‘Very substantial evidence’ Trump is ‘guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

‘Very substantial evidence’ Trump is ‘guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors,’ House Judiciary Chair says

Washington (CNN)House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler on Sunday said Robert Mueller’s report presents “very substantial evidence” that President Donald Trump is “guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors” — an impeachable offense.

“We have to … let Mueller present those facts to the American people, and then see where we go from there, because the administration must be held accountable,” Nadler, whose committee would lead impeachment proceedings, said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Mueller, the former special counsel for the Department of Justice and former director of the FBI, will testify before Congress on July 24 after House Democrats issued a subpoena for his appearance. Earlier this year, Mueller concluded a nearly two-year-long investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said Sunday most Americans haven’t read the dense 448-page Mueller report.
Schiff said on CBS “Face The Nation” that the report contains “a pretty damning set of facts,” and said, “Who better to bring them to life than the man who did the investigation himself.”
“We want the people to hear it directly from him,” Schiff said.
Mueller said in a rare and remarkable public statement in May his investigation could not clear Trump of obstruction of justice, and that charging the President was not an option his office could consider.
“If we had had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller said. “We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the President did commit a crime.”
The former special counsel’s probe, which also investigated possible collusion, found that members of the Trump campaign knew they would benefit from Russia’s illegal actions to influence the election, but did not take criminal steps to help.
Mueller delivered a road map of how the investigation played out and the possible role that Congress could play in holding Trump accountable. He highlighted how the “Constitution requires a process other than” the criminal justice system to hold officeholders accountable, a clear signal his obstruction investigation into Trump could be carried on by Congress.
More than 80 House Democrats have called for starting an impeachment inquiry into the President — the first step in a lengthy process, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Nadler have so far resisted the pressure to open an inquiry.
The impeachment clause in Article II of the US Constitution outlines the process of removing a president, which begins with a vote in the House of Representatives. Offenses that could prompt impeachment are treason, bribery or other “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Mueller to testify publicly on July 17 following a subpoena

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Mueller to testify publicly on July 17 following a subpoena

(CNN)Robert Mueller will testify before Congress on July 17 after House Democrats issued a subpoena for his appearance, a move that paves the way for a reluctant special counsel to answer questions publicly for the first time about his 22-month investigation into President Donald Trump.

The House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees announced Tuesday that Mueller had agreed to testify after they issued subpoenas for his testimony, and Mueller would appear in public before the two panels next month.
“Americans have demanded to hear directly from the Special Counsel so they can understand what he and his team examined, uncovered, and determined about Russia’s attack on our democracy, the Trump campaign’s acceptance and use of that help, and President Trump and his associates’ obstruction of the investigation into that attack,” House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said in a joint statement.
Schiff said Tuesday that the committees would be questioning Mueller separately the same day, and that his committee would question Mueller’s staff in closed session following the public hearing so they can discuss the counterintelligence portions of the investigation.
Mueller’s testimony is poised to be the most-anticipated congressional hearing in years, and represents a huge moment for House Democrats who have wrestled with whether to dive into a politically divisive impeachment process following the Mueller investigation and White House stonewalling of congressional probes.
The subpoenas to Mueller come after weeks of negotiations between Democrats, the special counsel’s team and the Justice Department. Democrats are proceeding with subpoenas to Mueller after he spoke publicly last month and said he did not wish to testify publicly about the investigation, and that his testimony would not go beyond what was written in the special counsel’s 448-page report.
In a letter to Mueller, the Democratic chairmen said that they understood Mueller’s concerns about ongoing investigations referred by the special counsel, but still felt it was necessary for him to testify.
“We will work with you to address legitimate concerns about preserving the integrity of your work, but we expect that you will appear before our Committees as scheduled,” Nadler and Schiff wrote.
Democrats have been talking about bringing Mueller in to testify since his investigation wrapped in March, and their decision to issue subpoenas comes more than a month after the initial date that Nadler had floated for Mueller to appear.
Since then, Democrats have continued to negotiate with Mueller, holding out hope he would agree to testify voluntarily. While Mueller stated he did not wish appear before Congress, Democrats — and some Republicans — have said they still believe Mueller should testify. Democrats have argued that the American people can hear directly from the special counsel in a public setting, and lawmakers in both parties have said they want to ask him about some of the decisions made during the investigation.
Mueller’s report was written in two parts: a volume on Russian election meddling and one on obstruction.
In the first volume, the special counsel did not establish a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, but it did detail numerous contacts between Russians and members of Trump’s team that Democrats charge are troubling, even if they aren’t criminal. In the second volume, Mueller documented nearly a dozen episodes of possible obstruction of justice. The special counsel wrote that DOJ guidelines did not allow a sitting president to be indicted, and that the investigation could not exonerate Trump.
Mueller’s public statement last month — in which he emphasized that the investigation did not exonerate the President and that his team followed the DOJ guidelines — sparked a wave of House Democrats to call for the opening of an impeachment inquiry.
Their numbers have grown amid White House stonewalling of testimony and documents to congressional investigations, and now more than 75 have come out in favor of opening an impeachment inquiry.
But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has continued to resist the move, arguing that Democrats are winning their court fights with the Trump administration and impeachment should only be pursued if the public is on board.
Schiff and Nadler have both publicly refrained from calling for the opening of an impeachment inquiry. Behind the scenes, Nadler has lobbied Pelosi to do so, while Schiff has argued against it.
This story has been updated with additional developments Tuesday.

