Trump casts doubt on Russian election meddling ahead of Putin summit

President Donald Trump continues to cast doubt on US intelligence assessments that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential contest, just as his aides announced details of his upcoming summit talks with President Vladimir Putin.

“Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!” Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday morning. He went on to question why US law enforcement agencies weren’t investigating other perceived influences on the election, which he has repeatedly said was rigged for his opponent Hillary Clinton.

“Where is the DNC Server, and why didn’t Shady James Comey and the now disgraced FBI agents take and closely examine it? Why isn’t Hillary/Russia being looked at? So many questions, so much corruption!” he wrote.

The President’s tweet was sent roughly a half hour before the White House announced the two leaders will meet on July 16 in Helsinki, Finland, where they will “discuss relations between the United States and Russia and a range of national security issues.”

Trump’s summit with Putin is likely to draw criticism from the US President’s domestic critics, who accuse him of currying favor with Putin, and jitter US allies, who fear Trump will take a less hawkish position with Russia on issues like the annexation of Crimea and military exercises near the Russian border in eastern Europe.

The summit takes place four days after a NATO meeting in Brussels, where Trump will meet leaders of US military allies. NATO members were worried that if the summit with Putin had taken place earlier, Trump might have agreed to something with the Russian leader that they would have been forced to go along with.

[CNN]

Trump calls Russia probe ‘unconstitutional’

President Donald Trump is calling the special counsel Russia probe “totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!”

Trump tweets on Monday: “The appointment of the Special Councel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL! Despite that, we play the game because I, unlike the Democrats, have done nothing wrong!”

Trump’s team has sought to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling into the 2016 election.

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani recently said the probe may need to be curtailed because, in his estimation, it was based on inappropriately obtained information from an informant and former FBI Director James Comey’s memos.

The FBI began a counterintelligence investigation in July 2016 to determine whether Trump campaign associates coordinated with Russia to tip the election. The investigation was opened after the emails were hacked from Democratic officials’ accounts and published; intelligence officials later formally attributed the breach to Russia.

[PBS]

Trump blasts Robert Mueller’s spending on Russia probe

President Donald Trump is reacting to a report on special counsel Robert Mueller’s spending, slightly overstating the figure for the Russia probe he has dismissed as a ‘witch hunt.’

Trump tweets Friday: “A.P. has just reported that the Russian Hoax Investigation has now cost our government over $17 million, and going up fast.”

He adds: “No Collusion, except by the Democrats!”

A Thursday report by the Justice Department revealed that Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 campaign cost $10 million between October and March. That’s on top of the $6.7 million spent on the probe the previous four months.

The Justice Department says a large portion of the costs, about $9 million, would have been spent regardless of the special counsel’s appointment.

[PBS]

Reality

Government waste? That’s quaint. Trump has spent $67 million dollars alone on his weekly golf trips to resorts he still owns, operates, promotes, and receives profits from.

The Special Council investigation into Bill Clinton cost $80 million in 1999 dollars.

Trump says, without proof, that Mueller team will meddle in midterm elections

President Donald Trump alleged Tuesday — without providing any evidence — that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation will meddle in the midterm elections to benefit Democrats.

Trump’s claim is his latest attack on the credibility of the Russia investigation as being politically motivated, though it’s a significant new step in his attacks on what is intended to be an independent probe working to get to the bottom of Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.

“The 13 Angry Democrats (plus people who worked 8 years for Obama) working on the rigged Russia Witch Hunt, will be MEDDLING with the mid-term elections, especially now that Republicans (stay tough!) are taking the lead in Polls,” Trump tweeted. “There was no Collusion, except by the Democrats!”

Trump’s use of the word “rigged” invokes a line he frequently employed in 2016 — often when he was trailing Hillary Clinton in the polls — to raise doubts about the election outcome. At the time, he appeared to be suggesting that the election would be out of the hands of voters.

