BREAKING: Manafort flips

Politics: Paul Manafort's lawyers have reportedly resumed talks of a possible plea deal ahead of his second trial

Talking Point Memo:

In a bombshell development, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is cooperating with the special counsel as part of the plea deal in his federal criminal trial.

The deal, announced in a D.C. courtroom Friday by federal prosecutor Andrew Weissman, included a “17 page cooperation agreement,” according to Washington Post reporter Spencer Hsu.

Journalists in the courtroom also reported that the “remaining charges” against Manafort would be dropped either at sentencing or at the end of his cooperation.

Obstruction of justice

I hope Mueller indicts him before they talk, but no such luck:

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office wants to ask President Donald Trump about obstruction of justice, sources close to the White House tell ABC News. According to sources, the president learned within the last day that the special counsel will limit the scope of questioning and would like to ask questions both orally and written for the President to respond to.

According to sources familiar with the President’s reaction Wednesday morning, that was the genesis for his early morning tweet storm. Trump took to twitter in one of his strongest attacks against the federal probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, saying: “This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further. Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA!”

Negotiations over a potential presidential interview have gone on for months, through several different iterations of the Trump legal team. Current lead attorney, Rudy Giuliani, told ABC News a week ago that his team had submitted a response to Mueller asking to limit the scope of an interview with Trump especially as it relates to obstruction of justice.

“We have a list of questions that are fairly narrowed but we are waiting on the special counsel’s response,” Giuliani told ABC last week. Speaking to reporters after an appearance in New Hampshire today, Giuliani said he had received a response from the special counsel’s office without getting into details. “They took about 10 days and yesterday we got a letter back for them. Now we’re in the process of responding to their proposal,” Giuliani said.

Muller indictments ‘will be a bombshell’

Every once in a while, morning news includes actual information, the kind I like.

Yesterday, Morning Joe featured Rep. Eric Swalwell and former federal prosecutors Daniel Murphy and John Martin.

“So do you think that members of Congress have been obstructing justice in the russia investigation?” Scarborough asked Swalwell.

“They’re stopping justice in the Russia investigation,” Swalwell said.

“We saw that when we would bring people in like Michael Cohen and ask direct questions about the Trump Tower meeting and Don Jr. would refuse to answer. You know you have subpoena power and you don’t have to take the refusal, but each time we would say, ‘Make Donald Trump Jr. answer, but they would say, ‘No, we’re here under a voluntary scheme,’ which is what they set up. They protected them at every single stop. Since they ended their investigation we learned about Cambridge Analytica, about Roger Stone’s extensive contacts and we’re learning more and more about Michael Cohen. These guys are going to learn the hard way in November, I’m afraid.”

Scarborough asked Murphy, “Is it not fair to say that after Mueller’s last round of indictments a couple of Fridays ago where the United States government actually identified Russians that were trying to undermine American democracy, that at this point if you are trying to stop Mueller’s investigation, you’re not just a dupe for Donald Trump, you’re a dupe for Vladimir Putin and you are getting in the way of an investigation that’s trying to get to the bottom of how the Russians tried to undermine American democracy?”

“That indictment set forth how the Russians went forward, at least in one way to infiltrate our election,” Murphy said.

“What Bob Mueller has not done at any point — and I think this is intentional, he has not included any evidence of American involvement in any of what we call collusion. Collusion is shorthand for conspiracy to defraud.”

Scarborough asked why.

“For a couple of reasons. One is what we talked about with Michael Cohen. He doesn’t want to let the public or other witnesses know what evidence he has. Two, I think he wants to wait and make a very complete decision as to whether and what extent Americans were involved. So he’s going to keep it all confidential because there may be people that aren’t charged that should not go — be named in public or there may be people who will be charged. But he’s basically gathering all of the evidence and doing what a professional prosecutor would do,” Murphy said.

“And then he is going to make a final decision as to who is going to be charged and with what, and he’s not going to leak anything and he’s not going to let anything out there. But I do think he’s going to indict people. I think when that indictment drops it is going to be a bombshell.”

“I think Dan is right,” Martin said. “I think Mueller is not going to do anything until he has the complete picture.”

Get out your subpoenas, Bob

Remember, if Dems take control of the House in November, Adam Schiff will be running the Russia investigation, not Devin “The Traitor” Nunes.

