The bulk of this is opinion, and ill-informed opinion at that.
The nudging you allege is illusory.
your fantasy world.
The government of Israel is little different because every government since 1947 has been held hostage by the Zionist minority, who will form a coalition with any party, especially Likud, the charter of which calls for the destruction of the Palestinian state, a direct violation of UN General Assembly Resolution 181 which established the Israel-Palestine state in 1947. It is absolute bullshit that Zionists are a majority. According to Haaertz, 22% of Israelis identify themselves as religious Zionists.
It is also bullshit that the oil in Iran belongs, or ever belonged to the Brits.
A constitutional assembly formed in 1906, and when Mirza became Shah in 1907 and lured the cabinet to meet with him, he locked them up, and a civil war began. In 1909, Mirza locked up members of the Majlis (the constitutional assembly) but then had to flee, and he sought asylum in the Russian embassy. Russian troops moved on the Majlis, and in November, a second Majlis was formed. They granted the concession to the failing Anglo-Persian Oil Company, which could get new lease on life if they could produce the petroleum for the new Dreadnought class of ships, which otherwise would have been purchased from the United States. The D'Arcy license was taken over by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company in 1909, and every government from 1911 onward asserted their exclusive right to grant or terminate concessions. The Brits started peeing in their pants when Mossadegh sent a bill to the Majlis to terminate the APOC concession and that is what lead to the 1953 coup.
Not only were clerics not involved,
but their opposition to Pahlavi's new regime lead to the CIA introducing Israeli Mossad agents to the Shah's regime. They set up SAVAK, the Shah's not-terribly-secret police, and Israeli agents in Iran did the kidnapping, torture and murders which lead to Iran's present day hatred of Israel.
You just don't display ignorance, you get everything not just wrong,
you stand everything about these matters on their heads.
As you obviously don't know what the hell you're talking about, I won't waste any more time on you.
CNN) — Republicans may let the bill to protect special counsels such as Robert Mueller to come up for a vote, Senate sources told CNN on Tuesday, in an effort to win over Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake who has vowed to vote against pending judicial nominations until the measure is considered by the chamber.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn told CNN on Tuesday that GOP leaders are whipping the Mueller bill to see where the votes are.
"We are whipping the bill to see where people are, to give us an idea of what the outcome would be," he said. It is likely to fail since it would almost certainly need 60 votes for passage and most Republicans oppose it, either saying it's unnecessary or contending it's unconstitutional. Republicans control 51 seats to Democrats' 49.
Cornyn said he strongly opposes the Mueller bill, but GOP leaders may allow the bill to get a vote in order to get Flake to back off his opposition to all judicial nominations until there is a vote on the Mueller bill.
This could have an immediate impact, as President Donald Trump's federal judge nominee Thomas Farr's vote is expected later this week and is also expected to be razor-thin. If GOP leaders can get Flake on board, that would build in some margin if any other Republican votes against Farr. Asked about the Farr nomination earlier on Tuesday, South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott, whose opposition to specific Trump nominees has led to the pulling of at least one nomination, said he's "doing my homework."
Senate Democrats are pushing this week to defeat the nomination of Farr to be a district court judge in North Carolina. They say they oppose him because he worked on that state's controversial voter ID laws and on the 1990 campaign of Jesse Helms that was accused of sending misleading mailings to African-Americans.
"Every American should be alarmed by the attempt to confirm a nominee with Farr's egregious record on voting rights, particularly with the Republican agenda to maintain power by limiting access to the ballot now on full display," Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement Monday.
Flake on Tuesday would not commit to backing the Farr nomination if the special counsel bill is brought to a vote, saying he would consider it "on the merits."
He also said he's rejected offers by GOP leaders to vote on a non-binding resolution or something to demonstrate that the votes aren't there to pass the measure. But he said if the Senate rejects the Mueller bill, the fight is essentially over, a sign he won't demand it be added to a bill to keep the government open.
"If it fails, that's it -- I can't require passage," Flake told CNN. "What I can require is that it be brought to a vote."
In July, the White House withdrew the nomination of Circuit Court hopeful Ryan Bounds, moments before the nominee was to face his Senate confirmation vote following Scott's decision to raise concerns to Senate leaders. Scott's concerns revolved around the content of Bounds' writings -- which critics labeled racially insensitive -- while at Stanford and the fact that Bounds did not disclose the writings to a bipartisan committee of attorneys in Oregon that had recommended him for Ninth Circuit job.
Flake, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee and is retiring at the end of his term in January, made his pledge not to back judicial nominees about two weeks ago, pushing for a floor vote on the Mueller protection bill. His call came after Trump fired Jeff Sessions and put in place Matthew Whitaker, a vocal critic of the Mueller investigation, as acting attorney general.
"The President has said that he's not going to move on the special counsel. But that's not enough," Flake said on the Senate floor on November 14. "And perhaps that's what gives comfort to the majority leader. ... But it doesn't give comfort to me."
WASHINGTON, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday he would "probably" block a renewed effort to bring to a vote a bill to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The bill, known as the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act, would make it harder for President Donald Trump to undermine the investigation, which he has called a witch hunt. The measure has already been approved at the committee level with bipartisan support.
"I probably would" object to bringing up the bill, McConnell told reporters at the U.S. Capitol, calling a bipartisan effort to force such a vote "a solution in search of a problem" as Trump renewed his Twitter attacks on Mueller and his long-running inquiry.
McConnell reiterated that Mueller should be allowed to finish his probe, which is also looking into possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign and obstruction of justice. But he said he did not think Trump would try to fire Mueller, adding that lawmakers "have a lot of things to do to try to finish up this year without taking votes on things that are completely irrelevant to outcomes."
Moscow denies interfering in the 2016 election, and Trump has denied any collusion occurred.
The president blasted Mueller again on Tuesday on Twitter, calling him a "conflicted prosecutor gone rogue" and accusing him of doing "TREMENDOUS damage" to the criminal justice system.
Noting the attack, Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican who is retiring from Congress, and Senate Democrats Chris Coons and Cory Booker said on Tuesday they would again seek to bring up the legislation for a vote on Wednesday.
Flake tried the same step earlier this month, and McConnell stopped the bill from advancing. Flake responded by saying he would try to block judicial nominations pending in the Senate until McConnell lets the Mueller bill go to a floor vote.
Before McConnell spoke on Tuesday, No. 2 Senate Republican John Cornyn told reporters that Republican leaders were trying to gauge support for the Mueller bill. He suggested it could be brought up for a vote to try to end Flake's tactics.
Cornyn added that he opposed the bill, believing it to be unconstitutional. Some Democrats want to put language protecting the Mueller investigation into a spending bill to fund the government that must pass by Dec. 7.
