President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort on Monday arrived at a Federal Bureau of Investigation office in Washington DC after he and a business associate were asked to surrender in connection with the ongoing probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 president election.
(HT) They were asked to surrender to authorities on charges including tax fraud, various media organisations reported.
Trump had fired off a volley of tweets on Sunday expressing frustration with the Russia probe, seeking to divert attention towards Hillary Clinton and demanding action against her as well as her campaign over a mix of old and new allegations.
“DO SOMETHING,” the president pleaded in one of them, in capital letters, not clear who with, and accused Democrats of reprising the old charge of “collusion” at a time when Republicans are united, are “fighting back”, and are ready to push for “historic tax cuts and reforms”.
Trump re-litigated old allegations of Russia’s purchase of American uranium deposits during Clinton’s term as secretary of state in exchange for donations to the Clinton Foundation and the 33,000 deleted emails from her private server that she had used also when in office, as America’s top diplomat.
The president also brought up a recent controversy that Clinton’s campaign had partly financed a DC research firm to dig up dirt on him, and which, had prepared the salacious “Steele Dossier”, named after a former British spy Christopher Steele who put it together, alleging contacts between Trump and Russians.
The Washington Post recently reported the opposition-research conducted by the firm was first funded by a major Republican donor who was No-Trumper but who gave up once Trump won the nomination. The Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign stepped in then to the keep the research going. “Oppo” research, as it is called, is standard practice in American politics deployed by parties and candidates of every inclination and ideology.
“Never seen such Republican ANGER & UNITY as I have concerning the lack of investigation on Clinton made Fake Dossier (now $12,000,000?) … (ellipses mark end of a tweet here) the Uranium to Russia deal, the 33,000 plus deleted Emails, the Comey fix and so much more. Instead they look at phony Trump/Russia … ‘collusion’, which doesn’t exist. The Dems are using this terrible (and bad for our country) Witch Hunt for evil politics, but the R’s … are now fighting back like never before. There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!”
The president’s frustration, and desperation as reflected in the capital-lettered appeal to no one in particular, could have been compelled by the expected first indictment to be handed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion by Trump campaign officials.
CNN first reported the impending indictment, which could be accompanied by a arrest or more on Monday, and that will surely be a major worry for the president who has struggled to extricate himself and his presidency from the widespread perception that a precariously damaged candidate like him could have only won because of a miracle, or Russians.
The CNN, which first reported the development Friday did not specify the charges or identify the target, or targets. The charges were approved by a grand jury hearing testimony as a Washington DC federal court. There were suggestions that arrests, also the first in this case, could follow neat week, as early as Monday or Tuesday.
Mueller, a highly-respected former FBI director — a Republican who was appointed to the post by Republican president George W Bush, was named Special Counsel by the US justice department in May after President Trump fired then FBI director James Comey failing to prevent him from going after Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser sacked for lying about his conversations with Russian officials.
Mueller’s mandate is to look not only into the Russian meddling and allegation of Trump campaign collusion, but also “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation”, which has been a matter of serious concern for the White House and the president himself, who have accused the special counsel in what is clearly a preemptive maneuver of conducting a “witch-hunt”.
There have been reports that the president could fire the special counsel, who was appointed by his administration, and shut down the probe, which has caused bipartisan disquiet on Capitol Hill, home to US legislature, and lawmakers have moved legislation to prevent Trump from doing that.
Trump has also explored the prospect of using his presidential pardon to protect those indicted or charged from being prosecuted and tried, including himself, according to reports. The pardon cannot protect him from impeachment, but pretty much anything else.
The president has been frustrated by the Russia probe and the shadow it has cast on his administration almost the start, and he has denied any collusion, he had even appeared to skeptical about the meddling at all, that had been confirmed by the country’s intelligence community.