Category Archives: Crime

Russian spy in the NRA to plead guilty, her American boyfriend receives a ‘target letter’

Alleged Russian agent Maria Butina is likely to plead guilty as soon as this week, according to court papers filed Monday, NBC reports. Accused Russian agent Maria Butina likely to plead guilty:

Lawyers for Butina and the Justice Department say in the court filing that her criminal case has been “resolved.”

The two sides have been negotiating a possible plea deal in recent weeks.

Butina, 30, is accused of acting as an agent of Russia in the Washington, D.C. area and faces charges of conspiracy and failing to register as a foreign agent.

She was arrested in July for allegedly conspiring to infiltrate politically powerful U.S. organizations, including the NRA, in an effort to push Moscow’s agenda.

Prosecutors say that Butina’s covert work was directed by Alexander Torshin, a former Russian senator and deputy head of Russia’s central bank who is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and who was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in April 2018 along with several other Russian oligarchs.

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The path forward is clear: impeachment is coming

The Department of Justice reaffirmed on Friday that the President of the United States is an unindicted co-conspirator who coordinated with and directed Michael Flynn to commit criminal felonies on his behalf as his proxy.  The Special Counsel also gave a glimpse, without disclosing all his cards, that he has evidence of “political synergy” (collusion) between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Americans elected a Russian asset and a criminal to the White House. It’s time to come to terms with this stark reality.

The path forward is clear: impeachment is coming.

The Washington Post reports, Court filings directly implicate Trump in efforts to buy women’s silence, reveal new contact between inner circle and Russian:

Federal prosecutors filed new court papers Friday directly implicating President Trump in plans to buy women’s silence as far back as 2014 and offering new evidence of Russian efforts to forge a political alliance with Trump before he became president — disclosures that show the deepening political and legal morass enveloping the administration.

The separate filings came from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III Mueller Cohen Sentencing Memo (.pdf), and federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York  SDNY Cohen Sentencing Memo (.pdf) ahead of Wednesday’s sentencing of Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Taken together, the documents suggest that the president’s legal woes are far from over and reveal a previously unreported contact from a Russian to Trump’s inner circle during the campaign. But the documents do not answer the central question at the heart of Mueller’s work — whether the president or those around him conspired with the Kremlin.

The documents offer a scathing portrait of his former lawyer as a criminal who deserves little sympathy or mercy because he held back from telling the FBI everything he knew. For that reason, prosecutors said, he should be sentenced to “substantial” prison time, suggesting possibly 3½ years.

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Michael Flynn sentencing memorandum indicates that the Special Counsel is far from done

The media waited with bated breath in high anticipation of the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sentencing memorandum for Michael Flynn, hoping that it would lay out a more complete narrative of his case, as the indictments previously filed have done.

The media was disappointed by the Sentencing Memorandum (.pdf) and heavily redacted Addendum (.pdf). This is because Michael Flynn is a cooperating witness in at least three criminal investigations that are ongoing, and the Special Counsel must maintain this information as confidential. The non-public sentencing memorandum is filed under seal.

Andrew Prokop at Vox.com analyses, 4 takeaways from Mueller’s sentencing memo for Michael Flynn:

[T]here’s a lot in the text itself and between the redacted lines in the documents, amounting to four key takeaways.

First off, Mueller is quite happy with Flynn’s cooperation — happy enough to recommend that he serve no prison time. (This is a notable contrast to the positively scathing memo Mueller’s team wrote about George Papadopoulos, in which they said he did not provide “substantial assistance” and complained that he talked to the press.)

Second, Flynn is cooperating in not one but three different investigations — Mueller’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, a separate criminal probe, and a third investigation of some kind. But most of the details of these other probes are redacted, including even the type of the third investigation.

Third, the cooperation Flynn provided to Mueller’s probe specifically appears to break down into two main areas. One focused on contacts between the Trump transition team and Russia, but we don’t know what the other one is yet.

Finally, the many redactions indicate that there’s still a whole lot going on behind the scenes that Mueller doesn’t yet want the public to know about.

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GOP election fraud in North Carolina 9th congressional district

Republicans purvey the myth of in-person voter fraud at the polls, for which there is no evidence to substantiate their conspiracy theory.

If voter fraud is going to occur, it will occur with early voting mail-in ballots. The hand-full of voters prosecuted for “double voting” in Arizona are snowbird residents who voted in their home state and also voted in Arizona. None served time.

But what happened in North Carolina’s 9th congressional district is not about voter fraud (the media really needs to stop using this term incorrectly). This is an actual case of election fraud — the stealing of an election by the GOP — through voter suppression of minority voters’ early mail-in ballots.

The Washington Post reports, North Carolina election-fraud investigation centers on operative with criminal history who worked for GOP congressional candidate:

[A] local operative named Leslie McCrae Dowless ran his command center for Republican Mark Harris in the 9th Congressional District primary this spring.

Dowless sat at a desk at the back of one of the strip’s vacant storefronts, where he oversaw a crew of workers who collected absentee ballots from voters and updated the Harris campaign on the numbers, according to Jeff Smith, who is the building’s owner and a former Dowless friend.

Smith provided his account about the primary campaign to state investigators, who are examining whether Dowless’s activities then and in the general election violated North Carolina’s election laws, which allow only individual voters or designated close relatives to mail a ballot.

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It’s Mueller Time!

Investigative reporter Michael Isikoff reports that Mueller is preparing endgame for Russia investigation:

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors have told defense lawyers in recent weeks that they are “tying up loose ends” in their investigation, providing the clearest clues yet that the long-running probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election may be coming to its climax, potentially in the next few weeks, according to multiple sources close to the matter.

The new information about the state of Mueller’s investigation comes during a pivotal week when the special counsel’s prosecutors are planning to file memos about three of their most high profile defendants — former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

A Flynn sentencing memo is due Tuesday, and memos about Manafort and Cohen are slated for Friday. All three documents are expected to yield significant new details on what cooperation the three of them provided to the Russia investigation.

There has been much speculation that Mueller might file his memo in Manafort’s case under seal in order to prevent public disclosure of the additional crimes his office believes Manafort committed when he allegedly lied to prosecutors and broke a plea deal after agreeing to cooperate.

But Peter Carr, spokesman for the special counsel, confirmed to Yahoo News on Monday that the Manafort memo “will be public,” although he added there could be some portions that are redacted or filed as a sealed addendum. The Manafort memo has been requested by the federal judge in his case so that prosecutors could, for the first time, spell out what matters they believe Manafort has lied to them about.

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