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The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is calling for KT McFarland to “clarify” testimony she gave the committee on what she knew about former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador before she receives a floor vote confirming her as an ambassador to Singapore.

“Senator Cardin believes that before Senators are asked to vote on her nomination, Ms. McFarland should publicly clarify the information she said and sent to the Committee that now appears to be incomplete,” Sen. Ben Cardin’s (D-MD) spokesperson told TPM in a statement. “The onus is on her.”

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The agreement that Paul Manafort and Special Counsel Robert Mueller had seemed to have come to on releasing him from home arrest has fallen apart due to what prosecutors described in court filings Monday as an op-ed Manafort was “ghostwriting” with a Russia-based colleague “regarding his political work for Ukraine.”

The colleague has been “assessed to have ties to a Russian intelligence service,” prosecutors said, and the writing of the op-ed was in violation of a prohibition the judge had put on the case banning the parties from communicating through the media.

They were drafting the op-ed “as late as November 30, 2017,” the prosecutors claimed.

Last week, Manafort’s attorneys filed a bail package proposal that indicated that they and Mueller had hashed out a deal, a month after Manafort turned himself him, on the terms of his release.

In Monday’s filing, Mueller’s team acknowledged that they had come to that agreement —albeit with a few more conditions that Manafort’s attorneys had not mentioned in their brief — but later that day “learned facts that are pertinent to the bail determination before the Court.”

Prosecutors indicated to the court that they wanted to file the op-ed draft in question under seal.

“Even if the ghostwritten op-ed were entirely accurate, fair, and balanced, it would be a violation of this Court’s November 8 Order if it had been published,” they said. “The editorial clearly was undertaken to influence the public’s opinion of defendant Manafort, or else there would be no reason to seek its publication (much less for Manafort and his long-time associate to ghostwrite it in another’s name). It compounds the problem that the proposed piece is not a dispassionate recitation of the facts.”

Read the filing below:

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House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) has suggested he will move to hold top Justice Department officials in contempt of Congress by the end of December, after accusing the DOJ of withholding information about the Russia probe from his committee.

His latest threats come after reports that a top FBI agent had been removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe because it was discovered that he had sent texts, that, as the New York Times described them, “expressed anti-Trump political views.” The agent, Peter Strzok, had worked on the Russia probe before it was taken over by Mueller and also played a key role in the FBI’s Hillary Clinton email investigation.

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Donald Trump’s personal lawyer on Monday made the controversial claim that the President cannot be found guilty of obstruction of justice.

The “President cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case,” John Dowd, who is handling Trump’s defense in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, told Axios.

This is a new assertion for Dowd, who over the weekend took credit for writing a tweet sent from Trump’s personal account that said the President felt compelled to dismiss national security adviser Michael Flynn for lying to Vice President Mike Pence—and the FBI—about his contacts with Russia. Legal observers said that the tweet, which was written in Trump’s characteristic bombastic style, strengthened the case that Trump knowingly obstructed justice when he later dismissed FBI Director James Comey.

Trump’s legal team offered a string of rapidly changing explanations for the message. Dowd at first said that the tweet simply paraphrased language in a statement issued by White House special counsel Ty Cobb about Flynn pleading guilty to one count of lying to federal agents. Dowd later said that he drafted the message and White House social media director Dan Scavino posted it.

“The tweet did not admit obstruction,” Dowd insisted to Axios. “That is an ignorant and arrogant assertion.”

Contrary to the veteran D.C. lawyer’s claim, it is not settled law that the president cannot be accused of obstructing federal probes. The articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon accused him of helping impede investigations into the Watergate break-in.

It is not the first time Trump and his supporters have claimed that he is above the law. Shortly after his election, Trump said that he wasn’t legally obliged to sever ties with his businesses because “the president can’t have a conflict of interest.” The Constitution bans elected officials from accepting payments from foreign governments and engaging in bribery and fraud.

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Among the many new questions following former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn’s guilty plea Friday to lying to the FBI is: Why did he lie in the first place?

By the time Flynn was interviewed by the FBI in late January 2017, his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak had been publicly reported. As Flynn’s guilty plea alleges, other members of Trump’s orbit had not just been aware of the contacts since they happened but had discussed them and even directed them in real time.

Here’s a run down of the sequence of events that makes Flynn’s decision to try to conceal the content of his contacts with Kislyak so mystifying.

We now also know that other people in Trump’s orbit knew about, and even directed, Flynn’s message to Kislyak about the sanctions.

