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Tierney Sneed

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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Newly revealed details about how White House Counsel Don McGahn remembered his late January 2017 meetings with Sally Yates, then the acting Attorney General, confirmed much of Yates’ own account of the meetings. Yates has testified that she informed McGahn of false statements given by then-National Security Advisor Mike Flynn to Vice President Mike Pence about Flynn’s conversations with a Russian official.

But the account laid out by McGahn in a memo that partially became public Saturday differs from Yates’ testimony, given to the Senate Judiciary committee in early May 2017, in a few key areas. Those differences point to the major questions still lingering in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling, and particularly his probe into whether President Trump obstructed justice.

McGahn and Yates disagree on whether Yates signaled to McGhan that Flynn gave the FBI, as well as Pence, a false account of his phone calls with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition. In December, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in a January 24, 2017 interview about whether the topic of Russian sanctions came up.

The question matters because what Trump knew by February 2017 about whether Flynn lied to the FBI could help explain why Trump allegedly asked then-FBI director James Comey to go easy on Flynn before firing him in May. If Trump did make that request, it could be evidence of obstruction of justice.

McGahn’s account of his two January meetings with Yates comes in the form of a memo he wrote about two weeks after the meetings, which is quoted repeatedly by Trump’s personal attorneys in their recently leaked January 2018 letter to Mueller. In the letter, Trump’s attorneys argued that the White House concluded from McGahn’s discussion with Yates that Flynn was not under FBI investigation. Yates’ testimony casts doubt on that assumption, and it’s not even fully backed up by the portions of the McGahn memo that Trump’s attorneys quote.

In many places, McGahn’s memo lines up with Yates’ testimony. But some of the details don’t match, or at the very least, define the holes in the story. Because the Trump attorneys’ letter only quotes selectively from McGahn’s memo — and the memo hasn’t been released in full — it’s hard to know which gaps between the two accounts are outright contradictions, or just products of what the lawyers left out about McGahn’s memorialization of the meeting.

Neither Yates nor the White House responded to TPM’s questions about the discrepancies. The February 15 McGahn memo has been turned over to Mueller’s investigation, according to the Trump attorneys’ letter.

January 26: The First Yates-McGahn Meeting

According to McGahn’s memo, Yates told him at the meeting, which took place in a McGahn’s office at the White House, “that Flynn may have made false representations to others in the Administration regarding the content of the calls.” Yates also explained why that made him vulnerable to blackmail, according to the memo.

Yates’ testimony backed up that recollection. But the two accounts differ in a major way. McGahn’s memo says that “Yates claimed that Flynn’s statements to the FBI were similar to those she understood he had made to Spicer and the Vice President.” Yates, meanwhile told Congress that, when she informed McGahn that Flynn had been interviewed by the FBI, she declined to answer McGahn’s question about how Flynn did in the FBI’s questioning.

The question of how the White House knew that Flynn had misled FBI agents in the same way he misled Pence came up previously, when Trump in a December 2017 tweet claimed he fired Flynn for both his lies to Pence and to the FBI. Up until that tweet, the White House’s line was that Flynn was fired for misleading just Pence. If Trump knew in early 2017 that Flynn also lied to the FBI, that could be evidence that he obstructed justice when he allegedly urged Comey to go easy on Flynn.

Later January 26: McGahn Briefs Trump, Priebus, and “Other Advisors” About Yates’ Flynn Claims

After his meeting with Yates, McGahn briefed Trump, then-chief of staff Reince Priebus and “other advisors” about Yates’ Flynn claims, according to the Trump attorneys’ letter.

Among the concerns expressed during the briefing “was a recognition by McGahn that it was unclear from the meeting with Yates whether an action could be taken without jeopardizing an ongoing investigation,” McGahn’s memo said. “President Trump asked McGahn to further look into the issue as well as finding out more about the calls.”