It just got more difficult for the Congress To Not Impeach Trump

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Robert Mueller ended his two-year stint as special counsel with a bang disguised as a whimper: In a 10-minute statement announcing his resignation and the closure of the special counsel’s office, the former FBI director sent a very clear message to anyone listening: I didn’t charge Donald Trump with obstruction because I couldn’t.

 “The Special Counsel’s Office is part of the Department of Justice and, by regulation, it was bound by that Department policy,” said Mueller, referencing an Office of Legal Counsel ruling that a siting president cannot be indicted. “Charging the President with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.”
And just in case you missed what Mueller was driving at with that quote, he was even more explicit later in his remarks. “The [OLC] opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing,” Mueller added.
So, to summarize:
  1. Mueller says the special counsel’s hands were tied by the OLC opinion when it came to charging Trump with obstructing the Russia probe.
  2. Mueller notes that “the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.”
Oh, whatever could he mean????
To date, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has held off the increasing number of voices within the House Democratic caucus calling for impeachment, insisting that Trump wants to be impeached because it will turn him into a victim and allow him to make the election about alleged Democratic overreach rather than about health care, immigration and so on.
It’s a sound political stance — one reinforced by CNN polling that shows that almost 6 in 10 Americans don’t want to see Trump impeached and more than 4 in 10 who think Democrats have already done too much investigating of the President.

 

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But polling doesn’t stand in for principle or political pressure. And Pelosi is going to be strongly pushed on both of those fronts now that Mueller said what he said. The question is whether — and how — she can withstand this increased pressure.
In a statement soon after what may be Mueller’s final appearance on the national stage, Pelosi stood her ground, emphasizing that it’s just a fraction of the total number of House Democrats calling for impeachment. “I think it’s like 35 of them out of 238, maybe it’s 38 of them out of 238 who have said they wanted to be outspoken on impeachment,” she said.
“Nothing is off the table,” Pelosi added. But “we are investigating and we are litigating and we are going to, as we go down the path, make a decision based on the strongest possible case to get the best results for the American people.”
The Point: Pelosi is holding strong — for now. But how long can she keep it up in the wake of the Mueller statement?

Mitch McConnell And The Republican Party Are Just Asshats For Trump Mafia

Mitch McConnell And The Republican Party Are Just Asshats For Trump Mafia

 

This letter that I am writing to you tonight is not one that makes me happy, I wish these things I am going to be saying were not true, but I believe they are. For those of you who don’t know me, I am a 63 year old white male who lives in the state of Kentucky. By today’s standards I guess I am suppose to be a Republican, a racist and a Trump supporter but all three are wrong. I have been a registered independent voter for decades now, I personally can not stand these fake bought and paid for politicians of either political Party. The following paragraphs are going to be a Prophecy of events to soon come. Obviously I am not G-d so I could be wrong, I wish that I were wrong, but I don’t think so. If I am correct or wrong, time will tell, we will know the answers to all these things in less than two years.

