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Some of The Questions Mueller Wants to Ask Trump About Obstruction
The questions show the special counsel's focus on obstruction of justice and touch on some surprising other areas.
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Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel.CreditDoug Mills/The New York TimesBy Matt Apuzzo and Michael S. Schmidt

April 30, 2018
The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, recently provided President Trump's lawyers a list of questions he wants answered in an interview. The New York Times obtained the list; here are the questions, along with the context and significance of each. The questions fall into categories based on four broad subjects. They are not quoted verbatim, and some were condensed.
[Read our main story on the questions for Mr. Trump here.]
Questions related to Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser

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Michael T. Flynn in December 2017.CreditChip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America
  • What did you know about phone calls that Mr. Flynn made with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, in late December 2016?
These questions revolve around whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct justice to protect Mr. Flynn from prosecution. His phone calls with Mr. Kislyak are at the heart of that inquiry.
During the calls, Mr. Flynn urged Russia not to overreact to sanctions just announced by the Obama administration. But Mr. Trump's aides publicly denied that sanctions were discussed and, when questioned by the F.B.I., Mr. Flynn denied it, as well. Mr. Mueller wants to know whether Mr. Flynn was operating on Mr. Trump's behalf. Prosecutors may already know the answer: Mr. Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying and is cooperating with investigators.
  • What was your reaction to news reports on Jan. 12, 2017, and Feb. 8-9, 2017?
In January, the Washington Post columnist David Ignatius revealed Mr. Flynn's phone calls with Mr. Kislyak. Mr. Ignatius questioned whether those conversations had violated a law prohibiting private citizens from attempting to undermine American policies. In February, The Washington Post revealed the true nature of Mr. Flynn's conversations with Mr. Kislyak.
Mr. Mueller wants to know, among other things, whether Mr. Trump feared that his national security adviser had broken the law and then tried to shield him from consequences.
  • What did you know about Sally Yates's meetings about Mr. Flynn?
Ms. Yates, the acting attorney general for the first weeks of the Trump administration, twice warned the White House that Mr. Flynn was lying, and those lies made him vulnerable to Russian blackmail. No one from the White House has ever said how much Mr. Trump knew about those warnings.
  • How was the decision made to fire Mr. Flynn on Feb. 13, 2017?
Eighteen days after Ms. Yates's warning, Mr. Flynn was asked to resign. The White House said that Mr. Trump lost confidence in Mr. Flynn because he had lied. But the White House has never fully explained why, after learning about the lie, officials waited so long to act.
  • After the resignations, what efforts were made to reach out to Mr. Flynn about seeking immunity or possible pardon?
The Times recently revealed that, when Mr. Flynn began considering cooperating with the F.B.I., Mr. Trump's lawyers floated the idea of a pardon. Mr. Mueller wants to know why.

Questions related to James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director

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CreditBrendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse Getty Images
  • What was your opinion of Mr. Comey during the transition?
The questions about Mr. Comey relate to whether Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey last year to shield Mr. Flynn, or anyone else, from prosecution. Mr. Trump has denied that, saying he fired Mr. Comey because of his mishandling of the F.B.I.'s investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server.
This question is important because, if Mr. Trump truly was upset about the Clinton investigation, he would have shown an early distaste for Mr. Comey.
  • What did you think about Mr. Comey's intelligence briefing on Jan. 6, 2017, about Russian election interference?
The briefing revealed that American intelligence agencies had concluded that Russian operatives meddled in the election to hurt Mrs. Clinton and to boost Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on these conclusions and said he believes the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, who denies any interference.
  • What was your reaction to Mr. Comey's briefing that day about other intelligence matters?
This question addresses documents written by a retired British spy, Christopher Steele, who said that Russia had gathered compromising information on Mr. Trump. The documents, which became known as the Steele Dossier, also claim that the Trump campaign had ties to the Russian government. Mr. Comey privately briefed Mr. Trump about these documents.
  • What was the purpose of your Jan. 27, 2017, dinner with Mr. Comey, and what was said?
A few weeks after his briefing, Mr. Comey was called to the White House for a private dinner. Mr. Comey's notes say that Mr. Trump raised concerns about the Steele Dossier and said he needed loyalty from his F.B.I. director. This question touches on Mr. Trump's true motivation for firing Mr. Comey: Was he dismissed because he was not loyal and would not shut down an F.B.I. investigation?
  • What was the purpose of your Feb. 14, 2017, meeting with Mr. Comey, and what was said?
That was a key moment. Mr. Comey testified that the president told him, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go." Mr. Trump has denied this.
  • What did you know about the F.B.I.'s investigation into Mr. Flynn and Russia in the days leading up to Mr. Comey's testimony on March 20, 2017?
Mr. Comey's testimony publicly confirmed that the F.B.I. was investigating members of the Trump campaign for possible coordination with Russia. Mr. Mueller wants to know what role that revelation played in Mr. Comey's firing.
  • What did you do in reaction to the March 20 testimony? Describe your contacts with intelligence officials.
In the aftermath, The Post reported, Mr. Trump asked the United States' top intelligence official, Daniel Coats, to pressure Mr. Comey to back off his investigation. Mr. Mueller wants to ask Mr. Trump about his contacts with Mr. Coats as well as the C.I.A.'s director at the time, Mike Pompeo, and the National Security Agency's director, Michael S. Rogers. The conversations could reflect Mr. Trump's growing frustration with Mr. Comey not about the Clinton case, but about his refusal to shut down the Russia inquiry.
  • What did you think and do in reaction to the news that the special counsel was speaking to Mr. Rogers, Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Coats?
It is not clear whether Mr. Mueller knows something specific about Mr. Trump's reaction to these interviews, but the question shows that Mr. Mueller is keenly interested in how Mr. Trump responded to each step of his investigation.
  • What was the purpose of your calls to Mr. Comey on March 30 and April 11, 2017?
Mr. Comey said that Mr. Trump called twice to ask him to say publicly that he was not under F.B.I. investigation. In the second call, Mr. Comey said, the president added: "I have been very loyal to you, very loyal. We had that thing, you know."
  • What was the purpose of your April 11, 2017, statement to Maria Bartiromo?
While the White House ultimately said Mr. Comey was fired for breaking with Justice Department policy and discussing the Clinton investigation, Mr. Trump expressed no such qualms in an interview with Ms. Bartiromo of Fox Business Network. "Director Comey was very, very good to Hillary Clinton, that I can tell you," he said. "If he weren't, she would be, right now, going to trial."
  • What did you think and do about Mr. Comey's May 3, 2017, testimony?
In this Senate appearance, Mr. Comey described his handling of the Clinton investigation in detail. Mr. Comey was fired soon after. Mr. Mueller's question suggests he wants to know why Mr. Trump soured.
  • Regarding the decision to fire Mr. Comey: When was it made? Why? Who played a role?
Over the past several months, Mr. Mueller has asked White House officials for the back story, and whether the public justification was accurate. He will be able to compare Mr. Trump's answers to what he has learned elsewhere.
  • What did you mean when you told Russian diplomats on May 10, 2017, that firing Mr. Comey had taken the pressure off?
The day after Mr. Comey's firing, Mr. Trump met with Russian officials in the Oval Office. There, The Times revealed, Mr. Trump suggested he had fired Mr. Comey because of the pressure from the Russia investigation.