Although CNN has reported that several members of Mueller’s team have donated to Democrats, Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election has also been the subject of several Republican-led congressional inquiries. Mueller is a Republican who was appointed as FBI director by President George W. Bush, and the man who appointed him as special counsel, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, was appointed by Trump and is also a registered Republican.

Tuesday’s conspiracy theory was accompanied by a barrage of Trump tweets on the Russia probe, which repeated his previous requests for investigations into his political enemies.

“Why aren’t the 13 Angry and heavily conflicted Democrats investigating the totally Crooked Campaign of totally Crooked Hillary Clinton. It’s a Rigged Witch Hunt, that’s why! Ask them if they enjoyed her after election celebration,” Trump tweeted.

Another tweet read: “Sorry, I’ve got to start focusing my energy on North Korea Nuclear, bad Trade Deals, VA Choice, the Economy, rebuilding the Military, and so much more, and not on the Rigged Russia Witch Hunt that should be investigating Clinton/Russia/FBI/(Department of) Justice/(President Barack) Obama/(former FBI Director James) Comey/(Former Attorney General Loretta) Lynch etc.”

In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani called the Mueller probe “illegitimate” and acknowledged that a political strategy to discredit the investigation was part of an effort to sway public opinion to Trump’s side in case he faces impeachment.

“They are giving us the material to do it,” Giuliani told CNN’s Dana Bash. “Of course, we have to do it in defending the President. We are defending — to a large extent, remember, Dana, we are defending here, it is for public opinion, because eventually the decision here is going to be impeach, not impeach.”

Trump himself has escalated his attacks on Mueller’s investigation in recent weeks. Last week, he demanded the Justice Department look into whether the Obama administration planted a “spy” in his campaign, although US officials have told CNN that the confidential source was not planted inside the campaign.

The Justice Department responded to Trump’s demand by asking its inspector general to look into the matter.

[CNN]

Trump lashes out at ’13 angry Democrats’

President Trump on Sunday lashed out on Twitter at special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation, referring to the “13 Angry Democrats” on the probe and writing that they should have been working to investigate Hillary Clinton controversies.

The Sunday tweet comes as the president has expressed anger and frustration about the FBI’s use of an informant in its investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. Trump and his allies have claimed the use of the informant was an act of politically motivated espionage.

“Why didn’t the 13 Angry Democrats investigate the campaign of Crooked Hillary Clinton, many crimes, much Collusion with Russia?” he tweeted. “Why didn’t the FBI take the Server from the DNC? Rigged Investigation!”

Trump has used the “13 angry Democrats” term to refer to people on Mueller’s probe who he believes are biased against him.

The president, most recently, sent a pair of tweets Saturday night lashing out at those members and casting doubt on Mueller’s investigation into reported ties between Trump’s campaign and Moscow.

“This whole Russia Probe is Rigged. Just an excuse as to why the Dems and Crooked Hillary lost the Election and States that haven’t been lost in decades. 13 Angry Democrats, and all Dems if you include the people who worked for Obama for 8 years. #SPYGATE & CONFLICTS OF INTEREST!” Trump wrote.

Mueller, a lifelong Republican, is in talks with Trump’s legal team to set up a potential interview with the president, which could lead to the investigation’s conclusion.

The use of the informant predated his appointment, though Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani on Sunday said it still “tainted” Mueller’s probe.

[The Hill]

Trump Rails Against ‘Failing and Crooked’ NY Times For ‘Boring’ Report on Gulf Prince Offering Campaign Assistance

President Donald Trump went on a Twitter tirade Sunday against a New York Times exposé revealing his son and other campaign officials met with a Gulf emissary who offered a hand in winning the 2016 election.

Trump blasted the report, calling the publication “Failing and Crooked,” while adding in a jab at Hillary Clinton. He contended that the report was merely “a long & boring story” showing Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation “has found nothing on Russia & me.”

But it didn’t stop there. Launching into one of his trademark tweetstorms, Trump railed against Mueller’s probe as being the work of a bunch of angry democrats, and suggested that they re-focus the investigation onto the Clinton emails.