According to her testimony, Yates had told McGahn at the first meeting that it was up to the White House what to do about Flynn. It’s not clear if she told him anything more about how such action would affect an ongoing probe.

McGahn would go on to request a second meeting with Yates.

Yates testified that McGahn did not indicate to her during the second meeting that he had discussed their first Flynn meeting with anyone else. A February 14 2017 statement from then-White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer recounted McGahn’s briefing of Trump and “a small group of senior advisors.”

January 27: Second Yates-McGahn meeting

Yates and McGahn both said that McGahn had raised concerns about whether the White House taking action against Flynn would affect an ongoing investigation.

“We told him, both the senior career official and I, that he should not be concerned with it, that General Flynn had been interviewed, that their action would not interfere with any investigation and in fact, I remember specifically saying, you know it wouldn’t really be fair of us to tell you this and then expect you to sit on your hands,” Yates testified. In addition to a DOJ lawyer that accompanied Yates, a White House associate working with McGahn also was at the meeting.

McGahn’s memo, likewise, said that Yates indicated “that the DOJ would not object to the White House taking action against Flynn,” but also recounted that Yates refused to confirm or deny an investigation.

The McGahn memo revealed for the first time his recollection that Yates “indicated that the DOJ would not object to the White House disclosing how the DOJ obtained the information relayed to the White House regarding Flynn’s calls with Ambassador Kislyak.”

The New York Times interpreted that to be a reference to the wiretap on Kislyak that picked up his conversations with Flynn.

Trump’s attorneys, in their letter, argued that Yates’ green-lighting of such a disclosure helped the White House conclude that there was no active investigation into Flynn — and thus Trump couldn’t have been obstructing it with his request to Comey.

But when Yates, in her testimony, went through the topics that had come up in her meeting with McGahn, she didn’t mention giving him permission to disclose the surveillance.

“The first topic in the second meeting was essentially why does it matter to DOJ if one White House official lies to another. The second topic related to the applicability of criminal statutes and the likelihood that the Department of Justice would pursue a criminal case,” she testified. “The third topic was his concern that their taking action might interfere with an investigation of Mr. Flynn. And the fourth topic was his request to see the underlying evidence.”

Yates testified that she told McGahn it was likely he’d be able to look at the underlying evidence, but that she wanted to work it out with the FBI first over the weekend. That Monday morning, she called McGahn to let him know he could come over to the Justice Department. Yates was fired by Trump later that night over her refusal to defend his travel ban.

Conversations With Flynn After the Yates Meetings

The Trump attorneys’ letter doesn’t say whether McGahn continued to seek the underlying evidence against Flynn. But it documents other conversations White House officials had with Flynn about Yates’ claims.

McGahn was in a February 8 meeting with Priebus, Flynn and another White House official where Priebus “asked Flynn whether Flynn spoke about sanctions on his call with Ambassador Kislyak,” according to the letter. Flynn said he wasn’t sure and didn’t remember doing so. Asked about the FBI interview, Flynn told Preibus “that FBI agents met with him to inform him that their investigation was over.”

Flynn would claim on another phone call with McGahn on February 10 that “the FBI told him they were closing it out,” according to the letter.

That day, McGahn and Preibus would tell Trump he had to let Flynn go, and by February 13, his resignation letter was handed in. McGahn wrote the memo two days later, the day after Trump had dinner with Comey and allegedly asked him for his loyalty.

 

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Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) wants to know if Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — who’s overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation — is serving as a witness in the probe, and if so, whether he should recuse himself from overseeing it.

Graham’s queries came in a letter to Rosenstein dated May 31. Graham told Fox News he sent it after a New York Times report on a memo then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe wrote about Rosenstein’s involvement in former FBI Director Jim Comey’s firing. McCabe has turned over his memo to Mueller, who is investigating Comey’s termination as part of an obstruction of justice probe.

“Do you consider yourself a potential witness in the Mueller investigation regarding the firing of Director Comey by President Trump?” Graham’s letter asks Rosenstein. “If not, why not?