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"I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job," Mr. Trump said. "I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off."
  • What did you mean in your interview with Lester Holt about Mr. Comey and Russia?
Shortly after firing Mr. Comey, Mr. Trump undercut his own argument when he told NBC News that he had been thinking about the Russia investigation when he fired Mr. Comey.
I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should've won.
  • What was the purpose of your May 12, 2017, tweet?
After The Times revealed the president's private dinner with Mr. Comey, Mr. Trump responded on Twitter.
James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!
Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017
Mr. Comey appeared unworried. "Lordy, I hope there are tapes," Mr. Comey said. The White House ultimately said that, no, there were no tapes.
  • What did you think about Mr. Comey's June 8, 2017, testimony regarding Mr. Flynn, and what did you do about it?
After he was fired, Mr. Comey testified about his conversations with Mr. Trump and described him as preoccupied with the F.B.I.'s investigation into Russia. After the testimony, Mr. Trump called him a liar.
  • What was the purpose of the September and October 2017 statements, including tweets, regarding an investigation of Mr. Comey?
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said that Mr. Comey had testified falsely to Congress and suggested that the Justice Department might investigate. Mr. Trump followed up with tweets suggesting that he should be investigated for rigging an inquiry into Mrs. Clinton. Such comments reinforced criticism that Mr. Trump views the Justice Department as a sword to use against his political rivals.
...people not interviewed, including Clinton herself. Comey stated under oath that he didn't do this-obviously a fix? Where is Justice Dept?
Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 18, 2017
  • What is the reason for your continued criticism of Mr. Comey and his former deputy, Andrew G. McCabe?
Mr. Comey and Mr. McCabe are among Mr. Trump's favorite targets. Mr. McCabe is a lifelong Republican, but Mr. Trump has criticized him as a Clinton loyalist because Mr. McCabe's wife, a Democrat, ran unsuccessfully for office in Virginia and received donations from a Clinton ally. This question suggests that Mr. Mueller wants to know whether Mr. Trump's criticism is an effort to damage the F.B.I. while it investigates the president's associates.

