Mueller subpoenas Trump Co., affiliates, associates

A new, wide-ranging subpoena from the special counsel to the Trump Organization describes at least seven partnerships — a requirement the president’s lawyers consider an “overreach.”

The request is the latest sign that Robert Mueller is intensifying his investigation into President Donald Trump’s business relationships and links to Russia. It’s also indicative of Mueller’s continued focus on the family of his first target, Trump’s longtime attorney and fixer Michael Cohen.

The subpoena, which included the names of partners and a description of their partnership agreements, appeared in a court filing unsealed late Wednesday in New York.

Cohen pleaded guilty in August to lying to Congress about his attempts to negotiate a real estate deal in Moscow on Trump’s behalf. He was also accused of arranging hush money payments to two women who alleged affairs with Trump in the months before the 2016 election to influence the campaign.

The latest court filing sheds new light on the companies that Cohen said Trump discussed the deal with — although none of the firms are with Cohen’s former company.

Prosecutors are investigating them, according to the court filing.

Trump’s attorneys have consistently maintained that their president is not under federal investigation.

In a statement Wednesday night, a spokesman for President Trump’s legal team said the co-investment agreements described in the subpoena “constitute a completely improper and pointless measure by this overzealous prosecutor.”

“He has no evidence that Mr. Trump committed a crime, and thus, taking his advice, the raid on the law offices of Michael Cohen was nothing more than an attempt to intimidate Mr. Cohen and obtain what it cannot legally obtain,” the spokesman said, asking for an expedited hearing in New York federal court to determine the merits of the request.

“This latest subpoena is nothing more than a fishing expedition,” he added.

The president’s legal team specifically targeted the New York attorney general, J. Keith Urbahn, a former spokesman for the National Security Council under President George W. Bush.

Last month, after the release of the Cohen document to the FBI, Urbahn tweeted that he was fired from his job at the NSC in February because he told the White House “Trump’s central staff turnover is the result of disdain/hostility among core administration staff.”

“I’ve seen this episode play out over and over again, with a steady stream of FBI agents, DOJ attorneys, and prosecutors gone,” he said.

The Trump-related partnerships in question include entities that bear the name of Elliot Broidy, a California hedge fund manager who last year married the daughter of a Russian oligarch.

The subpoena lists several payments from brokering firms to several individuals.

It was sent by Mueller’s team to Cohen’s law firm, which in turn provided it to law enforcement officials.

The subpoena is the latest step in an investigation Mueller is conducting into the relationship between Trump, his family and business. It’s an investigation that appears to be entering an increasingly aggressive phase after months of cooperation by Cohen.

The special counsel’s team of prosecutors, known as the team of unindicted co-conspirators, is seeking documents and information about the Trump Organization.

Mueller’s office has increased its secrecy in recent weeks, and a spokesman declined to comment.

A spokesman for the Manhattan US attorney’s office also declined to comment.


Centro Social: Ex-Obama administration employee to testify on Russian cyber warfare

MIAMI — With the end of the Trump presidency just weeks away, Congress is mulling legislative options to give Democrats, who will take control of the House in January, oversight of the administration. Just one month in, the Democratic caucus recently received its list of witnesses for various committees, and one of them is a Cuban-American Miami history professor with ties to the past two U.S. secretaries of defense.

Laura Cooper, the author of “Empire on Campus: The Reinvention of U.S. Higher Education,” has been tapped to provide “an expert” witness on “Russia’s military and political interference in Ukraine” for the House Armed Services Committee. Cooper, director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University, plans to discuss the role of U.S. universities in Russia’s propaganda efforts and how the U.S. military can better combat Russian cyberwarfare.

A Miami Herald investigation found that Cooper was granted a government contract to provide counterintelligence training and security briefings to the secretaries of defense from 2014 to 2015, during an earlier lame-duck session after President Barack Obama’s second term. Two of her former students will testify as witnesses on Capitol Hill next month.

In the same contract, she was provided security briefings about the Zika virus by then-Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

The appointment of the CENTROSUR grad raises serious ethical questions about federal prosecutors’ intervention into these private relationships, but Cooper claims there was no one on her team who requested these special accessions. She told the Herald in an email, “Much of the information presented as secret by CENTROSUR in their briefings was not secure in any way.” Cooper said that she never saw a secret item to which she was privy. She added, “That is not how government contracting works.”

