Tag Archives: Trump Russia

Speier: Dems Could Subpoena Trump Jr., Kushner As Part Of Russia Inquiries

SAN MATEO (CBS SF / CNN) — A Bay Area Democrat who sits on the House Intelligence Committee suggested Friday that Democrats could subpoena Donald Trump Jr. and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner next year as part of investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Asked by CNN’s Brianna Keilar on CNN’s “Right Now” about whether the House Intelligence Committee will bring in Kushner and Trump Jr. to be interviewed again once the Democrats take control of the House, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, said, “We will certainly subpoena their records.” “I think they will be subpoenaed if they don’t come voluntarily,” she added. “We will try to make as many hearings as possible public.” Trump Jr. and Kushner have denied any wrongdoing in their contact with Russians during the 2016 election. Rep. Adam Schiff, the likely incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in October that he wants to bring in witnesses and pursue records regarding Russian money laundering and Trump’s businesses. The House Intelligence Committee first interviewed Trump Jr. privately on December 6, 2017, when he testified about his June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Russian operatives after being promised dirt — which never materialized — on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Kushner met with members of the House and Senate intelligence committees in July 2017. Although the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee ended their inquiry into potential collusion between Trump’s team and Russia in March, Speier made it clear the Democrats intend to continue investigating potential connections. “We want to hear from I think a number of people that we have already interviewed,” Speier said. “All of the phone bills and phone calls made and all of the direct messages and the emails that were never subpoenaed need to be subpoenaed for the primary persons that were part of the Trump orbit and campaign.” Democratic lawmakers and aides say planning is already underway for how they will use their committee powers — from hearings to subpoenas — to get the answers to their burning questions about matters ranging from Trump campaign contacts with Russian officials to the firing of former FBI Director James Comey. Potential probes into Russia and obstruction are just two of the numerous ways that Democrats are readying oversight of the Trump administration’s actions as well as Trump’s personal finances once they control the House. © Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten. CNN contributed to this report.

Pelosi, Dems Urge Trump To Skip Putin Meeting After Russia Indictments

(CNN) — The top Democrats in Congress on Friday called for President Donald Trump to cancel his upcoming summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin after the Justice Department announced indictments against 12 Russian nationals, that accused them of engaging in a “sustained effort” to hack Democrats’ emails and computer networks. “President Trump should cancel his meeting with Vladimir Putin until Russia takes demonstrable and transparent steps to prove that they won’t interfere in future elections. Glad-handing with Vladimir Putin on the heels of these indictments would be an insult to our democracy,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement. The top Democrat in the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, tweeted, “@realDonaldTrump must immediately cancel his meeting with Putin.”

Pelosi had said in an earlier statement, “The stakes for the upcoming Trump-Putin meeting could not be higher. President Trump must demand and secure a real, concrete and comprehensive agreement that the Russians will cease their ongoing attacks on our democracy. Failure to stand up to Putin would constitute a profound betrayal of the Constitution and our democracy.” The call to cancel the summit came after a week in which Democrats have expressed widespread concerns about Trump’s ability to sit down and challenge Putin in a one-on-one meeting, which is scheduled for Monday. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Friday the summit will not be canceled. In an interview on Capitol Hill, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he is concerned that the President’s “ad-hoc” style of going into meetings and “winging it” is not appropriate and that the meeting should be called off with Putin. Warner said he’s concerned the US “President can be taken advantage of” by Putin, and that if a meeting cannot have additional attendees it should be scrapped. “There should be no one-on-one meeting between this President and Mr. Putin,” Warner told reporters Friday. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat, also called for scrapping the meeting. “We must bring to bear the full force of U.S. sanctions against Russia as well as consider their expansion against broader sectors of the Russian economy,” Duckworth said in her statement. “Donald Trump must immediately cancel his planned summit with Vladimir Putin until Russia demonstrates its willingness to come back into the community of nations that respect the rule of law, legal norms and democratic institutions.” The Justice Department announced its indictments in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. All 12 defendants are members of the GRU, a Russian federation intelligence agency within the main intelligence directorate of the Russian military, who were acting in “their official capacities.” Rep. Jerry Nadler, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said Trump should demand the extradition of the Russians indicted on Friday, but he predicted that would not happen. “He should demand that,” said Nadler of New York. “I’m sure he won’t.” Nadler said he didn’t think that Trump should cancel the summit, but he agreed that the President should not be meeting with Putin alone. Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also called for “the Russian spies indicted by the United States for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” “Second, the Treasury Department must immediately impose sanctions mandated by Congress on the Russian intelligence officers indicted today,” said Menendez of New Jersey. “And third, the President should demand Putin return Crimea to Ukraine, release individuals from Crimea imprisoned by Russia on political grounds, and fulfill his pledge to remove Iran from Syria.” © Copyright 2018 CNN. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

FBI Agent Peter Strzok Clashes with GOP at House Hearing

WASHINGTON (AP) — An embattled FBI agent whose anti-Trump text messages exposed the Justice Department to claims of institutional bias launched a vigorous defense Thursday at an extraordinary congressional hearing that devolved into shouting matches, finger-pointing and veiled references to personal transgressions.

Deputy Assistant FBI Director Peter Strzok is sworn in before a joint committee hearing of the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill July 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Deputy Assistant FBI Director Peter Strzok is sworn in before a joint committee hearing of the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill July 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Peter Strzok testified publicly for the first time since being removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team following the discovery of the texts last year. He said the communications with an FBI lawyer in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election reflected purely personal opinions that he never once acted on, though he did acknowledge being dismayed during the campaign by the Republican candidate’s behavior.

