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Tag: Robert Mueller

Barr Slams Mueller’s ‘Heavy-Handed Criminal Investigation’ in forthcoming Memoir

Former Attorney General William Barr, via Justice Department.

By Steve Neavling

Former U.S. Attorney General William Barr in his forthcoming memoir criticizes the special counsel probe of Russia and former President Trump’s campaign, calling it a “heavy-handed criminal investigation.”

Barr’s book, “One Damn Thing After Another: Memoirs of an Attorney General,” takes aim at special counsel Robert Mueller, calling him “the wrong person to investigate it,” Yahoo News reports.

“But he never seemed to have stopped to examine whether there was an adequate basis for pursuing either a counterintelligence or criminal investigation,” Barr writes. 

According to an FBI agent, Barr says, “after Mueller came in, the office quickly developed a ‘Get Trump’ attitude and began with a preexisting conviction that there must be ‘something criminal.” 

Barr also slammed Mueller for staffing his office with Democrats. 

“The whole purpose of appointing Mueller was to assure the public that partisanship would not be involved in the investigation,” Barr wrote. “Mueller defeated the very purpose of his appointment. His staffing decisions engendered deep distrust in half the country. Based on later information about the way the investigation was conducted, those fears were not wholly unjustified.”

Barr said one “glaring omission” of Mueller’s investigation was failing to examine the credibility of Christopher Steele’s dossier. 

“Even though Mueller was supposed to investigate Russian efforts to interfere in the election, he never seemed to have explored the possibility that Steele’s dossier was used as a vector for Russian disinformation,” Barr wrote.

Near the end of the book, Barr describes Mueller’s “trembling” hands and “tremulous” voice, questioning whether Muller “might have an illness,” The New York Times reports.

Mueller Considered Charging Trump Jr. And Roger Stone But Found a Lack of Evidence

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

Special counsel Robert Mueller considered charging Donald Trump Jr. and GOP operative Roger Stone with crimes but ultimately declined, according to a newly unredacted version of the Mueller report. 

The new version of the report, obtained by BuzzFeed News, reveals new details about the report that produced multiple convictions against Trump associates.

Mueller opted not to charge Trump Jr. with a misdemeanor count of computer intrusion for using a password obtained from Wikileaks to access a website called “putintrump.org” before the 2016 election.  

Mueller also declined to charge Stone with crimes in connection to the hack of the Democratic National Committee. 

According to the report, Mueller said there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Trump Jr., who was able to gain access to the website. 

“Given that Trump Jr. did not himself initiate the plan to access the website or guess the password, the absence of evidence that his acts caused any damage to the website or obtained valuable information, the technical nature of the violation, and the minimal punishment that a misdemeanor conviction could be expected to carry in these circumstances, the Office decided against pursuing charges,” the report states. 

The evidence against Stone, who was pardoned by Trump after being found guilt of lying to congressional investigators and tampering with evidence, “was not sufficient” to warrant charges, according to the report. 

“The absence of evidence as to knowledge, in short, would both hinder the government’s ability to prove conspiracy liability and also potentially provide a First Amendment defense,” the report states. “Therefore, the Office did not seek charges against WikiLeaks, Assange, or Stone for participating in the computer-intrusion conspiracy.”

Judge Accuses Barr of Misleading Public about Special Counsel Investigation of Trump

Attorney General William Barr, via Justice Department.

By Steve Neavling

A federal judge accused former Attorney General William Barr of deceiving the court and Congress public about a Justice Department memo clearing former President Trump of potential charges following the special counsel investigation.

In a blistering decision, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered the release of the memo to a government transparency group that had requested it under the Freedom of Information Act, The New York Times reports

The Justice Department had argued that the memo was exempt from FOIA because it consisted of private legal advice that helped Barr decide whether Trump should be prosecuted.

But Jackson, who reviewed the unreacted memo, said that Barr and his aides had already decided Trump would not be prosecuted before Barr even reviewed the written advice. 

“The fact that he would not be prosecuted was a given,” Jackson wrote of Trump.

Jackson also accused Barr of misleading the public about the 448-page special counsel report. 

“The attorney general’s characterization of what he’d hardly had time to skim, much less study closely, prompted an immediate reaction, as politicians and pundits took to their microphones and Twitter feeds to decry what they feared was an attempt to hide the ball,” Jackson wrote.

Top Senate Republicans Call for Investigation of Mueller Team for Deleting Cell Phone Data

Special counsel Robert Mueller. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Top Senate Republicans are calling on the Justice Department to investigate whether special counsel Robert Mueller and his team violated federal record-keeping laws by erasing their official cell phones of data.

In a letter to the FBI and Justice Department, Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, also is requesting the Justice Department to determine whether the deleted data can be recovered.

“It appears that Special Counsel Mueller’s team may have deleted federal records that could be key to better understanding their decision-making process as they pursued their investigation and wrote their report,” Grassley wrote. “Indeed, many officials apparently deleted the records after the DOJ Inspector General began his inquiry into how the Department mishandled Crossfire Hurricane. Moreover, based on this new information, the number of times and the stated reasons for the deletions calls into question whether or not it was a widespread intentional effort.”

