The Stew Reporting on news from inside the Beltway

In Washington this week, it’s all about Mueller

Politics | The Russia investigation makes it hard for Republicans to focus on anything else
by Harvest Prude
Posted 11/29/18, 03:44 pm

WASHINGTON—The triple punch of a new filing, a news report, and a guilty plea has thrust special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation back into the spotlight, raising questions about whether the probe is accelerating toward the finish line.

Since May 2017, Mueller has led an investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election and whether the president obstructed the probe. The inquiry has led to charges against 33 people, most notably 26 Russians.

The special counsel’s office kicked off the week on Monday with a filing accusing former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of lying to investigators in breach of a plea agreement he made in September in connection with the Russia investigation. Manafort pleaded guilty to conspiracy and witness tampering and pledged to cooperate with prosecutors to get a lighter sentence.

On Tuesday, The Guardian reported that Manafort covered up a meeting with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London before the 2016 election. Anonymous sources told the British news outlet that Manafort met with Assange in March 2016, the same month Russian hackers launched their effort to steal emails from the campaign of Hillary Clinton. In October, Assange published thousands of emails stolen from the Clinton campaign by Russian spies. Manafort adamantly denied the story, and WikiLeaks tweeted it was “willing to bet The Guardian a million dollars and its editor’s head that Manafort never met Assange.”

Amid daily Twitter blasts against the probe, Trump on Wednesday said he had not dismissed the possibility of a presidential pardon for Manafort.

Then on Thursday, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen appeared in a New York City courtroom to plead guilty to lying to Congress in 2017 about plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 campaign. He admitted to misleading the Senate Intelligence Committee about the timing of the project, which never materialized. Cohen previously pleaded guilty to federal charges related to campaign finance violations and later met for multiple interviews with investigators.

This month also saw a new level of cooperation with the investigation from the White House: Trump turned over written answers to investigators’ questions on Nov. 20. But the souring of Manafort’s cooperation represents a step backward. Manafort is considered a key witness for having been privy to a Trump Tower meeting on June 9, 2016, where Russians allegedly promised to pass on “dirt” about Clinton.

On Twitter this week, Trump called Mueller a “conflicted prosecutor gone wrong.” He said the special counsel’s actions were causing “TREMENDOUS damage to our Criminal Justice system,” adding that the investigation was “in search of a crime.” He also said prosecutors were “viciously telling witnesses to lie about facts” to get deals—a claim conservative author Jerome Corsi supported this week. Corsi told news outlets prosecutors wanted him to admit he had lied when he claimed he hadn’t. Both Corsi and another Trump associate, Roger Stone, are under scrutiny for alleged connections with Assange before the release of the Clinton emails.

The Mueller probe also has thrown a wrench into the Republican agenda for the lame-duck session of Congress. Some lawmakers took exception when Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned and the White House appointed his chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, as acting attorney general. Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Chris Coons, D-Del., are pushing for a vote on a bill to protect the Russian probe from being dismantled or Mueller from being fired by the Department of Justice’s new leadership.

The bill cleared committee earlier this year, but GOP lawmakers have blocked it from a floor vote. Flake, an outgoing senator, vowed Nov. 14 that he would vote against all of Trump’s judicial nominees until the Senate considered the bill on the floor. Republicans blocked another attempt Wednesday to bring up the bill for a vote. And Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, had to cancel votes set for Thursday on almost two dozen judicial nominations.

Flake’s blockade is likely giving the White House a taste of what is to come next session. Democrats in control of the House of Representatives will wield investigative power and have increased leverage to obstruct items on Trump’s agenda, from securing funding on a border wall to ratifying the United States–Mexico-Canada Agreement as a replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement.

It seems Washington may not have to wait long for further developments. Wired reporter Garrett Graff pointed out that Mueller has already released more than 290 pages of information in major court filings and may be on the verge of more indictments. On Friday, a federal judge will hear from both Mueller’s team and Manafort, raising the possibility that new details may emerge.

Associated Press/Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais Associated Press/Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais Jared Kushner (right) stands behind President Donald Trump at a news conference to announce a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada on Oct. 1 at the White House.

Making nice with Mexico

Mexican officials this week said they will bestow its highest honor for foreigners on Jared Kushner, U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and his senior adviser. The Mexican Foreign Relations Department said Kushner earned the award “for his significant contributions in achieving the renegotiation of the new [trade] agreement between Mexico, the United States and Canada.”

Leaders of the three nations are expected to sign the United States–Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) at the G-20 summit this weekend in Argentina. The deal replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement, the much-maligned, 1990s deal that Trump promised to dismantle. Kushner will be on hand for the signing.

