Tag Archives: Obama

The Latest: Joe Biden says he asked Obama 'not to endorse'

The Latest: Joe Biden says he asked Obama 'not to endorse'WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on former Vice President Joe Biden's 2020 presidential bid (all times local):



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Rosenstein Lashes Out at Obama and the Media, Defends Trump in First Remarks Since Mueller Report

Rosenstein Lashes Out at Obama and the Media, Defends Trump in First Remarks Since Mueller ReportREUTERS/Jonathan ErnstSpeaking publicly for the first time since the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections, Assistant Attorney General Rob Rosenstein did not mince words. In a prepared speech delivered to the Public Servants Dinner of the Armenian Bar Association, Rosenstein criticized the Obama administration for failing to act on what he says should have been a “real-time reaction to Russian hacking.” “The previous Administration chose not to publicize the full story about Russian computer hackers and social media trolls, and how they relate to a broader strategy to undermine America,” he said.But he saved his harshest criticism for the press, which he accused of blatantly sensationalizing the facts surrounding his involvement in the two-year inquiry. “Some of the nonsense that passes for breaking news today would not be worth the paper it was printed on, if anybody bothered to print it,” he said. “One silly question that I get from reporters is, ‘Is it true that you got angry and emotional a few times over the past few years?’ Heck yes! Didn’t you?”Rosenstein answered critics who say that he was complicit in what many believe was Attorney General William Barr’s filtering of the report. “I did pledge to do it right and take it to the appropriate conclusion,” he told those gathered. “I did not promise to report all results to the public, because grand jury investigations are ex parte proceedings. It is not our job to render conclusive factual findings. We just decide whether it is appropriate to file criminal charges.”Then he went further, addressing widespread criticism that he stood emotionless as Barr delivered remarks at a press conference the morning the redacted report was released. “Can you imagine if I did anything other than stand there at the press conference?” he asked. “Imagine the reaction and the commentary if I had smiled or grimaced. But you cannot avoid criticism. The only way you can avoid criticism in public service is if you stay home.”He only mentioned Trump once in the talk, praising the president’s approach to the law. “The rule of law is our most important principle,” Rosenstein said. “As President Trump pointed out, ‘We govern ourselves in accordance with the rule of law rather [than] … the whims of an elite few or the dictates of collective will.’”Rosenstein warned that the Russian meddling outlined in the Mueller report was just the beginning. “The bottom line is, there was overwhelming evidence that Russian operatives hacked American computers and defrauded American citizens,” he said, according to the official transcript of the speech. “And that is only the tip of the iceberg of a comprehensive Russian strategy to influence elections, promote social discord, and undermine America, just like they do in many other countries.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here



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Rosenstein Calls Out Obama Admin For Failing to ‘Publicize’ Russian Election Interference

Rosenstein Calls Out Obama Admin For Failing to ‘Publicize’ Russian Election InterferenceDuring a private speech Thursday evening, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein lamented the Obama administration's decision not to “publicize” Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.Rosenstein, who oversaw special counsel Robert Mueller's recently-concluded investigation into Russian election interference, suggested that the Obama administration did the public a disservice by not publicly revealing “the full story” of the Kremlin's attempt to disrupt the election while adequate counter-measures could have been taken.“Some critical decisions about the Russia investigation were made before I got there. The previous Administration chose not to publicize the full story about Russian computer hackers and social media trolls, and how they relate to a broader strategy to undermine America,” Rosenstein said during an address to the Public Servants Dinner of the Armenian Bar Association.Rosenstein went on to criticize former FBI director James Comey for his decision to reveal the existence of a counterintelligence investigation into Russian election interference at the height of the 2016 campaign.“The FBI disclosed classified evidence about the investigation to ranking legislators and their staffers. Someone selectively leaked details to the news media. The FBI Director announced at a congressional hearing that there was a counterintelligence investigation that might result in criminal charges,” he continued. “Then the former FBI Director alleged that the President pressured him to close the investigation, and the President denied that the conversation occurred.”Obama administration officials elected not to publicize the extent of the Kremlin's interference efforts because they believed they would be seen to be tilting the scales toward Hillary Clinton by exposing Russia's preference for Trump, NBC News reported in December 2016. Their confidence in Clinton's victory also bolstered their belief that alarming the public about election interference would prove unnecessary.



