CAFE Brief: April 16-22

Hi everyone! In case you missed it last week: I am now writing a bi-weekly newsletter for CAFE (Preet Bharara’s company) called CAFE Brief, where I recap news and analysis of politically charged legal matters. This will become a daily newsletter eventually. For more explanation, see here.

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READ today’s edition of CAFE Brief, covering April 19-22.

READ Monday’s special edition of CAFE Brief – a collection of expert analyses of the Mueller report.

READ Friday’s edition of CAFE Brief, covering April 16-18.

Some stuff that didn’t make the 25+ top stories list in CAFE Brief:

Sen. Burr in question

Mueller’s report contained an interesting note about Sen. Richard Burr that calls into question his ability to impartially lead the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. According to Mueller’s team, Burr gave the White House information on the Russia investigation which he had learned from a private briefing with then-FBI Director James Comey.

  • NBC: Annie Donaldson, who served as McGahn’s chief of staff, wrote then that “POTUS in panic/chaos … Need binders to put in front of POTUS. (1) All things related to Russia.” According to Donaldson’s notes, which Mueller referenced, McGahn’s office was briefed by Burr “on the existence of ‘4-5 targets.'”

Russia’s response

The Kremlin ignored Mueller’s conclusions, including the one that determined Russia definitively interfered in the 2016 election. Instead, Putin’s spokesman suggested American taxpayers should be concerned Mueller wasted money – an argument taken directly from Trump’s tweets.

Russian visit

Fiona Hill, the Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs on his National Security Council staff, was in Russia during the release of the Mueller report. Hill’s visit was not announced by the National Security Council, but instead by Putin’s spokesman Peskov. While she held talks with several Russian officials, she reportedly did not discuss a potential meeting with Trump and Putin.

News nuggets

Check out this piece by Politico highlighting the overlooked nuggets of news in the Mueller report. For example:

The ex wife of a former Russian energy official sent an unsolicited email to Mueller last year claiming that, in 2015, her husband asked her to reach out to Ivanka “on behalf of Russian officials” who wanted to offer Trump “land in Crimea.”

Voting machines

The Guardian published a two-part series looking at the current state of America’s voting aparatus. Here’s part oneand part two.

The fact is that democracy in the United States is now largely a secretive and privately-run affair conducted out of the public eye with little oversight. The corporations that run every aspect of American elections, from voter registration to casting and counting votes by machine, are subject to limited state and federal regulation.

The companies are privately-owned and closely held, making information about ownership and financial stability difficult to obtain. The software source code and hardware design of their systems are kept as trade secrets and therefore difficult to study or investigate.