Posts Tagged ‘Emmet Flood’

Spy In Trump Campaign long before FBI began investigating Russian meddling, Trump says

May 27, 2018

President Donald Trump on Friday once again made the claim that the FBI improperly spied on his presidential campaign, suggesting that the bureau used a top-secret informant to surveil his team long before it began investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

“The Democrats are now alluding to the  concept that having an Informant placed in an opposing party’s campaign is different than having a Spy, as illegal as that may be,” he tweeted. “But what about an ‘Informant’ who is paid a fortune and who ‘sets up’ way earlier than the Russian Hoax?”

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“Can anyone even imagine having Spies placed in a competing campaign, by the people and party in absolute power, for the sole purpose of political advantage and gain?” he wrote in a second tweet. “And to think that the party in question, even with the expenditure of far more money, LOST!”

The tweets were Trump’s latest suggestion that the FBI planted a mole within his campaign to spy on his team under the guise that his associates were being influenced by Moscow.

No evidence has emerged that the FBI spied on Trump’s campaign. The informant, identified in media reports as Stefan Halper, an American academic, reportedly met with at least three advisers on Trump’s campaign in 2016.

It is not clear whether the FBI paid the informant at all for his work.

Trump’s tweets Friday came a day after select lawmakers met with top Justice Department officials for two highly classified meetings to discuss the FBI’s use of the informant in the early months of the counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s role in the election.

After the meetings, congressional Democrats said they saw “no evidence” that the FBI placed a spy in the Trump campaign.

Democrats were also concerned about White House lawyer Emmet Flood’s attendance at the two meetings, with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) noting that his presence “only underscores [that] the President’s legal team expects to use information gleaned improperly from the Justice Department or the President’s allies in Congress to their legal advantage.”

The Hill

Congressional leaders get briefings on Russia probe

May 25, 2018

Republican and Democratic lawmakers have gotten classified briefings about the origins of the FBI investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, a highly unusual series of meetings prompted by partisan allegations that the bureau spied on Donald Trump’s campaign.

Democrats emerged from the meetings saying they saw no evidence to support Republican allegations that the FBI acted inappropriately, although they did express grave concern about the presence of a White House lawyer at Thursday’s briefings. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News he had learned “nothing particularly surprising,” but declined to go into detail.

Still, the extraordinary briefings drew attention to the unproved claims of FBI misconduct and political bias. The meetings were sought by Trump’s GOP allies and arranged by the White House, as the president has tried to sow suspicions about the legitimacy of the FBI investigation that spawned a special counsel probe. Initially offered only to Republicans, the briefings were the latest piece of stagecraft meant to publicize and bolster the allegations. But they also highlighted the degree to which the president and his allies have used the levers of the federal government — in this case, intelligence agencies — to aide in Trump’s personal and political defense.

President Donald Trump says he wants transparency from everyone involved in the investigation of Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election. Trump insisted Wednesday, “what I want is total transparency.” (May 23)


Under direct pressure from the president, Justice Department officials agreed to grant Republicans a briefing, and only later opened it up to Democrats. The invite list evolved up until hours before the meeting — a reflection of the partisan distrust and the political wrangling. A White House lawyer, Emmet Flood, and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly showed up for both briefings, although the White House had earlier said it would keep a distance, drawing criticism from Democrats.

“For the record, the president’s chief of staff and his attorney in an ongoing criminal investigation into the president’s campaign have no business showing up to a classified intelligence briefing,” Sen. Mark Warner tweeted after the briefing.

The White House said the officials didn’t attend the full briefings, but instead delivered brief remarks communicating the “president’s desire for as much openness as possible under the law” and relaying “the president’s understanding of the need to protect human intelligence services and the importance of communication between the branches of government,” according to a statement.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher Wray and National Intelligence Director Dan Coats attended both meetings — the first at the Department of Justice and the second on Capitol Hill.

Trump has zeroed in on, and at times embellished, reports that a longtime U.S. government informant approached members of his campaign in a possible bid to glean intelligence on Russian efforts to sway the election. The president intensified his attacks this week, calling it “spygate” and tweeting Thursday that it was “Starting to look like one of the biggest political scandals in U.S. history.”

