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Tag: Robert Mueller

McConnell Shut Down Bi-Partisan Bill to Protect Mueller from Trump

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged to shoot down any legislation aimed at protecting special counsel Robert Mueller from being fired by President Trump.

McDonnell says the bill is a waste of time because he’s confident Trump won’t fire Mueller, whose investigation so far has landed indictments against 22 individuals and entities.

“I’m the one who decides what we take to the floor. That’s my responsibility as the Majority Leader, and we will not be having this on the floor of the U.S. Senate,” the defiant Republican said in an interview Tuesday on Fox News

A small band of Republicans has emerged to support a bill that would give a fired special counsel 10 days to request an expedited judicial review on whether the termination was for “good cause.” In fact, the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to have enough votes next week to pass the bill.

But McConnell emphatically said he would not hold a floor vote on the legislation. 

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Trump’s intentions are irrelevant because the protections are good policy to have on the books.

“I don’t think he’s going to fire Mueller, but I think institutionally it would be nice to have some protections,” Graham said Tuesday.

Trump has stepped up his attacks on the FBI, Justice Department and special counsel probe said the federal raid on his personal lawyer’s various properties, phones and computers. He also has hinted at firing Deputy Attorney General Andrew McCabe, who hired Mueller and oversees the special counsel investigation. 

The legislation would give any special counsel a 10-day window to seek expedited judicial review of a firing, and would put into law existing Justice Department regulations that require a firing to be for “good cause.”

Seething Trump Changes Mind about Mueller Interview After Raid of Personal Attorney

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump is so infuriated by the FBI’s seizure of records from his personal attorney that he has decided he won’t sit down for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller and instead is searching for a larger arsenal of attorneys.

Trump previously ignored the advice of his lawyers and pledged to sit down with Mueller, who is investigating whether the president’s campaign colluded with Russia or Trump obstructed justice. But that all changed on April 9, when FBI agents raided Michael Cohen’s office, home, hotel, computers and phones, the Washington Post reports.

The president’s lawyers are still willing to discuss an interview and are aware that Trump could change his mind – as he frequently does – but his legal team now believes a sit-down with Mueller is less likely.

The raid has concerned Trump that agents got their hands on sensitive correspondence between him and his attorney, and he believes the seizure was done in bad faith, two people familiar with the president’s frustration told the Post.

Meet the Little-Known Trump Official Who Could End the Mueller Probe

Solicitor General Noel Francisco

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The fate of the special counsel investigation that has cast a long shadow of the White House may ultimately fall into the hands of Solicitor General Noel Francisco, a little-known Trump appointee who happens to be no fan of the FBI or its former director, James Comey.

Many legal experts believe Trump lacks the authority to fire Rosenstein on his own, so the next quickest way to end the special counsel probe is to get someone else to do it.

If Trump fires Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller and is overseeing the investigation, the next in line to become Mueller’s boss is Francisco, who has a history of fighting to protect what he sees as broad executive privileges.

Like Trump, Francisco has claimed Comey, whom the president fired in May, is motivated by a political biased against Trump. That has raised concerns that Francisco would be more likely to follow orders to fire Mueller, whose 11-month investigation has landed indictments against more than 20 people and entities.

“I don’t think we know enough to be confident,” Eric Columbus, a former senior Obama Justice Department official, told Politico. “I doubt he would fire Mueller but could limit him, which has always been the greater concern.”

Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation, the removal of the deputy AG would give control of the Mueller investigation to the third-ranking Justice Department official, the associate attorney general, a job that has been vacant since Rachel Brand resigned from the position in February and has yet to be replaced.

Under Justice Department rules, Francisco, 48, is the next in line.

If Trump follows through, the move would be strikingly similar to President Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre in which he fired his attorney general and deputy attorney general for refusing to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox. The terminations left the decision up to Solicitor General Robert Bork, who fired Cox. A judge later ruled the termination was illegal.

 

As Trump Attacks, More Americans Are Losing Confidence in Mueller Probe

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The public’s confidence in special counsel Robert Mueller is dropping as President Trump and his allies step up their attacks against the probe, the FBI and the Justice Department.

