Conway: People should feel good about democracy

Senior Adviser Kellyanne Conway declared that the result of the Special Counsel’s report shows that the White House didn’t interfere with the probe, and “should make people feel good about democracy.” (April 18)

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Ivanka Trump not worried about Mueller report release

A day before the Justice Department is expected to unveil a redacted version of the Special Counsel’s report on Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election, Ivanka Trump said she was not worried about the contents. (April 14)

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What Robert Mueller’s Investigation Into Ray Rice Tells Us About His Trump Report (HBO)

Robert Mueller has been under attack for two years, and now his report is in the line of fire.

The special counsel’s final report, which he submitted to newly confirmed Attorney General William Barr on Friday afternoon, appears destined to suffer a similar fate.

During Barr’s confirmation hearings, he promised to release “as much as I can” from Mueller’s report.

“I am reviewing the report and anticipate that I may be in a position to advise you of the Special Counsel’s principal conclusions as soon as this weekend,” Barr wrote in a letter to Congress released Friday.

But Trump’s new AG has broad powers over what contents — if any — will get released to Congress and the public.

The special counsel’s investigation had already unearthed remarkable revelations about the president and some of his closest advisers. Mueller indicted 34 people, including 25 Russian nationals, and charged some of Trump’s closest advisers with crimes that promises to land some of them behind bars.

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Mueller’s Investigation Has Created An Underworld Of Online Sleuths (HBO)

Sorting through the data of the dead — their pots, their knives, and the rocks they cooked on — in order to reconstruct how they once lived, is not so different from tracking the Special Counsel investigation.

On a Friday in February, Adrienne Cobb, 29, lab assistant in the archaeology department at Western Washington University, was trying to do both. She was digitizing data on artifacts found on a farm in Washington state that were about 3,000 years old, and keeping track of what was happening on Capitol Hill, where the House Judiciary Committee grilled Matthew Whitaker — then, acting Attorney General — about his involvement in Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign and its links to Russia.

Cobb’s an unlikely candidate for legal sleuthing. She’s a recovering heroin addict with no experience in journalism, and a preference for Ghost Adventures over Reliable Sources. (“I hate cable news.”) She has dyed red hair, rocks Daria-esque glasses, and tends to look at the floor when she isn’t absorbed by a screen.

She spends her free time — and some of her office time, too — tracking every update, big and small, in Mueller’s probe. She’s part of an online community of digital sleuths, amateur journalists, and statisticians, who commit hours upon hours of their lives to all things Mueller. Some have launched careers out of obsessively tracking the investigation’s twists and turns.

But for her, keeping track of Mueller’s work is about helping others feel less “helpless” in a wilderness of fast-paced, complex news that doesn’t always add up. She calls herself an “aggregator,” which seems simple enough, but it’s tough work. She checks Twitter and Reddit three times an hour for new, relevant reporting, and saves links to those articles with the program, Evernote. Meanwhile, news of every White House departure goes in a separate spreadsheet that she’ll refer to in order to update her website, 45Chaos, which in granular detail, notes every staffer who’s left, whether and why they quit, resigned, or resigned under pressure (“R-UP”), and measures the length of their tenure in “mooches,” a metric born in Trump’s White House. (She goes by 10-days, not 11, though there’s a debate over how long Anthony Scaramucci really lasted as White House Communications Director.)

On the weekends, she wakes at 4:30 a.m. and never makes plans to leave the house for long — giving her just enough time for scan every article she’s saved to Evernote, for any new revelations. These get boiled down into weekly recaps that she posts every Monday to a Reddit forum called, appropriately, “Keep_Track.” Readers sometimes message her in appreciation or send tips, and her summaries have ballooned along with the news cycle to run as long as 5,000 words. On Monday, the process starts again.

“I get a lot of people who say, ‘I can’t believe that all happened in one week,’” she said. “Or, ‘That feels like it was a month ago, because so much has happened.’ So I think there’s value to seeing it all in one spot.”

There’s value, even for the other Mueller obsessives who, like Cobb, have become addicted to tracking the unknown-knowns.

Scott Stedman, a 23-year-old, started tracking Mueller’s probe while he was a political science major at UC Irvine. Within a year of graduation, his obsessive reporting and research has earned him bylines in major outlets and landed him a book deal (Real News, out in April). Stedman says he’s a fan of Cobb’s recaps. “I find them super useful. It’s a testament to how much information there is.”

Some of Cobb’s readers even donate — she makes about $150 a month through her Patreon account, and 76,000 people subscribe to the Reddit forum, where her work is pinned to the top, so any new members can get caught up on the fly.

