Posts Tagged ‘Robert Mueller’

Rosenstein talks to press, but not to Congress; Republicans irate

October 18, 2018

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein doesn’t give many press interviews. But he did, on Wednesday, invite a Wall Street Journal reporter to the Justice Department for what the Journal called an “expansive” conversation.

Rosenstein talked about the Robert Mueller Trump-Russia special counsel investigation, calling it “appropriate and independent.” He stressed that he serves at the pleasure of the president. He said he tries to avoid media speculation about both the investigation and his job.

Rosenstein had time to discuss a lot of things. One thing apparently not mentioned in the interview was the fact that, at that very moment, Rosenstein was putting off appearing before the House Judiciary-Oversight task force that wants to question him, not just about the Trump-Russia investigation but about reports that he last year suggested wearing a wire to secretly record President Trump in the White House and that he also discussed invoking the 25th Amendment in an effort to remove the president from office.

By Byron York
Washington Examiner

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Republicans thought that Rosenstein had agreed to talk with them last week. Then they learned he would not show. That prompted House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte to threaten a subpoena.

“It is essential that we talk to him — he knows that,” Goodlatte told Fox News Saturday. “He has not agreed to come for a transcribed interview on the record. He needs to do that, and if he does not agree to do that very soon, I will issue a subpoena for him to appear.”

Now Republicans learn that, even as they were trying unsuccessfully to arrange for Rosenstein to appear, he had time for that chat with the Journal. They’re not happy.

“In speaking to media outlets while running from Congress, Mr. Rosenstein has made his priorities clear,” Republican Rep. Mark Meadows said in an emailed statement Wednesday night. “Transparency is not one of them.”

“He is obligated,” added Rep. Jim Jordan in a phone conversation. “When the chairman of the committee that has jurisdiction over your department asks you to come and answer questions, you are obligated to do so.”

Other Republicans saw a strategy behind Rosenstein’s stall. Over the past 18 months, Republicans have given Rosenstein fits with their efforts to uncover the FBI’s and Justice Department’s role in investigating Donald Trump, both during the campaign and after. Rosenstein has resisted congressional demands for documents. He has angrily pushed back against oversight.

And now, with the midterm elections coming up in less than three weeks, and with predictions that Republicans will lose control of the House, some in the GOP suspect Rosenstein is trying to wait Republicans out. If Democrats win, Judiciary Committee chairman Goodlatte will become chairman Nadler. Oversight Committee chairman Gowdy will become chairman Cummings. Intelligence Committee chairman Nunes will become chairman Schiff.

“Rosenstein is trying to run out the clock, hoping the Democrats win control of the House and knowing he’ll never be called to account for anything if they do,” Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes said in a text exchange Wednesday night. “Instead of investigating the violation of Americans’ civil liberties by powerful officials like him, he knows the Democrats would focus on concocting more ridiculous conspiracy theories to feed to the media and to the special counsel.”

Whatever Rosenstein is doing, time will certainly run out for the current Congress. If the GOP keeps the House, Goodlatte and the others remain in control of their committees and will likely increase the pressure on Rosenstein. But if the GOP loses the House, that pressure goes away. With the possibility of change so near, some Republicans suspect they won’t see Rosenstein on the Hill before the midterms, even as he finds time to talk to the press.


Trump Threatens Another Round of China Tariffs

October 15, 2018
  • President calls China bigger meddler than Russia in U.S.
  • Trump says his speech mocking Ford got Kavanaugh confirmed
U.S. President Donald Trump.  Photographer: Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press

President Donald Trump threatened to impose another round of tariffs on China and warned that Chinese meddling in U.S. politics is a “bigger problem” than Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

Asked in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” whether he wants to push China’s economy into a depression, Trump said “no” before comparing the country’s stock-market losses since the tariffs first launched to those in 1929, the start of the Great Depression in the U.S.

“I want them to negotiate a fair deal with us. I want them to open their markets like our markets are open,” Trump said in the interview that aired Sunday, while adding that more tariffs “might” be in the mix. So far, the U.S. has imposed three rounds of tariffs on Chinese imports totaling $250 billion, prompting China to retaliate against U.S. products. The president previously has threatened to hit virtually all Chinese imports with duties.

Questioned about his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, Trump quickly turned back to China. “They meddled,” he said of Russia, “but I think China meddled too.”

“I think China meddled also. And I think, frankly, China … is a bigger problem,” Trump said, as interviewer Lesley Stahl interrupted him for “diverting” from a discussion of Russia. He didn’t provide evidence in the interview of China’s involvement in the last election or its involvement in the current election cycle.

Kavanaugh Claim

Trump made similar accusations last month during a speech at the United Nations, which his aides rushed to substantiate by pointing to long-term Chinese influence campaigns and an advertising section in the Des Moines Register warning farmers about the potential effects of Trump’s tariffs.