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Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein offers biting defense of Russia investigation, jabs Obama administration

Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein offers biting defense of Russia investigation, jabs Obama administrationDeputy AG Rosenstein offers staunch defense of Russia investigation



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Biden asked Obama 'not to endorse' him for president

Biden asked Obama 'not to endorse' him for presidentFormer US vice president Joe Biden, who launched his White House bid Thursday, said he asked old boss Barack Obama not to endorse him because Democrats should try to win the nomination on their own merits. Shortly after Biden’s announcement, a source familiar with Obama’s thinking said he was “unlikely” to endorse this early, noting that the 44th president believed the robust primary debate in the run-up to 2008 had shaped him into a better candidate. Biden is the latest of 20 candidates seeking the Democratic nomination, a field that includes senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, several current and former members of the House of Representatives and Obama’s former cabinet member Julian Castro.



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Alleged commander of militia reportedly said group was training to assassinate Clinton, Obama

Alleged commander of militia reportedly said group was training to assassinate Clinton, ObamaThe group has posted social media videos of its volunteers apprehending migrants crossing the U.S. border in New Mexico.



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New Mexico Border Militia Leader Allegedly Said Group Planned to Assassinate Obama, Clinton

New Mexico Border Militia Leader Allegedly Said Group Planned to Assassinate Obama, ClintonPAUL RATJEThe border militia leader who was arrested in New Mexico over the weekend on weapons charges allegedly said that his far-right group was training to kill prominent Democratic figures because of their “support of Antifa.”According to an arrest warrant for Larry Mitchell Hopkins, witnesses told authorities that he’d said the United Constitutional Patriots were training to “assassinate” liberal billionaire George Soros, former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and former President Barack Obama.The 69-year-old and his armed militia, which spreads conspiracies and searches for asylum seekers on the border, have been accused of illegally detaining migrants. Hopkins was arrested Saturday on charges of possessing firearms and ammunition as a convicted felon. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports he could face three years probation and a $ 250,000 fine.Witnesses also told authorities in Oct. 2017 that the group “had its ‘base’ at Hopkins’s residence, was supported by approximately 20 members, and was armed with AK-47 rifles and other firearms,” the arrest warrant states. During a search of his property, the FBI found 10 guns in Hopkins’ “office,” which he claimed were owned by Fay Sanders Murphy, his “common law wife.” Hopkins told authorities there were two more guns in his bedroom—a shotgun and a handgun—and another handgun in his kitchen. All told, the FBI seized nine guns from Hopkins’ home as evidence, including shotguns and long rifles. Saturday’s arrest marks the third time the militia leader has been arrested on weapons charges. In 1996, he was convicted for possessing a loaded firearm in Michigan. In 2006, he was also convicted in Oregon of felony possession of a firearm and criminal impersonation of a peace officer.UCP and Hopkins claim to do work with Border Patrol, but the federal law-enforcement agency has denied having any ties to the vigilante group. A UCP spokesperson named Jim told The Daily Beast that there was “no question” about their work together, pointing to the group’s publicity videos in which Border Patrol agents can be seen in the background.“That’s all documented, and not just once. It’s documented hundreds and hundreds of times over in the videos that I post,” he said.Border Patrol, however, said it does “not endorse private groups or organizations” that take “enforcement matters into their own hands.”UCP produces a radio show that spreads conspiracy theories, QAnon beliefs, and misinformation about migrants being connected to terrorists. Hopkins has also claimed President Trump has asked him about “Muslim immigration.”According to the Las Cruces Sun-News, Hopkins made his initial court appearance Monday morning and has a detention hearing scheduled for April 29.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here



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Indictment of Obama official in Mueller probe may pose a dilemma for Trump, so he takes it out on media

Indictment of Obama official in Mueller probe may pose a dilemma for Trump, so he takes it out on mediaConfronted with the novel situation of the special counsel's office going after a member of Barack Obama's administration, President Trump reacted with a tweet complaining about how the New York Times played the story in its Friday editions.