 

I believe that Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell in all his fakeness has hooked the Republican Party to the Trump Mafia Train. Our glorious Senator who is also the head of the Senate and so is the leader of the Republican Party has hitched his phony grin to an IED that is fixing to blow up in his and the Republican Party’s face. I was already sick of the two major Parties before this total fraud (Trump) came into the Republican picture frame. Don’t get me wrong I can’t stand the phony Democratic Party Leadership either. If Hillary was President the Republicans would be doing to her what the Democrats are doing to Trump. My reasoning is simply that both are totally crooked and both are habitual liars. The only difference is that Hillary is smart and the Teflon Donald is as dumb as a box of rocks. Senator McConnell has been doing all he can to contain the Moron in the Oval Office and by doing so has totally enabled this piece of trash to totally ruin our Nation, inside and out.

 

I believe that the Supreme Court is going to side with the U.S. Congress on several of the Subpoenas and this will open up the Mueller Report to the Congress and to some degree to the American people. When this does happen even the Republicans who have been sticking with Trump in all his evil will take a blood bath in the November 2020 elections. One of the bad things about this event will be that the Democrats who will win big will think that the American people actually want them to be in charge. Could either Party have put forth worse people to head their Ticket than Hillary and Trump? People are voting for the least of the two evils, not actually for either one of them. People guessing who will be the least horrible, then voting for them. It is my prediction that Senator McConnell will lose his Senate seat in the 2020 election and he can only blame himself for that defeat. Donald Trump along with several of his family members and several of his Cabinet members will be convicted of multiple Felonies. We here in the U.S. will have our first former President to be sent to Federal Prison.

 

There is a flip side to my prediction though, if I am wrong, may G-d help us all because we will have totally lost our Democracy and given it to Dictator/King. We The People badly need a Centerest Party, not the far right Tea Party nor the far left Progressive Democrats. We need a political Party that pulls toward the center not these (far wrong) wackos. I am going to toss out some ideas to you about a Centerest Platform to see what you think. Some ideas I am going to pull from the Democrats and some from the Republicans, that is what I personally mean by a Centerest.

1.) I personally am against abortion but I believe that the Supreme Court must decide this issue and I thought they did that in 1973. Unless we want a human ‘High Priest’ to be our Nation’s Leader the Supreme Court should decide if each law passed is Constitutional.

2.) I am a gun owner, but I am not a hunter, I never have been. I do believe that people have the right to hunt if they wish to as long as they do it legally (in season) only. I own my guns for one purpose only, self protection and the protection of my family and no Political Party has any right whatsoever to try to take them. An honest government should want their people to be armed, only a crooked government tries to disarm their law abiding citizens.

3.) Free health care for all citizens.

4.) Free college or tech school for all graduating high school seniors as long as their grades are good enough to qualify.

5.) Forgive all college debt so that that money can then go straight into the economy. People would be having more money to spend and it would be spent on items that create jobs which creates more income which creates more jobs.

6.) Income inequity, pass the laws where on earnings and taxes you drastically close this gap and once again, this would create many more jobs because people would have more income which they would spend which would pick up the economy. My suggestion is on taxes that all exemptions and loopholes be closed completely. Have a tax rate that starts at the ‘poverty’ point. From that level up have a 20% tax on all earnings except on savings accounts. This 20% would be a personal or a business tax load with nothing else added. The taxes to be spread out between Social Security 9%. City Tax and County taxes combined to 3%. State tax 3%. Federal tax of 5%. Any other federal revenues should come from tariffs on imports say about 20% on everything across the board. Now for the wages of people who live in or do business within the U.S. try this idea out, see what you think. Perks have to count as income, especially things like bonuses, free housing, free transportation and the such. The people who take the chances and start or run a business their income has to max out at 10x the earnings of their lowest paid employee. If your lowest wage earner makes $300 per week the top end can not make more than $3,000 per week. No one is worth more than ten times the earnings of their workers. This spreads income, this causes much more buying of products which creates more jobs here in the States.

7.) Any company large or small who outsourced any jobs to another country has to pay a 50% tariff on any item you bring back to the States to sell. Example, I am in favor of a company like General Motors to build factories in Mexico or China, or where ever but only for their sales in those countries. If you close a factory in Michigan and move it to Mexico and you wish to sell those vehicles in the U.S. they must pay the 50% tariff. This is designed to protect U.S. workers from being on welfare. The rich complain about the poor when in reality it is the rich who refuse to pay their workers a livable wage, their greed is the reason for poverty,

 

These 7 things I mentioned won’t happen as long as the Republicans or the Democrats are in charge. We The People need to start taking out the trash and showing them the same amount of ‘mercy’ they put upon the people.

