Special Counsel Robert Mueller is assembling a case for criminal charges against Russians who carried out the hacking and leaking of private information designed to hurt Democrats in the 2016 election, multiple current and former government officials familiar with the matter tell NBC News.
Much like the indictment Mueller filed last month charging a different group of Russians in a social media trolling and illegal-ad-buying scheme, the possible new charges are expected to rely heavily on secret intelligence gathered by the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), several of the officials say.
Mueller’s consideration of charges accusing Russians in the hacking case has not been reported previously. Sources say he has long had sufficient evidence to make a case, but strategic issues could dictate the timing. Potential charges include violations of statutes on conspiracy, election law as well as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. One U.S. official briefed on the matter said the charges are not imminent, but other knowledgeable sources said they are expected in the next few weeks or months. …
The sources say the possible new indictment — or more than one, if that’s how Mueller’s office decides to proceed — would delve into the details of, and the people behind, the Russian intelligence operation that used hackers to penetrate computer networks and steal emails of both the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
This is another sign that the previous indictment of 13 Russians probably only scratched the surface of the plot to disrupt our election and of where this is all going.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has concluded that Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee were behind the leak of private text messages between the Senate panel’s top Democrat and a Russian-connected lawyer, according to two congressional officials briefed on the matter.
Senator Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, the committee’s Republican chairman, and Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat, were so perturbed by the leak that they demanded a rare meeting with Speaker Paul D. Ryan last month to inform him of their findings. They used the meeting with Mr. Ryan to raise broader concerns about the direction of the House Intelligence Committee under its chairman, Representative Devin Nunes of California, the officials said.
To the senators, who are overseeing what is effectively the last bipartisan investigation on Capitol Hill into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, the leak was a serious breach of protocol and a partisan attack by one intelligence committee against the other.
For the record, though that lawyer’s name is Adam Waldman, I am not related to him, except in the sense that all Waldmans are part of a global conspiracy controlling all the world’s levers of power.
* David Lynch and Damian Paletta report that President Trump is following up on one of his campaign promises:
President Trump on Thursday said he has decided to impose punishing tariffs on imported steel and aluminum in a major escalation of his trade offensive, disappointing Republican congressional leaders and inviting retaliation by U.S. trading partners.
Speaking at the White House, the president said he has decided on tariffs of 25 percent for foreign-made steel and 10 percent for aluminum.
“We’ll be imposing tariffs on steel imports and tariffs on aluminum imports,” the president said. “…You will have protection for the first time in a long while, and you’re going to regrow your industries.”
Investors appeared shaken by the news. The Dow Jones industrial average fell around 500 points, a loss of 2 percent, in early-afternoon trading.
Donald Trump doesn’t believe in much, but he believes in this. And if it causes a trade war (not to mention higher prices for all kinds of consumer goods), then that’s just too bad.
* The latest Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds the Affordable Care Act reaching an all-time high of 54 percent approval, and 77 percent have a favorable opinion of Medicaid.
* The latest Suffolk University poll shows Democrats with a 15-point lead in the generic ballot.
* Ryan Goodman examines an under-covered suggestion from Rep. Adam Schiff: That Russia told Trump adviser George Papadopoulos in 2016 that it could help with disseminating the emails it stole from Democrats.
* Inti Pacheco, Manuela Andreoni, Alex Mierjeski, and Keenan Chen report that the Trump Organization does business with criminals and shady characters all over the world.
* Ian Millhiser profiles Sam Bagenstos, former Obama Justice Department official and University of Michigan law professor who is running for Michigan Supreme Court. If he can survive having been quoted in the Plum Line on legal issues, he could go places.
* And the Center for American Progress flags a milestone: March 1st marks the number of extra days into the new year a minimum wage worker would have to work to make the same amount this year their wages would have purchased the last year it was raised, in 2009.
Happy Minimum Wage Workers’ Equal Pay Day!