Alexandra Widas  //  9/24/17  //  Topic Update


In response to a warrant, Facebook turned over detailed records on Russian ad purchases during the 2016 election to Special Counsel Robert Mueller (CNNWSJ).

  • The production included information that was not provided in response to a similar Congressional request, so congressional investigators are likely to ask Facebook for more information on Russian ad purchases during the 2016 election (The Hill).
  • Facebook should be treated like a crime scene because it likely has data that could provide critical leads for the investigation into Russian collusion, writes Max Bergmann at Just Security.

Facebook announced it will turn over more than 3,000 Russia-linked ads to congressional committees investigating potential Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election (NYTWaPoWSJ).

  • Facebook also announced it will be strengthening its review process for ads in hopes of preventing foreign organizations from buying political ads during future elections (Ars Technica).
  • Twitter plans to meet with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence next week in response to queries about the 2016 election (NYT).

Russian propagandists appear to have used Facebook to organize pro-Trump rallies in Florida during the presidential election (Daily Beast).

Mueller’s team is reaching back 11 years in its investigation of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manfort (CNN).

  • This is the latest indication that Mueller’s team is going well beyond Russian campaign meddling as part of its investigation.
  • Mueller’s team warned Paul Manafort, during a raid on his house in July, that they planned to indict him (NYTimes).
  • Investigators also wiretapped Manafort under FISA warrants both before and after the election (CNN).
  • Special Counsel Robert Mueller will probably bring charges against individuals separately, argues Renato Mariotti at Politico.
  • Kyle Freeny, a federal prosecutor with a background in money laundering cases, has joined Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team (Politico). 

Investigators on Robert Mueller’s team are seeking documents from the White House on topics including a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower whose attendees included Donald Trump, Jr. and a Russian lawyer (L.A. TimesNYT) and the firings of former FBI director James Comey and former national security adviser Michael Flynn (NYT).

Paul Manafort reportedly offered to provide a Russian billionaire, likely Oleg Deripaska, “private briefings” on the state of the 2016 presidential campaign (NYTWaPo).

  • Philip Bump lays out the relationships between the Trump campaign and Russian interests (WaPo).
  • The Justice Department recently requested documents from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom for information related to its work for Paul Manafort and the Ukrainian government led by Viktor Yanukovych (NYT).
  • Paul Manafort is reportedly working for allies of the leaders of the Kurdish region of Iraq on a referendum the U.S. government opposes (NYT).  
  • Manafort also used his presidential campaign email address to contact a Ukrainian political operative with suspected ties to Russian intelligence (Politico).

Trump lawyers clashed over how much to cooperate with the Russia inquiry (NYT). Ty Cobb and John Dowd argued over the matter at a DC steakhouse and were overheard by New York Times reporters (NYT).

  • The steakhouse conversation poses significant questions about professional judgment, ethics, and evidence privileges, but the revelation that White House Counsel Don McGahn is keeping certain documents locked in a safe may prove irresistible for investigators, writes Andy Wright at Just Security.
  • These internal conflicts can only be exacerbated by the poor organization of the legal team, and the public conversation between Cobb and Dowd is a juvenile blunder, writes Bob Bauer at Lawfare.
  • Jonathan Turley argues that following the recent lunchtime disclosure that two documents material to the Russia investigation are in White House Counsel Don McGahn’s safe, President Trump and Mr. McGahn should disclose as much material as possible, rather than trying to assert privilege (The Hill).  

Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s statement to the Senate “does not appear to have any clear strategy” and portions read “like a political speech,”argues Renato Mariotti at Just Security.

The Trump administration’s efforts to push the intelligence agencies to neglect investigations into Russian interference may politicize the agencies in a way that causes lasting damage, writes Joshua Rovner at Lawfare.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) suggested that the White House pardon Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in exchange for evidence that would purportedly exonerate Russia of involvement in hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s email system (WSJ).

The investigation into Russian interference is creating a significant financial burden for many Trump aides, as many of them have retained private counsel (WSJ).

Congressional hearings are likely to do more to harm President Trump’s political standing than the Special Counsel investigation, Niall Ferguson and Joshua Zoffer argue at The Atlantic.

President Trump is reportedly using Republican National Committee funds intended for election-related legal matters to pay his legal fees related to the Russia probe (The HillWaPo).

Jon Huntsman, President Trump’s pick for Russian ambassador, said there was “no question” that Moscow interfered in the U.S. presidential election (The Hill).

Democrats in Congress asked the Federal Election Commission to develop rules for online advertising that prevent foreign spending from influencing elections (The Hill). 


Updates | The Week of February 19, 2018

2/25/18  //  Daily Update

Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed a new charge against Paul Manafort while Richard Gates pled guilty. Meanwhile, President Trump's proposal to arm teachers drew controversy in Washington.

Jacob Miller

Harvard Law School

Updates | The Week of February 5, 2018

2/11/18  //  Daily Update

The Nunes memo set off aftershocks; agencies scrambled to implement the Trump Administration's policies to mixed effect; and Congress passes a budget after a brief overnight shutdown.

Updates | The Week of January 22, 2018

1/28/18  //  Daily Update

President Trump attempted to fire Special Counsel Mueller in June 2017 over his obstruction of justice probe, but refrained after White House Counsel Don McGahn threatened to quit.