the Supreme Court, he also stated that he has not changed his standards for deciding whether to review a case, nor does he believe his colleagues have changed their standards. He attributed the high volume of cases in the late 1980s, at least in part, to an earlier flurry of new federal legislation that was making its way through the courts.[247]

Lifetime tenure

Critic Larry Sabato wrote: “The insularity of lifetime tenure, combined with the appointments of relatively young attorneys who give long service on the bench, produces senior judges representing the views of past generations better than views of the current day.”[227]Sanford Levinson has been critical of justices who stayed in office despite medical deterioration based on longevity.[255] James MacGregor Burns stated lifelong tenure has “produced a critical time lag, with the Supreme Court institutionally almost always behind the times.”[211] Proposals to solve these problems include term limits for justices, as proposed by Levinson[256] and Sabato[227][257] as well as a mandatory retirement age proposed by Richard Epstein,[258] among others.[259] However, others suggest lifetime tenure brings substantial benefits, such as impartiality and freedom from political pressure. Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 78 wrote “nothing can contribute so much to its firmness and independence as permanency in office.”[260]

Accepting gifts

The 21st century has seen increased scrutiny of justices accepting expensive gifts and travel. All of the members of the Roberts Court have accepted travel or gifts. Justice Scalia and others took dozens of expensive trips to exotic locations paid for by private donors.[261]Private events sponsored by partisan groups that are attended by both the justices and those who have an interest in their decisions have raised concerns about access and inappropriate communications.[262] Stephen Spaulding, the legal director at Common Cause, said: “There are fair questions raised by some of these trips about their commitment to being impartial.”[261]

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The Pronk Pops Show 1089, June 7, 2018, Story 1: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on U.S,/North Korea Upcoming Summit in Singapore — Videos — Story 2: ZTE and Commerce Department Strike Deal — Videos — Story 3: Trump Lawyers Demand Mueller Show Us Your Authorization Letter — American People vs. Political Elitist Establishment — No One Is Above The Law — Trump Waiting For Outcome of November 2018 Elections To Fire Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Accept Attorney General Jeff Sessions Resignation — Videos

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Pompeo flatly rejected the claim during a rare appearance before White House press, saying, 'Rudy doesn't speak for the administration when it comes to this negotiation, this type of issues'Image result for ZTE and Commerce Department Strike Deal

See the source image

See the source image

Story 1: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on U.S,/North Korea Upcoming Summit in Singapore — Videos —


Press Briefing with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo


‘Rudy doesn’t speak for the administration’: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo chides Giuliani for claim that Kim Jong-un ‘got on his hands and knees and begged’ for a nuclear summit

  • Giuliani praised Trump’s threat to cancel the nuclear summit with North Korea
  • President’s lawyer said Kim Jong Un ‘got on his hands and knees and begged’ for the summit to go ahead, which is ‘exactly where you want him’
  • Giuliani said the move proves that Trump is ‘stronger’ and that Kim accepts it
  • North Korea previously threatened to walk away from talks if the US attempted to ‘drive us into a corner’ and force the country to give up its nukes


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani in his place on Thursday after the Trump friend made a crude joke about North Korea’s supreme leader.

Giuliani said Kim Jong-un ‘got on his hands and knees and begged’ for the summit with President Trump to go ahead after the U.S. leader cancelled it.

The decision to call the summit off – before putting it back on – humbled Kim, the president’s lawyer said. He added: ‘That is exactly where you want him.’

Pompeo flatly rejected the claim during a rare appearance before White House press, saying, ‘We’re moving forward. We’re focused on the important things. I know Rudy. Uh, but Rudy doesn’t speak for the administration when it comes to this negotiation, this type of issues.’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani in his place on Thursday after the Trump friend made a crude joke about North Korea's supreme leader 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani in his place on Thursday after the Trump friend made a crude joke about North Korea’s supreme leader

Pompeo flatly rejected the claim during a rare appearance before White House press, saying, 'Rudy doesn't speak for the administration when it comes to this negotiation, this type of issues'

Pompeo flatly rejected the claim during a rare appearance before White House press, saying, ‘Rudy doesn’t speak for the administration when it comes to this negotiation, this type of issues’

Trump is scheduled to meet with Kim on June 12 in Singapore to discuss nuclear disarmament on the Korean Peninsula

Trump is scheduled to meet with Kim on June 12 in Singapore to discuss nuclear disarmament on the Korean Peninsula

Giuliani made the comments while at a conference in Israel, and later stood by them when questioned by the Associated Press.

However, he did add that he was sharing a personal opinion and is not part of Trump’s foreign policy team.

Giulani had said the episode proves Trump ‘is the stronger figure… and you’re not going to have useful negotiations unless [Kim] accepts that’ in his original remarks.

Pompeo took a slap at Giuliani for the remark but also said: ‘I took it as it being a small room and and not being serious about the comments.

‘I think it was a bit in jest,’ said the secretary of state and former Member of Congress.

In response to another question from a reporter, Pompeo refused to say which leader has the ‘upper hand’ heading into the summit.

‘We know this has been a long, intractable challenge. It’s gone on for decades. The president has said repeatedly: Previous administrations weren’t prepared to do what we’ve done already.

‘It’s not about who has the upper hand,’ he stated. ‘It’s about trying to find a way where the two sides can come to an understanding, where we can get concrete steps, not just words, that resolve this challenge.’

Trump is scheduled to meet with Kim on June 12 in Singapore to discuss nuclear disarmament on the Korean Peninsula.

The president surprised allies and enemies alike when he called off the summit two weeks ago, saying he could not tolerate North Korea’s ‘tremendous anger and open hostility’ towards his administration.

North Korea had previously blasted National Security Adviser John Bolton and Vice President Mike Pence for suggesting the country follow the ‘Libya model’ of disarmament.

Following Trump’s announcement, the Kim regime said it was still willing ‘to sit down face-to-face with the U.S. and resolve issues anytime and in any format.’

Trump officially said last Friday that it would go ahead as planned.

Giuliani’s statement threatened to derail talks once again, as the North Korean regime is not known for taking insults to its ‘supreme leader’ lightly.

Before threatening to walk away from talks the first time, North Korea had bemoaned American attempts to ‘drive us into a corner’ and force disarmament.

As of Thursday afternoon, however, talks were a go, with a caveat from President Trump that they could always be called off.

‘Things are moving along well. It looks like the meeting is set. The summit is all ready to go, subject always to change. You never know in this world. Subject to change. But the summit is all ready to go,’ the president said.


Story 2: ZTE and Commerce Department Strike Deal — Trump Bad Deal For Security Reasons — Videos —

Trump admin. reaches deal with ZTE Corp.

US and China’s ZTE reach a deal

Trump administration reaches deal with China’s ZTE

ZTE to Pay $1 Billion Fine Over Iran, North Korea Sanctions

ZTE has been a criminial company for many years: Gasparino

Rubio, in challenge to Trump, suggests Congress will act against ZTE

Rubio on whether Trump has reversed course on China


US, China reach $1.4 bn ZTE deal amid signs of progress on trade

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who announced a deal to ease sanctions on Chinese firm ZTE, denies any link between that deal and wider trade talks

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who announced a deal to ease sanctions on Chinese firm ZTE, denies any link between that deal and wider trade talks

Washington and Beijing have reached a deal to ease sanctions that brought Chinese smartphone maker ZTE to the brink of collapse, the US said Thursday — a possible indication of progress in fraught trade talks between the world’s two largest economies.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who announced the deal, reiterated a denial that there was any connection between the two.

But the ZTE settlement comes just days after Beijing reportedly offered to ramp up purchases of American goods to help cut the yawning trade imbalance with the United States — moving part-way towards meeting a major demand of US President Donald Trump.

The defusing of tensions with Beijing is good news for Trump, who is preparing to face outraged allies at this week’s Group of Seven summit in Canada, where Europe and Canada will voice their strenuous objections to US steel and metal tariffs.

Not all was rosy — US lawmakers threatened legal action against the ZTE deal, saying the telecoms firm posed an “espionage risk” to the United States in addition to having violated its sanctions on Iran and North Korea.

Ross told CNBC on Thursday the deal was tough and would keep ZTE on a short leash.

“This is a pretty strict settlement — the strictest and largest settlement fine that has ever been brought by the Commerce Department against any violator of export controls,” he said.

In April, Washington banned the sale of crucial US components to the company after finding it had repeatedly lied and failed to take action against workers responsible for the sanctions violations.

The company was fined $1.2 billion last year. But under the deal announced Thursday, ZTE will pay an additional $1 billion penalty and put another $400 million in escrow to cover possible future violations.

ZTE will also be required to change its entire board of directors and hire outside legal compliance specialists who will report to the Commerce Department for 10 years.

In return, Washington will strike the company from a sanctions list.

– Another shoe to drop? –

The deal with ZTE, whose logo is shown on a building in Beijing, comes as the US and China engage in separate and fraught trade talks

The deal with ZTE, whose logo is shown on a building in Beijing, comes as the US and China engage in separate and fraught trade talks

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers threatened to take congressional action that could block or alter the deal, calling ZTE a threat to US national security.

“There is absolutely no good reason that ZTE should get a second chance and this decision marks a 180-degree turn away from the president’s promise to be tough on China,” Chuck Schumer, the Senate’s top Democrat, said in a statement.

“It’s up to Congress now to act to reverse the deal.”

Republican Senator Marco Rubio said: “After today’s decision to give #ZTE a pass, we have introduced a bipartisan amendment to restore penalties on ZTE.”

The clash raised the prospect that Trump’s own Republican party could work to undermine key planks of his trade agenda.

Despite the settlement, there was no sign Trump had veered from plans this month to impose as much as $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports to punish Beijing for its alleged theft of American technology and know-how.

Washington and Beijing have pursued a halting series of trade talks, with Trump demanding a $200 billion reduction in its trade deficit with China.

Ross insisted the ZTE deal was an enforcement matter unrelated to the trade talks, which he has led.

“It happens that I have been involved with the other negotiations with China. But that’s quite separate,” he told CNBC.

But Ross’s denial appeared to conflict with Trump’s own public statements.

In a tweet posted May 14, Trump said the new ZTE deal was “reflective of the larger trade deal we are negotiating with China.”

US officials say China last weekend offered to buy an additional $70 billion in US goods to cut the trade deficit — on condition that Trump call off the planned tech-sector tariffs.

William Reinsch, a trade expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the ZTE offer suggested Beijing had made concessions to Trump on trade but it remained unclear whether these were of equal value.

Beijing’s reported offer to buy $70 billion in goods was “peanuts” compared to the $200 billion cut in the US trade deficit with China that Trump demanded, Reinsch told AFP.

“It’s hard to believe there’s no linkage but Ross clearly left Beijing without anything last weekend,” he said.

“I think there’s another shoe to drop.”


US strikes ZTE deal, commerce secretary announces, but congressional critics object

The Trump administration has struck a “definitive” deal with Chinese tech giant ZTE, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced Thursday, over strong congressional objections.

“At about 6:00 A.M. this morning, we executed a definitive agreement with ZTE and that brings, that brings to a conclusion this phase of the developing with them,” Ross said in an interview with CNBC.

According to the Commerce Department, ZTE will be required to pay a $1 billion fine, is replacing its management, and will submit to oversight from the U.S. Commerce Department in order to be relieved of the crippling punishments that had been slapped on the company for its previous evasion of sanctions placed on North Korea and Iran.

“We are literally embedding a compliance department of our choosing into the company to monitor it going forward they will pay for those people but the people will report to the new chairman because we are also having them replace the entire management and the entire board,” Ross said.

Ross had been instructed to look into easing restrictions on ZTE by President Trump, who had received a personal request from Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Ross touted the deal as a victory, saying the administration’s previous strict actions accomplished its goal in that it “brought … a $17 billion company to its knees more or less put them out of business” and that the new agreement is “something I think even more effective.”

He also warned that if the company is caught not complying to the letter of the new agreement, strict punishment will snap into place.

“Now, if they do violate it again, in addition to the billion dollars they’re paying us right up front, we have them put $400 million in escrow so the total deal is a billion 400 million,” Ross said.

Many in Congress, both Republicans and Democrats have strongly opposed how the president was handling the ZTE matter — and blasted the latest twist.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted the “deal with ZTE proves the president just shoots blanks.”

And a leading GOP critic, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted the the deal “will do nothing to keep us safe from coporate and national security espionage.”