WASHINGTON, Nov 29 (Reuters) - U.S. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday that Democrats would try to force protections for U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller into a must-pass spending bill if the House is not allowed to vote on a free-standing bill protecting him from potential political interference.
Republicans control the House of Representatives and Senate until January, but they need some Democratic votes on the legislation to keep parts of the U.S. government open beyond Dec. 7.
"The Congress must immediately pass legislation to preserve the Special Counsel investigation," Pelosi said in a statement.
"If Speaker Ryan refuses to take up that bill, House Democrats will fight to include language to protect the investigation in the upcoming must-pass spending bill," she added.
Mueller is investigating Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow.
On Thursday, Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress, a plea that stemmed from Mueller's probe.
WASHINGTON — Sen. Tim Scott said Thursday he will oppose the nomination of Thomas Farr to the federal bench, assuring the controversial pick will not be confirmed.
The South Carolina Republican was the deciding vote in determining whether Farr, widely accused of efforts to disenfranchise black voters, would be confirmed.
Scott’s decision comes after four days of intense drama and speculation about what the Senate’s only black Republican would do.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, made it clear earlier in the day he, too, would oppose Farr’s nomination. Senate Republicans could only afford to lose one vote and still confirm Farr. Senate Republicans control 51 seats, and all 49 Democratic caucus members were expected to oppose Farr.
In a brief statement explaining his decision, Scott cited a 1991 Department of Justice memo that was leaked just this week, days before the Senate was set to vote on Farr’s confirmation. It detailed Farr’s involvement in “ballot security” activities by the 1984 and 1990 campaigns of then-Sen. Jesse Helms, R-North Carolina.
Farr worked for the campaign in 1984 and represented the 1990 campaign as a lawyer.
Helms’ 1990 re-election campaign against former Charlotte mayor Harvey Gantt, who is black, included charges of voter intimidation for postcards mailed to primarily black voters warning of possible arrest at the polls. The Department of Justice investigated the voter intimidation claims and settled with the Helms campaign in a consent decree.
“I am ready and willing to support strong candidates for our judicial vacancies that do not have lingering concerns about issues that could affect their decision-making process as a federal judge,” Scott said in his statement. “This week, a Department of Justice memo written under President George H.W. Bush was released that shed new light on Mr. Farr’s activities. This, in turn, created more concerns. Weighing these important factors, this afternoon I concluded that I could not support Mr. Farr’s nomination.”
The 1991 memo said that “Farr was the primary coordinator of the 1984 ‘ballot security’ program conducted by the NCGOP and 1984 Helms for Senate Committee. He coordinated several ‘ballot security’ activities in 1984, including a postcard mailing to voters in predominantly black precincts which was designed to serve as a basis to challenge voters on election day.”
Farr told attendees at a 1990 meeting that the need for “ballot security” measures, such as postcards, “was not as compelling as in 1984, since, unlike in 1984, the state had a Republican governor.”
In 1990, the Helms campaign sent postcards to black voters who may have changed addresses warning of “voter eligibility and the penalties for election fraud.” Farr said he did not know about the decision to send the postcards, and the memo does not state that he did.
Scott spent the past days studying this memo and speaking directly to the document’s author. He spoke to the author Wednesday for at least part of a nearly 45-minute period as his colleagues voted on limiting debate on Farr’s nomination. Scott agreed to the limit.
On Thursday, just half an hour before Farr’s confirmation vote was set to take place on the Senate floor, Scott invited several colleagues to his office to discuss the memo and hear from the author, via conference call, once again.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, told McClatchy as he headed to that meeting he was still inclined to vote for Farr but as a practice always discussed nominees with Scott, especially when race has been a factor.
“Was (Farr) a lawyer representing a client, telling them what they were legally allowed to do, or was he a political consultant determining strategy and targeting? I don’t know the answer to that. It was a long time ago,” Rubio explained. “But I think that’s kind of what we’re focused in on."
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, another senator at the meeting and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, had earlier in the week said she would confirm Farr but was now “taking a look at this information which was not available previously.”
It’s not clear whether Scott would have ultimately persuaded them to also vote against Farr, but he has a track record of being influential.
Earlier the summer, Scott announced he would oppose Ryan Bounds, a nominee for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals who as a Stanford University student produced writings that mocked multiculturalism and cultural sensitivity. Scott’s opposition influenced Rubio and other Republicans to also say they would vote against Bounds, resulting in GOP leaders having to pull the nominee just minutes before the confirmation vote was set to take place.
North Carolina’s Eastern District covers 44 counties stretching from Raleigh to the Atlantic coast. The population of the district is 27 percent African-American, and no black judge has ever been seated on the court. The seat has been vacant since Jan 1, 2006.
Farr was nominated by President George W. Bush in 2006 and 2007, but never received a vote. President Barack Obama nominated two African-American women for the court, but neither received a vote. Farr was nominated for the seat by President Donald Trump in 2017 and again in 2018.
Farr’s nomination has been bitterly contested by Democrats and civil rights groups, who cited Farr’s work for Helms and more recent work defending North Carolina’s Republican lawmakers in lawsuits over voter ID and gerrymandering. A panel of federal judges said the 2013 voter ID law targeted African-American voters with “almost surgical precision,” striking it down.
“Thomas Farr is not fit to serve. He has a long, long history of being hostile to voting rights and voter suppression,” said Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a Wilson, North Carolina Democrat and former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Farr’s supporters, including North Carolina Republican Sens. Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, have pointed to his “well qualified” rating from the American Bar Association. Tillis said Democrats engaged in a “Kavanaugh-esque attempt to discredit him,” referencing the fight over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh who faced allegations of decades-old sexual assault during his confirmation hearing.
Tillis said Thursday that Farr’s backers were “still working on it” and that he was “hopeful” supporters would prevail over skeptics.
On Wednesday, Scott was signaling an openness to vote for Farr, but told reporters on Capitol Hill he was bothered that his party was “not doing a very good job of avoiding the obvious potholes on race in America and we ought to be more sensitive when it comes to those issues.
“There are a lot of of folks that can be judges, in states including North Carolina, besides Tom Farr,” Scott added.
Two months before WikiLeaks released emails stolen from the Clinton campaign, right-wing conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi sent an email to former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone anticipating the document dump, according to draft court papers obtained by NBC News.
"Word is friend in embassy plans 2 more dumps," Corsi wrote on Aug. 2, 2016, referring to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, according to the draft court papers. "One shortly after I'm back. 2nd in Oct. Impact planned to be very damaging."
