Papadopoulos to speak with House investigators

George Papadopoulos, the former Trump campaign aide whose overseas interactions set in motion a series of events that triggered the FBI’s Russia investigation in 2016, is slated to interview with House investigators on Oct. 25, his lawyer Caroline Polisi confirmed Friday.

The voluntary interview, part of a GOP-driven investigation into the FBI’s handling of the Russia probe, will come less than two weeks before the midterm elections and is likely to provide more fodder for Republicans who have accused former officials at the bureau of letting anti-Trump sentiment fuel the investigation. The probe is being led by a task force run by Republican leaders of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees.

In his appearance, Papadopoulos is all but certain to echo the concerns Republicans have raised. Though he pleaded guilty last year to lying to the FBI and expressed remorse to a judge in order to win a reduced two-week Continue reading “Papadopoulos to speak with House investigators”

Fusion GPS co-founder spurns House GOP subpoena

Glenn Simpson, the co-founder of Fusion GPS — the firm that commissioned a now-infamous anti-Trump dossier — intends to assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to decline a subpoena issued by the House Judiciary Committee.

Simpson will invoke his "rights not to testify under the First and Fifth Amendments," his lawyers said in a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, who had subpoenaed Simpson to appear in a closed-door deposition on Oct. 16.

"This Committee’s inquiry is not designed to discover the truth. The obvious – and at times explicitly stated – goal of this Committee is to discredit and otherwise damage witnesses to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election," the lawyers wrote, "all as part of an effort to protect a President who has sought to placate and curry favor with a hostile foreign power and who demands that the Justice Department stop investigating him."

The Continue reading “Fusion GPS co-founder spurns House GOP subpoena”

Trump makes nice with Rosenstein, but Congress isn’t letting up

President Donald Trump may have reached a public detente with his deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, but Trump’s closest allies on Capitol Hill are still raging at the Justice Department’s No. 2 official.

The lawmakers, including members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, are mad that Rosenstein hasn’t been up to the Hill yet to testify about explosive reports that the senior DOJ leader secretly proposed recording Trump. And their long-simmering anger spilled into public view Wednesday, as they lashed out at House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, who they say should force Rosenstein to testify.

“Chairman Goodlatte has been playing ‘hide and seek’ with some of us on the interview scheduling for several weeks now," vented Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) on Twitter.

Gaetz said he flew to Washington, even as a hurricane bore down on his Florida panhandle district, because of the planned Rosenstein interview, only to learn it Continue reading “Trump makes nice with Rosenstein, but Congress isn’t letting up”

Murkowski: Kavanaugh ‘not the right man for the court’

Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she arrived at her decision to vote against Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court at the last possible moment Friday before opposing him on the Senate floor.

"I did not come to a decision on this until walking into the vote this morning," Murkowski said.

Speaking to reporters at the Capitol, Murkowski described a wrenching decision based on issues that are "bigger than a nominee." Murkowski had been publicly agonizing over her vote for days, meeting with victims of sexual assault and even revealing her own “#MeToo moment” to a local reporter as she wrestled with the allegations of misconduct against Kavanaugh. The nominee fiercely denied the accusations and most Republican senators dismissed them as uncorroborated.

"The truth is that none of this has been fair," Murkowski said, including to Kavanaugh. Murkowski called Kavanaugh "a good man" but added that he’s Continue reading “Murkowski: Kavanaugh ‘not the right man for the court’”

Kavanaugh probe secrecy again leaves FBI exposed to politics

The FBI’s investigation into sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh has turbocharged the partisan passions surrounding the appellate judge’s Supreme Court nomination and fueled even uglier divisions in the Senate. And, up to this point, it’s left the public in the dark.

From the moment it was announced last week that the Senate was going to put off a vote on the nomination to allow the FBI to extend its background check to include the new allegations, there has been bitter debate over the extent of probe, its goals and the FBI’s authority to define it.

Democrats say the fact that the FBI apparently interviewed fewer than 10 people — and did not speak to accuser Christine Blasey Ford or Kavanaugh himself — proves the whole process was a “sham.”