Questions related to Attorney General Jeff Sessions

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions in April in Washington.CreditLawrence Jackson for The New York Times
  • What did you think and do regarding the recusal of Mr. Sessions?
Mr. Trump has criticized Mr. Sessions's recusal from the Russia investigation. The Times reported that Mr. Trump humiliated him in an Oval Office meeting and accused him of being disloyal. Mr. Sessions ultimately submitted his resignation, though Mr. Trump did not accept it. Along with the next two questions, this inquiry looks at whether Mr. Trump views law enforcement officials as protectors.
  • What efforts did you make to try to get him to change his mind?
The Times has reported that Mr. Trump told his White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, to stop Mr. Sessions from recusing himself. Mr. McGahn was unsuccessful, and Mr. Trump erupted, saying he needed an attorney general who would protect him.
  • Did you discuss whether Mr. Sessions would protect you, and reference past attorneys general?
Mr. Trump has spoken affectionately about past attorneys general who he said were loyal to their presidents. He cited Robert F. Kennedy and Eric H. Holder Jr. as examples. "Holder protected the president," he said in a Times interview in December. "And I have great respect for that."
  • What did you think and what did you do in reaction to the news of the appointment of the special counsel?
In a twist, Mr. Mueller's very appointment has become part of his investigation. Mr. Trump has repeatedly denounced the inquiry as a "witch hunt." Mr. Trump blames the appointment on Mr. Sessions's recusal.
  • Why did you hold Mr. Sessions's resignation until May 31, 2017, and with whom did you discuss it?
Mr. Trump rejected Mr. Sessions's resignation after aides argued that it would only create more problems. The details of those discussions remain unclear, but Mr. Trump's advisers have already given Mr. Mueller their accounts of the conversations.
  • What discussions did you have with Reince Priebus in July 2017 about obtaining the Sessions resignation? With whom did you discuss it?
Mr. Priebus, who was Mr. Trump's chief of staff, has said he raced out of the White House after Mr. Sessions and implored him not to resign. Mr. Mueller has interviewed Mr. Priebus and would be able to compare his answers with those of Mr. Trump.
  • What discussions did you have regarding terminating the special counsel, and what did you do when that consideration was reported in January 2018?
Again, Mr. Mueller's investigation intersects with its own existence. The Times reported that, in June 2017, Mr. Trump ordered Mr. McGahn to fire Mr. Mueller. Mr. McGahn refused. Though Mr. Trump's own advisers informed Mr. Mueller about that effort, Mr. Trump denied it: "Fake news," he said. "A typical New York Times fake story."
  • What was the purpose of your July 2017 criticism of Mr. Sessions?
Mr. Trump unleashed a series of attacks on Mr. Sessions in July.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!
Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017

Campaign Coordination With Russia


Donald Trump Jr. arranged a meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in June 2016.CreditLeah Millis/Reuters
  • When did you become aware of the Trump Tower meeting?
This and other questions relate to a June 9, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer who offered political dirt about Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., arranged the meeting. He said he did not tell his father about it when it happened.
  • What involvement did you have in the communication strategy, including the release of Donald Trump Jr.'s emails?
When The Times found out about the meeting, Mr. Trump helped draft a misleading statement in his son's name, omitting the true purpose of the meeting. After The Times obtained the younger Mr. Trump's emails, he published them on Twitter.
  • During a 2013 trip to Russia, what communication and relationships did you have with the Agalarovs and Russian government officials?
The Trump Tower meeting was arranged through the Russian singer Emin Agalarov, his billionaire father, Aras Agalarov, and a music promoter. Mr. Mueller is scrutinizing the nature of connections between the Agalarovs, Mr. Trump and Russian officials.
  • What communication did you have with Michael D. Cohen, Felix Sater and others, including foreign nationals, about Russian real estate developments during the campaign?
Mr. Mueller is referring to a failed effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Mr. Sater, a business associate, proposed the idea to Mr. Cohen, the longtime personal lawyer to Mr. Trump. Emails show that Mr. Sater believed that the project would showcase Mr. Trump's deal-making acumen and propel him into the presidency.
  • What discussions did you have during the campaign regarding any meeting with Mr. Putin? Did you discuss it with others?
Journalists and lawmakers have uncovered several examples of Russian officials trying, through intermediaries, to arrange a meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin. Senior campaign officials rejected some overtures, but Mr. Trump's involvement has been a mystery.
  • What discussions did you have during the campaign regarding Russian sanctions?
Even as the Obama administration stepped up sanctions on Russia, Mr. Trump struck a laudatory tone toward Mr. Putin.
  • What involvement did you have concerning platform changes regarding arming Ukraine?
A portion of the Republican platform was changed in a way more favorable to Russia.
  • During the campaign, what did you know about Russian hacking, use of social media or other acts aimed at the campaign?
This is a key question. Mr. Trump praised the release of hacked Democratic emails and called on Russia to find others. Mr. Mueller's investigation has unearthed evidence that at least one member of Mr. Trump's campaign George Papadopoulos was told that Russia had obtained compromising emails about Mrs. Clinton. But Mr. Trump has repeatedly said there was "no collusion" with the Russian government.

  • What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by Paul Manafort, to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?
This is one of the most intriguing questions on the list. It is not clear whether Mr. Mueller knows something new, but there is no publicly available information linking Mr. Manafort, the former campaign chairman, to such outreach. So his inclusion here is significant. Mr. Manafort's longtime colleague, Rick Gates, is cooperating with Mr. Mueller.
  • What did you know about communication between Roger Stone, his associates, Julian Assange or WikiLeaks?
Mr. Stone, a longtime adviser, claimed to have inside information from WikiLeaks, which published hacked Democratic emails. He appeared to predict future releases, and was in touch with a Twitter account used by Russian intelligence. This question, along with the next two, show that Mr. Mueller is still investigating possible campaign cooperation with Russia.
  • What did you know during the transition about an attempt to establish back-channel communication to Russia, and Jared Kushner's efforts?
Mr. Kushner, Mr. Trump's son-in-law, has testified that the Russian ambassador proposed getting Mr. Flynn in contact with Russian officials to discuss Syria. In response, Mr. Kushner said, he proposed using secure phones inside the Russian Embassy a highly unusual suggestion that was not accepted.
  • What do you know about a 2017 meeting in Seychelles involving Erik Prince?
The meeting was convened by Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates. It brought Mr. Prince, an informal adviser to Mr. Trump's team, together with a Russian investor close to Mr. Putin.
  • What do you know about a Ukrainian peace proposal provided to Mr. Cohen in 2017?
Mr. Cohen, the lawyer, hand-delivered to the White House a peace proposal for Ukraine and Russia. This unusual bit of backdoor diplomacy is of interest because it involved a Ukrainian lawmaker who said he was being encouraged by Mr. Putin's aides. Mr. Cohen has said he did not discuss the proposal with Mr. Trump.
If I had to compare the "cases" against Nixon, Reagan-Bush and Clinton against the "case" against Trump, I would say this Trump case is by far the most irrelevant.

