Connect with us

News

Here’s Why a New Mueller Transcript Is So Damning for Trump — and Gets to ‘The Heart’ of the Russia Probe

Published

on

After President Donald Trump’s former Campaign Chair Paul Manafort was found guilty on 8 counts of federal criminal charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, he decided to try his luck and avoid a second trial by becoming a cooperating witness in the Russia investigation. It didn’t work out — in November 2018, Mueller’s team revealed that they believed Manafort was lying about key facts in their interviews, nullifying his cooperation deal.

Since then, details about his alleged lies have slowly emerged in various court documents. And a new transcript of closed-door hearing in the case released Thursday exposed stunning new details about the Mueller team’s thinking and its progress in the investigation.

Despite reports that Mueller’s investigation is going to be wrapping up soon, the transcript suggests that, at least recently, the special counsel was still pursuing key parts of its mission in the Russia investigation. And though he isn’t mentioned by name, the transcript contained a particularly revealing detail about the president with damning implications.

While many conservative critics of the investigation — most notably Trump — have dismissed the idea that there was any “collusion,” criminal or otherwise, between the campaign and Russia’s efforts to interfere in the election, the special counsel’s office made clear in the hearing that it is still interested in these questions. Discussing the importance Manafort’s lying about his contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian political consultant, prosecutor Andrew Weissman said:

So, I mean, this goes to the larger view of what we think is going on, and what we think the motive here is.

This goes, I think, very much to the heart of what the special counsel’s office is investigating. And in 2016. there is an in-person meeting with someone who the government has certainly proffered to this court in the past, is understood by the FBI, assessed to be — have a relationship with Russian intelligence, that there is [redacted]. And there is an in-person meeting at an unusual time for somebody who is the campaign chairman to be spending time, and to be doing it in person.

The meeting and what happened at the meeting is of significance to the special counsel.

To make explicit what the special counsel’s office is saying here: Manafort’s meeting with a man with ties to Russian intelligence during the heat of the 2018 campaign is at “the heart” of the Russia investigation. The meeting is important to the special counsel. And the special counsel thinks that these facts give Manafort a motive to lie about it — suggesting he’s covering up incriminating behavior.

A previous court filing revealed that in one of his meetings with Kilimnick, Manafort provided him with polling data, indicating the meeting was directly related to the election.

And even The Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross, a frequent critic of the Russia investigation, pointed out Thursday that the meeting with Kilimnick Weissman referenced was on Aug. 2 — a month after Manafort sent a Kilimnick an email offering private briefings to Russian Oligarch Oleg Deripaska, to whom Manafort was reportedly in debt.

The above section of the transcript is followed by significant redactions, suggesting sensitive material that the government still wants secret lies beneath. And Weissman was also careful to note to the judge that there were certain facts he wasn’t willing to reveal in court.

At another point in the transcript, a prosecutor tells the judge that one of Manafort’s motives for lying to investigators about something he told to Rick Gates, another former Trump aide who is cooperating in the probe,  was that he was trying to “augment his chances for a pardon.” (NBC News noted that the transcript appears to incorrectly attribute this remark to one of Manafort’s lawyers, when it is, in fact, clearly a prosecutor speaking.)

This is the first time the special counsel has indicated publicly that it thinks a witness or target in the investigation might be angling for a pardon. Many have speculated that the pursuit of a pardon could explain Manafort’s otherwise puzzling behavior.

But since a pardon for federal crimes could only come from the president, the special counsel’s acknowledge of this possible motive is remarkable. It means the special counsel believes Manafort could increase his chances of a pardon by with a criminal lie. This, quite directly, implies that Trump has an interest in one of his former aides engaging in a criminal cover-up — a circumstance that is hard to imagine unless the president himself is at least indirectly implicated in criminal behavior.

While many have long suspected and argued as much, it is still a stunning turn of events to have it confirmed by prosecutors in court.

Legal analyst Luppe Luppen speculated on Twitter that, in a redacted portion of the transcript, prosecutors may have listed the possibility of a presidential pardon as an “unusual factor” in Manafort’s plea agreement.

The transcript also reveals that Manafort met with Kilimnik at Trump’s January 2017 inauguration, which is reportedly under investigation separately by the Southern District of New York. There, they discussed the promotion of a Ukraine peace plan, prosecutors said, which is believed to favor Russian interests. This shows that, despite Trump’s attempt to distance himself from Manafort after firing him in August of 2016, Manafort at least believed he had the chance to promote a political agenda under the Trump administration.

Other portions of the hearing also referred to connections between Manafort and the president since the inauguration. Prosecutor Greg Andres said that Manafort “constantly either minimizes the information he has about the administration or contact with the administration.”

He adds: “So there’s an issue whether or not during cooperation he’s communicating with [redacted] or perhaps providing information about questions or other things that are happening in the special counsel investigation, whether’s he’s sharing that with other people.”

After Manafort had agreed to cooperate, Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, revealed that the ex-campaign chair had stayed in his joint defense agreement with the president, a situation legal experts said was extraordinary and posed the risk that he could innappropriately share sensitive information.

 

Image via Wikimedia

Continue Reading
Click to comment
 
 

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.

NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

News

Pat Cipollone Is ‘A Greatest Hits Package of Crazy Statements’ by Donald Trump: Legal Expert

Published

on

Former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone has agreed to speak to the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on Congress on Friday.