Stahl tried to get Trump to commit to not firing special counsel Robert Mueller, who’s leading the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump refused to do so, telling her: “I don’t pledge anything. But I will tell you, I have no intention of doing that. I think it’s a very unfair investigation because there was no collusion of any kind.”

Discussing Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, Trump took credit for getting his nomination through the Senate around Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations that the judge tried to sexually assault her when they were in high school.

At a campaign rally in Mississippi late last month, Trump mocked Ford for what he cast as her incoherent story about what happened with Kavanaugh, a move that even drew some criticism from Republican senators.

Trump didn’t express regret. “Had I not made that speech, we would not have won. I was just saying she didn’t seem to know anything,” he told Stahl. Ford was “treated with great respect” including by him, Trump said.

Border Separations

The president left the door open to reviving a much-criticized practice of separating migrant parents and their children at the Mexican border, something the Washington Post reported last week was under consideration within the administration.

“There have to be consequences … for coming into our country illegally,” he said, arguing that “part of the reason, I have to blame myself, the economy is so strong that everybody wants to come into the United States.”

Pressed again, he added: “You can’t say yes or no. What I can say is this: There are consequences from coming into a country, namely our country, illegally.”

 Updated on 
(Updates with comment about Mueller in seventh paragraph.)

Where’s the outrage over Hillary’s call for a ‘civil’ war? — Politics, Democrats and the Dangers of Rage

October 10, 2018

Two events from the last two days stand out. The first came Monday night with President Trump’s forceful yet compassionate speech at the swearing in of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

The president opened with an extraordinary apology on behalf of the country to Kav­anaugh and his family“for the terrible pain and suffering” they endured during the historically brutal confirmation process. He said the unfounded allegations violated fairness and “the presumption of innocence.”

Trump also tenderly addressed Kavanaugh’s young daughters, telling them “your father is a great man, a man of decency, character, kindness and courage.”

The event was something of a spike-the-football moment in front of a cheering White House audience and as such was a clever piece of stagecraft, where Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell, Charles Grassley, Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins were saluted.

By Michael Goodwin
New York Post

But the ceremony was much more than that mere boosterism. With the eight other Supremes sitting in the front row, Trump aimed to restore dignity to the judiciary at a time when the dirtiest tricks of politics have buried the court in a mountain of mud.

The president is right to worry that the character-assassination attempt on Kavanaughmay turn out to be a seminal moment in American political and cultural history. The ideas that the court is just another political branch and that the presumption of innocence no longer applies if you are on the other team represent a seismic shift in how we look at each other and the nation as a whole.

If those ideas stick, we are in more trouble than we can imagine.

And while Trump has at times unnecessarily contributed to the rancor, he was terrific Monday in trying to repair what Senate Democrats and their media handmaidens tried to destroy.

Which brings me to the second event of note: Hillary Clinton’s statement Tuesday that Democrats “cannot be civil” as long as Republicans hold the White House and Congress.

“You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about,” Clinton told CNN. “That’s why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and/or the Senate, that’s when civility can start again. But until then, the only thing that the Republicans seem to recognize and respect is strength.”

There you have it — a declaration of war and a license for violence. Where is the media outrage?

Clinton knows we are already in the danger zone when it comes to the political temperature. Her comments, then, are as reckless as bringing a can of gasoline to a bonfire.

She’s stoking trouble to gain a foothold in the 2020 race — and damn the consequences.

Her claim that civility can return when Dems have power is an admission that the ends justify the means.

Then again, she never fails to disappoint. As I wrote Sunday, she has spent the last two years casting doubt on the legitimacy of the Trump presidency because the election didn’t go her way. That makes her guilty of the very thing she found “horrifying” when Trump suggested he might not abide by the results if he thought they were rigged.

“He is denigrating — he is talking down our democracy. And I am appalled that someone who is the nominee of one of our two major parties would take that position,” she said in their final debate, in October of 2016.

She added, “That is not the way our democracy works.”

But it does work exactly that way when Democrats are denied what they feel entitled to. They should be careful what they wish for.

For if the Kavanaugh experience revealed anything, it is that Trump’s GOP knows how to fight back and win. It is hard to imagine that Kavanaugh would have survived such an onslaught under any other ­recent Republican candidate or president.

There were so many reasons, and so much media pressure, that it would not have been surprising if a bloc of senators called the allegations a “distraction” and waved a white flag. They didn’t because Trump and Kavanaugh didn’t back down.

Still, there is danger when two sides both think they can outlast the other. Responding to my concern that America might be sleepwalking into a second civil war, a number of readers agreed. Some said they welcomed it.

