Robert Mueller’s 2019 to-do list;When the pardon furthers the conspiracy; Russia supports Texas’ secession, and more

Why is this former Daily Caller editor helping Texas secede — with Russian help? (Casey Michel, ThinkProgress)
The Texas Nationalist Movement is one of the secession groups that made multiple trips to Russia since 2014.

Robert Mueller’s 2019 to-do list (Garrett M. Graff, Wired)
Last Friday, just like Punxsutawney Phil, DC District Court judge Beryl Howell emerged from her chambers, saw her shadow, and announced six more months of Bob Mueller. Judge Howell’s extension of Mueller’s grand jury, which was set to expire over the weekend, was widely expected—the special counsel’s office has made clear in recent weeks that it has plenty of unfinished business—but the extension underscores just how much work is still left in Mueller’s probe.
In fact, surveying the 2019 landscape anew after a flurry of near-daily investigation revelations in the month following Thanksgiving makes clear that Mueller’s investigation has a packed agenda still ahead (not to mention a final report to write). Here are some of the loose threads and unanswered questions that seem most likely to be topping Mueller’s to-do list as January begins.

NCSC advises U.S firms to guard themselves from state-sponsored intruders (CISOMag)
The National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) recently launched a campaign to help businesses in the United States defend against evolving cyber threats from foreign entities. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) stated that the NCSC is sending its material dubbed “Know the Risk, Raise Your Shield,” that includes videos, posters, brochures, and flyers, to the private companies around the country to help them avert cyber-attacks.

Revisiting the Trump-Russia dossier: What’s right, wrong and still unclear? (Marshall Cohen and Jeremy Herb, CNN)
It’s a document that became so famous — or infamous — in the two years since its existence was reported that it’s now known by a simple two-word phrase: the dossier.
The controversial 35 pages of intelligence memos compiled by retired British spy Christopher Steele paint a picture of widespread conspiracy of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. To Democrats and President Donald Trump’s critics, the documents tell a story that could amount to treason.
To Trump and some of his loudest defenders, the dossier was flawed from its inception, abused by the FBI to pursue an investigation into Trump’s team that preceded the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller. Trump has said the memos are “phony” and full of lies, and has pointed out that the project was funded by his political opponents, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
It was two years ago, January 6, 2017, that then-FBI Director James Comey briefed President-elect Trump about some details from the dossier. Days later, CNN broke the story of that briefing and reported that the FBI was investigating the accuracy of the allegations. CNN did not publish the dossier, because of its unverified status, but BuzzFeed soon posted all the memos online “so that Americans can make up their own minds.”
The most salacious claims in the dossier remain unproven two years after it first burst into the public conversation, but many of the allegations that form the bulk of the intelligence memos have held up over time, or have proven to be at least partially true.
While the Steele dossier is largely known for one or two key unsavory details, here’s the full rundown of how Steele’s work holds up with what we now know about Trump’s team, their contacts with Russians and Russian election meddling.

U.S. judge: defense lawyer’s conduct in Russia probe ‘unprofessional’ (Andy Sullivan, WHBL)
A U.S. judge said on Monday that a lawyer defending a target of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian election meddling engaged in “unprofessional, inappropriate and ineffective” conduct, prompting the lawyer to say he might withdraw from the case.
Judge Dabney Friedrich told lawyer Eric Dubelier to stop what she called “meritless personal attacks” against Mueller’s team. Dubelier is defending Concord Management and Consulting LLC, a Russian firm accused of funding a propaganda operation to sway the 2016 presidential election in Donald Trump’s favor.
“I’ll say it plain and simple: knock it off,” Friedrich told Dubelier in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Dubelier said he needed to check with Concord to see if they still wanted him to work on the case, given that there appeared to be “some bias on the part of the court” against him.
In court filings, Dubelier has quoted movies such as “Animal House” and cartoon characters like Tweety Bird in criticizing Mueller’s long-running investigation as illegitimate and has sought to have the charges dismissed. Friedrich has twice refused to dismiss the charges against Concord.

Manafort’s own lawyers may have hastened his downfall (Natasha Bertrand, The Atlantic)
The initial failure to redact a sensitive document was the latest in a series of missteps by Paul Manafort’s lawyers.

Paul Whelan isn’t a spy, and Putin knows it (John Sipher, Defense One)
The American’s detention reminds us that Russia continues to perfect dirty tricks pioneered by the KGB.