- It’s been a busy week for news from the Russia investigations.
- The longtime GOP strategist Roger Stone, an informal adviser to President Donald Trump, was indicted on seven federal charges. Stone pleaded not guilty to all of them.
- Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen is also preparing to testify before three congressional committees before reporting to prison.
- Here are all the stories you may have missed.
The past week saw a number of huge developments in the Russia investigations.
Informal Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone was indicted on seven charges in the Russia probe and pleaded not guilty to all of them, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is gearing up to testify before three committees, and acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker dropped some cryptic hints about the timeline of the Russia investigation.
Here are all the stories you may have missed in the past week:
Roger Stone was indicted on seven charges—and pleaded not guilty to all of them
On Janaury 25, Stone was indicted on five counts of making false statements to investigators, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of witness tampering in the special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. He was arrested at his home early that day.
Stone pleaded not guilty to all seven counts in a Washington, DC, federal courthouse on Tuesday. Prosecutors allege that Stone lied about his communications with Randy Credico and Jerome Corsi, people the long-time GOP strategist says served as intermediaries between him and radical pro-transparency group Wikileaks.
They also accused him of attempting to intimidate Credico to prevent him from testifying to Congress and the FBI, and of making false statements to Congress.
Stone, who has known and worked with Trump on-and-off for nearly 40 years, briefly served as a communications strategist on the Trump campaign. He is the eighth US person affiliated with the Trump campaign or administration to be charged in the Mueller probe.
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said the Mueller investigation is “close to being completed.”
For months, media outlets have speculated when the notoriously secretive Mueller probe would end.
In a Monday press conference, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker became the first senior Justice Department official to offer a clue as to when the investigation would conclude.
“Right now the investigation is, I think, close to being completed,” Whitaker told reporters. “And, I hope that we can get the report from director Mueller as soon as possible.”
Some DOJ veterans said Whitaker’s seemingly off-the-cuff remark was inappropriate, since Mueller probe still has several loose ends to tie up. They also cautioned against taking Whitaker’s comment at face value, given recent media reports suggesting there are still several other shoes that will drop in the Russia probe.
Former Trump campaign officials Rick Gates and Michael Flynn are still cooperating with Mueller until at least March, Mueller is engaged in a legal battle with Paul Manafort over alleged breaches of his plea agreement, and a federal judge recently extended the DC grand jury reviewing evidence in the Mueller probe until the summer.
Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen is preparing to testify before three congressional committees before reporting to prison
Cohen is due to report for his three-year prison sentence on March 13, but not without appearing for three hearings on Capitol Hill.
Cohen originally agreed to publicly appear before the House Oversight Committee on February 7, but postponed his testimony due to safety concerns caused by alleged “ongoing threats” against his family by Trump.
CNN reported Monday, however, that lawyers for Cohen are “in discussions” for him to provide his previously agreed-upon public testimony if his safety can be guaranteed.
Cohen is also expected to testify before the House and Senate intelligence committees in closed-door sessions on February 8 and February 12, respectively.
In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to tax fraud, bank fraud, and campaign-finance violations in the Southern District of New York. The violations were related to payments to buy the silence of two women, Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels, who say they had affairs with Trump.
Federal prosecutors said in their sentencing memo for Cohen that he made the payments “in coordination with and at the direction of” an individual widely believed to be Trump, making him an unindicted co-conspirator in the case.
On November 30, Cohen struck a deal to plead guilty to one count of lying to Congress in exchange for cooperating with Mueller. He admitted to lying to lawmakers about the Trump Tower Moscow deal, and people close to him have said he intends to set the record straight during his closed-door testimony before the congressional intelligence committees this month.
Mueller’s office said it was the target of an ultimately unsuccessful Russian disinformation campaign
In a court filing Wednesday, prosecutors alleged that the Russian firm Concord Management had altered and released around 1,000 “nonsensitive” documents handed over to the company as part of the discovery phase in the special counsel’s ongoing case against the firm.
Prosecutors alleged that the documents were released across social media as part of a “disinformation campaign aimed (apparently) at discrediting ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the U.S. political system.”
The special counsel indicted Concord Management, owned by Russian oligarch and Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, with spending millions of dollars on a widespread social media disinformation to interfere in the 2016 election and boost the Trump campaign.
Congressional investigators reportedly found that Trump did not call his son, Donald Trump Jr., from a blocked number shortly before the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting
The Senate Intelligence Committee has obtained records showing that two phone calls Donald Trump Jr. received from a blocked number shortly before he met with Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton in June 2016 were not from his father, CNN reported Thursday.
Congressional investigators have zeroed in on the mysterious phone calls to determine whether Trump, then the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, had advance knowledge that Trump Jr. and other senior campaign officials planned to meet with the Russians offering incriminating information on Clinton.
ABC News and the New York Times later reported that the blocked calls were from two of Trump Jr.’s long-time business associates-Brian France, the CEO of NASCAR, and real estate developer Howard Lorber.
“Just out: The big deal, very mysterious Don jr telephone calls, after the innocent Trump Tower meeting, that the media & Dems said were made to his father (me), were just conclusively found NOT to be made to me,” Trump tweeted Thursday. “They were made to friends & business associates of Don. Really sad!”
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