Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is scheduled to meet with the Senate Intelligence Committee behind closed doors today, followed by a private session with the House Intelligence Committee tomorrow, while the Senate Judiciary Committee’s plans to interview Donald Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort this week have been delayed indefinitely while negotiations with their lawyers for documents and information are ongoing, Devlin Barrett anticipating the upcoming meetings at the Washington Post.
Kushner will tell the Senate panel that neither he nor any member of the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials during the U.S. election, according to his opening statement released ahead of the meeting today, the BBC reports.
Kushner’s full statement is provided at CNN.
Trump Jr. and Manafort cut a deal with the Senate Judiciary Committee to avoid a public hearing this week and instead provide records to the panel and be privately interviewed ahead of any public session at the end of last week, CNN’s Miranda Green and Manu Raju report.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions discussed campaign matters with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak on two occasions during the presidential campaign, at which time he was foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump, contrary to Sessions’ public statements, current and former U.S. officials told Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller at the Washington Post Friday.
President Trump still does not accept that Russia tried to interfere with the 2016 presidential election, new White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci said yesterday, Eli Watkins reports at CNN.
Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s name was included in a Senate Judiciary Committee letter requesting all communication between Donald Trump Jr. and a number of other individuals including Russian officials, making her what Alicia Cohn at the Hill calls a “surprising” addition to the congressional Trump-Russia probe.
There has been no discussion among President Trump and his legal team about whether presidents could pardon themselves, Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow insisted yesterday, after Trump himself sent out a tweet Saturday claiming that the president has the “complete power to pardon,” Kevin Robillard reports at POLITICO.
Trump can pardon any federal crime even before the alleged offender is charged with a crime, but can he pardon himself? Self-pardon has never been directly considered by the courts, and legal scholars are divided on the answer, but whether or not he can, whether he should is a different question – one the president should consider very carefully before answering, writes Jeffrey Crouch at the Hill.
Put yourself in Mueller’s shoes. The White House is attempting a systematic pushback on the independence and integrity of the special counsel investigation, and Mueller’s experience, and the steps he has taken so far to staff the Russia investigation with highly experienced lawyers, may not matter, because the president might bring things to a close with a bunch of preemptive pardons, or try to fire or rein in Mueller himself. Six things Mueller might be considering as he works out how to do his job under these circumstances are suggested by Jane Chong, Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes at Foreign Policy.
Can a sitting president be indicted? A newly-rediscovered memo from Kenneth W. Starr’s independent counsel investigation into former president Bill Clinton sheds new light on a “constitutional puzzle” that is attracting increasing attention amid the Trump-Russia investigation, writes Charlie Savage at the New York Times.
An agreement on a wide-ranging Russia sanctions package was reached by Congressional Republicans and Democrats, they announced Saturday, the bill also including stiff economic penalties against Iran and North Korea, Al Jazeera reports.
The House is expected to vote on the bill tomorrow, which would allow a senator to bring up a resolution of disapproval if the administration moved to lift the sanctions and would expedite House consideration of such a resolution once it passes the Senate, Natalie Andrews reports at the Wall Street Journal. Continue Reading »