 

 

 

 

Mueller set to testify before Congress on May 15th

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER)
(May 15th, will Robert Mueller live that long? I won’t be shocked if he doesn’t. But if Mr. Mueller ‘has an accident’ which takes his life, what then? I hope that nothing does happen to him, I personally wish that he would be testifying tomorrow morning May 6th instead.)(oped by oldpoet56)

Mueller set to testify before Congress on May 15

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Special counsel Robert Mueller is set to testify before the House Judiciary Committee this month.

Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., said on “Fox News Sunday” that May 15 had been fixed for Mueller to appear before the committee.

“A tentative date has been set for May 15 and we hope the special counsel will appear,” Cicilline said. “We think the American people have a right to hear directly from him.” ( Update: Cicilline has since walked back his statement. You can read it here.)

The announcement comes after intense debate among Democrats about Mueller’s report, which they argue shows evidence of obstruction of justice.

Attorney General William Barr testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last Wednesday but did not appear before the House Judiciary Committee the following day. Barr cited unreasonable terms placed on him by House leaders, including Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., who wanted counsels for both Democrats and Republicans to have the opportunity to question him.

Although the date is “tentative,” Cicilline said he expects Mueller, who spent 22 months investigating President Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, to appear.

“The White House has so far indicated they would not interfere with Mr. Mueller’s attempts to testify,” the congressman said Sunday.

This would be the first time Mueller testified before Congress since the release of his 448-page report last month.

Are You An American Citizen?—If So, Then You Don’t Matter!

Are You An American Citizen?–If So, Then You Don’t Matter!

 

Good evening everyone, I have been thinking of this article and of how I would write it ever since the Robert Mueller Report came out. This letter to you tonight is my thoughts on that Report and all of the Politicians, especially in Washington D.C.. If you are a citizen of this country, are you upset, are you mad? I am not speaking of whether you think our President is even more of a crook than Richard Nixon or that he is a traitor or not. What I am speaking of is how we the people and even the Congress itself are being kept ignorant to all the things that are written in that report.  Mr. Barr (the Attorney General, the Nation’s Top Cop) played politics to get the job then has done nothing but lie and shield the President since he got his current job. Folks, it is not the job of the Attorney General to protect the President, it is his job to protect the rule of law.

 

This report by Mr. Mueller and his staff that cost the U.S. taxpayers several million dollars and almost two years in its making is the property of the people of this country. This is the single most important document to have been paid for by our money since well before Nixon lied to us all on T.V. back in 1974. The reason for the title that I chose about how we the people of this country do not matter in Washington D.C. or in the 50 State Capitals is simple, it is the truth. I live in the state of Kentucky and the Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell is from this state and personally, he sickens me.

 

What has been (once again) proven is that the only thing that actually matters in U.S. politics is whether you ‘as President’ are a Republican or a Democrat. Do not get me wrong, I am not a Democrat or a Republican, I am a registered voting Independent, I can’t stand either ‘Party’, in my belief they are as evil as can be. With all of this Report the only thing that matters to the Republicans is that this Republican President stays in the White House. If Hillary Clinton had won (and I think she probably did) do you not think the Democratic Scum would through treason against the American People would be protecting Her in the same manners that the Republican Scum are protecting Trump? This report is Our Report, we paid for it, it is ours! The people of this Country deserve the unedited truth so that we can make up our own minds if we have crooks and traitors in the White House and for that matter, traitors and crooks in the House and the Senate.!

General Flynn Supplies Lots Of Information To Mueller Investigation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE JOURNAL TIMES)

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser provided so much information to the special counsel’s Russia investigation that prosecutors say he shouldn’t do any prison time, according to a court filing Tuesday that describes Michael Flynn’s cooperation as “substantial.”

The filing by special counsel Robert Mueller provides the first details of Flynn’s assistance in the Russia investigation, including that he participated in 19 interviews with prosecutors and cooperated extensively in a separate and undisclosed criminal probe.

It was filed two weeks ahead of Flynn’s sentencing and just over a year after he became the first of five Trump associates to accept responsibility by pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with the Russian ambassador.