At least, in the Clinton-Monica Lewinski case, Clinton actually did have something which he was trying to cover up although it was "just" basically (and arguably) a sexual harassment case.

In the case of Trump, so far we have not had a hint of anything which he would have reason to lie about or cover up. I'm talking about any ACTUAL CRIME with which he could personally be charged.

If there is nothing there for him to be hiding, then he can answer questions as long as he avoids a "perjury trap." He could avoid this by merely refusing to answer any questions like "what was said at that meeting?" He can truthfully say (to something like that) that he doesn't remember all the details and does not have access to a transcript.

What the media is missing is what happened in the case of Senator James O Eastland. When Eastland was being questioned under oath, he answered "I don't remember" 57 times. In the case of Eastland, this was a huge political blow against him. But it worked ok in the legal sense.

Apparently, answering "I don't remember" has the same result as "taking the Fifth."

Based on what I've seen, Comey, Mueller, Rosenstein, McCabe, Strzok and Page, and even FBI director Christopher Wray are basically "Keystone Cops" who are also the gang who can't shoot straight.

People who assume that Mueller (or any old prosecutor) can drum up an effective criminal case against anybody at any time, are selling short the legal process we have in our tradition and throughout our country.

Also, after consulting Real Clear Politics, I notice that Trump's approval rating is up to 43.5. This is up from being in the 30's most of his term. What will the Dems do if Trump starts being perceived and a martyr and begins drawing sympathy for his plight?

Since this "Trump Derangement Syndrome" seems to be a little like the citizens being in the backseat with a drunk driver at the wheel, I doubt that the Dems or Mueller can make good enough decisions to avoid a backfire of this whole situation.

James Lateer


[Image: image2-6-700x470.jpg]I am the least dishonest person on the planet. Believe me. Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from DonkeyHotey / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from DonkeyHotey / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).
Here is something that doesn't get said enough: Donald Trump, the president of the United States of America, seemingly can't stop lying. It's not that people don't know. Everybody knows. Still, the media usually skirts around the subject that Trump is a huge liar.
The Washington Post's fact-checking team revealed this week that Trump has made "3,001 false or misleading claims" so far in his presidency an average of six per day.
The paper often awards him between one and four "Pinocchios" to show how far from the truth the president has strayed. Using the well-known children's character whose nose got longer the more he lied is cute, but not at all helpful.
Because there is nothing cute or funny about the most powerful man in the world being unable to stop lying. Where is the value in sugarcoating it by saying that Trump's statements are "false or misleading?" Sure, in some cases, he is just ignorant and doesn't know the facts which isn't much better but any sensible person would then keep their mouth shut to make sure they don't say something false. Trump lacks that sensibility or any type of filter that keeps him from lying constantly. He also keeps repeating lies that have already been disproven, which is clear evidence that this isn't just about him being clueless.
Trump lies so much that he has overwhelmed the system. The media seems to be unable to deal with the tsunami of bullshit coming out of the president's mouth.
So when Trump tells yet another lie, it barely registers.
Professional journalists are used to giving people the benefit of the doubt. Even if it seems apparent that somebody has committed a crime for example, because they were caught in the act or there is a mountain of evidence a credible news outlet will always put the word "alleged" in front of the supposed perpetrator's name until he or she is convicted.
And in most cases, that is the right thing to do. After all, the word "lying" conveys intent. Can we really say with certainty whether a person meant to lie or simply misstated something, was unaware of the facts, didn't remember something correctly, etc.? That is why journalists usually contrast a false statement with a fact to show that it is incorrect and allow readers to determine for themselves whether it was deliberate or not.
Trump no longer deserves that benefit of the doubt. In fact, every single statement of his within a news story should come with a disclaimer like, "The president is a known liar. Everything he says should be viewed in that context."
It's ironic that the man who was elected, in part, because his supporters like that he "says it like it is" seems unable to actually do that.
Even his backers know at least the ones who can tell the difference between the truth and a lie. Still, they can't get themselves to call Trump a liar.
Earlier this week, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum came close when saying "The president says things that don't comport with the facts. I don't like calling people liars, but the reality is this president has a problem."
But it's not just Trump's problem. It's our problem. The president shouldn't be a compulsive liar. While that should go without saying, in this case it must be said over and over again.
At this point, how can anybody allies and adversaries alike trust anything Trump says? Or take him seriously?
And the president's supporters should be the first to point this out to him. Because by discrediting himself, he is hurting them. However, since Trump is not just a world-class liar but also vindictive, they are all too afraid to speak truth to power.
On Thursday night, Fox News host Neil Cavuto pointed out a bunch of Trump's lies and he still couldn't get himself to call the president a liar.
On the closest thing to state TV the US has ever seen, Cavuto said Trump is giving his opponents way too much ammunition.
"Maybe not intentionally. I'll even give you the benefit of the doubt, Mr. President, and say, maybe not deliberately," Cavuto stated in a four-minute monologue. "But consistently. Way too consistently."
A bit later he was even clearer and still stopped short of what needs to be said often and loudly.
"I'm not saying you're a liar, I'm just having a devil of a time figuring out which news is fake," Cavuto said. "Let's just say your own words on lots of stuff give me, shall I say, lots of pause."
This got Cavuto a lot of praise but isn't this what any journalist should be doing? In fact, they should be much more outspoken about the president's lies.
Because this stuff really matters. Trump has set the bar so low and shattered so many norms that the US will be paying for it for years. Just this week, we got confirmation of something everybody had already assumed that the letter from his doctor proclaiming Trump would be the healthiest president ever had been dictated by Trump himself.
So in addition to bucking tradition and not releasing his tax returns, and therefore depriving the public of judging his business acumen and possible ties to shady foreign moneylenders voters were also deprived of an objective assessment of Trump's state of health before he was elected.
Instead, they got more lies.
Understandably, the media is a bit touchy when it comes to Trump. The "fake news" label, which he slaps on any story he doesn't like, not only gets under the skin of good journalists but it's also sticking with Trump's supporters, many of whom see the press as an enemy of the state.
That's why it's time to shatter some norms of our own and start treating Trump differently. While coverage of the president needs to remain fair, it also has to be accurate. And that means no longer giving him the benefit of the doubt and calling out Donald Trump for what he is: the worst liar to have ever occupied the office.

