Mueller Has Enough Evidence to Bring Charges in Flynn Investigation

Michael Flynn

Federal investigators have gathered enough evidence to bring charges in their investigation of President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser and his son as part of the probe into Russia’s intervention in the 2016 election, according to multiple sources familiar with the investigation.

Michael T. Flynn, who was fired after just 24 days on the job, was one of the first Trump associates to come under scrutiny in the federal probe now led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

Mueller is applying renewed pressure on Flynn following his indictment of Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, three sources familiar with the investigation told NBC News.

a group of people standing next to a man in a suit and tie: Image: Michael G. Flynn during at an RT event with his father Ret. Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn in Moscow in 2015

The investigators are speaking to multiple witnesses in coming days to gain more information surrounding Flynn’s lobbying work, including whether he laundered money or lied to federal agents about his overseas contacts, according to three sources familiar with the investigation.

Mueller’s team is also examining whether Flynn attempted to orchestrate the removal of a chief rival of Turkish President Recep Erdogan from the U.S. to Turkey in exchange for millions of dollars, two officials said.

A spokesperson for the special counsel had no comment.

Related: Mike Flynn’s Son Is Subject of Federal Russia Investigation

Flynn’s son, Michael G. Flynn, who worked closely with his father, accompanied him during the campaign and briefly worked on the presidential transition, could be indicted separately or at the same time as his father, according to three sources familiar with the investigation.

If the elder Flynn is willing to cooperate with investigators in order to help his son, two of the sources said, it could also change his own fate, potentially limiting any legal consequences.

The pressure on Flynn is the latest signal that Mueller is moving at a rapid, and steady, pace in his investigation. Last week, investigators unsealed indictments of Manafort and Manafort’s business partner Rick Gates. They pleaded not guilty.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Image: Michael G. Flynn during at an RT event with his father Ret. Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn in Moscow in 2015

Investigators also revealed Monday that former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos had pleaded guilty to lying to federal officials and had been cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.

If the senior Flynn is charged, he would be the first current or former Trump administration official formally accused of criminal wrongdoing by the Mueller team.

So far, the probe has only ensnared campaign officials, and the White House has argued that the connection to the president is minimal. An indictment of the president’s former national security adviser and his son would scramble that dynamic.

Related: Flynn, Manafort Are Key Figures in Mueller’s Russia Probe

A former senior law enforcement official said that in the weeks after Trump’s inauguration the FBI was asked to conduct a new review of Turkey’s 2016 request to extradite Fethullah Gulen, an elderly Muslim cleric living in the U.S. whom President Erdogan blames for orchestrating a coup to overthrow him.

The FBI pushed back on the request because Turkey had supplied no additional information that could incriminate Gulen since a review of the case during the Obama administration, the official said. It is unclear whether the request to investigate Gulen came from Flynn or through the typical diplomatic channels at the State Department.

Fethullah Gulen wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Image: Fethullah Gulen

The FBI is also investigating former CIA Director Jim Woolsey’s account to the Wall Street Journal — which he confirmed to MSNBC — that Flynn and Turkish officials discussed a potential plan to forcibly remove Gulen from the country in September 2016, according to sources close to Woolsey, who say the former director has spoken to FBI agents working for Mueller about the matter.

Flynn was fired in February following public revelations that he had lied to Vice President Pence about his dealings with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.

Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, declined to comment.

The younger Flynn’s lawyer, Barry Coburn, declined to comment.

Father and Son

Both Flynns have for months been subjects of the Mueller investigation.

The elder Flynn, an Army lieutenant general, was pushed out as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014 and retired from the military. He then founded a lobbying firm, Flynn Intel Group, where his son worked closely with him. The younger Flynn was involved in the daily operations of his father’s firm and functioned as his chief of staff. He often attended meetings with his father and would communicate with prospective clients.

The elder Flynn was paid $530,000 last year for work the Justice Department says benefited the government of Turkey. The elder Flynn did not register as a foreign lobbyist at the time, but did so retroactively this year. The issue has been part of Mueller’s probe.