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Special Counsel investigation (2017–present)

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The 2017–present Special Counsel investigation is an ongoing United States law enforcement investigation of Donald Trump‘s 2016 presidential campaign and any Russian (or other foreign) interference in the election, including exploring any possible links or coordination between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government, “and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” The scope of the investigation reportedly also includes potential obstruction of justice by President Trump and others.[1] Since May 2017, the investigation has been led by a United States Special CounselRobert Mueller, a former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Mueller’s investigation took over several FBI investigations including those involving former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, both of which started before the 2016 presidential election.[2] Manafort has been indicted on various tax, financial, and bank fraud crimes in October 2017 and faces trial in September 2018.[3] Flynn pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI and became a cooperating witness in December 2017.[4] Mueller further secured guilty pleas from Manafort’s business partner Rick Gates, former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, Dutch attorney Alex van der Zwaan,[5] and Richard Pinedo,[6]all of who became cooperating witnesses to the probe. In February 2018, Mueller indicted 13 Russian citizens and 3 Russian entities, most notably the Internet Research Agency.[7]

While initially enjoying bipartisan support,[8] the special counsel investigation became subject to fierce criticism by President Trump and his surrogates in the conservative media within months, eventually peddling a “deep state” conspiracy theory.[9] Several allegations of investigators’ misconduct have been raised and were almost immediately debunked, including supposed unlawful wire-tapping of Trump Tower during the campaign,[10][11] unmasking of Trump associates on intelligence intercepts,[12] FISA court abuse against Carter Page detailed in the Nunes memo,[13][14] and the alleged installation of a spy in the Trump campaign.[15][16]

Origin and powers

A January 2017 assessment by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) stated that Russian leadership favored presidential candidate Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, and that Russian president Vladimir Putin personally ordered an “influence campaign” to harm Clinton’s electoral chances and “undermine public faith in the US democratic process.”[17]:7 It is alleged that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election in order to increase political instability in the United States and to damage Hillary Clinton‘s presidential campaign by bolstering the candidacies of Donald TrumpBernie Sanders and Jill Stein.[18][19]

The Deputy Attorney GeneralRod Rosenstein, appointed Mueller, a former Director of the FBI, to serve as Special Counsel for the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) in May 2017. The reference for the investigation is to examine Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, including exploring any links or coordination between Donald Trump‘s 2016 presidential campaign and the Russian government, “and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation”,[20] and any other matters within the scope of 28 CFR 600.4 – Jurisdiction.[21]

The appointment followed a series of events that included President Donald Trump‘s firing of FBI director James Comey and Comey’s allegation that Trump asked him to drop an FBI investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.[22]

Rosenstein, in his role as Acting Attorney General due to the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has authority over the use of DOJ resources by Mueller and the investigation. In an interview with the Associated Press, Rosenstein said he would recuse himself from supervision of Mueller if he himself were to become a subject in the investigation due to his role in the dismissal of Comey.[23] If Rosenstein were to recuse himself, his duties in this matter would have been assumed by the Justice Department’s third-in-command, Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, who has since herself stepped down.[24] So long as no successor fills that office, Solicitor General Noel Francisco assumes the authorities of Associate Attorney General.[25]

As special counsel, Mueller has the power to issue subpoenas,[26] hire staff members, request funding, and prosecute federal crimes in connection with the election interference.[27] According to Rudy Giuliani, who is leading President Trump’s legal team, Mueller’s team told him that they cannot indict a sitting president; they can only write a report at the conclusion of the investigation. The decision aligns with Justice Department guidelines that say a sitting president cannot be indicted. Giuliani also added that he believes the Constitutionprevents indictment of a sitting president.[28] However, this remains an unsettled matter of Constitutional law.[29][30][31][32]

Grand juries

On August 3, 2017, Mueller empaneled a grand jury in Washington, DC, as part of his investigation. The grand jury has the power to subpoena documents, require witnesses to testify under oath, and issue indictments for targets of criminal charges if probable cause is found.

The Washington grand jury is separate from an earlier Virginia grand jury investigating Michael Flynn; the Flynn case has been absorbed into Mueller’s overall investigation.[33]

Grand jury testimony

The grand jury has issued subpoenas to those involved in the Trump campaign–Russian meeting held on June 9, 2016, at Trump Tower, which was also the location of Trump’s presidential campaign headquarters.[34]

NBC News reported on August 25, 2017, that “in recent days” the grand jury subpoenaed witness testimony from the executives of six public relations firms, who worked with Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on lobbying efforts in Ukraine.[41]

On January 16, 2018, The New York Times reported that Steve Bannon was subpoenaed by Mueller to testify before the standing grand jury in Washington, DC.[42] Reuters and CNN reported the next day that Bannon had struck a deal with Mueller’s team to be interviewed by prosecutors instead of testifying before the grand jury.[43][44] On February 15, 2018, multiple sources reported that those interviews had taken place over multiple days that week.[45][46][47]

Legal teams

Mueller and investigation team

Special Counsel and former FBI Director Robert Mueller

Upon his appointment as special counsel, Mueller resigned his position at the Washington office of law firm WilmerHale, along with two colleagues, Aaron Zebley and James L. Quarles III.[48][49] On May 23, 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts announced they had declared Mueller ethically able to function as special counsel.[50]

Politico proposed that the “ideal team” would likely have six to eight prosecutors, along with administrative assistants and experts in areas such as money laundering or interpreting tax returns.[51] Mueller had hired 16 lawyers,[52] and had a total staff of over three dozen, including investigators and other non-attorneys by August 2017.[53] He also has an active role in managing the inquiry.[54]

Members of the team include:

Mueller has also added unidentified agents of the IRS Criminal Investigations Division to his team. “This unit—known as CI—is one of the federal government’s most tight-knit, specialized, and secretive investigative entities. Its 2,500 agents focus exclusively on financial crime, including tax evasion and money laundering. A former colleague of Mueller’s said he always liked working with IRS’ special agents, especially when he was a U.S. Attorney.”[76]

Mueller’s team is also working with the Attorney General of New York, on its investigation into Manafort’s financial transactions.[77]

Though Trump and others have criticized the fact that many members of Mueller’s team have had some affiliation with the Democratic Party, federal regulations prohibit Mueller from considering political affiliation in hiring decisions.[78] Republican members of the House of Representatives have accused the investigation of being manned by personnel with an “anti-Trump” bias who “let Clinton off easy last year”, in reference to the FBI’s investigation of Hilary Clinton’s email server.[79]

Between May and September 2017, the federal government spent $6.7 million on the investigation. Nearly half of that amount was spent by Mueller.[80]

Trump’s legal team

Members of President Trump’s legal team include:[81]

Representing the White House

Representing Trump personally

Former members include:

  • Michael Bowe: an attorney at Marc Kasowitz’s firm[49]
  • Mark Corallo, spokesman for Kasowitz and the White House defense; resigned on July 20, 2017.[91]
  • John M. Dowd, former leader of the team;[92][93] joined in June 2017; resigned on March 22, 2018.[94]
  • Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s personal attorney and the first member of the team; resigned on July 20, 2017.[95][91]
  • Ty Cobb: a white-collar crime lawyer;[91][92] was on White House staff representing the office of the presidency and was not on Trump’s personal legal team.[96] He joined in June 2017[81] and announced on May 2, 2018 that he would leave the team with the appointment of Emmet Flood to replace him.[82] Cobb’s last day was May 18, 2018.

Prominent lawyers and law firms that have declined offers to join Trump’s legal team:

In an article describing the “unique circumstance” of Rudy Giuliani‘s unpaid leave of absence from Greenberg Traurig while representing Trump, possibly because of “potential conflicts”, Christine Simmons referred to how some other law firms may have turned down representing Trump in the Russia case due to “public relations headaches or business and recruitment concerns”.[86] Trump has called such views a “Fake News narrative”,[97][98] but, according to Ryan Lovelace, “many Washington defense attorneys aren’t so sure”.[98]

A number of prominent lawyers and law firms are known to have declined offers to join Trump’s legal team,[99][100] including Robert S. Bennett of Hogan Lovells,[101] Paul Clement and Mark Filip, both with Kirkland & Ellis,[102][102] Robert Giuffra Jr. of Sullivan & Cromwell,[101] Theodore B. Olson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher,[103] and Brendan V. Sullivan Jr. of Williams & Connolly.[102] Other firms with attorneys who have declined to represent Trump include Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan,[104] Steptoe & Johnson,[104] and Winston & Strawn.[105] Former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova and his wife Victoria Toensing were also briefly slated to join Trump’s legal team, but withdrew their services from Trump in March 2018, citing conflicts of interest.[106]


James Comey, whose assertions regarding statements made by Trump are central to the investigation, has a legal team including former independent counsel Patrick Fitzgerald.[107]


Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, serving as Acting Attorney General due to the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, authorized Mueller to investigate and prosecute “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” as well as “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation” and any other matters within the scope of 28 CFR 600.4 – Jurisdiction.[21][108]

Russian election interference

Internet Research Agency indictment

In July 2016, the FBI began looking into Russian interference, as well as the question of whether members of the Trump campaign might have coordinated or cooperated with Russia’s activities.[109] Those investigations became part of the Special Counsel’s portfolio.[110]

U.S. intelligence agencies in January 2017 concluded “with high confidence” that the Russian government interfered in the election by hacking into the computer servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the personal Gmail account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and forwarded their contents to WikiLeaks,[111][112][113] as well as by disseminating fake news promoted on social media,[114] and by penetrating, or trying to penetrate, the election systems and databases of multiple U.S. states.[115] NBC News reported on March 1, 2018, that Mueller is assembling a case for criminal charges against Russians who carried out the hacking and leaking.[116]

Russia’s influence on U.S. voters through social media is a primary focus of the Mueller investigation.[117] Mueller used a search warrant to obtain detailed information about Russian ad purchases on Facebook. According to a former federal prosecutor, the warrant means that a judge was convinced that foreigners had illegally contributed to influencing a US election via Facebook ads.[118]

In a February 13, 2018, testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, the heads of the top six American intelligence agencies unanimously reaffirmed Russian interference. Three sources familiar with Trump’s thinking told CNN he remains unconvinced that Russia interfered because it suggests he didn’t win the election solely on his own merits.[119]

Links between Trump associates and Russian officials

As early as spring 2015, US intelligence agencies started overhearing conversations in which Russian government officials, some within the Kremlin, discussed associates of Trump, then a presidential candidate.[120][121]

The New York Times reported on February 14, 2017, that phone records and communications intercepts showed that Trump associates—including members of the Trump campaign—had “repeated contacts” with senior Russian intelligence officials during the 2016 campaign. Paul Manafort was the only Trump associate who was specifically identified as participating in these communications.[122] In addition, some senior Trump associates, including Kushner, Trump Jr., Sessions, Flynn and Manafort, had direct contacts with Russian officials during 2016. Michael Flynn was forced to resign as National Security Advisor on February 13, 2017, after it was revealed that on December 29, 2016, the day that Obama announced sanctions against Russia, Flynn had discussed the sanctions with Russian ambassador Kislyak. Flynn had earlier acknowledged speaking to Kislyak but denied discussing the sanctions.[123][124] Also in December 2016, Flynn and presidential advisor Jared Kushner met with Kislyak hoping to set up a direct, secure line of communication with Russian officials that American intelligence agencies would be unaware of.[125][126] Jared Kushner also met with Sergei Gorkov, the head of the Russian state-owned bank Vnesheconombank (VEB), which has been subject to U.S. economic sanctions since July 2014.[127][128] Flynn and Kushner failed to report these meetings on their security clearance forms.[129][128]

The Trump Organization pursued a luxury hotel and condominium project in Moscow—dubbed the Trump World Tower Moscow—during the early months of the Trump presidential campaign. This project was facilitated by Michael Cohen, then an attorney for the Trump Organization and since January 2017 Trump’s personal attorney. Trump signed a nonbinding “letter of intent” dated October 13, 2015, to proceed with the project.[130] The letter, also signed by Russian investor Andrei Rozov, was forwarded to Cohen by Russian-American real estate developer Felix Sater, who had worked with The Trump Organization on prior deals, including Trump SoHo and Trump International Hotel & Residence. Sater has also been involved in criminal activities involving organized crime and has served as an informant to the FBI relating to those activities.[131] He boasted to Cohen about his connections to Vladimir Putin, saying in an email to Cohen on November 13, 2015, “Buddy our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putins [sic] team to buy in on this. I will manage this process.” He also asserted that he had secured financing for the project through the Russian state-owned VTB Bank, which was under sanctions by the United States government. Cohen emailed Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov in January 2016 to request assistance in advancing the project and later stated he didn’t recall receiving a response. The deal was abandoned that month. Buzzfeed reported on March 12, 2018, that Mueller’s investigators had questioned Sater[132] and on April 13, 2018, reported that a former Russian spy had helped secure financing for the project.[133] In 2010 Sater was provided business cards describing himself as “Senior Advisor to Donald Trump” with an email address at[134] In a 2013 sworn affidavit, Trump said “If [Sater] were sitting in the room right now, I really wouldn’t know what he looked like,”[135] and in 2015 he stated “Felix Sater, boy, I have to even think about it. I’m not that familiar with him.”[136]

The Trump team issued multiple denials of any contacts between Trump associates and Russia, but many of those denials turned out to be false.[137][138] On December 4, 2017, prosecutors filed that Paul Manafort worked on an op-ed with a Russian intelligence official while out on bail, in a court filing requesting that the judge revoke Manafort’s bond agreement.[139]

The New York Times reported on March 28, 2018, that former Trump campaign deputy chairman Rick Gates in October/September 2016 frequently communicated with a man the FBI believes is a former agent of GRU, Russia’s largest foreign intelligence agency, and who had maintained active links with Russian intelligence during these communications. This disclosure came in a court sentencing document for Alex van der Zwaan submitted by Robert Mueller. Identified in the document as “Person A,” The Times reported that the man matched the description of Konstantin Kilimnik who for years was Paul Manafort‘s “right-hand man” in Ukraine. Gates reportedly told an associate that he knew “Person A” was a former GRU agent, although Manafort told associates he was not aware of such a connection.[140]

Reuters reported on March 29, 2018, that the special counsel is examining an event at the 2016 Republican National Convention at which Jeff Sessions had conversations with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak. Investigators are also looking into how and why language deemed hostile to Russia was removed from the Republican party’s platform document during the convention. Mueller’s office is also inquiring whether Sessions had private conversations with Kislyak at a Trump speech at the Mayflower Hotel in April 2016.[141] Some have noted that Kislyak was a familiar presence in Washington social circles, routinely meeting with members of Congress and making appearances at various conferences.