As the Mueller filings detail, before talking to Kislyak, Flynn called a “senior official of the Presidential Transition team” who was with “other senior members” of the team at Mar-A-Lago, and they discussed that the “members of the Presidential Transition team at Mar-A-Lago did not want Russia to escalate the situation.”

And yet by Jan. 24, he made “materially false statements” in a FBI interview about whether he discussed sanctions with Kislyak on a Dec. 29 phone call, among other things. The interview took less than two weeks after Washington Post columnist David Ignatius first reported the call.

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It was reportedly Jared Kushner who directed Mike Flynn to call officials from Russia and other countries regarding an Israel-related UN Security Council resolution weeks before President Donald Trump took office, according to a slew of reports out Friday.

An unnamed individual referred to only as a “very senior member of the Presidential Transition Team” emerged in charging documents filed Friday by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of Flynn’s plea deal for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials.

The Washington PostNBCBuzzfeed and Bloomberg’s Eli Lake spoke to sources who identified Trump’s son-in-law and close adviser as the “very senior member” who told Flynn to try to delay a vote on a resolution critical of Israeli settlement construction.

“Jared called Flynn and told him you need to get on the phone to every member of the Security Council and tell them to delay the vote,” a person who was in the room with Flynn told Buzzfeed, adding that Kushner emphasized that the move “was a top priority for the President.”

Flynn, who took the call at the Trump’s transition team Washington, D.C. offices, also told the staff that “the President wants this done ASAP,” according to Buzzfeed’s source.

That tracks with what a former transition official told Bloomberg about Kushner ordering Flynn to ask every foreign minister or ambassador from a country on the council to delay or oppose the resolution, which condemned Israeli housing construction in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank as a violation of international law.

Trump and Kushner both have warm relationships with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who fervently opposed the resolution.

Flynn’s statement of offense says that he contacted Russia’s then-ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, to make his request on Dec. 22, spoke to him about it again on Dec. 29, and subsequently lied about it in an interview with federal agents.

Kushner reportedly met with Mueller’s team in November for an interview that focused primarily on Flynn’s Russia contacts.

Former prosecutors told TPM that the generous terms of Flynn’s plea deal suggest he must have critical information about other Trump officials even closer to the center of power than he was. Kushner fits that bill.

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The explosive news that ousted national security advisor Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials was delivered in a brief, tidy package: a one-and-a-half-page document laying out the single count against him.

Former federal prosecutors told TPM that Special Counsel Robert Mueller made a calculated move to keep Flynn’s charge limited, and that, given what is known about Flynn’s myriad inappropriate foreign dealings, they wouldn’t have done so unless the former intelligence official had divulged some very juicy secrets.

“What’s interesting to me is what he’s not charged with,” said Steven Miller, a former anti-corruption federal prosecutor. “This is a very narrowly drawn structural plea bargain. By virtue of a single count he can’t get more than a five-year sentence. You don’t get that unless you’re giving something serious to the government. And the number of players left are relatively small: it’s [Jared] Kushner, it’s [Donald] Trump Jr., it’s the Trump campaign, and it’s the President. So I think this is something that would cause all of them to be extraordinarily worried.”

“It’s a neon sign that there’s massive cooperation underway by Flynn,” Miller added.

Jens Ohlin, an expert in criminal law at Cornell Law School, concurred, saying what essentially amounts to a “sweetheart deal” would not be offered unless Flynn could incriminate a bigger fish.

“The government would not agree to this deal if Flynn was merely providing information on someone who is in a peripheral place in the criminality,” Ohlin said. “So if he’s providing information in exchange to this deal its because it’s someone who is even more centrally located than Flynn.”

Shortly after Flynn entered a guilty plea in Washington, D.C. federal court, the White House released a statement downplaying the news. White House attorney Ty Cobb’s claim that “nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn” was rapidly proven false by the release of Flynn’s statement of offense.

That document affirmed that “a very senior member” and “senior official” of the Trump transition team told Flynn to contact Russian and other foreign government officials to discuss critical foreign policy decisions.

Former prosecutors say that Flynn must have entered into a proffer, or “queen for a day,” agreement with Mueller’s team in which he divulged every detail he knew relevant to their investigation. The government found the information sufficiently valuable that they agreed to strike a deal, despite Flynn’s undisclosed lobbying on behalf of Turkey and reported discussions about spiriting an exiled Muslim cleric loathed by Turkey’s government out of the U.S.