Curt Doolittle wrote this: “We aren’t sleepwalking into it, we know exactly what we’re doing and why. The hard right and hard left are planning on it, ready for it, and looking for an opportunity.”

He said the pressure has been building and that “the only reason it hasn’t turned hot is the outlier of Trump’s election. If Clinton had won, we’d already be there.”


Hillary Clinton and The Left: “That is not the way our democracy works.” — Anger and rage continue — To what end?

October 7, 2018

And so our fiery national nightmare is over. For now.

But only a Pollyanna would think peace is about to break out across the bloody political and cultural battlefields. We are a long way from fixing what was shattered and retrieving what has been lost.

There were many causes and events on the long road that brought us to this low place, but a telling moment took place almost exactly two years ago. It was the final debate of the presidential campaign, held on Oct. 19, 2016.

Here is how The New York Times began its slanted coverage: “In a remarkable statement that seemed to cast doubt on American democracy, Donald J. Trump said Wednesday that he might not accept the results of next month’s election if he felt it was rigged against him — a stand that Hillary Clinton blasted as ‘horrifying.’ ”

By Michael Goodwin
New York Post

After noting that no modern president refused to accept election results, the paper quoted Clinton attacking Trump.

“Let’s be clear about what he is saying and what that means,” she said. “He is denigrating — he is talking down our democracy. And I am appalled that someone who is the nominee of one of our two major parties would take that position.”

She added, “That is not the way our democracy works.”

Fast forward to now, and it is the height of irony — and hypocrisy — that Clinton and her supporters, including the Times, still refuse to accept the election’s outcome. It started with her flimsy claims of Russian collusion and continues uninterrupted, with the character assassination campaign against Brett Kavanaugh the latest example.

Thank God, the assassins were unsuccessful in preventing a superbly qualified jurist and widely respected man from joining the Supreme Court. But they did lasting damage to Kavanaugh’s reputation, his family, the court, the Senate and the entire country.

Willing to destroy any part of government they cannot corrupt with partisanship, members of the self-declared resistance are tearing America apart because the election didn’t go their way. They have unleashed a whirlwind of fanatical hate, with violence now routinely threatened and sometimes carried out.

There are no random events. It is a straight line from the unprecedented plot by President Barack Obama’s administration to infiltrate and wiretap the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016 to the scurrilous accusations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh.

Image result for Christine Blasey Ford, and her lawyers, photos

© Getty Images

The probe by special counsel Robert Mueller has turned up nothing of significance against the president, yet it plods onward, searching for anything that would justify its existence.

In that context, it is beyond mildly interesting that a former FBI agent reportedly tried to pressure a friend of Christine Blasey Ford into changing her sworn statement to the Senate so it would support Ford’s charges against Kavanaugh. And one of Ford’s lawyers happens to be the lawyer for the fired former deputy director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe.

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Andrew McCabe

Throw in the crooked James Comey’s drum-beating against Kavanaugh and the return of Obama to the campaign trail, and it’s clear the seamy efforts of the former administration are still going strong.

As the Kavanaugh catastrophe demonstrates, our nation is paying a heavy price for the unpatriotic attempts to abuse government power to try to pick a president, then undo the election. In a dangerous world where America has real enemies, efforts to undermine Trump’s legitimacy often align with the interests of foreign powers. John Kerry’s traitorous advice to Iran to wait for the next president are a prime example.

To be clear, what we just witnessed, and what we have seen for two years, is not a case of mere political differences, which the Founders recognized as inevitable and even desirable.

Instead, we face something more akin to the combustible climate historian Christopher Clark described as the origins of World War I. In his book, “The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914,” Clark illustrates how none of the great powers wanted war, but all felt free to escalate the build-up in the certainty that the other side would back down.

Something similar is happening here, and our nation could be sleepwalking into a second civil war. Even though justice and fairness prevailed this time, the stained confirmation process must serve as a wake-up alarm.

It is a recognition of the danger we face that, amidst the threats from Democrats to impeach Kavanaugh, we also hear calls for unity and healing. I’m all for them — as long as they’re not a fig leaf wrapped around gross wrongdoing.

For one thing, the leak of the confidential letter Ford wrote to Sen. Dianne Feinstein must be treated as a crime. As several senators noted, the leak falsely weaponized a charge about a 36-year-old event, without having any corroborating evidence. Ford wanted to remain private, but the leaker wanted to create a public spectacle that pitted her and Kavanaugh against each other like two caged beasts.

Image result for Dianne Feinstein, senate judiciary committee, photos

Dianne Feinstein

The leaker succeeded and provoked other accusers to make charges without evidence, leading to a cascade of smoke but no fire. Among the casualties was the presumption of innocence, a bedrock of our legal system and Western civilization itself. Ford and Kavanaugh both say their families received death threats.