Though prosecutors withheld specific details of Flynn’s cooperation because of ongoing investigations, their filing nonetheless underscores the breadth of information Mueller has obtained from people close to Trump as the president increasingly vents his anger at the probe — and those who cooperate with it.

This week, Trump lashed out at his former legal fixer, Michael Cohen, saying he is making up “stories” to get a reduced prison sentence after his latest guilty plea to lying to Congress. Trump also praised longtime confidante Roger Stone for saying he would “never testify against Trump,” adding in his tweet, “Nice to know some people still have ‘guts!'”

Mueller filing: Flynn gave substantial assistance
CNN
Special counsel Robert Mueller told a federal court that former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn has given “substantial assistance” to the Russia investigation and should not get jail time.
Published at: 9:39 PM, Tue Dec 04 2018

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It’s unclear if Trump will now turn his fury on Flynn, whom Trump grew close to during the 2016 campaign and who has drawn the president’s sympathy since he came under investigation.

Trump has repeatedly lamented how Flynn’s life has been destroyed by the special counsel’s probe. At one point, he tried to protect Flynn by asking former FBI Director James Comey to drop an investigation into his alleged false statements, according to a memo Comey wrote after the February 2017 encounter.

That episode, which Trump has denied, is among those under scrutiny by Mueller as he probes whether the president attempted to obstruct the Russia investigation.

Federal sentencing guidelines recommend between zero and six months in prison for Flynn, leaving open the possibility of probation.

Mueller’s office said Flynn’s cooperation merits a sentence at the bottom end of that range. But prosecutors also say the long military and government service that sets him apart from all other defendants in the investigation makes his deception even more troublesome.

“Senior government leaders should be held to the highest standards,” they wrote. “The defendant’s extensive government service should have made him particularly aware of the harm caused by providing false information to the government, as well as the rules governing work performed on behalf of a foreign government.”

Flynn’s case has stood apart from those of other Trump associates, who have aggressively criticized the investigation, sought to undermine it and, in some cases, been accused of lying even after agreeing to cooperate.

Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, stands accused of repeatedly lying to investigators since his guilty plea last September. Another Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, is serving a 14-day prison sentence and, though he pleaded guilty to the same crime as Flynn, was denied probation because prosecutors said his cooperation is lacking.

But Flynn has largely remained out of the public eye, appearing only a handful of times in media interviews or campaign events, and dutifully avoided criticizing the Mueller probe despite widespread encouragement from his supporters to go on the offensive. He has instead spent considerable time with his family and worked to position himself for a post-conviction career.

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Flynn’s false statements stemmed from a Jan. 24, 2017, interview with the FBI about his and others’ interactions with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s then-ambassador to the U.S., as the Obama administration was levying sanctions on the Kremlin in response to election interference.

In Tuesday’s filing, Mueller’s office blamed Flynn for other senior Trump transition officials making misleading public statements about his contacts with Russia, an assertion that matches the White House’s explanation of Flynn’s firing.

“Several senior members of the transition team publicly repeated false information conveyed to them by the defendant about communications between him and the Russian ambassador regarding the sanctions,” the filing said.

As part of his plea deal, Flynn said members of Trump’s inner circle, including his son-in-law and White House aide Jared Kushner, were involved in — and at times directing — his actions in the weeks before Trump took office.

According to court papers, in mid-December 2016, Kushner directed Flynn to reach out to several countries, including Russia, about a U.N. Security Council resolution regarding Israeli settlements. During those conversations with Kislyak, Flynn asked Russia to delay or vote against the resolution, a request the Kremlin ultimately rejected.

Flynn also admitted that later in December 2016 he asked Kislyak not to retaliate in response to the Obama administration sanctions, something he initially told FBI agents he didn’t do. Flynn made the request after discussing it with deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland, who was at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, and being told that Trump’s transition team did not want Russia to escalate the situation.

Flynn was forced to resign his post on Feb. 13, 2017, after news reports revealed that Obama administration officials had warned the Trump White House about Flynn’s false statements. The White House has said Flynn misled officials— including Vice President Mike Pence — about the content of his conversations.

Flynn also admitted to making false statements about unregistered foreign agent work he performed for the benefit of the Turkish government. Flynn was under investigation by the Justice Department for the work when he became national security adviser.