Robert Mueller wearing a suit and tie: Image: Robert Mueller

His lawyer later said Flynn didn’t need to register because his client was a Turkish businessman and not a government official, but had opted to do so retroactively.

According to Flynn’s Justice Department filing, the Flynn Intel Group was hired to gather information about Gulen, and to produce a short film about its findings.

During the contract, which ended the day after Trump won the election, Flynn had at least one meeting, in September 2016, with Turkish officials, according to officials. Woolsey says that it included a discussion about kidnapping Gulen and flying him to Turkey.

Flynn also was paid some $35,000 in 2015 by Russian state television for a speech in Moscow at a gala where he sat next to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The younger Flynn accompanied him on that trip. The trip raised concerns among federal officials.

NBC News has reported that others under scrutiny by Mueller include Carter Page, a Trump campaign ally; Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser; and the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr. They have denied any collusion with Russia.

President Trump has denied any collusion with Russia during the campaign and has called the investigation a politically motivated witch hunt.

Kelner has declined to comment when asked if Flynn denies colluding with the Russian election interference effort.

Turkey has long demanded the U.S. extradite tGulen, saying he is considered a terrorist. Erdogan forcefully renewed that request after the attempted coup against him in July 2016. U.S. officials have said the Justice Department has not found sufficient evidence linking Gulen to the coup attempt despite the boxes of documents Turkey has submitted to the U.S. that Ankara says back up its claim.

Extradition requests are processed through the U.S. justice system and are not determined by the White House or other agencies.

Any quid-pro-quo deal such as the alleged agreement between Flynn and Turkey would be illegal, officials said.

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Robert Mueller’s Office Will Serve First Indictment Monday

Robert Mueller, a former FBI director, was appointed in May as special counsel.

A federal grand jury in Washington has approved the first criminal charges in the special counsel’s investigation into Russian election interference, two sources told NBC News, marking a significant milestone in an inquiry that has roiled Donald Trump’s presidency.

Billionaire Democratic mega donor launches Trump impeachment campaign

Robert Mueller’s Office of the Special Counsel will make public an indictment on Monday, a U.S. official with firsthand knowledge of the process confirmed to NBC News, without disclosing the name of the target or the nature of the charges. The timing was confirmed by a second source familiar with the matter. CNN was the first to report on Friday that the grand jury approved charges, citing multiple sources.

The network added that the charges remain sealed by order of a federal judge. Peter Carr, a spokesperson for Mueller, declined to comment Friday night.

Mueller, a former FBI director, was appointed in May as special counsel to oversee the investigation into alleged Russian interference in the election. Former FBI Director James Comey testified to Congress that the FBI began investigating the matter in July 2016, but the investigation picked up steam after Trump took office in January.

The House and Senate intelligence committees are conducting separate investigations. Mueller was appointed by Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein after Trump fired Comey in May. Rosenstein made the decision to appoint Mueller because Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recused himself from any probe in the Russia investigation.

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn have been said to be key figures in Mueller’s probe, law enforcement sources familiar with the matter have told NBC News in the past. NBC News has reported that White House adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner has come under scrutiny in the probe, as has Michael G. Flynn, the son of the former national security adviser.

Mueller has also been investigating whether Trump obstructed justice when he asked Comey to drop the Flynn investigation and then fired him in May. Representatives for Flynn and Manafort did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday night.

Related: Mueller Now Investigating Democratic Lobbyist Tony Podesta

Congressional investigations into alleged Russian involvement in the presidential election are also underway.

“Sealing is fairly common at the stage when you have an indictment that is issued or approved, as it may have been today,” former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said on MSNBC Friday. “And the reason is that law enforcement kind of wants its ducks in a row before they go out and arrest the defendant or even notify him — it may be that they don’t arrest whoever this defendant is because they’ve worked out a relationship with his or her defense attorney to bring them in to appear on the case,” she said.

