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Tag: Robert Mueller

Former Trump Spokesman to Testify about Suspected Obstruction of Justice in Trump Administration

Donald Trump Jr. and his dad, President Trump, via Twitter

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The special counsel investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia is zeroing in on a meeting at Trump Tower between top campaign aides, including family members, and Russian officials who promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton.

Mark Corallo, a former spokesman for Trump’s legal team, has agreed to an interview with the special counsel team and plans to reveal a previously undisclosed conference call with Trump and White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, three people familiar with the situation told the New York Times. The call left Corallo with the impression that Hicks was planning to obstruct justice.

During the call, Hicks insisted that potentially incriminating emails written by Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., “will never get out,” according to sources close to Corallo.

The emails are significant because they show the president’s son and his top campaign officials communicated with a Russian lawyer who wanted to help Trump win the election by providing dirt on Clinton.

When the New York Times broke a story in July 2017 about the previously undisclosed meeting at Trump Tower, the Trump administration released a statement suggesting the gathering was about an obscure Russian adoption policy.

Robert Mueller’s special counsel team is now focusing on the statement, how it was drafted and whether the president was involved in writing it. In recent months, Mueller’s team has questioned numerous White House officials about the statement and recently notified Trump’s attorneys that prosecutors want to address the issue during a face-to-face interview that his lawyers have begun to resist.

Turns out, the president helped write the misleading response, which was attributed to Trump Jr. – to the Times while aboard the Air Force One with Hicks, according to sources familiar with the discussion.

“It was a short introductory meeting,” the response read. “I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at that time and there was no follow up.”

Corallo insisted the response would backfire because investigators would obtain emails that show the real reason behind the meeting with Russians – to obtain dirt on Clinton. That’s when he said Hicks responded that the emails “will never get out.”

Corallo, who declined to comment for the Times story, did not dispute the contents of the article.

So far the Mueller investigation has produced indictments against four former Trump campaign associates. The probe also is focusing on whether the president obstructed justice by interfering with the investigation, including when he fired then-FBI Director James Comey, who testified at a congressional hearing that Trump demanded loyalist and pressured the bureau boss to end the Russia investigation.

The firing prompted Trump’s Justice Department to appoint Mueller in May to investigate ties between the campaign and Russia.

Democrats Claim Republicans Secretly Doctored Trump-Russia Memo

Rep. Adam Schiff.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee has accused Republicans of sharing with the White House a “secretly altered” version of a controversial, much-disputed memo alleging the Justice Department and FBI improperly surveilled a former Trump campaign aide during the 2016 election campaign.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said the memo, written by Republicans, was altered after the committee voted along party lines to release the document despite warnings from the Justice Department and FBI to keep in the information classified. 

Schiff said the committee members were “never apprised of, never had the opportunity to review, and never approved” revisions made by Republicans before handing off the memo to the president, who is expected to approve the corrosive document’s release.

Schiff is demanding that the memo be withdrawn until a new vote can be held on the revised document, which some Republicans want to use to suggest an anti-Trump bias in the special counsel investigation of the president and Russia.

A spokesman the committee’s chairman, Republican Devin Nunes, claims Schiff is exaggerating the altercations, saying only minor change, including grammatical fixes, were made to the document.

Schiff countered that the changes were “material and substantive” and not approved by the committee, which Democrats say is a violation of congressional practices.

Schiff made the claims in a letter to Nunes.

The White House is expected to approve the memo’s release Friday morning, but claims that the document was doctored may delay the public disclosure.

FBI Agent Accused of Trump Bias Played Role in Reopening Clinton Email Probe

Former FBI Director James Comey issued the controversial Clinton letter to Congress.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI agent who has come under fire by Republicans for harboring an alleged anti-Trump bias played a key role in supporting the bureau’s decision to notify Congress just days before the 2016 election about a renewed investigation into newly discovered Clinton emails, according to emails obtained by CNN

Many political observers believe the controversial decision to notify Congress upended Clinton’s chances of beating Trump in the election.

FBI Agent Peter Strzok, who became the target of Republican ridicule, helped draft the letter notifying Congress of the new emails.

Republicans point to text messages exchanged between Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page as evidence of a bias in favor of Clinton. Some of the messages were critical of Trump.

But revelations that Strzok helped draft the letter, which was released to Congress by then-FBI Director James Comey, paints a more nuanced picture of an agent whom Republicans, including Trump, has broadly portrayed as a Clinton supporter with a vendetta against the president. Turns out, Strzok also supported reopening the Clinton investigation following the discovery of emails on former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s laptop. The investigation turned up no evidence of wrongdoing, but the damage had already been done.

