2016 Under Scrutiny: A Timeline Of Russia Connections – NPR

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort (right), leaves U.S. District Court after pleading not guilty to federal charges, including “conspiracy against the United States,” on Monday in Washington, D.C.

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The first charges have been filed in the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election, and the court documents help make clearer the timeline of Russia-related events that took place during the presidential campaign.

The order and nature of events during the summer of 2016 became increasingly relevant in June, with revelations about a meeting between a Russian nationals, Donald Trump Jr., then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.

Here’s a timeline of key Russia-related 2016 events:

2006-2016: According to a 12-count indictment unsealed on Oct. 30, 2017, “from approximately 2006 through at least 2016, Manafort and Gates laundered money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships and bank accounts.” Paul Manafort served on the Trump campaign from March 2016 through August 2016, serving as campaign chairman from May until August. Richard Gates is a former business partner of Manafort’s who followed him to the Trump campaign as his deputy. After Manafort was ousted from the campaign, Gates moved to the Republican National Committee to work out legal agreements with Trump’s campaign and ultimately served on Trump’s inaugural committee.

“Early March” 2016: According to Justice Department documents, Papadopoulos learns he will be a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign.

March 14, 2016: Papadopoulos, while traveling in Italy, meets a London-based professor. Per a special counsel filing, “initially, the professor seemed uninterested” in him. “However, after defendant Papadopoulos informed the professor about joining the campaign, the professor appeared to take great interest” in him. The professor had “claimed to have substantial connections with Russian government officials,” which according to the filing, Papadopoulos thought would help his standing as a foreign policy adviser for the campaign. (Editor’s note: Many of the dates pertaining to Papadopoulos are described as “on or about” that date in the legal documents. We have omitted that caveat for clarity. See the original Justice Department language here.)

March 19, 2016: Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta reportedly receives a phishing email, which led to the theft of thousands of his emails going back years, including embarrassing campaign correspondence. Those emails were then posted by Wikileaks in batches beginning in early October and continuing right through the election.Former CIA Director John Brennan has testified that “it’s very clear that [Russia’s intelligence agency, the GRU] was responsible for hacking” the DNC and then releasing it to WikiLeaks.

March 21, 2016: Trump cites Papadopoulos as a foreign policy adviser in Washington Post editorial board meeting. Carter Page is also mentioned. Trump told the Post:

“Well, I hadn’t thought of doing it, but if you want I can give you some of the names… Walid Phares, who you probably know, PhD, adviser to the House of Representatives caucus, and counter-terrorism expert; Carter Page, PhD; George Papadopoulos, he’s an energy and oil consultant, excellent guy; the Honorable Joe Schmitz, [former] inspector general at the Department of Defense; [retired] Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg; and I have quite a few more. But that’s a group of some of the people that we are dealing with. We have many other people in different aspects of what we do, but that’s a representative group.”

March 24, 2016: Papadopoulos meets in London with the professor, who brought with him a female Russian national introduced to him “as a relative of Russian President Vladimir Putin with connections to senior Russian government officials.” Papadopoulos then emails a “campaign supervisor” not named in court filings as well as “several members of the Campaign’s foreign policy team,” recounting his meeting with the professor, the woman whom Papadopoulos described as Putin’s niece (the filings note he later learned she was not actually related to Putin). Papadopoulos said the topic of the discussion was “to arrange a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss US-Russian ties under President Trump.”

March 28, 2016: Trump brings on Manafort to manage delegate operations for the campaign.

March 31: According to court filings, Papadopoulos attended a “national security meeting” in Washington, D.C., with then-candidate Trump and other foreign policy advisers for the campaign. Per the filings, when Papadopoulos introduced himself to the group, he said he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between Trump and President Putin.

Meeting with my national security team in #WashingtonDC. #Trump2016

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

April 18, 2016: Around this day, Papadopoulos is introduced by email to a person in Moscow who was said to have connections to the Russian Foreign Ministry. According to court filings, Papadopoulos and this individual have multiple conversations over Skype and email about “setting ‘the groundwork’ for a ‘potential’ meeting” between the campaign and Russian officials.

