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September 20, 2017

President Trump may have the pockets of the Republican National Committee and his re-election campaign to dip into for legal bills stemming from the Russia probe, but not everyone else is so lucky, Bloomberg reports. Michael Caputo, who only briefly served as an adviser to the Trump campaign, reports that being a person of interest in the Russia investigation has led to more than $30,000 in legal fees, money he's had to pull from his children's college funds. "It's very expensive and nobody's called me and offered to help," he recently told the Washington Examiner.

After all, not everyone gets the same treatment as Donald Trump Jr., who had $50,000 in legal fees paid off by the Trump campaign, Bloomberg reports. Dozens of other more peripheral people may yet be roped into the probe, including staffers like Communications Director Hope Hicks, former Press Secretary Sean Spicer, and even Jared Kushner's spokesman.

The psychological toll is also not insignificant. Caputo told Bloomberg that he has bought a new security system and several guns due to threats. Internally, staffers and aides must also cope with the paranoia that comes from lawyers advising them not to talk to each other about the investigation.

"Everyone is facing this," said Caputo. "I talk to them all. I know they are worried and I think it is awful. We heard about this happening during the Clinton investigations. Those stories loom heavily over us." Read more about the financial and psychological toll of the Russia investigation at Bloomberg. Jeva Lange

September 12, 2017
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Representatives from Facebook and Twitter could be asked to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in the ongoing investigation into Russia's involvement in the 2016 election, Recode reports.

Facebook admitted last week that it unknowingly sold $100,000 worth of ads to a Russian "troll farm" during the 2016 presidential election. On Monday, The Daily Beast additionally reported that Russians used fake identities to organize inflammatory protests in the United States and advertised them on Facebook.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said Tuesday that "we're seeing more evidence of additional ads and how they are used to manipulate individuals." He said representatives from social media companies should be required to testify in a "public hearing" and that he plans to discuss it with committee chairman Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) at some point this week.

"Let's face it, the whole notion of social media and how it is used in political campaigns is the wild wild west," Warner added. "And again, I'll grant Facebook that maybe they weren't as fully aware in the immediate aftermath of our elections, although for many months they said this didn't happen. I've wondered about that." Read the full report at Recode. Jeva Lange

September 12, 2017
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President Trump's aides are being warned not to try to "protect" their boss if they are questioned by Special Counsel Robert Mueller or congressional investigators in the ongoing Russia probe, Politico reports. "What I always tell clients is, you can't protect anybody," said one lawyer representing a person targeted by the investigation. An attempt to cover up for Trump, the lawyer added, makes things "worse for everybody."

Among the aides expected to be called in for interviews in the coming weeks is former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, newly minted Communications Director Hope Hicks, former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and Trump's longtime personal secretary Rhona Graff. Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, and the president's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, are also under intense scrutiny.

While Trump demands loyalty from those in his orbit, lying under oath can earn aides charges of perjury, false statements, or obstruction of justice if they are found out. "The lesson to be always learned is loyalty is one thing, but are you prepared to go to jail for it?" said Robert Ray, who served as the Whitewater special counsel. "The answer to that question should be no."

Ray then put it more bluntly: "Loyalty is not a two-way street. A lot of young people go to the White House and they're going to be loyal to the president and the president is going to be loyal to me. Bulls--t." Read the full report at Politico. Jeva Lange

May 19, 2017

After a briefing with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Friday, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) told the press that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will review the possibility of White House interference in the ongoing investigation into Russia's influence on the presidential election. "The scope ... of Director Mueller includes any questions about referrals related to any misconduct, any interference. And there were questions well outside the Russian scope in there," Issa said.

Questions have swirled since it was discovered earlier this week in a memo written by former FBI Director James Comey that President Trump attempted to convince the FBI to drop its probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who is at the heart of the Russia investigations. Earlier Friday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said that there is "mounting evidence" of the obstruction of justice in the investigation. "We have to be careful. We don't want to say there is proof," he added.

President Trump has lashed out over the appointment of a special prosecutor, claiming he is the subject of the "single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history."

To that, at least, Issa responded blankly: "I don't personally believe in witches." Jeva Lange