FBI Director Comey told AG Sessions not to leave him alone with the President.
According to The New York Times the day after President Trump asked James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director, to end an investigation into his former national security adviser, Mr. Comey confronted Attorney General Jeff Sessions and said he did not want to be left alone again with the president, according to current and former law enforcement officials.
Mr. Comey believed Mr. Sessions should protect the F.B.I. from White House influence, the officials said, and pulled him aside after a meeting in February to tell him that private interactions between the F.B.I. director and the president were inappropriate. But Mr. Sessions could not guarantee that the president would not try to talk to Mr. Comey alone again, the officials said. More from The New York Times here.
Trump lies about personal meeting with Russian Ambassador Kislyak despite prior statements he had no meeting with any Russian official during 2016 campaign.
Trump personally met with Russian ambassador during campaign. Trump has repeatedly denied meeting with any Russian officials as a candidate.
Trump personally met with the Russian ambassador on April 27, 2016, prior to a major foreign policy speech. The Wall Street Journal, in a report that was little-noticed at the time but was recently picked up by AMERICABlog News, reported the meeting last year.
A few minutes before he made those remarks, Mr. Trump met at a VIP reception with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Ivanovich Kislyak. Mr. Trump warmly greeted Mr. Kislyak and three other foreign ambassadors who came to the reception.
More on this story from ThinkProgress here.
Paul Manafort says Russians failed to influence him in 2016 election hacking, but did they really? Russians routinely use unwitting agents.
“If there ever was any effort by Russians to influence me, I was unaware, and they would have failed,” Mr. Manafort said in a statement. “I did not collude with the Russians to influence the elections.”
Whether the Russians worked directly with any Trump advisers is one of the central questions that federal investigators, now led by Robert S. Mueller III, the newly appointed special counsel, are seeking to answer. President Trump, for his part, has dismissed talk of Russian interference in the election as “fake news,” insisting there was no contact between his campaign and Russian officials. Read the story from the New York Times here.
The New York Times is reporting that top Russian officials discussed how to influence Trump aides last summer involving Paul Manafort. A former partner of Manafort, Russian aluminum oligarch Oleg V. Deripaska is now seeking immunity for his testimony. Read the current story from the New York Times here.
In his excellent testimony March 30 before the Senate intelligence committee, Thomas Rid, a professor in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, explains how Russia has perfected the art of exploiting unwitting agents. The Atlantic explains how Russians dupe people into unwitting agents here.
Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner sought private back channel communications to Putin.
The Waahington Post is now reporting Jared Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, according to U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports. More on this developing story here.
Republican political operative Aaron Nevins appears to be a link for Trump collusion in 2016 election and Russian hacking scheme.
The Wall Street Journal reported that hacked information was posted on a blog run by Aaron Nevins, the political operative, and then passed along to top Trump adviser Roger Stone during the campaign. The Republican operative in Florida received a trove of Democratic documents from the allegedly Kremlin-linked hacker, Guccifer 2.0. For months, both Congress and the FBI have been scrutinizing evidence that associates of Trump may have colluded with Russia during the campaign. More from Salon here.
Trump transition team, including Mike Pence, was well aware Michael Flynn was under federal investigation at time he was hired at National Security Advisor.
Michael T. Flynn told President Trump’s transition team weeks before the inauguration that he was under federal investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey during the campaign, according to two people familiar with the case.
Despite this warning, which came about a month after the Justice Department notified Mr. Flynn of the inquiry, Mr. Trump made Mr. Flynn his national security adviser. The job gave Mr. Flynn access to the president and nearly every secret held by American intelligence agencies. More from the New York Times here.
The deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has appointed a special prosecutor to oversee probe of Russian interference in election!
The deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s statement:
“In my capacity as acting attorney general I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a special counsel to assume responsibility for this matter,’’ Rosenstein said in a statement. “My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination. What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.’’
More on this developing story from the Washington Post here now.