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”.
Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller emphasized on Wednesday he had not exonerated Donald Trump of obstruction of justice, as the president has claimed, but his long-awaited congressional testimony did little to add momentum to any Democratic impeachment ambitions and Trump heartily declared victory. In seven hours of congressional testimony, Mueller accused Trump of not always being truthful, called his support for the 2016 release of stolen Democratic emails “problematic” and said Russia would again try to interfere in the 2020 U.S. elections.
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.
President Donald Trump directed his former White House Counsel Donald McGahn to defy a congressional subpoena Monday, citing a Justice Department legal opinion that maintains McGahn would have immunity from testifying about his work as a close Trump adviser. A lawyer for McGahn said he would follow the president’s wishes and skip a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday. McGahn was a key figure in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, describing ways in which the president sought to curtail that federal probe.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday accused Attorney General William Barr of committing a crime by lying to Congress, blasting him in a closed-door meeting and later at a news conference. Pelosi’s comments were an apparent reference to Barr’s response last month during a House Appropriations Committee hearing, when the attorney general said he was not aware of any concerns that Mueller’s investigators might have expressed about his four-page summary of Mueller’s findings. Barr’s response appeared to contradict the revelation earlier this week that Mueller himself wrote to the attorney general, saying he was worried that Barr’s summary “threatens to undermine … public confidence” in the Russia probe.
Russia’s foreign ministry on Friday dismissed the findings of the long-awaited report by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller and said it had failed to present any evidence of Russian meddling in U.S. elections, Russian news agencies reported. Mueller’s report, released on Thursday, details extensive contacts between Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russian operatives who, it said, sought to tilt the election in Trump’s favor. The report did not find evidence of a criminal conspiracy between Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign and Russia.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation “did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities” during the 2016 campaign, he wrote in his final report. Attorney General William Barr summarized the report’s findings in a letter to lawmakers Sunday. President Trump declared victory shortly after the summary was released, claiming it was a “complete and total exoneration.”
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.
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.