The US justice department has launched a criminal investigation into the origins of the Mueller inquiry, US media report. An administrative review into the special counsel’s investigation of 2016 election interference began in May. But the switch to a criminal probe means investigators can now issue subpoenas for testimony and documents. President Trump has long alleged Robert Mueller’s probe of reports of collusion with Russia was a “witch hunt”.
Special counsel Robert Mueller said Wednesday that charging President Donald Trump with a crime was “not an option” because of federal rules, but he used his first public remarks on the Russia investigation to emphasize that he did not exonerate the president. “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller declared. Mueller made clear that his team never considered indicting Trump because the Justice Department prohibits the prosecution of a sitting president.
US prosecutors say Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign chief, has breached a plea bargain agreement by repeatedly lying to the FBI. Manafort was convicted of financial fraud in August relating to his work as a political consultant in Ukraine. Manafort’s lawyers insist that he did not breach the plea deal – however, both sides now agree that there is no reason to delay sentencing.
Responding to allegations that he engaged in ‘clandestine intelligence activities’ on behalf of Russia, former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page denied on Sunday that he was an intelligence agent for Russia. President Trump claimed surveillance of the former aide confirmed the Justice Department and FBI ‘misled the courts’ in the early stages of the Russian investigation.
President Trump’s lawyer in the investigation into Russian collusion in the 2016 election, Ty Cobb, left the case, after having apparently contemplated retirement for some time. Cobb will be replaced by Emmet Flood who represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment. Flood is expected to take a more antagonistic approach to the case than Cobb.
The pressure mounts against President Trump’s former chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, after facing two subpoenas in the investigation into Russia and Trump’s associates, the first issued by Robert Mueller’s special counsel. A second subpoena was issued, Tuesday, following Bannon’s refusal to answer questions during a closed-door interview with a House Intelligence Committee.
A federal judge on Wednesday nearly doubled the prison sentence of President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, to seven and a half years, denouncing him as a man who “spent a significant portion of his career gaming the system.” The proceedings amounted to a wrenching defeat for Mr. Manafort, 69, who came to his sentencing in a wheelchair because of gout and pleading for probation so he could spend his final years with his wife.
Lobbyist and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort learned on Thursday that he will serve almost four years in prison — far short of what had been expected and recommended — for financial fraud convictions obtained by special counsel Robert Mueller as he investigated Manafort’s alleged collusion with the Russian government in 2016. Manafort, 69, had been facing up to 25 years in prison, a sentence that could have essentially kept him in jail for the rest of his life.
Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Thursday dramatically restricted Roger Stone’s ability to speak publicly about his case after he published an Instagram post with what appeared to be the crosshairs of a gun drawn behind her head. The development will in effect silence one of the most outspoken and politicized former advisers of President Donald Trump, as Stone fights against special counsel Robert Mueller in a case related to his interactions in 2016 with Russians and the Trump campaign.
President Trump’s longtime attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court on Thursday to lying about a Trump Tower project in Moscow. Cohen said he lied ‘out of loyalty’ to Trump. Cohen’s statement about the Moscow project directly contradicts Trump’s account. Cohen’s statement was part of a new plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller.