it's mueller time
December 20, 2018

There are signs that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election is winding down, several government officials told NBC News on Thursday, and he could submit his confidential report to the attorney general as soon as February.

"They are clearly tying up loose ends," one person said. Since his appointment in May 2017, Mueller has charged 33 people and convicted three — Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former National Security Advisdr Michael Flynn, and Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen. Manafort, Flynn, and Cohen all cooperated at one point or another with Mueller, and will soon be sentenced. Legal experts told NBC News prosecutors try to hold off on sentencing cooperating witnesses while they still need to retain leverage over them, and this is a sign that Mueller is wrapping up the inquiry. Catherine Garcia

December 19, 2018

On Friday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller requested that the House Intelligence Committee turn over an official transcript of Roger Stone's closed-door testimony from September 2017, people familiar with the matter told The Washington Post on Wednesday.

This is the first time Mueller has formally asked the committee for material collected during its investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign, people with knowledge of the matter said, and it's a sign he may be preparing to charge Stone with a crime. "Prosecutors can't bring a charge without an original certified copy of the transcript that shows the witness lied," former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirshner told the Post.

Stone is one of President Trump's longtime friends and informal advisers, and Mueller has been investigating whether Stone knew in advance that WikiLeaks planned on releasing hacked Democratic emails during the presidential campaign. Stone accurately predicted the document dump and bragged about being in contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but has since said he was exaggerating. Catherine Garcia

December 7, 2018

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is due to file two important documents on Friday: a sentencing memo for President Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen and a report explaining the alleged "crimes and lies" of Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

In August, Manafort was found guilty of tax and bank fraud in Virginia. He agreed in September to cooperate with Mueller's team to avoid a second trial on financial fraud charges in the District of Columbia. Last week, Mueller's office accused Manafort of violating his plea agreement by repeatedly lying to investigators. The special counsel said it would file a document detailing Manafort's "crimes and lies" for the court to take into consideration when sentencing him. "In Manafort's case, we are likely to learn of what may have pushed him to commit legal suicide," former federal prosecutor Kendall Coffey told USA Today.

Cohen has made two separate plea agreements: one with federal prosecutors in New York, and the other with Mueller's team. He pleaded guilty in August to campaign finance violations, and last week, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the scrapped Trump Tower Moscow project. Mueller's Cohen memo is expected to explain how he cooperated with the special counsel's office. "Given his proximity and centrality to Trump's operation before and after the election, it would be difficult to find any better cooperating witness than Michael Cohen," Coffey said.

On Tuesday, Mueller's office recommended in a sentencing memo that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn not receive any prison time, because he had offered "substantial assistance." Flynn provided aid not only with the Russia probe, but two other investigations that remain sealed, including one criminal inquiry.

Also on Friday, former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos will be released from prison after serving a 14-day sentence. He was the first person to plead guilty in the Mueller probe, after lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians. Catherine Garcia

December 6, 2018

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly investigating a Trump campaign adviser's frequent appearances on RT, the television network funded by the Russian government, The Guardian reports.

Ted Malloch is an American academic based in London. Right-wing author and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, himself a target of the Mueller probe, told The Guardian Malloch is his friend and told him all about the questioning. "They thought maybe he was coordinating with Russia — and RT is Russia," Corsi said.

The network has a relationship with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who lives in Ecuador's London embassy. The special counsel says Russian intelligence operatives passed along hacked Democratic emails to WikiLeaks, and investigators are looking closely at one day in particular: Aug. 2, 2016. The Guardian reports that visitor logs show RT staff came to the embassy that day to interview Assange. RT denies passing along information from the meeting to anyone, including President Trump's friend and Republican operative Roger Stone. Catherine Garcia

December 3, 2018

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's prosecutors recently told defense lawyers that they are "tying up loose ends" in their probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, several people with knowledge of the matter told Yahoo News' Michael Isikoff.

Over the next several days, Mueller's team will file sentencing memos about three defendants: former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen. These reports are expected to contain new major details the witnesses shared with investigators after they agreed to cooperate. Last month, Mueller's office accused Manafort of breaching his plea deal by lying repeatedly to investigators and FBI officials, and promised to spell out his "crimes and lies" in his sentencing memo.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel, told Yahoo News on Monday that Manafort's sentencing memo "will be public," which suggests Mueller doesn't think any information needs to be kept private in order to file indictments against others. Also on Monday, Mueller's office told congressional investigators that any new subpoenas for testimony by their committees would not interfere with the special counsel's investigation into potential obstruction of justice by the White House, a person familiar with the conversation told Yahoo News. "What we were told is that the investigation has reached a mature enough stage that they've basically talked to everybody they want to talk to," the person said. Catherine Garcia

November 29, 2018

Sorry, Sean Hannity — you're not the only person special enough to receive late-night phone calls from President Trump.

Roger Stone, one of Trump's longtime friends and an adviser during the early days of his presidential campaign, would routinely receive calls from Trump before the election, at all hours of the night, The Washington Post reports. As part of the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is looking at Stone and whether he knew in advance about WikiLeaks publishing hacked Democratic emails.

The Trump Organization has provided investigators with phone records showing that Trump and Stone did regularly communicate during the campaign, people familiar with the matter told the Post, but Stone is adamant that they never talked about the emails or WikiLeaks. He scoffed at the records, telling the Post the only thing that would matter is if Mueller "has tape recordings of the phone calls." People with knowledge of the matter told the Post that Trump insisted to his lawyers he knew nothing about WikiLeaks having stolen emails and never spoke about the matter with Stone.

Stone told the Post that Trump would ring him late at night because he "gets almost no sleep," and would call from blocked numbers, sometimes borrowing the phones of friends and aides. "When Donald Trump calls you, he does most of the talking," Stone said. "You do most of the listening." Catherine Garcia

November 28, 2018

Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, allegedly lied to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigators about his personal business dealings and contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik, a former associate in Ukraine, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

Manafort agreed to cooperate with Mueller in September, after being found guilty in August of bank and tax fraud. On Monday, federal prosecutors wrote in a court filing that Manafort breached his plea agreement by lying to Mueller's team and FBI agents; Mueller's office will submit a memo detailing these alleged lies before Manafort is sentenced.

Kilimnik worked for Manafort's lobbying firm in Ukraine, and both men were indicted by Mueller earlier this year after they allegedly planned to contact people who worked with them in an attempt to coordinate their stories. Mueller has been interested in Manafort and Kilimnik's relationship for a while now, people familiar with the matter told the Journal, and his team believes Manafort lied about payments he received related to his lobbying work. Read more about Manafort's alleged misrepresentations at The Wall Street Journal. Catherine Garcia

November 20, 2018

President Trump has given Special Counsel Robert Mueller written responses to questions asked about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, Trump's lawyers said Tuesday.

Attorney Jay Sekulow said copies of the questions and Trump's answers, as well as correspondence between Trump's legal team and Mueller's office, will not be released to the public. Another attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said it is now "time to bring this inquiry to a conclusion." This is the first time Trump has directly cooperated with the probe, The Associated Press reports.

It took about a year for Mueller's office and Trump's attorneys to reach the compromise of Trump answering Russia-related questions without having to appear for a sit-down interview. Part of the compromise included Mueller setting aside for the time being questions about obstruction of justice in relation to the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, AP reports. Catherine Garcia

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