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By Associated Press and Anna Schecter

WASHINGTON — Roger Stone, an associate of President Donald Trump, says he won’t provide testimony or documents to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

An attorney for Stone said in a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the committee’s top Democrat, that Stone was invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in refusing to produce documents or appear for an interview.

Feinstein made the letter public via Twitter Tuesday afternoon, one day after President Donald Trump tweeted in support of Stone.

Stone has been entangled in investigations by Congress and special counsel Robert Mueller about whether Trump aides had advance knowledge of Democratic emails published by WikiLeaks during the 2016 election.

Stone’s attorney said the letter was sent in response to the committee’s request. In November Feinstein requested an interview with Stone as well as communications related to WikiLeaks.

On Friday, Nov. 30, a top lawyer for Feinstein emailed Stone’s attorney, Grant Smith, asking when Stone “intends to produce the documents requested by the Ranking Member and when he would be available to appear for an interview.”

Smith responded on Monday at 9:33 a.m., declining to produce the documents and invoking Stone’s Fifth Amendment right.

“The production of documents that may be responsive to the unreasonably broad scope of the imprecise, fishing expedition, request would unquestionably be a testimonial act protected by the U.S. Constitution,” the letter said.

At 10:48 a.m., President Donald Trump tweeted in support of Stone, following two tweets criticizing Michael Cohen for trying to get an easy sentence from prosecutors.

“Mr. Stone was surprised by the President’s Tweet yesterday,” Smith wrote in an email to NBC News Tuesday. “This letter… preceded the President’s Tweet in support of Mr. Stone,” he wrote.

Stone has not been charged and has said he had no knowledge of the timing or specifics of WikiLeaks’ plans.

In his letter to Feinstein, Stone said the committee’s requests were “far too overbroad, far too overreaching” and “far too wide ranging.”



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Timeline of his rise, fall and guilty plea

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By NBC News

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn provided “substantial assistance” in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, according to court papers filed Dec. 4, 2018.

“The defendant provided firsthand information about the content and context of interactions between the transition team and Russian government officials,” prosecutors said in a sentencing memo filed by Mueller that offered few new details of the Russia probe.

The documents alleged that Flynn failed to disclose that he assisted Turkey’s efforts to remove Fethullah Gulen, a cleric whom Turkey’s president accused of orchestrating a failed coup, from the United States.

Reporting that Flynn met with Mueller’s team 19 times, the memo says a sentence that includes no prison time is “appropriate and warranted.”

Flynn resigned as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser 24 days into the new administration after it was revealed he discussed sanctions in a December 2016 phone call with the Russian ambassador — despite Flynn’s earlier denials. Trump took 18 days to boot Flynn.

Here are key events in Flynn’s case:

Dec. 4, 2018 — Mueller says in a sentencing memo that Flynn made multiple false statements to law enforcement but has provided “substantial assistance” to the investigation, including meeting 19 times with Mueller’s team and Justice Department lawyers.

Dec. 1, 2017 — Flynn pleads guilty in federal court to a charge of making false statements to the FBI about his communications with Russia.

Nov. 24, 2017Flynn’s legal team cuts ties with lawyers around Trump and his family.

Nov. 22, 2017 Bijan Kian, an Iranian-American who was a partner at the now-dissolved Flynn Intel Group, becomes a subject of Mueller’s investigation for his alleged role in the failure of Flynn’s former lobbying firm to disclose its work on behalf of foreign governments.

Nov. 10, 2017 Sources say federal investigators are examining whether Flynn met with senior Turkish officials just weeks before Trump’s inauguration about a potential quid pro quo in which Flynn would be paid to secretly carry out directives from Ankara while in the White House.

Nov. 5, 2017 Sources say federal investigators have gathered enough evidence to bring charges in their investigation of Flynn and his son as part of the probe into Russia’s intervention in the 2016 election.

Oct. 27, 2017Former CIA Director James Woolsey is interviewed by FBI agents working for Mueller about allegations that Flynn discussed the potentially illegal removal of a Turkish cleric from the U.S.

Michael Flynn, right, talks to reporters as he arrives with his son Michael G. Flynn at Trump Tower in New York on Nov. 17, 2016.Carolyn Kaster / AP file

Sept. 13, 2017 Flynn’s son Michael G. Flynn is a subject of the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election and possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

May 22, 2017 Flynn’s attorneys say that he won’t give the Senate Intelligence Committee documents requested under subpoena about Russian meddling in the election and that he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

May 18, 2017 Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appoints former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.