Mueller's History of Cover-Ups

Posted on April 8, 2018 by Kevin Ryan
Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been in the news lately due to his inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. After a 12-year stint leading the Bureau, the longest ever since J. Edgar Hoover, Mueller is now seen by many as an honest man serving the interest of the American public. However, that perception cannot be defended once one knows about Mueller's past.
[Image: mueller-1-2.jpg?w=640]What some people don't know about Mueller is that he has a long history of leading government investigations that were diversions or cover-ups. These include the investigation into the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, the investigation into the terrorist financing Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), and the FBI investigations into the crimes of September 11[SUP]th[/SUP], 2001. Today the public is beginning to realize that Mueller's investigation into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign is a similar diversion.
Mueller's talents were noticed early in his career at the Justice Department. As a U.S. Attorney in Boston during the mid-80s, he helped falsely convict four men for murders they didn't commit in order to protect a powerful FBI informantmobster James "Whitey" Bulger." According to the Boston Globe, "Mueller was also in that position while Whitey Bulger was helping the FBI cart off his criminal competitors even as he buried bodies in shallow graves along the Neponset."
Mueller was then appointed as chief investigator of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103 in Scotland. The account Mueller produced was a flimsy story that accused a Libyan named Megrahi of coordinating placement of a suitcase bomb that allegedly traveled unaccompanied through several airports to find its way to the doomed flight. Despite Mueller's persistent defense of this unbelievable tale, Megrahi was released from prison in 2009 and died three years later in Libya.
With the Pan Am 103 case, Mueller was covering up facts related to some of the of victims of the bombinga group of U.S. intelligence specialists led by Major Charles McKee of the Defense Intelligence Agency. McKee had gone to Beirut to find and rescue hostages and, while there, learned about CIA involvement in a drug smuggling operation run through an agency project called COREA. As TIME magazine reported, the likely explanation for the bombing, supported by independent intelligence experts, was that U.S. operatives "targeted Flight 103 in order to kill the hostage-rescue team." This would prevent disclosure of what McKee's team had learned. That theory was also supported by the fact that the CIA showed up immediately at the scene of the crash, took McKee's briefcase, and returned it empty.
Mueller's diversions led to his leadership of the Criminal Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, putting him in charge of investigations regarding BCCI. When Mueller started in that role, members of Congress and the media were already critical of the government's approach to the BCCI affair. Mueller came into the picture telling the Washington Post that there was an "appearance of, one, foot-dragging; two, perhaps a cover-up." Later he denied the cover-up claim and the suggestion that the CIA may have collaborated with BCCI operatives.
But again, Mueller was simply brought in to accomplish the cover-up. The facts were that BCCI was used by the CIA to operate outside of the rule of law through funding of terrorists and other criminal operatives. The bank network was at the root of some of the greatest crimes against the public in the last 50 years, including the Savings & Loan scandal, the Iran-Contra affair, and the creation of the al-Qaeda terrorist network.
Mueller was instrumental in obstructing the BCCI investigation led by Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. During this time, Justice Department prosecutors were instructed not to cooperate with Morgenthau. Describing Mueller's obstruction of Morgenthau, the Wall Street Journal reported that, "documents were withheld, and attempts were made to block other federal agencies from cooperating."
Describing Mueller's role in the BCCI cover-up more clearly, reporter Chris Floyd wrote:
"When a few prosecutors finally began targeting BCCI's operations in the late Eighties, President George Herbert Walker Bush boldly moved in with a federal probe directed by Justice Department investigator Robert Mueller. The U.S. Senate later found that the probe had been unaccountably botched'witnesses went missing, CIA records got lost,'… Lower-ranking prosecutors told of heavy pressure from on high to lay off.' Most of the big BCCI players went unpunished or, like [Khalib bin] Mahfouz, got off with wrist-slap fines and sanctions. Mueller, of course, wound up as head of the FBI, appointed to the post in July 2001by George W. Bush."