The Steele dossier asserted that Trump attorney Michael Cohen in August 2016 had a clandestine meeting with Kremlin representatives in Prague. Cohen has stated he has never been to Prague, inviting investigators to examine his passport.[142] McClatchy reported on April 13, 2018, that Mueller’s investigators have evidence that in August or early September 2016 Cohen traveled to Prague by way of Germany. Such a trip would not have required a passport as Germany and the Czech Republic are in the Schengen Area which has abolished passport and all other types of border control at their mutual borders.[143] On April 14, 2018, Cohen again denied he had ever been to Prague.[144]

Alleged collusion between Trump campaign and Russian agents

Mueller is looking into the meeting on June 9, 2016, in Trump Tower in New York City between three senior members of Trump’s presidential campaign—Kushner, Manafort, and Donald Trump Jr.—and at least five other people, including Russian lawyer Natalia VeselnitskayaRinat Akhmetshin, a lobbyist and former Soviet army officer who met senior Trump campaign aides, Ike Kaveladze, British publicist Rob Goldstone, and translator Anatoli Samochornov.[145][146] Goldstone had suggested the meeting to Trump Jr., and it was arranged in a series of emails later made public. In one email exchange of June 3, 2016, Goldstone wrote Trump Jr. that Aras Agalarov “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,” adding that it was “very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump” that he could send to Donald Trump’s assistant Rhona Graff. Trump Jr. responded minutes later “Thanks Rob I appreciate that” and “if it’s what you say I love it.”[147] Trump Jr. initially told the press that the meeting was held to discuss adoptions of Russian children by Americans, but after contrary media reports he added that he agreed to the meeting with the understanding that he would receive information damaging to Hillary Clinton.[148] Mueller’s team is investigating the emails and the meeting,[145] and whether President Trump later tried to hide the meeting’s purpose.[149] On July 18, 2017, Kaveladze’s attorney said that Mueller’s investigators were seeking information about the Russian meeting in June 2016 from his client,[150] and on July 21, Mueller asked the White House to preserve all documents related to the Russian meeting.[151] It has been reported that Manafort had made notes during the Russian meeting.[152]

CNN reported on March 23, 2017 that the FBI was examining “human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings” indicating that Trump associates may have coordinated with “suspected Russian operatives” to release information damaging to the Hillary Clinton campaign.[153]

By August 3, 2017, Mueller had impaneled a grand jury in the District of Columbia that issued subpoenas concerning the meeting.[154] The Financial Times reported on August 31 that Akhmetshin had given sworn testimony to Mueller’s grand jury.[155]

CNN reported on September 19, 2017 that Manafort had been a target of a FISA wiretap both before and after the 2016 election, extending into early 2017. Some of the intercepted communications caused concerns among investigators that Manafort had solicited assistance from Russians for the campaign, although the evidence was reportedly inconclusive. The wiretaps began sometime after Manafort became a subject of an FBI investigation into his business practices in 2014. The Mueller investigation was provided details of these intercepts.[156]

Mueller is investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Republican activist Peter W. Smith, who stated that he tried to obtain Hillary Clinton’s emails from Russian hackers, and that he was acting on behalf of Michael Flynn and other senior Trump campaign members. Trump campaign officials have denied that Smith was working with them.[157] In fall 2017, Mueller’s team interviewed former Government Communications Headquarters cybersecurity researcher Matt Tait, who had been approached by Smith to verify the authenticity of emails allegedly hacked from Clinton’s private email server.[158] Tait reportedly told House Intelligence Committee investigators in October 2017 that he believed Smith had ties to members of Trump’s inner circle—including Flynn, Steve Bannon, and Kellyanne Conway—and may have been helping build opposition research for the Trump campaign.[159] Smith committed suicide in May 2017, several days after talking to The Wall Street Journal about his alleged efforts. Aged 81 and reportedly in failing health, he left a carefully prepared file of documents, including a statement police called a suicide note.[160] An attorney for Smith’s estate said in October 2017 that some of Smith’s documents had been turned over to the Senate Intelligence Committee.[161]

In December 2017, it was reported that the Mueller investigation was examining whether the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, who worked together on the digital arm of Trump’s campaign, provided assistance to Russian trolls attempting to influence voters.[162][163] Yahoo News reported that Mueller’s team is examining whether the joint RNC–Trump campaign data operation—which was directed on Trump’s side by Brad Parscale and managed by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner—was related to the activities of Russian trolls and bots aimed at influencing the American electorate.[164] Also that month, the Democratic ranking members of the House Oversight and Judiciary committees asked their respective Republican chairmen to subpoena two of the data firms hired by Trump’s campaign for documents related to Russia’s election interference, including the firm headed by Parscale.[165][166] On February 27, 2018, Trump selected Parscale to serve as campaign manager on his 2020 reelection campaign.[167] NBC News reported on February 28, 2018, that Mueller’s investigators are asking witnesses pointed questions about whether Trump was aware that Democratic emails had been stolen before that was publicly known, and whether he was involved in their strategic release. This is the first reported indication that Mueller’s investigation is specifically examining whether Trump was personally involved in collusive activities.[168] Mueller’s investigators have also asked about the relationship between Roger Stone and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and why Trump took policy positions favorable to Russia. Stone, a longtime Republican “dirty trickster” and Trump confidant[169] has repeatedly discussed his backchannel communications with Assange and claimed knowledge of forthcoming leaks from Wikileaks.[170] He also exchanged Twitter private messages with Guccifer 2.0, which American intelligence has connected to two Russian intelligence groups that cybersecurity analysts have concluded hacked Democratic National Committee emails.[171] Reuters reported on May 16, 2018 that Mueller’s office had the prior week subpoenaed Stone’s social media strategist, Jason Sullivan, to testify before a grand jury on May 18 and to provide documents, objects and electronically stored information.[172] Reuters reported the next day that John Kakanis, Stone’s driver, accountant and operative, had also been subpoenaed.[173] Investigators have also focused on Trump’s public comments in July 2016 asking Russia to find emails that were deleted from Hillary Clinton’s private email server. At a news conference on July 27, 2016, days after WikiLeaks began publishing the Democratic National Committee emails, Trump said, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”[174]

After a “testy March 5 meeting, Mueller’s team agreed to provide the president’s lawyers with more specific information about the subjects that prosecutors wished to discuss with the president.” Then Jay Sekulow “compiled a list of 49 questions that the team believed the president would be asked…. The New York Times first reported the existence of the list.”[175]

On April 30, 2018 The New York Times published a list of interview questions for Trump that the Mueller investigation had provided to the president’s attorneys. The list was provided to The Times by an individual outside Trump’s legal team. Among the questions was, “What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by Paul Manafort, to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?” Prior to this disclosure, there had been no publicly available information indicating any such outreach. The Times noted that the questions were not quoted verbatim and in some cases were condensed.[176]

The New York Times reported on May 15, 2018 that Trump campaign policy aide and later White House Deputy Cabinet Secretary John Mashburn testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee in March 2018 that he recalled receiving an email from George Papadopoulos in the first half of 2016 indicating that the Russian government had damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Prior to this report, there had been no publicly available information indicating that Papadopoulos had informed anyone on the Trump campaign about such matters. Despite an extensive search for the purported email by various investigators, it has not been located.[177] A court document[178] Mueller’s office filed in association with Papadopoulos’s guilty plea included verbatim quotes from various emails Papadopoulos had sent or received, but the Mashburn email was not referenced in that document.

Obstruction of justice

Early in Trump’s presidency, senior White House officials reportedly asked intelligence officials if they could intervene with the FBI to stop the investigation into former National Security Advisor Flynn.[179] In March, Trump reportedly discussed the FBI’s Russia investigation with Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and asked if they could intervene with Comey to limit or stop it.[180] When he was asked at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about the report, Coats said he would not discuss conversations he had with the president but “I have never felt pressured to intervene in the Russia investigation in any way.”[181] Prior to being appointed Director of National Intelligence by Trump, Coats had been an elected Republican politician since 1981, serving in both the House and Senate.[182]

In February 2017, it was reported that White House officials had asked the FBI to issue a statement that there had been no contact between Trump associates and Russian intelligence sources during the 2016 campaign.

Ex-FBI-Director James Comey memo

The FBI did not make the requested statement, and observers noted that the request violated established procedures about contact between the White House and the FBI regarding pending investigations.[183] After Comey revealed in March that the FBI was investigating the possibility of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, Trump phoned Coats and Director of National Security Admiral Michael S. Rogers and asked them to publicly state there was no evidence of collusion between his campaign and the Russians.[179][184][185] Both Coats and Rogers believed that the request was inappropriate, though not illegal, and did not make the requested statement. The two exchanged notes about the incident, and Rogers made a contemporary memo to document the request.[184][185] The White House effort to push back publicly on the Russia probe reportedly also included requests to senior lawmakers with access to classified intelligence about Russia, including Senator Richard Burr and Representative Devin Nunes, the chairmen of the Senate and House intelligence committees, respectively.[186]

In May 2017 it was reported that Comey took contemporaneous notes immediately after an Oval Office conversation with Trump on February 14, 2017, in which Trump is described as attempting to persuade Comey to drop the FBI investigation into Flynn.[187][188] The memo notes that Trump said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” Comey made no commitments to Trump on the subject. The White House denied the version of events in the memo, but an FBI agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.[189] In testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8, Comey gave a detailed report on the February 14 conversation, including Trump’s suggestion that he should “let go” the Flynn investigation. Comey said he “took it as a direction… I took it as, this is what he wants me to do.” He added that it was “a very disturbing thing, very concerning”, and that he discussed the incident with other FBI leaders.[190] Comey created similar memos about all nine conversations he had with the president.[191] Mueller’s office has the Comey memos, but on February 2, 2018, a federal judge denied multiple Freedom of Information Act requests to make the documents public, at least for now.[192]

The FBI launched an investigation of Trump for obstruction of justice a few days after the May 9 firing of Comey.[193] The special prosecutor’s office took over the obstruction of justice investigation and has reportedly interviewed Director of National Intelligence Coats, Director of the National Security Agency Rogers, and Deputy Director of the NSA Richard Ledgett.[193][194][195] ABC News reported in June that Mueller was gathering preliminary information about possible obstruction of justice, but a full-scale investigation had not been launched.[196] On June 16, Trump tweeted: “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt.”[197] However, Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow said Trump’s tweet was referring to the June 14 Washington Post report that he was under investigation for obstruction of justice,[193] and that Trump has not actually been notified of any investigation.[198][199]

The New York Times and Los Angeles Times reported on September 20, 2017, that Mueller’s office had requested information from the White House regarding an Oval Office meeting President Trump had with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov on May 10, 2017, during which Trump reportedly said that firing Comey had relieved “great pressure” on him.[200][201][202]

On January 23, 2018, The Washington Post reported that Robert Mueller sought to question President Donald Trump about the Flynn and Comey departures.[203]

The Washington Post also reported on January 23, 2018, that Mueller’s office is interested in a May 2017 Oval Office conversation between Trump and Andrew McCabe, days after McCabe had automatically become acting director of the FBI when Trump dismissed Comey, allegedly for not pledging loyalty to the president. During this conversation, Trump reportedly asked McCabe for whom he had voted in the 2016 presidential election. McCabe, a lifelong Republican,[204] replied that he had not voted in that election.[205] On January 24, 2018, Trump denied—or did not remember—asking McCabe about his vote.[206] Like Comey, McCabe also took contemporaneous notes of his conversations with Trump, which are reportedly now in the possession of Mueller’s office.[207]