For another thing, the role of Ford’s lawyers must be investigated. One was hired at the recommendation of Feinstein’s office, and another represents McCabe — suggesting this was a political operation from the start.

Moreover, the failure of those lawyers to turn over key documents to the Senate reeks of bad faith and perhaps something far more sinister.

Less surprising was that the fiasco revealed how the liberal media keep behaving like battering rams against Trump. The wild stories about Kavanaugh in high school and college, coming from NBC, The New Yorker and others aimed to paint him as too toxic for confirmation. Shamefully, Ivy League law schools piled on.

Their failure to stop him is cause for relief, but nothing more. The media and academia embarrassed themselves again, but show no signs of ending their blatant bias.

The Times, of course, is the leader of the wolf pack, and it’s worth revisiting the end of its 2016 debate story.

After saying Trump “sputtered” in one exchange, it wrote that the evening was “a last-ditch attempt by a fading candidate, Mr. Trump, to save himself.”

Clinton, on the other hand, was said to be “reaching for not just a win but a mandate,” and the article concluded with obvious support for her certain victory.

“I would like to say to everyone watching tonight that I’m reaching out to all Americans, Democrats, Republicans and independents,” she said, “because we need everybody to help make our country what it should be.”

Two years later, she bears a huge responsibility for the disaster before us. If she really wants to help, Clinton should publicly admit that Trump won the election fair and square.

Here’s what Rod Rosenstein’s dismissal could mean for Robert Mueller

September 26, 2018

Special counsel Robert Mueller could see significant changes to the way his Russia investigation operates if President Trump were to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein or if he were to resign, according to close observers of the Justice Department.

The question suddenly became relevant this week after it became clear that Rosenstein offered to resign following a report said he was mulling a coup against Trump. The two men are expected to meet Thursday to clear the air about the reports that Rosenstein might be dismissed, but the possibility he might still be let go has some worried that the change could prove to be significant for Mueller’s investigation.

By Kelly Cohen

Washington Examiner

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Rosenstein oversees the Mueller investigation into whether President Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton. And while Mueller’s work would continue without Rosenstein, some say it has the potential to be altered, depending on who takes over.

The next person in line for that job is Solicitor General Noel Francisco, a Trump appointee confirmed last year in the Senate by a party vote. Francisco is a known conservative lawyer that worked in the George W. Bush administration, as well as in the private sector.

Jeffrey Cramer, a former federal prosecutor, told the Washington Examiner that Francisco “is a not a fan of independent counsel type investigations,” and could find ways to limit Mueller’s work.

“At the end of his efforts, Mueller could produce a report” to Francisco, said Cramer. “Legally, the [person overseeing Mueller] could do anything he wants with the report. There would be tremendous political pressure to make the report public to some level.”

Francisco or anyone else overseeing Mueller would also continue to exert power of decisions such as indictments and search warrants, Cramer explained, so decisions to approve or not approve those actions could change.

Federal guidelines make it clear that whoever replaces Rosenstein could find ways to adjust the way Mueller works. Those guidelines say the special counsel “shall not be subject to the day-to-day supervision of any official of the department.”

But those same guidelines also say his replacement “may request that the Special Counsel provide an explanation for any investigative or prosecutorial step, and may after review conclude that the action is so inappropriate or unwarranted under established departmental practices that it should not be pursued.”

The replacement can also rein in the investigation by disciplinary action for “misconduct and breach of ethical duties under the same standards and to the same extent as are other employees” of the Justice Department, according to the guidelines.

If Francisco recuses himself from the Mueller investigation, Steve Engel, who heads the department’s Office of Legal Counsel, is the next in line. Engel served in the Justice Department during the George W. Bush administration and clerked for Judge Alex Kozinski, who stepped down from his post in December amid sexual misconduct allegations.

If it’s Engel, he would have the same flexibility as Francisco to alter Mueller’s work.

One observer said the nature of Rosenstein’s dismissal could affect how Mueller’s investigation proceeds.

Jens David Ohlin, vice dean and law professor at Cornell Law School, said a decision by Trump to fire Rosenstein could lead to deeper questions about whether Trump is trying to obstruct justice, while a decision by Rosenstein to step down would be a less dramatic event.

“If Rosenstein simply resigns, the obstruction of justice problems will be far less severe, since a resignation by definition involves at least some element of personal choice,” Ohlin said.

A former Justice Department spokesperson under the Obama administration, Matthew Miller, said another possible scenario is that Trump doesn’t fire Rosenstein at all, but tries to use him as “leverage” over the Russia investigation.