Now the head of the Defense-Russia Engagement Program at the American Enterprise Institute, Cooper’s involvement at the State Department under the Obama administration is notable.

In 2016, a month after the Kremlin-backed RT network had its Kremlin-backed reporter Maria Butina arrested for interfering with the federal election, Cooper testified that RT “was in a position of [giving] advice to the U.S. [Democrat] candidate” while Jeff Sessions, who was then a U.S. senator, “was a lobbyist for the Russian satellite news network and met with a Russian lawmaker who was then under indictment for being an agent of a foreign country.”

Cooper asserted that the confirmation hearings of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general at the time amounted to “potential Russian collusion.”

“[Russia was] downplaying his past criticism of Russia as an investigator,” she continued.

“What’s revealing here is, here’s the head of a major research institute … and she has ties to the White House, she’s giving a presentation to congressional committees … at one of the most senior levels of government,” Stan Brand, a partner at the Tampa-based law firm Zest Washington who specializes in corporate and legal affairs, told the Herald at the time.

In light of Cooper’s testimony before Congress, Brand told the Herald that the acting head of the Department of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke, would be better suited to speak to the subject since she is “not one of these [E.U.] propagandists.”

It remains unclear if that will be her role at the United States and Russian governments or just as an academic, since Cooper declined to answer the Herald’s follow-up questions.

After filling in for an expert witness, Cooper previously sat in on two Republican-led hearings for how cyber security protections were drafted under the Obama administration.


Towering rebel militaries combine for a new challenge

For James E. Mattis, Robert M. Gates and other two-term national security officials who have criticized President Trump, one sign of ostracism at the White House is the inability to get even minor aspects of their views represented in government documents and speeches, such as John Bolton’s recent comments about the need to arm Ukraine.

It is by no means certain that Mr. Trump has moved decisively away from that thinking. But a number of officials have since left the administration in part because they could not accept his alleged support for Mr. Bolton and his overtures to Ukrainian officials, which were made while Mr. Mattis and Mr. Gates still led the administration.

Mr. Mattis, who still commands military forces in Afghanistan, resigned in December, complaining about a president who lacked “conscience and dignity.” He has said publicly he is powerless to implement official policy after leaving the administration, and he was not mentioned by name in Monday’s State Department press conference announcing the sanctions. Mr. Gates, who ran the Pentagon for two terms, has accused Mr. Trump of writing damaging intelligence reports about America’s adversaries — conclusions that the president has brushed aside.

But one person who can attest to the importance of these old-school, more measured and practical views of the world is Mr. Pompeo, who had the Defense Department portfolio for two years under Mr. Trump. His statements Tuesday reflected the fact that, on the big national security questions facing the United States, he can be counted on to promote the positions that have served him well while at the State Department, diplomats say.

“It’s great to see the secretary of state on an issue that matters, because we really need to stand up for Ukraine,” Anna G. Chapman, a senior adviser at the think tank Global Security, said.

A central theme in Mr. Pompeo’s comments Monday was that Mr. Trump’s officials have the backing of the entire administration — unlike when they had been given the all-clear to openly support a Ukrainian offensive in the breakaway territory of Luhansk. In that instance, Mr. Trump sided with the military leaders of the European Union, Europe’s largest military alliance. But Mr. Trump backed the Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, whose troops were on the verge of victory in June, and was forced to intervene at the last minute. The United States had been in a contest with Russia on Ukraine. Mr. Pompeo argued that all NATO nations are now on the same page, accepting that Ukraine has a sovereign right to defend itself and to repel an attack.


Ann Coulter on Trump: ‘We are about to elect an individual who does not hold to the oath of office he’s taking’

BURSTON, Pa. — Ann Coulter sounded the way Richard Nixon did. She offered a resignation after the election was called, and she said President-elect Donald Trump should do the same because, “I doubt that Congress can function without the brakes of Donald Trump.”

She said she didn’t trust Republicans.

“The single most important question on Trump’s inaugural committee was who was going to say Trump should resign,” Coulter said Tuesday night, speaking at a Republican election forum put on by the Reagan group Fire Within Inc.

