Trump calls Mueller probe a ‘danger’ to US criminal justice - a day after Manafort's 'plea deal violation' revealed

Manafort has denied intentionally lying to federal investigators

Clark Mindock
New York
Tuesday 27 November 2018 19:37 GMT
Mr Trump has repeatedly attempted to challenge the legitimacy of the Mueller probe
Mr Trump has repeatedly attempted to challenge the legitimacy of the Mueller probe (EPA)

President Donald Trump has unleashed one of his most vicious attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, just a day after investigators accused former top Trump official Paul Manafort of violating a plea agreement by lying.

In an early morning tweet storm, Mr Trump called the special counsel a “conflicted prosecutor gone rogue” who was doing “TREMENDOUS damage” to the American criminal justice system. Mr Mueller – a registered Republican who had previously been appointed to top US intelligence posts by presidents of both – is leading the investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia’s efforts to influence the presidential election.

“Wait until it comes out how horribly & viciously they are treating people, ruining lives for them refusing to lie,” Mr Trump wrote on Twitter. “Mueller is a conflicted prosecutor gone rogue The Fake News Media builds Bob Mueller up as a Saint, when in actuality he is the exact opposite. He is doing TREMENDOUS damage to our Criminal Justice System.”

The president continued on to question why Mr Mueller’s campaign is not investigating his political adversaries, and claimed the the probe would cost American taxpayers $30 million.

The Tuesday morning tweets came amid a number of high-profile developments for the Mueller probe.

Just a day earlier, prosecutors with the probe alleged that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had lied to investigators repeatedly during their investigation, in violation of a plea agreement. Manafort, who had previously been found guilty on eight felony charges for financial fraud over lobby work in Ukraine before making a deal with prosecutors, has denied intentionally lying to investigators.

That alleged breach in the agreement could have significant ramifications for the Mueller probe, and the news came just hours before reports broke that Manafort had apparently met secretly with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in 2016 just months before that whistle blower website released a stash of hacked emails from Democrats.

It is not clear what the men discussed during their three meetings, The Guardian claimed. Both Mr Assange and Wikileaks denied any meeting with Manafort, while Manafort denied having anything to do with the hacking of the emails or their release by Wikileaks

Other developments included the jailing of Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who was sent to prison after a federal judge rejected his lawyers’ motion to delay his imprisonment while a constitutional challenge to the Mueller probe plays out. Papadopoulous pleaded guilty to lying to FBI investigators about contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign, but has recently hired a new legal team and has alleged publicly that he was framed by American intelligence agencies .

In yet another development, conservative author and commentator Jerome Corsi announced that he had rejected a plea offer from the Mueller probe to plead guilty to perjury. Mr Corsi said that accepting a plea agreement would mean he would be falsely admitting to intentionally misleading prosecutors.

Mr Corsi had provided research to Trump associate Roger Stone during the 2016 campaign. The special counsel’s team has been investigating possible coordination between Mr Stone and Mr Assange over the release of Democratic emails during the campaign. Both Mr Stone and WikiLeaks have denied any coordination on the release of those emails.

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Mr Mueller’s probe has so far resulted in indictments or pleas against 32 individuals, including 26 Russians and three companies.

During that time, Mr Trump has repeatedly attempted to cast doubt on the probe, and has regularly called the investigation a “witch hunt” that is being run by a conflicted partisan — though he has provided no evidence against Mr Mueller, a man widely defended in Washington for his independence.

Mr Mueller was put in charge of the special counsel investigation by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was appointed to that role by the Trump administration.

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