The U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C., is dropping charges against 129 people accused of rioting on President Trump’s inauguration day, Prosecutors made the decision after a jury found the first six defendants to stand trial not guilty. The government said it would focus on a “smaller, core group” of 59 defendants.
The U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C., is dropping charges against 129 people accused of rioting on President Trump’s inauguration day, reports USA Today. Prosecutors made the decision after a jury found the first six defendants to stand trial not guilty. The government said it would “focus its efforts on this smaller, core group that we believe is most responsible for the destruction and violence that took place on Inauguration Day.” Protests on Jan. 20, 2017, resulted in 234 people being charged or arrested with mostly felony charges. Prosecutors will move forward against 59 defendants who they said helped plan the demonstration and displayed “black-bloc” tactics.
Critics had charged that prosecutors were dragging the defendants through the legal process in order to send a message. At the first trial, prosecutors conceded there was no evidence to support that the six defendants had committed any violence. Instead, they tried to explain the protesters were complicit in the violence because they did not remove themselves from the destruction. Previously, 20 defendants have had their cases dismissed and another 20 have pleaded to lesser charges, often misdemeanor rioting carrying a fine and community service. One person, Dane Powell, 32, went to prison. He pleaded guilty to felony rioting and assault on a police officer and got a four-month prison term.
Senators Charles Grassley and Lindsey Graham made a criminal referral against former British spy Christopher Steele. The move infuriated Democrats and raised the stakes in the growing partisan battle over the investigations into Trump, his campaign team and Russia.
More than a year after Republican leaders promised to investigate Russian interference in the presidential election, two top Senate Republicans made the first known congressional criminal referral in the case, against one of the people who sought to expose it, the New York Times reports. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Grassley of Iowa and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a senior committee member, told the Justice Department they had reason to believe that a former British spy, Christopher Steele, lied to federal authorities about his contacts with reporters regarding information in a dossier. The committee is running one of three congressional investigations into Russian election meddling. Its inquiry has come to focus on Steele’s explosive dossier that purported to detail Russia’s interference and the Trump campaign’s complicity.
Grassley and Graham’s decision to single out the former intelligence officer behind the dossier infuriated Democrats and raised the stakes in the growing partisan battle over the investigations into Trump, his campaign team and Russia. The Judiciary Committee effort played into a broader campaign by conservatives to cast doubt on the Trump-Russia investigations, and instead turn the veracity of the dossier and the credibility of its promulgators into the central issue. Representative Devin Nunes of California, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has also been pressing to focus its Russia investigation on the dossier. He has aggressively pursued Fusion GPS, the research firm that hired Steele. The panel has issued only a single subpoena in its investigation for bank records, those of Fusion GPS. It was not clear why, if a crime is apparent in the FBI reports that were reviewed by the Judiciary Committee, the Justice Department had not charged Steele already.
After President Trump dismantled a voter fraud commission, its vice-chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, filed criminal charges against two people he says voted illegally in the 2016 election. Kobach obtained prosecutorial power in 2015 and is the only secretary of state in the nation with such authority. He has filed charges against 15 people.
Shortly after President Trump dismantled his voter fraud commission, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach filed criminal charges against two people he says voted illegally in the 2016 election, the Kansas City Star reports. Kobach, a candidate for Kansas governor who had served as the commission’s vice chair, obtained prosecutorial power in 2015 and is the only secretary of state in the nation with such authority. He has filed charges against 15 people since then for a variety of election crimes, resulting in nine convictions or plea deals and one dismissal.
Most of those cases have involved U.S. citizens who have allegedly voted in more than one jurisdiction rather than non-citizens, despite Kobach’s claims that hundreds of non-citizens are on the voter rolls. Kobach charged Que Fullmer, 67, with two counts of voting without being qualified, one count of voting more than once and one count of “advance voting unlawful acts” for allegedly casting ballots in both Colorado and Kansas. Bailey Ann McCaughey, 20, also faces one count of election perjury and one count of voting more than once for allegedly voting in both Colorado and Kansas. Trump disbanded the commission as it faced lawsuits and resistance from numerous states after Kobach’s request for personal information on every U.S. voter. Trump, who has repeatedly claimed without proof that millions of illegal votes cost him the popular vote in 2016, shifted the duty of investigating voter fraud to the Department of Homeland Security.
Federal prosecutors are trying to convict 200 people in Inauguration Day protests that turned violent. A jury cleared the first half-dozen defendants after one of their attorneys urged them to protect the “rights of free speech.”