“If so, should you recuse yourself from further interactions with and oversight of the Mueller investigation?”

Graham, on Fox News, pointed to the memo that Rosenstein wrote on Comey that Trump used as justification for firing Comey. (Rosenstein has said in Congressional testimony that his memo — which focused on Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe — was “not a statement of reasons to justify a for-cause termination,” but has defended his at-times scathing assessment of Comey’s actions.)

“You can’t oversee an investigation where you’re going to be a witness in that investigation,” Graham said, later adding that he was also skeptical Rosenstein could oversee any investigation into a surveillance warrant that the FBI sought on an ex-Trump campaign advisor, since Rosenstein signed off on some of the warrant applications.

Graham reiterated his belief the Mueller should do his investigaton without interference.

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A spokesman for Paul Manafort appeared to respond Tuesday to allegations made by special counsel Robert Mueller that the former Trump campaign chairman had engaged in witness tampering while facing charges in two criminal cases.

“Mr. Manafort is innocent and nothing about this latest allegation changes our defense,” spokesman Jason Maloni said in a statement Tuesday. “We will do our talking in court.”

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who’s overseeing the case against Manafort in D.C., gave Manafort’s lawyers until Friday to file a response to Mueller’s allegations, which first surfaced Monday evening in court documents. She also scheduled a hearing on the matter for the morning of Friday, June 15.

Prosecutors are asking the judge to throw Manafort in jail while he awaits trial.

Mueller in filings Monday night said that Manafort had sought to reach out to two former business associates who allegedly helped coordinate a group of former European leaders said to be involved in Manafort’s lobbying for Ukraine. According to the filings, Manafort tried calling and texting one of  the associates directly, while  his longtime business partner Konstantin Kilimnik — dubbed by Mueller as “Person A” — reached out to the both associates in encrypted texts where he said he was trying to deliver a message from his “friend P.”

The texts and calls started after Mueller revealed a new set of charges that included the allegations about the group of ex-European leaders, known in the court documents as the Hapsburg group.

“Basically P wants to give him a quick summary that he says to everybody (which is true) that our friends never lobbied in the US, and the purpose of the program was EU,” one of the Kilimnik texts said, according to Mueller’s court filings. The filings also included emails that allegedly showed the Hapsburg group’s involvement in lobbying efforts in the U.S.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to the charges, that have included money laundering and failure to disclose foreign lobbying, that have been brought against him.

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Special counsel Robert Mueller in court filings Monday evening accused former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of witness tampering and asked for a judge to revoke his current house arrest and send him to jail.

Prosecutors alleged that Manafort sought to shape the testimony of witnesses beginning earlier this year. They claim that a person they dub as Person A reached out over encrypted texts to two former business associates of Manafort who were involved in his Ukraine lobbying work, according to the filings. The texts started in late February, just after Mueller unsealed a new indictment against Manafort in Washington, D.C., the prosecutors said.

Manafort has been charged in D.C. with money laundering, false statements and failure to disclose foreign lobbying. He also faces charges that include bank fraud and tax fraud in Virginia. He’s pleaded not guilty in both cases.

The charges that were revealed in late February included allegations that Manafort used a group of former European leaders — called the “Hapsburg” group — to secretly promote Ukraine’s Party of Regions in the United States. According to Monday’s filing, Person A sought to communicate with two former Manafort associates who worked  at a PR firm that acted as a intermediary between him and the  “Hapsburg” group.

Person A told one associate that Manafort wanted to get in touch with the second associate to “give him a quick summary that he says to everybody (which
is true) that our friends never lobbied in the US, and the purpose of the program was EU,” according to the texts quoted in the filings.

Manafort himself also attempted to reach one of the associates via texts and phone calls himself, according to a log of the alleged communications provided in the filings. One of those texts was a link to February 25 Business Insider story about how European politicians believed to be members of the Hapsburg group were reacting to Mueller’s allegations.