The New York Times reported on January 23, 2018, that Attorney General Jeff Sessions was questioned the preceding week by Mueller’s investigators.[208] Trump previously expressed frustration that Sessions had recused himself from the investigation and not prevented a Special Counsel from being appointed, stating that he would not have appointed Sessions had he known that would happen.[209] Multiple episodes have been reported in which Trump has threatened to dismiss Sessions, or Sessions has tendered his resignation.[210][211] The Washington Post reported on February 28, 2018, that the Mueller investigation has been examining a period of time during the summer of 2017 when Trump seemed determined to drive Sessions from his job, to determine “whether those efforts were part of a months-long pattern of attempted obstruction of justice.”[212] Sessions’ departure would allow Trump to appoint another attorney general who is not restrained by recusal. The New York Times reported on May 29, 2018 that the Mueller investigation is examining a previously unreported March 2017 episode when Trump attempted to persuade Sessions to reverse his recusal, suggesting that the investigation into possible obstruction of justice was broader than previously understood. The questions Mueller’s office had previously provided Trump’s attorneys for an interview with the president included, “What efforts did you make to try to get [Sessions] to change his mind [about recusal]?”[213][214]

USA Today and The New York Times reported on January 31, 2018, that Mueller’s office is expected to question Mark Corallo, the former spokesman for President Trump’s legal team, about his reported concerns that the president and his longtime aide Hope Hicks might have sought to obstruct justice. Corallo reportedly plans to tell investigators that Hicks told President Trump on a conference call that the Trump Jr. emails regarding his meeting with Russians “will never get out.” Hicks’ attorney denied the allegation.[215][216] Mueller’s investigators reportedly interviewed Hicks in early December 2017.[217] Corallo had resigned from the Trump team in July 2017, reportedly because he became concerned that the president had obstructed justice.[218]

Bloomberg News reported on March 12, 2018, that the obstruction of justice aspect of the investigation is near completion and that Mueller may set it aside to conclude other aspects, such as collusion and hacking.[219]

The New York Times reported on March 28, 2018, that in 2017, as the Mueller investigation was building its cases against Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort, former Trump attorney John M. Dowd broached the idea of presidential pardons of the men with their attorneys. The Times reported this might have indicated concerns by Trump’s legal team about what the men might reveal to investigators if they agreed to cooperate with the investigation in exchange for leniency. Although legal opinions vary as to whether this discussion alone would constitute obstruction of justice, prosecutors might present it as part of a pattern of activity that points to a conspiracy to thwart the investigation.[220] CBS News reported on March 28, 2018, that Manafort is declining a plea deal and proceeding to trial because he is expecting a pardon from Trump, citing “legal sources with knowledge of his strategy.”[221]

Superseding indictment of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates alleging tax evasion and bank fraud.

In a January 2018 letter to Mueller, Trump’s attorneys asserted that Trump cannot unlawfully obstruct justice because the Constitution grants him full authority over all federal investigations and he can “if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon.”[222][223]

Financial investigations

The Special Counsel investigation has expanded to include Trump’s and his associates’ financial ties to Russia. The FBI is reviewing the financial records of Trump himself, The Trump Organization, Trump’s family members, and his campaign staff, including Trump’s real estate activities, which had been under federal scrutiny before the campaign. According to CNN, financial crimes may be easier for investigators to prove than any crimes stemming directly from collusion with Russia.[53] Campaign staff whose finances are under investigation include Manafort, Flynn, Carter Page, and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. At a New York real estate conference in September 2008, Donald Trump Jr. stated: “And in terms of high-end product influx into the US, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets; say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”[224][225] McClatchy reported on April 6, 2018, that Mueller’s investigators that week arrived unannounced at the home of an unnamed business associate of the Trump Organization who had worked on foreign deals for the company in recent years. The investigators had warrants for electronic records and to compel sworn testimony, and were reported to be particularly interested in transactions involving Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen.[226]

Transactions under investigation include Russian purchases of Trump apartments, a SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, transactions with the Bank of Cyprus, real estate financing organized by Kushner, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion for $30 million over its appraised value to Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev.[227][228] The special counsel team has contacted Deutsche Bank, which is the main banking institution doing business with The Trump Organization.[229] The Wall Street Journal reported on December 6, 2017, that Deutsche Bank received a subpoena from Mueller’s office earlier that fall concerning people or entities affiliated with President Trump.[230] The original Journal story incorrectly reported that Trump’s records had been subpoenaed, which The New York Times reported on April 10, 2018, prompted Trump to tell his advisers “in no uncertain terms” that the Mueller investigation must be shut down, before Mueller’s office advised his attorneys the report was inaccurate.[231]

Kushner Properties—from which Jared Kushner resigned as CEO in early 2017 to serve as a senior advisor in the Trump White House—purchased the office tower located at 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan in 2007, just before Manhattan real estate prices fell in the Great Recession. The property has since experienced financial difficulties that the company has been attempting to resolve with new financing, without success, before the property’s $1.2 billion mortgage comes due in February 2019. This effort has reportedly been complicated by Trump’s election, which has caused potential lenders to avoid appearances of conflicts of interest.[232] The matter has raised the interest of investigators who are looking at Kushner’s December 2016 meeting with Sergei Gorkov, who said in a statement issued by his bank that he met with Kushner in his capacity as the then-chief executive of Kushner Properties,[233] while Kushner assured Congress in a July 24, 2017, statement that the meeting did not involve “any discussion about my companies, business transactions, real estate projects, loans, banking arrangements or any private business of any kind.”[232] CNN reported on February 20, 2018, that Mueller’s investigation has expanded beyond Kushner’s contacts with Russia and now includes his efforts to secure financing for Kushner Properties from other foreign investors during the presidential transition.[234]

Mueller took over an existing money laundering investigation into former Trump campaign chairman Manafort. On October 30, 2017, a federal grand jury indicted Manafort and his associate Rick Gates on charges including conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, being an unregistered agent of foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, and false statements.[235] Manafort’s financial activities are also being investigated by the Senate and House intelligence committees, the New York Attorney General, and the Manhattan District Attorney.[236]

The Special Counsel will be able to access Trump’s tax returns, which has “especially disturbed” Trump according to The Washington Post. Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, as presidential candidates normally do, has been politically controversial since his presidential campaign.[237]

The Special Counsel is also investigating whether the Central Bank of Russia’s deputy governor, Aleksandr Torshin, illegally funneled money through the National Rifle Association to benefit Trump’s campaign.[238] On May 16, 2018, the Senate Judiciary Committeereleased a report[239] stating it had obtained “a number of documents that suggest the Kremlin used the National Rifle Association as a means of accessing and assisting Mr. Trump and his campaign” through Torshin and his assistant Maria Butina, and that “The Kremlin may also have used the NRA to secretly fund Mr. Trump’s campaign.”[240] The NRA reported spending $30 million to support the Trump campaign—triple what they devoted to backing Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race. Most of that money was spent by an arm of the NRA that is not required to disclose its donors. Torshin, a lifetime NRA member, reportedly sought to broker a meeting between Trump and Vladimir Putin in May 2016, but was rebuffed by Kushner. Torshin claims to have met with Trump at a Nashville NRA event in April 2015; he tweeted about the encounter in August, saying that Trump is “a proponent of traditional family values”.[241] Torshin spoke with Donald Trump Jr. during a gala event at the NRA’s national gathering in Kentucky in May 2016, which Trump Jr.’s attorney Alan Futerfas characterized as “all gun-related small talk.” Spanish authorities have implicated Torshin in money laundering and have described him as a “godfather” in Taganskaya, a major Russian criminal organization.[238][242]

CNN reported on April 4, 2018, that Mueller’s investigators have been examining whether Russian oligarchs directly or indirectly provided illegal cash donations to the Trump campaign and inauguration. At least one oligarch was detained and his electronic devices searched as he arrived at a New York area airport on his private jet; subsequent reporting by The New York Times appeared to identify the man as Viktor Vekselberg.[243] Another oligarch was also detained on a recent trip to the United States, but it is unclear if he was searched. Investigators reportedly have also asked a third oligarch who has not traveled to the United States to voluntarily provide documents and an interview. CNN reported that investigators are examining whether oligarchs invested in American companies or think tanks having political action committees connected to the campaign, as well as money funneled through American straw donors to the Trump campaign and inaugural fund.[244]

Prosecution’s statement of Michael Flynn‘s offense

The New York Times reported on April 9, 2018, that the Mueller investigation is examining a $150,000 donation Victor Pinchuk, a Ukrainian billionaire, made in September 2015 to the Donald J. Trump Foundation in exchange for a 20-minute appearance Trump made via video link to a conference in Kiev. This transaction came to light in documents the Trump Organization provided to investigators pursuant to a subpoena earlier in 2018. The donation, the largest the Foundation received in 2015 other than from Trump himself, was solicited by his attorney, Michael Cohen. The Times reported that the subpoena had demanded “documents, emails and other communications about several Russians, including some whose names have not been publicly tied to Mr. Trump.”[245]

Cohen raids

On April 9, 2018, based on a referral to United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) from the special counsel, the FBI raided the New York City office, residence, hotel suite, and safe-deposit boxes of Michael Cohen, seizing records related to several topics.[246] The FBI seized Cohen’s computers, phones, and personal financial records, including tax returns, as part of the no-knock raid on his office in 30 Rockefeller Plaza.[247]CNN cited unnamed sources saying the search warrant was “very broad in terms of items sought” and that it included bank records.[248]

The warrant was personally approved by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and carried out by the public corruption unit of the SDNY. Geoffrey Berman, the interim head of the SDNY, was recused from the matter; a Trump appointee, he had worked as a volunteer attorney on the Trump campaign.[249] Further, due to the sensitive nature of the raid and the attorney–client privilege, a special “taint” team is required to review the documents to carefully separate out privileged and protected documents that may have been seized in the raid to ensure those inadmissible documents are not passed on to investigators.[246] Legal blogger and former federal prosecutor Ken White of Popehat published a New York Times op-ed giving some background on the DOJ procedures required to approve such a raid, saying the search “suggests that the prosecutors believe they can convince a judge that communications between Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen fall under the crime-fraud exception” of attorney-client privilege. It called the raid “highly dangerous” for both Cohen and Trump.[250] White posted further analysis on Popehat,[251]citing section 9-13.320 [sic] [recte 9-13.420] of the United States Attorneys’ Manual, which sets the guidelines and regulations for searches of attorney premises.[252]


In August 2017, Mueller’s team issued grand jury subpoenas to officials in six firms, including lobbying firm Podesta Group and Mercury LLC with regard to activities on behalf of a public-relations campaign for a pro-Russian Ukrainian organization called European Centre for a Modern Ukraine. The public relations effort was headed by Paul Manafort, and took place from 2012 to 2014.[253][254][255][256] Tony Podesta, brother of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, is head of the Podesta Group. John Podesta is not employed by the company. Mercury LLC is headed by Vin Weber, a former GOP congressman.[257] Mueller is investigating whether the firms violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The Podesta Group announced in November 2017 that it would be permanently closing, with many of its employees moving to Cogent Strategies, a new firm founded by Podesta Group CEO Kimberley Fritts.[258]

Trump as a subject of investigation

From the beginning of his presidency Trump has requested assurances that that he is not personally under investigation. FBI Director Comey told him so privately on three occasions but refused to make a public comment to that effect.[259] In his letter dismissing Comey, Trump thanked Comey for “informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation.”[259][260] Comey later confirmed that this was true.[261]

In March 2018, Mueller’s office reportedly informed Trump’s attorneys that the president is not a “criminal target” but remains a “subject” of the continuing investigation. Trump’s advisers were reported to be split in their interpretation of this, with some believing it was an indication that his legal exposure was low, while others expressed concern that Mueller was inducing him to agree to a personal interview, which his attorneys have discouraged him from doing for fear he might perjure himself and thus change his status from subject to target. The Post reported that Mueller also advised the attorneys that he is “preparing a report about the president’s actions while in office and potential obstruction of justice.”[262] The Post referenced Justice Department guidelines,[263] which explain:

A “target” is a person as to whom the prosecutor or the grand jury has substantial evidence linking him or her to the commission of a crime and who, in the judgment of the prosecutor, is a putative defendant.
A “subject” of an investigation is a person whose conduct is within the scope of the grand jury’s investigation.