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Feds Charge Greg Craig, Former Obama Lawyer Tied to Manafort Ukraine Report

Feds Charge Greg Craig, Former Obama Lawyer Tied to Manafort Ukraine ReportMark Wilson/GettyFederal prosecutors have charged President Obama’s former White House counsel with making false statements in connection with his role in disseminating a report commissioned by Paul Manafort. Prosecutors allege that as an attorney in private practice, Greg Craig lied to officials at the Foreign Agents Registration Act unit after the Justice Department launched an investigation into Paul Manafort’s illegal lobbying on behalf of his pro-Russian clients in Ukraine. The charges, spurred by a referral from then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office, mark the first time the Russia investigation has led to a criminal complaint against a prominent former Democratic official. Craig was a partner at Skadden Arps in 2012 when Manafort arranged for the firm to write a report about his client, former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, and the prosecution of Yanukovych’s former political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko. Skadden reached a settlement with the Justice Department in January 2019 over its work with the Ukrainian government. As part of the agreement, the firm admitted that “a partner then at Skadden made false and misleading statements to the FARA Unit, which led it to conclude in 2013 that the firm was not obligated to register under FARA.” Under the deal, Skadden Arps agreed to register as a foreign agent and pay $ 4.6 million to the U.S. Treasury—the cost of its work on the report.Prosecutors say Craig, who led a team of Skadden lawyers in writing the report, ventured into lobbying when he allegedly offered a copy of the report to a New York Times reporter, subsequently identified as David Sanger, and pitched him on a call with a lobbyist for Ukraine in advance of its release. Craig’s conversations with the Times reporter took place shortly after he met with Manafort and a public relations firm to discuss the media strategy for the report’s rollout, and prosecutors viewed his media calls as an outgrowth of the strategy meeting.The indictment alleges that Craig began lying to officials at the Justice Department's FARA unit when they inquired about his contacts with the media shortly after the Times story ran. In a meeting with the chief of the FARA unit and in a subsequent letter, prosecutors say, Craig falsely claimed that his conversations with reporters “was done in response to requests from the media” and that the Ukrainian government neither knew of it nor directed it.In particular, they claim that Craig failed to tell FARA officials he had “recommended and facilitated” the Ukrainian government's choice of a PR firm, had been briefed on the firm's strategy, and had recommended Sanger as a recipient for the report after he met with the PR firm and a lobbyist for Ukraine. The indictment quotes a handful of emails from Craig meant to back up claims that his media outreach was allegedly an extension of a Ukrainian government-directed PR strategy and not a responsive correction of the record.Craig allegedly emailed Sanger in December 2012 with the explanation that “the Ukrainians have determined that you should be given first look” at the report. In an email sent shortly after Craig handed an advance copy of the report to the Times, the lawyer reported to a PR firm working for Ukraine that he told Sanger “it was his if he wanted to use it” and that “tomorrow is not too late for [another U.S. reporter] or for [another major U.S. newspaper].”In discussions with prosecutors, Craig’s attorneys have doubled down on his claims about contacts with the media, according to CNN. They claim Craig only spoke with the Times in order to correct an unspecified mischaracterization of the report and that the prosecution represented an attempt to make the Russia investigation and its spin-off prosecutions, which have primarily targeted Republicans, seem less partisan. The Skadden report featured prominently in court documents filed in Manafort’s Washington, D.C., lobbying case. The special counsel’s office alleged that Manafort’s choice of “the lead attorney at Skadden was made with the United States lobbying effort in mind" and that the report Craig spearheaded was “misleading and used to justify the political prosecution and jailing of a political opponent.” Skadden earned $ 4.6 million for the report, paid through Manafort’s offshore accounts in Cyprus, but the Ukrainian government publicly claimed that the work cost only $ 12,000. Craig resigned from Skadden in April 2018, shortly after attorney Alexander Van Der Zwaan pleaded guilty to lying to the special counsel’s office about his work on the report. Van Der Zwaan, whom Skadden fired in 2017, destroyed emails requested by the special counsel and lied about talking points he passed to Manafort aide Rick Gates and an advance copy of the report he slipped to a public relations firm. He served a 30-day prison sentence after pleading guilty and agreeing to cooperate with Mueller’s office.  Prosecutors said that the Skadden report was one part of a sprawling illegal lobbying campaign that enlisted other Washington heavyweights, Mercury Public Affairs and the Podesta Group, to sell Washington on Yanukovych’s government. The special counsel’s office alleged that Manafort used an obscure think tank in Brussels as a cut-out to allow Mercury and the Podesta Group to lobby for the Ukrainian government without registering as foreign agents. Mercury subsequently registered with the Justice Department for its Ukraine work but the Podesta Group fared worse. Its founder, Tony Podesta, left the firm shortly after Mueller indicted Manafort in October 2017, and the firm closed seven months later. The charges against Craig are another sign that the Russia investigation has led to increased vigilance in enforcing foreign lobbying rules by the Justice Department. The department announced in March that Brandon Van Grack, a special counsel’s office prosecutor who worked on Manafort’s Virginia tax and bank fraud trial, would take over as the head of the Foreign Agents Registration Act unit. Read more at The Daily Beast.



