Trump to press DOJ officials to hand over FBI informant details

President Donald Trump will ask his top Justice Department officials at a White House meeting later Monday to turn over to Congress and his own legal team all of the memos they have about an FBI informant who made contact with his 2016 campaign, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani told POLITICO.

“He wants them to turn over the information that exists about the informant to the House and Senate committees,” Giuliani said of the meeting scheduled for 3 p.m. between the president, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence. “All the memos they have. That’ll indicate what the informant found. Then those should be made available to us on a confidential basis. We should be at least allowed to read them so we know this exculpatory evidence is being preserved.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed the Continue reading “Trump to press DOJ officials to hand over FBI informant details”

Giuliani: Mueller interview prep on Trump’s summer schedule

Donald Trump’s lawyers have begun planning a series of summer prep sessions for the president before a possible sit-down with special counsel Robert Mueller for an interview, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said Thursday.

The planning meetings — to be held during off-hours at the White House and perhaps over games of golf at Trump’s private courses, Giuliani said — will mirror Trump’s 2016 debate preparation, in which aides briefed an impatient president in several brief sessions over many weeks. Giuliani said the briefings likely will begin after Trump returns from a June 12 summit in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un if a Mueller interview is agreed to.

“You can’t take a president away to Camp David and just prepare him for two or three weeks,” Giuliani said in an interview.

“I think of it as the way we prepared him for debates,” he added. “He never liked to Continue reading “Giuliani: Mueller interview prep on Trump’s summer schedule”

Mueller sends subpoenas to consultant for Roger Stone super PAC

Special counsel Robert Mueller has issued a pair of subpoenas to a social media consultant who worked on Roger Stone’s pro-Donald Trump super PAC during the 2016 presidential campaign.

An attorney for Jason Sullivan, a Republican consultant based in Southern California, confirmed to POLITICO that his client received the subpoenas in recent days for both documents and his testimony before the Mueller-charged grand jury in Washington.

A firm date for Sullivan’s grand jury appearance is still being negotiated, said Knut Johnson, one of the consultant’s personal attorneys. Reuters first reported the news of the subpoenas earlier Wednesday.

Sullivan said in an interview that he worked for Stone’s Committee to Restore America’s Greatness during the final four months of the 2016 White House race, assisting the pro-Trump group with social media strategy namely around Twitter. According to records filed with the Federal Election Commission, Stone’s super PAC reported making two payments Continue reading “Mueller sends subpoenas to consultant for Roger Stone super PAC”

Trump team ready to ‘pressure’ Mueller at probe’s one-year mark

President Donald Trump’s attorney has an unlikely new role model for special counsel Robert Mueller: James Comey.

Frustrated by the open-ended nature of Mueller’s Russia probe, which hits its one-year mark on Thursday, Rudy Giuliani says Mueller should follow the example Comey set in 2016, when the then-FBI director investigated — and then publicly exonerated — Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server.

“When Comey closed [the case] in July — although I think it was a complete whitewash — I’d like to have them do that for us,” the former New York mayor said.

Never mind that Comey later re-opened the case days before the 2016 election, after the discovery of new evidence, possibly costing Clinton the election. Or that Giuliani calls Comey “a major phony” and “a little baby.”
Giuliani’s point, echoed by many conservatives, is that Mueller’s year-old investigation has run too long Continue reading “Trump team ready to ‘pressure’ Mueller at probe’s one-year mark”

Giuliani says he wouldn’t debate Avenatti ‘if they paid me $10 million’

Rudy Giuliani is having none of a debate challenge issued by one of his most outspoken critics, Michael Avenatti.

“I wouldn’t debate that guy if they paid me $10 million,” Giuliani, a new lawyer for President Donald Trump, told POLITICO in an interview on Friday. “He’s a liar. All he does is put out statements in the press and they fawn all over him.”

Avenatti, the attorney for Stormy Daniels, has become a cable mainstay in the saga over hush money longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen paid to the adult film actress before the 2016 presidential election to keep her silent about an alleged affair a decade earlier with Trump.

On Twitter on Tuesday, Avenatti upped the ante by suggesting he go head-to-head with Giuliani over key parts of the scandal.