“At no time, in any of those texts, did those personal beliefs ever enter into the realm of any action I took,” Strzok told lawmakers.

In breaking his silence at a daylong hearing, Strzok came face-to-face with Republicans who angrily argued that the texts had tainted two hugely consequential FBI probes he had helped steer: inquiries into Hillary Clinton’s email use and possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

“Agent Strzok had Hillary Clinton winning the White House before he finished investigating her,” said Rep. Trey Gowdy, Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “Agent Strzok had Donald Trump impeached before he even started investigating him. That is bias.”

Republican Rep. Darrell Issa made Strzok read his texts aloud, including some with profane language. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte asked the audience to imagine being investigated by an agent who “hated you” and “disparaged you in all manner of ways.”

“Would anyone sitting here today believe that this was an acceptable state of affairs, particularly at an agency whose motto is ‘Fidelity, Bravery and Integrity’? I think not,” Goodlatte said.

Strzok repeatedly insisted the texts, including ones in which he called Trump a “disaster” and said “We’ll stop” a Trump candidacy, did not reflect political bias and had not infected his work.

He said the Trump investigation originated not out of personal animus but rather from concern that Russia was meddling in the election, including what he said were allegations of “extraordinary significance” of a Russian offer of assistance to a Trump campaign member.

He made clear his exasperation at being the focus of a hearing when Russian election interference had successfully sowed discord in America.

“I have the utmost respect for Congress’s oversight role, but I truly believe that today’s hearing is just another victory notch in Putin’s belt and another milestone in our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart,” Strzok said.

The hearing reflected a little-discussed reality of public service: Law enforcement agents and other government workers are permitted to espouse political views but are expected to keep them separate from their work. Strzok said he was not alone in holding political opinions, noting that colleagues in 2016 supported both Clinton and Trump but did not reflect those views on the job.

He insisted that separation was possible. “What I am telling you is I and the other men and women of the FBI, every day take our personal beliefs, and set those aside in vigorous pursuit of the truth — wherever it lies, whatever it is.”

To which Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, responded, “And I don’t believe you.”

Strzok said under aggressive questioning that a much-discussed August 2016 text in which he vowed “we’ll stop” a Trump candidacy followed Trump’s denigration of the family of a dead U.S. service member. He said the late-night, off-the-cuff text reflected his belief that Americans would not stomach such “horrible, disgusting behavior” by the presidential candidate.

But, he added in a raised voice and emphatic tone: “It was in no way — unequivocally — any suggestion that me, the FBI, would take any action whatsoever to improperly impact the electoral process for any candidate. So, I take great offense, and I take great disagreement to your assertion of what that was or wasn’t.”

Plus, he said, both the Clinton and Russia investigations were handled by large teams that “would not tolerate any improper behavior in me anymore than I would tolerate it in them.

“That is who we are as the FBI,” Strzok said in an animated riff that drew Democratic applause. “And the suggestion that I, in some dark chamber somewhere in the FBI, would somehow cast aside all of these procedures, all of these safeguards and somehow be able to do this is astounding to me. It simply couldn’t happen.”

The hearing exposed clear partisan divides in the House judiciary and oversight committees, as Democrats accused Republicans of trying to divert attention from Trump’s ties to Russia through an excessive focus on Strzok. Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee said he would give Strzok a Purple Heart if he could. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-New Jersey, said, “I have never seen my colleagues so out of control, so angry.”

But Republicans eager to undermine Mueller’s investigation berated Strzok, citing the texts as evidence of partisan bias within a law enforcement agency supposed to steer clear of politics. An inspector general report blamed Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page for creating an appearance of impropriety through their texts but found that the outcome of the Clinton investigation wasn’t tainted by bias.

At one point, Rep. Louis Gohmert, a Texas Republican, invoked Strzok’s personal life by alluding to the fact the texts were exchanged while he and Page were in a relationship. Gohmert speculated about whether he looked “so innocent” when he looked into his wife’s eyes and lied about the affair.

The comments sparked immediate objections from Democrats, who called them outrageous, and Strzok was livid. He told Gohmert the fact that he would say that to him “shows more what you stand for” than anything else. Gohmert tried to shout over him and the committee chairman vainly tried to restore order.

The hearing was punctuated by chaos and yelling as Goodlatte said Strzok needed to answer Republicans’ questions and suggested they might recess the hearing and hold him in contempt. Democrats objected to Goodlatte’s repeated attempts to get Strzok to answer. Goodlatte eventually let the hearing proceed.

In his opening statement, Strzok acknowledged that while his text message criticism was “blunt,” it was not directed at one person or party and included jabs not only at Trump but also at Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

He said he was one of the few people in 2016 who knew the details of Russian election interference and its possible connections with the Trump campaign, and that that information could have derailed Trump’s election chances. But, he said, “the thought of exposing that information never crossed my mind.”

FBI Director Chris Wray says employees who were singled out for criticism by the inspector general have been referred to internal disciplinary officials. Strzok’s lawyer said he was escorted from the FBI building last month as the disciplinary process proceeds.

Page is expected to speak to lawmakers at a private meeting Friday.

© Copyright 2018 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

New Charges Filed Against Manafort In Russia Probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — Special counsel Robert Mueller has brought additional charges against President Donald Trump’s campaign chairman and a longtime associate, accusing them of obstructing justice. The new charges were unsealed Friday against Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik. They come after prosecutors accused Manafort of attempting to tamper with witnesses as he awaits trial of felony charges related to foreign lobbying work. Prosecutors have accused Kilimnik of having ties to Russian intelligence, a charge he denies. © Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.