“There was a New Yorker cartoon that came out this week that I think sums it up pretty well,” says A.G., the host of the popular podcast Mueller She Wrote, referring to a Julia Suits cartoon that some might see as an exaggeration but that many in this Mueller-obsessed world received with a ring of truth. The cartoon shows a conspiracist-type standing in a room, wallpapered in names ripped from Washington Post headlines, and string trying to connect them all.

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Roger Stone’s Indictment Could Be Bad News For Donald Trump Jr. (HBO)

Roger Stone’s arrest last week for lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering didn’t just implicate the longtime political strategist and Donald Trump adviser. It suggests Special Counsel Robert Mueller may be getting closer to the president’s inner circle, as he investigates the possibility that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election.

Tucked into page four of the indictment was an intriguing assertion that “a senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact Stone” to find out more about what emails WikiLeaks was planning to release next. The unnamed campaign official was directed by *someone* — and that someone could be the president himself.

But the next most likely member of Trump’s inner circle to become the focus of the Special Counsel’s investigation may be Donald Trump Jr., who, as a top adviser to the campaign, was involved in a number of meetings and projects that have come under scrutiny as part of the Mueller probe and multiple congressional investigations.

Congressional investigators are already sounding the alarm that they believe he wasn’t entirely honest with them while testifying under oath on the Hill — and if he knowingly lied to lawmakers, that would constitute a felony. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat and member of the Judiciary Committee, told reporters that he wanted a number of individuals to return to Capitol Hill for another round of testimony, to clarify inconsistencies, including Trump Jr.

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How To Run For Reelection When Trump’s Put A Target On Your Back (HBO)

When you’re a Democratic senator up for reelection in a state President Donald Trump won by 20 points, and the president calls on you to resign, you don’t take the bait. If you’re Montana Sen. Jon Tester, at least, you give him props.

“Donald Trump was straight up. I mean he told me what he thought of me, and that’s cool. I might not like it, but at least he did it to my face,” Tester told VICE News in an interview. “That’s what Montanans like. They like people to be square with them.”

In reality, Trump did it on Twitter — a tweet issued after Tester, the top Democrat on the Veterans Affairs Committee, helped sink the president’s nominee for VA Secretary by publicizing anonymous complaints about him.

Tester wouldn’t answer when asked if he thought Trump’s call for his resignation was appropriate — but also said he didn’t regret his role in the VA Secretary nomination fight.

“Would I rather he not [send the tweet]? Yeah. But he’s president United States. He can do what he thinks is right. I did what I thought was right, and I’d do it again,” he said.

But that tweet added further pressure to what’s already expected to be a tough reelection fight for the two-term senator. Tester’s opposed the president on key legislative priorities and nominees more than nearly any other vulnerable Democrat up for reelection this year, but he believes Montana voters will give him the benefit of the doubt on his record.

“We’ll get backlash no matter what we do,” Tester acknowledged, but he added: “I wasn’t sent here to be a political operative. I was said here to be a U.S. senator that represents Montana and Montana’s values. And I think with every one of those votes I can justify every one I’m from a Montana perspective.”

It’s a line any politician might give to defend their tough votes, but the difference with Tester is voters seem to believe it. A May Morning Consult pollfound Tester was the only red-state Democrat up for reelection with an approval rating over 50 percent — and he’s rated by a handful of nonpartisan election observers as one of the least vulnerable red-state Democrats this fall.

The political platitudes may be more believable from Tester because, more than many senators, voters say he does seem to embody the state he represents. Tester’s the only working farmer in the Senate. He still heads home on weekends to plant and plow his organic farm with his wife just outside of Big Sandy, Montana. And he butchers meat on the farm that he takes back to Washington sometimes in a large suitcase.

Tester plays up his Montana roots in his campaign while attacking his GOP opponent, State Auditor Matt Rosendale, as “Maryland Matt” for moving to the state 16 years ago.

But the senator still has to walk a careful line on Trump, criticizing him only on issues that are a major focus in Montana, like trade and the VA, while defending him on others. Tester called the discussion about impeaching the president among some Democrats “silly talk” and “way premature,” because the Special Counsel investigation is still ongoing.

“I don’t think what he did is going to be an impeachable offense, if he did anything,” he said.

But with the president expected to visit the state to campaign for Tester’s opponent, the senator knows he’s got a long road ahead to Election Day this fall.

“You’re always running from behind,” he said. “Otherwise you’re going to lose.”