“The biggest threat to Mueller is probably not that a new supervising official fires him, but that they more quietly harm the investigation by refusing to approve new lines of inquiry, quashing potential indictments, or declining to make any final report public,” Miller told the Washington Examiner. “That said, I think it will be difficult for Trump to really pull that off.”

Speculation about a replacement for Rosenstein kicked off Monday when reports surfaced that Rosenstein was either fired or had already resigned. But it later became clear he was willing to resign if the White House wanted that outcome after a report said he mulled organizing Trump’s removal from office under the 25th Amendment, a process that many legal experts say can’t be used against a president unless he is physically incapacitated.

Monday afternoon, Rostenstein was still the No. 2 at the department, though he had plans to meet with Trump Thursday to talk more about the report that he quickly dismissed as inaccurate.

“We’ll be determining what’s going on,” Trump said Monday during an appearance at the United Nations General Assembly. “We want to have transparency. We want to have openness. And I look forward to meeting with Rod at that time.”

Includes video:

Goodlatte threatens subpoena if DOJ doesn’t give McCabe memos

September 24, 2018

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee threatened to hit the Justice Department with another subpoena if he doesn’t receive memos authored by ousted former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe.

“If they’re not produced by tomorrow (Monday) or Tuesday of this week, we are going to issue a subpoena to the Justice Department that expands upon the subpoena we issued earlier this year,” Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) told Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”

McCabe’s memos are among many documents related to the Russia probe Goodlatte has been seeking in his effort to show alleged misconduct at the Justice Department and FBI.

The subpoena threats follow a New York Times report Friday that deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in May 2017 had suggested secretly recording President Trump and recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to oust him from office.

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Rod Rosenstein

The Times said memos written by McCabe and other FBI officials documented Rosenstein’s efforts.

Goodlatte is convinced the Justice Department is withholding documents that support his theory – shared by Trump and his allies – that the FBI “bent over backwards” not to prosecute Hillary Clinton in her email probe, but then launched a Trump Russian collusion investigation “without meaningful evidence” because of political bias against the president.

The McCabe memos could shed new light on Rosenstein’s thinking before he appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to oversee the Russia probe, Goodlatte said.

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Robert Mueller

“A lot of light can be shed on that if the documents we have been requesting for quite some time are made public,” said Goodlatte, who has been calling for second special counsel to investigate the handling of the Clinton email probe.

Additionally, Trump is seeking to declassify Russia probe documents related to the surveillance of a former Trump campaign aide, Carter Page, as well as FBI interviews with Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, and text messages sent by former FBI director James Comey, McCabe and lovebirds Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.

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Peter Strzok

Trump had initially ordered an immediate public release, but walked back the demands on Friday, citing the need for a review of the documents.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee, said he doubts their release will have much impact on the perception of the Trump or the Russia probe.

“I’ve seen all of it,” Gowdy (R-S.C.) told CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “And with the exception of one document, I don’t think anybody’s mind is going to be changed when they read this stuff.”


Steele dossier hasn’t provided Robert Mueller with long sought evidence of a crime or collusion

September 23, 2018

No evidence has emerged supporting Steele’s claims in the long investigation seeking a crime….

— The Steele dossier’s allegation that the Kremlin is blackmailing President Donald Trump with a so-called “pee tape” has cast a cloud over the Trump presidency.
— The Democrat-funded dossier claims Trump used prostitutes during a visit to Moscow in 2013.
— But a music publicist who has been interviewed at length in the Mueller investigation says he was with Trump for most of his time in Moscow and that the dossier’s allegations are “unlikely.” 

A British music publicist who was with President Donald Trump during a trip to Moscow in 2013 says it is “unlikely” the real estate mogul used prostitutes during his brief visit to the Russian capital, as the infamous Steele dossier alleges.

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In an interview with The Washington Post, Rob Goldstone said he was with Trump for 31 out of the 36 hours the future president was in Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant.

The Ritz Carlton in Moscow is the alleged site of the most salacious allegation made in the Steele dossier, which was funded by Democrats and written by former British spy Christopher Steele.

A June 20, 2016, memo from the dossier alleges Kremlin operatives have blackmailed Trump with video footage of him engaged with prostitutes in a hotel room at the Ritz. According to one of Steele’s sources, the video shows the prostitutes performing a “golden showers” act in front of Trump. (RELATED: Fusion GPS Doubted The Credibility Of Major Dossier Source)

Trump has vehemently denied the allegation and no evidence has emerged supporting Steele’s claims, but it is frequently touted by Trump critics as evidence the Republican is under Kremlin control.