The email was revealed in a draft court document, known as a statement of the offense, sent to Corsi by special counsel Robert Mueller's office. Mueller also sent Corsi a draft plea agreement stipulating that the special counsel would not oppose Corsi requesting a sentence of probation if he agreed to plead guilty to one count of lying to federal investigators.
As NBC News reported on Monday, Corsi said he has rejected the deal. He has described Mueller's team as "thugs" and insisted that he did not "intentionally lie" about his communications related to WikiLeaks.
The draft court documents obtained by NBC News provide the most extensive account to date of Corsi's contact with Mueller's prosecutors.
The interviews began on Sept. 6 when Corsi told investigators that an associate, identified by Corsi as Stone, asked him in the summer of 2016 to get in touch with an organization, identified by Corsi as WikiLeaks, about unreleased materials relevant to the presidential campaign, the draft court papers say.
"Get to (Assange) at Ecuadorian Embassy in London and get the pending (WikiLeaks) emails," read the email to Corsi dated July 25, 2016, according to the draft court documents.
Corsi said he declined the request and made clear to Stone that an attempt to contact WikiLeaks could put them in investigators' crosshairs, according to the draft court documents.
But Mueller's team said that was a lie.
Instead of turning down the request, Corsi in fact passed it along to a person in London, according to the draft court documents. Corsi said that person was conservative author Ted Malloch.
Eight days later, Corsi sent the email to Stone saying that WikiLeaks possessed information that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign and planned to release it in October.
"Time to let more than (Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta) to be exposed as in bed w enemy if they are not ready to drop HRC (Hillary Rodham Clinton)," Corsi added in the Aug. 2, 2016, email, according to the draft court papers. "That appears to be the game hackers are now about."
On Oct. 7, 2016, WikiLeaks released the first of two batches of emails that Russian hackers stole from Podesta, altering the trajectory of the presidential race.
Mueller's team says in the court papers that Corsi scrubbed his computer between Jan. 13, 2017, and March 1, 2017, deleting all email correspondence that predated Oct. 11, 2016, including the messages from Stone about WikiLeaks and Corsi's email to Malloch.
Corsi remained in contact with Stone in 2017 when the former Trump adviser's connections to WikiLeaks came under investigation by the FBI and congressional committees, according to the draft court papers.
On Nov. 30, 2017, Stone emailed Corsi asking him to write about a person whom Stone had told congressional investigators was his "source" or "intermediary" to WikiLeaks, according to the draft court papers.
Corsi and Stone have identified that person as Randy Credico, a radio host and one-time friend of Stone.
"Are you sure you want to make something out of this now?" Corsi responded, according to the draft court papers. "Why not wait to see what (Credico) does? You may be defending yourself too much — raising new questions that will fuel new inquiries. This may be a time to say less, not more."
Stone responded by telling Corsi that Credico will "take the 5th — but let's hold a day," the draft court document says.
The draft court documents says that Corsi met with the special counsel's office for several additional interviews and provided access to his email accounts and electronic devices.
In the interviews, the draft court papers say, Corsi said that his claims to Stone, beginning in 2016, that he had a way of obtaining confidential information from WikiLeaks were false.
Corsi, the former Washington bureau chief of the conspiracy theory outlet InfoWars, has told NBC News that he had no direct or indirect contact with WikiLeaks. Corsi claims to have anticipated WikiLeaks' release of the hacked emails by "connecting the dots" between public statements from Assange and other available materials.
"Why did I think they were coming out in October? Because I said to myself if I had these emails I'd use them as the October surprise," Corsi told NBC News on Tuesday. "And why did I think they would come out serially, drip by drip? Because Assange is very strategic. He understands the news cycle."
A spokesman for Mueller's office declined to comment. Corsi's lawyer, David Gray, also declined to comment.
But in a letter drafted by Gray and addressed to Mueller's team, Corsi's lawyer argued that he should not be charged with a crime based on a faulty memory.
"I understand that this plea to making a false claim is predicated on the fact that Dr. Corsi had emails and phone calls wherein he was in fact interested in WikiLeaks," Gray wrote.
"He had not had the benefit of reviewing all of his emails prior to the interview and you graciously allowed him to review his emails and amend his statements — which he did. Now, after various amendments to his statements, Dr. Corsi is being asked to affirmatively state that he lied to FBI agents. The issue is that the statements that Dr. Corsi made were, in fact, the best he could recall at the time."
Gray also noted that if Corsi were to plead guilty, he would have to give up his securities license and cease his online chats until sentencing, depriving him of crucial sources of income.
Daniel Goldman, a former federal prosecutor who is now a legal analyst for NBC News and MSNBC, said the documents suggest that Mueller has more on Corsi than is laid out in the draft court papers.
"Based on reviewing these documents, I believe that the office of the special counsel may have more evidence of criminal wrongdoing by Corsi beyond the false statements, and that is why they engaged in plea negotiations," Goldman said.
Goldman also said that the documents indicate that Mueller and his investigators are "really circling Stone."
"He is a clear target of the investigation," Goldman added.
Stone, who has repeatedly insisted that he had no advanced knowledge of the WikiLeaks email dump, said Tuesday that the newly-released emails don't suggest otherwise.
"None of these emails provide any evidence or proof that I knew in advance about the source or content of any of the allegedly stolen or allegedly hacked emails published by WikiLeaks," Stone said.
"Since when did gossip become a criminal offense? Where is the WikiLeaks collaboration? Where is the evidence that I received anything whatsoever from WikiLeaks and passed it on to Donald Trump? These emails prove nothing other than the fact that Jerry Corsi is an aggressive investigative reporter."
WASHINGTON — Despite President Donald Trump's public declaration that he isn't concerned about impeachment, he has told people close to him in recent days that he is alarmed by the prospect, according to multiple sources.
Trump's fear about the possibility has escalated as the consequences of federal investigations involving his associates and Democratic control of the House sink in, the sources said, and his allies believe maintaining the support of establishment Republicans he bucked to win election is now critical to saving his presidency.
On Wednesday Trump was delivered another blow when federal prosecutors announced an agreement with American Media Inc, in which the publisher of the National Enquirer admitted to making a $150,000 payment in 2016 to silence a woman alleging an affair with Trump, in coordination with his presidential campaign, to prevent her story from influencing the election.
The agreement with prosecutors in the Southern District of New York follows the admission by the president's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, that he violated campaign finance laws by arranging hush payments to women in 2016 at the direction of Trump.
"The entire question about whether the president committed an impeachable offense now hinges on the testimony of two men: David Pecker and Allen Weisselberg, both cooperating witnesses in the SDNY investigation," a close Trump ally told NBC News.
