Mueller is coming. The investigation into Trump campaign coordination with Russia appears to be closing in on the president. The three indictments earlier this month of Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort; his deputy, Rick Gates; and foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos show that Robert Mueller is inside Trump’s campaign. The indictment and plea agreement of former national security adviser Michael Flynn now puts the investigation into the White House.
NEW REPORT: Acts of an Adversary: Russia’s Ongoing Hostilities Toward the United States and Its Allies
Russia’s efforts to attack and undermine American democracy did not begin or end with the 2016 election. Russia’s vast espionage and cybercapabilities continue to target the United States government, its citizens, as well as America’s democratic allies around the world. This report outlines Russia’s continuing hostile actions toward the United States and its allies. It finds that the election of Donald Trump has not resulted in the Kremlin changing course or reducing its hostile actions toward the United States.
To put the $3.2M Robert Mueller has reported spending on his investigation in context, below are costs of two other major recent investigations of presidential administrations – the investigations into Whitewater and Iran-Contra. (Note: all inflation adjustments are based on the CPI calculator from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.)
Today, Trump’s lawyer stopped arguing that he didn’t obstruct justice and started arguing that because he’s president it’s okay, saying “a president cannot obstruct justice.” What would cause such a panicked response? We didn’t see this with Manafort, or even Papadopoulos. What are they so desperate to hide? Don’t forget we still don’t actually know why Mike Flynn was fired – and whether he was promised anything in exchange for upholding the cover story.
One of the core deliverables Russia hoped to get from supporting Trump was sanctions relief. While the Trump administration is required by law to put in place the sanctions recently passed by Congress (sanctions Trump strenuously objected to), the administration has wide leeway in the implementation. Right now, all signs point to a continued effort by the administration to do everything possible to block, delay and water down the sanctions ahead of the January 29 deadline – advancing a core interest of Vladimir Putin and the oligarch class that fuels his power.
Ryan Lizza recently had an important piece about the Trump administration’s “Boil the Frog” strategy regarding the Russia investigation: a preference that information be released slowly and confusingly rather than have it all come out at once, in order to “soften the blow.” One advantage of this slow drip of revelations is that it makes it easier for the Trump administration to shift the goal posts for the investigations. Lizza explains the shifting goal post tactic with regard to contacts with Wikileaks:
Today, Global Witness, a London-based non-profit focused on exposing corruption, released a report finding that Donald Trump made millions of dollars from a deal licensing his name to a development in Panama that was used to launder drug money from drug cartels. While Trump may not have deliberately sought to benefit from this criminal activity, Global Witness finds that he “seems to have done little to nothing to prevent this.” The report also finds that some of the Trump Ocean Club investors were allegedly linked to the Russian Mafia, and it seems as though Trump’s “willful blindness” may have landed him in bed with illicit Russian money.