Trump: Russia probe is a hoax

President Donald Trump downplayed speculation he's moving to fire special counsel Robert Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein during a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Palm Beach, Florida.

Posted: Apr 19, 2018 5:55 PM
Updated: Apr 19, 2018 5:57 PM

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discussed with special counsel Robert Mueller what prosecutors should pursue in the Russia probe as early as last May, when Mueller was first appointed, the special counsel's office said Thursday.

At a court hearing, Justice Department attorney Michael Dreeben said Rosenstein discussed specific legs of the investigation with Mueller months before he wrote a classified memo in August that outlined Mueller's directive.

Dreeben argued that the Justice Department shouldn't have to produce documentation of those early talks about the investigation's scope that occurred before Rosenstein's August 2 memo. Rosenstein has been overseeing Mueller's investigation following the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

While Rosenstein and Mueller's communication about the Russia probe may help the special counsel's office defend its criminal case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Mueller's team is also indirectly pushing back against the President and Republicans' assertions that the investigation is rogue and corrupt.

"We have an alive and awake acting attorney general who's looking at this investigation, [and] knows what's going on," Dreeben said.

Manafort has alleged in court that Mueller's office overstepped its authority by charging him with crimes related to his work before the 2016 campaign. His attorney also demanded they see records of Rosenstein and Mueller's discussions before August.

"We're all sitting here guessing what happened. There has to be a record," Manafort's attorney, Kevin Downing, said Thursday.

Mueller's appointment unfolded in May with a public notice from Rosenstein, directing the special counsel to investigate links between the Russian government and the campaign and other matters that arose from the investigation. The August memo, which was unveiled earlier this month and gets into more specifics, was "reflective of decisions that had already been made," Dreeben said.

Rosenstein's August 2 memo gives Mueller the green light to investigate Manafort for his lobbying work in Ukraine, years before the campaign. It also outlines several other still-undisclosed allegations that Mueller could investigate and says Mueller could look into allegations that Manafort colluded with Russians during the campaign. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to the foreign lobbying and financial charges. He has not been charged with crimes related to Russian collusion.

Downing said, "We're in a worse place than we were with" previous special investigations that appeared to wander outside their initial purposes.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the US District Court for the District of Columbia, countered that it's unlikely the Justice Department fully knew what Mueller should pursue when he was first appointed.

"As good as he is, I don't think the deputy attorney general could see into the future," she said.

Investigators shouldn't have to "start with the conclusion" that crimes were committed, she added. Instead, prosecutors could follow the question of whether Manafort had links to Russians. That work, even if it didn't connect directly to Manafort's time on the campaign, would be essential to any criminal investigation, she said, and Dreeben later echoed her.

Manafort is also challenging the special counsel's office's decision to charge him with both lying to federal authorities and failing to register as a foreign lobbyist and the decision to charge him with a conspiracy money laundering count because of his failure to register his work with federal authorities. Mueller's prosecutors have pushed back on both arguments on technical legal grounds. If Manafort were to convince the judge to dismiss the money laundering allegation, assets that the government locked down following his indictment in October would become available to him.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 727764

Reported Deaths: 13397
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion995211738
Lake53461965
Allen40457675
St. Joseph35506550
Hamilton35489408
Elkhart28433441
Tippecanoe22359218
Vanderburgh22284396
Porter18668307
Johnson17905377
Hendricks17180315
Clark12930191
Madison12592339
Vigo12431246
Monroe11858170
LaPorte11821210
Delaware10648185
Howard9865216
Kosciusko9378117
Hancock8251140
Bartholomew8052155
Warrick7771155
Floyd7649177
Grant7027174
Wayne7026199
Boone6679101
Morgan6555139
Dubois6150117
Marshall6005111
Dearborn579277
Cass5788105
Henry5688103
Noble558883
Jackson500872
Shelby490296
Lawrence4505120
Harrison434772
Gibson434692
Clinton427053
DeKalb426484
Montgomery423588
Whitley394739
Huntington389080
Steuben383857
Miami380666
Knox371890
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Putnam358860
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Jefferson328881
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Wells291081
Decatur284292
Fayette279262
Greene277385
Posey271033
Scott265453
LaGrange265370
Clay259146
Washington240032
Randolph239781
Spencer232031
Jennings229549
Starke215453
Fountain212046
Sullivan211142
Owen198156
Fulton194740
Jay192530
Carroll188320
Orange182654
Perry182637
Rush172925
Vermillion168543
Franklin167735
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Parke145916
Blackford134632
Pike133234
Pulaski116445
Newton107234
Brown101641
Crawford99314
Benton98414
Martin88315
Warren81715
Switzerland7848
Union70810
Ohio56411
Unassigned0414

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1081518

Reported Deaths: 19428
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1256551400
Cuyahoga1117782115
Hamilton798901205
Montgomery513291014
Summit47080945
Lucas42049788
Butler38301584
Stark32242906
Lorain24958481
Warren24262298
Mahoning21511588
Lake20618369
Clermont19747238
Delaware18503133
Licking16410212
Fairfield16160199
Trumbull16019468
Medina15247264
Greene15043244
Clark13970299
Wood13065189
Portage12825203
Allen11626232
Richland11323199
Miami10661217
Muskingum8799133
Wayne8784211
Columbiana8766229
Pickaway8551121
Marion8514135
Tuscarawas8470244
Erie7871154
Hancock6906127
Ross6842155
Ashtabula6792170
Geauga6677148
Scioto6405101
Belmont5873167
Union570348
Lawrence5546102
Jefferson5521151
Huron5427119
Darke5347123
Sandusky5337120
Seneca5275121
Athens518858
Washington5153109
Auglaize489584
Mercer480385
Shelby468893
Knox4483110
Madison435561
Putnam4278100
Fulton421669
Ashland421489
Defiance419297
Crawford3970107
Brown393857
Logan381576
Preble379398
Clinton371263
Ottawa366679
Highland354662
Williams338575
Champaign331458
Guernsey315653
Jackson312151
Perry294850
Morrow284639
Fayette281550
Hardin270664
Henry268466
Coshocton264557
Holmes2593101
Van Wert243363
Adams237752
Pike237534
Gallia235349
Wyandot230855
Hocking215262
Carroll191247
Paulding172540
Meigs144740
Noble133337
Monroe132042
Morgan108323
Harrison107637
Vinton82815
Unassigned02
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