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Former White House counsel for Obama charged in Mueller-related case

Former White House counsel for Obama charged in Mueller-related caseGregory Craig was charged with lying to US authorities about his work alongside Paul Manafort * Follow the latest in US politics – liveGregory Craig is the first prominent Democrat to face criminal prosecution as a result of Mueller’s investigation. Photograph: Pablo Martínez Monsiváis/APGregory Craig, a former White House counsel to Barack Obama, has been charged with lying to US authorities about his work alongside Paul Manafort for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.Craig, 74, was indicted by a grand jury in Washington on Thursday following an investigation that grew out of Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. He has denied wrongdoing.He is the first prominent Democrat to face criminal prosecution as a result of Mueller’s investigation, which led to the conviction of Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, for a series of financial crimes.Craig is charged with giving false information to the justice department officials who regulate work in the US by lobbyists, lawyers and other representatives of foreigners under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (Fara). He is also charged with concealing details of his work from the same officials.Attorneys for Craig said in a statement that the charges were unfair and that prosecutors had chosen to omit evidence that was favourable to him.“Mr Craig had no interest in misleading the Fara unit because he had not done anything that required his registration,” the attorneys said. “That is what this trial will be all about.”Sign up for the US morning briefingCraig worked in 2012 for Ukraine’s ministry of justice while he was a partner at the prestigious law firm Skadden Arps. Manafort, a veteran Republican operative, meanwhile worked as a consultant to Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s pro-Kremlin president, who was later ousted.A team at Skadden produced a report to help the Yanukovych government defend its prosecution of a former Ukrainian prime minister, which critics said had been politically motivated. Craig also coordinated public relations work to boost the government’s image.Craig wanted to avoid registering as a foreign agent in order to protect his ability to work in the US government in the future, according to the indictment, and so Skadden could avoid disclosing the $ 4m it was secretly receiving for its work from a wealthy Yanukovych backer.When Skadden was asked by the Fara unit for information on its Ukraine work, the firm submitted a response signed by Craig that failed to disclose Craig’s contacts with US media on behalf of Ukraine as part of a public relations strategy.Skadden Arps reached an agreement with the justice department in January this year to avoid prosecution. The deal forced the law firm to turn over the more than $ 4.5m it was paid by Ukraine and to register as a foreign agent retroactively. Craig has since left the firm.Prosecutors said on Thursday that, if convicted, Craig faced sentences of up to five years’ imprisonment for each charge. He could also be fined up to $ 100,000 and $ 250,000 for the respective charges.Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, were later charged by the US with money laundering in relation to their payment for work in Ukraine. Manafort was convicted and Gates pleaded guilty to lesser charges.



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