Trump landed in Moscow in his private plane at around 3 p.m. on a Friday and left at around 3 a.m. on Sunday morning, according to WaPo. Goldstone said he was in Trump’s vicinity for all but five hours when Trump was seemingly asleep in his hotel room. (RELATED: ‘Fifty-Fifty’: Christopher Steele Is Unsure About The ‘Golden Showers’ Tape)

Goldstone, who is releasing a book Tuesday, has been questioned at length by prosecutors working for special counsel Robert Mueller regarding his interactions with Trump and members of his campaign. Goldstone is who contacted Donald Trump Jr. in June 2016 to offer a meeting with a group of Russians who claimed to have dirt on Hillary Clinton. (RELATED: Rob Goldstone Speaks Out On Trump Jr.-Russia Emails: It Was ‘Puffed Up’)

Goldstone worked for Emin Agalarov, a pop musician whose father is billionaire real estate mogul Aras Agalarov. The Agalarov family partnered with Trump to host the beauty pageant.

Goldstone contacted Trump Jr. at the behest of Emin Agalarov on June 3, 2016. In an email, Goldstone said a “Russian government attorney” wanted to meet to provide information about potentially illegal campaign contributions from Russians to Hillary Clinton.

“If it is what you say I love it,” Trump Jr. responded.

The meeting was held at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016. But most participants, including Goldstone, say the meeting was a dud. The Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, reportedly used the opportunity not to talk about Clinton, but to focus on the Magnitsky Act, a U.S. law that sanctions Russian human rights abusers.

Veselnitskaya was working closely at the time with Russia’s prosecutor general, Yuri Chaika, to overturn the Magnitsky Act. As part of the project, she was also working with Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that hired Steele to write the dossier.

Goldstone said Mueller’s team was less interested in the Trump Tower meeting than they were about the relationship between the Agalarovs and Trumps.

The dossier’s claims about Trump’s visit to Moscow have been called into question, even by Steele himself.

Steele, a former MI6 official, put the odds that the “golden showers” tape exists at “50-50,” according to “Russian Roulette,” a book from two journalists who met with Steele prior to the 2016 election.

Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS, also called the credibility of the dossier’s source into question. According to “Russian Roulette,” Simpson considered the alleged source, a Belarus-born businessman named Sergei Millian, to be “a big talker.”

The ‘deep state’ leaves Trump with no good options

September 23, 2018

President Trump is not generally given to understatement, but he soft-pedaled problems at the Department of Justice. There is, he said Friday, a “lingering stench” there.

A “stench” doesn’t describe the situation. A snake pit is more like it.

The report by The New York Times that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein plotted to remove Trump, either by wearing a wire or invoking the 25th Amendment, cements forever the fact that there was and still is a deep state centered in the nation’s top law-enforcement agency. This was a plot by power-mad individuals who aimed to overturn the 2016 election and thwart the will of voters.

By Michael Goodwin
New York Post

Rosenstein, two weeks into his new job, reportedly suggested the ideas in a meeting with others at the FBI. He called the Times story “inaccurate” but denied specific allegations with lawyerly wiggle room, meaning Rosenstein is no Brett Kavanaugh when it comes to total assertions of innocence.

Later, the Justice Department conceded Rosenstein made the comments, but insisted he was joking.

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Rod Rosenstein

Joking, schmoking. I believe he was deadly serious based on the sequence of events before and ­after the meeting.

It took place on May 16, 2017 — exactly a week after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, according to the Times and other media reports.

Rosenstein had favored the firing and wrote a compelling memo laying out why it was justified. When the White House cited his memo to fend off critics, Rosenstein reportedly felt he was being set up as a fall guy. Democrats attacked him as a Trump stooge and he told friends he feared for his reputation.

He supposedly called the meeting to explain himself to Comey’s crew, including Andrew McCabe, who had been named acting FBI director. Instead, it became a gripe session about Trump and chaos at the White House.

Rosenstein’s offer to record the president is said to have included a suggestion that applicants for the FBI job also record him. Considering the gravity of the meeting, none of that sounds like joke material.

Indeed, the Times describes Rosenstein’s state of mind as anything but jovial, saying he “appeared conflicted, regretful and emotional.” He was also “angry at Mr. Trump.”

It soon became clear just how angry. The next day, May 17, Rosenstein shocked Washington by appointing Robert Mueller as special counsel and directing him to take over the existing Russia collusion investigation and virtually anything else Mueller wanted to probe.

Furious at the president and being attacked on all sides, Rosenstein suddenly had the power to strike back. And he did.

He was able to act unilaterally because his boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, had recused himself from anything having to do with the 2016 campaign.

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Jeff Sessions

Here we are, 16 months later, and Mueller has not revealed a shred of evidence against Trump or any other American involving actual collusion. Yet the unrelated charges filed against Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen and others are a gift to Democrats and have led to endless damaging headlines about Trump, many of which turn out to be false or meaningless.

