Some political sources in Washington indicate that the next step of the White House is to initiate on several fronts a battle to discredit special prosecutor Mueller based on what the document says. However, much of the investigation has nothing to do with what is said there.
The controversial memorandum published by the Republicans , with the approval of President Donald Trump , has uncovered what could be a direct confrontation between the US intelligence community and the White House.
The document, prepared by the team of the head of the Intelligence Committee of the House of Representatives, the Republican Devin Nunes, alleged alleged abuses of surveillance by the FBI to an adviser to the Trump presidential campaign.
The FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) vigorously tried to avoid publication of the memo because they claim that it compromises the ongoing federal investigation led by the special prosecutor, Robert Mueller, on the ‘ Rusiagate ‘, which tries to determine, among other things, whether there was collaboration between the Trump campaign and Russia to affect the results of the presidential elections of November 2016.
Democratic leaders in the Capitol, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, have called for Nunes’s departure from the Committee’s leadership for endangering Mueller’s investigation because, as the FBI claims, his memo has biased information , inaccurate data and a false narrative about their intelligence operations.
Defending its publication, Trump accused the FBI and the DOJ of being “politicizing” the investigation this Friday, because they act in favor of the Democrats, even though the heads of the two organizations are republican.
Then, the president criticized from the White House the “vices” of the FBI in the investigation of ‘Russiagate’: “I think it is a disgrace … many people should feel ashamed of themselves”. The president assures that the FBI spied on one of its collaborators in violation of the law and exceeding its functions.
The verbal war declared by Trump to the FBI goes further than any precedent due to the fact that it has been public and notorious.
But beyond the take and give me discursive, there are important aspects of the special investigation that advances Mueller that are not addressed by the memo and that justify, according to the observers, its validity.
The memo only focuses on trying to discredit the secret surveillance of the FBI to Trump’s collaborator in the Carter Page campaign, on the assumption that he had suspicious links with the Russian government.
Regardless of whether this is true or not, there are subjects of Mueller’s research, who are involved in different degrees in the framework that investigates the close circle of the president.
These are the most relevant:
Donald Trump Jr.
The president’s eldest son is involved in one of the most serious chapters of the ‘Russiagate’ plot.
In mid-2017 The New York Times published e-mails between Trump Jr. and an intermediary who offered him damaging information about the then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the heat of the 2016 presidential campaign.
Minutes after the newspaper launched the news, the president’s son revealed via Twitter “for the sake of being totally transparent” the email exchange he had with Rob Goldstone -the intermediary- between June 3 and 8, 2016, in the one that both try to coordinate the best way to exchange information.
The most serious aspect of this chapter is that the meeting finally took place in the Trump Tower in New York to talk about it. However, and this is the most notorious thing, from the White House the president ordered the writing of a statement where it was said that in that meeting they talked about the policy of adoptions of children in Russia.
In addition to Trump Jr, the meeting was attended by Jared Kushner , son-in-law and advisor to the president; Paul Manafort , ex-boss of the Trump campaign; Natalia Veselnitskaya , lawyer of the Russian government; Rinat Akhmetshin , Russian-American lobbyist; and Ike Kaleladze , vice president of the construction company of two Russian businessmen: Emin and Aras Agalarov .
What was said in that meeting is only known to the participants. However, it is not ruled out that in the future the prosecutor Mueller will achieve some kind of agreement with Manafort, who faces 12 accusations, in exchange for talking about what happened there, if one starts from the fact that in Trump Tower – or in another meeting- a plot was organized to affect Clinton.
The National Security Adviser of Trump lasted less than a month because he was forced to resign when it was learned that he had been with the Russian ambassador in Washington DC, Sergei Kislyak, in December, and he hid that meeting from the FBI where he requested to the diplomat that Russia would not react disproportionately to the sanctions imposed by Barack Obama for the interference of the Vladimir Putin government in the elections, since the incoming government of Trump could eliminate them. He also lied about another conversation with the diplomat about a pending vote in the UN Security Council.
This violated the Logan Act that prohibits individuals in the US from conducting diplomatic negotiations. Also, he hid this from Vice President Mike Pence .
Flynn pleaded guilty in a hearing held last year in federal court in Washington DC and reached an agreement to assist in the investigation. The former security adviser maintained that his contacts with Russian emissaries were led by staff of the president’s transition team. Among them, Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.