Trump has repeatedly denied that any collusion with Russia took place and has called the Russia probe a “witch hunt.”

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Trump says claims of sexual assault ‘fake news’

President Donald Trump speaks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the Rose Garden at the White House, Monday, Oct. 16, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump is calling allegations of sexual assault made against him over the years “fake news.”

Trump is responding during a freewheeling Rose Garden press conference Monday to a question about a subpoena reportedly issued to his campaign for documents related to sexual harassment allegations against him.

Trump says: “All I can say is it’s totally fake news — just fake. It’s fake, it’s made-up stuff. And it’s disgraceful what happens.”

Trump adds that: “That happens in the world of politics.”

The question came in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment and assault against

President Donald Trump crossed a line last week and finally “went rogue,” said Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). She blasted him for taking a blowtorch to health care, equal protection for women and the Iran nuclear deal.

“This week, the week of Friday the 13th, is the week that President Trump went rogue,” Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, said in an interview Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “He went rogue on women’s health in particular, the Affordable Care Act, the Iran decision that he made. And  he continues his war on the middle class with his unfair tax plan.”

Hollywood titan Harvey Weinstein that spanned decades. Weinstein has been fired by the film production company he helped create.

On Thursday, Trump announced he was ending federal subsidies to insurers serving the lowest-income Americans on Obamacare insurance exchanges. Almost 6 million people qualified for the subsidies when they enrolled this year, according to government data. Trump also weakened requirements that insurance plans cover pre-existing conditions and essentials like maternity care, and opened the door for insurance companies to sell plans across state lines. The changes are likely to roil the market with major impacts on costs and benefits.

“It’s going to hurt kids. It’s going to hurt families. It’s going to hurt individuals. It’s going to hurt people with mental health issues. It’s going to hurt veterans,” said Pelosi. “It’s going to hurt everybody.”

 

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Bannon said Trump has 30% chance of completing full term

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has privately confided that he believes President Donald Trump only has a 30% chance of completing his full term, a source told Vanity Fair.

According to two of Vanity Fair’s sources with knowledge of the conversation, Bannon warned Trump several months ago that the biggest threat to his presidency is not impeachment by Congress, but the 25th Amendment — which could allow his Cabinet to vote to remove him.

CNN has been unable to independently confirm these reported conversations. Bannon could not be reached for comment.

The 25th Amendment to the Constitution is a measure that establishes a system for replacing the president or vice president in case there is a death, removal, resignation or incapacitation.

Also, if the vice president “and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide” make a “written declaration that the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the vice president shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as acting president.”

The 25th Amendment was adopted following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

According to the two sources who spoke to Vanity Fair, when Bannon raised the 25th Amendment as a concern, Trump responded by asking, “What’s that?”

Bannon was fired from the White House in August.

The report comes amid a public feud between Trump and Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, who is retiring from Congress after 2018. The two have gone back and forth via Twitter, and Corker told The New York Times that he thinks Trump could take the US “on the path to World War III.”

what you think about what Steve Bannon said ? He may rigth

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Trump questioning having family as staff

Trump questioning having family as staff: reportstaff:President Trump is privately questioning whether having his family members serve in the White House creates too much of a distraction for his administration, according to a new report.

Politico reported on Friday that Trump has been quietly talking to other administration officials as he reconsiders the roles of White House advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.

“Baby, you’re getting killed, this is a bad deal,” Trump reportedly told Ivanka Trump in a room with other staffers after viewing criticism of his daughter’s role in the administration.

Trump makes false claims about US nuclear arsenal

Ivanka Trump faced heavy criticism during last July’s G20 summit when she briefly sat in for her father at a meeting with world leaders. Trump defended his daughter on Twitter at the time, arguing that the same standard would not exist for Hillary Clinton’s daughter Chelsea Clinton.