Republicans say the report, which lawmakers and the White House argued should be narrowly focused on specific claims and Continue reading “Kavanaugh probe secrecy again leaves FBI exposed to politics”

Ken Starr: Americans ‘should have confidence in Rod Rosenstein’

Ken Starr, the independent counsel whose investigation led to Bill Clinton’s impeachment, delivered a passionate defense Wednesday of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, whose stewardship of special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing Russia probe has drawn scorn from President Donald Trump and his allies.

"Rod has just rock-ribbed integrity," Starr said during an interview at a Brookings Institution conference on the justice system. "He is completely committed to the rule of law. He turns square corners. He will call them as he sees them."

Starr’s comments are notable as Rosenstein faces intensifying pressure from Trump’s GOP congressional allies and rising expectations that he’ll be removed from his post after the midterm elections.

Trump has railed against Rosenstein for appointing Mueller last year to resume the FBI’s probe of Russian contacts with the Trump campaign in 2016. Rosenstein appointed Mueller in the chaotic aftermath of Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director Continue reading “Ken Starr: Americans ‘should have confidence in Rod Rosenstein’”

Rosenstein to meet with House Republicans on Oct. 11

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will meet with House lawmakers on Oct. 11, according to two sources familiar with the plan.

The interview, organized by the Republican-led Judiciary and Oversight Committees, follows intense pressure from President Donald Trump’s top House allies to question Rosenstein about recent reports that he proposed secretly recording Trump early last year. And it comes as Trump weighs whether to fire Rosenstein.

The precise format of the meeting remains unclear. Some House Republicans have insisted that Rosenstein sit for a transcribed interview that would be treated as an element of the panel’s broader, long-running investigation into the Justice Department and FBI. But House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, who invited Rosenstein to brief lawmakers, has not indicated whether he might allow Rosenstein to appear in a less-formal context to simply brief lawmakers on his response to the reports. His office declined to comment on the plan.

Continue reading “Rosenstein to meet with House Republicans on Oct. 11”

Comey offers to testify in public about GOP’s FBI bias claims

Former FBI Director James Comey has rejected a request by House Judiciary Committee Republicans to appear at a closed hearing as part of the GOP probe into allegations of political bias at the Justice Department and FBI.

However, Comey offered himself up for a public hearing instead, a prospect that could put the longtime critics of President Donald Trump in the spotlight at an explosive moment in the midterm campaign season.

“Mr. Comey respectfully declines your request for a private interview,” Comey’s attorney David Kelley wrote in a response to the committee’s request. “He would, however, welcome the opportunity to testify at a public hearing.”

Kelley noted that Comey “no longer has a security clearance” and said that should make his public testimony easier to arrange. He added that any questions about Comey’s tenure at the FBI would presumably be cleared with the bureau.

Comey has been a fierce Continue reading “Comey offers to testify in public about GOP’s FBI bias claims”

House intel panel to release transcripts of now-defunct Russia probe

The House Intelligence Committee voted Friday to publicly release transcripts of 53 witness interviews — amounting to thousands of pages — in the panel’s now-defunct Russia investigation.

The measure passed unanimously, though not until Republicans swatted down efforts by Democrats to release a handful of additional transcripts — including those of Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.).

Republicans intend to release the transcripts in bulk after an intelligence community review to screen for classified information. Democrats sought to release many of the transcripts immediately, noting that the bulk of witnesses hold no security clearances and would not have discussed classified intelligence.

Democrats had sought the release of the transcripts months ago, and after they joined Republicans in supporting their release raised questions about whether the decision was made in coordination with the White House or President Donald Trump’s legal team, a suggestion they said went Continue reading “House intel panel to release transcripts of now-defunct Russia probe”

Rosenstein agrees to meet with lawmakers over allegations he wanted to secretly record Trump

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has agreed to meet with top House lawmakers to discuss recent reports that he proposed secretly recording President Donald Trump during the tumultuous period after Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, according to a Justice Department source.

The agreement to brief lawmakers on the episode comes amid a clamor from Trump’s top allies in the House to haul Rosenstein in for an interview, possibly under the threat of a subpoena. The DOJ source said Rosenstein had agreed to the briefing prior to any subpoena threats being leveled by GOP leaders.

