After that scare, we all experienced last week with the firing of Jeff Sessions I thought we should take a look at the state of play surrounding this Russia investigation.
And there is actually quite a bit going on.
Courtesy of Business Insider:
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker will consult with ethics officials at the Department of Justice (DOJ) about whether a recusal from overseeing the Russia investigation is warranted, according to a DOJ spokesperson.
“Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker is fully committed to following all appropriate processes and procedures at the Department of Justice, including consulting with senior ethics officials on his oversight responsibilities and matters that may warrant recusal,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
The news is significant — it comes after a steady stream of revelations about Whitaker’s history of making antagonistic comments about the Russia investigation and the special counsel Robert Mueller. If Whitaker were to recuse himself, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would resume oversight of the investigation. Though DOJ officials typically follow the recommendations of ethics officials, they are not required to do so.
Now there are a whole lot of folks saying that Whitaker simply cannot take Jeff Sessions job without a Senate confirmation anyhow, and if he does there is no way with his past statement that he can be allowed to oversee the investigation.
In the end, there may not be a choice, since a Maryland judge is being asked to make sure Rod Rosenstein continues to oversee the investigation.
Courtesy of NBC News:
The state of Maryland plans to ask a federal judge on Tuesday for an order declaring that Rod Rosenstein is the acting attorney general — not Matt Whitaker, who was appointed to that position last week after the forced resignation of Jeff Sessions.
If the judge does as Maryland asks, ruling that Whitaker cannot serve as attorney general, it would be a blow to President Donald Trump, who bypassed Rosenstein in favor of someone who has repeatedly criticized Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian election meddling.
The Justice Department would immediately appeal any such ruling, and the case could be on a fast track to the Supreme Court.
I have to say that if Whitaker does recuse himself from this investigation Trump is going to come completely unglued as this would be the second Attorney General to take themselves off the case and protecting Trump from this investigation is clearly the ONLY reason that Whitaker was considered for the position in the first place.
And the investigation is continuing forward despite all of this peripheral drama.
Courtesy of The Hill:
A Roger Stone associate on Monday said he believes special counsel Robert Mueller will indict him in the next couple of days for giving false information to federal investigators despite cooperating with the Russia investigation.
“I’m going to be criminally charged,” Jerome Corsi, a conservative commentator and conspiracy theorist, said during a YouTube livestream. “As of today, right now, I expect to be indicted.”
Corsi, who said he tried to cooperate with the investigation, claimed that his “mind was mush” after speaking with investigators, and alleged that they set up a “perjury trap” for him by not allowing him to see what documents and statements they were referring to during his “interrogation.”
Some MSNBC journalists were supposed to interview Corsi today but apparently, Mueller shut that whole thing down.
Yeah, this guy is screwed.
Jerome Corsi, by the way, is not only the guy who claimed to have contact with Julian Assange and predicted the release of the Wikileaks emails but he is also called the father of the birther movement. So watching him sweat this indictment is pretty satisfying on a couple of levels.
This also likely means that it will soon be Roger Stone’s turn in the barrel.
It was also revealed yesterday that Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen turned up in DC recently.
Courtesy of CNBC:
Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer for President Donald Trump, took a train Monday to Washington from New York to talk to investigators from the office of special counsel Robert Mueller.
A person familiar with the matter, who declined to be named, told CNBC that Cohen visited Washington with criminal defense lawyer Guy Petrillo to speak with Mueller’s team.
Cohen’s meeting with Mueller’s team was only the latest in a series of sit-downs the attorney has had with the special counsel’s office since pleading guilty in August to federal criminal charges. Those included campaign contribution violations related to payments to two women, purportedly at the behest of Trump. That case was brought by federal investigators in the Southern District of New York, not Mueller’s team.
So that cooperation is still going strong, but another may be faltering.
Courtesy of Business Insider:
Talks between the special counsel Robert Mueller and Paul Manafort, the former chairman of President Donald Trump’s campaign, have broken down in recent days, ABC News reported Friday.
Manafort struck a plea deal with Mueller’s team in September, shortly after he was convicted on eight counts related to tax fraud, bank fraud, and failure to report foreign bank accounts. Before his second trial, Manafort pleaded guilty to conspiracy and obstruction and agreed to cooperate with Mueller.
Since then, Manafort has met with prosecutors nearly a dozen times, and though members of Mueller’s team have been asking him about a wide range of topics, they’re “not getting what they want,” a source with knowledge of the discussions told ABC News.
Andrew Weissmann, a prosecutor working for Mueller, told US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson when Manafort’s plea deal was announced that Manafort would cooperate “in any and all matters as to which the government deems the cooperation relevant,” including “testifying fully, completely” before a grand jury.
Manafort’s plea agreement also says that if he “has failed to cooperate fully” or “intentionally given false, misleading or incomplete information or testimony,” he “will not be released from his pleas of guilty but the Government will be released from its obligations.”
Some are speculating that this might have something to do with the firing of Jeff Sessions and that Manafort thinks he sees a possibility that the cavalry is on its way.
If that is true Manafort is making yet another mistake in thinking that his former boss can save his ass from Robert Mueller and his team.
I don’t know what happens next, but I can almost guarantee that Robert Mueller is several steps ahead of Donald Trump.