The Times reported that during the meeting arranged by Erik Prince, the former head of Blackwater, Donald Trump Jr. was assured by emissary George Nader that leaders in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia were hopeful Trump would secure the election, and they wanted to help. Nader has been cooperating with the the special counsel’s investigation in recent months, CNN reported.

While Trump was quick to dismiss the report and again bash the Mueller probe, the investigation has already resulted in more than a dozen indictments along with five guilty pleas.

The president’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, believes there is a chance Trump could be subpoenaed in the probe, and has begun preparing him in the event that he’s interviewed, Politico reported.

[Mediaite]

Trump Accuses FBI of Spying on His Campaign on Mueller Anniversary: ‘If So, This is Bigger Than Watergate!’

It has been 365 days since Robert Mueller was appointed to head up the special counsel investigation into Russia’s 2016 election-meddling campaign.

Trump took to Twitter to ring in the first year, by suggesting the FBI spied on his campaign. He referenced a story by Andrew McCarthy — who appeared on Fox & Friends earlier — in the National Review saying Barack Obamaopened an FBI investigation in 2016 that targeted the Trump campaign for suspicion of working with Russian cyber-espionage efforts. This comes after New York Times released a separate report detailing how the FBI was looking into Trump’s campaign ever since George Papadopoulos rambled about Russian dirt on Hillary Clinton during a chat with an Australian diplomat.

Trump’s tweet also comes after Rudy Giuliani appeared on Fox & Friends Thursday morning to speculate about the FBI placing a spy in the Trump campaign — which the lawyer said “would be the biggest scandal in the history of this town.”

Oh course, the since the investigation has prompted lingering questions about national security and the nature of Trump’s relationship with Russia, the president also took a moment to mark the anniversary:

[Mediaite]

Reality

The tweet refers to the claim, increasingly popular among Trump’s most ardent defenders, that the FBI had a spy in his campaign. The theory was given more fuel Wednesday by a line in a New York Times story, which said “at least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos,” referring to Trump campaign aides Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.

After the Times piece was posted, Breitbart News ran a headline that said “Leakers to NYT Confirm FBI Ran Spy Operation Against Trump Campaign.” On Wednesday night, Trump’s newest lawyer Rudy Giuliani was talking about it on Fox News, telling Laura Ingraham that the FBI “possibly plac[ed] a spy in the Trump campaign.”

Then on Thursday morning former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy appeared on Fox & Friends to talk about the informant, which he’d previously written about for The National Review.

“What happened here is that they did not have a criminal predicate to open an investigation on Trump,” McCarthy said. “And what they did was use their counterintelligence powers covertly to investigate the Trump campaign, during the stretch run of the campaign, under circumstance where they did not have evidence that anyone had actually committed a crime.”

Giuliani also appeared on Fox & Friends Thursday morning to stoke the flames, saying that if the FBI had spied on the Trump campaign, “That would be the biggest scandal in the history of this town, at least involving law enforcement.” This morning’s Trump tweet confirms that the intended audience for that statement was watching.

Trump Says ‘Slippery’ Comey ‘Was Not Fired’ Because of Russia Probe, After Suggesting He Was

President Donald Trump pushed back on suggestions that he fired former FBI director James Comey because of the investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia — a key tenet of allegations he sought to obstruct justice.

Of course, the president has not always been so clear on this front. After Comey was fired, the White House claimed it was based on a recommendation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein over Comey’s handling of the Clinton email probe.

But then, Trump was interviewed by Lester Holt in May 2017, and said the following: “In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.’” (Watch above.)

Trump also reportedly told Russian officials that his firing of Comey, who he called “a real nut job, took the “pressure” he was facing over the Russia probe off.