It’s unclear, though, whether the interview will be part of a formal House GOP investigation into allegations of misconduct by FBI and Justice Department officials in 2016 and 2017, part of a probe Republicans say is exposing anti-Trump bias but that Democrats accuse of intentionally undermining ongoing investigations into Trump and his campaign’s Continue reading “Rosenstein agrees to meet with lawmakers over allegations he wanted to secretly record Trump”

Co-founder of firm behind Trump dossier rejects House GOP interview request

Glenn Simpson, co-founder of the firm that hired former British spy Christopher Steele to compile a dossier on links between Donald Trump and Russia, has refused an invitation to interview before the House Judiciary and Oversight committees.

In rejecting the request to appear, Simpson’s lawyer, Joshua Levy, slammed the Republican-led panels’ probes as a “sham, factually, substantively and procedurally.”

Simpson, who helps lead private investigation firm Fusion GPS, hired Steele as part of an opposition research project it conducted on behalf a law firm representing the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic Party. Republicans have long underscored this political connection to cast doubt on the origin of the FBI’s investigation into contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia. The bureau relied partly on Steele’s findings to obtain a surveillance warrant for a former Trump campaign adviser.

A House Judiciary Committee aide said Chairman Bob Goodlatte intends to issue a subpoena Continue reading “Co-founder of firm behind Trump dossier rejects House GOP interview request”

Democrats prepare to force vote on Mueller protection bill

House Democrats are preparing to force a vote Thursday on a plan to protect special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe from interference or unilateral removal by President Donald Trump.

Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern, with the backing of Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, intend to introduce the proposal as an amendment ahead of expected consideration of three tax-related bills. The proposal would force Republicans to decide whether to consider the Mueller-protection proposal or sideline it.

For Democrats, the effort is a chance to force Republicans on the record on an issue that has generated some bipartisan support in the House and Senate. It’s a matter Democrats have described with increasing urgency as Trump has ratcheted up his attacks on Mueller and the investigation of his campaign’s contacts with Russia.

Republicans, though, have shown little urgency to support the measure, even as most have expressed support for Mueller being allowed to complete Continue reading “Democrats prepare to force vote on Mueller protection bill”

House Intel Committee tees up release of Russia probe transcripts

The House Intelligence Committee will vote Friday to publicly release dozens of transcripts of interviews conducted in its now defunct Russia investigation — including testimony of prominent figures in President Donald Trump’s orbit.

The transcripts, from interviews primarily conducted between June 2017 and March 2018, include testimony from Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Hope Hicks, Roger Stone and other longtime Trump allies and associates, as well as his current campaign manager, Brad Parscale and former campaign leaders Corey Lewandowski and Steve Bannon. Trump’s longtime bodyguard Keith Schiller interviewed as well.

The list also includes prominent intelligence community figures and Justice Department officials from the Obama administration, like Loretta Lynch, Sally Yates and James Clapper. Interview transcripts from Trump’s Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions would be released as well.

The vote to release the transcripts was revealed earlier this month by committee Chairman Devin Continue reading “House Intel Committee tees up release of Russia probe transcripts”

Ryan breaks with Freedom Caucus over Rosenstein’s fate

Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday said he would leave embattled Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s fate to President Donald Trump, arguing that House Republicans should stay out their dispute between the two men for now — and angering conservatives in the process.

Trump’s allies in the House want to question Rosenstein this week about allegations that he discussed secretly recording Trump and using the 25th Amendment to remove him from office, both of which Rosenstein denies. Some conservatives are threatening to defy Ryan and force a vote impeaching Rosenstein this week if he refuses to testify, or if leaders refuse to call him to do so.

But Ryan said Republicans “shouldn’t get in the way” of Trump and Rosenstein. He noted that Rosenstein is meeting with Trump Thursday and said, “I think we shouldn’t step in the way of that.”

“We should let the president work it out with Continue reading “Ryan breaks with Freedom Caucus over Rosenstein’s fate”

GOP invites Comey, Lynch and Yates to testify on FBI bias claims

House Republicans are preparing to call their highest-profile witnesses yet in a year-long investigation into the FBI and Justice Department’s actions in 2016 and 2017 — including former FBI Director James Comey, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy issued requests for interviews with the three high-profile former officials in letters sent Friday and Monday, committee sources confirmed. The letters ask each prospective witness to arrange a time to testify as quickly as possible.