“When I left Conference Room for short meetings with Japan and other countries, I asked Ivanka to hold seat. Very standard. Angela M agrees!” Trump tweeted in July. “If Chelsea Clinton were asked to hold the seat for her mother, as her mother gave our country away, the Fake News would say CHELSEA FOR PRES!”

Kushner, however, is embroiled in a different controversy. The senior White House aide is part of a special counsel investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia over a meeting he attended at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer who promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton.

Although Politico reported that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has been frustrated with Kushner’s role at the White House, Kelly responded to the story in a statement to Politico, saying, “Jared is a valued member of the White House staff.”

White House lawyers advised Trump to have Kushner step down earlier in the summer over the probe, fearing possible legal complications. The legal team even went as far as to draft a statement explaining his departure, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The statement, which would have been issued by Kushner, blamed a toxic political environment for turning Kushner’s meeting with the lawyer into an attack on Trump.

 

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Mueller Has Early Draft of Trump Letter Giving Reasons for Firing Comey

James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in May, less than a week before he was fired by President Trump.

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has obtained a letter drafted by President Trump and a top political aide that offered an unvarnished view of Mr. Trump’s thinking in the days before the president fired the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey.

The circumstances and reasons for the firing are believed to be a significant element of Mr. Mueller’s investigation, which includes whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice by firing Mr. Comey.

The letter, drafted in May, was met with opposition from Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, who believed that its angry, meandering tone was problematic, according to interviews with a dozen administration officials and others briefed on the matter. Among Mr. McGahn’s concerns were references to private conversations the president had with Mr. Comey, including times when the F.B.I. director told Mr. Trump he was not under investigation in the F.B.I.’s continuing Russia inquiry.

Mr. McGahn successfully blocked the president from sending the letter — which Mr. Trump had composed with Stephen Miller, one of the president’s top political advisers — to Mr. Comey. But a copy was given to the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, who then drafted his own letter. Mr. Rosenstein’s letter was ultimately used as the Trump administration’s public rationale for Mr. Comey’s firing, which was that Mr. Comey had mishandled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

Mr. Rosenstein is overseeing Mr. Mueller’s investigation into Russian efforts to disrupt last year’s presidential election, as well as whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice.

Mr. McGahn’s concerns about Mr. Trump’s letter show how much he realized that the president’s rationale for firing Mr. Comey might not hold up to scrutiny, and how he and other administration officials sought to build a more defensible public case for his ouster.

Ty Cobb, a White House lawyer, declined on Friday to discuss the letter or its contents. “To the extent the special prosecutor is interested in these matters, we will be fully transparent with him,” he said.

Mr. Trump and his aides gave multiple justifications for Mr. Comey’s dismissal in the days after he was fired. The first rationale was that the F.B.I. director had mishandled the Clinton email case. Another was that Mr. Comey had lost the confidence of the F.B.I. During an Oval Office meeting with Russian officials, Mr. Trump went so far as to call Mr. Comey a “nut job” and said that firing him lifted pressure off the White House.

The New York Times has not seen a copy of Mr. Trump’s letter — which was drafted at the urging of Mr. Trump during a pivotal weekend in May at the president’s private golf club in Bedminster, N. J. — and it is unclear how much of the letter’s rationale focuses on the Russia investigation. The Justice Department turned over a copy of the letter to Mr. Mueller in recent weeks.

Stephen Miller, one of Mr. Trump’s top advisors, helped the president draft a letter explaining the rationale for firing Mr. Comey.The long Bedminster weekend began late Thursday, May 4, when Mr. Trump arrived by helicopter, joined by a trio of advisers — his daughter Ivanka; his son-in-law Jared Kushner; and Mr. Miller. It rained during part of the weekend, forcing Mr. Trump to cancel golf with Greg Norman, the Australian golfer. Instead, Mr. Trump stewed indoors, worrying about Mr. Comey and the Russia investigation.