The first six people to face trial in Inauguration Day protests that turned destructive in the Washington, D.C., were acquitted of all charges, the Washington Post reports. It was a victory not only for the defendants but also for advocates who argued the government overreached in its effort to prosecute more than 200 people arrested as they marched through the city. After a nearly four-week trial and two days of deliberations, a Superior Court jury delivered not-guilty verdicts Thursday on multiple charges of rioting and destruction of property. The defendants — including a nurse for cancer patients, a freelance photographer and a college student — joined throngs of protesters who took to the streets Jan. 20 to protest Donald Trump’s election.
Prosecutors said the six were in a group that cut a violent swath through 16 blocks of the city, smashing businesses’ windows, tossing newspaper boxes into the street and damaging a limousine. Authorities tallied the damage at more than $100,000. Jennifer Armento, 38, a Philadelphia woman who was among the defendants, said the verdict “shows the country that the jury was unwilling to do what the government wanted them to do, which was criminalize dissent.” Defense attorneys said most in the group of about 500 were peacefully protesting, while only a handful peeled off and became violent. They criticized police for failing to identify those people and said officers unfairly herded a group of 200 and charged them with rioting. Defense attorney Steven McCool appealed to jurors to protect the “rights of free speech.” Prosecutors said the demonstration, planned by a group called DisruptJ20, was aimed at destruction, not freedom of expression. Authorities say the group used “black bloc” tactics — wearing dark clothing and hiding their faces with masks and goggles so it would be harder to identify them.
The president tweeted that the “legendary Crooked Hillary Clinton, rigged the Primaries! Lets [sic] go FBI & Justice Dept.” A president’s directing a particular investigation — especially of a former political rival — would be viewed by most officials in law enforcement as improper.
President Trump has called on the Department of Justice to investigate his Democratic political opponents.The Washington Post calls it “a breach of the traditional executive branch boundaries designed to prevent the criminal justice system from becoming politicized.” Trump urged federal law enforcement to “do what is right and proper” by launching criminal probes of presidential rival Hillary Clinton and her party, a surprising use of his bully pulpit considering he had acknowledged that presidents are not supposed to intervene in such decisions.
Trump claimed there was mounting public pressure for new Clinton probes, including over her campaign’s joint fundraising agreement with the Democratic National Committee that effectively gave her some control over the party’s finances, strategy and staffing before the primaries began. Trump invoked Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Ma.), who said she believed the Democratic primaries were rigged in Clinton’s favor based on details of the arrangement in a book by former DNC interim chair Donna Brazile. Using his pejorative nickname for Warren, Trump tweeted: “Pocahontas just stated that the Democrats, lead [sic] by the legendary Crooked Hillary Clinton, rigged the Primaries! Lets [sic] go FBI & Justice Dept.” The president directing a particular investigation — especially of a former political rival — would be viewed by most officials in law enforcement as improper.
The Justice Department has identified more than six members of the Russian government involved in hacking the Democratic National Committee’s computers and swiping sensitive information that became public during the 2016 presidential election, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The Justice Department has identified more than six members of the Russian government involved in hacking the Democratic National Committee’s computers and swiping sensitive information that became public during the 2016 presidential election, the Wall Street Journal reports. Prosecutors and agents have assembled evidence to charge the Russian officials and could bring a case next year. The case could provide the clearest picture yet of the actors behind the DNC intrusion. U.S. intelligence agencies have attributed the attack to Russian intelligence services, but haven’t provided detailed information about how they concluded those services were responsible or details about the individuals involved.
The high-profile hack of the DNC’s computers played a central role in the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election.” Putin and the Russian government have denied meddling in the U.S. election. Thousands of the DNC’s emails and other data, as well as emails from the personal account of John Podesta, campaign chairman to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, were made public by WikiLeaks. The pinpointing of particular Russian military and intelligence hackers highlights the exhaustive nature of the government’s probe. The result of naming alleged perpetrators publicly may make it difficult for them to travel rather than incarcerating them. Arresting Russian operatives is highly unlikely. The Justice Department’s charged two Russian operatives and two others with hacking into Yahoo’s computers starting in 2014 and pilfering information about 500 million accounts. One of the defendants, a Canadian national, was arrested; the other defendants are believed to be in Russia.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions insists in appearance before Senate Intelligence Committee, “I am not stonewalling. I am following the historic policies of the Department of Justice.”
Attorney General eff Sessions did exactly what he needed to do Tuesday — help himself in the eyes of his boss, President Trump, and, in turn, help Trump, NPR reports. Using vague legal justification, Sessions shut down potentially important lines of investigative questioning. He showed flashes of anger rarely seen from the 70-year-old Alabamian, calling any suggestion that he colluded with Russia to interfere in the U.S. presidential election a “detestable lie.” Sessions tactics may have provided a roadmap for the White House to keep its secrets without the public-relations blowback of invoking executive privilege.