Other witnesses who received requests include Glenn Simpson, the co-founder of Fusion GPS; former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos; former Justice Department deputy counterintelligence chief Richard Scott and former FBI official Bill Sweeney.

The large slate of requests suggests the panels leading the probe are entering the most crucial phase of their work and may still have weeks Continue reading “GOP invites Comey, Lynch and Yates to testify on FBI bias claims”

House Republicans prepare subpoena for McCabe memos

House Republicans have initiated the process to issue a subpoena to the Justice Department for memos drafted by former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, according to a Judiciary Committee source.

The memos have become the centerpiece of recent news reports suggesting that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last year sought to secretly record President Donald Trump, following his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte has faced pressure from conservatives in the House to call Rosenstein in to testify. He’s required under committee rules to provide Democrats with at least two days notice for issuing any subpoenas — notice that he provided late Tuesday.

Mueller makes rare mention of Trump dossier author

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team found itself in an odd spot recently — having to discuss Christopher Steele, the former British spy and author of a fiercely disputed anti-Trump dossier.

Prosecutors were pushed to weigh in on the loaded subject after lawyers for Concord Management — the Russian company Mueller has accused of helping orchestrate the massive online campaign to sow chaos in America’s democratic process — argued in August that Mueller had targeted the firm “selectively” while giving Steele, and others Concord accuses of foreign interference efforts, a pass.

In a document filed Friday night, Mueller’s team responded, arguing that Steele’s actions don’t “remotely compare” to the “systematic, deceptive effort” by the allegedly Concord-backed Russian social media trolls attempting to interfere in the 2016 election.

It’s a rare allusion to Steele by Mueller’s team. The former spy has become the subject of fierce attacks by Trump and his allies Continue reading “Mueller makes rare mention of Trump dossier author”

Most GOP lawmakers silent about Rosenstein’s future

Most Republicans on Capitol Hill had little to say Monday as conflicting reports swirled about the fate of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the ongoing Russia investigation helmed by special counsel Robert Mueller.

President Donald Trump’s top allies, who have long excoriated Rosenstein’s handling of the Mueller investigation and accused him of obstructing their efforts to scrutinize it, remained silent even as Rosenstein appeared headed for an untimely ouster early in the day. By the afternoon, reports that Rosenstein would be fired or resign gave way to indications of a stalemate. The White House said Trump would meet with Rosenstein in person on Thursday to discuss his future.

The drama followed a Friday report in The New York Times suggesting that in 2017, shortly after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, Rosenstein proposed secretly recording Trump and even discussed gathering support to remove Trump from office through the 25th Continue reading “Most GOP lawmakers silent about Rosenstein’s future”

Rosenstein expects to be fired after report he discussed taping Trump

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein headed to the White House Monday morning and expects to be fired after an explosive report last week that he proposed wearing a wire to record President Donald Trump, according to a person familiar with his thinking.

The New York Times also reported Friday that Rosenstein had discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. Rosenstein and his allies have fiercely disputed the account.

Rosenstein’s removal would send shockwaves through the Justice Department and raise questions about the supervision of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and whether any Trump aides helped. Rosenstein has overseen Mueller’s investigation.

The terms of Rosenstein’s exit from his job were not immediately clear Monday. The person familiar with his thinking said Rosenstein had not submitted a resignation, but other news organizations said he had considered quitting.

Mueller’s office declined to comment Continue reading “Rosenstein expects to be fired after report he discussed taping Trump”

DOJ’s Rosenstein, allies deny he considered secretly recording Trump

Rod Rosenstein and his allies furiously pushed back Friday against a bombshell New York Times report that the deputy attorney general considered wearing a wire to record President Donald Trump during a tumultuous period last year after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.

According to the report, Rosenstein was upset when Trump used a memo he’d written to justify firing Comey, and the deputy attorney general also suggested recruiting Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment process to remove the president.

Rosenstein dismissed the report as "inaccurate and factually incorrect."

"I will not further comment on a story based on anonymous sources who are obviously biased against the department and are advancing their own personal agenda," he said in a statement. "But let me be clear about this: Based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment.”

The Continue reading “DOJ’s Rosenstein, allies deny he considered secretly recording Trump”