Mueller on Monday night filed a number of documents — emails and memos — he says shows that the Hapsburg group was in fact in engaged in lobbying in the United States. They include emails about connecting the European politicians with U.S. Senators, and placing op-eds in American news outlets.

Prosecutors are asking the judge, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, to rethink Manafort’s current placement in home confinement, and suggested that he may need to be put in jail.  The move comes after months of back and forth between prosecutors and Manafort over the terms of his release, whether he’s posted sufficient bond for his bail, where he can live and travel, and other related restrictions.

“Manafort’s obstructive conduct—carried out at a time when he was seeking relief from his current conditions of release—instills little confidence that restrictions short of detention will assure Manafort’s compliance with the Court’s orders and prevent him from committing further crimes,” Mueller said.

Read the Mueller request that Manafort’s house arrest be revoked, as well as the affidavit filed by an FBI agent about the communications below. A log of the alleged communications from Manafort and Person A to the two business associates are also below:

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President Trump’s insistent, baseless claims that millions of people voted illegally in 2016 appear to have convinced a significant number of Republicans. Forty-eight percent of Republicans said they believed 3 to 5 million people voted illegally, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll released last Sunday. That’s the number Trump once touted without a shred of evidence. Only 17 percent of Republicans said that they did not believe that 3 to 5 million voted illegally.

The poll also found that Republicans — by a 56-point margin — said widespread voter fraud was a bigger problem than legitimate voters being prevented from voting. Democrats, meanwhile, said by a 23-point margin voter suppression was a bigger issue.

Meanwhile, New Hampshire’s Secretary of State and Attorney General’s office both noted this week how few actual cases of voting fraud occurred in the state. New Hampshire Associate Attorney General Anne Edwards, for example, said this week that it had uncovered only five cases of wrongfully cast votes since Sept. 2016 — one of which was the fault of an election official who gave a student incorrect information about where he should be voting.

Nonetheless, New Hampshire Republicans are pushing a measure that will make it harder for students to vote in the state. The GOP-led legislature has passed the bill, but Gov. Chris Sununu (R) has asked the state Supreme Court to review the legislation before he signs it.

The push in Maine to move to a ranked-choice voting system got another court ruling in its favor Tuesday, when a federal judge said that the state must use the system in the upcoming primary, in lawsuit brought by Republicans attempting to hold on to the old plurality-of-votes system.

The Trump administration is facing yet another lawsuit for its decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census — this one filed in Maryland on Thursday.

Thursday also brought a decision by the 5th U.S. Court of Appeals in an ongoing case about whether or not Texas violated the National Voter Registration Act. The court granted Texas’s request and temporarily halted a lower-court decision requiring the state to fix its online DMV system so that Texans who are updating driver’s license info online are also given the opportunity to register to vote online. For now, Texas won’t have to make the fixes ordered by the lower court while the appeals court considers its appeal of the case.

Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted last week that Wisconsin has been waiting for 16 months for a federal appeals court decision. The state had sued the ACLU to block it from using state records to contact voters who might have trouble getting voter ID. A state court version of the lawsuit has already been thrown out.

Eric Holder’s anti-gerrymandering group, National Democratic Redistricting Committee, made moves this week to pour $175,000 into two Wisconsin state special elections, as part of its effort to elect state-level Democrats who they say will draw fairer maps after the 2020 Census.

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President Trump, in a tweet Monday morning, said that the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller was “totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL.” His claim runs contrary to a federal judge’s ruling in Washington, D.C. that upheld Mueller’s appointment and his authority to prosecute Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Trump misspelled the word “counsel” in his initial tweet, but corrected it in a version he sent about an hour later.

Earlier Monday morning, Trump claimed he had the ability to pardon himself — a legal question that is more open to debate than the President’s tweet suggested.