Yes, in the summer of 2001, when the new Bush Administration suspected it would soon need a cover-up, Mueller was brought in for the job. Although suspect Louis Freeh was FBI Director in the lead-up to the crimes, Mueller knew enough to keep things under wraps. He also had some interesting ties to other 9/11 suspects like Rudy Giuliani, whose career paralleled Mueller's closely during the Reagan and first Bush administrations.
Under Mueller, the FBI began the whitewash of 9/11 immediately. Mueller himself lied repeatedly in the direct aftermath with respect to FBI knowledge of the accused hijackers. He claimed that the alleged hijackers left no paper trail, and suggested that they exercised "extraordinary secrecy" and "discipline never broke down." In fact, "ring leader" Mohamed Atta went to great lengths to draw attention to himself prior to the attacks. Moreover, the evidence the accused men supposedly left behind was obvious and implausibly convenient for the FBI.
Meanwhile, Mueller's FBI immediately seized control of the investigations at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, PA where United Flight 93 was destroyed. Under Mueller, leaders of the Bureau went on to arrest and intimidate witnesses, destroy or withhold evidence, and prevent any independent investigation. With Mueller in the lead, the FBI failed to cooperate with the government investigations into 9/11 and failed miserably to perform basic investigatory tasks. Instead, Mueller celebrated some of the most egregious pre-9/11 failures of the FBI by giving those involved promotions, awards, and cash bonuses.
As FBI whistleblower Coleen Rowley later wrote with regard to 9/11, "Robert Mueller (and James Comey as deputy attorney general) presided over a cover-up." Kristen Breitweiser, one of the four 9/11 widows known as the "Jersey Girls," stated something similar:
"Mueller and other FBI officials had purposely tried to keep any incriminating information specifically surrounding the Saudis out of the Inquiry's investigative hands. To repeat, there was a concerted effort by the FBI and the Bush Administration to keep incriminating Saudi evidence out of the Inquiry's investigation."
Supporting Breitweiser's claims, public watchdog agency Judicial Watch emphasized Mueller's role in the cover-up.
"Though the recently filed court documents reveal Mueller received a briefing about the Sarasota Saudi investigation, the FBI continued to publicly deny it existed and it appears that the lies were approved by Mueller."
Mueller's FBI went on to "botch" the investigation into the October 2001 anthrax attacks. As expected, the result was a long series of inexplicable diversions that led nowhere. The anthrax attacks occurred at a time when Mueller himself was warning Americans that another 9/11 could occur at any time (despite his lack of interest in the first one). They also provided the emotional impetus for Americans and Congress to accept the Patriot Act, which had been written prior to 9/11. Exactly why Mueller's expertise was needed is not yet known but examining the evidence suggests that the anthrax attackers were the same people who planned 9/11.


[Image: image3-3-700x470.jpg]Photo credit: Ballotpedia
While Democrats, Republicans, and the intelligence community are all warning about potential Russian meddling in the November midterm elections, ordinary citizens face even greater obstacles to exercising their vote.
WhoWhatWhy spoke to voting rights and election integrity experts about the broad range of threats to voting access. They noted that there are other serious election concerns that voters should worry about this fall challenges to the integrity of the voting process that are not getting enough attention in the mainstream media.

Trump's Failed Election Integrity' Commission

In 2016, Donald Trump campaigned with a warning that the vote might be rigged against him. After winning the election but not the popular vote, President Trump to prove his (completely unsubstantiated) claim that "millions voted illegally" established a commission to address alleged voter fraud. The commission was later disbanded after many states refused to turn over sensitive voter data and allegations surfaced that its true purpose may have been voter suppression.
According to Robert Hoffman, State Advocacy for Voting Rights at the ACLU, Trump's commission ignored crucial voting rights issues. In fact, Hoffman complained, its impact had the opposite effect:
"Instead of addressing necessary barriers to the ballot, such as low voter turnout and outdated and insecure voting systems, Trump's sham commission focused on selling the lie that he won the 2016 popular vote. This, in turn, justified subsequent voter suppression tactics."
Voter suppression has worsened over the last decade, Hoffman charged. Most obviously by state legislatures who made it more difficult for some Americans to exercise their right to vote.
[Image: image2-8.jpg]Photo credit: David Goehring / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Hoffman said that the most common tactics in 2017, and continuing into 2018, were cutting early voting, enacting voter ID laws, purging voter rolls, and making voter registration more difficult.

