RussiaGate Latest

Drawn from various sources and updated twice a day by our editorial team, RussiaGate Latest tracks daily developments in the coverage of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, how much of it the Trump campaign knew, and ongoing federal investigations of the matter.

Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Photo credit: The White House / YouTube
  1. Mueller Interviews Spicer

    Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference continues with an all-day interview with President Donald Trump’s former press secretary, Sean Spicer. During the interview, Mueller’s team interrogated Spicer on the firing of former FBI Director James Comey and Trump’s White House meetings with Russian officials. Spicer declined to comment on the interview.

  2. Senate Intel Subpoenas Former Trump Advisor

    The Senate Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed documents and testimony from Carter Page, former foreign policy advisor to then-candidate Trump. Page initially stated that he would plead the Fifth in this exact scenario, but has since told NBC News over email that he plans to publicly testify on Nov. 1, the same day the committee scheduled an open hearing with Google, Facebook and Twitter.

  3. Justice Department Nominee Trump Mole in Mueller Probe

    Last month, the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmed Brian Benczkowski’s nomination for head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, a role that comes with access to insider information on Mueller’s investigation. Some worried that Benczkowski, former aide to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, would share this information with Trump, thus acting as a mole in the Mueller probe. This concern arises from one interpretation of the PATRIOT Act, a law that expands surveillance powers to government lawyers regarding national security matters.

  4. Flynn Ally Pursued Independent Clinton Email Probe

    Senate Judiciary Committee staffer Barbara Ledeen pursued her own investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email scandal in 2015. Ledeen is the second ally of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn to do so. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) denied Leeden’s ties with the current investigative team even though she serves on the committee. A Grassley spokesman explained that Ledeen’s 2015 probe was unauthorized and had been halted as soon as the committee learned of its existence. 

  5. Russian Oligarch Identified as “Troll Factory” Financier

    Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin’s business empire is at the center of investigations as evidence emerged that it financed the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a St. Petersburg-based tech firm that served as a “troll factory” to spread fake news and divisive content during the 2016 presidential election. CNN examined leaked IRA documents containing a “Department of Provocations” to create news items that, according to an anonymous former employee, “influence opinions” and “know all the main problems” of the US.

  6. Kremlin Oligarch Links Russian Bankers to Trump Campaign

    Exiled Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky said in an NBC News interview that he is “almost convinced” Russian President Vladimir Putin “personally” cooperated with the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. He hinted that his former business associate Sergey Gorkov may have been carrying out orders from one of his superiors, VTB Bank executive Andrey Kostin or Herman Gref, when he met with senior White House advisor Jared Kushner last December. Kostin and Gref have both been publicly linked to Trump.

Devin Nunes
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes Photo credit: Latvian Foreign Ministry / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).
  1. Trump Claims Americans Are “Sick” of Russia Probe

    In a press conference Monday, President Donald Trump addressed his associates’ ties with Kremlin-connected agents by telling investigators to wrap up their probe into alleged Russian election interference because, “The American public is sick of it.” He went on to claim that the investigation is an “excuse for Democrats losing the election” and that he had no intention of dismissing special counsel Robert Mueller.

  2. Steele Dossier Lawyers Accuse Nunes of "Unprofessional Conduct"

    The legal team representing Fusion GPS, the firm that compiled the Steele dossier — a cache of memos detailing incriminating contact between Trump associates and Russian operatives — accused House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) and his staff of exhibiting a “pattern of unprofessional conduct.” The firm deemed Nunes and his staff “unreliable partners in good faith negotiations” for subpoenaing records relevant to the Russia probe after Nunes had already recused himself from the investigation in April. The lawyers added that the firm’s representatives will invoke their constitutional right not to testify if compelled to appear before the committee.

  3. Trump Campaign Paid Trump Jr. Legal Fees

    According to public disclosures by the Federal Election Commission, Trump’s re-election campaign committee paid almost $238,000 in legal fees over the past two months to the law firm representing Donald Trump Jr. in the Russian interference probe. The campaign paid $1.1 million in total legal fees during this time period. Campaign committees are legally allowed cover fees for all members as long as services pertain to campaign operations.  

  4. Russian Lawyer’s Trump Tower Meeting Memo Released

    Foreign Policy magazine obtained the memo of Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya’s talking points from the June 2016 meeting at the Trump Tower. The published memo confirms Veselnitskaya’s claims that her intention in meeting with three key Trump associates — Trump Jr., ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and senior White House advisor Jared Kushner — was to discuss the repealing of the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 sanctions law imposed on Russian human rights abusers. The Trump trio, on the other hand, had agreed to the meeting on the promise that Veselnitskaya would provide incriminating information on Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Julian Assange
Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy, London. Photo credit: Cancillería del Ecuador / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).
  1. Assange Under Pressure to Disclose DNC Emails Source

    Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) have reportedly discussed an offer made by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to reveal the leaker of the hacked Democratic National Committee emails, so that the information could be relayed to President Donald Trump. Assange denied the Daily Caller‘s reporting, tweeting that “offers [had] been made” to him, “not the other way around.”