Trump told reporters on January 24, 2018, that he was “looking forward” to testifying under oath to the Mueller investigation, perhaps in “two or three weeks,” but added that it was “subject to my lawyers and all of that.”[264]The Wall Street Journal reported on February 25, 2018, that Trump’s lawyers are considering ways for him to testify, provided the questions he faces are limited in scope and do not test his recollections in ways that amount to a potential perjury trap. Among options they are considering are providing written answers to Mueller’s questions and having the president give limited face-to-face testimony.[265] The Washington Post reported on March 19, 2018, that Trump’s attorneys provided Mueller’s office “written descriptions that chronicle key moments under investigation in hopes of curtailing the scope of a presidential interview.”.[266] In May 2018, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani told Politico that Mueller’s team has rejected the proposal of providing a written testimony instead of an oral interview.[267]

Other topics

CNN reported on February 27, 2018, that Mueller’s investigators have recently been asking witnesses about Trump’s activities in Russia prior to the campaign, including the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow; unsuccessful discussions to build a Trump Tower Moscow; and the possibility of compromising information that Russians may have or claim to have about Trump.[268]

The Intercept reported on March 2, 2018, that Jared Kushner and his father Charles Kushner made a proposal to Qatar‘s finance minister, Ali Sharif Al Emadi, in April 2017 to secure investment into 666 5th Avenue asset in his family’s company’s portfolio, when his request was not fulfilled, a group of Middle Eastern countries, with Jared Kushner’s backing, initiated a diplomatic assault that culminated in a blockade of Qatar. Kushner specifically undermined the efforts by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to bring an end to the standoff.[269]

The New York Times reported on March 3, 2018, that the Mueller investigation had been examining possible efforts by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to buy political influence by directing money to the Trump campaign. Investigators have recently interviewed Lebanese-American businessman George Nader, and other witnesses, about this matter. Nader was reportedly a frequent White House visitor during 2017 and investigators have inquired about any policymaking role he may have had.[270] The Federal Election Campaign Actprohibits foreign nationals from contributing to American elections.[271] The New York Times reported on March 6, 2018, that Nader is cooperating with the Mueller investigation and had testified before a grand jury during the preceding week. Investigators have examined a meeting around January 11, 2017, in the Seychelles that was convened by the UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (known as “MBZ”), which Nader attended. Also present at that meeting were Kirill Dmitriev, the CEO of state-owned Russian Direct Investment Fund, who is close to Vladimir Putin; and Blackwater founder Erik Prince, a major Trump donor and an informal advisor to the Trump transition. UAE officials reportedly believed that Prince was representing the Trump transition and Dmitriev was representing Putin.[272] An aircraft owned by Andrei Skoch—a Russian billionaire subject to American sanctions—arrived in the Seychelles a day before Prince himself did.[273] The Washington Post had reported on April 3, 2017, that American, European and Arab officials said the Seychelles meeting was “part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump.” Prince denied in November 30, 2017, House Intelligence Committee testimony that he had represented the Trump transition or that the meeting involved any back-channel.[274][275][276] The Washington Post reported on March 7, 2018, that Mueller has gathered evidence that contradicts Prince,[277] and ABC News reported on April 6, 2018, that Nader had met with Prince at a Manhattan hotel days before the Seychelles meeting and later provided him with biographical information about Dmitriev.[278] CNN reported on March 6, 2018, that Nader had been detained and questioned by the FBI at Dulles International Airport as he returned from a trip abroad on January 17, 2018. Agents with search warrants copied the contents of his electronic devices and served him with a subpoena to appear before a grand jury on January 19. CNN also reported that Nader had attended a December 2016 meeting in New York attended by MBZ; UAE ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba; and at least three Trump senior associates: Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon, and Jared Kushner.”[279] The Wall Street Journal reported on April 2, 2018, that Mueller’s investigators have inquired about the work done by a private consulting company, Wikistrat, on behalf of the UAE. One of the firm’s co-founders, Joel Zamel, has reportedly been asked about his work with certain clients and his business relationship with George Nader. The Journal reported that, like Nader, Zamel had tried to forge a relationship with the new Trump administration.[280] The New York Times reported on April 4, 2018, that Nader has a history of dealings with Russia dating back to at least 2012, when he brokered a $4.2 billion arms deal between Russia and Iraq, and attended an invitation-only conference in Moscow organized by close associates of Vladimir Putin. Nader has reportedly traveled frequently to Russia on behalf of the UAE, accompanying MBZ on many of those trips, and has had his photo taken with Putin. Nader has reportedly received at least partial immunity for his cooperation with the Mueller investigation. The Times also reported that Joel Zamel had been stopped at Reagan International Airport in February 2018, had his electronic devices briefly seized, and later testified before the Mueller grand jury about his relationship with Nader.[281] The New York Times reported on May 19, 2018, that Trump Jr. met with Nader, Prince and Zamel in Trump Tower on August 3, 2016. Nader reportedly told Trump Jr. the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE were eager to help his father win the election, and Zamel pitched a social media manipulation campaign. Trump Jr. reportedly responded favorably and Nader subsequently had frequent meetings with Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn and Jared Kushner.[282] The Times reported that Prince had arranged the August 2016 meeting; Prince had stated in his November 30, 2017, testimony to the House Intelligence Committee that he had no formal communications or contact, nor any unofficial role, with the Trump campaign.[283]

Axios reported on March 4, 2018, that it has seen a grand jury subpoena that Mueller’s office sent to a witness in February 2018. Axios did not name the witness. The subpoena reportedly demands all communications, from November 1, 2015, to date, that the witness sent or received “regarding” Trump; Carter Page; Corey Lewandowski; Hope Hicks; Keith Schiller; Michael Cohen; Paul Manafort; Rick Gates; Roger Stone; and Steve Bannon.[284] A subsequent report by NBC News stated that the subpoena also encompasses “work papers, telephone logs, and other documents.”[285] On March 5, 2018, the witness was identified as Sam Nunberg, who served as a communications consultant on the Trump campaign until August 2, 2015, and later as an informal adviser. Nunberg stated that he had been subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury on March 9, 2018, but he would refuse to appear or provide any of the subpoenaed documents.[286][287] After multiple defiant television appearances on March 5, 2018, Nunberg indicated the next day that he plans to comply with the subpoena.[288]

The New Yorker reported on March 5, 2018, that Christopher Steele spoke with Mueller’s investigators in September 2017. The magazine asserts that Steele discussed another document he had authored in November 2016—after the Steele dossier—that describes discussions “a senior Russian official” had heard inside the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: that the Kremlin had asked Trump “through unspecified channels” to not appoint Mitt Romney as Secretary of State.[289][290] As a presidential candidate in 2012, Romney described Russia as “our number one geopolitical foe.”[291] After publicly considering Romney as Secretary of State, Trump ultimately selected Rex Tillerson, who has a long history of business dealings in Russia and was awarded the Order of Friendship by Vladimir Putin in 2013.[292]

The Washington Post reported on March 6, 2018, that Mueller’s office has requested documents and interviewed witnesses regarding activities of Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal lawyer. Investigators are reported to be interested in at least two episodes relating to Russian interests, including the proposed construction of Trump Tower Moscow and “a Russia-friendly peace proposal for Ukraine that was delivered to Cohen by an Ukrainian lawmaker one week after Trump took office.”[293]

The New York Times reported on March 7, 2018, that the Mueller investigation is aware of conversations Trump had with two witnesses regarding their testimony with investigators. In one conversation, Trump asked White House counsel Don McGahn to issue a statement denying a story[294] The Times published in January 2018. That story reported that McGahn told investigators Trump had ordered him to direct the Justice Department to dismiss Mueller. McGahn never issued the statement and reportedly told Trump that the president had, in fact, told him to have Mueller dismissed. Trump also asked his former chief of staff Reince Priebus how his interview with investigators had gone and whether they were “nice.” The Times reported that although “legal experts” thought the conversations probably did not constitute witness tampering, witnesses and attorneys who became aware of the conversations reported them to Mueller.[295]

The New York Times reported on March 15, 2018, that the Mueller investigation had subpoenaed documents from The Trump Organization, including all documents related to Russia. Although the full scope of the subpoena was not clear, it was the first known time investigators demanded documents from Trump’s businesses.[296] The Los Angeles Times reported the same day that the special counsel’s office had also subpoenaed the Trump campaign for documents.[297]

The Daily Beast reported on March 22, 2018, that Mueller had taken over the probe into Guccifer 2.0 from the FBI.[298]

NBC News reported on March 30, 2018, that Ted Malloch, a professor and author who worked with the Trump campaign, had been detained and questioned by the FBI two days earlier as he arrived at Boston Logan Airport after a flight from London. He was served with a subpoena to appear for questioning by Mueller’s investigators on April 13, and presented with a warrant to have his phone seized and searched. Malloch told NBC in an email that FBI agents asked him a variety of questions, including about Roger Stone, author Jerome Corsi, and WikiLeaks.[299] CNN reported that Malloch has written a forthcoming book alleging a “deep state” within the United States government fabricated the Steele dossier to destroy Trump.[300]

Michael Caputo, a former communications adviser for the Trump campaign, was interviewed by Mueller’s investigators on May 2, 2018. Caputo was recruited to the Trump campaign by Paul Manafort and had previously worked with Russian politicians.[301][302] A long-time associate of Roger Stone, Caputo stated after his interview, “It’s clear they are still really focused on Russia collusion. They know more about the Trump campaign than anyone who ever worked there.”[303]

CNN reported on May 5, 2018, that Mueller’s investigators had interviewed Trump’s close friend and inaugural committee chairman Tom Barrack in December 2017, asking him primarily about his relationship with Manafort and Gates, although The Associated Pressreported the interview was broader and included campaign finance matters.[304][305]

On May 9, 2018, CNBC reported that Mueller’s office had contacted telecommunications giant AT&T regarding payments totalling at least $200,000, but possibly as high as $600,000,[306] made to a company founded by Michael Cohen in order to gain “insights” into the incoming Trump administration.[307] An AT&T spokesperson said that they had provided all the information requested by the Special Counsel in November and December 2017.[308]

Glenn Simpson, a co-founder of Fusion GPS, testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 22, 2017, that the FBI told Christopher Steele—and then Steele told Simpson—that the FBI had “a human source from inside the Trump organization” (and, more specifically, “an internal Trump campaign source”). Simpson did not indicate when Steele received this information or when he conveyed it to Simpson.[309] The Washington Post reported on May 8, 2018, that a longtime FBI and CIA informant had provided information about connections between Russia and the Trump campaign to FBI investigators early in their investigation.[310] This sparked speculation the FBI had planted a “mole” inside the Trump campaign, although it was not clear that the individual Simpson described is the same individual described by The PostThe Washington Post reported on May 9, 2018, that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes subpoenaed the Justice Department to provide him with all documents regarding the longtime informant; The Post quoted the subpoena as demanding “all documents referring or related to the individual referenced in Chairman Nunes’ April 24, 2018, classified letter to Attorney General Sessions,” although Nunes denied he had referred to any specific individual.[311] The Justice Department resisted on the grounds that revealing the information could endanger the life of a longtime top-secret informant for the FBI and CIA, and the Trump White House—with the president’s agreement—sided with the Justice Department.[310][312] The New York Times reported on May 16, 2018, that at least one government informant had met several times with Trump campaign aides Carter Page and George Papadopolous.[313] The next day, Trump tweeted “Wow, word seems to be coming out that the Obama FBI “SPIED ON THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN WITH AN EMBEDDED INFORMANT.””[314] The Washington Post noted on January 9, 2018, that the source Simpson referenced may not have necessarily been an informant willingly or directly, or during the campaign, but rather may have become an informant as a result of later becoming implicated in wrongdoing. Natasha Bertrand, then with Business Insider, reported on January 3, 2018, that a source told her Simpson had been referring to George Papadopolous, who had first been interviewed by the FBI seven days after Trump’s inauguration[178] and whose cooperation with the FBI—to “provide information regarding any and all matters as to which the Government deems relevant”—began with his arrest on July 27, 2017, and was not publicly known until his indictment in October 2017.[315][316][317] Sara Carter, a frequent guest on Sean Hannity‘s Fox News program, confirmed Bertrand’s reporting on January 9, 2018, stating “according to people close to Glenn Simpson and Fusion GPS he misspoke. That it isn’t true at all. That what [Simpson] was referring to was Papadopoulos actually in London.”[318] The New York Times reported on May 18, 2018, the FBI sent an informant to meet with George Papadopolous in late-summer 2016, and to meet repeatedly with Carter Page over ensuing months, after the FBI had acquired evidence the two men had suspicious contacts with Russians.[319] The Washington Post reported the same day the informant first approached Page at a symposium in Britain in July 2016, and in September 2016 invited Papadopolous to London to work on a research paper. Late that summer, the informant also met with Trump campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis in Northern Virginia.[320] The informant was identified as an American academic who teaches in Britain, but both The Times and The Post declined to publish his name. NBC News identified him as Stefan Halper.[321]

Cambridge Analytica

The Wall Street Journal reported on December 15, 2017, that Mueller’s office had requested and received employee emails from Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm that worked for the Trump campaign, earlier that year.[322][323] The Washington Post reported on March 20, 2018, that Christopher Wylie, an employee of Cambridge Analytica until late 2014, said that former Trump campaign CEO and White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon oversaw a 2014 effort at the company (which he co-founded) to gather Facebook data on millions of Americans and test the effectiveness of anti-establishment messages such as “drain the swamp” and “deep state,” which became major Trump themes after Bannon joined the campaign in August 2016. Views of Russian President Vladimir Putin were also tested.[324] The Associated Press reported on March 22, 2018, that the special counsel is examining the connections between the company, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, particularly how voter data may have been used in battleground states.[325]

Several news agencies reported on April 4, 2018, that the private data of 87 million Facebook users had been misused, without their consent, by Cambridge Analytica to influence voters and help Trump win the 2016 election.[326][327][328] The New York Times reported on May 15, 2018 that the Justice Department and FBI were investigating Cambridge Analytica, although it was unclear if Mueller’s office was involved in the investigation.[329]

Criminal charges

Through April 2018, the Special Counsel has publicly initiated criminal proceedings against 19 people—five U.S. nationals, 13 Russian nationals, and one Dutch national—and three Russian organizations. The Special Counsel has used two different federal grand juries to issue indictments: one located in the District of Columbia (D.D.C.) and another located in the Eastern District of Virginia (E.D. Va.).