April 25, 2016: Papadopoulos emails an unnamed senior policy adviser to the campaign, saying, “The Russian government has an open invitation by Putin for Mr. Trump to met when he is ready []. The advantage of being in London is that these governments tend to speak a bit more openly in ‘neutral’ cities.”

April 26, 2016: Papadopoulos meets with the professor in London. The professor tells Papadopoulos that he had just returned from a trip to Moscow, where he met with high-level government officials and learned that the Russians had obtained “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. “They have thousands of emails,” the professor said, according to Papadopoulos’ statements to the FBI.

April 27, 2016: In a major foreign policy speech at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., Trump indicates a willingness to work with Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“I believe an easing of tensions, and improved relations with Russia from a position of strength only, is possible, absolutely possible,” he said. “Common sense says this cycle, this horrible cycle of hostility must end and ideally will end soon. Good for both countries. Some say the Russians won’t be reasonable. I intend to find out.”

Sergey Kislyak, then the Russian ambassador to the U.S., was sitting in the front row, according to a report by Radio Free Europe.

On this same day, Papadopoulos separately emails a “senior policy advisor” and a “high-ranking” campaign official, both unnamed in legal filings. He told the adviser he had “some interesting messages coming in from Moscow about a trip when the time is right.” He told the campaign official that he had been receiving “a lot of calls” about Putin wanting to host Trump and his team.

May 18, 2016: James Clapper, then the director of national intelligence, warns of some indications of cyberattacks against the 2016 presidential election. In a cyber-event at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., Clapper said “as the campaigns intensify we’ll probably have more of it.”

June 2, 2016: In early June, as the primaries in both parties were winding down, Clinton turned her fire to Trump in what was widely considered one of the strongest moments of her campaign.

“Now I will leave it to psychiatrists to explain his affection for tyrants,” Clinton said in San Diego, Calif. “I just wonder how anyone could be so wrong about who America’s real friends are. Because it matters. If you don’t know exactly who you’re dealing with, men like Putin will eat your lunch.”

June 3, 2016: Music promoter Rob Goldstone emails Trump Jr. about setting up a meeting with a Russian government-connected lawyer, among other people, to discuss incriminating information about Clinton. Goldstone works with Emin Agalarov, the son of Russian billionaire developer Aras Agalarov. The Agalarovs already knew the future American president through connections established when Trump Sr. held the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013.

“The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” Goldstone wrote to Trump Jr. “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump…”

Trump Jr. was traveling at the time, but it took him just 20 minutes to reply: “if it’s what you say, I love it, especially later in the summer.”

June 7, 2016: The 2016 primary season essentially concludes with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as their parties’ presumptive nominees. At his primary night victory speech, Trump previews an upcoming attack in the form of a “major speech” he says he’s planning to give in the next few days.

“I am going to give a major speech on, probably Monday of next week, and we are going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons,” Trump said. “I think you are going to find it very informative and very, very interesting.”

Just hours before, Rob Goldstone had finalized plans for the meeting between Trump Jr., Natalia Veselnitskaya and others.

June 9, 2016: Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, then-Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, meet in Trump Tower with Veselnitskaya, Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin and another Russian-American present to represent the interests of the Agalarovs.

While the meeting was represented to include damaging information about Hillary Clinton, it instead focused on the Magnitsky Act.

“I never had any damaging or sensitive information about Hillary Clinton. It was never my intention to have that,” Veselnitskaya told MSNBC.

Donald Trump Jr. later told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that the meeting was “literally just a wasted 20 minutes, which was a shame.”

June 14, 2016: News breaks of two separate Russian breaches into the Democratic National Committee’s computer network. The hacks were perpetrated by Russian groups that have become known as Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear, identified by Washington, D.C., computer security company CrowdStrike. The hackers had been monitoring the DNC’s computer network for a year.