“It would be very helpful for the public to witness a discussion between Mr. Giuliani and me concerning Continue reading “Giuliani says he wouldn’t debate Avenatti ‘if they paid me $10 million’”

Giuliani: Cohen is not Trump’s lawyer anymore ‘as far as we know’

Michael Cohen, the embattled longtime personal attorney to President Donald Trump, is no longer playing an active role representing Trump, according to one of the president’s newest lawyers, Rudy Giuliani.

“As far as we know, he’s not,” Giuliani told POLITICO in an interview Friday. “And there’d be nothing for him to do right now.”

Trump as recently as last month said Cohen was still representing him in a personal capacity when he told reporters that he didn’t know about a payment Cohen had made to the adult film star Stormy Daniels just weeks before the 2016 presidential election in a bid to help keep her silent about a decade-old alleged affair.

“You have to ask Michael Cohen,” the president said on Air Force One on April 5. “Michael’s my attorney and you’ll have to ask Michael.”

Giuliani said the Trump-Cohen lawyer relationship was still going “probably up until Continue reading “Giuliani: Cohen is not Trump’s lawyer anymore ‘as far as we know’”

Trump attorney Giuliani resigns from private law firm

Rudy Giuliani resigned from his private law firm on Wednesday as he steps up his work as one of President Donald Trump’s personal attorneys in the Russia investigation.

The former New York mayor initially took an unpaid leave of absence last month from the New York office of Greenberg Traurig, but in a joint statement issued Thursday the firm and Giuliani confirmed the separation was permanent.

“In light of the pressing demands of the Mueller investigation, I believe it is in everyone’s best interest that I make it a permanent resignation,” Giuliani said, referring to special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. “This way, my sole concentration can be on this critically important matter for our country.”

Giuliani has become a lightning rod for criticism since taking on a top role on the president’s legal team for his answers during television interviews about Trump’s role in the Stormy Daniels hush money Continue reading “Trump attorney Giuliani resigns from private law firm”

Mueller’s team shoots down idea of written interview with Trump

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has rejected the idea that President Donald Trump be allowed to answer questions in writing, according to a source familiar with the process, who also cautioned that it “doesn’t mean the last chapter’s been written on that.”

Mueller, who is overseeing the sprawling investigation into whether Trump campaign aides colluded with Russians to influence the 2016 election and into whether Trump obstructed justice, has been in talks with the president’s lawyers for months about the format of a potential interview.

In a conversation with POLITICO on Monday afternoon, Rudy Giuliani, who recently joined Trump’s outside group of lawyers, said Mueller’s team and Trump’s lawyers were still far apart on the negotiations for an interview. “We both have issues we want to resolve,” the former New York mayor said.

Among the Trump legal team’s demands: a chance to review the Justice Department internal records relating Continue reading “Mueller’s team shoots down idea of written interview with Trump”

Giuliani: Russia probe will motivate Trump voters for midterms

Rudy Giuliani sees an upside to the Russia probe for Republicans: more angry Donald Trump voters who will turn out for the November midterms to save his presidency.

“It has his people much more excited now than before,” the former New York mayor, who last month took on a new assignment as the president’s personal attorney, said in an interview on Monday.

While shying away from outright praise of Democrats, Giuliani said the party was smart to steer its own midterm election strategy away from discussing a potential Trump impeachment battle.

“They’ve backed off that because they realize that could really, really backfire on them,” Giuliani said. “I don’t think anywhere near a majority of the American people want to see an impeachment interrupt the good work the president is doing.”

Giuliani’s take on the potential political fallout from the Russia investigation comes as he leads the Trump legal Continue reading “Giuliani: Russia probe will motivate Trump voters for midterms”

Trump grows frustrated with Giuliani as Stormy drama rages on

President Donald Trump has shaken up his legal team in the last three weeks — and he’s still not happy.

The president has been griping to associates that Rudy Giuliani, his new personal attorney, has failed to shut down the Stormy Daniels hush money saga. And he has expressed frustration that Giuliani’s media appearances are raising more questions than they are answering, turning the story into a days-long drama capped by the admission Sunday that the president may have made similar payments to other women.

For now, White House aides said, Giuliani still has a direct line in to Trump – the two speak almost daily – and nobody in the West Wing is eager to insert themselves between the two irascible New Yorkers by yanking Giuliani off TV. But some aides said they expect the president to fire Giuliani if his behavior doesn’t change.