It was unclear how much information was given to lawmakers. According to a U.S. official familiar with the meeting, the briefers did not reveal the name of an informant. They brought documents but did not share them, and made several remarks about the importance of protecting intelligence sources and methods. The person declined to be identified because the briefing was classified.

In a statement, House Speaker Paul Ryan wouldn’t say what he learned, but said he looked forward to the “prompt completion” of the House Intelligence Committee’s work now that they are “getting the cooperation necessary.”

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, an ardent Trump supporter, had originally requested the information on an FBI source in the Russia investigation. The original meeting was scheduled for just Nunes and Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, but the Justice Department relented and allowed additional lawmakers to come after Democrats strongly objected.

Nunes and other Republicans already eager to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation used Trump’s complaints to obtain the briefing from the Justice Department, whose leaders have tried for months to balance demands from congressional overseers against their stated obligation to protect Mueller’s ongoing investigation into ties between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign.

Nunes attended both briefings Thursday. According to the U.S. official and another person briefed on the Capitol Hill meeting, Nunes did not speak at all during the briefing. The second person also declined to be named because the meeting was classified.

Democratic lawmakers declined to comment on the substance of the briefing, but gave a joint statement afterward saying their view had not changed that “there is no evidence to support any allegation that the FBI or any intelligence agency placed a ‘spy’ in the Trump Campaign, or otherwise failed to follow appropriate procedures and protocols.”

The statement was issued by Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, and the top Democrats on the Senate and House intelligence panels, Warner and Rep. Adam Schiff.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr also attended the briefing but did not comment afterward.

The back and forth between Congress and the Justice Department has simmered for weeks.

The Justice Department had rejected Nunes’ original request, writing in a letter in April that his request for information could put lives in danger.

Negotiations over release of the information stalled but restarted when Trump demanded, via tweet, on Sunday that the Justice Department investigate.

In response to the tweet, the Justice Department immediately asked its inspector general to expand its ongoing investigation to look into whether there was any politically motivated surveillance of the campaign and agreed to hold the classified briefings.

It remained unclear what, if any, spying was done. The White House gave no evidence to support Trump’s claim that President Barack Obama’s administration was trying to spy on his 2016 campaign for political reasons.

It’s long been known that the FBI was looking into Russian meddling during the campaign and that part of that inquiry touched on the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russian figures. Mueller took over the investigation when he was appointed special counsel in May 2017.


Associated Press writers Laurie Kellman, Jonathan Lemire, Lisa Mascaro, Chad Day and Jill Colvin contributed to this report.


Trump Hints He Won’t Speak With Mueller for Russia Probe

May 4, 2018

President suggests lawyers have advised against meeting — Insists he must be ‘treated fairly’ in investigation

Image result for trump, photos, may 4, 2018

President Donald Trump hinted he won’t sit for an interview with Robert Mueller, telling reporters that he’d “love” to meet with the special counsel but that he has to listen to his lawyers, and insisted that he hadn’t changed his story about a payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels before the election.

“If I thought it was fair, I would override my lawyers,” Trump said about meeting with Mueller as he boarded the presidential helicopter on Friday.

He complained about Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election as he boarded the presidential helicopter on Friday, saying: “If you fight back, they say ‘oh, that’s obstruction.”’

Part of Mueller’s investigation includes a review of some of Trump’s official actions, including the firing of former FBI Director James Comey last year, to determine if the president attempted to obstruct justice.

Trump’s new lead attorney, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, has said that any interview with Mueller would be constrained, if it happens at all.

“If we came to conclusion they have already made up their mind and Comey is telling the truth — that is a joke, Comey hasn’t told the truth in years — then we would just be leading him into the lion’s den,” Giuliani said in an interview on Wednesday.

“I have to find that we’re going to be treated fairly,” Trump said Friday. The president referred to Mueller’s investigators as “angry Democrats,” adding “and that’s not a fair situation.”

Stormy Payment

Trump’s legal team has undergone another shakeup this week, with the addition of Giuliani and veteran attorney Emmet Flood, who will replace Ty Cobb, a White House lawyer who had encouraged broad cooperation with Mueller. The changes suggest the president is adopting a more adversarial posture toward the investigation.

Trump also insisted that he had not altered his account of a $130,000 payment that his lawyer Michael Cohen made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who has alleged an affair with the president in 2006.