The decision to give Kushner the Order of the Aztec Eagle has met resistance in Mexico, where many see the Trump family as an enemy because of the president’s hardline stance on immigration.

Sealing USMCA represents an important step toward improved relations with Mexico on the eve of a new administration coming to power there. President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador takes office Saturday. Vice President Mike Pence and Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and Kushner’s wife, will attend his inauguration.

López Obrador has signaled a willingness to work with the Trump administration by housing caravan migrants waiting in Tijuana to apply for asylum in the United States. But he’s also made it clear he expects something in return: investment in development in southern Mexico and Central America, from where many of the migrants originated. With Kushner’s help, Trump could build diplomatic bridges to Mexico while also constructing a border wall—if López Obrador can sell the idea to his constituents. And that’s a big if, considering the attitudes of some in Mexico toward Trump.

“Kushner is the son-in-law of the man who called Mexicans ‘killers and rapists,’” tweeted Enrique Krauze, a prominent Mexican intellectual. He was referring to remarks Trump made during his presidential campaign about criminal immigrants coming into the United States—remarks that sparked anger toward him in Mexico that lasted into his presidency.

Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, wrote that “if Mexico agrees to do the U.S. government’s dirty work at the expense of the caravan members’ dignity and human rights, it is effectively paying for Trump’s shameful border wall.” —Lynde Langdon

Associated Press/Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais Associated Press/Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais A supporter of President Trump holds up a sign at a rally in Wheeling, W.Va., in late September.

Border wall or bust?

President Donald Trump is insisting Congress provide $5 billion to fund his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, setting up a partial government shutdown if Democrats and Republicans fail to agree on a series of spending bills by Dec. 7.

Trump told Politico in an interview Wednesday that he was “firm” on the border wall figure and “totally willing” to shut down the government by rejecting a bill that provided less money. But he sent conflicting messages in a separate interview with The Washington Post, suggesting that there were other ways to secure the border if Congress did not agree to the funding.

“We need Democrat votes to have a wall,” Trump told the Post. “Now, if we don’t get it, will I get it done another way? I might get it done another way. There are other potential ways that I can do it. You saw what we did with the military, just coming in with the barbed wire and the fencing, and various other things.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., indicated that Democrats would be willing to offer about $1.6 billion for border security, in line with previous appropriations. The figure fell far short of GOP demands, but it drew the ire of more progressive Democrats, who blasted Schumer for compromising with Trump. Schumer stressed the funds were for border security more broadly and not for construction of a wall, laying the blame for any shutdown on Trump.

In the House of Representatives, Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters, “Our bill contains the president’s full request,” adding that the Senate would have to work out a compromise. Senate Democrats exercise considerable sway because 60 votes are needed to approve spending measures in the chamber and Republicans currently have only a 51-49 majority.

Trump has repeatedly threatened to shut down the government if Congress does not provide money for his wall, but has backed down in the past. —Anne K. Walters

Harvest Prude

Harvest is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute and a reporter for WORLD.

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Comments

  • JerryM
    Posted: Thu, 11/29/2018 05:26 pm

    The democrats (+Jeff Flake) and their media allies manufacture another crisis around Muellers investigation.  Meanwhile the Clintons and the democrats own role in Russian collusion is given almost no attention and any real accountability.  Trump may be wrong about many things but this ongoing and blatant inequity is a recipe for undermining the integrity of the judicial system. 

  • Leeper
    Posted: Thu, 11/29/2018 09:28 pm

    Hillary Clinton should be under investigation not Donald Trump. 

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Cyborg3
    Posted: Thu, 11/29/2018 09:46 pm

    The real story World always seems to miss! 

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aevtHHULag

    Listen to this and you will understand what this is about. Mueller is the clean up man and we are seeing the grandest coverup in US history!

  • news2me
    Posted: Fri, 11/30/2018 07:49 pm

    I watched that youtube thing. WOW!!!

    Thank you.

    Until now I felt no one was saying anything about Obama and his minions. But it's been the media who have been keeping this guy under wraps.

    WOW!!!

  • West Coast Gramma's picture
    West Coast Gramma
    Posted: Fri, 11/30/2018 12:40 am

    I continue to support World Magazine because among the many news outlets available, World remains steady to a a nonbiased truth in reporting. They handle facts, not passions.

    The reason Mueller is investigating the former Trump campaign for collusion with Russia is because the FBI in July, 2016, long before Trump was elected, began investigating Russian interfere in the 2016 presidential election. The FBI is part of the Justice Department, which is part of the executive branch. Obama was president at the time. He acted to safeguard Americans' rights to a free election. “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election to help President-elect Trump’s election chances,” the Intelligence Community said in a report released in January, 2017. The report specifically states that Russia, under Putin's direction, hacked the Democratic National Committee's computers for a full year from July, 2015 to June, 2016 and released hacked materials to WikiLeaks expressly in order "to help President-elect Trump's election chances." The United States Senate in response to the news of this theft began investigating “Russian intelligence activities” during the 2016 U.S. election, “including any intelligence regarding links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns.”