He sure acts guilty

Her Husband Beat Her and Raped Her. Jeff Sessions Might Deport Her.

Breaking news last night from the New York Times. Trump asked Jeff Sessions to walk back his recusal. If Trump wasn’t guilty, why would it matter?

When they met, Mr. Trump was ready to talk — but not about the travel ban. His grievance was with Mr. Sessions: The president objected to his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Mr. Trump, who had told aides that he needed a loyalist overseeing the inquiry, berated Mr. Sessions and told him he should reverse his decision, an unusual and potentially inappropriate request.

Mr. Sessions refused.

The confrontation, which has not been previously reported, is being investigated by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, as are the president’s public and private attacks on Mr. Sessions and efforts to get him to resign. Mr. Trump dwelled on the recusal for months, according to confidants and current and former administration officials who described his behavior toward the attorney general.

The special counsel’s interest demonstrates Mr. Sessions’s overlooked role as a key witness in the investigation into whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct the inquiry itself. It also suggests that the obstruction investigation is broader than it is widely understood to be — encompassing not only the president’s interactions with and firing of the former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, but also his relationship with Mr. Sessions.

Judge denies Manafort’s motion to dismiss

Robert Mueller scores a victory as federal judge allows criminal case against Paul Manafort to move forward

Manafort doesn’t have any good options, he may as well take the deal. But he won’t:

Paul Manafort has struck out again in his efforts to get Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s case against him thrown out or curtailed on the basis that Mueller’s investigation was improper.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Tuesday denied Manafort’s request that she throw out the indictment brought in the criminal case against him in Washington D.C. She had previously thrown out a civil lawsuit Manafort filed against Mueller seeking to narrow his investigation. Manafort’s motion to dismiss the case Mueller brought against him in Virginia is still pending.

Manafort had argued that since the charges Mueller brought against him stemmed from Ukraine lobbying work predating the 2016 campaign, they were outside the scope of the Russian collusion investigation for which Mueller had been appointed. Jackson, in her 36-page opinion, rejected Manafort’s claims that the Ukraine business dealings were outside Mueller’s scope.

Referring to Mueller’s appointment order, she said that the charges fell “squarely within that portion of the authority granted to the Special Counsel that Manafort finds unobjectionable: the order to investigate ‘any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign.’ (Manafort had also challenged the provision of the appointment order that said that Mueller could investigate matters “that arose or may arise directly” from the probe).

Additionally, Jackson said that the Justice Department regulations created for special counsel investigations are not enforceable for defendants in court.

What Mueller wants to ask Trump

via the New York Times, read them here.

This is my favorite one:

• What did you mean when you told Russian diplomats on May 10, 2017, that firing Mr. Comey had taken the pressure off?

The day after Mr. Comey’s firing, Mr. Trump met with Russian officials in the Oval Office. There, The Times revealed, Mr. Trump suggested he had fired Mr. Comey because of the pressure from the Russia investigation.

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

Trey Gowdy dismisses the GOP intelligence report

Trey Gowdy Just Sealed Robert Mueller’s Fate With One Shocking Reveal!

Trey’s so much more honest since he decided not to run for reelection. Plus, any time anyone uses the words “GOP” and “intelligence” in the same sentence, I get the giggles:

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) said Sunday that he places more faith in federal investigators’ conclusions on Russian election meddling than those of Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, of which he is a member.

“The President, when he looks at your report, feels vindicated,” CBS’ “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan told Gowdy in an interview. “Are you saying he should not?”

“I want to be careful how I phrase this,” Gowdy responded. “No report— The best we can do is say what we’ve learned.”

“I can’t say what’s in the universe of witnesses we have not talked to,” he continued. “And I have always maintained I am awaiting the Mueller investigation. They get to use a grand jury. They have investigative tools that we don’t have.”

“Executive branch investigations are just better than congressional ones. So we found no evidence of collusion. Whether or not it exists or not, I can’t speak to, because I haven’t interviewed the full panoply of witnesses.”

Republicans on the Intelligence Committee released a heavily redacted report on Friday clearing Trump of accusations that his campaign conspired with Russia during the 2016 election. Democrats on the committee released a counter-report and have long claimed that their GOP colleagues did not sufficiently pursue relevant questions and witnesses.