Manafort had brought two legal challenges to the scope of Mueller’s power, alleging that the appointment order was too broad because it allowed him to prosecute “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation” and that he was operating outside his authority in going after Manafort’s lobbying work in Ukraine that predated the 2016 election.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson dismissed a private lawsuit Manafort brought challenging Mueller’s authority and declined to throw out the criminal case when Manafort brought a similar argument there.

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President Donald Trump, who has sworn that there was no collusion between him and Russia, tweeted Monday morning the claim that he has the “absolute right” to pardon himself.

His declaration comes after he’s handed down a handful of politically-charged pardons and speculated about a few more — leading some to suggest that he’s sending a message to federal prosecutors and the associates of his campaign whom they are investigating.

The President’s ability to pardon others for federal crimes is well founded. But whether the President can pardon himself is a more open question among legal scholars.

A letter written by Trump’s attorneys in January to special counsel Robert Mueller that was obtained by the New York Times over the weekend claimed that the President “could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired.”

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani — who replaced Trump lawyer John Dowd, one of authors of the January letter — made similarly bombastic claims while on the Sunday show circuit this weekend.

Giuliani suggested that Trump could pardon himself but that doing so would lead to his impeachment. He also said that the president couldn’t be indicted while in office, telling the Huffington Post Sunday that if Trump “shot [former FBI Director] James Comey” he would be “impeached the next day,” but that an indictment would have to wait until after he was impeached.

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Special counsel Robert Mueller and the company that allegedly helped fund Russia’s social media election-meddling campaign are in no rush to get to trial, a court document filed Friday indicated.

The document — filed jointly by Mueller and Concord Management, the one defendant in the Russian internet toll case that has shown up in court — is a proposed briefing schedule recommending deadlines for various motions they plan to file in the case.

The proposed schedule stretches all the way into November. The filing also notes that the proposed schedule doesn’t include additional motions that may be filed “depending on the materials received in discovery, including but not limited to a motion for a bill of particulars, motion(s) to suppress, and motion(s) to compel.” The filing says that the government hasn’t started turning turning over discovery materials yet.

Last week, Judge Dabney L. Friedrich granted both sides’ joint request that she pause the clock for three months on the countdown to a trial; that countdown is based on a calculation used to set a trial date under the Speedy Trial Act. Friedrich will have to approve the briefing schedule proposed in Friday’s filing as well.

Concord Management is facing charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, with Mueller alleging it funded the Internet Research Agency, the Russian organization alleged to have led the social media campaign. Concord Management is partially owned by Yevginy Prigozhin — a Russian restauranteur so cozy with the Kremlin he’s been nicknamed “Putin’s chef” — who is also named in the indictment, but has not entered an appearance in court. The company has pleaded not guilty.

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JUNE, 16 (RUSSIA OUT) Russian billionaire and busimessman, Concord catering company owner Yevgeny Prigozhin is seen during a meeting with foreign investors at Konstantin Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia, June,16, 2016. Vladimir Putin attends the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
Russian billionaire Yevgeny Prigozhin attends a meeting, June 16, 2016, in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

It’s not surprising that Mueller is OK with this case being slow rolled. In a previous court filing, the special counsel noted that this case “involves a foreign corporate defendant, controlled by another individual foreign defendant, that has already demanded production of sensitive intelligence gathering, national security, and foreign affairs information.” That filing was in response to Concord Management’s request for certain information about the case before its lawyers had even confirmed that they were accepting the summons.

When Mueller brought the case, few thought it would ever see a court room — given Putin’s likely unwillingness to extradite those named in the indictment — and many interpreted the indictment as an effort by Mueller to inform the public about that aspect of his investigation.

Discovery will get underway, now that the case is proceeding, and it is likely that at least some of the discovery materials will become public depending on what legal challenges Concord Management brings against Mueller’s case. The more time it takes to get through these pretrial disputes, the better, if Mueller is trying to delay the disclosure of information that affects other aspects of his investigation or is worried about how foreign powers might benefit from its disclosure.