In a phone interview Monday, Continue reading “Trump grows frustrated with Giuliani as Stormy drama rages on”

Trump team makes the midterms about saving his presidency

Rudy Giuliani’s revelation Sunday that he expects President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen to cooperate with prosecutors challenged the axiom that when you’re in a hole, stop digging.

Giuliani already had been forced to clarify an earlier interview in which he conceded that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, contradicting repeated denials from the White House.

Still, he kept talking on Sunday, saying it was possible Cohen’s 2016 payment to Daniels wasn’t the only hush money paid out during the presidential campaign.

Legal experts say the decision by Trump’s chatty counsel to keep publicly chewing over Cohen’s situation risks drawing the president into more courtroom drama. But Giuliani seems content to keep the attention focused on that tabloid-friendly fight, as the White House appears to count on Trump’s base continuing to forgive his alleged moral lapses — and as his team seems to Continue reading “Trump team makes the midterms about saving his presidency”

Trump on Russia probe: ‘I love fighting these battles’

President Donald Trump on Friday called the federal investigation into Russian election interference “a total disgrace” while acknowledging that he cherishes “fighting these battles.”

Addressing the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Dallas, the president touted recently unveiled economic indicators that show the U.S. employment rate has fallen to 3.9 percent, its lowest in nearly two decades at.

Despite the positive economic development, Trump told the crowd that “all we hear about is this phony Russia witch hunt.”

The president lauded a recent challenge from a federal court to special counsel Robert Mueller, who U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis said was pursuing cases against a former Trump campaign official in hopes he would testify against the president and others.

Ellis on Friday said Mueller didn’t really “care” about the charges filed against Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, casting his indictment of the Continue reading “Trump on Russia probe: ‘I love fighting these battles’”

Trump’s Russia strategy: Bash Mueller to beat impeachment

President Donald Trump and his lawyers have made a strategic calculation that their fight against special counsel Robert Mueller is more political than it is legal.

They’re banking that the lead Russia investigator will follow long-standing Justice Department practice that a sitting president can’t be indicted, and that that the only real threat to Trump’s survival is impeachment.

So long as that theory holds, Trump’s plan is to forcefully challenge Mueller in the arena he knows best — not the courtroom but the media, with a public campaign aimed at the special counsel’s credibility, especially among Republican voters and GOP members of Congress.

“The public strategy has now subsumed the legal strategy,” said a source who has worked with the president’s lawyers. “The public stance is fight, fight, fight. So the legal strategy is now fight, fight, fight.”

Trump’s legal team — now led by a talkative Rudy Giuliani Continue reading “Trump’s Russia strategy: Bash Mueller to beat impeachment”

White House’s lead Russia lawyer Ty Cobb to step down

Ty Cobb, the lead White House lawyer handling the president’s response to the Russia investigation, is set to leave his post at the end of May, according to White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

“For several weeks Ty Cobb has been discussing his retirement and last week he let Chief of Staff Kelly know he would retire at the end of this month,” Sanders said.

Cobb has been an outspoken advocate on Trump’s legal team for cooperation with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. He’s been a steadying voice since his arrival last summer in urging the president against tweeting about the Russia investigation. He also helped coordinate the White House’s document production effort and lined up more than two dozen interviews between Mueller and current and former Trump White House aides.

Why firing Mueller won’t end the Russia investigation

President Donald Trump might be able to get rid of special counsel Robert Mueller — but he can’t kill off the Russia probe.

Trump aides and associates have long warned him that ousting Mueller would have messy political consequences. But it’s also unlikely to solve many of his legal worries. A leaked list of questions Mueller wants to ask Trump only underscores that, even if the special counsel is gone, his investigation — or offshoots of it — will live on.

Justice Department officials and FBI agents could simply pick up where a fired Mueller left off. State attorneys could bring their own charges against Trump and his associates. Even as a private citizen, Mueller might be able to publicize or share his findings with Congress.

“Bureaucracies are complicated animals and this one has metastasized beyond the Mueller investigation,” said Benjamin Wittes, a Brookings Institution senior fellow and editor in Continue reading “Why firing Mueller won’t end the Russia investigation”

Trump blasts leak of Mueller questions as ‘disgraceful’

President Donald Trump on Tuesday claimed that a set of leaked questions special counsel Robert Mueller wants to ask him shows that the Russia probe is a pointless exercise, even as Trump’s rebooted legal team is working behind the scenes to defuse the sprawling and intensifying investigation.

