“THINGS ARE REALLY GETTING RIDICULOUS”
by Sharon Rondeau
(May 20, 2018) — In what could be termed a “tweet storm” beginning at approximately 9:00 AM on Sunday, President Donald Trump expressed his displeasure with the investigation headed by Robert S. Mueller, III to identify any “collusion” by members of his presidential campaign with Russian operatives, musing that investigators may “easily be able to take it into the Mid-Term Elections where they can put some hurt on the Republican Party.”
As he frequently has in the past, Trump called the probe a “witch hunt,” while objecting to the fact that the actions of his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, were dismissed without charges recommended by federal law enforcement, namely, the FBI and U.S. Justice Department.
Trump has consistently denied all allegations of “collusion” and “obstruction” on the part of his campaign.
He began his series of tweets with one referring to a Wednesday article in The New York Times which admitted that in 2016, the FBI utilized an “informant” to interact with at least two then-advisers to the Trump campaign.
“Things are really getting ridiculous,” Trump tweeted. “The Failing and Crooked (but not as Crooked as Hillary Clinton) @nytimes has done a long & boring story indicating that the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt has found nothing on Russia & me so now they are looking at the rest of the World!”
The Times’s article to which Trump referred, while relying completely on unnamed sources, nevertheless revealed that in October 2016, the FBI was leaking to the newspaper about the existence of its investigation into the Trump campaign.
The article is arguably written from a point of view intended to insulate government actors from any suspicion of wrongdoing and reveals the FBI’s “code name” for its Trump-Russia investigation: “Crossfire Hurricane.”
Although public reports say that the Mueller investigation has or “will” cost taxpayers $10 million, in his second tweet of the morning Trump claimed that the “soon to be” [sic] cost is actually double that amount.
As he frequently has over the past year, Trump objected to Mueller’s selection of attorneys for the probe, the majority of whom have donated to Democrats and some to Clinton’s 2016 campaign, terming them “Angry and Heavily Conflicted Democrats and two people who worked for Obama for 8 years.”
CNN has provided a list, with brief biographical sketches, of each of Mueller’s now-17 investigators. Interestingly, one of the prosecutors, former assistant U.S. attorney Ryan Dickey, reportedly prosecuted New Zealand resident Kim Dotcom and his associates in 2012 for their operation of the file-sharing website “Megaupload.” Dotcom has been fighting extradition to the U.S. over charges brought by the Justice Department against him for wire fraud and copyright infringement, which Dotcom denies.
Dotcom has also said publicly on numerous occasions that he has evidence that Russian operatives did not “hack” the DNC servers, as has been widely reported, to obtain thousands of emails published by Wikileaks beginning in July 2016 just prior to the Democratic National Convention. Despite his being sought for extradition, through his attorneys, Dotcom offered approximately a year ago to testify in person to Mueller, his designee or to Congress as to the information he claims to have.
According to Dotcom, Mueller did not respond to either of two formal letters from his legal team.
Beginning last May, Dotcom began tweeting that the late 27-year-old DNC Data Director, Seth Rich, was responsible for the transfer of the emails from the DNC server to Wikileaks and that he himself had been personally “involved.”
Rich’s family has denied that claim and filed two lawsuits, one against Fox News, one of its reporters and a contributor, and the other against that same contributor, The Washington Times, and a new media outlet known as America First Media Group, which has been investigating Rich’s still-unsolved July 10, 2016 murder in Washington, DC.
Another of Mueller’s attorneys is Jeannie Rhee, of whom CNN reported:
Rhee represented Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in a lawsuit about her private emails, and she also represented the Clinton Foundation in a civil racketeering case that was later dismissed.
Rhee also represented President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes during the House Benghazi Committee’s investigation into the deadly 2012 terrorist attack in Libya.
According to The Washington Post last July, Rhee “donated a total of $5,400 to Clinton’s campaign in 2015 and 2016, and a total of $4,800 to the Obama Victory Fund in 2008 and 2011. She also made smaller donations totaling $1,750 to the DNC and to various Democrats running for the Senate.”