    While theoretically these individuals could include Ms Clinton, why would Clinton collude with Russia in the hacking of her own party's national committee computers so that Russia could use the material to help elect Trump? No one denies that Russians attempted to influence the 2016 election in favor of Trump. We might recall that at a later date Congress imposed sanctions against Russia for this very crime. Would Clinton collude with Russia so that they could influence our election in favor of Trump?

    Evidence gathered by Congress and the FBI began to indicate that certain parties associated with the Trump campaign may have been corresponding with Russia during the time of their interference. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein of the Executive Branch appointed Mueller as special counsel to investigate whether or not in fact any person within the Trump campaign did or did not collude with Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Since then, Mueller has very quietly been pursuing the investigation he was appointed to do. He did not appoint himself, and the Russians did in fact interfere. This is America pusuing its own sovereign interests against the malevolent interference of a foreign government attempting to intrude upon the free functioning of our democracy. The investigation needs to continue unhampered. A truly patriotic president would insist upon truth being told, even if that truth might incriminate some of his own people.

  • news2me
    Posted: Sun, 12/02/2018 05:51 am

    Did you vote for Obama because he is a Christian?

    My mother did. Oprah Winfrey convinced her that her daughters would have to get an abortion in an alley if Obama wasn't elected.

    Abortion is murder and Obama was one of the biggest believers in abortion.

    I am not a Republican, nor did I vote for Trump.  

    But I am thinking about voting for him in 2020 just because of the way people have treated him, AND especially his FAMILY. 

  • Laura W
    Posted: Sun, 12/02/2018 08:37 pm

    Excuse me? I was considering watching it, just to see what it's all about, but after this I definitely won't.

    Edit: It seems the above comment has been edited since I posted. Thanks for posting a more thoughtful response.

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Cyborg3
    Posted: Sat, 12/01/2018 02:12 am

    Laura,

    Wait a minute. Your are not going to watch what I posted because news2me said something over the top? Is that fair to me? Please take the time to watch it for it shows what is really going on and the seriousness of the threat we face. Here is another clip about the FBI recently raiding the home of a whistleblower in the Clinton Foundation scandal. They are flexing their muscles showing their raw power to destroy their enemies! 

    https://video.foxnews.com/v/5973902044001/?#sp=show-clips

    I will make a prediction that the Deep State coupled with the new Congress will go after Trump for impeachment and will continue to make wild accusations! They will catch Trump in some minor discrepancy and will use that to shut down his agenda, which should be disconcerting for Christians. The people who believe the MSM will sadly be duped and likely go along with it. I sometimes get frustrated with west coast gramma  because she seems to continually take the liberal side, which are essentially against our Christian values.  Certainly, Trump is not perfect, but at heart he is trying to do the right thing.  He has done more for Christians even than Reagan, if you really look how bad things have been. Hillary really is a corrupt thug for she has no shame and was willing sell out 20% of our country’s uranium for her and Bill’s profit and the benefit of millions going to the Clinton Foundation. That doesn’t even include the money going to her campaign! There are many other scandals too and probably the greatest is the Mueller probe! It is interesting how they got Sessions to recuse himself, while Mueller is intricately involved in so many of the scandals! Does anybody here see the irony in this? Another great irony is the Russian collusion is all connected with Obama and Hillary Clinton!

    I also know Corsi who the Mueller probe are targeting which is a great miscarriage of justice. They interrogated the 72 year old man for hours on end until they “caught” him in a lie and threatened him with years in jail (essentially a life sentence). They would drop the charges if he would testify that Trump was in collusion with the Russians! These are the tactics the Mueller probe are using to get rid of Trump or shut down his agenda! We need to be praying for Trump and calling our representatives insisting on them fighting the Mueller probe and protecting our nation from gross corruption! 

  • news2me
    Posted: Sun, 12/02/2018 05:42 am

    Do you think Trump should be impeached?

  • Xion's picture
    Xion
    Posted: Sat, 12/01/2018 01:41 am

    The picture above says "Save Mueller".    How appropriate!   This is about salvation, but inverted.  In this version the crooks in Washington have appointed Mueller as their savior from justice.  He must save all the scoundrels who used federal power to try and throw the election.  If Hillary had won, no one would have known, but the unthinkable happened. 