Here also an agreement is not ruled out in exchange for collaborating with the investigation of the ‘Rusiagate’ in exchange for benefits.
Kushner was questioned for about two hours last July by members of the Senate Intelligence Committee about his contacts with Russian officials during the presidential campaign and the transition period.
At the end of his appearance behind closed doors, Kushner went to the White House, where he offered a few brief statements to the media repeating what he had already said in his 11-page written testimony before his appearance before the senators.
In that single intervention to the media, he said: “Let me be clear, I did not confabulate with Russia and I do not know anyone in the campaign that has done it, I did not have inappropriate contacts, I have not relied on Russian resources for my business. at the moment of providing all the information requested.”
However, the president’s son-in-law was at the famous Trump Tower meeting. In his written testimony he says he never saw the exchange of emails between his brother-in-law Trump Jr. and businessman Rob Goldstone, facilitator of the meeting, until his lawyers showed them recently.
According to Kushner, the meeting was a “waste of time” as the issue turned-supposedly-around adoptions of Russian children and sent a message to his assistant to call him and have a pretext to leave the room.
In any case, Michael Flynn said that the instructions given for his meetings with the Russian ambassador were given, among others, by Kushner himself so there are still gray areas around the true involvement of this character in the general plot.
You can not minimize the impact that a former campaign manager of one of the major US parties has been prosecuted for serious federal crimes, starting with conspiring against the country.
That is the case of Manafort, accused of 12 charges, including conspiracy against the US, money laundering and making false statements to government agencies. Also his business partner Rick Gates, with whom he worked in the campaign, is part of the accusation.
After scarcely five months managing the Trump Manafort campaign, he had to resign forced by a New York Times report that revealed that he had worked for the controversial ex-leader of the pro-Russian Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, and that his had documents that stated that he had been paid 12.7 million dollars.
Manafort is a person with connections to officials close to Vladimir Putin, whom precisely the American intelligence community accuses of having been behind the alleged intervention in the presidential elections of 2016.
Manafort was also one of the attendees at the Trump Tower meeting.
The key to his role in the framework of the ‘Russiagate’ is that some observers suggest that now he could negotiate with prosecutors to provide potentially compromising data on other figures of the investigation, including President Trump himself, in exchange for more treatment. favorable in the trial against him.
Therefore, many believe that if there is a decisive figure in the possible illegal connections between Russia and the Republican campaign is just Manafort.
Also why it is insisted that the memo made public this Friday with the approval of Trump does not represent a damage to the investigation of the ‘Russiagate’ and much less a valid excuse that justifies the president dismisses Mueller for an alleged politicization of the investigations or an obvious partialization of the FBI and the Department of Justice, as the White House argues.
The ex-adviser on foreign policy issues of the Trump campaign was another of the figures who pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents , thus becoming the third member of the Republican presidential campaign to face criminal charges under Mueller’s investigation .
The court document released Monday said that on October 5, Papadopoulos, a lawyer from Chicago, admitted having had a meeting with a foreign informant to get information about Clinton.
This plea is, so far, the most explicit point in the connection between Trump’s campaign team and the Russian government’s interference in the 2016 elections.
Papadopoulos told the FBI that he had been in contact with an anonymous foreign professor who claimed to have “dirty data” about Clinton in “thousands of emails.”
“Through his false statements and omissions, the defendant prevented the FBI’s ongoing investigation into the existence of links or coordination between individuals associated with the campaign and the efforts of the Russian government to interfere with the 2016 presidential elections,” says the document.
The White House has tried to minimize the role of this character, but it is by far one of the most relevant pieces because it was the one that initiated a new line of investigation for the FBI.
And everything is because in one night of over drinks, Papadopoulos ended up entrusting to the former Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, that Russia had “dirty” information that could politically harm Hillary Clinton. The conversation between Papadopoulos and the diplomat occurred in May 2016 at a bar in London.
This exchange, made public by the Australian to US intelligence agencies, was a key factor in the decision of the FBI to open an investigation into Russian interference in the US presidential campaign and is, in broad terms, the reason why Trump’s government is in trouble, a case that can potentially turn into a crisis of governance not seen in a long time.