The decision not to include a violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act for his Turkey lobbying or other possible charges in Flynn’s plea agreement is not as unusual as it may seem.

“They have discretion to do whatever they want,” Seetha Ramachandran, a former Justice Department official and assistant U.S. attorney said of federal prosecutors. “The practice really varies between different federal districts. Some U.S. attorneys offices and parts of [Main] Justice want a cooperator to plead guilty to everything they’ve ever done. Some use a more bare-bones type of guilty plea. So I think it really varies. He’s chosen this strategy.”

Mueller’s camp has carefully managed the release of information about other Trump officials who may be caught up in the probe, but details on Flynn’s work to lobby on behalf of Israel with Kushner are already emerging in the press. Much more will come out in the days to come, legal experts predicted.

“I think this is the tip of the iceberg,” said Steve Vladeck, a national security expert at the University of Texas School of Law.

“The question is whether we’re going to start hearing stuff from Flynn’s camp about what he’s sharing with investigators, whether we’re going to see more movement, more indictments coming down in the next couple of weeks from Mueller. The real story of today is that there’s a guarantee that there’s big news coming down the pike.”

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In court documents and at a hearing where former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn entered a guilty plea for lying to the FBI, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team said that other officials in President Trump’s transition team were aware of and even directed Flynn’s backchannel communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States before Trump’s inauguration.

Flynn has now admitted that in a voluntary Jan. 24 interview with FBI he made false statements about a push by the Trump transition team to persuade officials from a foreign government to delay or defeat a United Nations Security Council vote on a resolution to condemn Israeli settlements. Flynn also has admitted he lied to FBI agents about a previously reported conversation he had with the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, on Dec. 29 about sanctions the Obama administration was imposing on Russia at the time.

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After hours of radio silence following the news that former National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn had pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the FBI about his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, White House lawyer Ty Cobb finally issued a statement downplaying Flynn’s role in the White House and calling him “a former Obama administration official.”

“The false statements involved mirror the false statements to White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this year,” Cobb said in a statement. “Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn.”

The charge, he said, demonstrated that the Special Counsel Robert Mueller is “moving with all deliberate speed.” Cobb said he still expected “a prompt and reasonable conclusion” to the Mueller probe.

Read the full statement:

“Today, Michael Flynn, a former National Security Advisor at the White House for 25 days during the Trump Administration, and a former Obama administration official, entered a guilty plea to a single count of making a false statement to the FBI.

“The false statements involved mirror the false statements to White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this year.  Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn.  The conclusion of this phase of the Special Counsel’s work demonstrates again that the Special Counsel is moving with all deliberate speed and clears the way for a prompt and reasonable conclusion.”

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Former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to a single charge brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller of making false statements to FBI agents about contacts with the Russian ambassador in 2016.

Flynn has agreed to cooperate with the Mueller probe as part of his guilty plea, which he entered in a federal courtroom in Washington, in front of U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras.

As part of the plea agreement, Flynn must fully cooperate with government investigators on any matter they deem relevant. Flynn may have to answer questions and participate in covert law enforcement activities. He must also turn over to the government all evidence of crimes he is aware of.

Flynn was released Friday on his personal recognizance — based on a promise that he will appear back in court for any necessary hearings — and he must report to the D.C. pretrial services agency weekly by phone.

Mueller’s team asked Contreras on Monday to defer sentencing in Flynn’s case, and in the plea agreement, Mueller’s team notes that Flynn’s sentencing could be delayed until Flynn has finished cooperating with investigators.

In the plea offer, Mueller’s team determined that Flynn should face somewhere between zero and six months in prison and pay a fine between $500 and $9,500, though the judge will ultimately determine Flynn’s sentence. The maximum sentence for Flynn’s offense is 5 years in prison, Contreras said Friday at the plea hearing.

Flynn, through his attorney, issued a statement after the hearing:

The White House attorney overseeing its response to the probe, Ty Cobb, issued a statement on Flynn’s guilty plea, via the White House pool reporter:

“Today, Michael Flynn, a former National Security Advisor at the White House for 25 days during the Trump Administration, and a former Obama administration official, entered a guilty plea to a single count of making a false statement to the FBI.

“The false statements involved mirror the false statements to White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this year. Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn. The conclusion of this phase of the Special Counsel’s work demonstrates again that the Special Counsel is moving with all deliberate speed and clears the way for a prompt and reasonable conclusion.”

Read the statement of offense:

Read the plea agreement:

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