His refusal to disclose conversations between himself and the president cut off lines of inquiry about the exact circumstances surrounding FBI director James Comey’s firing, what may have happened in the Feb. 14 Oval Office meeting where Trump spoke one-on-one with Comey, as well as Trump’s reaction to Sessions’ recusal. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) told Sessions: “You’re not answering questions. You’re impeding this investigation.” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), said, “The American people have had it with stonewalling.” Sessions said, “I am not stonewalling. I am following the historic policies of the Department of Justice.” Sessions’ silence kept a lid on important details that could have illuminated much more of the Russia story. He said he couldn’t “recall” 18 times.
President’s supporters fear that a long probe of last year’s election will overshadow the White House agenda for months. Trump friend Chris Ruddy says the president may fire special counsel Mueller.
High-profile supporters of President Trump are turning on special counsel Robert Mueller, the man charged with investigating Russian interference in the U.S. election and possible collusion with Trump’s campaign, the Associated Press reports. As Mueller builds his legal team, Trump’s allies are raising questions about the former FBI director’s impartiality, suggesting he cannot be trusted to lead the probe. The comments come amid increasing frustration at the White House and among Trump supporters that the investigation will overshadow the president’s agenda for months, a prospect that has Democrats salivating. Trump friend Chris Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax, went so far as to suggest the president was already thinking about “terminating” Mueller.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Trump adviser, tweeted, “Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair. Look who he is hiring,” tweeted. Earlier, Gingrich heaped praise on Mueller, hailing him as a “superb choice” for special counsel whose reputation was “impeccable for honesty and integrity.” After the testimony of former FBI Director James Comey last week, Gingrich said, “Time to rethink,” citing Mueller’s hiring decisions and Comey’s admission that he’d instructed a friend to share with reporters notes he’d taken of his private conversations with Trump in order to force the appointment of special counsel. The talk about dismissing Mueller appeared to be coming from Trump allies, including some close to White House strategist Steve Bannon , who are frustrated with the prospect of a long probe.
So says Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who attended a briefing yesterday by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The briefing occurred a day after Rosenstein chose former FBI director Robert Mueller to lead the probe.
The counterintelligence investigation into possible collusion by the campaign of President Trump with Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections has become a criminal probe, several U.S. senators said after a briefing yesterday, McClatchy Newspapers reports. That revelation came after nearly the entire U.S. Senate attended a briefing with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The briefing came a day after Rosenstein named ex-FBI director Robert Mueller to lead the probe. “The takeaway I had,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), “was that you need to treat this investigation as if it may be a criminal investigation. The biggest legal change seems to be that Mr. Mueller is going to move forward with the idea of a criminal investigation versus a counterintelligence investigation.”
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), calling the briefing “sobering,”said, “As it became clear how little he was willing to talk about it, it also became clear how broad this investigation that Mueller is about to undertake actually is.” Rostenstein disputed early White House claims that a memo he wrote critical of Comey had been the genesis of Trump’s decision to fire the FBI head. “He did say that Comey was to be removed from office before he wrote his memo,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill, (D-MO). One question that lingered was how Mueller’s appointment and the change in the nature of the probe would affect the multiple congressional investigations underway in the matter. Graham predicted it would slow those probes. Congressional investigators “will have to be very leery of crossing into Mr. Mueller’s lane,” he said. “Mr. Mueller will tell us what we can get and what we can’t.”
FBI director James Comey said his work wouldn’t be influenced by politics, yet he spoke publicly about the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails while not disclosing a simultaneous probe of Donald Trump’s campaign.
The New York Times takes a detailed look at how FBI director James Comey handled the politically charged investigation of Hillary Clinton’s State Department emails. When he announced last October that he was reopening a probe that had been closed in July, Comey told FBI colleagues that he could not let politics affect his decision, saying, “If we ever start considering who might be affected, and in what way, by what we do, we’re done.” Yet Comey did not say that the FBI also was investigating the campaign of Donald Trump. Only in March, long after the election, did Comey confirm that there was one.
Comey handled the two investigations in “starkly different ways,” the Times says. In the Clinton case, “he rewrote the script, partly based on the FBI’s expectation that she would win and fearing the bureau would be accused of helping her.” In Trump’s case, he conducted the investigation “by the book, with the FBI’s traditional secrecy.” The newspaper says Comey’s strategy was shaped by his distrust of senior officials at the main Justice Department, who he and colleagues believed had provided Clinton with political cover. “This was unique in the history of the FBI,” said former bureau official Michael Steinbach. “People say, ‘This has never been done before.’ Well, there never was a before. Or ‘That’s not normally how you do it.’ There wasn’t anything normal about this.”