    The beauty of Trump's election is how much light is shining on the swamp.  The media are exposed as charlatans.  The justice department is shown to be unjust.  Democrats openly oppose democracy.  Republicans cower under their desks. 

    In a day when truth is extremely unpopular and practically illegal, it leaks out anyway.   Even though there is no justice, at least we get a glimmer of truth.  Somehow, when the innocent are accused unjustly, the truth seems to shine a little brighter.  After Christ’s unjust trial, the truth burst forth like the sun.

  • Brendan Bossard's picture
    Brendan Bossard
    Posted: Sat, 12/01/2018 09:03 am

    News2me, I have reported your post again.  None of us who post on this website are pawns or drones of anyone.  I may not agree with you--or West Coast Gramma, for that matter--but I will never call you a thoughtless drone.  Not to mention the fact that West Coast Gramma has been very gracious to you.

    BTW I do not wish to start a "button" war with anyone, or speak for anyone else.  I just feel that as Christians we need to hold each other accountable using the mechanisms provided by World.  If we do not hold each other accountable for our behavior and treat each other respectfully, then we fail each other and we fail Christ.

  • news2me
    Posted: Sun, 12/02/2018 06:09 am

    I did not realize that I was in a "button" war, saying anything offensive. I say what I feel. I am sorry if that offends you. West Coast Gramma is a smooth talker. I can see from her dialogue that she doesn't get her info from World. Reading from you how "gracious" she has been to me turns my stomach. It's called manipulation. Hit the button if you must and keep on reading her smooth talk.  

  • Web Editor
    Posted: Mon, 12/03/2018 04:46 pm

    Please read our Website Policies. I'm reposting the “Rules of Engagement” here:

     

    The Rules of Engagement

    Though we may grow fond of you and your input in the comment threads, we will ban you if you break the rules, as many diehard rule-breakers have learned. Here are the rules in participating in the comment threads on this site:

    1. Do not engage in personal attacks.
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    3. If we perceive that a person is contacting us to point out every insignificant jot and tittle in order to get another person thrown off the site, we will count it against the persistent tattletale, so be sure a person has really attacked you.
    4. Do not contact us to say that someone attacked someone else. Let each person speak up for him- or herself if he or she perceives an attack.
    5. In terms of banning/not banning, we will take into account that person’s history of being naughty/nice.
    6. Recognize that within the comment threads on the site, many of us may have intrinsically irreconcilable ideological or theological differences. This does not necessarily make us haters, bigots, heretics, ignorant, etc. It means we subscribe to a different point of view. We are all thinking people, uniquely created by and for God.
    7. Post comments as if you were having an in-person chat in a very public place. That might mitigate some of our tendencies to be harsh with one another.
    8. We expect each of you to post comments with humility and respect.
  • West Coast Gramma's picture
    West Coast Gramma
    Posted: Tue, 12/04/2018 09:21 am

    News2me:

    I love this recent quotation from World Magazine editorial staff, "Recognize that within the comment threads on the site, many of us may have intrinsically irreconcilable ideological or theological differences. This does not necessarily make us haters, bigots, heretics, ignorant, etc. It means we subscribe to a different point of view. We are all thinking people, uniquely created by and for God." 

    I always thought reading and evaluating news from several different sources was a good thing. You don't think so?  I remember World Magazine published their own editorial before the 2016 presidential election. They wrote that their official position was non-support for Trump because of his womanizing remarks. Within that time frame, they introduced their editorial staff. Remarkably, they are not uniform in political persuasion. I believe some of them may even be democrats! Unfortuanately, a significant number of subscribers withdrew their financial support in response to World's political position. What a shame. Such a fine magazine.

    Why does it seem so apparently odd to you that a genuine Christian can also be politically "liberal" in certain areas? Do you think Jesus Christ was a Republican conservative protecting his neighborhood from being overrun by Samaritans? I believe that if we listen long enough to people of many different opinions, at some point, our minds open and we at least begin to understand their point of view. 

    As for my being a "smooth talker," I take that as a compliment. I think what you are saying is that I write well. Thank you very much! Actually, that's a real reason why I love subscribing to World. They allow amateur writers like myself an opportunity to practice my hobby and receive feedback from others, like you! 

    By the way, I voted for Bush, not Obama. But I certainly was in the front row cheering and clapping enthusiastically during his inaugural address, because I was so proud of my America for finally electing a black man as president. Oh, one more thing, I'm the only person I know who dislikes the movie, "Minions." I would never be one.

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Cyborg3
    Posted: Thu, 12/06/2018 03:35 am

    West Coast Gramma, did you watch the videos that I posted since you are so opened minded and like to hear different points of view? Why did it change your mind or not about the Mueller investigation?

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