And it all began because Rod Rosenstein was an emotional wreck and in a job too big for him. History might never have turned on a smaller hinge.

This being Washington, there are other elements to the story. McCabe is likely a prime source, with reports saying he and others wrote memos about the May 16 meeting.

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Robert Mueller

McCabe, of course, faces possible indictment for allegedly lying to Justice Department investigators about a media leak, and probably blames Rosenstein for his firing. The story could be his revenge at his former boss and the whole department.

And don’t rule out a Comey role. As chief snake, he did more to damage FBI credibility than any man or woman in America, yet has made no secret of his desire for revenge for being exposed and fired.

Oddly, the timing of the plot story could also involve a link to Trump’s decision to reverse his order for officials to declassify documents from the Russia probe. Rosenstein is fighting a bitter battle with some GOP members of Congress who want the documents, and reportedly appealed to Trump to slow the release.

The documents presumably would make Rosenstein look bad since he signed the last application for a surveillance warrant against Trump associate Carter Page. It would be a head-scratcher if Trump acted to protect him.

At any rate, the idea that Rosenstein serves at the pleasure of the president now takes on an extra dimension. Trump recently called their relationship “fantastic,” though his Friday reference to a “lingering stench” almost certainly refers to the deputy attorney general.

Whether the plot revelation will be the end of Rosenstein is a guessing game. The advantages of keeping him, at least for now, involve calculations about what impact a firing would have on the midterms and the Mueller probe.

In addition, somebody would have to replace Rosenstein, and that’s not a battle Trump needs now, especially with Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination ­unresolved.

On the other hand, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer warned Trump Friday not to fire Rosenstein. In the political hall of mirrors, that could mean Schumer actually wants Trump to fire him so Dems would have fresh campaign fodder.

Thus, the president has no great option, only two bad ones. Keep the man who wanted to entrap and remove you, or fire him and bring on more trouble than you can handle.

Welcome to the snake pit.

‘Decent’ reminder for dems

Reader Jeffrey Bash knows how to invoke history. Citing the smear tactics Democrats are using against Brett Kavanaugh, he wants a modern-day Joseph Welch to say to Sens. Dianne Feinstein or Chuck Schumer what Welch said to Sen. Joseph McCarthy in 1954 as McCarthy accused a young lawyer of Communist ties. Welch’s rebuke would fit like a glove: “Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?”

Politi-blowing the reference

Block that metaphor!

Politico, describing an exchange of charges between Gov. Cuomo and GOP challenger Marc Molinaro, noted that Molinaro has the high ground, then weirdly added: “But as the Germans positioned over Omaha Beach discovered on a famous day in June, 1944, you can only hold the bluffs so long in the face of prolonged assault.”

On top of everything else, I’m confused about whether Cuomo or Molinaro is the Nazi.

Deb gets a demerit

From The Post: “Parents and even teachers at a Brooklyn performing arts school were shocked to learn Friday that the school can no longer audition prospective students under the district’s new diversity plan.”

If Mayor de Blasio really believes merit doesn’t matter, he should demand his beloved Boston Red Sox use his racial quota system for picking players. That would be fun to watch.

Ex-FBI lawyer Lisa Page ‘interned’ ‘under Clinton,’ texts reveal

September 14, 2018

Ex-FBI lawyer Lisa Page, whose Trump-bashing texts made it clear who she backed in the 2016 presidential election, refers in a newly revealed message to serving as an intern “under Clinton.”

Page, who exchanged tens of thousands of texts with disgraced FBI official Peter Strzok, revealed the information in one message among a new batch exclusively obtained by Fox News.

“Get inspired and depressing reading that article about how Obama approached the mail room,” Page wrote Strzok on Jan. 19, 2017 – the last day of the Obama administration. “Needless to say, it was very different when I interned there under Clinton.”

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, closeup

The article they were discussing was a Jan. 17, 2017 story in the New York Times Magazine entitled “To Obama With Love, and Hate, and Desperation,” which described eight years of mail that poured through the mailroom.

In the text message exchange, Strzok tried to engage Page in a discussion about her time in the internship.

“How was it different?” he replied.

“Will have to talk in person,” answered Page. “It’s hard to describe. More of a rote have to respond to the mail exercise.”

It was not clear who exactly Page interned for or what she did. Page, 39, attended American University in Washington in the late 1990s, studying public affairs and earning her bachelor’s degree in 2000.

The official presidential archives for the Clinton administration could not confirm that Page interned at the White House, telling Fox News they typically keep records on full-time White House staff only.

Through her attorney, Page declined Fox News’ request for comment.

White House internships are coveted, and typically attract top student applicants from around the country.

