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Tag: Justice Department

Deputy AG Rosenstein Defended Role in Mueller Report, Fired Back at Critics

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, via Justice Department.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Robert Mueller in May 2017 to investigate Russian interference during the presidential election, fire back Thursday at politicians and journalists who have questioned his handling of the probe.

Rosenstein defended the nearly two-year special counsel investigation, saying “our nation is safer, elections are more secure, and citizens are better informed about covert foreign influence schemes.”

Speaking at the Public Servants Dinner of the Armenian Bar Association, Rosenstein spoke publicly for the first time since Mueller’s report was made public.

“As acting Attorney General, it was my responsibility to make sure that the Department of Justice would do what the American people pay us to do: conduct an independent investigation,” said Rosenstein, who leaves the Justice Department next month.

Rosenstein and Attorney General William Barr made the decision that President Trump did not obstruct justice.

“I did pledge to do it right and take it to the appropriate conclusion,” Rosenstein said. “I did not promise to report all results to the public, because grand jury investigations are ex parte proceedings. It is not our job to render conclusive factual findings. … We just decide whether it is appropriate to file criminal charges.”

5 Highlights of Robert Mueller’s Report on Russian Interference

William Barr speaks to reporters about the Robert Mueller report.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General William Barr on Thursday released a redacted version of Robert Mueller’s 448-page report on Russian interfere during the presidential election.

Here are five highlights:

1. Mueller’s nearly two-year investigation was unable to clear Trump of obstruction of justice.

“The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were making a traditional prosecutorial judgment,” the report stated. “At the same time, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment.”

2. Mueller’s team decided not to prosecute Donald Trump Jr. and other members of his campaign team for meeting with a Kremlin-linked source in July 2016.

“Taking into account the high burden to establish a culpable mental state in a campaign-finance prosecution and the difficulty in establishing the required valuation, the Office decided not to pursue criminal campaign-finance charges against Trump Jr. or other campaign officials for the events culminating in the June 9 meeting.” the report states, “The Office ultimately concluded that, even if the principal legal questions were resolved favorably to the government, a prosecution would encounter difficulties proving that Campaign officials or individuals connected to the Campaign willfully violated the law.”

3. When Mueller was appointed on May 17, 2017, Trump declared the appointment was the “end of my presidency.”

“According to notes written by Hunt, when Sessions told the President that a Special Counsel has been appointed, the President slumped back in his chair and said, ‘Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked,’” the report states.

4. Mueller explained why he decided not to interview Trump.

“Ultimately, while we believed that we had the authority and legal justification to issue a grand jury subpoena to obtain the President’s testimony, we chose not to do so,” the report states. “We made that decision in view of the substantial delay that such an investigative step would likely produce at a late stage in our investigation. We also assessed that based on the significant body of evidence we had already obtained of the President’s actions and his public and private statements describing or explaining those actions, we had sufficient evidence to understand relevant events and to make certain assessments without the President’s testimony.”

5. Mueller’s evidence of “numerous” connections between Trump’s campaign and Russians “was not sufficient to support criminal charges.” 

“While the investigation identified numerous links between individuals with ties to the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign, the evidence was not sufficient to support criminal charges,” the report states. “Among other things, the evidence was not sufficient to charge any Campaign official as an unregistered agent of the Russian government or other Russian principal. And our evidence about the June 9, 2016 meeting and WikiLeak’s release of hacked materials was not sufficient to charge a criminal campaign-finance violation.”

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DOJ Shared Some of Mueller’s Findings with White House Attorneys Ahead of Today’s Release

AG William Barr

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump should be prepared to respond faster than Congress to Thursday’s release of Robert Mueller’s report because Justice Department officials “have had numerous conversations with White House lawyers about the conclusions” reached by the special counsel in recent days, The New York Times reports.

As a result, the president’s legal team will have a leg up on rebutting some of the claims and preparing a strategy to what is likely to be a contentious fight over the report’s findings.

The report also may identify members of Trump’s administration who offered damaging information about the president to the special counsel team.

The meetings with White House lawyers also raise more questions about Attorney General William Barr’s involvement in the report.