Weisselberg is the chief financial officer for the Trump Organization who was allegedly in the center of the hush money operation. He was reportedly granted immunity for his testimony. Pecker is the chief executive at AMI.
The developments leave Trump as the lone party who argues the payments were not intended to influence the election.
They also come as Trump's search for a chief of staff is in disarray, with no consensus around a single choice in sight after multiple potential candidates have signaled they're not interested in the job.
The president has yet to acquire a team to combat the expected influx of congressional investigations and continued fallout from multiple federal investigations of his associates. He's been calling around to his friends outside the White House and allies on Capitol Hill to vent and get the input. On Wednesday the president wasn't in the Oval Office until noon.
Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie© Jacquelyn MartinThe White House declined to comment on this report.
Yet despite his frustrations behind the scenes, Trump has tried to maintain a confident public posture.
"It's hard to impeach somebody who hasn't done anything wrong and who's created the greatest economy in the history of our country," Trump said Tuesday in an interview with Reuters. "I'm not concerned, no. I think that the people would revolt if that happened."
Some Republican lawmakers have signaled cracks in what has been a solid wall of support for Trump amid intensifying federal investigations after prosecutors said Friday that Trump directed Cohen to arrange illegal payments to two women alleging affairs.
"Am I concerned that the president might be involved in a crime? Of course," Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana told reporters Tuesday.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida rattled the White House with similarly cautious remarks Sunday when asked about Trump's possible involvement in the violation of campaign finance laws: "If someone has violated the law, the application of the law should be applied to them like it would to any other citizen in this country, and obviously if you're in a position of great authority like the presidency that would be the case."
Rubio said his decision on how Congress should respond to federal investigators' final findings on the payments "will not be a political decision, it'll be the fact that we are a nation of laws and no one in this country no matter who you are is above it."
Republican lawmakers, however, have largely shrugged off the latest twists in the investigations involving Trump's close associates and have signaled their strong support for him.
The incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Democrat Jerry Nadler of New York, said that same day that the president may have committed "impeachable offenses."
Federal prosecutors in New York state in the court documents that the payments violated campaign finance laws and were arranged by Cohen "in coordination with and at the direction of" Trump.
The president has been on a days-long tirade, sources tell NBC News, lashing out at his own staff and lawmakers on Capitol Hill, frustrated by the threat of a Democratic House with subpoena power, an array of looming congressional investigations, multiple intensifying federal probes, a botched effort to find a new chief of staff and a potential partial government shutdown over a lack of funding for his top campaign promise — a border wall.
Trump has ranted about why no one around him is doing anything to stop any of it and vented about the lack of support he believes he has in Congress and within his own White House, the sources tell NBC News.
In addition to the much-anticipated report from Mueller on the Russia investigation, Democrats could ask prosecutors in the SDNY to similarly share details of their probe into Cohen that are related to the president.
Trump has in recent days been made aware of this possibility from people close to him, opening up a new vulnerability for the president.
Nah. The only people who would care are the same people who said that it was OK for Bill Clinton to break the law.
They should mind their own business.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether President Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee misspent some of the record $107 million it raised from donations, people familiar with the matter said.
The criminal probe by the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office, which is in its early stages, also is examining whether some of the committee’s top donors gave money in exchange for access to the incoming Trump administration, policy concessions or to influence official administration positions, some of the people said.
Giving money in exchange for political favors could run afoul of federal corruption laws. Diverting funds from the organization, which was registered as a nonprofit, could also violate federal law.
The investigation represents another potential legal threat to people who are or were in Mr. Trump’s orbit. Their business dealings and activities during and since the campaign have led to a number of indictments and guilty pleas. Many of the president’s biggest campaign backers were involved in the inaugural fund.
The investigation partly arises out of materials seized in the federal probe of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s business dealings, according to people familiar with the matter.
In April raids of Mr. Cohen’s home, office and hotel room, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents obtained a recorded conversation between Mr. Cohen and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former adviser to Melania Trump, who worked on the inaugural events. In the recording, Ms. Wolkoff expressed concern about how the inaugural committee was spending money, according to a person familiar with the Cohen investigation.
The Wall Street Journal couldn’t determine when the conversation between Mr. Cohen and Ms. Wolkoff took place, or why it was recorded. The recording is now in the hands of federal prosecutors in Manhattan, a person familiar with the matter said.
The inaugural committee hasn’t been asked for records or been contacted by prosecutors, according to a lawyer close to the matter, who said: “We are not aware of any evidence the investigation the Journal is reporting actually exists.”
The inaugural committee has publicly identified vendors accounting for $61 million of the $103 million it spent, and it hasn’t provided details on those expenses, according to tax filings. As a nonprofit organization, the fund is only required to make public its top five vendors.
The committee raised more than double what former President Barack Obama’s first inaugural fund reported raising in 2009, the previous record. President Trump’s funds came largely from wealthy donors and corporations who gave $1 million or more—including casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, AT&T Inc.and Boeing Co., according to Federal Election Commission filings. There is no sign that those three donors are under investigation.
Federal prosecutors have asked Richard Gates, a former campaign aide who served as the inaugural committee’s deputy chairman, about the fund’s spending and its donors, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Gates has met with prosecutors from the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office and the special counsel’s office.
Mr. Gates, who served as deputy in the inaugural fund, in February pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the U.S. involving foreign political consulting work unrelated to the campaign. The case was brought by Mr. Mueller’s office. Mr. Gates agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department in ongoing investigations.
The committee was headed by Thomas Barrack Jr., a real-estate developer and longtime friend of Mr. Trump. There is no sign the investigation is targeting Mr. Barrack, and he hasn’t been approached by investigators since he was interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office last year, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Mueller’s investigators, who are probing Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, asked Mr. Barrack only a handful of questions about the inaugural fund, the person said.
Mr. Mueller has also probed whether any foreign money flowed to the inaugural fund, which is prohibited from accepting foreign funds. In August, the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, on a referral from Mr. Mueller, obtained a guilty plea from a Washington consultant who admitted he used a U.S. citizen to serve as a “straw purchaser” so that a “prominent Ukraine oligarch” could attend the inauguration. The names were never disclosed.
Manhattan federal prosecutors in recent months asked Tennessee developer Franklin L. Haney for documents related to a $1 million donation he made to Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee in December 2016, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Haney in early April hired Mr. Cohen, at the time serving as Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, to help obtain a $5 billion loan from the Energy Department for a nuclear-power project, the Journal has previously reported. Mr. Haney was asked for documents related to his correspondence with members of the committee, meeting calendars and paperwork for the donation, the person said. A loan application by Mr. Haney’s company is still pending at the Energy Department.
