CNN reported on September 19, 2017, that Manafort had been a target of a FISA wiretap both before and after the 2016 election, extending into early 2017. Some of the intercepted communications caused concerns among investigators that Manafort had solicited assistance from Russians for the campaign, although the evidence was reportedly inconclusive. The wiretaps began sometime after Manafort became a subject of an FBI investigation into his business practices in 2014. The Mueller investigation was provided details of these intercepts.
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
The New York Times reported on January 11, 2019, that FBI counterintelligence grew concerned about Trump's ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign but held off opening an investigation because of uncertainty about how to proceed on such a sensitive matter. Trump's behavior during the days immediately before and after Comey's firing caused them to begin investigating whether Trump had been working on behalf of Russia against U.S. interests, knowingly or unknowingly. The FBI merged that counterintelligence investigation with a criminal obstruction of justice investigation related to Comey's firing. Mueller took over that investigation upon his appointment, although it was not immediately clear if he had pursued the counterintelligence angle.More Info
In May 2017, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller, a former FBI director, to take over the FBI's work. As Rosenstein later informed Congress, he elected to use a Special Counsel because of the ongoing concerns about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and his own concerns about the capabilities of the acting Director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, to carry out the investigation, but the lack of any Senate-confirmed U.S. Attorneys at that point meant that he would need to appoint someone else. Mueller was an appropriate choice in his view. According to its authorizing document, the investigation's scope included allegations of "links and/or coordination" between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign. Mueller was also mandated to pursue "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation." The probe included a criminal investigation which looked into potential obstruction of justice charges against President Trump and members of his campaign or his administration.More Info
After the United Nations urged both sides to pursue peace talks in order to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in Yemen, the Saudi-led coalition called a unilateral ceasefire beginning 9 April at noon, to support efforts to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic. However, despite pledging ceasefire in Yemen, Saudi-led coalition carried out dozens of airstrikes in the span of a week. The Yemen Data Project stated that at least 106 Saudi-led airstrikes, across 26 raids in Yemen had been carried out by the Kingdom in just one week. On July 2, coalition fighter jets launched scores of airstrikes on several Yemeni provinces. The operation was a response to ballistic missile and drone launchings by the Houthis against Saudi Arabia.More Info
The New York Times reported, on March 28, 2018, that former Trump campaign deputy chairman Rick Gates had, in September and October 2016, frequently communicated with a man that the FBI believes is a former agent of GRU, Russia's largest foreign intelligence agency, and who had maintained active links with Russian intelligence during these communications; this disclosure was written into a court sentencing document for Alex van der Zwaan, submitted by Robert Mueller. Identified in the document as "Person A", The Times reported that the man matched the description of Konstantin Kilimnik, who, for years, was Paul Manafort's "right-hand man" in Ukraine. Gates reportedly told an associate that he knew "Person A" was a former GRU agent, although Manafort told associates he was not aware of such a connection. The Times reported on January 8, 2019, that in spring 2016 Gates and Manafort gave polling data, some of which was private to the Trump campaign, to Kilimnik, asking he pass it to Ukrainians Serhiy Lyovochkin and Rinat Akhmetov. During a closed-door court hearing on February 4, 2019, regarding false statements Manafort had made to investigators about his communications with Kilimnik, special counsel prosecutor Andrew Weissmann told judge Amy Berman Jackson that "This goes, I think, very much to the heart of what the special counsel's office is investigating," suggesting that Mueller's office continued to examine a possible agreement between Russia and the Trump campaign.More Info
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