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Bi-Partisan Group to Craft Legislation to Protect Mueller

Special counsel Robert Mueller. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s suggestion that he may fire Robert Mueller has prompted a bipartisan group to craft legislation that is expected to be introduced Wednesday that would protect the special counsel’s job.

The bill, crafted by Republican Sens Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Democratic Sens. Chris Coons of Delaware and Cory Booker of New Jersey, would give any special counsel 10 days to seek an expired judicial review if he or she is fired, CBS News and the Associated Press

The two Republicans introduced seminary bills in August, but the legislation went nowhere because the lawmakers said they didn’t believe Trump would move to fire Mueller. But that has changed since Trump’s latest tirade over the FBI’s raid of the president’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen.

The legislation calls for an expedited review to determine whether there was good cause to fire the special counsel. In addition, records from the investigation would be preserved.

But moving the bill through the House and Senate would be difficult because Republicans control both legislative bodies and many have indicated they are confident Trump won’t move to fire Mueller.

“I don’t think he’s going to be removed,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “I think he’ll be allowed to finish his job.”

Nevertheless, some Republicans warned that firing Mueller would lead to consequences for Trump.

“There would be serious repercussions,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. “I’ve shared with the president what a massive mistake it would be for him to do this. I’ve done that in person.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, added Tuesday on Fox Business News: “It would be suicide for the president to want to talk about firing Mueller. The less the president said on this whole thing, the better off he would be, the stronger his presidency would be.”

Trump Thinks He Has the Authority to Give Mueller the Ax

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump, who continues to call the special counsel investigation a “witch hunt,” believes he has the authority to fire Robert Mueller, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday. 

Sanders’ assertion, which has been disputed by legal experts, comes a day after the FBI’s raid on the president’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen. 

When asked about the president’s power to fire Mueller, Sanders responded: “We’ve been advised the president certainly has the power to make that decision.”

But regulations covering the Justice Department’s appointment of a special counsel clearly indicate only the attorney general can dismiss Mueller for “good cause.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself because of lingering questions about his conversations with Russians during the Trump campaign, leaving the power over the special counsel to Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general.

So how does Trump get around this? He likely would have to fire Rosenstein and replace him with someone willing to carry out Trumps orders – a move that echoes the SaturdayNight Massacre during the Watergate scandal. 

According to the New York Times, Trump sought to fire Mueller in December following news reports about a new round of subpoenas from the special counsel’s office.

FBI Raided Cohen’s Office In Search of Records About Hush Money to 2 Women Linked to Trump

Longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI raided the office of President Trump’s personal attorney on Monday in search of records about hush money paid to two women who say they had affairs with Trump, the New York Times reported Tuesday afternoon.

The search warrant for the office of Michael Cohen also sought information on the role the publisher of the National Enquirer played in silencing one of the women, Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who claims she had an affair with Trump shortly after his son was born in 2006. McDougal received $150,000 from American Media Inc., the National Enquirer’s parent company, where Trump’s friend is the chief executive.

Agents also were looking for information related to Stormy Daniels, whom Cohen said he paid $130,000 as part of a non-disclosure agreement to keep quiet about her affair with Trump in 2006.

The search was handled by the public corruption unit of the Manhattan federal attorney’s office after receiving a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

On Twitter on Tuesday, Trump called the investigation a “A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!” and said “Attorney–client privilege is dead!”

Trump even publicly floated the idea of firing Mueller, a move that Democrats and some Republicans said would lead to the president’s impeachment.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller in May 2017, signed off on the FBI raid of Cohen’s office.

FBI Investigating Trump Attorney Cohen for Possible Bank Fraud, Campaign Finance Violations

Longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating President Trump’s longtime attorney, Michael Cohen, for possible campaign finance violations, bank fraud and wire fraud, the Washington Post reports.

Agents raided Cohen’s office, home and hotel room on Monday, seizing emails, tax documents and even records involving communications with his clients. Among the documents seized was information related to porn actress Stormy Daniels, whom Cohen paid $130,000 as part of a non-disclosure agreement to keep quiet about an affair she had with Trump in 2006.

Trump has denied knowledge of Cohen’s payment to Stormy Daniels, and Cohen has maintained that he used a home-equity line of credit to finance the payment.

Trump lashed out at the aggressive tactics Tuesday morning. 

“Attorney–client privilege is dead!” Trump tweeted shortly after 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Less than a minute later, Trump tweeted: “A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!”

Legal experts said it appears the FBI is investigating Cohen for bank and wire fraud.