“We’re not changing any story,” he told reporters as he board Air Force One.

Giuliani disclosed in an interview on Fox News Wednesday that Trump had repaid Cohen for the payment. Last month, Trump said he didn’t know about the payment when it happened and didn’t know where Cohen got the money.

“Rudy understands this better than everybody but when he made certain statements, he just started yesterday, so that’s it,” Trump said. “He wasn’t totally familiar with everything.”

Trump did not explain what Giuliani got wrong, if anything. The president himself issued a series of tweets Thursday morning, after Giuliani’s interview, that confirmed he had reimbursed Cohen for the payment. He insisted that neither Cohen’s payment nor the reimbursement were related to his campaign.

Giuliani, though, said on Fox News’s “Fox and Friends” Thursday morning that Cohen’s payment was related to the election.

“Imagine if that came out on October 15, 2016 in the middle of the, you know, last debate with Hillary Clinton,” Giuliani said. “Cohen didn’t even ask. Cohen made it go away. He did his job.”

— With assistance by Shannon Pettypiece

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell issues an extraordinary apology, repaid donor in “gift” scandal

July 24, 2013

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Gov. Bob McDonnell said Tuesday he has repaid a major political donor more than $120,000 in loans to the governor’s wife and a business McDonnell owns with his sister.

McDonnell’s relationship and thousands of dollars in gifts he and his family received from the donor, Jonnie Williams, are at the center of state and federal investigations. No charges have been filed and the Republican governor has said he did nothing illegal.

Virginia Governor McDonnell speaks at the CPAC in Washington

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell

With less than six months remaining on his term, the governor issued an extraordinary apology for his ties to Williams, the chief executive of troubled nutritional supplements maker Star Scientific Inc.

“I am deeply sorry for the embarrassment certain members of my family and I brought upon my beloved Virginia and her citizens. I want you to know that I broke no laws and that I am committed to regaining your sacred trust and confidence. I hope today’s action is another step toward that end,” the governor said in the statement released through his private communications consultant, Rich Galen.

McDonnell said the repayments, totaling $124,115, include principal and interest and settle both debts.

The statement marked the governor’s first substantial public reckoning over the gifts he and his family have received since he took office in January 2010. The scandal has brought his job approval ratings to the lowest point of his term.

The governor had no public events Tuesday and was not available to elaborate on the statement, said his chief spokesman, J. Tucker Martin.

McDonnell has assembled a team of private attorneys and consultants to represent him in the ongoing probe. The team is headed by Emmet Flood, who helped former President Bill Clinton during his impeachment proceedings, and former Vice President Dick Cheney when he was sued by ex-CIA officer Valerie Plame, whose cover was blown in a newspaper column.

A private legal defense fund has been established to help McDonnell cover his legal bills.

Galen’s release said the repayments were $52,278 for a personal loan Williams made to first lady Maureen McDonnell in 2011 and $71,837 for two loans to MoBo Real Estate Partners, a small real estate business McDonnell and a sister own.

Among Williams’ gifts to the first family was a $15,000 check to McDonnell’s daughter Cailin to help her defray catering costs for her 2011 wedding reception at the Executive Mansion. McDonnell did not disclose the gifts on his required annual statements of economic interest, citing a Virginia’s public ethics law that exempts reporting of gifts to officeholders’ family members or gifts to officeholders themselves if they’re from personal friends, a distinction the governor affords to Williams.

McDonnell also did not note the business loans or the personal loan to his wife on his statements of economic interest.

McDonnell is limited to one term, but the scandal looms large in this year’s campaign to elect his successor.

One of the candidates in that race, Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, accepted more than $18,000 in personal gifts from Williams and once held more than $10,000 in Star Scientific stock while in statewide office — shares he has since sold. Some of the gifts went unreported for years on his annual statements of economic interest, including a $3,000 summer family retreat and a $1,500 family Thanksgiving dinner at Williams’ luxury waterside lodge on Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountain foothills.

Cuccinelli amended four years’ worth of reports in April to include the gifts, and Richmond’s commonwealth’s attorney, Democrat Mike Herring, last week said he found no evidence that Cuccinelli violated the state ethics law.

Star Scientific, maker of Anatabloc, an anti-inflammatory supplement not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, is the subject of a federal securities investigation and several shareholders’ lawsuits.