Paul Manafort broke plea agreement, lied to investigators in Russia probe

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE JOURNAL TIMES)

(IF MANAFORT DID DO THIS HE IS EITHER A TOTAL FOOL AS HE WOULD KNOW THAT HE WILL SPEND THE REST OF HIS LIFE IN A FEDERAL PRISON, OR PRESIDENT TRUMP HAS GOTTEN A MESSAGE TO HIM THAT HE WILL GIVE HIM A PARDON IF HE SHUTS UP ABOUT THE RUSSIA PROBE. iF THIS IS THE CASE, MANAFORT WOULD BE BETTING HIS FREEDOM ON PRESIDENT TRUMP ACTUALLY TELLING HIM THE TRUTH ABOUT GIVING HIM A PARDON. MY QUESTION IS, WOULD YOU OR HE, BET YOUR LIFE ON TRUMP BEING TRUTHFUL TO YOU, FOR ONCE?)(oldpoet56)

Prosecutors: Paul Manafort broke plea agreement, lied to investigators in Russia probe

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Paul Manafort
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort

WASHINGTON (AP) — Special counsel Robert Mueller is accusing former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of lying to federal investigators in the Russia probe, in breach of his plea agreement.

Prosecutors say in a new court filing that after Manafort agreed to truthfully cooperate with the investigation, he “committed federal crimes” by lying about “a variety of subject matters.” They are now asking a federal judge to set a date to sentence him.

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Manafort is denying that he lied. His attorneys say in the same filing that he believes he “provided truthful information.”

Manafort had been meeting with the special counsel’s office since he pleaded guilty in September and agreed to cooperate. He remains jailed while awaiting his sentence. He faces multiple years in prison.

Trump Has Been Refusing Since Last January To Do An Interview With Mueller

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST)

 

The date had been picked, the location too, and the plan was penciled in: President Donald Trump would be whisked from the White House to Camp David on a quiet winter Saturday to answer questions from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

But as the Jan. 27, 2018, date neared and Mueller provided the topics he wanted to discuss, Trump’s lawyers balked. Attorney John Dowd then fired off a searing letter disputing Mueller’s authority to question the president. The interview was off.

Nearly a year later, Trump has still not spoken directly to Mueller’s team — and may never. Through private letters, tense meetings and considerable public posturing, the president’s lawyers have engaged in a tangled, tortured back-and-forth with the special counsel to prevent the president from sitting down for a face-to-face with enormous political and legal consequences.

The prolonged negotiation speaks to the high stakes for Trump, Mueller’s investigation of his campaign and the presidency. Any questioning of a president in a criminal investigation tests the limit of executive authority. Putting this president on the record also tests his ability to stick to the facts and risks a constitutional showdown.

The process took a significant step forward this week when Trump’s lawyers handed over the president’s written answers to some of Mueller’s questions. The arrangement was a hard-fought compromise. Trump answered only questions about Russian interference in the 2016 election and not questions about whether he has tried to obstruct the broader investigation into potential coordination between Russia and his presidential campaign. It’s unclear whether Mueller intends to push for more — either in writing or in person.

Special counsel spokesman Peter Carr declined comment.

Even those written answers were months in the making.

In the months following Mueller’s May 2017 appointment, the White House pledged its cooperation, believing it the fastest way to end the investigation. The administration produced thousands of documents sought by the special counsel and made close Trump aides — including his legal counsel, chief of staff and press secretary — available for questioning. White House lawyer Ty Cobb predicted the investigation could conclude by the end of that year.

But it soon became clear that Mueller would want to interview Trump, given his involvement in several events under scrutiny. The president had fired FBI Director James Comey, harangued his attorney general over his recusal from the Russia investigation and dictated a misleading statement about a Trump Tower meeting involving his son and a Kremlin-connected lawyer.

But Trump lawyers Dowd and Jay Sekulow moved cautiously.

The last time a president is known to have been interviewed in a criminal investigation was nearly 15 years ago, and a commander-in-chief has not been subpoenaed before a grand jury since 1998, when President Bill Clinton was summoned in the Whitewater case. Trump’s lawyers were mindful such an interview would be a minefield for a president who often misstates the facts. They set out to avoid it however possible, even if it could lead to resisting a subpoena and bringing on a court fight over presidential power.