June 22, 2016: In a speech in New York, Trump speculates that foreign adversaries may have hacked Clinton’s emails.

“So they probably now have a blackmail file over someone who wants to be president of the United States,” he said. “This fact alone disqualifies her from the presidency.”

July 5, 2016: FBI Director James Comey recommends no charges against Clinton for her handling of classified emails while she was secretary of state. Comey did, however, raise questions about her judgment, and described Clinton and her staff as being “extremely careless.” On July 2, Clinton told investigators her use of the private server was for convenience, not to avoid proper record-keeping.

July 7, 2016: Carter Page, a Trump campaign adviser, gives a Russia-friendly speech in Moscow. This leads FBI investigators to obtain a secret warrant to monitor Page’s communications.

July 18, 2016: Just before the Republican National Convention, the Trump campaign worked behind the scenes to change the GOP’s platform on Ukraine. The campaign announced that they would not call for the U.S. to give weapons to the Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces.

July 21, 2016: The GOP convention concludes with Trump giving an ominous speech accepting the Republican nomination. Trump spoke about the country’s struggles with terrorism, crime and immigration, and vows to put “America first.”

“This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction, terrorism and weakness,” he said.

July 22, 2016: WikiLeaks publishes a first batch of almost 20,000 DNC emails, many of them discussing how to undermine Sen. Bernie Sander’s campaign. WikiLeaks officials stated that the emails come from the accounts of “seven key figures in the DNC.”

The timing here is important, as the emails are published less than a week before the start of the Democratic National Convention, when candidates typically receive a polling boost.

July 23, 2016: Trump continues pushing his theory of a “rigged” election process, in a tweet about the newly released emails.

“Leaked e-mails of DNC show plans to destroy Bernie Sanders,” he says. “Mock his heritage and much more. On-line from Wikileakes, really vicious. RIGGED”

July 24, 2016: Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigns in the wake of the DNC email hacking scandal. After Schultz’s abrupt resignation, Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge was named the chair of the Democratic convention and Donna Brazile, former Al Gore campaign manager and Bill Clinton adviser, temporarily takes control of the Democratic Party through the election.

July 27, 2016: At a news conference, Trump has an overt message for Russia, in relation to Hillary Clinton’s emails.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” he said. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Clinton’s campaign reacted predictably, with outrage, saying Trump was encouraging espionage by a foreign government.

Trump also raised eyebrows in the speech in foreign policy circles for saying he would consider recognizing Crimea as part of Russia and lifting sanctions on Russia.

Also during the summer, according to the Daily Beast and CNN, the head of Cambridge Analytics, a data firm that did work for the Trump campaign, reaches out to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and offered to help organize and release Hillary Clinton’s missing 33,000 missing emails. Assange later confirmed on Twitter that a contact was made, but said the offer was rejected.

I can confirm an approach by Cambridge Analytica [prior to November last year] and can confirm that it was rejected by WikiLeaks.

— Julian Assange 🔹 (@JulianAssange) October 25, 2017

Analytica is financially backed by billionaire Trump supporter Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah. Clinton said she deleted 33,000 personal emails from her time as secretary of state. To this date they have been the subject of much interest, including from Trump, who still mentions them regularly.

Aug. 4, 2016: Obama CIA Director John Brennan confronts his Russian counterpart about Russia’s interference, as he later recounted in congressional testimony in May 2017. “[I] told him if you go down this road, it’s going to have serious consequences, not only for the bilateral relationship, but for our ability to work with Russia on any issue, because it is an assault on our democracy,” Brennan said on Meet the Press in July 2017. Brennan’s statements also followed attacks that the Obama administration faltered on deflecting Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

Aug. 15, 2016: According to legal filings on Papadopoulos, after weeks of back and forth about a possible “off the record” trip to Moscow, a campaign supervisor writes in an email, ” ‘I would encourage you” and another foreign policy adviser to the Campaign to ‘make the trip [], if it is feasible.’ ” The trip did not take place.

Aug. 19, 2016: Manafort resigns from the Trump campaign amid reports of suspicious payments for work he did for Russian linked elements in Ukraine. This marks the econd shakeup of Trump senior campaign staff.

Aug. 21, 2016: Roger Stone cryptically cryptically tweets, “Trust me, it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel, #Crooked Hillary” (his Twitter account was suspended in late October 2017.) Podesta was among the primary targets of hacks to the Democratic National Committee computer network; his emails were released by WikiLeaks starting Oct. 7.

Sept. 8, 2016: Then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., meets with Kislyak in his Senate Office. This would be reported by the Washington Post and confirmed by NPR in March 2017, the same day that Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., questioned Sessions about the meeting during Sessions’ confirmation hearing to be attorney general. Sessions maintains that he never met with Russians or intermediaries “about the Trump campaign,” even though he was a top surrogate for the campaign at the time. Sessions did ultimately recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

Jan. 27, 2017: Papadopoulos sits for an interview with the FBI, during which he “made material false statements and material omissions,” according to court filings released Oct. 30.

Oct. 5, 2017: Papadopoulos pleads guilty to making false statements to FBI agents.

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A shooter kills a person at the University of Utah, leading to an overnight manhunt in the Wasatch Mountains – Salt Lake Tribune

One person is dead after a Monday shooting at the University of Utah put the campus on lockdown for several hours.

Police were still searching for a male suspect early Tuesday morning, focusing on the area east of Mario Capecchi Drive. That area of campus — which includes the school’s main residence halls, medical complex and research buildings — was locked down until about 3 a.m.

At about 8:15 p.m. Monday, a woman came to the campus and reported that her husband had assaulted her while they were camping in Red Butte Canyon, University of Utah Police Chief Dale Brophy said. While she was being treated for an unspecified injury just before 9 p.m., Brophy said, the woman’s husband killed a person in a carjacking at the mouth of the canyon.

Salt Lake City police say the suspect is Austin J. Boutain. The 24-year-old white male has tattoos of a cross and a teardrop on his face, as well as neck and arm tattoos, and was wearing all-black clothing — a coat, jeans and beanie.

Anyone with information about Boutain, including his potential whereabouts, is asked to call 801-799-3000.

Authorities declined to release the name, age or gender of the carjacking victim. They would not say whether that person was alone in the vehicle or whether he or she was a student at the university.

At least eight agencies — and hundreds of officers — from across the valley responded to the scene, including the FBI. The search was being conducted on foot and via helicopter. Authorities believe the suspect is in the foothills above Red Butte Canyon, but they continue to search the campus.

Traffic is blocked off near the area, and Utah Transit Authority trains and buses are not proceeding east of the stadium station at the west side of campus. Police were searching the Red Butte foothills and believed the canyon would be closed all of Tuesday.

The school tweeted at 2:54 a.m. that the campus lockdown had been lifted. Anyone needing a temporary place to stay should go to the east entrance of the Marriott Library.

The university said Tuesday’s classes were canceled.

CAMPUS ALERT: Secure-in-place lifted for all campus. Classes cancelled Oct. 31. Facilities & services remain open. Further info in email.

— University of Utah (@UUtah) October 31, 2017

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Facebook, Twitter, Google to Tell Congress How Russia Meddled – Bloomberg

Congress will put Facebook, Twitter and Google under a public microscope Tuesday about Russia’s use of their networks to meddle in the 2016 election, a day after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s criminal investigation disclosed its first indictments and guilty plea.

Senators want to know how the companies failed to keep Russians from exploiting their networks — buying 3,000 Facebook ads mostly with rubles — and using fake accounts to spread chaos and disinformation to millions of Americans. The three companies’ general counsels will appear before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee Tuesday and the House and Senate Intelligence panels Wednesday.

“If someone is paying you in rubles to place a political ad, or an ad that is intended to sow the seeds of discontent and discord, that ought to be a red flag,” Senate Intelligence panel member Susan Collins of Maine said in an interview Monday. “How much more of a tipoff do you need?”

More than a rehash of 2016, the hearings will set the stage for congressional action to try to prevent foreign interference in U.S. campaigns and voting in next year’s congressional and state elections. The companies, in turn, want to use the hearings to portray themselves as eager to find a solution ahead of any bipartisan efforts to impose new regulations on their networks.

“The foreign interference we saw is reprehensible and outrageous and opened a new battleground for our company, our industry and our society,” Colin Stretch, Facebook Inc. general counsel, said in prepared remarks. “We’re determined to prevent it from happening again.”

QuickTake Q&A: Your Guide to Understanding the Trump-Russia Saga

The hearings begin a day after Monday’s disclosure of indictments of President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and deputy Rick Gates on financial charges, as well as a plea deal with former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who is cooperating with the investigation.

Lawmakers are focused on whether there was any overlap between the Trump campaign and the massive Russian effort to flood Americans’ social media feeds with fake news and fake ads.

Facebook plans to tell lawmakers that 80,000 posts by 470 fake Russian accounts reached an estimated 126 million people, and that it closed 5.8 million fake accounts from all sources in October 2016 alone. Fake Russian accounts on Facebook’s Instagram posted another 120,000 pieces of content, the company will tell lawmakers.

At the same hearing, Twitter Inc. will say it has suspended 2,752 Russian-linked accounts, far more than it previously disclosed, according to testimony obtained by Bloomberg. Alphabet Inc.’s Google plans to say the impact on its sites was much smaller, with $4,700 worth of Russian-linked ads, compared to the $100,000 Facebook disclosed.

Human Vetting

The tech companies are likely hoping the hearings don’t stray too far from the use of ads by Russian-linked actors. They’ve already tried to address that problem by finding and banning the offending accounts. Facebook has said it will vet political ads with human employees instead of allowing them to be posted through its automated service.

The companies will be wary of what happened to Twitter when it first presented information on Russian interference to a closed-door briefing in late September with the Senate Intelligence committee staff. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the committee, gave the company a verbal lashing afterward for not taking the issue seriously enough.

The companies have since worked to present a proactive image. Twitter said last week it would ban Russian state media accounts from buying ads and create a “transparency center” to show how much political campaigns spent on advertising, the identity of the organization funding the campaign, and what demographics the ad targeted.

Facebook promised to display more information about political ads on its site.

Google has turned over evidence to federal investigators that Russia-linked organizations bought ads on YouTube, AdWords and other services. The company participated in private briefings to explain the mechanics, and removed Russia Today from a special premium YouTube package where it split ad sales with the search giant, saying the move was part of a “standard algorithmic update.”

‘Ministry of Truth’

More challenging is the broader issue of how social networks can be exploited to spread false information and whip up the public on divisive issues. Facebook head of security Alex Stamos has said using algorithms to try to cut fake news or political comments would result in the company acting as the “Ministry of Truth” — something it doesn’t want to be. But its current effort to stop misinformation, by letting neutral third parties fact-check posts flagged by users, is falling short, according to people familiar with the process.

Facebook has also come under fire from liberals for sending employees to work closely with the Trump campaign on its Facebook ad strategy, something the company has said it does with any large customer.

Independent researchers have found that much of the manipulation on Twitter comes from fake and automated accounts that don’t involve advertising. Researchers have found that hundreds of thousands of bots posted political messages during the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Twitter alone. Cybersecurity firm FireEye has said it uncovered thousands of fake accounts linked to Russia that posted anti-Clinton messages. 

However, teaching Twitter’s algorithms to find malicious tweeters is challenging. Russian meddlers are complementing their networks of bots with human workers who are paid to tweet coordinated messages at the same time. It can be difficult for Twitter’s algorithms to detect the difference, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Still on YouTube

Google took longer than other social media to disclose that it had found Russian-linked accounts on its site and used Twitter data to do so, a person familiar with the matter said at the time. One group of videographers, which Twitter and Facebook shut down in August after finding a link to Russia, was still live on YouTube two months later. It was shut down after the Daily Beast pointed it out on Oct. 8.

Lawmakers may also scrutinize Google’s display advertising business, which provides revenue for millions of websites, some of which have been flagged for spreading misinformation.

Facebook’s Stretch plans in his remarks to welcome a discussion of new legislation without endorsing a proposal from Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar and Warner and Republican John McCain requiring online political advertising to comply with the same disclosure requirements as broadcast ads. Facebook has lobbied for years against such requirements.

Collins of Maine said she’s withholding a decision on whether to support legislation until after the hearing. She noted it’s already against the law for foreign actors to try to influence U.S. elections.

“I want to make sure that if we do decide that legislation is needed in this area, that we do something that’s effective,” Collins said.

— With assistance by Selina Wang

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Mueller blindsides Congress’ Russia investigators – Politico

Chuck Schumer is pictured here. | Getty Images

“The president must not, under any circumstances, interfere with the special counsel’s work in any way,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Democrats are also concerned Trump will fire the special counsel after indictments of his former campaign aides.

The indictments of two former Trump campaign officials and emergence of a third ex-Trump adviser who appears to be cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election could throw a wrench into Congress’ parallel Russia probes.

That’s in part because neither of Congress’ intelligence committees has met yet with George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump’s campaign who admitted on Monday to lying to the FBI about his efforts to connect Russian entities with Trump’s team. It’s unclear whether he or either of the two indicted former campaign officials — Paul Manafort and Rick Gates — can or will continue engaging with the Hill.

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The Senate intelligence committee had already interviewed Manafort once before his indictment, and investigators there had been in talks to interview Papadopoulos, but the former campaign aide, according to one source, “wasn’t making himself available”for an interview. The House intelligence committee has yet to interview Papadopoulos, Manafort or Gates, and is “still in discussions with them,” an aide said Monday.

Papadopoulos had previously provided documents to the Senate Intelligence Committee, including at least some of the emails cited in his plea deal, the source told POLITICO.

The Senate panel was not formally notified by Mueller’s team or the Department of Justice before the Manafort and Gates indictments were made public.

Intelligence Committee officials weren’t overly surprised that Manafort was indicted — a long foregone conclusion to many. But there was surprise that it had happened so fast.

“I’m a little bit surprised they’re playing it as early as they are,” one Intelligence Committee official said of the Mueller probe.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr said Monday that Mueller’s move wouldn’t change his panel’s investigation.

“The special counsel has found a reason on criminal violations to indict two individuals, and I will leave that up to the special counsel to make that determination. It doesn’t change anything with our investigation,” he said in a statement. “We received documents from and had interest in two of the individuals named, but clearly the criminal charges put them in the Special Counsel’s purview.”

No matter the impact of Monday’s stunning escalation of the Mueller probe, senior Democrats were determined to keep up the pressure on Republicans to shield the special counsel from threats to his investigation as it draws closer to the White House.

Democrats spoke out after a week of GOP

Republican lawmakers were largely muted when the news first broke, with many not commenting at all in the first hours after the charges.

Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) was an exception, and he called for his colleagues to support Mueller.

“Months ago I & many other Republicans vowed to support Mueller investigation & allow it to work its way through process to get the facts,” he tweeted shortly after the charges were announced.

“In light of today’s indictments, we must continue to support and allow the integrity of the process to work.”

In recent days, House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) has also professed respect for Mueller but has said in TV interviews that he’s “in an increasingly small group of Republicans” who share that sentiment.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.)responded to the indictments and plea deal by renewing their long-standing call for an independent commission to examine Russia’s disruption of the 2016 election, including the potential involvement of Trump allies.