A lawyer for Mr. Haney didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The White House didn’t respond to requests for comment on the investigation. A lawyer for Mr. Cohen didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Since pleading guilty to federal crimes in August, Mr. Cohen has been cooperating with federal prosecutors in Manhattan and the special counsel’s office. He was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison.
According to the inaugural fund’s tax filings, the committee’s top-paid vendor was an event-production firm led by Ms. Wolkoff called WIS Media Partners. The company, which California corporate records show was formed 45 days before the inauguration, was paid $25.8 million, the largest sum paid to a vendor.
Ms. Wolkoff is a former unpaid adviser to Mrs. Trump who also helped produce the inaugural. Ms. Wolkoff and several partners were paid about $1.6 million of the $25.8 million, and the remainder went to subcontractors, a person familiar with Ms. Wolkoff’s work said.
It couldn’t be determined which expenses are the focus of scrutiny by federal prosecutors. The committee said in its tax documents that it spent $77 million on conferences, conventions and meetings, plus $4 million on ticketing, $9 million on travel, $4.5 million on salaries and wages, and other expenses. Mr. Barrack has said that an external audit was completed of the inaugural committee’s finances, but the organization has declined to make that audit available.
The January 2017 inaugural events included a celebration concert at the Lincoln Memorial, receptions, private meals and inaugural balls.
People involved in Mr. Trump’s inaugural have attributed some of the costs to the last-minute nature of the planning. Few expected Mr. Trump to win the 2016 election, leaving his camp scrambling to arrange events for the inaugural, with little time to bid for competitive contracts, they said
Donald Trump was the third person in the room in August 2015 when his lawyer Michael Cohen and National Enquirer publisher David Pecker discussed ways Pecker could help counter negative stories about Trump's relationships with women, NBC News has confirmed.
As part of a nonprosecution agreement disclosed Wednesday by federal prosecutors, American Media Inc., the Enquirer's parent company, admitted that "Pecker offered to help deal with negative stories about that presidential candidate's relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided."
The "statement of admitted facts" says that AMI admitted making a $150,000 payment "in concert with the campaign," and says that Pecker, Cohen and "at least one other member of the campaign" were in the meeting. According to a person familiar with the matter, the "other member" was Trump.
Trump was first identified as attending the meeting by The Wall Street Journal.
Daniel Goldman, an NBC News analyst and former assistant U.S. attorney said the agreement doesn't detail what Trump said and did in the meeting. "But if Trump is now in the room, as early as August of 2015 and in combination with the recording where Trump clearly knows what Cohen is talking about with regarding to David Pecker, you now squarely place Trump in the middle of a conspiracy to commit campaign finance fraud."
A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, which investigated Cohen's hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, declined to comment.
McDougal, a former Playboy Playmate, and her lawyers have said that the National Enquirer paid her $150,000 in August 2016 as part of a "catch-and-kill" strategy to keep the story from circulating publicly.
When Cohen pleaded guilty to arranging the payments in August, he said he had done so "at the direction" of an unnamed candidate, and that a $150,000 payment prior to the 2016 election was "for the principal purpose of influencing" the election. The meeting between Cohen, Pecker and unnamed other parties to discuss suppressing stories was referenced in the criminal information document to which Cohen pleaded guilty. The document also refers to "at least one other member of the campaign" being present.
The statement of admitted facts says that AMI's "principal purpose in making the payment was to suppress the woman's story so as to prevent it from influencing the election." Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for the president, has said the payments were made to spare Trump's family from embarrassment. Trump tweet after the sentencing that he "never directed Michael Cohen to break the law."
On Wednesday, Judge William Pauley sentenced Cohen to a total of 36 months behind bars, and three years of post-release supervision, for tax evasion, violating campaign finance law and other charges. The judge ordered him to pay almost $1.4 million in restitution and forfeit $500,000, while fining him $50,000 for lying to Congress. Cohen must turn himself in to start serving his sentence by March 6.
At his sentencing, Cohen said that "time and time again, I felt it was my duty to cover up [Trump's] dirty deeds."
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Former U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg said Thursday that he "absolutely" believed special counsel Robert Mueller has President Trump's tax returns.
The comment came in response to a question from MSNBC host Nicole Wallace on "Deadline: Whitehouse" about whether Rosenberg thought Mueller had Trump's tax return.
"Absolutely," he said. "No question in my mind from day one."
Rosenberg, who also served as chief of staff to the FBI director from 2013 to 2015, elaborated on why Mueller would possess tax records that Trump has not publicly released.
"The first thing that white collar prosecutors do...is you get tax returns and you get credit reports," he said. "You get tax returns with an order from a federal judge and you get credit reports with a grand jury subpoena because those are the documents that give you leads."
Rosenberg said those documents are what a prosector or investigator such as Mueller would use to track other leads and to follow where the money is going and where it came from.
"Does Mueller have Trump's tax returns? You bet," Rosenberg said.
President Trump has refused to release his tax returns during the 2016 presidential campaign, a stance he has maintained at the White House.
Trump was the first president candidate since Richard Nixon to refuse to release his tax returns.
Special counsel Robert Mueller's team said Friday that the FBI acted appropriately when agents questioned former national security adviser Michael Flynn in January 2017, batting down theories that Flynn was the victim of partisan FBI officials bent on taking down the president.
That meeting, in which Flynn later said he lied to bureau investigators about his contacts with Russian officials, eventually led the ousted national security adviser to plead guilty to lying to the FBI.
Since then, Flynn's allies — including family members, defenders in Congress and President Donald Trump himself — have claimed that Flynn was essentially set up, noting that the agents encouraged Flynn to speak to them without a lawyer and never warned him that lying to the FBI was a crime.
The issue has jumped into the spotlight ahead of Flynn’s expected sentencing next week for the lying charges. The retired military officer’s lawyers mentioned the issue in a filing last week that asked for leniency for their client, arguing that Flynn should receive no jail time because of his “extensive cooperation with Mueller,” “exceptional record of military service” and “genuine contrition” for his actions.
On Friday, Mueller’s team replied that the FBI officials had followed protocol, considering they were conducting a counterintelligence investigation into Russian attempts to disrupt the 2016 election.
And, they added, Flynn’s senior position in government — he had previously run the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Barack Obama — had brought him into contact with investigators before, making it highly unlikely that he wouldn't be aware of the legal consequences of lying.
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, the likely incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told NBC's Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" Sunday that he wants to obtain President Donald Trump's records with Deutsche Bank because they could expose "a form of compromise" with Russia.
