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Mueller’s Russia investigation: What to know

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The investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election continues – with Special Counsel Robert Mueller at its helm.

Mueller, 73, took over the federal government’s probe into alleged collusion between President Trump’s campaign and Russian officials in May 2017. Already, his investigation has led to charges for four U.S. citizens and indictments against more than a dozen Russian nationals.

Trump expressed willingness to testify under oath as part of Mueller’s investigations and has repeatedly denied any “collusion” with Russians.

Why is Mueller overseeing the Russia investigation?

FILE - In this June 21, 2017, file photo, Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about Russian meddling in the election at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about Russian meddling in the election.

 (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Department of Justice announced the appointment of Mueller to oversee the federal investigation into Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election in May 2017.

The appointment came after a growing cry – mostly from Democrats – mounted for someone outside the Justice Department to handle the probe. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had already recused himself from the investigation. 

Mueller led the FBI through the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and served under presidential administrations of both parties.

For the probe into the 2016 election, Mueller has the authority to prosecute any crimes uncovered during this investigation, and he was given wide authority to investigate whether Trump or his associates colluded with the Kremlin to win the White House.

Has anyone been charged?

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, one focus of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, hides behind his car visor as he leaves his home in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S. October 30, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RC1F89D175A0

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, one focus of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, hides behind a car visor as he leaves his home in Alexandria, Va., after being asked to surrender to federal authorities.

 (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

In leading the probe, Mueller took over an ongoing investigation into Paul Manafort’s financial dealings in Ukraine.

Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, and Richard Gates were indicted on Oct. 27, 2017 on 12 counts, including: conspiracy against the U.S., conspiracy to launder money, false statements and multiple counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, a spokesperson for the Special Counsel’s Office told Fox News.

Michael Flynn, the administration’s short-lived national security adviser, was charged in December for lying to the FBI about certain conversations he had with a Russian ambassador. He pleaded guilty. 

Additionally, George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in 2017 to one count of making false statements to investigating FBI agents, according to court documents. Papadopoulos was a foreign policy adviser for Trump’s campaign.

Three Russian entities and 13 Russian nationals were indicted by a federal grand jury on Feb. 16 for allegedly interfering in the election. Mueller’s case alleges those involved had a sophisticated plot to wage “information warfare” on the U.S.

However, the Justice Department said the actions did not have an impact on the outcome of the election. Deputy Attorney Gen. Rod Rosenstein said, “There is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity.”

What is the controversy with Mueller’s staff?

The Trump administration heavily criticized Mueller’s investigation as several of his attorneys on staff donated to Democratic campaigns, including to Trump’s 2016 rival, Hillary Clinton.

Additionally, two FBI officials – Peter Strzok and Lisa Page – are under fire for the anti-Trump text messages they exchanged during the election. Strzok was part of Mueller’s team but was removed from the probe after the text messages were revealed.

What has Trump said about Mueller’s investigation?

Trump has oftentimes dismissed the allegations that he colluded with Russia during his presidential election. He said he is “looking forward” to being questioned eventually under oath by Mueller.

He’s said the allegations are a “fake story that is demeaning to all of us and most of all demeaning to our country and demeaning to our Constitution.”

“I just hope the final determination is a truly honest one…”

– President Trump

“I just hope the final determination is a truly honest one, which is what the millions of people who gave us our big win in November deserve and what all Americans who want a better future want and deserve,” Trump said at a rally in West Virginia last year.

The president also warned Mueller to stay within certain boundaries as he investigates.

Trump and Mueller have sent messages “back and forth,” according to Trump’s outside counsel. A spokesman for Mueller told Fox News that the messages have been “very professional.”

Fox News’ Madeline Farber and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @K_Schallhorn.



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'Deluded!' Britons brutally mock Alex Salmond's 'fantasy' bid to scrap pound in Scotland

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ALEX SALMOND has been branded “deluded” and “clueless” after he claimed Scotland should create its own currency if it leaves the UK – despite a warning it could be worth “half or less” what people expect.

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After Chauvin verdict, Senate optimism grows around police reform named for George Floyd

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WASHINGTON – The day after Derek Chauvin was found guilty for the murder of George Floyd, Republican Sen. Tim Scott expressed renewed optimism about the prospects of Congress passing a police reform bill.

“I’m confident that the issues that I’ve been discussing, as it relates to making progress on police reform are today — they have more traction than they had last year,” Scott, of South Carolina, said Wednesday speaking to reporters in the Capitol.