  2. Flynn Ally Engaged the Dark Web In Clinton Server Probe

    Barbara Ledeen, a close associate of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, allegedly conducted a private investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server using research on the “dark web,” a part of the internet accessible to hackers. Ledeen is the second Flynn ally linked to an unofficial investigation into the Clinton server. The first was Republican operative Peter Smith, 81, who described his own unofficial probe in an interview with the Wall Street Journal 10 days before his death.

  3. Twitter Erased Russia Investigation Data

    Social media company Twitter deleted valuable information related to the Russia probe, according to cybersecurity analysts and other current and former U.S. officials. One reason for the data destruction is a Twitter policy which states that once the user revises or deletes his tweets, the company itself must do so as well.

Sheryl Sandberg
Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg Photo credit: Fortune Live Media / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
  1. White House Lawyers Consider Mueller, Trump Interview

    President Donald Trump’s legal team may allow, or even offer, Robert Mueller an interview with the president to accelerate the special counsel’s probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The president’s attorneys believe that Trump’s frank and convincing answers would finally put an end to an onerous process he deemed the “single greatest witch hunt” in US history.

  2. Facebook COO Dodges Questions About Russian Ads

    In an interview with Axios Thursday, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg refused to confirm whether her company has identified an overlap in how Russian operatives and Trump campaign staffers targeted ads toward users ahead of the 2016 election. An apparent overlap could indicate a joint effort between the Russians and the Trump camp to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton. Sandberg, who privately met with House investigators Wednesday, did emphasize Facebook’s commitment to publicly release the 3,000 Russian-linked ads seized by Congress.

  3. Trump Yet to Enforce Russia Sanctions

    In a rare display of bipartisan resolve, Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and John McCain (R-AZ) released a blistering statement Wednesday criticizing Trump’s failure to meet the September 8 deadline for installing new sanctions on Russia. In a direct challenge to the president’s pro-Kremlin rhetoric, Congress overwhelmingly passed a new sanctions bill in August. It was the congressional response to Russia’s apparent interference in the 2016 US election, its human rights violations and the annexation of Crimea.

Carter Page
  1. Focus Shifts to Trump Data Mining Firm

    Cambridge Analytica, the data-mining firm widely credited to President Donald Trump’s shock win, has been looped into the expanding Russian election meddling probe. The firm is in the process of handing over documents to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which may help determine whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian operatives. Steve Bannon, former White House chief strategist, had company holdings worth between $1 and $5 million.

  2. Lawmakers to Release Russian-Funded Facebook Ads

    Leading House Intelligence Committee lawmakers announced Wednesday that they will release Russian-funded Facebook ads after other tech companies, including Twitter and possibly Google, have agreed to testify on Capitol Hill. The committee shared the development after a closed-door meeting with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, who disclosed to investigators how Russia used the social media platform to interfere with the election.

  3. Former Trump Adviser to Plead the Fifth

    Former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page said he would plead the Fifth should the Senate Intelligence Committee insist that he appear before the panel for its Russia election tampering investigation. Page fell into FBI crosshairs last year for his “clandestine” financial ties to Moscow, but he has so far refused to surrender relevant documents to investigators.

Donald Trump
  1. Think Tank Report Claims Trump Could Be Impeached

    The Brookings Institution published a paper Tuesday charging that the evidence available on public record sufficiently indicate that President Donald Trump obstructed justice by firing FBI Director James Comey, an act that impeded investigation into alleged Russian election interference. Upping the ante, the report outlines steps Special Counsel Robert Mueller can take to secure indictment, prosecution and even impeachment.

  2. Microsoft Launches Investigation on Russian Propaganda

    Microsoft became the latest tech giant to investigate Russian-bought ads on their Bing search engine, following recent evidence showing that agents used social media platforms to tamper with the 2016 presidential election. The Senate Intelligence Committee has already invited representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Google to testify before the panel. Google’s internal investigation has uncovered “tens of thousands of dollars” spent on Russian propaganda across its various platforms, but it’s the only company yet to accept the Senate’s invitation.

  3. Trump Advisors Divided on Approach to Investigators

    The escalating investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives to sway the 2016 election has brought sharp criticism to the cooperative approach taken by the president’s legal team. An anonymous group of 15 Trump aides, advisers and allies urged their boss to address Mueller’s investigation in a more aggressive manner.