The inquiry had already consumed the early months of his administration. Mr. Trump was angry that Mr. Comey had privately told him three times that he was not under investigation, yet would not clear his name publicly. Mr. Comey later confirmed in testimony to Congress in June that he had told the president that he was not under investigation, but said he did not make it public because the situation might change.

Mr. Miller and Mr. Kushner both told the president that weekend that they were in favor of firing Mr. Comey.

Mr. Trump ordered Mr. Miller to draft a letter, and dictated his unfettered thoughts. Several people who saw Mr. Miller’s multi-page draft described it as a “screed.”

Mr. Trump was back in Washington on Monday, May 8, when copies of the letter were handed out in the Oval Office to senior officials, including Mr. McGahn and Vice President Mike Pence. Mr. Trump announced that he had decided to fire Mr. Comey, and read aloud from Mr. Miller’s memo.

Some present at the meeting, including Mr. McGahn, were alarmed that the president had decided to fire the F.B.I. director after consulting only Ms. Trump, Mr. Kushner and Mr. Miller. Mr. McGahn began an effort to stop the letter or at least pare it back.

Later that day, Mr. McGahn gave Mr. Miller a marked-up copy of the letter, highlighting several sections that he believed needed to be removed.

Mr. McGahn met again that same day with Mr. Trump and told him that if he fired Mr. Comey, the Russia investigation would not go away. Mr. Trump told him, according to senior administration officials, that he understood that firing the F.B.I. director might extend the Russia investigation, but that he wanted to do it anyway.

Mr. McGahn arranged for the president to meet in the Oval Office that day with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Mr. Rosenstein, whom he knew had been pursuing separate efforts to fire Mr. Comey. The two men were particularly angry about testimony Mr. Comey had given to the Senate Judiciary Committee the previous week, when he said “it makes me mildly nauseous” to think his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation might have had an impact on the 2016 election.

Mr. Comey’s conduct during the hearing added to concerns of Mr. Sessions and Mr. Rosenstein that the F.B.I. director had botched the rollout of the Clinton investigation and had overstepped the boundaries of his job. Shortly after that hearing, Mr. Rosenstein expressed his concerns about Mr. Comey to a White House lawyer, who relayed details of the conversation to his bosses at the White House.

During the May 8 Oval Office meeting with Mr. Trump, Mr. Rosenstein was given a copy of the original letter and agreed to write a separate memo for Mr. Trump about why Mr. Comey should be fired.

Mr. Rosenstein’s memo arrived at the White House the next day. The lengthy diatribe Mr. Miller had written had been replaced by a simpler rationale — that Mr. Comey should be dismissed because of his handling of the Clinton email investigation. Unlike Mr. Trump’s letter, it made no mention of the times Mr. Comey had told the president he was not under investigation.

Mr. Rosenstein’s memo became the foundation for the terse termination letter that Mr. Trump had an aide attempt to deliver late on the afternoon of May 9 to F.B.I. headquarters in Washington. The White House made one significant revision, adding a point that was personally important to Mr. Trump: “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau,” the letter said.

Mr. Comey, however, was not in Washington to receive it. He was speaking to F.B.I. employees in Los Angeles when he looked up at a television screen in the back of the room and saw a breaking news alert that he had been fired.

An aide pulled Mr. Comey aside to tell him that he needed to call headquarters in Washington. Mr. Comey entered a small room, picked up the phone and learned that he had lost his job.

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Paul Ryan, John McCain break with Trump on Arpaio pardon

 

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan opposes President Trump’s pardoning of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, an aide said Saturday, joining Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain in criticizing the decision.

“The speaker does not agree with this decision,” said Doug Andres, a spokesman for Ryan. “Law enforcement officials have a special responsibility to respect the rights of everyone in the United States. We should not allow anyone to believe that responsibility is diminished by this pardon.”

Trump on Friday spared Arpaio, from the Phoenix area, the prospect of serving jail time in granting the first presidential pardon of his turbulent tenure, wiping away the lawman’s recent federal conviction stemming from his immigration patrols that focused on Latinos.