Sweeping police reform has been viewed as a policy area ripe for bipartisan cooperation since Scott joined the effort in 2015. Democrats have been clamoring for a federal overhaul since the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The Republican party’s libertarian wing has fueled it’s willingness to support limits on police.

But like most things in Congress, partisan division has stalled prior efforts and Republicans were chaffed that Senate Democrats blocked their last attempt to consider a reform bill.

The bill now being considered, named the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, passed the House in March, but stalled in the Senate because it lacks the support of at least 10 Republicans to clear the needed 60-vote threshold.

Negotiations have been ongoing between Scott, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. and Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., who sponsored the House bill, but the group has not reached a compromise or made significant progress.

But Scott says he sees a way to break the impasse.

“I think we are on the verge of wrapping this up in the next week or two depending on how quickly they respond to our suggestions,” Scott told reporters.

Democrats are warning that the verdict can’t be a substitute for legislative action

“We should not mistake the guilty verdict in this case as evidence that the persistent problem of police misconduct has been solved, or that the divide between law enforcement and so many of the communities they serve has been bridged, it has not,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor Wednesday morning.

Scott agrees.

“I don’t know that anyone will see the George Floyd verdict, as a transformative moment in our justice system. I think we should see it as a serious step in the right direction,” he said.

The House-passed bill bans chokeholds, carotid holds and no-knock warrants. It also creates a database of police officers who have acted inappropriately in the line of duty. No Republicans in the House supported the bill.

“We must do our job in this chamber, and make sure that we reform policing, which will make life better, not only for citizens, but for the police,” Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., said.

Democrats have their own internal politics to navigate, including the risk that any compromise will be seen as too watered down by their base.

“I don’t think there is a path forward,” said Kat Calvin, a lawyer and progressive activist who founded the group Spread The Vote. She fretted that the Democratic Party, “within itself can’t agree on what it wants,” and said Republicans oppose policies “significant enough that it will make police stop killing people.”

She said Scott’s opposition to ending a legal protection known as “qualified immunity” for police officers means any compromise he reaches will be insufficient.

“Having Tim Scott lead these negotiations is not helpful,” she said. “Those of us who are dying — I’m Black in America. Everyone in my family is concerned about this issue.”

Scott, the only Black member of the Senate GOP, became the Republican leader on a police reform bill after the 2015 shooting in North Charleston, S.C., of Walter Scott, a Black man, by former police officer Michael Slager, who pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges. A police reform bill authored by Scott in 2020 was blocked by Democrats.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V., thinks that Scott will be able to rally broad support among Republican senators for the deal he negotiates.

“He’s heavy into negotiations,” she said on Wednesday. “He would get broad-based support from the conference.”

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, called police reform legislation “a huge priority.” He is a potential Republican to join Democrats on a compromise.

“The judicial system worked. But a man is dead. So that’s a very high price to pay,” Romney said. “I think the need to, to pass Tim Scott’s proposal with regards to police reform is as great as ever.”

Big policy disagreements remain between the two parties.

One major sticking point is qualified immunity, which protects officers from most civil lawsuits. Democrats want to allow on-duty officers to be sued as a form of accountability. Republicans, who generally support tort reform that makes civil litigation harder, say eliminating qualified immunity would make it impossible for police departments to recruit officers willing to take the financial risk.

Scott says he proposed to Democrats allowing police departments, not individual officers, to be sued.

Another sticking point is the prohibition of chokeholds. Scott’s previous legislation would just study the tactic instead of banning it.

Democrats also want to prohibit police from receiving decommissioned military gear, which Republicans oppose, arguing the items are not all lethal and sometimes necessary for disaster response.

Scott’s legislation received a vote last year when the Senate was controlled by Republicans, but was blocked by Democrats, who voted on party lines to prevent the bill from receiving the needed 60 votes. Now, Democrats control the Congress and the White House but lack the 60 votes needed to pass legislation without Republicans.

Schumer said passage is a priority.

“The Senate will continue that work as we strive to ensure that George Floyd’s tragic death will not be in vain,” he said on the Senate floor Wednesday. “We will not rest until the Senate passes strong legislation to end the systemic bias in law enforcement.”

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'We have not challenged them enough!' Jeremy Corbyn demands Keir Starmer's Labour improves

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JEREMY CORBYN has called on Sir Keir Starmer to improve as Leader of the Opposition as he admitted the Labour Party has not challenged the UK Government enough.

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