  4. Trump Jr. to Testify Before Senate Panel, Grassley Hints

    Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said last Thursday that he plans on summoning Donald Trump Jr. before the panel to publicly testify about his role in the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, which involved a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer and the intrigue of political dirt on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) confirmed his committee’s intention to interview all attendees of the aforementioned session, including senior White House advisor Jared Kushner and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

  5. New Emails Reframe Purpose of Trump Tower Meeting

    A newly disclosed email exchange between Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and music promoter Rob Goldstone on the morning of the Trump Tower meeting raises questions about how the session came together. Goldstone, a longtime Trump family friend who represents Russian pop star Emin Agalarov, had brokered the meeting between Veselnitskaya and Trump Jr. on the premise that she held damning information on Clinton. The email, however, undermines his assertion while confirming Veselnitskaya’s: the focus of the meeting was not to cripple the Clinton campaign but to repeal the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 sanctions law imposed on Russian human rights abusers.

  6. Russian Hackers Steal NSA Information in Cybersecurity Breach

    Russian hackers obtained information on NSA’s cybersecurity methods — including those used to infiltrate foreign networks — after an NSA contractor copied “highly classified information” onto a home network protected by an antivirus software from a Russian company. It’s unclear whether the breach was a rogue operation. This is the third major NSA security breach in three years; the first occurred in 2013 with Julian Assange’s very purposeful public exposure of NSA spying practices.  

Barron, Melania, Donald, Trump
Stop It: There is a long history of media and partisan attacks on the daughters and sons of presidents. Now it is Barron Trump's turn. It is not appropriate. Leave Barron alone. Photo credit: The White House / Flickr
  1. Mueller Witness Leading Candidate for Circuit Court Opening

    James Burnham, a probable witness in Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation into alleged Russian election meddling, is one of President Donald Trump’s leading candidates for an open seat on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Burnham crossed path with the Trump campaign when he worked at the Jones Day law firm. During his tenure as top deputy in the White House Counsel’s office, Burnham was briefed by then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates on former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s involvement with Russia.

  2. US Elections Remain Vulnerable to External Interference

    Exactly a year after the US intelligence community issued a statement urging the Obama administration to address Russian election tampering, the country’s voting system remains vulnerable from foreign assault. With crucial leadership posts at the Department of Homeland Security still unfilled, staffers have yet to install security safeguards for the upcoming 2017 primaries and state and local races.

  3. Kremlin Respond to US Restrictions on RT

    The Kremlin has threatened to respond to the Justice Department’s requirement that Russian news outlet RT register as a foreign agent, decrying the requirement as “overreaching.” Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned that her country can apply the same restrictions on American journalists. While unprecedented, she added, such a move may be warranted for such a “particular case.”

  4. Trump Campaign Worked with Facebook Produce Targeted Ads

    In an interview with 60 Minutes Sunday night, former Trump campaign digital director Brad Parscale outlined methods the team used to produce targeted social media advertising. “Embeds,” or employees of platforms like Google, Twitter and Facebook, taught and worked with campaign staffers to produce 50,000 to 60,000 ads per day. Parscale said that Facebook reportedly arranged the partnership while he personally vetted employees to ensure partisan loyalty.

Richard Burr, Mark Warner and Vladimir Putin
Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-NC). Photo credit: C SPAN
  1. RT US Staff Quit En Masse Over Security Fears

    Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of the Kremlin-backed news outlet RT, testified at a Russian parliamentary hearing that “masses” of the company’s US staff had quit out of “fear for their security.” The US Department of Justice recently requested that RT register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agent Registration Act.

  2. Senate Intel to Hold Press "Accountable" on Russia Reporting

    The Senate Intelligence Committee will hold the media “accountable” for any false reporting on the Russia election meddling probe, Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) announced, telling some organizations to expect “egg on their face” when the panel releases its findings. Burr insisted that the committee is not investigating the press, but merely scrutinizing published materials for unnamed sources and unsubstantiated claims.

  3. Trump Urges Congress to Investigate "Fake News Networks"

    A day after Senate Intel announced that its findings confirmed Russian interference in the 2016 election — corroborating the consensus in the intelligence community — President Donald Trump demanded that the committee investigate “Fake News Networks,” whom he has consistently lambasted for promulgating negative, inaccurate coverage of his administration.

Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump
  1. Mueller Team Delves into "Golden Shower" Dossier

    Special Counsel Robert Mueller has begun investigating a 35-page dossier as part of its probe into Russian efforts to sway the 2016 US presidential election, Reuters reported. Compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, the document comprises explosive but unverified allegations of collusion between President Donald Trump’s close associates and Russian operatives during the election. Also in the cache are lewd snippets from a blackmail fodder Kremlin collected on the president — including the existence of a videotape featuring Trump-hired prostitutes urinating on a Moscow hotel bed.