Accused Date charged Charge(s) Case status Jurisdiction Ind.
George Papadopoulos October 3, 2017 1 count: false statements Pleaded guilty on October 5, 2017[330] D.D.C. [331]
Rick Gates October 27, 2017[A] 2 counts: conspiracy against the United States and false statements Pleaded guilty on February 23, 2018[333] D.D.C. [334]
February 22, 2018 18 counts: filing false tax returns (×5), failure to report foreign bank and financial accounts (×4), bank fraud conspiracy (×5), and bank fraud (×4) Charges dismissed without prejudice on February 27, 2018[335] E.D. Va. [336]
Paul Manafort October 27, 2017[B] 5 counts: conspiracy against the United Statesconspiracy to launder moneyunregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, and false statements. Pleaded not guilty on February 28, 2018[337] D.D.C. [338]
February 22, 2018 23 counts: assisting in the preparation of false tax returns (×5), subscribing to false tax returns (×5), filing a false amended return, failure to report foreign bank and financial accounts (×3), bank fraud conspiracy (×5), and bank fraud (×4) Pleaded not guilty on March 8, 2018[339] E.D. Va. [336]
Michael Flynn November 30, 2017 1 count: false statements Pleaded guilty on December 1, 2017[340] D.D.C. [341]
Richard Pinedo February 2, 2018 1 count: identity fraud Pleaded guilty on February 2, 2018[342] D.D.C. [343]
Alex van der Zwaan February 16, 2018 1 count: false statements Sentenced to 30 days in prison and a $20,000 fine on April 3, 2018[344] D.D.C. [345]
Dzheykhun Aslanov February 16, 2018 8 counts: conspiracy to defraud the United Statesconspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft(×6) Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Anna Bogacheva February 16, 2018 1 count: conspiracy to defraud the United States Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Maria Bovda February 16, 2018 1 count: conspiracy to defraud the United States Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Robert Bovda February 16, 2018 1 count: conspiracy to defraud the United States Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Mikhail Burchik February 16, 2018 1 count: conspiracy to defraud the United States Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Mikhail Bystrov February 16, 2018 1 count: conspiracy to defraud the United States Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Concord Catering February 16, 2018 1 count: conspiracy to defraud the United States Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Concord Management and Consulting LLC February 16, 2018 1 count: conspiracy to defraud the United States Pleaded not guilty on May 9, 2018.[347] D.D.C. [346]
Internet Research Agency LLC February 16, 2018 8 counts: conspiracy to defraud the United Statesconspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft(×6) Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Irina Kaverzina February 16, 2018 7 counts: conspiracy to defraud the United States, and aggravated identity theft (×6) Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Aleksandra Krylova February 16, 2018 1 count: conspiracy to defraud the United States Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Vadim Podkopaev February 16, 2018 1 count: conspiracy to defraud the United States Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Sergey Polozov February 16, 2018 1 count: conspiracy to defraud the United States Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Yevgeny Prigozhin February 16, 2018 1 count: conspiracy to defraud the United States Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Gleb Vasilchenko February 16, 2018 8 counts: conspiracy to defraud the United Statesconspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraudaggravated identity theft (×6) Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]
Vladimir Venkov February 16, 2018 7 counts: conspiracy to defraud the United States, and aggravated identity theft (×6) Outside US jurisdiction D.D.C. [346]

  1. Jump up^ An 8-count indictment issued on October 27, 2017,[332] was superseded by the current indictment on February 23, 2018.
  2. Jump up^ A 9-count indictment issued on October 27, 2017,[332] was superseded by the current indictment on February 23, 2018.

George Papadopoulos

On October 30, 2017, it was revealed that Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos had pleaded guilty earlier in the month to making a false statement to FBI investigators, a felony.[348] The guilty plea was part of a plea bargain in which he agreed to cooperate with the government and “provide information regarding any and all matters as to which the Government deems relevant.”[349] As of May 1, 2018, Papadopoulos had not been sentenced.[350] His status report to the court was due in late April 2018, but has been pushed back one month.[351]

On December 30, 2017, The New York Times reported that Papadopoulos had in May 2016 disclosed to the Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Alexander Downer in Kensington Wine Rooms, a London wine bar, that the Russians possessed a large trove of stolen Hillary Clinton emails that could potentially damage her presidential campaign. Australia officials initially did not convey this information to the American counterparts but did so after WikiLeaks and DCLeaks released stolen Democratic National Committeeemails in June/July 2016, which American intelligence has concluded with “high confidence” originated from Russian hackers.[352] The hacking, and the revelation that a member of the Trump campaign apparently had inside information about it, were driving factors that led the FBI in July 2016 to open an investigation into Russia’s attempts to disrupt the election and whether any of President Trump’s associates conspired. The Nunes memo confirmed that the Papadopolous matter triggered the investigation—and not the Steele dossier, which some Republicans had alleged to have been the trigger.[353][354]

Papadopoulos was recruited to the Trump campaign in early March 2016. In a court document[178] filed as part of Papadopoulos’s guilty plea, prosecutors asserted that later in March he met Joseph Mifsud, a London-based academic with contacts in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Italy. Mifsud showed little interest in Papadopoulos until Mifsud learned Papadopoulos was a member of the Trump campaign.[355] Several days later, Papadopoulos met in London with Mifsud and Olga Polonskaya, a Russian national whom Papadopoulos initially but falsely believed was Vladimir Putin’s niece. Papadopoulos then emailed his Trump campaign supervisor[356] Sam Clovis about his meetings, which he said included the Russian Ambassador, and which had been about a “meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump.” Clovis was non-committal but replied “Great work.”[357] In subsequent days Papadopoulos worked with Mifsud and Polonskaya to arrange contacts between the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Trump campaign. In late April 2016 Papadopoulos emailed a unnamed Trump campaign “Senior Policy Advisor,” stating “The Russian government has an open invitation by Putin for Mr. Trump to meet him when he is ready.” At about the same time, Mifsud told Papadopoulos that the Russian government had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails,” which Papadopoulos then shared with Alexander Downer in a London bar days later. Mifsud dropped from sight after his name appeared in published reports in October 2017 and has not been heard from through May 2018.[358][359] Stephan Roh, a German national who is a close associate of Mifsud, asserts he was detained, questioned and surveilled by FBI agents after he arrived on a flight to New York in 2017.[360][361] The BBC reported on March 21, 2018 that Roh and another man named Ivan Timofeev were also involved in Papadopoulos’s efforts to contact Russian officials.[362]

Paul Manafort and Rick Gates

Rick Gates felony information

Rick Gates’ Plea Agreement with Robert S. Mueller

Paul Manafort February 23, 2018, District Court superseding indictment by the District of Columbia Grand Jury

At Mueller’s direction, FBI agents raided Manafort’s home on July 26, 2017. The predawn raid used a federal search warrant, authorizing agents to look for tax documents and foreign banking records. A wide range of documents and other items were seized. Before the raid, Manafort had voluntarily provided some documents to congressional investigators, including the notes he took during the meeting with Veselnitskaya.[152][363]

On October 27, 2017, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates were indicted by a federal grand jury as part of Mueller’s investigation.[335][364] The twelve-count indictment charged them with conspiracy against the United Statesmaking false statementsmoney laundering, and failing to register as foreign agents for Ukraine as required by the Foreign Agents Registration Act.[335] Manafort was charged with four counts of failing to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts while Gates was charged with three.[332] The charges arise from Manafort‘s consulting work for a pro-Russian government in Ukraine and are unrelated to the Trump campaign.[365]

On October 30, 2017, Manafort and Gates surrendered to the FBI, and a judge placed them both under house arrest and were required to provide unsecured bonds.[366] On December 4, 2017, prosecutors asked the judge to revoke Manafort’s bond agreement, charging that Manafort violated the terms of his bail by working on an op-ed piece with Konstantin Kilimnik,[367] an associate with ties to Russian intelligence.[139]

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued an order on December 22, 2017, demanding that Gates explain why his comments in a brief, videotaped address to the fundraiser held in an Arlington Holiday Inn on December 19, did not amount to a violation of the gag order she issued in the case. Of particular concern to Jackson is Gates’ involvement with the Washington-area lobbyist who organized the event, Jack Burkman.[368]

On January 16, 2018, Judge Jackson denied the government’s proposal for a May 14 trial, indicating that the criminal trial appears likely to start in September or October.[369] Gates was released from home confinement, but not Manafort. A letter from Manafort’s physician had asked that he be permitted to attend a gym for health reasons, but Jackson said, “While he’s subject to home confinement, he’s not confined to his couch, and I believe he has plenty of opportunity to exercise.”[369]

On February 1, 2018, three of Gates’ attorneys filed a motion to withdraw their representation of Gates.[370] Walter Mack, one of the attorneys, said in court the previous month that Mueller’s prosecutors had warned him of more impending charges against Gates.[371] Gates has reportedly added Tom Green, a prominent white-collar attorney, to his defense team, signaling a possible change to his legal approach; and attorneys from Green’s firm were seen entering the building where Mueller works.[372] On the hearing of the motion on February 8 before Judge Jackson, the attorneys cited ‘irreconcilable differences’ with their client. Gates’ new attorney has not filed a formal appearance in the case, which is the typical procedure when changing counsel.[373] The outcome of the hearing is still subject to a gag order.

On February 15, 2018, CNN reported that Gates was finalizing a plea deal with Mueller’s office, indicating he was poised to cooperate in the investigation. He had already undergone his “Queen for a Day” interview, in which Gates answered any and all questions from Mueller’s team, including about his own case and other potential criminal activity he witnessed or participated in.[374]

On February 22, 2018, both Manafort and Gates were further charged with additional crimes, involving a tax avoidance scheme and bank fraud, in Virginia.[336][375] The charges were filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, rather than in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, as the tax fraud overt actions had occurred in Virginia and not in the District, forcing Mueller to bring the charges in Virginia, because one of the defendants did not agree to waive the issue of venue jurisdiction.[376] The new indictment alleges that Manafort, with assistance from Gates, laundered over $30 million through offshore bank accounts between approximately 2006 and 2015. Manafort allegedly used funds in these offshore accounts to purchase real estate in the United States, in addition to personal goods and services.

On February 23, 2018, Gates pleaded guilty in federal court to lying to investigators and engaging in a conspiracy to defraud the United States. Gates said he had previously intended to challenge the charges against him, but recently decided to plead guilty. He admitted that he had lied to investigators in February 2018, while he was under indictment and negotiating with prosecutors. Gates faces a possible prison sentence of nearly six years, but he agreed to cooperate with the Mueller investigation for a possible sentence reduction, possibly only probation, depending on the level of cooperation he provides to the government.[377][378] Through a spokesman, Manafort expressed disappointment in Gates’ decision to plead guilty and said he has no similar plans. “I continue to maintain my innocence,” he said.[379] On February 27, the special counsel moved to dismiss without prejudice 22 tax and bank fraud charges against Gates as part of their plea agreement.[380]

On February 28, 2018, Manafort entered a not guilty plea in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Judge Jackson subsequently set a trial date of September 17, 2018, and reprimanded Manafort and his attorney for violating her gag order by issuing a statement the previous week after former co-defendant Gates pleaded guilty.[337] On March 8, 2018, Manafort also pleaded not guilty to bank fraud and tax charges in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. Judge T. S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia set his trial on those charges to begin on July 10, 2018.[381] CBS News reported on March 28, 2018, that Manafort is declining a plea deal and proceeding to trial because he is expecting a pardon from Trump.[221]

In response to Manafort’s court motions that charges against him be dismissed because Mueller exceeded his investigative authority,[382] Mueller’s office on April 2, 2018, released in a court filing a partially-redacted memorandum of August 2, 2017, in which Rod Rosenstein specifically authorized Mueller to investigate whether Manafort “committed a crime or crimes by colluding with Russian government officials with respect to the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 election for president of the United States, in violation of United States law,” as well as whether he “committed a crime or crimes arising out of payments he received from the Ukrainian government before and during the tenure of President Viktor Yanukovych.”[383] In a court hearing on April 19, 2018, the Justice Department for the first time specifically noted the Mueller investigation’s interest in whether Manafort provided a backchannel between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, adding that following the money trail of Manafort’s consulting business was a natural necessity of investigating such a backchannel.[384] Manafort’s suit claiming that the Mueller investigation exceeded its investigative authority was dismissed on April 27, 2018.[385]

On June 4, 2018, Mueller accused Manafort of witness tampering by contacting witnesses by phone and encrypted messaging “in an effort to secure materially false testimony,” asking a federal judge to revise or revoke the release agreement that had kept Manafort out of jail pending trial.[386][387]