The Hurdles of Voter Registration and Voter ID

Each of our experts echoed Hoffman's concern that voter suppression tactics will affect the upcoming midterms. All of them pointed particularly to laws regarding voter registration and voter ID.
According to a Brennan Center for Justice roundup of 2017 voting laws, registration and ID laws were the most popular ways to suppress the vote. North Dakota and Arkansas passed their first voter ID laws in 2017, while Texas bolstered its existing law. Meanwhile, Indiana, Georgia, Iowa, and New Hampshire introduced laws limiting voter registration.
In 2018, this trend continued as four states (Illinois, Maryland, Nebraska, and New Jersey) introduced Voter ID laws, while Kentucky and New Hampshire made their existing ID laws more restrictive. Virginia, Oklahoma, and California also introduced voter registration barriers.
"While some of these bills might not become law in 2018, that doesn't mean they're dead," the Brennan Center's Jonathan Brater told WhoWhatWhy. "They can always be revived in time for the 2020 election. And it's worth pointing out that many state voting laws often become the blueprint for federal voting laws."
So, what makes these laws so popular and easy to pass?
[Image: image5-1.jpg]Pennsylvania voter ID information from my polling place, November 6, 2012. Photo credit: Sarah Goslee / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

"They appear practical to many and supportive' of securing our vote, something no one wants to be against in this climate," according to Brett Shears at Vote Allies, a civic engagement organization in California that helps restore voting rights to disenfranchised voters, such as previously convicted felons.
"A group of people have convinced lawmakers, administrators, and even voters that our elections are ripe for fraud," Shears added. "Tighter voter registration and voter ID laws, they say, is the only way to stop this from happening."
While this may sound like a reasonable way to combat fraud, Shears argues voter ID and voter registration bills wage a psychological war, as much as a legislative one.
"Those supportive of voting hurdles always the people who face no hurdle at the ballot box are basically saying: prove to us that you really want to vote.' Often these laws end up discouraging, rather than encouraging, voters from taking time out of their day to complete the voting process."
Shears asserts that voter ID and voter registration laws are part of a war between people like him, who see an expanded vote as the fulfillment of participatory democracy, and those who believe voting should only be for select groups.
"I call them voting purists. Voting purists think that voting is only for selected individuals in the country," he said. "They definitely don't want someone who had a previous felony conviction. Even naturalized citizens, people who fought hard to be here, have had trouble proving their right to vote."
Shears did note that 2017 wasn't all bad, as several states such as Indiana, Idaho, and Wyoming reduced barriers to voting.
"The success we saw last year in regards to expanding the vote is due to one thing: preparedness when voting. If you call America home,' then you are a potential voter. And you should have your voice heard."

Vote Purging and Machine Vulnerability

Vote purging, meanwhile, has increased due to the advance of a process called "Interstate Crosscheck."
[Image: image4-2.jpg]Vice Chair Kris Kobach giving remarks at the first meeting of his advisory commission on Election Integrity, July 19, 2017. Photo credit: White House / YouTube

Designed by Trump supporter and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Crosscheck was sold as a "free way" to prevent "double voting," meaning people who vote twice. Ahead of the 2016 election, Crosscheck was implemented in 28 states and analyzed 98 million voters 7.2 million were flagged as potential "double voters." More than one million of them were removed from the rolls, journalist Greg Palast alleged, even though it is not illegal to be registered to vote in multiple states.
Yet, despite assurances from supporters and Kobach himself, Crosscheck's methodology proved faulty. The program has recently come under fire for its inaccuracy and racial bias, leading eight states to withdraw (Alaska, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington), and three states to consider legislation that will force their withdrawal (New Hampshire, Illinois, and Kansas).
WhoWhatWhy detailed problems with the system in a 2016 interview with Palast:
"Crosscheck has a database of suspected names' that are a potential for double voting. Voters suspected are people like Maria Christina Hernandez' who voted in Virginia and voted again, apparently, as Maria Isabel Hernandez' in Georgia. So Kobach and those concerned with so-called voter fraud think that Maria Hernandez' is an uncommon name' in the US, and that she is just switching her middle name twice to vote in separate states. Two million people are just on this list. So she's removed from voting."
Jonathan Simon, executive director of the Election Defense Alliance, notes that the Crosscheck program is just as dangerous if not more so than the potential for vote count manipulation.
"Along with more barriers to casting a ballot, and long lines at the polls, Kobach's Crosscheck scheme will be out in full force this November," he said. "And of course no voter except in the tiny sprinkling of hand-count towns and counties, which makeup less than 2% of the vote will have any opportunity to observe the counting process."
Another aspect that could hinder midterm voters is one that often goes unseen. Mainly because voters are not allowed to see it.
Americans are unaware of just who is counting their votes, perhaps assuming that election officials are doing the counting themselves. But that's often not the case.
"Since 2002, vote counting has been outsourced, and not [to] the Kremlin. Companies like Dominion and ES&S are tasked to count our votes. It would be hard to find a more secretive and corruptible industry in America," according to Simon. Dominion Voting systems is a privately held company based in Toronto and Elections System and Software has headquarters in Nebraska.
Electronic voting machines have come under further scrutiny lately, as several reports have recently emerged indicating their vulnerability to hacking. To underscore concerns about the vulnerability of the current system, several states also are looking at adding a paper ballot trail to audit votes, and at upgrading voter machines so that votes can be effectively audited.
According to Simon, these reforms run into potential hurdles.
"Even the New York Times is running articles about how easy it is to hack our voting machines. While the proposed reforms are necessary, they are also deceptive. Upgrading voting machines will just increase how long it takes for hackers to access," he said. "Paper ballots, on the other hand, always come with stipulations, like a barcode attached to your paper ballot. Barcodes are susceptible to being manipulated when fed into the scanner."
Simon noted that while the solution to securing our vote from domestic operatives or the Russians might be hard, it isn't impossible.
"This isn't exploratory drilling in the Arctic. We have 75% percent of our vote on paper. What's needed are audits that aren't costly and are actually transparent. Instead, we're devising a slew of clever ways to keep it concealed while making it look more transparent."