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Trump said, according to a U.S. official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

In light of Comey’s media blitz to promote his new memoirs, A Higher Loyalty, Trump is attempting to set the record straight, tweeting: “Slippery James Comey, the worst FBI Director in history, was not fired because of the phony Russia investigation where, by the way, there was NO COLLUSION (except by the Dems)!”

[Mediaite]

Trump pushes back on report he’s ‘unhappy’ with legal team

President Trump on Sunday insisted he is “VERY happy” with the legal team defending him against allegations his campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.

He also claimed they have shown “conclusively” there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia. His comments follow a report in The New York Times claiming that Trump is looking to shake up his legal team amid some frustration with their approach.

Trump in two tweets on Sunday morning criticized one of the reporters behind the story, claiming she is “a Hillary flunky.”

“The Failing New York Times purposely wrote a false story stating that I am unhappy with my legal team on the Russia case and am going to add another lawyer to help out. Wrong,” Trump tweeted.

“I am VERY happy with my lawyers, John Dowd, Ty Cobb and Jay Sekulow. They are doing a great job and…have shown conclusively that there was no Collusion with Russia..just excuse for losing. The only Collusion was that done by the DNC, the Democrats and Crooked Hillary. The writer of the story, Maggie Haberman, a Hillary flunky, knows nothing about me and is not given access.”

The Times reported that Trump is considering adding the lawyer that helped Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial to the White House legal team to handle special counsel Robert Mueller‘s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

Trump reportedly met with lawyer Emmet Flood this past week to discuss him joining his legal staff, though no agreement has been reached yet, according to the Times.

“In private conversations, Mr. Trump has seesawed between expressing confidence in Mr. Cobb’s claim that the inquiry will wrap up in relatively short order and that he will be exonerated, and sounding frustrated with his team’s legal strategy,” the report claimed.

[The Hill]

Trump questions whether Clinton coordinated with Russians

President Donald Trump, keeping up his attacks on Hillary Clinton, suggested Thursday that his 2016 election opponent and her fellow Democrats could have paid Russians for dirt on him during the campaign.

“Disproven and paid for by Democrats ‘Dossier used to spy on Trump Campaign. Did FBI use Intel tool to influence the Election?’ @foxandfriends,” Trump tweeted before dawn, adding, “Did Dems or Clinton also pay Russians? Where are hidden and smashed DNC servers? Where are Crooked Hillary Emails? What a mess!”

Trump is referring to an opposition research document that was compiled on him during the election, and it includes unverified allegations that the Russian government has compromising personal and financial information about the President.

The dossier — because of its allegations and questions surrounding its origin — has become an explosive political issue. Fusion GPS’ efforts researching Trump were first funded by his Republican foes during the primary campaign. The law firm for Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee picked up the tab once Trump became the clear favorite to win the nomination. After that switch, Fusion GPS hired a former British spy to put together the dossier on Trump’s ties to Russia.
Trump has frequently criticized his own Justice Department over its handling of the investigation into Clinton’s email use as secretary of state.

The tweet also continues Trump’s public criticism of Clinton.

On Wednesday, the President referred to his former rival several times while taking questions with Norwegian Prime Minister Edna Stolberg.
Asked about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into meddling in the 2016 election, Trump insisted there was “no collusion,” invoking Clinton’s July 2016 interview with the FBI, calling it “a very serious breach.”

“Hillary Clinton had an interview where she wasn’t sworn in, she wasn’t given the oath, they didn’t take notes, they didn’t record, and it was done on the 4th of July weekend. That’s perhaps ridiculous, and a lot of people looked upon that as being a very serious breach and it really was,” he said.

At one point, Trump said any collusion was “really with the Democrats and the Russians, far more than it is with the Republicans and the Russians,” though he did not elaborate.

Later Wednesday, top White House adviser Kellyanne Conway insisted that while many cannot get over the election, the White House does not talk about Clinton.

“We don’t care about her. Nobody here talks about her,” the White House counselor told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “Cuomo Prime Time.” “Nobody here talks about Hillary Clinton, I promise you.”

[CNN]

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