“The president has the authority to make this pardon, but doing so at this time undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law as Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for his actions,” McCain said after the Friday pardon announcement.

The pardon has received support from other Arizona Republicans, including Rep. Trent Franks, who said the ex-lawman is a “patriot.”

“In his last days, (President) Obama commuted the prison sentence of Chelsea Manning — a treasonous intelligence analyst who shared a trove of intelligence with the infamous Wikileaks,” Franks, R-Ariz., said Saturday in a statement to Fox News.

“While no one can dispute Manning acted to undermine our country’s national security, Joe Arpaio has spent a lifetime trying to maintain it. … It is easy to discern that Arpaio is a patriot, while Manning is a traitor.”

Beyond McCain and Ryan, top congressional Republicans — including frequent Trump target Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky — have yet to issue public statements on the pardoning.

However, top congressional Democrats seized on the pardoning in their continuing efforts to throttle Trump’s presidency and lay ground work for the 2018 congressional races and the 2020 White House contest.

“We’re sick to our stomach. Donald Trump just pardoned Joe Arpaio,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a fundraising letter Saturday.

Anne Kirkpatrick, a former prosecutor trying to unseat Arizona GOP Rep. Martha McSally, late Friday night said Arpaio instituted “racist” police policies and attacked Republicans for not opposing the pardon.

“Those who remain silent are complicit,” the Arizona Democrat said in a fundraising letter.

The White House said Friday that the 85-year-old Arpaio was a “worthy candidate” for the pardon, citing his “life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration.”

Trump granted the pardon less than a month after a judge found Arpaio — the sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County until losing re-election last year — guilty of a misdemeanor contempt-of-court charge in a trial that was prosecuted by the president’s own Justice Department.

“Pardoning Joe Arpaio is a slap in the face to the people of Maricopa County, especially the Latino community and those he victimized as he systematically and illegally violated their civil rights,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, a Democrat.

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey said Arpaio should be given credit for his crime-fighting efforts and allowed to “move on” and enjoy his retirement.

Arpaio earned a national reputation by taking aggressive action to arrest immigrants in the country illegally. But years of legal issues and related costs took a toll on his political power at home, and he was handily defeated by a Democrat in the 2016 election.

Arpaio defied court orders that he stop the patrols.

Trump issued the pardon seven months after taking office, though it is not unprecedented for a president to issue a pardon in their first year in office.

George H. W. Bush granted clemency after seven months in office, said Jeffrey Crouch, a professor of politics at American University who wrote a book on presidential pardons.

President Bill Clinton ignited a major controversy on his final day in office with a last-minute pardon for fugitive financier Marc Rich, the ex-husband of a major Democratic fundraiser.

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Al Gore Has One Word for President Trump: ‘Resign’

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore is shown at the premiere of his new climate-change film, "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power," in London on Aug. 10.

Former vice president and climate change warrior Al Gore has a single word for Donald Trump in the wake of the president’s bungled attempt to unite Americans after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville turned violent last weekend.

When asked by Britain’s Lad Bible to give Trump one piece of advice on Thursday, Gore said: “Resign.”

He did not elaborate on why he thought the president should step down, but a number of bipartisan political figures — including members of the Republican leadership — have strongly criticized Trump’s response to the neo-Nazi rally.

Gore has been promoting his new film — An Inconvenient Sequel, a companion to his 2006 climate change awareness film “An Inconvenient Truth” — in the United Kingdom. He spoke with Newsweek last week in an interview before the Charlottesville rally.

Gore is the most prominent political figure to call for Trump’s resignation. After losing the 2000 election to George W. Bush, the former vice president has devoted his life to activism on climate change.

On Wednesday, Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter of Trump’s 1987 book, The Art of the Dealsaid thathe believes that Trump will resign soon in an effort to save face before the completion of the Russia investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.