What We Can Learn From Michael Cohen's Pay-to-Play Scandal

[Image: image2-13-700x470.jpg]Influence peddling: It's business as usual, so fuggedaboutit! Photo credit: DonkeyHotey / WhoWhatWhy (CC BY-SA 2.0) See complete attribution below.
To anyone even vaguely familiar with Donald Trump, the notion that he and his gang of grifters would drain the swamp instead of wallowing in it always seemed ridiculous.
So it came as no surprise that several major corporations shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars to Michael Cohen in the hope that Trump's fixer could grease the wheels a bit as they were trying to curry favor with his boss.
The only truly shocking thing would be if the president didn'tsomehow receive a kickback from this money. Maybe we'll find out through Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who has interviewed all the major players in this saga apart from the president.
If Cohen, and anybody else involved in this apparent pay-to-play scheme, doesn't get into legal trouble over this, then it's just further evidence that the US currently allows corruption and bribery at the highest levels of government.
Ostensibly, companies like AT&T paid Cohen's "Essential Consultants" for insights into how the Trump administration operates. But let's not kid ourselves. Cohen probably understands as much about "legal consulting concerning standards on production costs," for which he pocketed $150,000 from Korea Aerospace Industries, as a reasonably intelligent grade schooler does or a smart tree.
And he likely knows nothing about healthcare policy but still managed to get paid $1.2 million by pharmaceutical manufacturer Novartis for information on what Trump may do on "certain US healthcare policy matters." This week the company said its executives quickly "determined that Michael Cohen and Essentials Consultants would be unable to provide the services that Novartis had anticipated." While the company admitted it made a mistake, it didn't specify what it expected to get in return for its money when it hired a lawyer whose primary skill seems to be arranging payments to Trump's alleged mistresses and he even sucks at that.
But it's not difficult to figure out: they wanted Trump's ear and everybody knows that the way to that orifice would have to be lined with favors and flattery. Just because they might have gotten conned by Cohen's overpromises, which is the best-case scenario for the companies involved, doesn't make them look any better.
By the way, there is no evidence that Cohen or Essential Consultants are registered lobbyists, which makes the entire thing even shadier. And, of course, a Russian oligarch may also be involved. It seems nothing is going on in Trumpworld without a rich Putin crony in the mix.
AT&T, which paid Cohen $600,000, also said it made a mistake and Bob Quinn, the company's senior executive vice president for external and legislative affairs, i.e., its top in-house lobbyist, is being forced out.
Seeing how these companies have not stepped forward on their own, it appears as though the "mistake" they are alluding to is not that they tried to buy influence with Trump but rather that they tried to do it through somebody who was dumb enough to get caught. After all, AT&T hired Cohen more than a year ago, the contract ended in January, and it's only now that Quinn is asked to retire.
It also raises the question of how many other companies or governments found smarter ways to funnel money to Trump and his inner circle, e.g., through real estate deals or through people who aren't caught up (yet) in Mueller's web.
This mess is yet another reason that the public deserves to see Trump's tax returns and other financial documents. Unfortunately, it's probably also yet another reason why he will never release them.
For all that talk from conservatives that the "deep state" is trying to take down Trump, what's really surprising is that there hasn't been a single IRS employee with access to the president's tax returns who decided to take one for the team. The maximum sentence they'd get is five years and, let's face it, anybody who releases Trump's tax returns could probably raise a billion bucks through a crowdfunding campaign for their legal defense fund. That way they could get a much better lawyer than Cohen although it's becoming increasingly obvious that's not saying a lot.
[Image: attachment.php?attachmentid=9540&stc=1] Speaks for itself
I just had an incredible epiphany about Russiagate. It's obvious that this FBI collusion with the Hilary Campaign with the Steele Dossier was done under the assumption that Hilary would win. Like the Watergate Burglary, Hilary would have those illegal activities hung around her neck. Then the Deep State would use this to have her impeached.

But fate intervened and Trump was elected. Now the Deep State is trying to use the "concrete shoes" they invented to use on Hilary, instead to use them on Trump.

Just ask yourself this: who would the Steele Dossier-Russia collusion (involving Hilary's purchase of the dossier) fit on better? Hilary? Or Trump?

Obviously, this was deja vu on the Watergate Burglary by the Nixon "campaign." Only this time it would be the Clinton Campaign and Hilary would be stuck with an impossible situation, just like Nixon.

That's why this LEFT SHOE designed for Hilary won't fit on the RIGHT FOOT of Donald Trump.

James Lateer
James, why do you assume the Steele dossier isn't accurate?