89th Academy Awards - Oscars Vanity Fair Party - Beverly Hills, California, U.S. - 26/02/17 ñ TV personality Monica Lewinsky. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok - HP1ED2R0BFZWP

Monica Lewinsky interned at the White House from 1995-96.  (File)

The current White House internship program’s website describes it as a “hands-on program … designed to mentor and cultivate today’s young leaders, strengthen their understanding of the Executive Office, and prepare them for future public service opportunities.”

The most well-known intern to serve in the Clinton White House was Monica Lewinsky, who served in 1995-96, likely prior to Page’s internship “under Clinton.” Lewinsky had what President Clinton would later admit was an “inappropriate relationship” with the commander-in-chief as part of a growing scandal that culminated with his impeachment in 1998.

The latest text messages between Strzok and Page also appeared to refer to leaks planted in the media by “our sisters,” which some observers speculate could mean other government employees.

Strzok and Page were first brought into the spotlight last December, when it was revealed that Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz discovered a series of anti-Trump text messages between the two officials.

Strzok and Page both served on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates in the 2016 presidential election. Page served on the special counsel’s team on a short detail, returning back to the FBI’s Office of General Counsel in July 2017.

Page, during her time at the FBI, was a deputy of former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who was long criticized by Trump and congressional Republicans for his ties to the Democratic Party. McCabe’s wife received donations during a failed 2015 Virginia Senate run from a group tied to a Clinton ally, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe—all while the Clinton email probe was underway.

Page left the FBI this past May.

The discovery of the anti-Trump messages exchanged with Page ultimately got Strzok booted from Mueller’s team and reassigned last year to the FBI’s office of human resources.

Strzok lost his security clearance earlier this year and was escorted from his FBI office. In August, the FBI officially fired Strzok.

Both Strzok and Page also had served on the FBI’s MidYear Exam team—the bureau’s code for the team investigating Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while conducting official business as secretary of state.

The inspector general in June released a 600-page report on the FBI’s handling of the probe, and revealed that some bureau officials “appeared to mix political opinion with discussions about the MYE investigation.”

Horowitz, though, found no evidence that the political bias found affected prosecutorial decisions in the Clinton email investigation.

Horowitz confirmed this summer that he has been investigating whether Strzok’s anti-Trump bias factored into the launch of the bureau’s Russia investigation.

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

Peter Strzok-Lisa Page texts discuss others ‘leaking like mad’ ahead of Russia investigation: Report

September 13, 2018

A newly released series of text messages from former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page — the pair involved in an extramarital affair and shared texts critical of President Trump — show that others may have been “leaking like mad” ahead of the federal Russia probe, a new report says.

“Oh, remind me to tell you tomorrow about the times doing a story about the rnc hacks,” Page said to Strzok in a December 2016 conversation, according to Fox News.

“And more than they already did? I told you Quinn told me they pulling out all the stops on some story…,” Strzok said in response, likely referring to Richard Quinn who worked as the chief of the Media and Investigative Publicity Section in the Office of Public Affairs.

“Think our sisters have begun leaking like mad,” Strzok said in a subsequent text. “Scorned and worried, and political, they’re kicking into overdrive.”

[Trump: FBI, DOJ doing ‘nothing’ in response to Strzok text on ‘media leak strategy’]

Although Strzok didn’t specify whom he was referring to when he said “sisters,” retired FBI special agent and former FBI national spokesperson John Iannarelli suggested it was a reference to another intelligence agency or a federal law enforcement agency, according to Fox News.

On that same day the conversation occurred, multiple news outlets reported that U.S. intelligence officials believed Russian President Vladimir Putin had a direct role and authorized Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The report comes after Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., expressed “grave concerns regarding an apparent systemic culture of media leaking by high-ranking officials at the FBI and DOJ related to ongoing investigations” in a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein this week, reacting to other texts between Strzok and Page were given to Congress.

Meadows is particularly concerned with a text sent on Apr. 10, 2017.

“I had literally just gone to find this phone to tell you I want to talk to you about the media leak strategy with DOJ before you go,” Strzok wrote.

Thar text came a day before the Washington Post reported that former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page had been surveilled by the FBI after the agency received a warrant from the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a move that has elicited backlash because it partly relied on details included in the unverified and so-called “Trump dossier” that contains damaging information about Trump.

But Strzok’s lawyer Aitan Goelman said the “media leak strategy” was a reference to a DOJ-wide initiative to identify and prevent staff members from disclosing information to the media.

Strzok was a leading official in the FBI’s investigation on Hillary Clinton’s private email server, and was also part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation examining Russian interference and whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin.

Strzok was removed from the Mueller team last year and was fired from the FBI in August following his appearance before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees in July, where he said he did not speak to journalists during his time on the Russia probe.

Page resigned from her post in 2018.