But first they tried to head off a request. Trump’s lawyers staked out a bold constitutional argument, declaring they considered his actions as president outside a prosecutor’s bounds. Mueller had no right to question the president on any of his decisions made at the White House, they argued, saying any outside scrutiny of those choices would curb a president’s executive powers.

At the same time, they worked to undermine Mueller’s case should he choose to challenge that argument. They furnished a trove of White House documents about key moments in the investigation in hopes of undercutting any claim that he could only get the information he needed by questioning Trump, according to people familiar with the strategy.

Trump had other plans.

As his lawyers plotted to dig in against any interview, he pushed for one, believing it would exonerate him. In January, he burst into a reporters’ briefing with chief of staff John Kelly and insisted he was eager to speak to Mueller. He might do so in weeks, he said, “subject to my lawyers and all of that.”

“I would love to do that — I’d like to do it as soon as possible,” Trump said.

What he didn’t mention was that his attorneys had already discussed, and scuttled, the planned interview with Mueller. That process had even progressed to discussing logistics with Kelly, who advised of ways White House officials could get people in and out of the building without the press knowing.

But the interest cooled after Mueller team prosecutor James Quarles dictated over the phone 16 topics Mueller wanted to cover, including Trump’s interactions with Comey, his knowledge of national security adviser Michael Flynn’s interview with the FBI and his involvement in the Trump Tower statement. Dowd responded that the answers could all be found in documents and witness statements provided to Mueller. He then canceled the interview and days later drafted a feisty letter contesting the interview’s appropriateness and offering extensive explanations on the incidents in question.

The investigation has been “a considerable burden for the president and his office, has endangered the safety and security of our country, and has interfered with the president’s ability to both govern domestically and conduct foreign affairs,” Dowd wrote.

In the following months, Trump told some of his closest confidants that he still wanted to interview with Mueller, according to four White House officials and Republicans close to the White House who asked for anonymity because they were not permitted to publicly discuss private conversations. The president repeatedly insisted he had done nothing wrong and believed he could convince Mueller of that.

He told one confidant last spring he was frustrated his lawyers didn’t believe he should do it and snapped that he didn’t understand what was taking so long, according to one Republican in contact with the White House.

Tensions were on display at a March meeting where Dowd and Sekulow met with Mueller to discuss the need for an interview. Mueller said he needed to know if Trump had a “corrupt intent” when he fired Comey, such as by intending to stymie the investigation, according to a person familiar with the encounter. Dowd responded that the question was ridiculous and the answer was obviously no. Investigators at the same meeting raised the prospect of a subpoena if Trump didn’t cooperate, Dowd has said.

Later that month, Mueller’s team produced its most detailed list of questions yet — dozens, in different categories from Trump’s time as a candidate, through the transition period and into his presidency.

Trump’s own views soon began to shift. He had his first misgivings in mid-April after FBI raids on his personal lawyer Michael Cohen, thinking they were a sign that he could “not trust” Mueller, according to one of the Republicans close to Trump who spoke with the AP.

As Rudy Giuliani joined Trump’s legal team in April, the White House settled into a new strategy: Drag out the interview drama for months, and use that time to ratchet up attacks on Mueller’s credibility and complaints about the cost and time of the probe, according to the officials and advisers familiar with the strategy.

Giuliani led the charge. His scattershot arguments sometimes frustrated others in the White House, as he frequently moved the goalposts as to what would be required to have an interview. But the effect was to ensure the process would drag out longer.

Trump, meanwhile, continued complaining about the investigation even as his lawyers quietly negotiated acceptable interview terms.

A key breakthrough occurred earlier this fall when Mueller’s team said it would accept written answers on Russian election interference and collusion. The concession ensured that Mueller would get at least some on-the-record response from Trump. Prosecutors tabled questions about obstruction, reserving the right to return to that area later.

Giuliani seemed to foreclose future dialogue Tuesday, saying, “It is time to bring this inquiry to a conclusion.”

Whether Mueller agrees is a different story.

If Mueller Is Fired What Can/Could/Should He Do

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HILL NEWS)

 

Let’s assume a worst-case scenario: Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker straight-up fires special counsel Robert Mueller — no half-measures of refusing to allow Mueller to take certain investigative steps, or drastically cutting Mueller’s budget to starve his Russia investigation of resources, but a flat out “You’re fired!”

If that were to happen before Democrats take control of the House in 2019, no congressional committee is likely to subpoena Mueller to testify to his findings or the evidence he has obtained. Until January, the Republican majority will continue to stand behind President Trump. So what could Mueller do to disclose his investigation in the absence of receiving a congressional subpoena to testify or hand over his findings? And what would he choose to do — assuming he believed the president has committed wrongdoing the public should know about?

Taking the second question first, Mueller may choose to do absolutely nothing. We know that Mueller is a military man; he follows orders. And his marching orders as special counsel, pursuant to the governing regulations, are to conduct relevant investigations, bring appropriate charges, and write a confidential report for the Department of Justice (DOJ). So, once the job is done, by firing or otherwise, it wouldn’t be out of character for Mueller to simply go quietly off into the sunset. To date, he has kept an extremely low profile. He doesn’t even show up in court when his cases are brought, and the leak-proof nature of the ship he captains is the stuff of legend.

But let’s assume for a moment that Mueller instead goes the way of former FBI Director James Comey and is more than willing, upon an unceremonious firing, to present his side of the story to the public in any way he’s asked to do so. Or that (perhaps more likely) Mueller reluctantly concludes, upon his firing, that we have reached a point of constitutional crisis requiring the immediate publicizing of the president’s misdeeds because the DOJ under Whitaker is not acting in the best interests of the country. What would Mueller’s options be for disclosing currently non-public evidence and conclusions of his investigation without a subpoena from Congress?

The special counsel regulation, 28 CFR 600 et seq., requires the special counsel to write a report at the conclusion of his work, explaining his prosecution and declination decisions. It also states that the attorney general can publicly release the report, if that is in the public interest, to the extent that release complies with applicable legal restrictions. And there’s the rub — Whitaker would be hard-pressed to explain how Mueller’s report being released is not a matter of massive public interest, but he could fall back on secrecy rules of the grand jury to argue that grand jury materials disclosed in the report should not be released, resulting in the continued secrecy of most or all of the report.

Federal grand jury rules, which apply to Mueller as special counsel, are strict. Generally speaking, pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e), a government lawyer cannot disclose proceedings before, or evidence gathered by, the authority of the grand jury, even after the lawyer leaves government service. Exceptions are limited. One exception states that a government lawyer can disclose material or testimony gained under a grand jury subpoena  to local or state lawyers, for the purpose of assisting in the prosecution of a federal criminal law violation.

Prosecutors use this provision to share information when conducting an investigation in conjunction with a district attorney’s office, or a state attorney general’s office, for example.  Without question, Mueller has been in communications with the New York State Attorney General’s Office, and could share information with them under this exception of Rule 6(e), although this would not be a public disclosure on Mueller’s part. It is also possible that additional pieces of the Mueller investigation could make their way to the Southern District of New York or another U.S. attorney’s office and, ultimately, could come to light through charges that way.

Of course, much evidence is not subject to Rule 6(e). Witness statements, for example, given to agents or prosecutors do not fall under the rule’s protections. Documents provided voluntarily to the special counsel’s office, instead of being provided pursuant to subpoena, likewise can be discussed publicly. And, of course, anything disclosed publicly through the criminal processes that have played out in cases the special counsel has charged, is fair game.

Finally, Mueller’s conclusions about crimes committed, as opposed to descriptions of the underlying evidence itself, aren’t prohibited from disclosure under Rule 6(e), although he would have to be careful about violating DOJ guidelines for discussing criminal subjects and proceedings, even with a subpoena.

In short, if Mueller were fired tomorrow, he would be very limited in what he could say about his investigation — and that indeed may be the impetus for the president’s action in firing Jeff Sessions and replacing him with a man who appears, by most accounts, to be a Trump loyalist.  We would all have to wait for what certainly would be the world’s most anticipated congressional subpoena.

Joel Cohen, a former state and federal prosecutor, practices criminal defense law at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP in New York. Cohen is an adjunct professor at Fordham Law School. He regularly lectures and writes on law, ethics and social policy for the New York Law Journal and other publications, and is the author of “Broken Scales: Reflections on Injustice.”

Jennifer Rodgers is a lecturer in law at Columbia Law School. Until mid-2018, she was executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity at Columbia Law School and now serves on its advisory board.

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