Former Assistant Deputy Attorney General Harry Litman told CNN that Cipollone has carefully negotiated the testimony and he will likely “steer around down the middle” of the attorney/client privilege. However, former President Donald Trump is not the client of a White House counsel, the White House is. President Joe Biden has waived executive privilege for anything involving Jan. 6 or the 2020 election.

“He is a greatest hits package of crazy statements by Donald Trump,” Litman said of Cipollone. “He is the one who says to Mark Meadows, ‘You know, if you do this, you’ll have blood on your effing hands.’ He’s the one who says to Mark Meadows about [Mike] Pence, ‘You’ve got to stop it’ and Meadows says, ‘You’ve heard him. He thinks the rioters are right.’ He’s the one who has to go to Cassidy Hutchinson, a 25-year-old, and plead with her because Meadows won’t speak to him. ‘Please try to keep him from going to the Capitol.’ He’s the one who says, ‘if I go to the Capitol, it will be every effing crime imaginable.'”

READ MORE: Longtime friend of GOP’s Eric Greitens calls him a ‘broken man’ and accuses him of lying about his beliefs

“Now, they’ve negotiated it up, and probably what he wants is to say he’s not piercing attorney/client privilege. But all these statements I’ve said to you, Trump’s nowhere around. So, attorney/client has to be with the client for the purpose of getting legal advice, so he’s got tons to say without that.”

As Litman explained, Cipollone is in “everything.”

See the discussion below.

Image: Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks  via Flickr:
President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump talk with Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett, her husband Jesse Barrett, Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, his wife Virginia Thomas, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, and Deputy White House Counsel Kate Comerford Todd in the Blue Room of the White House Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, after attending Barrett’s swearing-in ceremony as Supreme Court Associate Justice.

 

Continue Reading

News

‘This Is a Business’: New Footage of Trump Family Emerges From Jan. 6 Investigation

Published

on

Newly revealed video footage shows how close British filmmaker Alex Holder got to the Trump family in the lead-up to the January 6th insurrection.

The family allowed Holder to gain exclusive access to them and the former president’s inner circle in the period between the 2020 election and the attack on the U.S. Capitol, and Politico obtained a new trailer for the upcoming documentary “Unprecedented,” which will stream on the Discovery+ network.

“Ivanka frets about a line on her dress, and jokes about covering it with a pet roaming about. ‘Can I borrow your dog?’ she asks her makeup artist,” Politico reported. “Jared nervously repositions his tie and asks, ‘Is that okay?’ Don Jr., seen at a rally, screams, ‘We will make liberals cry again!’ Eric is caught on a phone call, mysteriously saying, ‘For the sake of this country, we’re going to get these guys.'”

Those mundane moments build up to Jan. 6, and the film shows Donald Trump encouraging his supporters to march down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, and Holder’s photographer joins the throng.

READ MORE: Robert Crimo III’s family noticed nothing amiss, but social media posts painted a darker picture

“We’ve got to get the roaches out, all of them,” a Trump supporter yells to the photographer.

The documentary crew also recorded scenes from the ensuing attack, and Holder has turned over the raw footage to the House select committee investigating the riot.

“Gaining power is easy,” the narrator says in the trailer. “Surrendering it is not.”

Watch the video below or at this link.

 

Continue Reading

News

Trump Celebrates Fourth of July by Attacking His Enemies as Biden Hails the American ‘Idea’ of ‘Hope’

Published

on

President Joe Biden is celebrating Independence Day by promoting the American “idea” of “hope” while his predecessor, Donald Trump, is spending the Fourth of July by attacking his enemies and airing his grievances. Later today the President and First Lady will “host a Fourth of July BBQ with military families and deliver remarks to celebrate Independence Day,” according to the president’s official schedule.

Trump is celebrating the most patriotic day on the calendar by attacking his enemies, revisiting his impeachments, the Mueller Report, the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, falsely characterizing global challenges, and declaring, “it’s not looking good for our Country right now.”

President Biden on Monday declared on Twitter, “America is an idea.”

“An idea that is stronger than any army, bigger than any ocean, more powerful than any dictator or tyrant,” Biden said. “It gives hope to the most desperate people on Earth, it guarantees that everyone is treated with dignity and gives hate no safe harbor. It instills in every person in this country the belief that no matter where you start in life, there’s nothing you can’t achieve if you work at it.”

Banned from Twitter and Facebook, Trump posts on the social media platform he owns to his 3.4 million followers, a small fraction of the 88.9 million followers he amassed on Twitter.

“I know it’s not looking good for our Country right now,” Trump says on his Truth Social platform, adding a series of claims like there’s “a major War raging out of control in Europe, the Highest Inflation in memory, the worst 6 month Stock Market start in History, the highest Energy Prices EVER, and that is the Good News. Happy Fourth of July!!! ((Don’t worry, We will MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, and remember, none of these terrible events would have happened if I were President!!!))”

He also criticizes the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack as a group of “political thugs,” spreads false information about his impeachments and the Mueller Report, while painting himself as a victim.

Trump targets Committee Vice-Chair Liz Cheney, declaring that she “keeps saying, over and over again, that HER Fake Unselect Committee may recommend CRIMINAL CHARGES against a President of the United States,” which she did this weekend.

 

Image: The Bidens watch the fireworks from the White House on July 4, 2021. Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz.

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2020 AlterNet Media.