Trump Asked Mueller’s Boss If He Was ‘On My Team’

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, via Justice Department.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump asked the top Justice Department official overseeing the special counsel investigation whether he was “on my team” during a December meeting at the White House, according to CNN

The candid question to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein came in the midst of an obstruction of justice investigation that began when the president fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017 for allegedly refusing to pledge “loyalty” to the president by dropping an investigation of a former Trump aide who has since been indicted.

During the White House meeting, Trump also asked about the direction of the investigation, according to sources familiar with the meeting.

Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller in May to launch an investigation into the possibility of collusion between the Trump administration and Russia to undermine the presidential election in 2016. Rosenstein is in charge of overseeing the investigation because his boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, recused himself because he met with Russian officials while supporting Trump during the campaign.

A few days after the encounter  between Trump and Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general testified before a House committee that he saw no good reason to fire Mueller.

Sources told CNN in January that Trump was furious with Rosenstein and griped about wanting him removed. 

Trump Reportedly Considering Asking Sessions to Prosecute Special Counsel Mueller

Special counsel Robert Mueller.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump has considered asking Attorney General Jeff Sessions to prosecute Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating the president, his former aides and Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

NBC reports that Trump told friends that prosecuting Mueller is a better alternative to firing him because a termination “would not only create a firestorm, it would play right into Mueller’s hands,” according an unidentified Trump companion. 

Here’s how it would work: ‘We’re sorry, Mr. Mueller, you won’t be able to run the federal grand jury today because he has to go testify to another federal grand jury,'” said one Trump adviser.

It’s unclear what charges Mueller would face since he was appointed by Trump’s Justice Department.

Numerous news reports last week revealed that Trump told the White House counsel that he wanted to fire Mueller, but the attorney threatened to resign if the president pushed forward with that plan. Even some Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, said firing Mueller would likely end in impeachment

Trump and his allies in Congress have chosen a third option – discrediting the investigation as an anti-Trump crusade.

The White House didn’t respond to questions about the possibility of prosecuting Mueller, whose investigation so far has produced indictments against four former Trump associates.

Trump’s Attorneys Are Resisting Mueller’s plans to Interview the President

President Trump, via White House.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Just a week after a defiant and confident Donald Trump said he was “looking forward” to testifying in the special counsel’s investigation into the possibility that he obstructed justice, his attorneys are now saying Robert Mueller has not met the high threshold for an interview with the president.

CNN, citing people familiar with the ongoing deliberations, Trump’s lawyers don’t want the president to sit down for an interview. 

To meet the threshold for an interview, Trump’s attorneys said Mueller must demonstrate that the president is the only person who can provide them with information they are seeking.

But Trump’s attorneys don’t get the final say. Mueller could force an interview through a grand jury subpoena, which could lead to a protracted legal battle.

Trump’s aides privately worry that the president could perjure himself in an interview.

DOJ Turns Over Documents about AG Sessions’ Proposed Resignation

Attorney General Jeff Sessions during his confirmation hearing in January.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department tuned over documents to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team revealing Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ proposed resignation last year.

ABC News reports that the documents were handed over to the DOJ before Sessions was interviewed by Mueller as part of the investigation that now includes allegations that the president obstructed justice by interfering with the probe. 

Trump was furious with Sessions when he recused himself in the Russia probe, which enabled Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint Mueller in May to investigate possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin to undermine the 2016 presidential election.

Sessions offered to resign last year because he “needed the freedom to do his job,” but the New York Times reported at the time the Trump didn’t accept the idea. 

Trump Pressed Aides to Smear FBI Officials Who May Testify against Him

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump urged aides in June to launch a smear campaign against senior FBI officials after learning that members of his staff likely would be called as witnesses as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of possible obstruction of justice by the president.

Trump’s appeal to his aides came after former FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee last June that he was fired by the president after declining Trump’s request to end an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, Foreign Policy reports

If true, it could strengthen Mueller’s case that Trump obstructed justice.

According to Foreign Policy, Trump targeted three potential FBI witnesses who could confirm the president tried to influence Mueller’s investigation. The FBI officials are Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, Comey’s chief of staff Jim Rybicki and former FBI general counsel James Baker.

The president and his allies have spent months attacking the three FBI officials and claiming the bureau is tainted by an anti-Trump bias.