Trump Publicly Floats Idea of Firing Mueller After Agents Raid Attorney

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump raised the possibility of firing Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the presidential election, after the FBI raided the office, home and hotel room of the president’s longtime attorney, Michael Cohen.

“I think it’s a disgrace what’s going on,” Trump said during a meeting with military officials Monday. “We’ll see what happens but I think it’s a really sad situation when you look at what happened.”

Trump added, “Many people have said, ‘You should fire him.’”

Democrats and some Republicans said they would vote to impeach Trump if he fired Mueller, who was appointed in May by Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation.

Trump again slammed Sessions for the decision to recuse himself.

“The attorney general made a terrible mistake when he did this,” the president said. “He certainly should have let us know if he was going to recuse himself, and we would have put a different attorney general in. So he made what I consider to be a very terrible mistake for the country.”

It’s unclear how Trump would fire Mueller, who reports directly to Rosenstein. Legal experts said he would have to fire Sessions and replace him with an attorney general who would terminate Mueller.

Trump again dismissed the probe as a “witch hunt” and even “an attack on our country in a true sense.”

“It’s an attack on what we all stand for,” he added.

In a series of tweets Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer warned Trump against meddling in the probe.

“If [the president] is thinking of using the FBI raid to fire Special Counsel Mueller or otherwise interfere with the chain of command in the Russia probe, we Democrats have one simple message for him: don’t,” Schumer wrote. “Mueller, a Republican, has uncovered a deep & detailed pattern of Russian interference in our elections that led to indictments & guilty pleas. It also led to the Trump admin itself leveling sanctions against Russian individuals, proof that it’s not a so-called ‘witch-hunt.’”

Muller Investigating Ukrainian Oligarch’s $150,000 Donation to Trump Foundation

Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating a $150,000 donation that a pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarch made to the Trump Foundation.

Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk allegedly donated the money in exchange for Trump delivering a 20-minute speech via video to a conference in Kiev, the New York Times reports

Trump was one of several Republican candidates for president at the time.

The speech was set up in August 2015 by Doug Schoen, a political consultant who works for Pinchuk, a steel magnate.

According to the Times, Schoen personally contact Trump to deliver the speech but did not broach the subject of a payment. But Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, is believed to have contacted Schoen a day after the speech to request a $150,000 payment in exchange for the speech.

The FBI raided Cohen’s office, home and hotel on Tuesday, seizing e-mail, tax records and communications between his clients.

Mueller is investigating foreign money that Trump’s campaign accepted and whether any of it benefits his personal finances.

Border Patrol Agent Charged in Fatal Shooting of Teen in Mexico Testifies

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol agent on trial in the 2012 fatal shooting of a teenager across the Mexican border testified Monday that he shot through a fence in Nogales because he was protecting himself and his fellow law enforcement officers.

Lonnie Swartz, who is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 16-year-old Elena Rodriguez, testified Monday that he opened fire after a group of rock-throwers from Mexico struck a fellow agent, Tucson.com reports.

Prosecutors said Swartz fired 16 shots, striking the teenager 10 times, including eight times in the back and twice in the head.

Swartz testified for more than two hours, telling the jury that he heard rocks striking the fence and that a fellow agent had been injured. He added that an alleged drug smuggler, whom the rock-throwers were said to be protecting, had a large knife in his pocket.

“I was scared, scared to be hit by a rock, (scared) for my partner,” Swartz said. “I had to act quickly. I only had seconds to stop the threat.”

But the fellow agent testified earlier that he was not injured and that a rock rolled onto his foot.

FBI Raids Office of Longtime Trump Attorney Michael Cohen, Seizes Records

Longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The FBI raided the office of President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer and confidant Michael Cohen, seizing emails, tax documents and records involving payments to an adult film actress.

Cohen’s lawyer Stephen Ryan confirmed on Monday that federal prosecutors in Manhattan obtained a search warrant after receiving a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to undermine the 2016 presidential election, the New York Times first reported

Among the documents seized was information related to porn actress Stormy Daniels, whom Cohen paid $130,000 as part of a non-disclosure agreement to keep quiet about an affair she had with Trump in 2006.

The New York Times reports that the payment is just one of “many topics” being scrutinized by the FBI and does not appear to be directly related to Mueller’s investigation. Other documents include business records and communications between Trump and Cohen.

Ryan called the search “completely inappropriate and unnecessary.”

Cohen’s payment to Daniels has raised eyebrows because it came just days before the 2016 election. While Cohen acknowledged paying Daniels, he insisted the payment didn’t violate campaign finance laws.

Last week, Trump said he knew nothing about the payment.