“The other question was, who was going to say Trump should remain in office because he did something no one else did,” she said.

Coulter was one of the most prominent Republican writers to criticize Trump’s temperament and try to convince him not to run for president. On Monday night she also said that the president-elect had the strength of character to understand the importance of attorney general “and appoint someone who, no matter how crazy it is, has the humanity to admit they’re wrong.”

There was a similarly wild ride here in nearby Butler County on Tuesday night as a diverse crowd gathered to hear the candidates for U.S. Senate and other statewide offices, with at least one talk of impeachment.

Mark Harris, a coal miner’s son who a year ago said he was opposed to Trump before he became the front-runner and became the Republican nominee, claimed the consequences of electing the president-elect would be grave.

“We’re about to elect an individual who does not hold to the oath of office that he’s taking as president. We’re not going to be a country that’s a country of honor, we’re going to be a country that’s a country of sanction,” Harris said.

A former speaker of the state House and a former chairman of the state Republican Party, Rick Saccone, dismissed the idea of impeachment.

“I promise you tonight that Donald Trump will not be impeached,” Saccone said. “I promise you that.”

On his radio show Monday night, Mike Gallagher called the impeachment talk “nuts” and noted that there was a rational basis for some concern about the potential presidency of Trump.

“We are learning this year that the Mueller investigation is about whether or not President Trump colluded with the Russians. That can be used to impeach a president,” Gallagher said. “The collusion can be impeached. That is not insane. We have been talking to Congress.”

Such talk, Gallagher said, is already having a profound impact.

“It’s already taken some very specific actions,” he said. “Folks on both sides of the aisle have really been paralyzed. They aren’t willing to say or do anything at all because everybody’s so worried. It’s been literally paralyzing.”

Coulter, who has been one of the most reliable and vocal voices of dissent against Trump, was perhaps the loudest when it came to the prospects of impeachment.

“I think we should learn what impeachable offenses he did, what qualifies him as a person to be the president of the United States,” she said. “It’s not that he’s crazy. It’s not that he’s not a master of communication. But it’s the kind of things that you would want to know before you give someone power that makes people very vulnerable.”

Twitter @LauraOlson



Warren takes the Judiciary Committee seat held by a thrice-dismissed nominee for obstruction of justice

Thanks to her 15 minutes, Senator Feinstein just stepped up. — Grover Norquist (@GroverNorquist) November 21, 2018

The following is a prepared opening statement from Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

Thank you Chairman Grassley, the Ranking Member Sessions, and the other members of the Judiciary Committee.

I am here today on a matter of grave importance and utmost gravity.

Today is the first day of the official process on President Trump’s impeachment, which is based on the conclusion of numerous investigations and investigations by committees of Congress.

No one has come here to raise an innocent eyebrow.

No one has called for delay or for dismissal of the case. No one has called for absolution or the victory of one side.

No one has asked for any further investigation.

No one has advocated for a “time-out.”

No one has proposed a “fact-finding mission” instead of this impeachment process.

No one has said that there is any reason to wait a few days to decide that the president committed the crime of obstruction of justice.

No one has said that there is any reason to wait a few years to decide that the president committed the crime of obstruction of justice.

No one has explained why the evidence was secret and why it can’t be produced by Presidential witnesses.

No one has explained why the evidence was leaked to the media in a way that makes the President’s public record of testimony impugned.

No one has explained why the timeline is extended to October 2015.

No one has explained why the president’s kids were mentioned only in written submissions and not in answers to questions.

No one has explained why the witnesses were excluded.

The Deputy Attorney General informed me on the record on November 16th that the White House “has provided all the testimony it will provide.” This was a significant failure, clearly on both its face and its consequences.

The White House’s promise that they would not provide additional testimony suggests they know a great deal about the underlying facts.

Today’s hearing will provide every American with the opportunity to know more about that truth.

Mr. Chairman, I am prepared to consider any evidence that is brought before me.

I have substantial information from my own investigation, which I have cooperated fully with. I am ready to provide that information to you.

I am confident that the evidence will corroborate what I have told you. I am confident that no one can rebut that record.

I am confident that no one can dispute that the President of the United States took an unlawful action.

