This past week, news of the Russia investigations was relatively quiet; the biggest stories were about witnesses who are expected to testify in upcoming congressional hearings, and information gathered, expected, or wanted by the congressional committees.
DoJ and Special Counsel
In special counsel Mueller’s DoJ probe, the week has mainly brought musings of incoming and outgoing associates. A new prosecutor, Andrew Goldstein, joined the team after leading the renowned anti-corruption unit of the Manhattan US attorney’s office. Goldstein worked under Preet Bharara, the former US attorney who was abruptly fired by President Trump in March. Goldstein’s corruption unit is known for prosecuting public corruption, financial fraud, and white collar crime.
Another revelation in the DoJ’s Russia world is a recent Washington Post story which details the extensive questioning of former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Cater Page by the FBI in March. These interviews, which took place prior to the appointment of a special counsel to the FBI’s investigation, were reportedly confirmed by Page, who continues to deny any wrongdoing or collusion while associated with the Trump campaign. The FBI’s evidence against Page allegedly came from a dossier compiled by a former British spy; the dossier allegedly indicates extensive cooperation and communication between the Trump campaign and the Russian government leading up to the 2016 election, and is the basis of much speculation about campaign associates and their foreign connections. Page maintains that the allegations that he met and communicated with Russian officials during the campaign–and that the campaign colluded with Russia to influence the election–is a politically motivated ‘witch hunt.’
Senate Intelligence Committee
The Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation had a significant informational accomplishment this week: committee leaders told the press that they had come to an agreement with DoJ officials which allows them to see former FBI Director James Comey’s infamous memos detailing his interactions with the president prior to his dismissal. The Senate Intelligence Committee, along with other congressional committees conducting Russia investigations, has been eager to get ahold of Comey’s memos after his testimony last month. Ranking member Mark Warner also mentioned that the committee expected upcoming testimony from Trump’s son-in-law/adviser Jared Kushner. In other news, Warner also revealed that former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who is a central figure in many of the federal and congressional Russia investigations, had said he would speak with the Senate Intelligence Committee if he was granted immunity. Flynn is reportedly seeking immunity and may already be cooperating with the FBI and DoJ, according to some Democratic lawmakers.
House Intelligence Committee
The House Intelligence Committee’s investigation is also picking up speed, and members expect a handful of upcoming interviews and hearings. Although many of the House and Senate Intelligence Committee Russia hearings have been public so far, the House committee seems to be shifting more towards gathering classified information and conducting closed sessions. Next month, the committee will interview Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign communications adviser, who voluntarily agreed to testify in a closed session. Caputo, who used to work in Moscow and has substantial connections to Russia, denies any collusion on the part of the Trump campaign but does acknowledge that Russia clearly interfered in the electoral process. Caputo also has close connections to Trump adviser Roger Stone; Stone has also agreed to testify before the House Intelligence Committee about the specifics of the Russian cyber attacks (under the name Guccifer2.0) and the release of classified information to Wikileaks and other sites. Stone, who has talked about his early communications with the hacking sites and the perpetrators, has denied any wrongdoing and offered to testify publicly, but committee leaders say they will conduct their interviews in a closed setting. In other closed interviews this past week, the House Intelligence Committee spoke with former Pentagon official Evelyn Farkas and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, whose email was one of the early hacks during the campaign. The committee also expects to interview former Trump campaign national security adviser JD Gordon sometime in the next few weeks. Although the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation appears to be gaining ground with its long list of interviews, its members are still somewhat split along partisan lines, evidenced by the various lines of inquiry the committee is pursuing. In another closed interview expected next month, the committee will hear from Susan Rice, former national security adviser to Obama, about allegations that she leaked or mismanaged classified intelligence documents concerning the names of Trump campaign and transition associates.
Senate Judiciary Committee & Subcommittee
This week leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee requested FBI surveillance documents related to Russia’s election interference. Chairman Chuck Grassley and chairman of the committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, Lindsey Graham, sent their written request to Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein and acting FBI director Andrew McCabe. Their letter specifically asked for FBI and DoJ warrant applications for Russia and election-related surveillance; all such warrant applications go through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
This blog was written by Stella Jordan. If you have comments on this blog, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.