  2. Manafort Accused of Misleading Bankruptcy Court

    Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort conspired to mislead a bankruptcy court over the ownership of several real estate properties, according to a court filing submitted by his estranged son-in-law, Jeffrey Yohai. The two had been locked in an acrimonious legal tussle over the sale of upscale Los Angeles properties marred by bankruptcy issues. Manafort’s work for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine has made him a key figure in Mueller’s investigation and a target of government wiretapping.

  3. Russian-linked Facebook Ads Targeted Swing States

    Russian-linked Facebook ads in Michigan and Wisconsin reportedly targeted 10 million users of key demographics to sway electoral outcomes in last year’s election, CNN reported. The two states were bitterly contested battlegrounds, with Trump winning both by roughly 10,700 and 22,700 votes, respectively. The investigations led by Mueller and the congressional committees are now examining possible coordination between Trump associates and Russian operators on social-media platforms.

Donald Trump, Jr, Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump
  1. Trump Children Narrowly Escaped Fraud Charges in 2012

    President Donald Trump’s eldest children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., were nearly indicted on felony fraud charges in the spring of 2012, reported the New Yorker, WYNC and ProPublica. Prosecutors in Manhattan District Attorney’s office had been developing a criminal case against the Trump children for lying to prospective buyers about the Trump SoHo’s abysmal condo sales. But after two years of investigation, District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. abruptly dropped the case. The reason may be rooted in the five-figure piecemeal donations (one for $25,000) Marc Kasowitz — Trump’s personal attorney and lead counsel in the Russia investigation — made to Vance Jr.’s reelection bids.

  2. Senate Intel Shares Preliminary Findings from Russia Probe

    In anticipation of the 2018 midterm elections, Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) released today preliminary findings of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into alleged Russian election interference. Though claims of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia remain unverified, both congressmen said that the intelligence community has reached a “general consensus” regarding President Vladimir Putin’s support for — and leadership in — the Russian campaign to undermine the 2016 US presidential election.

  3. GOP Congressman Met Kremlin-Linked Lawyer During 2016 Campaign

    Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), a pro-Russia congressman, reportedly met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Kremlin-connected lawyer who lobbied against the Magnitsky Act — an Obama-era law that imposed sanctions against Russian human rights abusers — and participated in the explosive June 2016 meeting with Trump Jr. and several other top Trump associates. Veselnitskaya told a pro-Russian Crimean news service that she met with Rohrabacher during his 2016 Moscow trip, just two months before her meeting with Trump Jr.

  1. Manafort Used Trump Campaign Role to Appease Russian Oligarch

    New emails obtained by congressional investigators suggest that President Donald Trump’s ex-campaign manager Paul Manafort leveraged his insider position to curry favor with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, to whom the former Trump aide owed $19 million for a failed investment in a Ukrainian cable television business. Deripaska, who has ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, had actually filed a court complaint against Manafort for the unpaid debt just a year before the latter joined the Trump campaign.

  2. Hedge Fund Tycoon Helped Cover Trump's Legal Bills

    Billionaire hedge fund CEO and prominent Republican donor Robert Mercer reportedly pumped $193,400 into President Donald Trump’s legal defense fund the same day Trump fired former FBI director James Comey. The fund covers attorney fees toward the Russian election interference probe. Mercer heads financial firm Renaissance Technologies — the top business campaign donor in the 2016 election cycle — and owns a $10 million share in Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm that helped the Trump campaign reach specific voters through targeted advertising.

  3. White House to Launch Legal Defense Fund for Aides

    A new legal defense fund, expected to launch this week, will help cover legal fees for mid-level White House aides tangled up in the Russian election meddling probes. Though establishing defense funds for administration staff is hardly unprecedented, it shows that the White House expects the expanding probe to reach beyond the president’s inner circle. In fact, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team has already begun interviewing aides last week.

  4. House Intel Demand Public Release of Russian-Backed Facebook Ads

    Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said that he intends to make public a “representative sampling” of the 3000 Russian-linked ads Facebook gave to Congress yesterday as part of the election tampering probe. The committee, however, is divided on this issue, with chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) asserting that his panel will not release to the public any documents pertaining to the investigation.

  5. Mueller Team Researching Pardon Power

    Realizing that Trump may attempt to pardon his close associates before prosecutors can press charges, Mueller tasked his legal counsel Michael Dreeben with researching precedents for the pre-emptive pardon to determine whether any limitations exist. Dreeben, a congressional lawyer with more than 100 Supreme Court appearances, will be assembling novel but sound interpretations of criminal law to ensure that “the special counsel’s prosecutorial moves are legally airtight.”

  6. Investigators Find Third Kushner Family Account

    White House officials are reviewing the contents of a third and previously undisclosed email account on the private server jointedly used by senior presidential advisor Jared Kushner and his wife, first daughter Ivanka Trump. The account, activated by Kushner last December, contains hundreds of emails sent from White House addresses, and shows that Ivanka had begun corresponding with aides months before officially joining the administration in March.

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