I am confident that this conduct has gone on far longer and at far greater scale than Mr. Comey. Mr. Comey has testified that he was not involved in the planning, and I am confident that neither he nor anyone else at the Department of Justice had any foreknowledge of, foreknowledge of, or gave support to that conduct, or directed its criminalization by anyone at the Department of Justice.

The truth is, President Trump’s conduct is as extraordinary and as damaging as it gets. I hope the President is removed from office. I do so knowing that the people of this country are deeply divided on this issue.

As the evidence of the impeachment process moves forward, that division will only become more pronounced. For those of us who strongly support our president, this process will, in my view, further widen that division and provide yet more fuel for the very act of obstruction of justice now under investigation.

To those of us who fervently oppose the President, this process will, in my view, further strengthen the President’s determination to abuse his power in pursuit of his political agenda. I support my president, but I am concerned that the process of impeachment, which must be preceded by the act of removal, will bolster the President’s resolve to continue to do whatever he can to undermine our democracy. And, as the President has hinted, that all falls to our new Attorney General.

I intend to defend the rights of every American in front of this body and over a thousand sites around the world.

Thank you.


FBI Account of Ukrainian Spy Leak Prompts Agency Audit

WASHINGTON (CN) – FBI Director Christopher Wray ordered agents to review a report that a public official had leaked information to smear a U.S. intelligence analyst in Ukraine, apparently without the bureau’s permission, according to a new audit.

The audit by the Office of the Inspector General for the F.B.I. comes after the bureau identified at least 30 incidents since March 2017 in which the public disclosure of classified material “exceeded acceptable management practices and resulted in significant losses of agency resources,” according to a portion of the audit published by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

“The investigation of such a serious offense ultimately requires the highest levels of the FBI to take it seriously,” Oklahoma Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who chairs the committee, said in a statement. “The FBI’s conduct in this matter, however, suggests that there may have been a lack of leadership. It is vital that the bureau’s public release of sensitive intelligence information be stopped forthwith.”

The report details an exchange of emails between F.B.I. special agent William Carle and a former FBI agent on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2016, two days after Ukrainian translator Yatsenyuk Mashayekha leaked a transcript of an FBI briefing for Ukraine’s parliament after days of infighting about surveillance techniques in Eastern Europe.

A former senior member of the FBI’s cybercrime unit contacted Mashayekha’s wife after hearing of the leaks to send Mashayekha a private Facebook message that “… made clear that Mashayekha and the members of the Ukrainian National Security Agency were to blame for spreading these details,” according to the audit.

Mashayekha and his colleagues at the State Department were annoyed at Carle for providing a May 22, 2016, briefing to the Ukrainian parliament and the office of president Petro Poroshenko that contained classified NSA documents, according to the report.

The Ukrainians accused Carle of leaking the information, and accused Mashayekha and the NSA of conspiring to undermine Ukraine’s security. They also claimed to have a copy of Mashayekha’s private email account with contact information for members of the Justice Department and FBI in Kiev, according to the audit.

Carle responded to Mashayekha’s Facebook friend by writing: “There’s been a LOT of apoplexy about a possible leak of classified information,” and “I can only assume he would kill a U.S. officer for every leak…”

The inspector general’s office caught wind of the initial exchange and asked for records of Mashayekha’s communications with Carle in April.

While the inspector general determined that Mashayekha provided Carle with wrong information about Ukraine’s NSA as part of an effort to overthrow Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, the inspector general’s office declined to find that Carle was responsible for the leak.

Federal investigators also determined that Carle sent messages to Mashayekha in late May 2016, suggesting they might discuss a potential “relocation” to the United States. Carle allegedly sent Mashayekha an invitation to the International Olympic Committee office in Washington for a career-related coffee on June 10, 2016.

Mashayekha did not respond to the invitation, which was sent via text and appears to have been recorded on Carle’s phone. Carle replied “Ditto,” according to the audit.

“Mashayekha also told us he found this a little humorous because when he has had family in the United States, the FBI’s front line patrol turned out to be a local precinct,” according to the audit.

Although the inspector general’s office was satisfied that Carle did not intentionally share information with Mashayekha, it refused to confirm or deny the purpose of the emails.

Carle did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

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