Michael Flynn

As part of the investigation, Mueller assumed control of a Virginia-based grand jury criminal probe into the relationship between Flynn and Turkish businessman Kamil Ekim Alptekin.[388] Flynn Intel Group, an intelligence consultancy, was paid $530,000 by Alptekin’s company Inovo BV to produce a documentary and conduct research on Fethullah Gülen, an exiled Turkish cleric who lives in the United States.[388] The special prosecutor is investigating whether the money came from the Turkish government, and whether Flynn kicked funds back to a middleman to conceal the payment’s original source. Investigators are also looking at Flynn’s finances more generally, including possible payments from Russian companies and from the Japanese government. White House documents relating to Flynn have been requested as evidence.[389] The lead person within Mueller’s team for this investigation is Brandon Van Grack.[390] Flynn’s son, Michael G. Flynn, is also a subject of the investigation. Michael G. Flynn worked closely with his father’s lobbying company, the Flynn Intel Group, and accompanied his father on his 2015 visit to Moscow.[391]

On November 5, 2017, NBC News reported that Mueller had enough evidence for charges against Flynn and his son.[392] NBC News reported on November 22, 2017, that former Flynn business partner Bijan Kian is a subject of the Mueller investigation.[393] In late November 2017, Flynn’s defense team stopped sharing information with Trump’s team of lawyers,[394] which was interpreted as a sign that Flynn was cooperating and negotiating a plea bargain with the special counsel team.[394][395][396] On December 1, 2017, Michael Flynn agreed to a plea bargain with Mueller. He appeared in federal court to plead guilty to a single felony count of “willfully and knowingly” making “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the FBI and to confirm his intention to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation, including “participating in covert law enforcement activities.”[397][398] As part of Flynn’s plea bargain, his son Michael G. Flynn is not expected to be charged.[399][400] On January 31, 2018, the Mueller team advised a federal court that they will not be ready to request sentencing of Flynn until at least May 1, 2018;[401] and on that day, the special counsel requested an extension to June 29, 2018.[351]

Richard Pinedo

On February 16, 2018, Mueller’s office unsealed an indictment which revealed that Richard Pinedo, of Santa Paula, California, accepted a plea agreement on February 2, in which he pleaded guilty to identity fraud, and using the identity of other persons for “unlawful activity”, both felonies.[342] Pinedo also agreed to cooperate with the investigation, but faces up to fifteen years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.[342] Pinedo had operated Auction Essistance, a web-based business that brokered bank account numbers, enabling people who had been barred from websites like eBay and PayPal to return to those websites under a different identity.[342]

Alex van der Zwaan

On February 16, 2018, Mueller charged attorney Alex van der Zwaan with one count of making false statements to the FBI with respect to Van der Zwaan’s communications with Gates and another individual identified as “Person A”, believed to be Konstantin Kilimnik, in addition to deleting email sought by investigators.[5][402][345] Van der Zwaan is the son-in-law of German Khan, who owns Russia’s Alfa-Bank along with Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven, the three of whom are named in the Trump–Russia dossier.[402]

Van der Zwaan pleaded guilty on February 20, 2018;[403][404][402] the guilty plea did not include an agreement to cooperate with the Mueller investigation.[405] On March 27, 2018, Mueller’s office asked a judge to consider jail time for Van der Zwaan.[406] His sentencing hearing was held on April 3, 2018, and he was sentenced to 30 days in prison followed by two months of supervised release, and fined $20,000.[344][407] Judge Amy Berman Jackson stated that Van der Zwaan, whose pregnant wife is due to give birth in August, can have his passport back after his 30-day sentence, at which point he can self-deport back to Europe if Immigrations and Customs Enforcement allows.[408][409] His sentence could have been as long as five years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine.[410]

In June, after van der Zwaan was released from prison, he was deported from the United States.[411]

Internet Research Agency, et al.

File:Grand Jury Indicts Thirteen Russian Individuals and Three Russian Companies for Scheme to Interfere.webm

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announces Indictments of thirteen Russian Individuals and Three Russian Companies.

On February 16, 2018, special counsel Robert Mueller’s team announced it had filed an indictment of 13 Russian nationals and three Russian organizations.[412][413] The indictment alleges that Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin,[414] funneled significant funds to Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-linked company headquartered in Saint Petersburg and described as a “troll factory”,[415] for the purposes of carrying out a secret operation to influence the outcome of the 2016 United States presidential election while obstructing the enforcement of federal elections laws.[346][416] The indictment alleges that members of the conspiracy traveled to the United States to conduct research; created social media accounts impersonating Americans; opened financial accounts with the stolen identities of Americans; bought advertisements on social media platforms; organized and financed political rallies; and posted and promoted material favorable to Donald Trump, Jill Stein, and Bernie Sanders, while disparaging candidates like Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz. The indictment cites one case in which the defendants and their co-conspirators paid a U.S. person to build a cage on a flatbed truck and paid another U.S. person to wear a costume portraying Hillary Clinton in a prison uniform for a pro-Trump political rally in Florida.[346][416][413] Reporters have since contacted some of those “unwitting” Americans. The man who built the cage says he often spoke on the phone with the group that paid him for it, and he never suspected he was dealing with Russians until the FBI contacted him months later.[417]

The indictment’s allegations that Russians were actively interfering in the 2016 election process refute President Trump’s repeated assertions that Russian interference was a “hoax” devised by Democrats or perpetrated by others, such as China.[418][419]


Initial bipartisan support

Mueller’s appointment to oversee the investigation immediately garnered widespread support from Democrats and from some Republicans in Congress.[420][421] Senator Charles Schumer (DNY) said, “Former Director Mueller is exactly the right kind of individual for this job. I now have significantly greater confidence that the investigation will follow the facts wherever they lead.” Senator Dianne Feinstein (D–CA) stated, “Bob was a fine U.S. attorney, a great FBI director and there’s no better person who could be asked to perform this function.” She added, “He is respected, he is talented and he has the knowledge and ability to do the right thing.” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (RUT) tweeted that “Mueller is a great selection. Impeccable credentials. Should be widely accepted.”[420] Much Republican support in Congress was lukewarm: Rep. Peter T. King (RNY) said “It’s fine. I just don’t think there is any need for it.”[422] Republican former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich tweeted that Mueller is a “superb choice to be special counsel. His reputation is impeccable for honesty and integrity,”[423] but less than a month later he tweeted “Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair.”[424]

Former United States Attorney Preet Bharara wrote of the team that “Bob Mueller is recruiting the smartest and most seasoned professionals who have a long track record of independence and excellence”.[49] Former special prosecutor Ken Starr, who had investigated Bill Clinton during the Clinton administration, said that the team was “a great, great team of complete professionals”.[52]

Conservative opposition

Some conservatives, including political commentators Laura IngrahamAnn Coulter, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, stated that Mueller should be dismissed and the investigation closed.[425][426][427] Christopher Ruddy, the founder of the right-leaning Newsmax, and a friend of Trump, stated that the president has considered firing Mueller.[428]

On June 23, 2017, Trump stated that members of Mueller’s team were “all Hillary Clinton supporters, some of them worked for Hillary Clinton.” PolitiFact rated Trump’s claim “Mostly False”, noting that only three had made campaign contributions to Hillary Clinton and one had defended the Clinton Foundation in court. One member of the team had made contributions to Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz and Republican Senator George Allen.[429][55] In an interview with The New York Times published on July 19, 2017, Trump stated that he would have not appointed Sessions as Attorney General had he known that he was going to recuse himself from the investigation. Furthermore, Trump confirmed that he would view it as a violation if Mueller investigated his and his family’s finances, unrelated to Russia.[430]

On June 25, 2017, it was reported that a pro-Trump group had launched an ad called “Witch Hunt,” featuring conservative Tomi Lahren, which attacked Mueller and the investigation.[431]

On July 21, 2017, the Washington Post reported that Trump asked his advisors about his power to pardon those under investigation. Trump and his legal team discussed the possibility of Trump pardoning aides, family members, and himself. No president has ever pardoned himself, so there is no case law on whether it would be legal. Trump attorneys also reportedly created a list of Mueller’s potential conflicts of interest. Trump lawyer John Dowd said the story was “nonsense”.[237]

On August 3, 2017, at a campaign-style rally in West Virginia, Trump continued to deny any Russian involvement in his campaign or win: “The Russia story is a total fabrication. It’s just an excuse for the greatest loss in the history of American politics, that’s all it is.” This occurred on the same day as the announcement that another grand jury had been impaneled.[432]

On August 12, 2017, The New York Times published an interview of Republican Senator Richard Burr, the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in which he said he was hopeful that the investigation would be complete by the end of the year.[433]

Sean Hannity, a strong supporter of Trump, has been a vocal and persistent critic of the Mueller investigation on his Fox News television show, Hannity, and syndicated radio program, The Sean Hannity Show. He has called the investigation a “witch hunt” and described Mueller as “corrupt, abusively biased and political.”[434][435] Hannity has asserted that the investigation arose from an elaborate, corrupt scheme involving Hillary Clinton;[436] the Steele dossier, which he asserts is completely false although parts of it have been reported as verified;[437] former Justice Department officials James Comey, Andrew McCabeBruce Ohr, and others; and a wiretap on former Trump aide Carter Page that Hannity asserts was obtained by misrepresentations to the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, characterizing the wiretap as an abuse of power that is “far bigger than Watergate” and “the weaponizing of those powerful tools of intelligence and the shredding of our Fourth Amendment, constitutional rights.”[434][436]

Jeanine Pirro, a former Westchester County district attorney and currently host of a weekly Fox News program Justice with Judge Jeanine, has been friends with President Trump for decades.[438] On her program, Pirro described Mueller, FBI Director Christopher Wray (a Trump appointee), former FBI Director James Comey and other current/former FBI officials as a “criminal cabal,”[439] saying “There is a cleansing needed in our FBI and Department of Justice—it needs to be cleansed of individuals who should not just be fired, but who need to be taken out in cuffs.”[440]

Tucker Carlson, host of the Fox News program Tucker Carlson Tonight, said on March 2, 2018, “We’ve been hearing about Russia non-stop, literally non-stop, for more than a year. Almost no information has come out to justify the obsession, none has come out to justify the claim that there was collusion, and most Americans are no longer interested, if they ever were.”[441]

Opposition to the investigation

Throughout 2017 and 2018, Trump and his allies in Congress and the media have promulgated a series of narratives to assert that the FBI, Justice Department and Mueller investigation have been engaged in an elaborate, corrupt conspiracy against Trump. Among other things, Trump has characterized the Mueller investigation as a “rigged Russia witch hunt,” while prominent Trump supporter Sean Hannity has described it as “the biggest corruption scandal in American history.”[442] On May 29, 2018, Trump went so far as to assert that the Mueller investigation intended to meddle in the 2018 midterm elections,[443] an accusation Hannity reinforced on his Fox News show that night, saying Mueller “wants to derail many pro-Trump Republicans in the midterms.”[442] In a two-minute monologue that same day, Fox News anchorman Shepard Smith flatly debunked that assertion and a number of other Trump narratives, saying “you laugh at them because there’s almost nothing else you can do.”[444]

Amid concerns that Trump might attempt to halt the investigation by having Mueller dismissed, some members of Congress have supported a bipartisan bill designed to protect Mueller. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on April 17, 2018, that such a bill was not necessary and he would not allow it to come to the Senate floor for a vote. Nevertheless, the chairman of the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley announced on April 19, 2018, that his committee would vote on the measure the following week.[445][446]

By the President

Trump reportedly asked White House Counsel Donald McGahn in April 2017 to call acting deputy attorney general Dana Boente—who was supervising the Russia probe at the time, prior to Mueller’s appointment—and get him to persuade Comey to announce that Trump was not personally under investigation. McGahn made the call but failed to convince Boente that Comey should make the statement.[447]

In June 2017, Trump reportedly tried to fire Mueller, according to several independent accounts published in January 2018. The reports said that Trump told McGahn to fire Mueller; that McGahn refused, saying that to do so would have a catastrophic effect on Trump’s presidency; and that Trump then backed off. The New York Times reported that McGahn said he would resign rather than carry out the order, while CNN said McGahn did not directly threaten to resign, and Fox News said Trump was persuaded not to carry out the action by McGahn and other aides.[294][448][449] The New York Times report said that Trump cited three conflicts of interest on Mueller’s part to justify the dismissal: a years-old dispute over fees at Trump National Golf Club; the fact that Mueller had most recently worked for the law firm that previously represented Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and the fact that Mueller had been interviewed to return as FBI Director the day before he was appointed special counsel.[294] According to CNN, another reason Trump wanted to fire Mueller was Trump’s perception that Mueller was close friends with Comey, although others have described them as professional acquaintances from having simultaneously worked in the Justice Department during the George W. Bush presidency.[450] In August 2017, Trump said he had never thought about firing Mueller, and by December 2017 he had denied it twice more; in that time period his lawyers and advisers also issued five similar denials. By January 2017, Trump and his surrogates had denied that he had considered firing Mueller a total of eight times.[451] Trump dismissed the January 2018 The New York Times story as “fake news”.[448] McGahn was interviewed by Mueller’s investigators on November 30, 2017.[452]

