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Russia Investigation

Comey Sends Apparent Warning to Trump

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Former FBI Director James Comey appeared to send a warning to Donald Trump on Saturday, suggesting that he would tell his own story about the President’s battles with that law enforcement agency “very soon.” “Mr. President, the American people will hear my story very soon,” Comey tweeted on Saturday. “And they can judge for themselves who…



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Russia Investigation

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders Interviewed By Robert Mueller In Special Counsel Investigation: CNN

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WASHINGTON (AP) — White House press secretary Sarah Sanders has been interviewed as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Sanders says in a statement released Friday that she was “happy to voluntarily” sit for the interview. It was unclear when Sanders was interviewed but she says her boss, President Donald Trump, urged her to “fully cooperate.”

CNN was first to report on Sanders’ interview.

Mueller is believed to be close to wrapping up his investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government. Trump has denied collusion and has denounced the investigation as a political “witch hunt.” Sanders has also used the “witch hunt” language to describe Mueller’s inquiry.

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Judge Voids Paul Manafort’s Plea Deal, Stating He Lied To The FBI, Special Counsel, and Grand Jury

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NEW YORK/WASHINGTON, Feb 13 (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort breached his plea agreement with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office by lying to prosecutors about matters which are material to its Russia probe, a judge ruled on Wednesday.

The ruling concludes weeks of wrangling between Manafort’s lawyers and the special counsel over whether he had intentionally lied to prosecutors, impeding their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is overseeing the Manafort case in a Washington court, found there was a “preponderance” of evidence that Manafort lied on three different topics, including his communications with his former business partner Konstantin Kilimnik, whom prosecutors say has ties to Russian intelligence. Kilimnik has denied such ties.

Jackson cleared Manafort of allegations that he intentionally lied on two other subjects – Kilimnik’s role in an obstruction of justice charge and statements Manafort made about his contacts with members of the Trump administration.

Nevertheless, the ruling will almost certainly dash Manafort’s hopes of avoiding significant time in prison, as Mueller’s prosecutors are now released from their obligation to support a lighter sentence. Sentencing experts have said Manafort, 69, could face a decade in prison.

Michael Zeldin, a former federal prosecutor, said one possible reason Manafort chose to lie was because he was hoping for a presidential pardon — echoing speculation raised by one of Mueller’s prosecutors at a court hearing last week.

“Why he lied is a great mystery unless he is covering up something of significance,” Zeldin said. “Unless he is pardoned he is going to spend the rest of his life in prison.”

THE HEART OF THE MATTER

The judge found that Manafort lied about his interactions with Kilimnik including about the sharing of polling data on the Trump campaign and their discussions over a “Ukrainian peace plan,” a proposal that envisioned ending U.S. sanctions on Russia – long an important objective of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government.

A court transcript released last week showed that Mueller’s team believed those lies to be “at the heart” of their investigation into potential collusion, which Trump and Russia have both denied.

In a court filing ahead of Wednesday’s ruling, Manafort’s lawyers repeated their argument that their client never intentionally lied to prosecutors and stressed that he corrected any mistakes once they were pointed out to him.

Manafort struck the deal with Mueller in September when he pleaded guilty in Jackson’s court to conspiracy against the United States, a charge that includes a range of conduct from money laundering to failing to register as a lobbyist for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine, as well as conspiracy to obstruct justice for his attempts to tamper with witnesses in his case.

Manafort also faces sentencing in a separate case in Virginia where a jury in August convicted him of financial crimes including failing to pay taxes on some $16 million he pocketed for his political work in Ukraine.

Manafort lawyers have said he is suffering from depression, anxiety and gout while in detention awaiting sentencing.

Given his age and health issues. Manafort had been in a position to receive some leniency prior to Jackson’s ruling, said sentencing expert Mark Allenbaugh.

“That is gone now,” he said. “Manafort will serve a minimum of 10 years’ imprisonment, maybe more, for both cases.” (Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Nathan Layne; editing by Tom Brown and Sonya Hepinstall)

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Acting Attorney General Whitaker Testified Before House Judiciary Committee

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Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker testified before the House Judiciary Committee Friday, the latest development in a day of drama between House Democrats and the Department of Justice.

REWATCH THE HEARING BELOW

Whitaker’s hearing is probably going to be a contentious affair. Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have a lot of questions for Whitaker; the hearing on Friday was set to be the first high-profile oversight hearing into the Trump administration since Democrats retook the majority.

And things got complicated on Thursday, after the House Judiciary Committee authorized a subpoena for Whitaker, which Chair Jerrold Nadler said he would use only if Whitaker refused to answer the committee’s questions.

But Whitaker fired back, saying through a letter from the Justice Department that he would not testify at all if the committee issued a subpoena. The DOJ demanded a response from Nadler, in writing, by 6 pm Thursday.

“I remain willing to appear to testify tomorrow, provided that the chairman assures me that the committee will not issue a subpoena today or tomorrow, and that the committee will engage in good faith negotiations before taking such a step down the road,” Whitaker said in a statement.

Nadler added that the committee would handle Whitaker’s concerns over specific questions “on a case-by-case basis.”

Nadler’s response seemed to be an attempt to de-escalate the confrontation between House Democrats and Whitaker without completely backing down. And it appears to have worked: A few hours later, Nadler confirmed on Twitter that Whitaker would attend the hearing on Friday.

Read Whitaker’s prepared remarks to the House Judiciary Committee below.

More to come…

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