Schiff told The New Yorker in a profile published last week that he plans to subpoena information on Trump's transactions with the bank because of the German financial institution's longtime relationship with Trump and its past ties to Russian money laundering. Schiff, who Trump has referred to as "little Adam Schitt," said the answer to whether the president was involved with Russian money laundering could exist in the Deutsche Bank records.
"Well, the concern about Deutsche Bank is that they have a history of laundering Russian money," Schiff told Todd on Sunday. "And this, apparently, was the one bank that was willing to do business with the Trump Organization."
"If this is a form of compromise, it needs to be exposed," he added.
Trump has been associated with the German bank since the late 1990s, a time when the big Wall Street banks wouldn't lend to him following a series of business mishaps.
Earlier this year, The New York Times reported that news stories — which were inaccurate — about special counsel Robert Mueller having subpoenaed records from the bank led Trump to consider firing the Mueller in early December.
In September, journalist Bob Woodward reported in "Fear: Trump in the White House," that the president exploded at his former attorney John Dowd after reading those erroneous news reports.
Woodward wrote in the book that after learning of the news, a furious Trump phoned Dowd to voice his displeasure.
"This is bulls---!" Trump said.
The president said last year that Mueller looking into his business dealings would be crossing "a red line."
Trump's financial disclosures showed he held roughly $360 million in debt to the bank prior to his election as president, The Washington Post reported.
Last year, Deutsche Bank was fined roughly $630 million by New York and British law enforcement for its role in a Russian money-laundering scheme.
WASHINGTON — For nearly two years, President Trump’s lawyers and defenders have argued that it was impossible for him to illegally obstruct the Russia investigation, no matter his intentions, because he has full authority over federal law enforcement as head of the executive branch.
But in his highly anticipated report, Robert S. Mueller III rejected that sweeping view of executive power. Mr. Mueller’s team systematically dissected and repudiated such arguments, concluding over more than a dozen of the report’s 448 pages that obstruction laws did indeed limit how Mr. Trump could use his presidential powers.
“The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the president’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law,” they wrote.
Still, Mr. Mueller concluded that it would be inappropriate for now for prosecutors to make a decision — one way or the other — because analyzing the evidence “could potentially result in a judgment that the president committed crimes.” He reasoned that the Justice Department has for a half-century interpreted the Constitution as barring the indictment of a sitting president, so Mr. Trump could not get a trial and a chance to clear his name while he is running the country.
The special counsel’s rationale left the door open to the possibility that after Mr. Trump leaves office, prosecutors could re-examine the evidence Mr. Mueller gathered and charge the president. Attorney General William P. Barr tried to slam that door shut last month when he announced that in his view, the evidence did not support charging Mr. Trump regardless of any constitutional issues about charging sitting presidents.
Mr. Barr did not detail his thinking other than to note that Mr. Mueller had not found sufficient evidence to prove a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. But months before the president nominated him as attorney general, Mr. Barr wrote a lengthy memo for the Trump administration laying out the very arguments that Mr. Mueller rejected.
Mr. Mueller’s report, which Mr. Barr made public on Thursday with some deletions, laid out a wide-ranging effort by Mr. Trump to undermine the Russia investigation, painting a damning portrait of a president determined to wield his power to protect himself and his associates.
Many of the 11 episodes Mr. Mueller detailed had been reported in the news media. The president consistently sought to install a loyalist to oversee the investigation; tried to pressure Attorney General Jeff Sessions to retake control of the inquiry after he recused himself; and asked the F.B.I. director to end the investigation into his first national security adviser.
Mr. Mueller also revealed new presidential attempts to thwart the inquiry. In mid-2017, Mr. Trump enlisted Corey Lewandowski, his former campaign manager, in another bid to impede the inquiry. Mr. Trump wanted Mr. Sessions to declare that the special counsel’s investigation was “very unfair” to the president and asked Mr. Lewandowski to convey the message. Mr. Lewandowski never directly spoke to the attorney general about the request, according to the report.
Mr. Mueller relied heavily on Mr. Trump’s White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, who told investigators about how Mr. Trump tried to have him fire Mr. Mueller in June 2017. The report said that Mr. McGahn stopped the effort, “deciding that he would resign rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre,” a reference to Richard M. Nixon’s firing in 1973 of the special prosecutor who was investigating him. That order, which the top two Justice Department officials resigned over rather than carry out, helped undermine political support for Mr. Nixon among Republicans.
The stark difference between Mr. Mueller’s rationale and the impression Mr. Barr had created last month was a central takeaway from Mr. Mueller’s report. Mr. Barr had not explained why Mr. Mueller declined to decide whether the evidence met the standard for charging Mr. Trump. Instead, he cited a fragment of Mr. Mueller’s rationale in what appears to be a misleading way.
In his letter, Mr. Barr wrote that Mr. Mueller had cited “difficult issues” of law and fact preventing him from deciding the obstruction question. Mr. Barr portrayed that murkiness — though he was not specific — as the barrier to Mr. Mueller’s ability to draw a conclusion “one way or the other.”
In fact, Mr. Mueller’s report contained a subtle but important difference from that impression. The special counsel cited those “difficult issues” as preventing him from exonerating the president of illegal obstruction — not as preventing him from accusing Mr. Trump of that crime.
“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” Mr. Mueller wrote. “Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment. The evidence we obtained about the president’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred.”
Instead, Mr. Mueller decided it would be unfair to analyze the evidence for now because it created the risk that he would conclude that Mr. Trump committed a crime with no possibility of a speedy trial to resolve whether that was true.
“An individual who believes he was wrongly accused can use that process to seek to clear his name,” Mr. Mueller wrote. “In contrast, a prosecutor’s judgment that crimes were committed, but that no charges will be brought, affords no such adversarial opportunity for public name-clearing before an impartial adjudicator.”
He added: “The concerns about the fairness of such a determination would be heightened in the case of a sitting President, where a federal prosecutor’s accusation of a crime, even in an internal report, could carry consequences that extend beyond the realm of criminal justice.”
•The Mueller report answers some questions, but it also raises new ones about what Mueller uncovered that did not get released to the public.
•Among these is a tantalizing list of 14 instances of "potential criminal activity" that the special counsel says it uncovered and handed over to other offices within the Justice Department.
•Of these 14 potential crimes, only two are known to the public — meaning there are 12 other potential crimes that are still being investigated about which the public is completely in the dark.
The public release of the special counsel's report on Thursday provided a wide array of new information about some of the most important questions surrounding Russian interference in the 2016 election and the actions of President Donald Trump during his first two years in office.
But with more than 1,000 individual black redaction boxes scattered throughout the 448-page document, the report also raised new questions about what special counsel Robert Mueller and his team uncovered that Justice Department officials decided not to release to the public.
