The Justice Department is abandoning plans for a looming criminal trial focused on claims of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
With jury selection set to begin in just over two weeks, prosecutors asked a federal judge to permanently dismiss the charges special counsel Robert Mueller brought two years ago against two Russian firms linked to a St. Petersburg businessman known as Putin’s chef, Yevgeny Prigozhin.
The move scuttles a trial that could have drawn the ire of President Donald Trump: a high-profile showcase of U.S. intelligence agencies’ evidence that Russian trolls sought to stir up support for him in the 2016 presidential election while fighting against his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich, a Trump appointee who oversaw the case, formally dismissed the charge against the two Russian firms Monday night. […]
Trump appeared to celebrate the dropping of the charges and the scuttling of the trial as more evidence of the flaws of Mueller’s operation. Late Monday night, the president retweeted another user’s comment about the developments: “How embarrassing for Team Mueller.”
March 16, 2020
President Donald Trump on Friday sent a note to supporters that included a chart showing the Dow Jones Industrial Average dramatically rising roughly at the time he began a news conference declaring a national emergency over coronavirus. The President signed the chart.
The note, which was also sent to some members of Congress, included screenshots of television coverage of the stock market closing much higher than Thursday.
“The President would like to share the attached image with you, and passes along the following message: ‘From opening of press conference, biggest day in stock market history!’ ” read the note, a copy of which was obtained by CNN from a source with familiar with it.
The message did not mention the overall coronavirus crisis, the number of people who have died or are sick, nor the fact that he had just declared a national emergency. More than 2,200 people had been diagnosed with coronavirus as of late Friday night and 49 have died.
March 13, 2020
A White House questionnaire being sent to potential political appointees appears to be a litmus test of the applicant’s loyalty to the president.
The questionnaire, a copy of which was obtained by CBS News, includes questions like, “What part of candidate Trump’s campaign message most appealed to you and why?” The questionnaire also asks potential appointees to describe their political evolution and to list media appearances in which they’ve commented about Mr. Trump.
“The purpose of this document is to expedite Presidential Personnel’s vetting process,” it says, before asking the applicant to list all social media accounts and references.
The survey is a product of new presidential personnel director Johnny McEntee, who rejoined the administration recently after he was escorted out of the White House in 2018 while under a security-related investigation. CBS News previously reported McEntee has been scouring the administration for political appointees deemed disloyal to the president. The White House Presidential Personnel Office is responsible for vetting administration appointees.
A source considering a role in the administration confirmed to CBS News that filling out the questionnaire was part of the application. CNN first reported the existence of the questionnaire.
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March 4, 2020
The Jessie Liu memo: Shortly before withdrawing the nomination of the former D.C. U.S. attorney for a top Treasury role, the president reviewed a memo on Liu’s alleged misdeeds, according to a source with direct knowledge.
- Ledeen wrote the memo, and its findings left a striking impression on Trump, per sources with direct knowledge. Ledeen declined to comment.
- A source with direct knowledge of the memo’s contents said it contained 14 sections building a case for why Liu was unfit for the job for which Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin selected her, including:
- Not acting on criminal referrals of some of Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s accusers.
- Signing “the sentencing filing asking for jail time” for Gen. Michael Flynn (a friend of Ledeen’s).
- Holding a leadership role in a women’s lawyers networking group that Ledeen criticized as “pro-choice and anti-Alito.”
- Not indicting former deputy director of the FBI Andrew McCabe.
- Dismissing charges against “violent inauguration protesters who plotted to disrupt the inauguration.”
February 23, 2020