May 11, 2017 Flynn is subpoenaed by the Senate Intelligence Committee, which requested documents that members said were relevant to its investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

May 9, 2017 Trump fires FBI Director James Comey after senior Justice Department officials conclude that he mishandled the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

May 8, 2017 Three former Obama administration officials tell NBC News that former President Barack Obama warned Trump against hiring Flynn as his national security adviser, saying he believed Flynn wasn’t suitable for such a high-level post.

April 1, 2017 The Senate Intelligence Committee turns down the request by Flynn’s attorney for a grant of immunity in exchange for his testimony.

March 16, 2017 Documents released by Democrats on the House Oversight Committee show that Flynn was paid more than $45,000, plus perks, by the state-sponsored Russian television network RT to speak at its 10th-anniversary gala in December 2015.

March 9, 2017 — Nearly a month after his firing, Flynn retroactively registers with the Justice Department as a foreign agent for $530,000 worth of lobbying that might have helped the Turkish government before Election Day.

Feb. 14, 2017 — White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says Trump asked Flynn to resign because of an erosion of trust — not because any laws were broken.

Feb. 13, 2017 — Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway tells NBC News that Flynn has the full confidence of the president. Moments later, Spicer says Trump is evaluating the situation. Hours after that, Flynn resigns, saying he “inadvertently briefed Vice President-elect Mike Pence and others with incomplete information regarding his phone calls with the Russian ambassador.

Feb. 10, 2017 — A spokesperson tells NBC News that Flynn “can’t be 100 percent sure” but doesn’t remember talking about sanctions. Trump denies knowledge of the reports that Flynn and the Russian talked sanctions. “I don’t know about it. I haven’t seen it. What report is that?” he tells reporters. Also that day, Flynn speaks by phone to Pence, reportedly to apologize.

Feb. 9, 2017 — The Washington Post reports that Flynn, according to current and former U.S. officials, did discuss sanctions with the Russian ambassador; officials confirm the content of the discussion to NBC News. This day is the first time that Pence is informed of the Justice Department’s warning about Flynn’s call — two weeks after Trump was told.

Jan. 30, 2017 — Trump fires Yates, saying she’s being axed for refusing to defend his executive order temporarily banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Sally Yates in June 2016.J. David Ake / AP

Jan. 26, 2017Yates tells White House Counsel Donald McGahn what she knows about the call, according to the White House. Trump was told immediately, Spicer says, and the White House counsel launched an “exhaustive” review that included questioning of Flynn.

Jan. 23, 2017 — At Spicer’s first White House briefing, he says Flynn reassured him the night before that Flynn’s call with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak call didn’t involve sanctions. The subject, Spicer says, was a plane crash over the holiday, Christmas greetings, a potential conference in Syria on ISIS and the scheduling of a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Jan. 20 or 21, 2017The FBI questions Flynn about his call to the ambassador as part of the bureau’s broader investigation into Russia, according to a senior U.S. official.

Jan. 20, 2017Trump is inaugurated.

Jan. 19, 2017 — Obama administration officials — National Intelligence Director James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan and Acting Attorney General Sally Yates — discuss the situation and want to warn the Trump team that Flynn has misled Spicer and Pence. Comey vetoes that, saying it would compromise his ongoing investigation.

Vice President Mike Pence greets National Security Adviser Michael Flynn on Feb. 10, 2017.Joshua Roberts / Reuters

Jan. 15, 2017Vice President Mike Pence says on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that sanctions weren’t discussed: “It was strictly coincidental that they had a conversation. They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.”

Jan. 13, 2017 — Spicer says that Flynn didn’t discuss sanctions with the ambassador and that the purpose of the call was to schedule a time for Trump and Putin to speak post-inauguration.

Jan. 12, 2017 — Washington Post columnist David Ignatius first reports the contact between Flynn and Kislyak, raising questions about whether sanctions were discussed.

Former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.Cliff Owen / AP file

Jan. 11, 2017 — Trump denies that members of his staff had contact with Russia before the election during the campaign.

Sometime after Dec. 30, 2016 — The FBI reviews intercepted communications and finds the Flynn-Kislyak conversation. The matter gets folded into the FBI’s probe into Russian election-related hacking and related issues.

Dec. 30, 2016Putin says he won’t retaliate for the sanctions and invites children from the U.S. Embassy to a Christmas party. Trump praises Putin in a tweet.