It’s interesting, however, that Concord Management — which is being represented by Eric Dubelier and Kate Seikelay, who are based in DC — is also on board with this schedule. Dubelier has fought Mueller’s team tooth and nail at every step of the proceedings — from the summons issue, to an argument in court last month over whether Dubelier hung up on Mueller’s team during a planning phone call the week prior.

On the other hand, Concord Management has complained about the quantity and the form in which prosecutors have said they were planning to turn over the discovery materials. The time it will take to sift through that information may be driving Concord’s willingness to take its time in the proceedings.

“What I was most concerned about, your honor, though, is that, again based on the conversation we had Friday, I anticipate that we are going to get this massive dump of social media stuff that’s in Russian,” Dubelier said at a May 19 hearing. “This is an American court. That’s not what we’ve asked for. If they want to give it to us, that’s fine. We will deal with it. But it’s not what we’ve asked for.”

Read the Friday’s briefing schedule proposal below:

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The Justice Department’s Inspector General is expected, any day now, to release his much anticipated report on the department’s activities in the lead-up to the 2016 election.

The review is mostly focused on DOJ’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. It is separate from the Inspector General probe into surveillance warrants sought for an ex-Trump campaign advisor, nor will it likely cover the other GOP allegations of bias in DOJ’s Trump-Russia investigation. (The Inspector General, it’s worth noting, hasn’t formally announced any inquiries into the Trump investigation matters besides the one reviewing the surveillance warrants).

Rather, the Office of Inspector General — in its January 2017 announcement that it was opening its probe, at the behest of lawmakers of both parties — said the report would cover five major areas.

Here is what they are, what we know about them so far, and what questions remain:

Comey’s Clinton Press Conference, And His Two Letters To Congress

Among the episodes Inspector General Michael Horowitz is examining is a press conference FBI Director Jim Comey gave in July 2016 in which he stridently criticized Clinton for using an outside email server. Comey called Clinton’s actions “extremely careless,” but recommended that no charges be brought. The sort of announcement that Comey made then is typically left to the Justice Department. Comey has since defended the move by arguing that he was seeking to restore DOJ leadership’s credibility after Bill Clinton’s tarmac meeting with then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch, which angered Republicans.

The Inspector General also is looking at Comey’s decision to send Congress a letter in late October 2016 announcing that the investigation had been reopened to search files found on a computer used by Anthony Weiner, who was being investigated for sex crimes and whose wife, Huma Abedin was one of Clinton’s closest aides.

Days later, just before the election, Comey sent Congress another letter indicating that nothing the FBI found had changed the conclusions it had previously reached in the  Clinton email probe. But by then, the news cycle had been dominated by the news that the email probe had been reopened.

It is not typical for the Justice Department to announce the opening or reopening of an investigation. And there’s a DOJ policy ordering that it stay quiet about investigations that could influence an election in the weeks leading up to election day.

Comey has said that even though he feels “mildly nauseous” that his announcement may have impacted the election, he doesn’t regret sending the letters.

Whether McCabe Should Have Been Recused From The Clinton Probe

Prior to the report set to be unveiled in the days to come, the Inspector General released the findings in its review pertaining to ex-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, a frequent Trump target who was fired in February by Attorney General Jeff Sessions hours before he was eligible for full pension benefits. The Inspector General said then that McCabe misled its investigators who were reviewing his decision to permit details about internal feuds over Clinton investigations to be disclosed to the press.

This latest report also is examining the decision that McCabe not recuse himself from overseeing the Clinton probe. An October 2016 Wall Street Journal story revealing that McCabe’s wife, in an unsuccessful 2015 state Senate race, received campaign contributions by a group linked to Clinton supporter Terry McAuliffe, made McCabe a punching bag for Republicans, who called him biased.