Also in June 2017, Trump reportedly instructed his aides to start a campaign for his administration and his Republican allies to discredit potential witnesses in the investigation, including FBI officials Andrew McCabe, Jim Rybicki, and James Baker. The three men had been identified by Comey as his confidants. The instruction was reported in January 2018 by Foreign Policy. Trump’s lead attorney John Dowd disputed the accuracy of the report.[453]

In early December 2017 Trump sought to fire Mueller, according to an April 2018 report in The New York Times, but stopped after learning the news reports he based his decision on were incorrect.[454]

On December 16, 2017, Kory Langhofer, a lawyer for Trump for America, sent a letter to Congress alleging that Mueller’s team had unlawfully acquired, via the GSA, tens of thousands of emails sent and received by thirteen senior members of the Trump transition team. The communications derived from the official governmental presidential transition team domain, “”.[455][456][457] On the following day, GSA Deputy Counsel Lenny Loewentritt stated that Trump’s transition team had been explicitly advised at the time of the transition that all material passing through government equipment would be subject to monitoring and auditing, and would not be held back from law enforcement officers.[458][459] A spokesman for Mueller’s investigation, Peter Carr, also rejected Langhofer’s claims, stating that the Trump transition emails were acquired appropriately through the criminal investigation process.[460]

In January 2018, CNN reported that Trump was unhappy with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the Mueller investigation. Trump reportedly talked about wanting to fire Rosenstein and proposed firing him, before being persuaded otherwise by his advisers.[461]

On March 17, 2018, Trump’s personal attorney, John Dowd, urged Rod Rosenstein to follow the “courageous example” of Sessions in dismissing Andrew McCabe and “bring an end” to the Mueller investigation. Dowd originally told the Daily Beast that he was speaking on behalf of the president, but later told CNN he was speaking only for himself. A source told CNN that Trump had not authorized the statement,[462] but two sources told The New York Times that Dowd was speaking at Trump’s urging.[463] Beginning that same day, Trump appeared to abandon his attorneys’ advice to avoid directly criticizing the Mueller investigation, tweeting that the “Mueller probe should never have been started” and that it was a “WITCH HUNT!” He also claimed that “there was tremendous leaking, lying and corruption at the highest levels of the FBI, Justice & State.”[464] The next day, he questioned how “fair” it was that “the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans”. Trump did not note that Mueller himself is a Republican, as is the man who appointed him, Rod Rosenstein—who was appointed by Trump.[465] This was the first time he had criticized Mueller by name, alarming many prominent Republicans, who cautioned Trump not to criticize Mueller or give any appearance that he was contemplating having Mueller dismissed; they warned of dire repercussions if he did. Presidential lawyer Ty Cobb later stated that the president “is not considering or discussing” firing Mueller.[466]

During the week of March 19, 2018, Trump hired the law firm diGenova & Toensing, headed by Joseph diGenova and his wife and law partner Victoria Toensing. Both are longtime Republican activists, having appeared on Fox News on numerous occasions to criticize Democrats, most notably Bill and Hillary Clinton. In recent weeks diGenova has advanced the narrative that a “deep state” conspiracy is attempting to subvert Trump. In January 2018, diGenova said on Fox News, “There was a brazen plot to illegally exonerate Hillary Clinton and, if she didn’t win the election, to then frame Donald Trump with a falsely created crime. Make no mistake about it: A group of FBI and DOJ people were trying to frame Donald Trump of a falsely created crime.” Fox News reported that Toensing had recently represented Trump associates Mark CoralloSam Clovis, and Erik Prince, and that Corallo, Clovis, and Trump signed waivers of any potential conflicts of interest.[467][468] The White House announced later that week that diGenova and Toensing would not be hired as part of the special counsel legal team, but might assist Trump in other legal matters. Trump attorney Jay Sekulow cited conflicts of interest, while two sources told The New York Times that Trump hadn’t established personal rapport with diGenova and Toensing.[106]

In April 2018, following an FBI raid on the office and home of Trump’s private attorney Michael Cohen, Trump for the first time spoke openly about firing Mueller, saying that “many people” had advised him to do so and “We’ll see what happens.”[469] Under Department of Justice regulations, that authority can only be exercised by Rosenstein, the DOJ official in charge of the special counsel investigation, but White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump believes he has the power to do it directly, although he is not currently acting to do so.[470] Trump also said that the “witch hunt” that began “right after I won the nomination” is “an attack on our country in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for.”[471] In May 2018, Trump tweeted that the special counsel probe, led by “13 Angry Democrats”, was investigating him on “obstruction for a made up, phony crime”. He declared that there was no obstruction, only him “fighting back”.[472]

Following the May 2018 disclosure that FBI informant Stefan Halper had spoken with Trump campaign aides Carter Page, George Papadopolous and Sam Clovis, Trump and his allies advanced a narrative that the FBI had embedded a spy inside the Trump campaign—which Trump dubbed #SpyGate. This prompted the Justice Department to provide a May 24 special classified briefing regarding Halper and related topics, attended by—among others—Trey Gowdy, chairman of the Republican-controlled House Oversight Committee. On May 29, 2018, Gowdy—a former federal prosecutor—told Fox News, “I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got, and that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump…President Trump himself in the Comey memos said if anyone connected with my campaign was working with Russia, I want you to investigate it, and it sounds to me like that is exactly what the FBI did. I think when the President finds out what happened, he is going to be not just fine, he is going to be glad that we have an FBI that took seriously what they heard. He was never the target. Russia was the target.”[473][474] Andrew Napolitano, a Trump friend and senior judicial analyst for Fox News, said much the same thing on Fox News that same day: “The allegations from Mayor Giuliani over the weekend, which would lead us to believe that the Trump people think the FBI had an undercover agent who inveigled his way into Trump’s campaign and was there as a spy on the campaign, seem to be baseless—there is no evidence for that whatsoever…But the other allegation about this professor, whose name we’re not supposed to mention, talking to people on the periphery of the campaign, that is standard operating procedure in intelligence gathering and in criminal Investigations.”[475]

By Congress

On July 26, 2017, Florida Representative Matt Gaetz introduced a congressional resolution calling for a special counsel investigation into the handling of the Hillary Clinton email controversy by James Comey, undue interference of Attorney General Loretta Lynch in that investigation, and the acquisition of Uranium One by the Russian state corporation Rosatom during Mueller’s time as FBI director.[476][477] Gaetz stated that he did not trust Mueller to lead the investigation because of his alleged involvement in approval of the Uranium One deal and his allegedly close relationship with Comey, a probable person of interest in the proposed investigation.[477] The resolution was referred to two House committees where it has remained as of February 21, 2018.[478]

On August 24, 2017, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Florida) added a rider to the proposed fiscal 2018 spending bill package that would block funding from being used “for the investigation under that order of matters occurring before June 2015” (the month Trump announced he was running for president) immediately and terminated funding for the special counsel investigation 180 days after passage of the bill.[479] Rep. DeSantis said that the DOJ order of May 17, 2017, “didn’t identify a crime to be investigated and practically invites a fishing expedition.”[480] House Republican leaders did not allow the amendment to proceed to the floor for a vote.[481]

On November 3, 2017, Gaetz introduced another resolution demanding Mueller’s resignation as special counsel due to conflicts of interest, this resolution was co-sponsored by U.S. Representative from Arizona Andy Biggs and U.S. Representative from Texas Louie Gohmert; Arizona Representative Trent Franks co-sponsored the resolution on November 8, 2017.[482][483] The resolution was referred to the House Judiciary Committee where it has remained as of February 21, 2018.[484] As a “sense of the House” resolution, its approval would not be legally binding upon Mueller.[485]

On February 2, 2018, the House Intelligence Committee with Trump’s authorization released a memo written by committee chair Devin Nunes and staff. The Nunes memo,[486] based on classified information, alleged that the FBI and Department of Justice “may have relied on politically motivated or questionable sources” in October 2016 in seeking authorization for a wiretap on Carter Page, a former adviser to Trump’s campaign.[487] Prior to the memo’s release, Trump told associates that it would discredit the investigation,[488] and after its release, Trump claimed in a tweet that the memo “totally vindicates” him.[489] On February 24, 2018, the House Intelligence Committee with Trump’s authorization released a redacted version of a memo from Adam Schiff, ranking Democratic member of the committee, as a response to the Nunes memo. The response contended the wiretaps were properly obtained and were warranted because Page had been assessed by intelligence agencies as “an agent of the Russian government,” adding that “Our extensive review of the initial FISA application and three subsequent renewals failed to uncover any evidence of illegal, unethical, or unprofessional behavior by law enforcement and instead revealed that both the FBI and DOJ made extensive showings to justify all four requests.”[490][486]

By others

The New York Times reported on March 28, 2018, that the Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz would investigate accusations of wrongdoing surrounding the surveillance of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, “amid a stream of attacks in recent months from the White House and Republican lawmakers seeking to undermine the special counsel’s investigation.”[491] The announcement fell short of the demands of several Republican politicians and prominent Trump supporters such as Sean Hannity for the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to investigate.[492][493] CNN reported on March 29, 2018, that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had appointed John W. Huber, the United States Attorney for the District of Utah, to investigate this and other matters. In a letter to three Republican Congressional committee chairmen, Sessions said he would rely on Huber’s findings to decide if a special counsel needed to be appointed. Huber had been investigating the matter for a time, but his involvement had not previously been disclosed. CNN reported that Huber is investigating “a cluster of Republican-driven accusations against the FBI,” which includes allegations that the FBI acted inappropriately in two matters involving Hillary Clinton, including her emails and the sale of Uranium One to a Russian-owned company.[494]

On April 11, 2018, Trump tweeted “Big show tonight on @seanhannity! 9:00 P.M. on @FoxNews”, twelve minutes before the program aired.[495] During the program, Hannity discussed a purported “Mueller crime family”, while his guest Newt Gingrich compared FBI activity under the Mueller investigation to that of the Gestapo of Nazi Germany, and guest Joseph diGenova asserted that Mueller “has surrounded himself with literally a bunch of legal terrorists.” Hannity also discussed purported “crime families” headed by Hillary Clinton and James Comey.[496]

Alan DershowitzSean HannityRush Limbaugh and others have asserted that Mueller was responsible for the improper imprisonment of four men when he was a federal prosecutor in Boston during the 1980s. In an opinion piece on April 18, 2018, entitled Smearing Robert MuellerNancy Gertner, a retired federal judge who presided over the matter, wrote “The record simply doesn’t support these assertions.”[497]


A May 2017 Politico/Morning Consult poll showed that 81% of U.S. voters supported the special prosecutor’s investigation.[498] A June 2017 Associated Press–NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll asked U.S. adults whether the special counsel investigation could be fair and impartial: 26% were “extremely confident” or “very confident”; 36% were “moderately confident” and 36% were “not very confident” or “not at all confident.”[499] The poll indicated that 68% of Americans were at least “moderately concerned” about inappropriate connections between the Trump campaign and the Russians.[500]

A poll published in November 2017 by ABC News and The Washington Post found that 58% of Americans approved of Mueller’s handling of his investigation, while 28% disapproved. It also indicated that half of Americans believed that President Trump was not co-operating with the investigation.[501] A Quinnipiac poll published on November 15, 2017, suggested that 60% of Americans believed that Mueller’s investigation was proceeding fairly, with 27% believing that it was not. The poll also found that 47% of respondents said that President Trump ought to be impeached if he were to dismiss Mueller.[502]

A December poll by Associated Press–NORC indicated that four out of ten Americans believed that Trump had committed a crime in connection with Russia, with an additional three out of ten beyond that believing that he had acted unethically. It found that 62% of Democrats and 5% of Republicans believe that Trump acted illegally. It found that 68% of Americans believed that Trump was obstructing the investigation. 57% of respondents said that they were “extremely confident” or “moderately confident” that Mueller’s investigation is fair.[503]

In another December poll from The Hill, 54% of respondents believe Mueller has a conflict of interest due to his relationship with James Comey. The poll also found 36% agreed Trump and his allies are getting harsher treatment from the special counsel than Clinton and her allies did during the FBI investigation into her handling of classified material.”[504] The same poll found that 60 percent of voters say that “a comment to the FBI director that he should consider letting Flynn off the hook” is not enough to constitute obstruction of justice.

USA Today/Suffolk University poll released on February 26, 2018, showed that a 58% majority of registered voters say they have a lot or some trust in Mueller’s investigation, while a 57% majority say they have little or no trust in Trump’s denials. Further, 75% say they take the charges filed by Mueller seriously; most of them say they take them “very” seriously. That represents some shift in views over the past year. In a USA Today/Suffolk Poll in March 2017, 63% called it very or somewhat serious.[505]

A CBS poll released in May 2018 found that a majority of Americans, 53%, believe the investigation is politically motivated, although most agreed it should continue.[506] Republican supporters believe their Congress members should take steps to end the investigation, while most independents and nearly all Democrat supporters feel the investigation should be allowed to continue.[507]

See also