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AP Explains: DOJ’s IG Report on Clinton Emails

The Dept. of Justice’s watchdog faults former FBI Director James Comey for breaking with protocol in his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, but it says his decisions before the 2016 elections were not driven by political bias. (June 14) RESTRICTION SUMMARY: AP CLIENTS ONLY SHOTLIST: ASSOCIATED PRESS – AP CLIENTS ONLY Washington – 14 June 2018 1. SOUNDBITE (English) Eric Tucker, Associated Press Reporter: “The Justice Department inspector general today issued a 500 page report on the FBI its handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. The document is a scathing indictment of Director Comey and the FBI and the decisions that they made during the course of the Clinton investigation. However it is very important to note that they do not find that Director Comey or senior leadership acted with political bias to support one candidate over another and that is significant because President Donald Trump has repeatedly alleged that the FBI is politically biased against him.” ASSOCIATED PRESS – AP CLIENTS ONLY Washington – 14 June 2018 2. close of DOJ’s IG Report (PARTIALLY COVERS PREVIOUS SOUNDBITE) POOL FILE: Washington DC – 22 January 2017 3. Pan right from James Comey to US President Donald Trump, they shake hands (PARTIALLY COVERS PREVIOUS SOUNDBITE) US NETWORK POOL – AP CLIENTS ONLY Joint Base Andrews – 13 June, 2018 4. US President Donald Trump walks to waiting SUV (PARTIALLY COVERS PREVIOUS SOUNDBITE) ASSOCIATED PRESS – AP CLIENTS ONLY 5.Split screen composition :(PARTIALLY COVERS UPCOMING SOUNDBITE) ASSOCIATED PRESS – AP CLIENTS ONLY New York – 15 August 2017 (LEFT) FILE PHOTO – President Donald Trump speaks to the media in the lobby of Trump Tower, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017 ASSOCIATED PRESS – AP CLIENTS ONLY Washington – 29 October 2016 (RIGHT) FILE PHOTO – In this Sept. 27, 2016 file photo, FBI Director James Comey testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington ASSOCIATED PRESS – AP CLIENTS ONLY Washington – 21 June 2017 6. FILE PHOTO – Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs the Capitol after a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about Russian meddling in the election and possible connection to the Trump campaign, in Washington, Wednesday, June 21, 2017. (PARTIALLY COVERS UPCOMING SOUNDBITE) ASSOCIATED PRESS – AP CLIENTS ONLY Washington – 14 June 2018 7. SOUNDBITE (English) Eric Tucker, Associated Press Reporter: “President Donald Trump fired Director Comey last year, last May. And the stated rationale at the time was his handling of the FBI email server investigation. He then later said that he was thinking about this Russia thing. That action is now central to Robert Muellers investigation of Special Counsel into whether the president sought to obstruct justice. So to the extent that this report absolves the president of wrongdoing in the sense of firing Director Comey because it was a justified action because call me erred. I’m sure the president is going to look to use that as vindication.” ASSOCIATED PRESS – AP CLIENTS ONLY Washington – 30 April 2018 8. FILE PHOTO – President Donald Trump and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari walk from the Oval Office before a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Monday, April 30, 2018 (PARTIALLY COVERS UPCOMING SOUNDBITE) ASSOCIATED PRESS – AP CLIENTS ONLY Washington – 14 June 2018 9. SOUNDBITE (English) Eric Tucker, Associated Press Reporter: “The IG report is separate from the investigation into Russian collusion.” ASSOCIATED PRESS – AP CLIENTS ONLY Washington – 14 June 2018 10. SOUNDBITE (English) Eric Tucker, Associated Press Reporter: “This is a document that will exist in history as a real chronicle of how the FBI came to be entangled in presidential politics but whether it leads to administrative sanctions or additional criminal charges somehow remains to be seen.” ASSOCIATED PRESS – AP CLIENTS ONLY Washington – 14 June 2018 11. close of DOJ’s IG Report (PARTIALLY COVERS PREVIOUS SOUNDBITE) ASSOCIATED PRESS – AP CLIENTS ONLY Washington – 14 June 2018 12. SOUNDBITE (English) Eric Tucker, Associated Press Reporter: “The FBI does agree with the conclusions that were taken and made by the inspector general.” ASSOCIATED PRESS – AP CLIENTS ONLY Washington – FILE: Exact date unknown 13. exteriors of FBI (PARTIALLY COVERS PREVIOUS SOUNDBITE) STORYLINE: The Associated Press’s Eric Tucker reports the findings of The Justice Department’s watchdog which faults former FBI Director James Comey for breaking with established protocol in his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, but it says his decisions before the 2016 elections were not driven by political bias, according to a person familiar with the findings. The report from the inspector general also criticizes Comey for not keeping his superiors at the Justice Department, including then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch, properly informed about his handling of the investigation, said the person, who spoke to The Associated Press