The president has also faced scathing criticisms this week from corporate America, civil rights groups, and a bipartisan band of politicians for his attitude toward neo-Nazis and white supremacists, whom he equated with being on par with counterprotesters in Charlottesville who opposed them.

“Trump’s presidency is effectively over. Would be amazed if he survives till end of the year. More likely resigns by fall, if not sooner,” the author tweeted.

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Trump makes false claims about US nuclear arsenal

KOREAN PENINSULA, SOUTH KOREA - JULY 08: In this handout photo released by the South Korean Defense Ministry, A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber (top) fly with South Korean jets over the Korean Peninsula during a South Korea-U.S. joint live fire drill on July 8, 2017 in Korean Peninsula, South Korea.

Hours after warning North Korea that it will meet “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if its leader, Kim Jong Un, continued to provoke the United States, President Donald Trump said the U.S. nuclear arsenal is “stronger than ever before.”

“My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before,” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.

 

He did not order the modernization of the nuclear arsenal. President Barack Obama did that in 2014, despite calling for a “vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons” just five years earlier.

The plan, expected to cost $400 billion through 2024, would upgrade nuclear weapon production facilities, refurbish warheads and build new submarines, bombers and ground-based missiles. It will likely cost more than $1 trillion over the next 30 years, according to outside estimates.

Because the sprawling nuclear enterprise will take so long to rebuild, the arsenal is more or less at the same level of strength than when Trump took office seven months ago.

Trump did launch a top-to-bottom Nuclear Posture Review to determine what the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. security strategy should be, just like each of his recent predecessors did when they took office.

The review has not yet been completed, and it wasn’t Trump’s first order. The directive was issued a week after Trump took office, and was preceded by more than a dozen orders on other topics.

The U.S. nuclear weapons strategy rests on a triad of delivery systems — bombers, submarines and land-based missiles — developed early in the Cold War. The three legs of the triad were designed to ensure that even in a massive surprise attack, at least one leg would survive to deliver a retaliatory strike.

In addition to the review of the nuclear force, the White House has also proposed a $1.4 billion budget increase for the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees the nuclear weapons enterprise. That money has yet to be allocated.

It’s unclear what Trump meant when he said that the nuclear arsenal is stronger than before. The Los Angeles Times/Tribune Washington Bureau has written at length on the deteriorating state of various aspects of the nuclear enterprise.

In addition, the U.S. military is limited in how many weapons can be deployed under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty signed in 2010. That agreement requires Russia and the U.S. to reduce deployed intercontinental missiles to 700 and the overall number of warheads to 1,550, each by 2018.

Russia and the U.S. currently meet those limits, according to the latest data released by the State Department.

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Mueller Is Said to Be in Talks With White House About Interviewing Officials

Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in last year’s election, visited Capitol Hill in June.

In a sign that the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election will remain a continuing distraction for the White House, the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, is in talks with the West Wing about interviewing current and former senior administration officials, including the recently ousted White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, according to three people briefed on the discussions.

Mr. Mueller has asked the White House about specific meetings, who attended them and whether there are any notes, transcripts or documents about them, two of the people said. Among the matters Mr. Mueller wants to ask the officials about is President Trump’s decision in May to fire the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, the two people said.

That line of questioning will be important as Mr. Mueller continues to investigate whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice in the dismissal of Mr. Comey.

Legal Expert Says Trump’s Texts to Mueller Could Be Construed as Intimidation

No interviews have been scheduled, but in recent weeks Mr. Mueller’s investigation has appeared to intensify. Late last month, he took the aggressive step of executing a search warrant at the home of Paul J. Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, in Alexandria, Va. Legal experts say Mr. Mueller may be trying to put pressure on Mr. Manafort to cooperate with the investigation.

Although it has been clear for months that Mr. Mueller would interview Mr. Trump’s closest advisers, Mr. Mueller’s recent inquiries come as Mr. Trump is heading into the fall pushing his priorities in Congress, including a tax overhaul, with the constant distraction of a federal investigation.

