Russiagate afternoon update: Pre-Hicks jitters and someone who may have flipped on Flynn
White House communications director Hope Hicks is about to be interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team. There is no doubt that this development has triggered an outbreak of West Wing flop-sweat:
As a senior White House adviser and now as communications director, she’s been in the room for moments critical to Mueller’s probe, which has grown to include the president’s response to the Russia investigation itself.
Hicks’ history with Trump makes her one of the more useful witnesses for Mueller as he looks for insights into the president’s habits and moods. She also is one of the few people well positioned to recount the president’s reactions at various moments as the Russia scandal has sidetracked his presidency — including the Mueller appointment itself.
Mueller’s decision to request an interview with Hicks — who hasn’t been named in any criminal wrongdoing — also indicates he’s reached a critical point in the overall investigation, according to former prosecutors and veterans of past White House investigations. Typically, conversations with such senior-level aides are saved for near the end of a probe.
Meanwhile, The Daily Beast strikes again, this time with a new name for your RussiaTurkeyGate scorecards — someone who may have the goods on Flynn:
A man who may be part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of alleged misdoings by President Donald Trump’s campaign and administration was secretly removed from a federal prison this month.
Mueller is reportedly looking at a December meeting blocks from Trump Tower where Michael Flynn — shortly before Trump became president and named him national security adviser — was reportedly offered upward of $15 million if he could help Turkey win the extradition of cleric Fethullah Gülen as well as the release of gold trader Reza Zarrab.
Now it appears Zarrab, whose trial for allegedly cheating U.S. sanctions by facilitating gold-for-gas deals between Turkey and Iran is scheduled to begin in just days, may be working with federal prosecutors.
Last month, lawyers for his co-defendant, bank manager Mehmet Atilla, remarked sardonically in court filings that Zarrab, the man at the root of the charges facing their client, had all but vanished, and it seemed “likely that Mr. Atilla will be the only defendant appearing at trial.”
“All I can tell you is that he is in federal custody,” Nick Biase, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, told The Daily Beast.
Meanwhile, Twitter’s most remarkable aggregator of legal and Capitol Hill paperwork posted this gem late this morning. Enjoy!
Oh Dear @realDonaldTrump
I wanted to make sure you knew that your Attorney received a letter from Sen Feinstein. She’s requesting any AND ALL communiques from Jan 2015 to present.
Specifically re Wikileaks. It’s awfully specific. Item #1 is the BESThttps://t.co/8l7pCJdwuQ pic.twitter.com/dklrREbJeb
— Alt-SeanSpicer’sMic (@Alt_Spicerlies) November 16, 2017
And there’s this just in from Capitol Hill. Flynn and Flynn Jr. are not going to be happy.
Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray requesting information about the security clearance application that reportedly was submitted by Michael Flynn, Jr., the son of President Donald Trump’s fired National Security Advisor, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn.
Exactly one year ago today, on November 16, 2016, Cummings sent a letter to Vice President-Elect Mike Pence, who headed the transition team, requesting information on all individuals who President-Elect Trump or his transition team requested security clearances for or proposed giving classified information. Although the transition team confirmed receipt of the letter, Pence never provided the information.
Does anyone else get the feeling that a big, big shoe is about to drop?