Mueller’s favorability ratings fell 11 points over the past month, with 32% of Americans viewing the special counsel favorably, 30% holding an unfavorable view and 38% without an opinion, according to an NPR/PBS News Hour/Marist Poll

The poll shows Democrats and Republicans are deeply divided over the former FBI director appointed to investigate Russia and President Trump’s campaign. Mueller’s favorability among Democrats is at 56%, with 19% viewing him favorably and a quarter uncertain.

Nearly half of surveyed Republicans expressed an unfavorable view of Mueller favorability, a dramatic increase from 30% last month. About 16% of Republicans view Mueller favorably, and another 35% are undecided.

Independents are almost evenly divided, with 35% viewing Mueller favorably, 30% unfavorably and 34% are unsure.

400+ DOJ Officials Urge Congress to Respond ‘Swiftly’ If Trump Fires Mueller

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Hundreds of former Justice Department employees are calling on Congress to “swiftly and forcefully respond” if President Trump fires special counsel Robert Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the probe.

“It is up to the rest of us, and especially our elected representatives, to come to their defense and oppose any attempt by the President or others to improperly interfere in the Department’s work,” read a statement signed by more than 400 former officials who worked under current and previous administrations.

The statement adds, “We served out of a commitment to the founding American principles that our democratic republic depends upon the rule of law, that the law must be applied equally, and no one is above the law. … Those of us who served with these men know them to be dedicated public servants committed to these principles.”

Trump has stepped up his attack on the FBI and Justice Department, accusing top law enforcement officials of engaging in a politically driven “witch hunt.” He recently called the Justice Department “an embarassment to our country!” in a tweet.

Former and current Justice Department officials said in the statement that they are “deeply  disturbed by the attacks that have been levied against the good men and women of the Department.”

“Not only is it an insult to their public service, but any attempt to corrupt or undermine the evenhanded application of the rule of law threatens the foundation of our Republic,” the statement read.

White House Hatches Risky Plan to Oust Rosenstein Amid Escalating Federal Probes

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

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The FBI raid on the law office and hotel room of Donald Trump’s personal attorney has spurred the White House to build a case for firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is the biggest obstacle standing in the way of president pulling the plug on the special counsel investigation.

The plan involves Trump’s allies attacking Rosenstein, who appointed Robert Mueller in May and is overseeing the probe, to avoid the appearance that Trump is obstructing the investigation, the Wall Street Journal reports

Rosenstein’s firing is “a matter of when, not if,” one person who spoke with Trump said.

The plan to discredit Rosenstein comes after the deputy attorney general signed off on the FBI’s seizure of records between Trump and his longtime attorney Micahel Cohen on Monday.

Removing Rosenstein would allow Trump to replace his deputy attorney general with an ally willing to fire Mueller, a move reminiscent of President Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre” in which he fired Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox in 1973. The bold decision prompted Congress to begin talking about impeachment.

In private conversations, Rosenstein said he’s aware his firing may be imminent and that he’s at peace with it because he chose integrity over blind loyalty to the president, NBC News reported

Ex-FBI Director Comey Compares Trump to Mafia Boss, Calls Presidency a ‘Forest Fire’

Former FBI Director James Comey.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Fired FBI Director James Comey pulls no punches in his explosive new memoir, portraying Donald Trump as a dangerous, delusional, self-obsessed and chronically dishonest bully whose presidency is a “forest fire” that threatens to undermine the nation’s values and norms.

“This president is unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values,” Comey writes in “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership.” “His leadership is transactional, ego driven and about personal loyalty.”

Comey, who served as FBI director from 2013 until Trump abruptly fired him in May 2017, also explains his handling of the Hillary Clinton investigation and shares details about his upbringing and career at the bureau and Justice Department.

Here are five takeaways from the book, which is scheduled to be released Tuesday.

1. Trump like the mob

Comey likened the president to the mobsters he used to pursue as a federal prosecutor: “The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview. The lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and above the truth.” 

The president’s chronic dishonesty and bullying, Comey wrote, was central “to the entire enterprise of organized crime on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Comey warned: “We are experiencing a dangerous time in our country,” Comey writes, “with a political environment where basic facts are disputed, fundamental truth is questioned, lying is normalized and unethical behavior is ignored, excused or rewarded.”