Ty Cobb, a special counsel to the president, declined to comment, saying only that the White House would “continue to fully cooperate” with Mr. Mueller’s inquiry. He has frequently said that the White House will cooperate with Mr. Mueller’s investigation and that he hopes it will be completed quickly. Mr. Priebus did not return messages seeking comment.

Mr. Mueller has expressed interest in speaking with other administration officials, including members of the communications team. But Mr. Trump’s allies are particularly concerned about Mr. Mueller’s interest in talking to Mr. Priebus, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee who worked closely with Mr. Trump during the presidential campaign. Mr. Trump’s confidants at the White House say Mr. Trump was never fully convinced that Mr. Priebus would be loyal to him.

Shortly after the November election, Mr. Priebus was made chief of staff, and he was involved in the major decisions the president made during the transition and in the first six months of the administration. Mr. Priebus made a point of being in most meetings and tried to be aware of what the president was doing. Mr. Trump fired him last month.

Mr. Priebus can potentially answer many questions Mr. Mueller has about what occurred during the campaign and in the White House. Mr. Priebus appears on the calendar of Mr. Manafort on the same day in June 2016 that Mr. Manafort and other campaign officials — including Mr. Trump’s eldest son and son-in-law — attended a meeting with Russians who claimed to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton, according to two people briefed on the matter. It is not clear whether Mr. Priebus and Mr. Manafort did meet that day.

According to a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation, Mr. Comey met with Mr. Priebus at the White House on Feb. 8 — a week before Mr. Comey said Mr. Trump cornered him in the Oval Office and asked him to end an investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn. In Mr. Comey’s meeting with Mr. Priebus, Mr. Comey told Mr. Priebus about a Justice Department policy that largely bars discussions between White House officials and the F.B.I. about continuing investigations in order to prevent political meddling — or at least the appearance of it — in the bureau’s work, according to the law enforcement official.

It is not clear whether Mr. Priebus ever relayed that message to the president. Mr. Trump’s Republican allies — including the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan — have said Mr. Trump may have asked Mr. Comey to end the investigation because he was a new president who did not understand the subtleties of how the commander in chief should interact with the F.B.I.

Mr. Priebus may also be able to help prosecutors verify crucial details about Mr. Trump’s interactions with Mr. Comey. According to testimony Mr. Comey provided to Congress, Mr. Priebus knows that Mr. Comey had the one-on-one encounter with Mr. Trump on Feb. 14, when Mr. Comey has said Mr. Trump asked him to end the Flynn investigation. Mr. Trump has said that the meeting did not occur and that he did not ask Mr. Comey to end the inquiry.

Mr. Comey said in his testimony to Congress that on Feb. 14, Mr. Trump had Mr. Priebus, the attorney general, the vice president and other senior administration officials removed from the Oval Office after a counterterrorism briefing.

“The president began by saying Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong in speaking with the Russians, but he had to let him go because he had misled the vice president,” Mr. Comey said.

“The president then made a long series of comments about the problem with leaks of classified information — a concern I shared and still share. After he had spoken for a few minutes about leaks, Reince Priebus leaned in through the door by the grandfather clock and I could see a group of people waiting behind him. The president waved at him to close the door, saying he would be done shortly. The door closed.”

Right after the door closed, Mr. Comey said, Mr. Trump asked him to end the Flynn investigation.

Mr. Trump and his lawyers have tried to cast the search warrant on Mr. Manafort as an unusual measure and an abuse of power. The president said he was surprised to learn about the search, saying it was something federal authorities “very seldom” do. John Dowd, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, said the search was similar to tactics used in Russia.

“The search warrant here was obtained by a gross abuse of the judicial process by the special counsel’s office,” Mr. Dowd told The Wall Street Journal in an email. “In addition, given the obvious unlawful deficiencies, this extraordinary invasive tool was employed for its shock value to try to intimidate Mr. Manafort.”

He added, “These methods are normally found and employed in Russia not America.”

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