McCabe sought ethics counseling when he became deputy director in February 2016, which is when he first had any oversight into the Clinton email probe and well after his wife’s campaign ended.

Ironically, the media leak that McCabe would later mislead IG investigators about was for a negative Clinton story depicting internal DOJ tensions over investigating her. The story confirmed a separate investigation into the Clinton Foundation.

“Among the purposes of the disclosure was to rebut a narrative that had been developing following a story in the WSJ on October 23, 2016, that questioned McCabe’s impartiality in overseeing FBI investigations involving former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and claimed that McCabe had ordered the termination of the [Clinton Foundation] Investigation due to Department of Justice pressure,” the Inspector General said in its McCabe report.

Did A DOJ Official Feed Inappropriate Info To The Clinton Campaign?

The Inspector General is probing communications between Peter Kadzik and John Podesta, who have been friends since both were at Georgetown Law.

Wikileaks posted an email Kadzik, then a DOJ official, sent to Podesta, the chair of Clinton’s campaign, in May 2015, flagging an upcoming hearing where a DOJ official would be testifying and was “likely to get questions on State Department emails.” Kadzik also flagged a detail in a court document being filed in an emails-related FOIA case.

Ethics experts who are skeptical that Kadzik violated DOJ policies have pointed out that he wasn’t using his government email, and that he was highlighting only publicly available information.

Other DOJ/FBI Leaks During the Campaign

The announcement also said that the Inspector General is probing “[a]llegations that Department and FBI employees improperly disclosed non-public information.”

Clinton supporters have accused the FBI of leaking information about the investigations into her, with one report dubbing the FBI “Trumpland” for its Clinton hostility. There’s been some reporting that the leaks were coming from current or former federal investigators in New York, whom, it’s been speculated, have remained close to Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani himself bragged on Fox News that he had an advance warning from the FBI about the Comey letter to Congress.

An Interestingly Timed Clinton Foundation Records Release

A batch of FBI records related to President Trump’s father sought under the Freedom of Information Act was released October 30, while some FBI Clinton Foundation-related records were published on November 1, 2016. Their release was also promoted on an FBI Twitter account. The FBI records concerning the Clinton Foundation pertained to its investigation into President Bill Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich — a probe closed in 2005. But the Clinton Foundation was also a political flashpoint for Hillary Clinton in her campaign.

The Twitter account that promoted their release had been dormant for more than a year before its reactivation the day before it tweeted the Clinton Foundation files. The Clinton campaign also said the timing was “odd” given there was no lawsuit deadline facing the FBI.

The FBI at the time said that the timing reflected “standard procedure for FOIA” in which records that requested three or more times are released publicly and processed on a “first in, first out” basis.

The day before the Clinton records tweet, the FBI Records Vault Twitter account also tweeted records related to Fred Trump, Donald Trump’s father.

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The pressure President Trump put on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his recusal from the Russia investigation extended beyond the March 2017 Mar-a-Lago conversation reported by the New York Times this week.

Unnamed sources detailed to Axios in a Thursday report additional discussions Trump had with Sessions over the phone and in person about his recusal. Two sources told Axios that Trump stopped short of ordering Sessions to undo his recusal, but rather told the attorney general he’d be a “hero” among conservatives if he did “the right thing” and reasserted oversight of the investigation. The probe is now being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and overseen by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

According to one of Axios’ sources, Trump also encouraged Sessions to open an investigation into Hillary Clinton, who continues to be the subject of “lock her up chants” at Trump rallies.

These conversations continued from March through the end of last year, Axios reported.

Sessions has said he was following Justice Department protocols in recusing himself from the Russia investigation. He also said in his confirmation hearing he would recuse himself from investigations into Clinton and any probes linked to the 2016 campaign.

Nevertheless, Trump has raged publicly and privately about Sessions’ recusal, and even Tweeted Wednesday that he regretted picking Sessions as an attorney general.

Both the White House and a Sessions spokeswoman declined to comment on the Axios report.

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