The most striking of these may be a list, almost completely redacted, of 14 instances of "potential criminal activity" the special counsel says it uncovered and handed over to other offices within the DOJ and in particular to the FBI, because it determined that the crimes involved were "outside the scope" of the special counsel's mandate.
Out of the 14 potential crimes for which Mueller uncovered evidence, only two have so far been made public. That means there are still 12 investigations that arose from the special counsel's probe about which the public knows nothing.
Here's how the special counsel describes them:
During the course of the investigation, the Office periodically identified evidence of potential criminal activity that was outside the scope of the Special Counsel's jurisdiction established by the Acting Attorney General. After consultation with the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, the Office referred that evidence to appropriate law enforcement authorities, principally other components of the Department of Justice and the FBI. Those referrals, listed alphabetically by subject, are summarized below.
It's a tantalizing mystery, made all the more so by the fact that the two probes which have so far been made public have targeted two of the most high-profile individuals to be caught up in the special counsel's web: Trump's longtime personal fixer and attorney, Michael Cohen, and the former White House counsel to President Barack Obama, Greg Craig.
The discovery of Cohen's potential crimes is the second item on the 14-item list. "During the course of the investigation, the Special Counsel's Office uncovered evidence of potential wire fraud and [Federal Election Campaign Act] violations pertaining to Michael Cohen. That evidence was referred to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and the FBI's New York Field Office," wrote the special counsel.
Craig's case is No. 5 on the list. "During the course of the [Foreign Agents Registration Act] investigation of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, the Special Counsel's Office uncovered evidence of potential FARA violations pertaining to Gregory Craig, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP (Skadden), and their work on behalf of the government of Ukraine," the report said.
Craig was indicted earlier this month on two counts of lying to federal investigators about the nature of past lobbying work he did for the government of Ukraine. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and is expected to face trial later this year.
Cohen pleaded guilty in August of last year to eight federal criminal counts, including campaign finance violations, bank fraud and wire fraud — the same ones that Mueller describes having handed off to U.S. attorneys in New York to pursue. Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for his crimes and is expected to begin serving his sentence next month.
But as for the other 12 potential crimes on the list that Mueller referred out, it's still anyone's guess what they could be. All 12 numbered sections are blacked out and marked "HOM" for "Harm to Ongoing Matter," the Justice Department's shorthand for information that could compromise an ongoing investigation if it were to be made public.
The report contains no hints, footnotes or unredacted lines that point to what any of the 12 criminal probes could be about or upon whom they might be focused.
Judging from the Cohen and Craig entries, it would appear that each of the 12 investigations involves an entirely unique topic and not just one element of an interwoven criminal case. But even this is purely speculative.
The only sure bet is that this is not the last the public can expect to hear about these 12 cases.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is still distorting the truth about the Russia investigation, claiming exoneration from a special counsel's report that he is also assailing as hopelessly biased.
Confronted with unflattering details in the report about his monthslong effort to undermine federal investigators, Trump over the weekend blasted special counsel Robert Mueller's appointment as "highly conflicted." In fact, the Justice Department's ethics experts cleared Mueller to run the two-year investigation and Trump's own aides previously dismissed the president's complaints as "ridiculous" and unfounded.
Trump is also claiming full vindication by the report. But while clearing Trump of criminal conspiracy, Mueller all but boldfaced this other finding in the 400-plus page report: No exoneration for Trump on obstruction of justice.
The statements were among many misrepresentations spread over the past week by the president's team, including Attorney General William Barr, who declared Trump innocent and suggested, inaccurately, that Congress had no role in deciding the matter.
TRUMP: "The Mueller Report ... was written as nastily as possible by 13 (18) Angry Democrats who were true Trump Haters, including highly conflicted Bob Mueller himself." — tweet Saturday.
THE FACTS: Trump repeats a baseless charge that Mueller is a "highly conflicted" prosecutor, something that Trump's own aides have debunked.
Trump has previously tweeted and complained to aides that Mueller would not be objective, saying Mueller had interviewed for the FBI director position shortly before being named as special counsel and that Mueller had disputed some fees relating to his membership at a Trump golf course.
But the president's aides, including then-White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, then-White House counsel Don McGahn and Reince Priebus, the chief of staff at the time, rejected those complaints as not representing "true conflicts," according to the special counsel's report. Bannon also called the claims "ridiculous." Bannon indicated that while the White House had invited Mueller to speak to the president about the FBI and thought about asking him to become director, Mueller did not come in looking for a job.
Mueller, a longtime Republican, was cleared by the Justice Department to lead the Russia investigation. The department said in May 2017 that its ethics experts "determined that Mr. Mueller's participation in the matters assigned to him is appropriate." The issue had come up because of his former position at the WilmerHale law firm, which represented some key players in the probe.
Mueller was appointed as special counsel by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a Trump appointee.
TRUMP: "The Mueller Report should not have been authorized in the first place." — tweet Saturday.
THE FACTS: Trump is entitled to that opinion. The grounds he has given, though, are at odds with some facts.
He claimed as recently as last month that the probe was hatched by Democrats after losing the 2016 election. As evidence, Trump often points to a dossier of anti-Trump research financed by the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton's campaign. The research that was ultimately compiled into the dossier was initially financed by anti-Trump conservatives, and later by the Democrats.
But the Mueller report makes clear that the FBI's investigation actually began months before it received the dossier.
The report notes the investigation was initiated after the FBI received information related to Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, not the dossier. Last year, the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee made the same finding.
In late July 2016, days after WikiLeaks released thousands of internal Democratic National Committee documents that proved embarrassing to Clinton, the FBI became aware of a meeting two months prior between Papadopoulos and a representative of a foreign government, according to Mueller's report. Papadopoulos claimed the Trump campaign had received "indications" from Moscow that it could assist the campaign by anonymously releasing political dirt on Clinton.
"Within a week of the (WikiLeaks) release, a foreign government informed the FBI about its May 2016 interaction with Papadopoulos," the report stated. "On July 31, 2016, based on the foreign government reporting, the FBI opened an investigation into potential coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign."
TRUMP: "The end result of the greatest Witch Hunt in U.S. political history is No Collusion with Russia (and No Obstruction). Pretty Amazing!" — tweet Saturday.
VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: "Today's release of the Special Counsel's report confirms what the President and I have said since day one: there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and there was no obstruction of justice." — statement Thursday.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, White House counselor: "What matters is what the Department of Justice and special counsel concluded here, which is no collusion, no obstruction, and complete exoneration, as the president says." — remarks Thursday to reporters.
THE FACTS: The special counsel's report specifically does not exonerate Trump, leaving open the question of whether the president obstructed justice.