In a detailed article from October 2017, Heavy.com documented that nine of Mueller’s then-16-member team had donated to Democrats over a number of campaigns. “The lawyers on Mueller’s team include mostly attorneys with backgrounds in the Justice Department, Solicitor General’s Office, and east coast U.S. Attorney’s offices. In addition, one of the team members is married to a U.S. District Judge who is an Obama appointee, and another served as a clerk for liberal Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan,” the article additionally reported.
Some have also donated to Republicans.
That reference is to Clinton’s use of a non-secure, private email server to conduct government business while she was Obama’s secretary of state from early 2009 to early 2013.
Another investigator, Aaron Zelinsky, reportedly “joined the Mueller team on detail from the US attorney’s office in Maryland. Zelinsky served as an assistant US attorney under Rod Rosenstein, who is now the deputy attorney general and oversees Mueller’s appointment.”
Trump’s third tweet of the morning, a completion of his thought from the second, reiterated that Clinton deleted 33,000 emails from the private server which was almost undoubtedly breached by foreign actors and/or governments.
Clinton has said that the deleted emails were personal in nature and therefore did not have to be preserved under federal law.
Trump’s reference to “McCabe” is to former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was fired in mid-March after the Justice Department’s Inspector General’s report stated that he had been untruthful on at least four occasions to investigators looking into the FBI and DOJ’s handling of Clinton’s use of the private server.
As a result of those findings, DOJ Inspector General referred McCabe to the U.S. attorney for the District of Washington, DC for possible criminal investigation. McCabe’s attorney, Michael Bromwich, has denied the accusations and predicted that the U.S. attorney will not act on the referral.
At the time the Clinton server investigation was opened, McCabe was director of the Washington, DC FBI field office, which was handling the Clinton probe. In February 2016, as the probe continued, he was promoted to FBI Deputy Director under then-Director James B. Comey. McCabe remained involved in the Clinton probe until one week before the 2016 presidential election, as disclosed in documents obtained by the government-watchdog organization Judicial Watch.
In early 2015, McCabe’s wife, Dr. Jill McCabe, announced that she would seek a Virginia state senate seat for the election that November. At the time, longtime Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe was governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
On November 3, 2017, Judicial Watch reported:
The news that Clinton used a private email server broke March 2, 2015. Five days later, former Clinton Foundation board member and Democrat party fundraiser, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe met with the McCabes to recruit her for a run for the state Senate. She announced her candidacy on March 12. Soon afterward, McAuliffe-aligned political groups donated nearly $700,000 (40% of the campaign’s total funds) to McCabe’s wife for her campaign. Around that time, Gov. McAuliffe would also come under criminal investigation by the FBI.
An April 29, 2015, document titled “Protocol regarding Potential Conflicts of Interest” sent from the Washington Field Office to various FBI officials – and self-approved by McCabe – indicates that he was “consulting with individuals within the Washington Field Office and [FBI headquarters]” prior to the announcement of his wife’s political campaign:
In March 2015, Dr. Jill McCabe announced her candidacy for Virginia State Senate. Dr. McCabe is the wife of Washington Field Office ADIC Andrew McCabe. Prior to Dr. McCabe’s official announcement, the [assistant director] consulted with individuals within [Washington Field Office] and [FBI headquarters] to identify limitations on his participation in her campaign and to identify areas where Dr. McCabe’s campaign may present potential conflicts of interest for the ADIC in WFO investigations and operations. [Emphasis added]
According to CBS News in October 2016:
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s political action committee donated nearly $500,000 to the election campaign of Dr. Jill McCabe–the wife of an FBI official who helped oversee the investigation intowhile secretary of state, the Wall Street Journal first reported.
And the Virginia Democratic Party, a group over which the governor has considerable influence, contributed an additional $207,778 in the form of mailers, the campaign finance records indicate. The WSJ noted that this put donations from entities directly under McAuliffe or influenced by him at nearly $700,000, which was about a third of McCabe’s total campaign fundraising efforts. McAuliffe also reportedly recruited McCabe for the race.