Dec. 29, 2016 — The Obama administration unveils sanctions against Russia for election-related hacking, expelling diplomats and shutting down two compounds. The same day, Flynn speaks to Kislyak by phone.

Nov. 18, 2016 — President-elect Trump names Flynn his national security adviser.

June 2016 — Russian hackers are identified as the culprits behind the hacking of Democratic institutions and figures; U.S. officials will later say that Putin was involved and that the goal was to meddle with the electoral process.

December 2015 — Flynn takes a paid trip to Russia and appears at a gala for RT, the state-run TV station, where he dines with Putin.

Summer 2015 — Flynn first meets Trump, according to an interview he gave to The Washington Post.



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Republican Brad Raffensperger wins runoff for Georgia secretary of state

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By Associated Press

Republican state Rep. Brad Raffensperger was elected Georgia’s secretary of state on Tuesday amid a debate over access to the polls and election security.

Raffensperger, 63, defeated Democratic former Rep. John Barrow in a runoff for the office, which had been held by Republican Gov.-elect Brian Kemp. The runoff was made necessary after neither candidate polled more than 50 percent on Nov. 6, with Raffensperger leading by about 16,000 votes out of more than 3.8 million cast.

President Donald Trump tweeted an endorsement last week of Raffensperger, who represents part of Fulton County in metropolitan Atlanta.

Kemp remained secretary of state until after the general election, infuriating Democrats who called it a conflict of interest and accused him of suppressing minority votes.

Kemp insisted that the Democrats’ accusations were false, pointing to large increases in voter registration on his watch and record turnout on Nov. 6.

Raffensperger said he would make preventing voter fraud his priority, pledging to continue Kemp’s practice of strictly enforcing voter ID laws and pruning registration rolls of inactive voters. Any changes to state elections laws must be approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature for Kemp’s signature.

Kemp’s Democratic rival for governor, Stacey Abrams, urged voters to support Barrow in a speech in which she announced that she would sue to change how Georgia runs its elections.



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‘There’s not a smoking gun — there’s a smoking saw’

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By Garrett Haake and Dartunorro Clark

WASHINGTON — Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on Tuesday that the evidence connecting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the brutal killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was so strong, it amounted to “a smoking saw.”

“There’s not a smoking gun — there’s a smoking saw,” Graham said after leaving an intelligence briefing by CIA director Gina Haspel for a small group of senators. “You have to be willfully blind not to come to the conclusion that this was orchestrated and organized by people under the command of MBS and that he was intricately involved in the demise of Mr. Khashoggi.”

The crown prince is often referred to by his initials, MBS.

Graham, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has been one of the crown prince’s fiercest critics after Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen and vocal critic of the Saudi government who resided in the U.S., was killed after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on Oct. 2. President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, however, have attempted to downplay the crown prince’s role in the murder.

Graham, however, told reporters on Tuesday that there was “zero chance, zero, that this happened in such an organized fashion without the crown prince.”

Other senators who attended the briefing echoed Graham’s assessment.

“I have zero question in my mind that the crown prince, MBS, ordered the killing, monitored the killing, knew exactly what was happening, planned it in advance,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “If he was in front of a jury he would be convicted in 30 minutes. Guilty. So, the question is what do we do about that?”

Corker said questions remain on what action lawmakers can take now, but he called on the Trump administration to strongly condemn the killing.

“I know that they have to have exactly the same intelligence that we have. And there’s no way that anybody with a straight face could say there’s any question about what has happened,” Corker said.

Trump, in exclamation point-filled formal presidential statement last month, said his administration would stand by Saudi Arabia’s rulers and take no actions against them over the killing of Khashoggi.

Trump called the “crime” against Khashoggi “terrible” and “one that our country does not condone,” but stopped short of pointing blame at Saudi Arabia.

However, NBC News reported last month that the CIA concluded that bin Salman ordered the killing of Khashoggi, a Washington Post opinion columnist critical of the crown prince’s regime, according to a person briefed on the CIA’s assessment. The Washington Post, citing people familiar with the matter, first reported the assessment, stating that the CIA made its conclusion with “high confidence.”

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alaska, said Tuesday that the briefing “basically confirmed a lot of our thoughts.” He also said “somebody should be punished,” but said “the real problem” would be separating the Saudi crown prince and his associates from the nation itself.

Graham said he will press the Senate to vote on a resolution that would find the crown prince complicit in Khashoggi’s murder, according to The Associated Press. The AP also reported that the South Carolina lawmaker said he cannot support arms sales to the country as the crown prince is its leader.



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