New Developments in Mueller Investigation
On Friday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team released a slew of new developments in the investigation into whether or not President Trump and his 2016 presidential campaign staff had any links or contact with the Russian government.
Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York filed documents on Friday stating that President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, had “committed four distinct federal crimes over a period of several years.” In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to a federal judge that he had violated campaign finance violations by giving $130,000 to a female adult-film actress for her silence during the presidential election regarding her previous affair with President Trump.
Cohen has largely been cooperative with the investigation, and prosecutors added that Cohen has taken “substantial and significant efforts to remediate his misconduct, accept responsibility for his actions.” Earlier this year, Cohen told George Stephanopoulos in an ABC interview that he is “putting his loyalty in his family and country” before President Trump.
The Special Counsel’s team on Friday also noted that President Trump’s former presidential campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, lied on five different occasions after agreeing to cooperate with federal prosecutors. In a document filed to federal court, Mueller asserted that Manafort had lied about his contacts with foreign entities after the presidential election. Manafort had previously told the Mueller team that he had neither direct nor indirect contact with Trump administration officials, when reports indicated that he continued to talk with officials as recently as this past Spring.
Manafort has been of particular interest of the Special Counsel, as the former campaign chairman was charged in August for 18 counts of various violations. His crimes ranged from bank fraud to the failure to register himself as a foreign agent. Friday’s filing further suggested that Manafort had lied about his contacts with Russian-Ukrainian political consultant and wire transfers of funds that were linked to him.
Former FBI Director James Comey also made a visit to Capitol Hill on Friday, who spent the day in front of the House Oversight Committee to discuss the Justice Department and the FBI’s actions prior to the presidential election. During the election, Comey had been under scrutiny for announcing a reopening of the investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s private use of an email server just days before voters headed to the polls. Comey also found himself in hot water after the election, most notably with his interactions with President Trump when the president allegedly had asked Comey “to let Michael Flynn go.” Flynn, Trump’s former National Security Advisor, was also one of the subjects of the Mueller probe, who was ultimately charged with lying to the FBI for his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in 2016.
Coming out of the 6-hour, closed-doors testimony, Comey told reporters, “The president's attacks on the Justice Department broadly and the FBI are something that, no matter what political party you're in, you should find deeply troubling and continue to speak out about it, not become numb to attacks on the rule of law.” Another hearing is expected in the upcoming two weeks. Comey has also insisted that the hearings be made public in an effort to be more transparent with the public.
Following the reports on Friday, President Trump, a frequent critic of the Special Counsel investigation, tweeted, “Totally clears the president. Thank you!” The president has largely denied any narratives involving himself and Russia, most recently of which involved his canceled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit following reports of Michael Cohen pleading guilty to the Special Council’s probe.