Trump’s reference to “$145,000,000” suggests that that amount was received by the Clinton Foundation as a quid quo pro for Hillary Clinton’s part in approving the agreement by which the Russian-government-owned nuclear energy entity, Rosatom, purchased Canadian company Uranium One, which conducted uranium business in the United States.
According to Politico last November which included that figure, “With its purchase of Uranium One, Rosatom assumed control of roughly 20 percent of uranium production capacity in the U.S.”
On April 24, 2015, The New York Times reported of the Uranium One development:
Trump’s fourth tweet reiterated his outrage at the FBI’s handling of the Clinton private server and deleted emails; the now-infamous Russia “dossier” compiled by British citizen Christopher Steele at the behest of the DNC and Clinton campaign through the law firm Perkins Coie and private company Fusion GPS; and claims made by some congressional Republicans that the upper echelons of the DOJ and FBI abused the process by which Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants are obtained from a special court to collect the communications of a U.S. citizen believed to be involved in illegal activity with a foreign entity.
Trump did not elaborate on his claim that the Russia investigation “is looking at the rest of the World.”
Republicans on the House Permanent Subcommittee on Intelligence (HPSCI) have indicated that they believe that in the FBI and DOJ’s procuring of FISA surveillance warrants on then-Trump campaign foreign-policy advisor Carter Page in October 2016, “material and relevant information was omitted.”
A fifth tweet claimed that Clinton’s private server was “at the center of so much Corruption” and questioned why the FBI appears to have been “afraid to take the Server,” meaning the server from which the emails were taken and provided to WikiLeaks.
In testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee in January 2017, Comey said that the FBI had not examined the DNC server to determine who had breached it. At the time, The Hill reported:
“We’d always prefer to have access hands-on ourselves if that’s possible,” Comey said, noting that he didn’t know why the DNC rebuffed the FBI’s request.
Comey’s statements were made prior to his termination by Trump, at the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, in a letter dated May 9, 2017.
Rosenstein hired Mueller to complete the Russia probe six days later.
Yet a sixth tweet asks why Tony Podesta, brother of Clinton’s 2016 campaign chairman John Podesta, “hasn’t been charged and arrested, like others, after being forced to close down his very large and successful firm?”
The reference is to the Podesta Group, a lobbying firm, which ABC News reported on Sunday was patronized by Paul J. Manafort, Trump’s one-time campaign manager who Mueller’s team charged with financial crimes unrelated to the Trump presidential campaign. “Former associates told ABC News that the Mueller team’s focus was Podesta Group’s work with the Trump campaign’s former chairman, Paul Manafort, and his deputy, Rick Gates. In 2012, Manafort and Gates arranged for the Podesta Group to lobby on behalf of an obscure Brussels-based nonprofit called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine. Manafort worked for the Kremlin-backed President of Ukraine at the time,” ABC reported of Mueller’s interviews of Tony Podesta and his associates.
In mid-March, Manafort’s attorneys claimed that Mueller’s probe overstepped its authority and that the charges against their client should be dismissed. A separate civil lawsuit asking that the charges against Manafort be dropped on that premise was dismissed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointee, in late April.
Jackson is also presiding over a criminal case against Manafort for alleged money-laundering and failure to register as a foreign agent.
On Thursday, a different judge in a second criminal case against Manafort in Virginia, U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis, received an unredacted copy of an August 2, 2017 memorandum written by Rosenstein which presented a revised scope of authority for the Special Counsel, specifically mentioning Manafort, than Rosenstein’s initial memo of May 17, 2017.
Rosenstein has authority over the Mueller probe, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself in March 2017 from all matters pertaining to Russia, a decision with which Trump has made clear he disagrees.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley is now asking to see the August 2, 2017 memo in its unredacted form.
In a tweet at approximately 1:13 p.m. EDT, Trump repeated that the Mueller investigation has found “no Collusion with Russia – so now they’re looking at the rest of the World.”
This story was updated at 5:40 p.m. EDT.
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.