The president lashed out after The New York Times published what it said were at least four dozen questions Mueller’s team provided to Trump’s lawyers. The inquiries provided some of the deepest insight yet into the direction of Mueller’s investigation and showed how the special counsel is heavily focused on the question of whether Trump obstructed justice, as well as whether top aides such as former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort colluded with Russian officials during the campaign.

“So disgraceful that the questions concerning the Russian Witch Hunt were ‘leaked’ to the media. No questions on Collusion,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Oh, I Continue reading “Trump blasts leak of Mueller questions as ‘disgraceful’”

Why Mueller’s Trump interview may not matter

Special counsel Robert Mueller is still in talks with President Donald Trump’s lawyers about an interview — but the Russia probe can be completed without it.

Prosecutors have already questioned at least two dozen current and former Trump White House aides, plus several more who worked on the 2016 presidential campaign. Mueller also has access to myriad pieces of evidence surrounding the president thanks to wiretaps, congressional testimony and documents submitted both voluntarily and through subpoena.

Also helpful to Mueller as he investigates: Trump’s own comments about the Russia probe gleaned from media reports, the president’s public interviews and his tweets.

Mueller still has reasons for wanting a Trump interview, namely to give the president an opportunity to explain himself in his own words about his reasons for firing FBI Director James Comey. That information could go a long way for the special counsel as he weighs making landmark Continue reading “Why Mueller’s Trump interview may not matter”

Cohen crisis shows short-handed Trump legal team’s scramble

When President Donald Trump’s newest lawyer appeared in a Manhattan federal court on Friday, she had an apologetic message for the judge: I’m new around here.

“Now, I should say my firm was engaged Wednesday evening, April 11,” the president’s attorney, Joanna Hendon, told the presiding judge. “That’s a day and a half ago.”

The sudden enlistment of Hendon, a former federal prosecutor from New York, underscores Trump’s scramble to manage an expanding array of legal crisis with a bare-bones legal team that has lacked a quarterback for nearly a month.

That could change soon: Multiple attorneys have offered to help with the president’s defense in the wake of last week’s FBI raid of longtime Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen, sources familiar with the matter say, and new lawyers could assume senior positions on his team as soon as this week. That would likely include one or more replacements Continue reading “Cohen crisis shows short-handed Trump legal team’s scramble”

Risks loom for Comey’s book blitz

James Comey’s new memoir is already a pre-publication media hit, but the former FBI director’s tell-all assault on President Donald Trump also poses major risks—not only for Comey’s personal reputation but for the wider Russia investigation he helped launch.

Trump and his allies bombarded Comey with insults Friday, targeting his credibility and seeking to undermine his image as a nonpartisan law enforcement professional. On Twitter Friday, Trump called Comey an “untruthful slime ball,” while White House press secretary Sarah Sanders branded him a “discredited partisan hack.” Other critics accused Comey of cashing in on his celebrity to an unseemly degree.

But far more significant could be the implications of Comey’s written words and upcoming media interviews for special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

His book, “A Higher Loyalty,” represents an official statement on key parts of the federal Russia probe—including the question of whether Trump may have sought to Continue reading “Risks loom for Comey’s book blitz”

Trump attack unleashes oppo against Mueller

When President Donald Trump lashed out against Robert Mueller by name earlier this month, the president’s supporters sprang into action — treating the chief Russia investigator to political campaign-style opposition research.

Within hours, the Drudge Report featured a story blaming Mueller, the special counsel leading the Justice Department’s Russia probe, for the FBI’s clumsy investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks when Mueller ran the bureau. The independent pro-Trump journalist Sara Carter posted a story charging that Mueller, as a federal prosecutor in Boston in the mid-1980s, had covered up the FBI’s dealings with the Mafia informant Whitey Bulger. Carter was soon discussing her findings in prime time with Fox News host Sean Hannity.

Meanwhile, Trump supporters on Twitter circulated video of testimony Mueller gave to Congress ahead of the 2003 Iraq War in which he endorsed the view, later proved false, that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

To some, Continue reading “Trump attack unleashes oppo against Mueller”