The New York Times reported on February 14, 2017, that phone records and communications intercepts showed that Trump associates—including members of the Trump campaign—had "repeated contacts" with senior Russian intelligence officials during the 2016 campaign. Paul Manafort was the only Trump associate who was specifically identified as participating in these communications. In addition, some senior Trump associates, including Kushner, Trump Jr., Sessions, Flynn and Manafort, had direct contacts with Russian officials during 2016. In congressional testimony the following June, Comey stated the Times report was "in the main" not true. The Times reported that during the intervening months, its sources continued to believe the reporting was "solid." In July 2020, the Senate Judiciary Committee released notes taken contemporaneously with the Times report by FBI Counterintelligence Division chief Peter Strzok indicating his skepticiam about the Times' reporting, writing, “We have not seen evidence of any officials associated with the Trump team in contact with [intelligence officers]" and "“We are unaware of ANY Trump advisors engaging in conversations with Russian intelligence officials.” The Times stood by its account, subsequently reporting that the released notes did not provide a fully accurate representation of Strzok's knowledge. Michael Flynn was forced to resign as National Security Advisor on February 13, 2017, after it was revealed that on December 29, 2016, the day that Obama announced sanctions against Russia, Flynn had discussed the sanctions with Russian ambassador Kislyak. Flynn had earlier acknowledged speaking to Kislyak but denied discussing the sanctions. Also in December 2016, Flynn and presidential advisor Jared Kushner met with Kislyak hoping to set up a direct, secure line of communication with Russian officials about which American intelligence agencies would be unaware. Jared Kushner also met with Sergei Gorkov, the head of the Russian state-owned bank Vnesheconombank (VEB), which has been subject to U.S. economic sanctions since July 2014. Flynn and Kushner failed to report these meetings on their security clearance forms.
On potential obstruction of justice by President Trump, the investigation "does not conclude that the President committed a crime", as investigators would not indict a sitting president per an Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinion, and would not accuse him of a crime when he cannot clear his name in court. However, the investigation "also does not exonerate" Trump, finding both public and private actions "by the President that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations". Ten episodes of potential obstruction by the president were described. The report states that Congress can decide whether Trump obstructed justice, and has the authority to take action against him. Attorney General Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who had authorized the Mueller probe, decided on March 24, 2019, that the evidence was insufficient to establish a finding of obstruction of justice. Upon his resignation on May 29, 2019, Mueller stated that: "the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing". In July 2019, Mueller testified to Congress that a president could be charged with obstruction of justice (or other crimes) after he left office.More Info
Within weeks of the commencement of the Yemen's civil war, AQAP had exploited the chaos to capture the south-eastern port city of Mukalla, along with nearby military, transport, and economic infrastructure. A series of prison breaks by al-Qaeda—they emptied Mukalla's jail of 300 prisoners and emptied 1,200 inmates in June 2015 from the central prison in Taiz—released jailed jihadists of all ranks. Reports indicate that Yemen's prisons had, in preceding years, reportedly become "de facto jihadi academies", as veteran militants were placed in cells alongside young, regular criminals.More Info
As the Mueller investigation progressed, Trump repeatedly expressed anger over Attorney General Sessions' decision to recuse. In July 2017, Trump said that Sessions should have informed him about Sessions' impending recusal before Trump even nominated him, then Trump would have nominated someone else for Attorney General. In May 2018, Trump said that he wished that he had nominated someone other than Sessions for Attorney General. In August 2018, Trump declared that Sessions' job was safe at least until the November 2018 United States midterm elections. Sessions resigned as Attorney General on November 7, 2018, the day after the midterm elections, writing that he had resigned at Trump's request.More Info
U.S. intelligence agencies in January 2017 concluded "with high confidence" that the Russian government interfered in the election by hacking into the computer servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the personal Gmail account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and forwarding their contents to WikiLeaks, as well as by disseminating fake news promoted on social media, and by penetrating, or trying to penetrate, the election systems and databases of multiple U.S. states. de Volkskrant reported on January 25, 2018, that Dutch intelligence agency AIVD had penetrated the Russian hacking group Cozy Bear in 2014 and in 2015 observed them hack the DNC in real time, as well as capturing the images of the hackers via a security camera in their workspace. The New York Times reported on July 18, 2018, that American, British and Dutch intelligence services had observed stolen DNC emails on Russian military intelligence networks. NBC News reported on March 1, 2018, that Mueller was assembling a case for criminal charges against Russians who carried out the hacking and leaking. Those charges were brought on July 13, 2018.More Info
On January 16, 2018, The New York Times reported that Steve Bannon was subpoenaed by Mueller to testify before the standing grand jury in Washington, DC. Reuters and CNN reported the next day that Bannon had struck a deal with Mueller's team to be interviewed by prosecutors instead of testifying before the grand jury. On February 15, 2018, multiple sources reported that those interviews had taken place over several days that week. TMZ reported that Kristin M. Davis, the "Manhattan Madam" who had previously worked for Roger Stone, was subpoenaed in June 2018. On August 10, 2018, a federal judge found Stone's former aide Andrew Miller to be in contempt of court for refusing to testify before the grand jury. Also that day, the Mueller investigation subpoenaed Randy Credico, whom Stone had described as his "backchannel" to Julian Assange. The Wall Street Journal reported on November 14, 2018, that Mueller's investigators are examining whether Stone engaged in witness tampering by intimidating Credico into supporting Stone's assertions.More Info
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