"If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state," Mueller wrote. "Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment."
The report identifies 10 instances of possible obstruction by Trump and said he might have "had a motive" to impede the investigation because of what it could find on a variety of personal matters, such as his proposal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
"The evidence does indicate that a thorough FBI investigation would uncover facts about the campaign and the President personally that the President could have understood to be crimes or that would give rise to personal and political concerns," the report states.
In explaining its decision, Mueller's team said reaching a conclusion on whether Trump committed crimes would be inappropriate because of a Justice Department legal opinion indicating that a sitting president should not be prosecuted. It nevertheless left open at least the theoretical possibility that Trump could be charged after he leaves office, noting that its factual investigation was conducted "in order to preserve the evidence when memories were fresh and documentary material were available."
"Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him," the report states.
SARAH SANDERS, White House press secretary, on her statements from 2017 that many people in the FBI wanted James Comey, the director, fired: "The sentiment is 100% accurate." — "CBS This Morning," Friday.
THE FACTS: Her answer on this subject was far different when she gave it under oath.
After Trump fired Comey, she told reporters on May 10, 2017, that "the rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director" and "accordingly" the president removed him. When a reporter said most FBI agents supported Comey, Sanders said, "Look, we've heard from countless members of the FBI that say very different things."
But when Mueller's team interviewed her under oath, she backed off that story. According to the Mueller report, she said it was a "slip of the tongue" to say that countless FBI people wanted Comey out, that her statement about the rank and file losing confidence in him was offered "in the heat of the moment" and that, in the report's words, it "was not founded on anything."
Now she's back to suggesting that Comey was in fact unpopular in the FBI. "I said that it was in the heat of the moment, meaning it wasn't a scripted thing," she said Friday. "But the big takeaway here is that the sentiment is 100% accurate."
The Mueller report says there is "no evidence" that Trump heard complaints about Comey's leadership from FBI employees before firing him.
Mueller evaluated nearly a dozen episodes for possible obstruction of justice and said he could not conclusively determine that Trump had committed criminal obstruction. Among those episodes was his manner of firing Comey. Mueller found "substantial evidence" corroborating Comey's account of a dinner at which he said Trump pressed him for his loyalty.
Although Sanders attributed her remark about Comey's unpopularity to "heat of the moment," Trump has voiced the same sentiment. As recently as January, he tweeted: "The rank and file of the FBI are great people who are disgusted with what they are learning about Lyin' James Comey and the so-called 'leaders' of the FBI."
ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR, asked if Mueller intended for Congress, not the attorney general, to decide whether Trump obstructed justice: "Well, special counsel Mueller did not indicate that his purpose was to leave the decision to Congress. I hope that was not his view. ... I didn't talk to him directly about the fact that we were making the decision, but I am told that his reaction to that was that it was my prerogative as attorney general to make that decision."
THE FACTS: Mueller's report actually does indicate that Congress could make that determination.
The report states that no person is above the law, including the president, and that the Constitution "does not categorically and permanently immunize a President for obstructing justice."
In his four-page memo last month, Barr said while Mueller left open the question of whether Trump broke the law by obstructing the investigation, Barr was ultimately deciding as attorney general that the evidence developed by Mueller was "not sufficient" to establish, for the purposes of prosecution, that Trump obstructed justice.
But the special counsel's report specifies that Congress can also render a judgment on that question.
It says: "The conclusion that Congress may apply obstruction laws to the President's corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law."
BARR: "These reports are not supposed to be made public." — remarks Thursday at the Justice Department.
THE FACTS: The attorney general is not going out on a limb for public disclosure.
Justice Department regulations give Barr wide authority to release a special counsel's report in situations it "would be in the public interest." Barr had made clear during his Senate confirmation hearing in January that he believed in transparency with the report on Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference during the 2016 campaign, "consistent with regulations and the law."
BARR, saying it was "consistent with long-standing practice" for him to share a copy of the redacted report with the White House and president's attorneys before its release: "Earlier this week, the president's personal counsel requested and were given the opportunity to read a final version of the redacted report before it was publicly released. That request was consistent with the practice followed under the Ethics in Government Act, which permitted individuals named in a report prepared by an independent counsel the opportunity to read the report before publication." — remarks Thursday.
THE FACTS: Barr's decision, citing the Ethics in Government Act, is inconsistent with independent counsel Ken Starr's handling of his report into whether President Bill Clinton obstructed and lied in Starr's probe.
On Sept. 7, 1998, Clinton's attorney David Kendall requested that Starr provide him an opportunity to review the report before it was sent to Congress. Starr quickly turned him down.
"As a matter of legal interpretation, I respectfully disagree with your analysis," Starr wrote to Kendall two days later. Starr called Kendall "mistaken" regarding the rights of the president's attorneys to "review a 'report' before it is transmitted to Congress."
Starr's report was governed by the ethics act cited by Barr as his justification for showing the report to the president's team. It has since expired. Current regulations governing Mueller's work don't specify how confidential information should be shared with the White House.
Starr's report led to the impeachment trial of Clinton in 1999.
TRUMP: "I have never been happier or more content because your Country is doing so well, with an Economy that is the talk of the World and may be stronger than it has ever been before." — tweet Sunday.
TRUMP: "I believe it will be Crazy Bernie Sanders vs. Sleepy Joe Biden as the two finalists to run against maybe the best Economy in the history of our Country." — tweet Tuesday.
TRUMP: "We may have the best economy we've ever had." — remarks on April 15 in Burnsville, Minnesota.
THE FACTS: The economy is healthy but not one of the best in history. Also, there are signs it is weakening after a spurt of growth last year.
The economy expanded at an annual rate of 2.9 percent last year, a solid pace. But it was just the fastest in four years. In the late 1990s, growth topped 4 percent for four straight years, a level it has not yet reached under Trump. And growth even reached 7.2 percent in 1984.
Independent economists widely expect slower growth this year as the effects of the Trump administration's tax cuts fade, trade tensions and slower global growth hold back exports, and higher interest rates make it more expensive to borrow to buy cars and homes.
TRUMP: "We cut your taxes. Biggest tax cut in history."— Minnesota remarks.
THE FACTS: His tax cuts are nowhere close to the biggest in U.S. history.
It's a $1.5 trillion tax cut over 10 years. As a share of the total economy, a tax cut of that size ranks 12th, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. President Ronald Reagan's 1981 cut is the biggest followed by the 1945 rollback of taxes that financed World War II.
Post-Reagan tax cuts also stand among the historically significant: President George W. Bush's cuts in the early 2000s and President Barack Obama's renewal of them a decade later.