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‘The Mueller effect’: How the special counsel might be ‘draining the swamp’ better than Trump ever could

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Special counsel Robert Mueller’s appointment in May to investigate Russia’s interference in the American presidential election and potential collusion with Donald Trump’s campaign may already have achieved an unintended consequence — “draining the swamp” of lobbyists working on behalf of foreign interests. The Washington Post‘s Rosalind Helderman calls this phenomenon “the Mueller effect.”

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According to The Post, Mueller’s probe has so far resulted in a massive uptick of individuals and firms who work for foreign interests to either file or amend foreign agent registrations. The report even claims that there are more people registering as foreign agents now than in the same amount of time over each of the last 20 years.

Mueller seems to have already claimed his first victim: Tony Podesta, whose lobbying firm was shuttered following revelations that he worked for Ukranian interests close to Russia — and for Trump’s now-indicted campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Mueller’s 12-count indictment of Manafort alleges that the former Trump campaign chairman hired The Podesta Group along with another lobbying firm to work on behalf of a pro-Russia Ukranian party under the guise of representing Ukraine’s government.

Joe Sandler, an ethics and lobbying lawyer who specializes in Foreign Agents Registration Act compliance told the Post that in the aftermath of the Podesta revelation at the end of October, “my colleagues are being contacted by waves of clients concerned about this.” As the report notes, failure to register under FARA is a felony and can result in a five-year sentence.

Since Mueller’s appointment and subsequent interest on suspected foreign agents like Manafort and Michael Flynn, Thomas J. Pulak, a partner at the King & Spalding international law firm, said more people have contacted him asking if they have to register under FARA than in the previous administration.

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“I think it all goes back to Mueller — this is of acute concern after Manafort and Podesta — and my sense is that it’s going to continue that way for some time,” Spulak told the Post. “If there’s a new normal for foreign agents, it’s going to be to pay a lot more attention to it.”


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Bill de Blasio learned of federal investigation — and suspended his 2020 bid the next day: report

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Friday that he was ending his campaign for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.

There may have been more to the timing than previously reported.

"Federal election officials asked Mayor de Blasio for more information about his presidential campaign fundraising after he used a state political action committee to pay for expenses related to the bid – seemingly against the law," the New York Daily News reported Friday. "The Federal Election Commission demanded that de Blasio 2020 clarify a debt the campaign owed his NY Fairness PAC in a letter Thursday – the day before Hizzoner dropped out of the race."

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White House Counsel busted working to keep whistleblower report from Congress: report

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President Donald Trump's White House counsel has reportedly been personally involved in keeping Congress from reviewing a whistleblowing report involving Ukraine.

"The revelation that Trump pushed Zelensky to pursue the Biden probe, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, represents the most detailed account so far of the president’s conduct that prompted a U.S. intelligence official to file a whistleblower action against the president," The Washington Post reported Friday. "The disclosure comes amid new details about the White House’s role in preventing Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire from complying with Congressional demands for the material in the complaint."

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Watch Ex-CIA official break down the ‘three crimes’ Trump committed if Ukraine scandal is true

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President Donald Trump could be charged with committing three federal crimes if the whistleblower reports involving the White House seeking campaign interference from Ukraine are correct.

MSNBC "Deadline: White House" anchor Nicolle Wallace interviewed Jeremy Bash on Friday -- and worried about the safety of the whistleblower.

"The stakes could not be any higher, the risk to his career -- or her career -- and reputation and perhaps legal standing could not be any higher for this whistleblower. That's why we’re glad to be joined by national security analyst, former chief of staff of the CIA and Department of Defense, someone I wanted to talk to about this story all week, Jeremy Bash," Wallace said.

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