A Freedom of Information Act request revealed that at least 15 phones used during the Russia investigation were wiped of information.

Homeland Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson requested an investigation by the Justice Department’s inspector general.

On Twitter, President Trump compared the matter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton deleting thousands of emails off a private server.

“ALERT: So now we find out that the entire Mueller ‘hit squad’ illegally wiped their phones clean just prior to the investigation of them, all using the same really dumb reason for this ‘accident’, just like Crooked Hillary smashing her phones with a hammer, & DELETING HER EMAILS!” Trump tweeted early Saturday morning.

DOJ Quietly Limited Special Counsel Probe of Russia, Making It Difficult to Explore Ties to Trump’s Campaign

Rod Rosenstein and Robert S. Mueller III

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department secretly narrowed the focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, a move that prevented authorities from fully pursuing links to Trump’s campaign, The New York Times reports.

Former Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein privately limited the investigation to a criminal one, rather than one that explored authorities’ concerns about counterintelligence issues related to Trump’s connections to Russia.

Rosenstein’s actions all but ensured the investigation “would go nowhere,” The Times wrote, citing former Justice Department and FBI officials.

Publicly, Rosenstein said Mueller’s job was to explore “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government,” which includes counterintelligence issues. Not even the bureau’s then-acting director Andrew McCabe knew Rosenstein had limited the scope of the investigation. Had he known, the FBI would have investigated the counterintelligence issues, McCabe said.

“We opened this case in May 2017 because we had information that indicated a national security threat might exist, specifically a counterintelligence threat involving the president and Russia,” McCabe said. “I expected that issue and issues related to it would be fully examined by the special counsel team. If a decision was made not to investigate those issues, I am surprised and disappointed. I was not aware of that.”

Rosenstein declined to respond to The Times story.

Trump Offered Top FBI Job to John Kelly If He pledged Loyalty to the President, New Book Says

President Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A day after President Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey in May 2017, he offered the bureau’s top job to then-Homeland Security John Kelly.

But there was a catch: Kelly must pledge absolute loyalty to Trump, according to the forthcoming book Donald Trump v. United States, as reported by Axios.

To get the job, “Kelly needed to be loyal to him, and only him.”

“Kelly immediately realized the problem with Trump’s request for loyalty, and he pushed back on the president’s demand,” New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt writes in the book. “Kelly said that he would be loyal to the Constitution and the rule of law, but he refused to pledge his loyalty to Trump.”

The report doesn’t indicate how Trump responded, but a month after firing Comey, Trump nominated Christopher Wray to be the FBI’s next director.

Kelly later served as Trump’s chief of staff.

During the special counsel investigation, Robert Mueller didn’t find out about Trump offering the job to Kelly, whose interview with Mueller was limited to two hours.

Kelly announced he was resigning as chief of staff on December 2018.

Before Comey was fired, he said Trump urged him to pledge loyalty, and he refused, the former director has repeatedly said.

FBI Hid Copies of Russia Probe Documents to Prevent Trump from Interfering

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe testifies before Congress.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Worried that President Trump would interfere with the FBI investigation into Russia, former FBI Director Andrew McCabe took steps to preserve documents related to the case in case he was ousted, CNN first reported.

McCabe instructed agents to make three copies of key documents and place them in remote locations around the FBI, according to an excerpt from CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin’s book, “True Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Investigation of Donald Trump.”

Former FBI Director James Comey’s memos about his conversations with Trump were placed in SENTINEL, the bureau’s case management system.

“McCabe knew that once documents were inside the system, they were virtually impossible to remove,” CNN reported. “With Comey’s memos in the system, the investigators were certain to have access to them – even if McCabe himself would eventually be gone.”

The documents were eventually turned over to Robert Mueller, who was appointed special counsel to oversee the investigation. Those documents proved to be critical to the investigation.

After Trump Commuted Roger Stone’s Prison Term, Is Michael Flynn Next?

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Now that President Trump has commuted the prison term of Roger Stone, many are wondering if Michael Flynn is next.

Flynn is Trump’s first national security advisor and also was the target of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

When it comes to a potential pardon of Flynn, who was convicted of lying to FBI agents, Trump said Monday, “I don’t have a decision to make” about a potential pardon for Flynn “until I find out what’s going to happen” with Flynn’s attempt to get his conviction tossed, CNBC reports.

“I think he’s doing very well with respect to his case,” Trump told reporters. “I hope that he’s going to be able to win it.”

The Justice Department is asking Judge Emmett Sullivan to dismiss the conviction. After he was ordered to dismiss the case by a federal appeals court panel, Sullivan requested the court’s full line-up to reconsider the decision.

Trump has long insisted that the Mueller investigation was a hoax, even though numerous people have been convicted as a result of the probe.