Roger Stone reportedly told allies about WikiLeaks' Clinton-targeting emails well before they were leaked
Roger Stone, who worked on President Trump's campaign in 2015 and then advised Trump afterward, told at least two associates in 2016 that he had been in contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and he told one of them in spring 2016 that Assange had told him about emails WikiLeaks had obtained that would torment Democrats like John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, The Washington Post reports. "The conversation occurred before it was publicly known that hackers had obtained the emails of Podesta and of the Democratic National Committee, documents which WikiLeaks released in late July and October. The U.S. intelligence community later concluded the hackers were working for Russia."
The first Stone associate insisted on remaining anonymous, but the second one, Sam Nunberg, said Stone told him sometime in 2016 that he had met with Assange. Stone told the Post on Monday that he had been pulling Nunberg's leg. "I wish him no ill will, but Sam can manically and persistently call you," Stone said. When Nunberg called on a Friday, "I said, 'I think I will go to London for the weekend and meet with Julian Assange.' It was a joke, a throwaway line to get him off the phone. The idea that I would meet with Assange undetected is ridiculous on its face." Nunberg told the Post that Stone's statement did not seem like a joke at the time, but he was glad to hear it was. "No one connected to the president should be connected with Julian Assange," he said.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigators are interested in Stone's contacts with WikiLeaks and Assange, given that Stone appeared to have advance notice of WikiLeaks' Podesta email dump, which began hours after the Post published the Access Hollywood tape of Trump bragging about sexual assault. Earlier this year, The Atlantic also published private messages Stone traded with WikiLeaks. You can read more about Stone's WikiLeaks trail at The Washington Post. Peter Weber
GOP House Intelligence member says Russia did try to help Trump, his panel 'lost all credibility' to investigate
House Republicans are wrapping up the House Intelligence Committee's investigation of Russian election meddling and any ties to President Trump's campaign, over the objections of the Democrats on the committee. But there doesn't appear to be unity in the panel's GOP ranks, either. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), who led the committee's investigation, said the GOP majority will conclude in its report that the Trump campaign did not collude with Russia and Russians did not try to help Trump win the election.
The U.S. intelligence community disagrees with that assessment, and said so again Monday, CNN's Erin Burnett reminded House Intelligence Committee member Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) Monday night. "They believed that the Russian intent was to hurt Hillary Clinton, but as it became clear that Donald Trump was a viable candidate, they then took it further," Burnett said. "They wanted to explicitly help Donald Trump. So you're saying you do agree?" "I believe there's evidence of everything that you just said," Rooney agreed. "But I also believe there's evidence to where they were trying to wreak havoc on both sides."
Rooney said his assertion is "not completely the opposite" of what Conaway said. "I think there were efforts to try to hurt Hillary and help Trump, but I think there was also the opposite, too," he said. Burnett asked why Republicans are wrapping up the House investigation with questions outstanding, and Rooney was frank. "We have gone completely off the rails, and now we're basically a political forum for people to leak information to drive the day's news," he said. "As you allude to, we have lost all credibility."
"We've gone completely off the rails, and now we're just basically a political forum for people to leak information to drive the day's news...we've lost all credibility" - Rep. Tom Rooney on the Republican decision to end the House Russia investigation https://t.co/smu8O6gYSJ pic.twitter.com/wzgCf2oiKZ
— OutFrontCNN (@OutFrontCNN) March 12, 2018
Russians still want to interfere and Americans are already voting, Rooney said, and "if we don't get any of these recommendations out before this cycle gets fully underway, then we really have just completely wasted a year of everybody's time." Peter Weber
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, is not happy that Republicans on the panel have ended the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and any ties to the Trump campaign. The GOP "majority has placed the interests of protecting the president over protecting the country, and history will judge its actions harshly," Schiff said in a statement.
On Monday evening, Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) said the committee is wrapping up the investigation, and will get a report to Democrats on Tuesday. House Republicans agree with intelligence agencies that Russia did meddle in the election, Conaway said, but saw no evidence of any collusion. Democrats do not think they've interviewed enough people, including major players like former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, or looked through pertinent paperwork, including bank documents.
Schiff said House Republicans have signaled for several weeks they've been "under great pressure to end the investigation," and by doing so, it's "another tragic milestone for this Congress, and represents yet another capitulation to the executive branch." If the Russians do have "leverage over the president of the United States," he added, "the majority has simple decided it would rather not know." Catherine Garcia
In a 2013 letter obtained by Time, Carter Page, an energy consultant and former campaign adviser to President Trump, boasted that he served as an adviser to the Kremlin.
There have been many questions raised about Page and how deep his ties are with the Russian government. An editor who worked with Page on an unpublished manuscript he submitted to an academic press told Time that Page was frustrated over edits to the article, and in a letter sent Aug. 25, 2013, he wrote, "over the past half year, I have had the privilege to serve as an informal adviser to the staff of the Kremlin in preparation for their presidency of the G-20 Summit next month, where energy issues will be a prominent point on the agenda."
The controversial "Nunes memo" — written by staffers of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and released last week despite objections by the FBI, Justice Department, and Democrats — centers around Page, claiming that in 2016, the FBI improperly received FISA court permission to spy on Page. Detractors of the memo say it cherry-picks information about what documentation the FBI presented the FISA court. The FBI interviewed Page in 2013 about his contacts with Russians; Page told Time his meetings have always been "really plain, vanilla stuff."
