Robert Mueller’s net closes in on team Trump
Jeff Sessions, who was the nation’s attorney-general until last month, ruled himself out of the Russia probe because he had been part of Trump’s election campaign team.
The Mueller investigation has already led to charges against 36 people and companies, on a total of 192 separate counts, with guilty pleas from seven of those indicted and one trial conviction – Manafort, who was found guilty in August on eight charges of financial fraud unrelated to Russian election influence.
Trump has made his views of the inquiry plain in frequent Putin.
Trump, who tweeted in January 2017 that ‘‘I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!’’, said last week after Cohen’s revelation that ‘‘he’s lying about a project that everybody knew about. We were very open with it . . . There would have been nothing wrong if I did do it ... It was my business. So he’s lying very simply to get a reduced sentence, OK?’’
Flynn has provided information about interactions between Trump’s transition team and Russian government officials, including several conversations he had with Sergey Kislyak, then the Russian ambassador to the US, in December 2016.
These included a discussion about lifting economic sanctions imposed by US President Barack Obama on Russia and asking Moscow to delay a United Nations security council resolution on Israeli settlements.
‘‘A very senior member of the transition team directed’’ Flynn to contact Kislyak, according to the prosecution in Flynn’s initial court appearance last year.
It is widely believed that the very senior member could be Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, who attended one of Flynn’s meetings with the Russian ambassador. Kushner is also under investigation for his role in a meeting at Trump Tower arranged by Donald Trump Jr in June 2016 with a Russian lawyer who promised ‘‘dirt’’ on Clinton.
As the inquiry continues, edging closer to Trump and his family, Democrats are leading calls for legislation to protect Mueller from interference by Matthew Whitaker, the recently appointed acting attorney-general, who is a strong critic of the inquiry.
Whitaker has assumed oversight of the investigation from Rosenstein. Washington is abuzz with speculation that this is part of a White House plot to clip the inquiry’s wings, perhaps by Whitaker starving it of resources.
Mueller’s final report will be presented to the acting attorneygeneral, who will decide what to make public. – The Times
Robert Mueller’s investigation into ‘‘Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election and related matters’’ is closing in around United States President Donald Trump, as, one by one, it picks off former associates.
Michael Cohen, the president’s former personal lawyer and fixer, has been co-operating with the Mueller inquiry.
Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, is accused of lying to prosecutors after promising to co-operate.
Former United States national security adviser Michael Flynn has cut a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller.