Pressure mounting, former Trump 'fixer' turns aggressive
The hiring of a Washington insider to be a public attack dog. Tantalizing leaks to the media. Puzzling allegations of actions that could fell a president. Talk of more to come.
Trump on Friday vehemently repeated his denial that he knew about the meeting, which is at the center of Mueller's probe, tweeting "NO," he "did NOT know of the meeting with my son, Don jr."
CNN cited anonymous sources saying Cohen was willing to share his information with Mueller, who is investigating possible collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia. Cohen does not have any evidence such as audiotapes verifying his claims, CNN's sources said.
Cohen's camp has denied being the source of the CNN report, the basic substance of which The Associated Press independently confirmed.
The specter of the potentially damaging information, which would run counter to months of denials and point toward a willingness to collude with a foreign power by Trump himself, again raised the possibility of what Cohen could deliver to prosecutors if he decides to cooperate.
Cohen has not yet decided to work with the federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York, according to two people familiar with his thinking but not authorized to discuss private conversations.
The Justice Department has been investigating Cohen for months, raiding his home, office and hotel room in April in search of documents related to a $130,000 payment the attorney facilitated before the 2016 election to Stormy Daniels, an adult-film actress who says she had sex with Trump in 2006. If Cohen, who specialized in making deals and making Trump's problems go away, were to cut a deal, he would do so with an eye toward eliminating or cutting his potential punishment.
"My observation is that it was an evolution that caused him to decide once Donald Trump was president that he had to tell truth and change his life," Davis told the AP. "He hit the reset button on his life and what he had done previously."
Those close to Cohen describe the lawyer, who has been holed up in a Manhattan hotel after a pipe burst in his apartment, as bewildered at the fast-moving events around him as he tries to look out for his family and make decisions about their future. Cohen has also been badly hurt by the president's public anger and is determined to hit back, according to two people familiar with this thinking.
There has been some speculation that Cohen may be angling for a pardon from Trump, who has begun wielding — and discussing — the presidential power frequently of late. But a person close to Cohen downplayed the possibility.
Most people in comparable legal peril would be encouraged to stay out of the spotlight and communicate directly with prosecutors, not through the press, experts said.
Robert Mintz, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice, said Cohen "seems to be taking a page out of President Trump's playbook by having his lawyers aggressively respond in the media to attacks on his credibility and reputation." It's a "high stakes gambit" that could backfire if he's angling to become a cooperator, Mintz said.
"Prosecutors prefer to strike cooperation deals quietly and in private because they want to save the impact of any valuable testimony and information that a cooperating witness can offer until trial," he said.
Moreover, should Cohen choose to cooperate with investigators, including Mueller, it's not clear what information he has that they could not gather for themselves or have not already learned on their own.
The Mueller team has been at work for 14 months. Defendants looking for lenient deals through their cooperation usually have better luck if they come through the government's door earlier in an investigation.
Additionally, Cohen has made no public mention of Trump's knowledge of the Trump Tower meeting. If he mentioned the crucial detail to House investigators it was not included in their massive report on the matter.
That inconsistency was seized upon by Rudy Giuliani, the president's attorney. Giuliani, who called Cohen "an honest, honorable lawyer" as recently as May, has made a sport out of bashing Cohen in recent days. On Friday he called Cohen "an incredible liar who's got a tremendous motive to lie now because he's got nothing to give."
Cohen frequently recorded his conversations, and prosecutors are believed to have dozens of them, including discussions with journalists, according to Davis.
Trump has been seething at Cohen since the recent tape's release, raging to confidants that he could not believe he was being betrayed by someone he worked with for a decade, according to a person familiar with the situation but not authorized to discuss private conversations.
The president publicly aired his grievances with a Friday tweet about Cohen, though he did not name him:
"Sounds to me like someone is trying to make up stories in order to get himself out of an unrelated jam (Taxi cabs maybe?). He even retained Bill and Crooked Hillary's lawyer. Gee, I wonder if they helped him make the choice!"
Cohen says on the tape with Trump that he's already spoken about the McDougal-story payment with the Trump Organization's finance chief, Allen Weisselberg, on "how to set the whole thing up." The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Weisselberg, who had intimate knowledge of the president's finances, has been issued a subpoena.
When asked about that and other matters, the normally press-friendly Davis on Friday did an abrupt about-face and told the AP he was now "completely barred from talking to the media."
Tucker reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Tom Hays and Jake Pearson contributed reporting.
Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire, Sisak at http://twitter.com/@mikesisak and Tucker at http://twitter.com/@etuckerAP
July 28, 2018
Sources: ABC News
ritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>'Fox News Sunday' anchor Chris Wallace says his exclusive interview with President Trump covers Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, the California wildfires, the Khashoggi tape, Jim Acosta's press pass and fake news.</p><p>President Trump on Friday said that he “should have” visited Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day.</p><p>The president remarks came via early excerpts of an interview Trump did on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace.</p><p>“I should have done that, I was extremely busy on calls for the country, we did a lot of calling as you know,” Trump replied. “I could have done that, as you know I just left the day before the American Cemetery and I probably think, and that was one where it was raining as hard as you can imagine and I made a speech at the American Cemetery the day before and I probably, you know, in retrospect I should have and I did last year and I will virtually every year.</p><p>“But we had come in very late at night and I had just left, literally, the American Cemetery in Paris and I really probably assumed that was fine and I was extremely busy because of affairs of state -- doing other things.”</p><p>The president also received heat on Saturday for failing to visit a second American cemetery located outside of Paris because bad weather grounded the helicopter he planned to take.</p><p>“It’s incredible what’s going on," Trump said. "And burned beyond recognition. They can’t even see the bodies. It’s incredible.”</p><p>The president also doubled down on his previous assertion that insufficient “forest management” was to blame for the infernos.</p><p>“When I was in a certain state, I won’t say which, the governor said, ‘You know, we’ve tested it. We clean out areas and we actually set the fire just to see, we lose almost nothing. We can put it out right away. And then we leave areas unmaintained.’ He said, ‘We’ll lose 100,000 acres before you even know it.’” Trump said. “You need forest management. It has to be. I’m not saying that in a negative way, a positive -- I’m just saying the facts. And I’ve really learned a lot.”</p><p>Trump's interview will air on Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. ET.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
handful of the questions — a sentiment his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani shared with the Washington Post. </p><p> “There are some that create more issues for us legally than others,” Giuliani told the Washington Post. He said some were “unnecessary,” some were “possible traps,” and “we might consider some as irrelevant.” </p><p>The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess. They have found no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts. They are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want. They are a disgrace to our Nation and don’t...</p><p>....care how many lives the ruin. These are Angry People, including the highly conflicted Bob Mueller, who worked for Obama for 8 years. They won’t even look at all of the bad acts and crimes on the other side. A TOTAL WITCH HUNT LIKE NO OTHER IN AMERICAN HISTORY!</p><p> The president's legal team declined to comment when reached by ABC News. </p><p> Some 32 individuals and three Russian businesses have been indicted by Mueller and his team of prosecutors on charges ranging from computer hacking to obstruction of justice. </p>
and Georgia. Democrats in both states are balancing legitimate gripes over voting rights with how and when to respect the legitimacy of election results. </p><p> There’s unease inside the White House. The first lady’s ire is enough to get a senior staffer reassigned -- though just barely -- and promises of loyalty and longevity are meaningless if the president is in a certain mood. </p><p> There’s also unease inside the victorious House Democratic caucus. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is no closer -- though not necessarily any further -- from securing the votes to become speaker of the House for a second time. </p><p> The elections settled plenty of small arguments. But the big ones -- which have long dominated both parties -- remain. </p><p> When it is all said and done, it is likely Democrats will have netted just shy of 40 seats in the House for next year. </p><p> With each passing day this week, they flipped more seats as vote tallies were finalized. </p><p> As of Thursday they had turned 35 congressional districts from red to blue, and they led in three additional outstanding races. </p><p> The total number helps them make the case that the country is asking for a check on the Trump administration, though Republicans’ big victories in the Missouri, North Dakota and Indiana Senate races give them a counter and strong footing in Washington all the same. </p><p> However, while some voters -- in red and blue states -- sent their incumbents packing, Florida feels like a wild card. The shadow and uncertainty the president cast over the vote count, plus the messy legal battles, stories of damaged ballots and failing machines, surely left many Floridians wondering if their vote even counted. </p><p> On Thursday, a portrait of two vote-counting efforts: </p><p> In Florida, Palm Beach County election supervisor Susan Bucher railed against outdated equipment that encountered mechanical issues as she described the "heroic effort" made by her staff to meet the 3 p.m. machine recount deadline -- one that ultimately fell short. </p><p> While in Maine, officials in the secretary of state's office shared a laugh with reporters as they described the minor inconvenience of using "find and replace" on an Excel spreadsheet because some entries for 2nd Congressional District Democrat Jared Golden's name contained a comma and others did not. The minor hiccup soon passed as they input the correct ballot information into a computer program that vaulted Golden to a ranked-choice-aided victory. </p><p> If there wasn't already enough evidence out of Florida and Georgia, where debate about matching signatures and confusing ballots rage on, Thursday's contrasting scenes offered greater proof that many states, and perhaps the country as a whole, are in dire need of updated election technology. As for a solution? Look no further than Estonia. </p><p> Though the specter of meddling, Russian or otherwise, could forever loom, the United States may be wise to follow the lead of the booming Eastern European nation, where internet-based ballots have been offered since 2005 and are now utilized by nearly one-third of all voters. </p>
eadline loomed Thursday afternoon – and one key county, Palm Beach, missed it as the state's Senate race now moves into a manual recount. </p><p> Palm Beach’s counting machines had overheated and stopped functioning at least twice this week. </p><p> Recount deadlines are being contested in court, although a federal judge on Thursday denied Sen. Bill Nelson's request to extend them across the state. </p><p> Two Florida races have drawn national attention – the Senate contest between Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson – and the governor's contest, between Mayor Andrew Gillum and Rep. Ron DeSantis. </p><p> The Senate race and agriculture commissioner races will move to manual recounts. </p><p> A manual recount is solely a hand recount of overvotes and undervotes in the affected races. An overvote is when a voter designated more choices than allowable in the recounted race and an undervote is when a voter made no choice or less than the allowable number of choices in the recounted race. </p><p> The results of the manual recount will be reflected in the official returns due to the Department of State no later than noon on Sunday. </p><p> The governor's race is less likely to meet the threshold for a manual recount. </p><p> In the Senate race, Scott leads Nelson by .15 percentage points, according to current totals. </p><p> In the governor's race, DeSantis leads Gillum by .41 percentage points. Gillum has urged Florida to count every vote. </p><p> An unknown number of overseas and military ballots are still coming in – they can arrive until Friday, under state law. Counties will have until Sunday to count them, and official results are not expected to be known in either race until after that happens. </p><p> A federal judge on Thursday denied Nelson's request to extend recount deadlines. But Nelson did score a win, in his bid to allow provisional and by-mail ballots where signatures did not match those on voter-registration books, as required by state law. </p><p> A federal judge gave voters whose ballots had been rejected until Saturday to correct the issue with election officials. The ruling will affect an unknown number of ballots. Just under 4,000 ballots are known to have been rejected, but that total does not encompass all counties and lacks totals from some key ones, like Duval and Miami-Dade. </p><p> Nelson is also challenging Florida's laws over what ballots count, seeking to expand considerations of when a voter intended to select a specific candidate with a ballot mark. </p>
ritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>Democratic senator’s comments comparing ICE and KKK cause concern.</p><p>California Democrat and likely 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris drew fury after comparing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to the Ku Klux Klan during a hearing on Capitol Hill.</p><p>She asked Ronald Vitiello, President Trump's nominee to lead ICE, whether he shares what she said was the public’s view that ICE was spreading fear and mistrust, in particular among immigrant communities, the same way the KKK did.</p><p>“Are you aware of the perception of many about how the power and the discretion at ICE is being used to enforce the laws and do you see any parallels [with the KKK]?,” she asked.</p><p>"Are you aware of the perception of many about how the power and the discretion at ICE is being used to enforce the laws and do you see any parallels [with the KKK]?"</p><p>The comparison prompted outrage among Republicans, with RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel slamming Harris for “disgusting” partisanship. “Kamala Harris is trying to launch her 2020 campaign off of comparing ICE officers to the KKK, and it's absolutely disgusting,” she tweeted.</p><p>“What utter, complete & horrifying disrespect for our law enforcement officers. I get she’s auditioning for 2020, but come on...,” wrote GOP spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany.</p><p>‏Harris pointed out to Vitiello’s controversial tweet from 2015 in which he said the Democratic Party was comparable to a “liberal-cratic” or “neo-Klanist” entity. The nominee apologized and admitted that those words were offensive.</p><p>“What is the history that would then make those words wrong?” the Democrat then asked, prompting Vitiello to say that the KKK would be labeled as a domestic terrorist group by today’s standards and was motivated by race and ethnicity.</p><p>But Vitiello pushed back against Harris’ line of questioning, saying “I do not see any parallels” between the immigration enforcement agency and the white supremacist group and inquired whether she was asking him if the two were in the same category.</p><p>“No, I'm very specific in what I'm asking you. Are you aware of a perception that the way that they ..." Harris went on, before the nominee snapped back saying, “I see none.”</p><p>“Are you aware that there is a perception that ICE is administering its power in a way that is causing fear and intimidation, particularly among immigrants and specifically among immigrants coming from Mexico and Central America?” she asked again.</p><p>“Are you aware that there is a perception that ICE is administering its power in a way that is causing fear and intimidation, particularly among immigrants and specifically among immigrants coming from Mexico and Central America?”</p><p>Harris ended her questioning asking whether Vitiello can lead the agency if he’s not aware of the negative views toward it.</p><p>“It seems to me that you would understand that when you use words like the words you used just three short years ago, that that would contribute to that perception,” Harris said. “And it's harmful then, it's harmful, in terms of the mission of the agency and the work of the individuals there. And it is harmful in terms of leading — innocent people arriving at our border fleeing harm, it is harmful to them.”</p><p>Harris is widely rumored to be considering a run for Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination. She recently visited Iowa, one of the first primary states, and swing states such as Ohio, raising speculation that she’s building her national image before the election.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
new video talking about "liberal folks" and making it "just a little more difficult" for them to vote.</p><p> A campaign spokeswoman for Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith criticized the video, saying the senator was joking. The brief clip appeared on social media days after another video showed Hyde-Smith praising someone at a different event by saying: "If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row."</p><p> Hyde-Smith, who is white, faces Democrat Mike Espy, who is black, in a Nov. 27 runoff. The winner gets the final two years of a six-year term.</p><p> Republicans hold most statewide offices in Mississippi, and this is the state's hardest-fought U.S. Senate race in a generation.</p><p> Mississippi has a history of racially motivated lynchings. Civil rights activists were also beaten and killed in the state as they pushed for African-Americans' voting rights, particularly from the end of World War II until the 1960s.</p><p> White said the latest video was shot Nov. 3 while Hyde-Smith campaigned in Starkville, home of Mississippi State University.</p><p> "And then they remind me, that there's a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who that maybe we don't want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that's a great idea," Hyde-Smith tells a small group.</p><p> Hyde-Smith campaign spokeswoman Melissa Scallan said of the new video Thursday: "Obviously Sen. Hyde-Smith was making a joke and clearly the video was selectively edited."</p><p> Espy campaign spokesman Danny Blanton said: "For a state like Mississippi, where voting rights were obtained through sweat and blood, everyone should appreciate that this is not a laughing matter. Mississippians deserve a senator who represents our best qualities, not a walking stereotype who embarrasses our state."</p><p> Espy is seeking to become Mississippi's first African-American U.S. senator since Reconstruction.</p><p> A political ad on Facebook this week uses a 1930 photo of a white crowd in Indiana posing around a tree as the lifeless bodies of two black men hang above them, lynched in nooses. The ad superimposes an unrelated photo of Hyde-Smith as text appears: "This is where U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith would like to be."</p><p> The ad is paid for by PowerPACPlus, a California-based political action committee that has spent nearly $1.8 million in other advertising to support Espy.</p><p> A video that surfaced Sunday shows Hyde-Smith at a Nov. 2 campaign event in Tupelo making the "public hanging" comment. She said the phrase was "an exaggerated expression of regard" for the supporter and "any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous." At a news conference Monday, she would not answer reporters' repeated questions about the "hanging" comment.</p><p> Both Espy and the Hyde-Smith campaign condemned the ad.</p><p> "This is the same out-of-state group that is spending millions of dollars promoting Mike Espy and has now taken his campaign to the lowest depths imaginable," Scallan said. "It is time for Mike Espy to tell his group to end this appalling, divisive attack."</p><p> Espy said his campaign doesn't control what PowerPACPlus does, and he called the ad "not helpful."</p><p> "I can't make them pull it down because we didn't ask them to put it up," Espy said. "It's racially divisive. It's something that we didn't endorse, and we'd like them to pull it down."</p><p> Under federal campaign laws, super PACs are not allowed to coordinate with candidates.</p><p> The PowerPACPlus website says the group's mission is "to build the political power of America's multiracial majority."</p><p> Marvin Randolph, spokesman for PowerPACPlus, said the ad with the lynching image is the first in a series of online ads that will be supported by at least $25,000 in spending.</p><p> "We expect to reach over a million viewers online," Randolph said. "This ad will also appear on Instagram and Twitter."</p><p> Espy in 1986 became Mississippi's first black U.S. House member since Reconstruction. In 1993 and 1994, he was U.S. agriculture secretary.</p><p> For AP's complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics . Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus .</p>
what he described as an “epidemic” of addiction. </p><p> “The actions #FDA announced today are a response to our deep concern over the epidemic growth in kids use of e-cigarettes,” Gottlieb said in a tweet. </p><p> The new policy aims to ensure sweet flavors of electronic nicotine devices are sold in person with age restrictions and calls for, “heightened practices for age verification,” for those products sold online. </p><p> Tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cannot be sold to anyone younger than 18 under current federal law. The new FDA rules now require stores to sell flavored nicotine vape products in "age-restricted" areas. This means a store cannot allow anyone under the age of 18 to see or enter the area where those products are sold. </p><p> The limitations do not apply to non-flavored products and do not limit sales of mint, menthol or tobacco flavors. </p><p> In the same announcement, the FDA moved to ban menthol flavored cigarettes and flavored cigars. Menthol flavored products harm African American smokers at higher rates, with tobacco companies targeting minority communities with specific advertisements, according to the Centers for Disease Control. </p><p> The flavored tobacco ban could take more than a year to implement, according to health officials. </p><p> Pediatricians supported the FDA’s new steps, but Dr. Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said the regulations were not enough. </p><p> “E-cigarette products that appeal to children have no business in the marketplace, period. FDA must take stronger action to protect young people,” Kraft said in a statement. “Pediatricians will not rest until these dangerous products are off the market and out of the hands of children and adolescents.” </p><p> The FDA announcement comes with a new report which finds more than 3 million high school students use e-cigarettes. That’s up from 220,000 students in 2011. </p><p> At the same time, the number of middle school students using the nicotine products shot up by almost a factor of 10 to more than half a million using the devices in 2018, according to the CDC. </p><p> “The data released by the #CDC shows a trend in use that simply cannot stand,” Gottlieb tweeted. “We must reverse this trajectory of youth use and addiction.” </p><p> The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services identified the growing trend in 2016 and called e-cigarettes dangerous for young people. </p><p> The company rolled out what it calls an age-verification system to help ensure only adults are purchasing the flavors online. </p><p> The new regulations come on the same day the FDA promotes its anti-smoking campaign which it calls the “Great American Smokeout.” The use of e-cigarettes has been left out of their primary list of tobacco-free alternatives promoted to help adults quit. </p><p> Gottlieb has called for the need to regulate e-cigs while acknowledging their use as a way of getting adult smokers to quit. </p><p> “I won’t allow policy accommodation we take to promote innovation to come at the expense of an epidemic of use of tobacco products by children,” Gottlieb said in a tweet. “We are now witnessing that epidemic.”</p>
ave submitted letters of no confidence to the influential 1922 Committee.</p><p>At least 18 MPs have submitted letters of no confidence in the prime minister, as the backlash against her draft Brexit agreement grows.</p><p>To trigger a vote that could spark a change in Conservative leader, 48 letters - from 15% of Tory MPs - need to be sent to the backbench 1922 Committee.</p><p>The influential group, chaired by Sir Graham Brady, is responsible for Tory leadership elections.</p><p>As of Friday morning, these are the 18 MPs that have confirmed publicly or to Sky News that they have sent their letters of no confidence:</p><p>More than 60,000 people have signed our petition - have you?</p>
ritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>'MediaBuzz' host Howard Kurtz weighs in on Donald Trump's tweets attacking special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.</p><p>Donald Trump is so ticked off at Robert Mueller that he's calling him an Obama guy.</p><p>The special counsel is actually a registered Republican.</p><p>The president's eruption on Twitter yesterday fueled all kinds of media chatter about whether Mueller, who seems to be in the final phases of his Russia investigation, is about to drop some major indictment.</p><p>Maybe the president is just worked up because, according to news accounts, he's spent the last several days with his lawyers, hammering out written answers to Mueller's questions. (Does this mean there won’t be a face-to-face interview? Who knows?)</p><p>What I'm hearing from the White House is that the president is simply sick of the long-running investigation and, after conferring with his lawyers, wants to bring it to a head.</p><p>Trump has made his "witch hunt" allegations for much of the Mueller probe.And by the way, it’s hardly unprecedented to try to investigate those who are investigating you. Bill Clinton and his allies mounted a sustained campaign to demonize Ken Starr.</p><p>But Trump's attacks yesterday may be his harshest yet.</p><p>"The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess," Trump tweeted. "They have found no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts. They are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want.</p><p>"They are a disgrace to our Nation and don't care how many lives the [sic] ruin. These are Angry People, including the highly conflicted Bob Mueller, who worked for Obama for 8 years. They won't even look at all of the bad acts and crimes on the other side. A TOTAL WITCH HUNT LIKE NO OTHER IN AMERICAN HISTORY!"</p><p>The president can certainly argue that Mueller, even with his charges against Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn and others, has come up with no evidence of collusion with Russia.</p><p>But keep in mind that it was Trump's own appointee, Rod Rosenstein, who named Mueller as special counsel, and the deputy attorney general says he's doing a good job.</p><p>What's more, it was George W. Bush who tapped Mueller as FBI director. Obama just let him finish out his 10-year term, and tacked on an additional two years. So to suggest that Mueller is some kind of Obama loyalist is just wrong.</p><p>One aspect that the pundits are focusing on is that the latest attack on Mueller comes after the president replaced Jeff Sessions with Matt Whitaker, who has a history of criticizing the special counsel. But whether the acting attorney general will take any steps to curtail the probe remains to be seen.</p><p>By outward appearances, Mueller seems to be down to third-level players. The Wall Street Journal reports that he is investigating whether veteran GOP operative Roger Stone tried to intimidate a witness who is contradicting his insistence he had no pipeline to WikiLeaks on the hacked Democratic emails. In emails to his former friend, Randy Credico, the Journal says, Stone threatened to "sue the f---" out of him and called Credico "a loser a liar and a rat." But this is pretty small potatoes.</p><p>The president also weighed in on the press yesterday, as he is wont to do. I reported yesterday on a spate of stories (The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Politico) about how Trump has been angry, furious and lashing out since the midterms as he mulls another White House shakeup.</p><p>Insiders tell me that many of the leaks likely emanate from places such as the Homeland Security Department and National Security Council, where people's jobs are threatened (such as Kirstjen Nielsen and deputy NSC director Mira Ricardel, who's being transferred after Melania Trump called for her firing). The president often discusses job changes with advisers and doesn't mind the rumors that float around and hit the press.</p><p>Trump tweeted yesterday: "The White House is running very smoothly and the results for our Nation are obviously very good. We are the envy of the world. But anytime I even think about making changes, the FAKE NEWS MEDIA goes crazy, always seeking to make us look as bad as possible! Very dishonest!"</p><p>But the president does have a point that routine personnel moves after an election are getting the media’s "chaos" treatment — even if "running very smoothly" is not the most apt description of this White House.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
rom a federal prosecutor in Virginia, who was attempting to keep sealed a separate case involving a man accused of coercing a minor for sex.</p><p> In one sentence, the prosecutor wrote that the charges and arrest warrant "would need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter." In another sentence, the prosecutor said that "due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged."</p><p> It was not immediately clear why Assange's name was included in the document, though Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the Eastern District of Virginia — which had been investigating Assange — said, "The court filing was made in error. That was not the intended name for this filing."</p><p> The Washington Post reported late Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter, that Assange had indeed been charged. The Associated Press could not immediately confirm that.</p><p> It was not immediately clear what charges Assange, who has been holed up for years in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, might face.</p><p> But recently-ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions last year declared the arrest of Assange a priority. Special counsel Robert Mueller has been investigating whether Trump campaign associates had advance knowledge of Democratic emails that were published by WikiLeaks in the weeks before the 2016 election and that U.S. authorities have said were hacked by Russia. Any arrest could represent a significant development for Mueller's investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the election.</p><p> Barry Pollack, a lawyer for Assange, told the AP earlier this week that he had no information about possible charges against Assange.</p><p> The filing was discovered by Seamus Hughes, a terrorism expert at the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, who posted it on Twitter hours after The Wall Street Journal reported that the Justice Department was preparing to prosecute Assange and said, "To be clear, seems Freudian, it's for a different completely unrelated case, every other page is not related to him, EDVA just appears to have assange on the mind when filing motions to seal and used his name."</p><p> Assange, 47, has resided in the Ecuadorian Embassy for more than six years in a bid to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where he was wanted to sex crimes, or to the United States, whose government he has repeatedly humbled with mass disclosures of classified information.</p><p> The Australian ex-hacker was once a welcome guest at the Embassy, which takes up part of the ground floor of a stucco-fronted apartment in London's posh Knightsbridge neighborhood. But his relationship with his hosts has soured over the years amid reports of espionage, erratic behavior and diplomatic unease.</p><p> Any criminal charge is sure to further complicate the already tense relationship.</p><p> Ecuadorian officials say they have already cut off the WikiLeaks founder's internet, saying it will be restored only if he agrees to stop interfering in the affairs of Ecuador's partners - notably the United States and Spain. Officials have also imposed a series of other restrictions on Assange's activities and visitors and - notably - ordered him to clean after his cat.</p><p> With shrinking options — an Ecuadorian lawsuit seeking to reverse the restrictions was recently turned down — WikiLeaks announced in September that former spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson, an Icelandic journalist who has long served as one of Assange's lieutenants, would take over as editor-in-chief.</p><p> WikiLeaks has attracted U.S. attention since 2010, when it published thousands of military and State Department documents from Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning. In a Twitter post early Friday, WikiLeaks said the "US case against WikiLeaks started in 2010" and expanded to include other disclosures, including by contractor Edward Snowden.</p><p> "The prosecutor on the order is not from Mr. Mueller's team and WikiLeaks has never been contacted by anyone from his office," WikiLeaks said.</p><p> Associated Press writer Raphael Satter in Paris contributed to this report.</p>