2. Trump’s obsession with the “golden showers thing”

Comey wrote that the president asked him four times to discredit the salacious, but unverified dossier in which ex-British intelligence officer Christopher Steele alleged Trump watched prostitutes pee on each other in a Moscow hotel suite.

“‘I’m a germaphobe,'” Comey quoted Trump saying. “‘There’s no way I would let people pee on each other around me. No way.'”

Trump said the claims were distressing to his wife.

“For about the fourth time, he argued that the ‘golden showers thing’ wasn’t true,” Comey wrote, saying Trump asked, “‘Can you imagine me, hookers?'”

3. The president’s “expressionless blue eyes”

During his first in-person session with Trump, Comey recalled the president’s appearance with great attention attention to detail.

“His face appeared slightly orange, with bright white half-moons under his eyes where I assumed he placed small tanning goggles,” Comey wrote, describing Trump as having “expressionless blue eyes” and “impressively coifed, bright blond hair, which upon close inspection looked to be all his.”

Comey wrote that he never saw Trump laugh, which he suggested was a sign of the president’s “deep insecurity, his inability to be vulnerable or to risk himself by appreciating the humor of others, which, on reflection, is really very sad in a leader, and a little scary in a president.”

4. John Kelly calls Trump “dishonorable”

Just minutes after he was fired, Comey said he received “an emotional call” from John Kelly, then the head of Homeland Security and now the White House chief of staff.

During the call, Kelly said he intended to quit in protest because he didn’t want to work for dishonest people, referring specially to Trump. 

Comey wrote: “I urged Kelly not to do that, arguing that the country needed principled people around this president. Especially this president.”

5. Comey’s handling of the Clinton probe

In describing in controversial decision to publicly disclose the bureau was re-opening the Clinton investigation just 11 days before the election, Comey said he believed Clinton was going to win because of her favorable polls.

Comey wrote that he often questions whether that assumption influenced his decision to reveal the information.

“It is entirely possible that, because I was making decisions in an environment where Hillary Clinton was sure to be the next president, my concern about making her an illegitimate president by concealing the restarted investigation bore greater weight than it would have if the election appeared closer or if Donald Trump were ahead in all polls. But I don’t know.”

Comey, who told the Senate Judiciary Committee in May 2017 that he felt “mildly nauseous” at the prospect that the disclosure changed the outcome of the election, wrote that he hopes “very much that what we did — what I did — wasn’t a deciding factor in the election.”

About a week after the testimony, Trump fired Comey, prompting Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint special counsel Robert Mueller.

Steve Bannon Pitches Plan to Save President by Stymying Mueller Probe

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon has pitched a bold plan to protect President Trump from the advancing special counsel investigation.

The Washington Post reports that Bannon, who was ousted last summer, advised members of Trump’s inner circle and congressional allies to encourage the president to first fire Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who appointed special counsel Robert Mueller in May to investigate Russian melding in the 2016 presidential election and approved the raid on the office of Trump’s attorney. 

Bannon also suggested the White House should stop cooperating with Mueller, invoke executive privilege to prevent further interviews with staff and fire his current legal team. The former Breitbart chief said Trump could then make a legal case that past interviews between his staff and Mueller’s team should be stricken from the record because the president’s attorneys didn’t advise him of all his options.

“The president wasn’t fully briefed by his lawyers on the implications” of not invoking executive privilege, Bannon told The Washington Post in an interview Wednesday. “It was a strategic mistake to turn over everything without due process, and executive privilege should be exerted immediately and retroactively.”

Legal experts were skeptical of the plan, and it’s unclear whether Trump will consider, though he has suggested taking similar steps in the past.

Democrats and some Republicans said they would vote to impeach the president if he fires Mueller, who is investigating whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia and if the president obstructed justice by firing then-FBI Director James Comey.

According to past interviews, Bannon believes crimes were committed by Trump’s campaign. He even told author Michael Wolff that the Mueller probe likely will focus on money laundering, saying, “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.” 

Bannon also told 60 Minutes that firing Comey was the biggest mistake “maybe in modern political history.”