Michael Cohen was back in federal court Wednesday for a hearing on the fate of millions of items seized during an FBI raid on his home, office and hotel room in April. Judge Kimba Wood rejected Cohen’s attempts to slow down the schedule for his team’s review of the materials to determine which should be covered by attorney-client privilege. Following the hearing, during which Wood criticized Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, for his outspoken media appearances, Avenatti withdrew his motion to intervene in order to protect Daniels’ dealings with her previous attorney, which might be included in Cohen’s files. On Friday morning, The New York Times reported that Avenatti had been in touch with top Democratic donors to see if they’d help cover Daniels’ legal bills. They appear to have declined to do so.
Last week, the Trump administration tried to push the “SpyGate” conspiracy theory to the fore, claiming that the FBI had improperly spied on Trump’s 2016 campaign. But an intelligence community briefing for top members of Congress seemed to put the issue to rest; Rep. Trey Gowdy, the senior House Republican on the Intelligence Committee, said that the FBI “did exactly what my fellow citizens would want.” The White House, nonetheless, continued to push the theory. On Sunday, Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani demanded access to FBI documents in exchange for a presidential interview with the special counsel, and, on Wednesday, the White House said that there was “still cause for concern.”
Reports surfaced this week indicating that during a March 2017 conversation in Mar-a-Lago, Trump put pressure on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to un-recuse himself from the Russia probe. Trump kept up the pressure, telling Sessions last year he would be a “hero” if he “did the right thing.” On Tuesday, Trump tweeted that he could have picked another AG and “I wish I did!” In another tweet Tuesday, Trump claimed, confusingly, that the Mueller team would be “MEDDLING” with the midterm elections.
Nonetheless, Mueller’s probe continues. NBC reports that Jared Kushner’s longtime friend, Richard Gerson, was in the Seychelles in January 2017, around the same time that Erik Prince was there meeting with officials from Russia and the UAE. Gerson has become a person of interest in the Mueller probe.
Filings in Mueller’s Manafort probe indicate that the special counsel is looking into aspects of Manafort’s past that go beyond his work with Ukraine. On Tuesday, a judge denied Manafort’s request for unredacted versions of two search warrants of his property, saying that there was “nothing in the redactions that relates to any of the charges now pending against Manafort.”
The FBI, meanwhile, has obtained wiretaps on Alexander Torshin, the Russian politician and lifetime NRA member who met with Donald Trump Jr. during the campaign.
On Thursday, Trump pardoned conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza, another potential signal that he may rescue allies who are under pressure to cooperate with prosecutors. Later that day, Roger Stone declared on InfoWars: “I will never roll on Donald Trump.”
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