Barr plans to discuss the findings at a press conference at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. At 11 a.m., the Justice Department plans to deliver the report to Congress.

Rod Rosenstein Plans to Step Down From Justice Next Month

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifying before a House committee in December 2017.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has weathered some pretty rocky times at the Justice Department,  is expected to step down in mid-March, CNN reports, citing a Justice Department official.

The official disputed any suggestion that the timing has something to do with the latest revelations from former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who claims that Rosenstein volunteered to wear a wire when meeting with President Trump.

CNN has reported that Attorney General Bill Barr has selected Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein.

Rod Rosenstein, Overseeing Russia Probe, Plans to Leave His Post

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifying before a House committee in December 2017.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who hired Robert Mueller to investigate Russian interference during the election, is preparing to leave his post.

The career prosecutor’s departure comes as the Senate prepares to confirm President Trump’s pick for attorney general, William Barr. The hearing is set to begin Jan. 15, and it could take a month or more before he is confirmed.

There are no signs that Rosenstein is being forced out by Trump, ABC reports.

Speculation mounted that Trump would fire Rosenstein in September after The New York Times reported the deputy AG considered secretly recording the president and invoking the Constitution’s 25th Amendment to remove him from office.

Trump has called the Mueller investigation a witch hunt, even as the special counsel secured convictions of some of the president’s former top aides.

Rosenstein had the authority to appoint a special counsel to investigate election interference because then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recused himself from any inquiries into Russia’s contacts with the Trump campaign team. Rosenstein appointed Mueller after Trump fired his FBI director, James Comey, who told lawmakers the president pressured him to stop investigating his national security director, Michael Flynn, who was later indicted.

 

Trump’s Pick for AG Has Long History of Defending Corporations, Telecommunications Companies

Trump’s attorney general pick, William Barr.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

William Barr, President Trump’s choice for attorney general, has a long history in the corporate world, often fighting the Justice Department that he could be leading for a second time.

Critics told The Wall Street Journal that Barr’s defense of large corporations and telecommunications companies for 25 years could create a bias as the top law enforcement official in the nation.

Barr, however, previously served as attorney general under President H.S. Bush and was known for being tough on crime.

Republicans scheduled Barr’s confirmation hearing for Jan. 15.

If confirmed, Barr would replace Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who has been criticized for refusing to step away from Robert Mueller’s investigation.

After Barr stopped serving as attorney general, he spent most of his time defending large companies, including telecommunications giant GTE.

DOJ Creates Department to Investigate FBI Officials Leaking Classified Information

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

So much classified information is being leaked from the FBI that the Justice Department created a new counterintelligence division to address the issue.

Records obtained by The Young Turks show the anti-leak department was created during the first year of President Trump’s administration.

“By law, the FBI is the lead federal agency responsible for the investigation of violations of the espionage laws of the United States,” reads the “Functions and Mission Statement” section of a document dated Nov. 10, 2017.

“The complicated nature of — and rapid growth in — unauthorized disclosure and media leak threats and investigations has necessitated the establishment of a new Unit,” the document reads.

State of Maryland Challenges Whitaker’s Appointment as AG

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s appointment of a loyalist, Matthew Whitaker, to replace ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions is facing a court challenge.

The state of Maryland plans to ask a federal judge Tuesday to declare that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should be the acting attorney general, not Whitaker, as a matter of law, the New York Times reports. 

In a draft filing, the state says Trump may not “bypass the constitutional and statutory requirements for appointing someone to that office.”

The request by Maryland is part of a lawsuit in which the state sued Sessions in his official capacity. Ellen L. Hollander, a 2010 Obama appointee to the Federal District Court for the District of Maryland, must identify Sessions’ successor as a defendant in the litigation.

A lot is at stake. The supervision of Robert Mueller as special counsel investigating Russia and Trump’s campaign and administration belongs to the head of the Justice Department, which is the acting attorney general.

Whitaker has long criticized Mueller’s position as illegal. Rosenstein, on the other hand, appointed Mueller in April 2017 to investigate Russia and the role Trump’s campaign played in election meddling.