Page has admitted that a Russian diplomat named Victor Podobnyy, who was charged in absentia of working as a Russian intelligence agent under diplomatic cover, attempted to recruit him, and court documents from 2015 show that the FBI believed Russian intelligence agents had promised Page they would help him with business opportunities in Russia. He has not been charged with any crimes. Catherine Garcia
Transcripts released Monday night by the House Intelligence Committee show that Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to President Trump during his campaign, sent an email to other members of the campaign describing his July 2016 trip to Moscow, revealing he had a "private conversation" with a top Russian official who had good things to say about Trump.
Previously, Page had said that after he gave a speech at Moscow's New Economic School, he only exchanged pleasantries with Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich. In the email, Page wrote that Dvorkovich "expressed strong support for Mr. Trump and a desire to work toward devising better solutions in response to a vast range of current international problems." Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) read the email during Page's closed-door meeting with the committee last week, and Page responded by saying he didn't actually talk to any officials, but gleaned their views by watching and reading Russian media and chatting with scholars.
Page, who once worked as an energy consultant in Moscow, also testified that he told Attorney General Jeff Sessions, then a senator and major Trump supporter, he was going to go to Russia, and said he "probably" told national campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis about the trip beforehand and definitely told him about it when he came back. The House Intelligence Committee is investigating Russian meddling in the election, and Page requested that the transcript of his testimony be made public but also told The Washington Post in a text message Monday he is "working on my lawsuit tonight that will get to the bottom of the real interference in the 2016 election, by the [United States government]. I've played this nonsensical game long enough and am not interested in this latest round tonight." Catherine Garcia
The son of Michael Flynn, President Trump's former national security adviser, is a subject of the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, four current and former government officials told NBC News.
Three of the officials said investigators are focusing on the work Michael G. Flynn, 34, did for his father's lobbying firm, Flynn Intel Group. A former business associate said Michael G. Flynn was his father's chief of staff and played a major role in running Flynn Intel Group. He is married with a son, lives in Northern Virginia, and received an associate's degree in golf course management and a bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, NBC News reports. He is also known to tweet inflammatory statements and spread conspiracy theories
Others reported to be under investigation are the elder Flynn and Trump's onetime campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and it's not clear when the focus on Michael G. Flynn began, NBC News said. Federal and congressional investigators are also looking at Michael Flynn's ties to foreign governments, including Russia and Turkey. In December 2015, Michael G. Flynn accompanied his father to Moscow, where the elder Flynn gave a paid speech at the 10th anniversary celebration of RT, the state-sponsored Russian television network. It was also revealed earlier Wednesday that the elder Flynn did not share on his 2016 security clearance renewal application that in 2015, he went to the Middle East to meet with leaders regarding a proposal to work with Russia to build nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia. Read more about the two Michael Flynns at NBC News. Catherine Garcia
"President Trump's personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, has some explaining to do," says Aaron Blake at The Washington Post. On Monday night, the Post reported that Trump had personally dictated the statement put out on behalf of his son Donald Trump Jr. about a meeting Trump Jr. agreed to in June 2016 with a Kremlin-linked lawyer, also attended by White House adviser Jared Kushner and then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
The president, flying back from Germany on Air Force One and overriding the tell-everything plan concocted by his advisers, reportedly worked with Trump Jr. to write a statement to The New York Times insisting that the meeting was "primarily" about adoption and "was not a campaign issue," when in fact it was arranged to discuss alleged Russian opposition research on Hillary Clinton. The problem for Sekulow, Blake notes, is that in several TV interviews he unequivocally denied that the president had anything to do with Trump Jr.'s statement.
On June 12, Sekulow told George Stephanopoulos that the Times' June 11 report was "incorrect," and "the president didn't sign off on anything. He was coming back from the G-20, the statement that was released on Saturday was released by Donald Trump Jr. and, I'm sure, in consultation with his lawyers. The president wasn't involved in that." He then told CNN's New Day that "I wasn't involved in the statement drafting at all, nor was the president." On June 16, he told Chuck Todd on NBC's Meet the Press: "I do want to be clear that the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement and did not issue the statement. It came from Donald Trump Jr."
"I do want to be clear the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement" -- Jay Sekulow, Trump's lawyer, apparently lying pic.twitter.com/DMukqu6uIU
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) August 1, 2017
Sekulow issued the Trump administration's response to the Post's inquiries, too, responding to a detailed list of questions about Trump's involvement in the statement-drafting with one sentence: "Apart from being of no consequence, the characterizations are misinformed, inaccurate, and not pertinent." Norm Ornstein, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, suggests Sekulow's past statements could "be grounds for serious sanctions by the bar," but they could also involve him deeper in the Russia investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Peter Weber
While on a plane headed back to the U.S. from the G-20 summit in Germany on July 8, President Trump personally dictated the statement on his son Donald Trump Jr.'s June 2016 meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer, saying they "primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children," several people with knowledge of the incident told The Washington Post Monday.
This statement, sent to The New York Times before it ran an article about the meeting, was misleading, and it came out after more reporting that Trump Jr. agreed to the meeting after being told in an email that the lawyer had damaging information about Hillary Clinton, courtesy of the Russian government. The original plan was to release a statement that accurately spelled out what the meeting was about, so once the full details emerged, it would show they were being honest, the Post reports. Hours later, Trump became involved, and switched gears, dictating the statement himself.
Several of the president's advisers are now worried that by being directly involved, Trump could be accused of covering up the meeting's true agenda, the Post reports. Many also said they are afraid Trump is acting like his own lawyer, strategist, and publicist, and ignoring sound recommendations from his advisers. Read the entire report at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia