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Tag: Robert Mueller

GOP Sen. Graham: Firing Mueller Would End Trump’s Presidency

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Republicans lawmakers were divided Sunday over passing legislation that would protect the special counsel investigating the Russia scandal, but Sen. Lindsey Graham warned that Donald Trump’s presidency would be over if he fired Robert Mueller.

“It’s pretty clear to me that everybody in the White House knows it would be the end of President Trump’s presidency if he fired Mr. Mueller,” Graham said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

Graham, who authored a long-stalled bill to prevent the president from firing Mueller, was among at least two prominent Republicans who showed support Sunday for legislation to protect Mueller, who was appointed in May to investigate whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to undermine the 2016 presidential election. 

Democrats and some Republicans renewed calls for the legislation after the New York Times and several news outlets reported last week that Trump had tried to fire Mueller until the White House counsel threatened to resign if the president if the president moved forward.

Many Republicans are not supportive of the measure, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who said Sunday that a bill is unnecessary.

 “I don’t think there’s a need for legislation right now to protect Mueller,” McCarthy said Sunday on NBC News’ “Meet The Press.” 

“Right now there is not an issue,” McCarthy added. “So why create one when there isn’t a place for it?”

Senator Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine, who didn’t see a need for legislation in December, has changed her mind.

“It would certainly not hurt to put that extra safeguard in place, given the latest stories,” Collins said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Trump Ordered the Firing of Mueller But Backed Off White House Attorney Threatened to Quit

Special counsel Robert Mueller

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump in June ordered the firing of the special counsel appointed several weeks earlier to investigate ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia, but he backed off after the White House counsel threatened to resign to avoid handling a legally dubious task that could endanger the presidency.

The New York Times reported that Trump demanded the termination of Mueller, who was appointed in May by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. 

Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general.

At the time, Trump, who has repeatedly claimed he had no plans to intervene in the probe, argued Mueller was incapable of conducting an impartial investigation because of several alleged cases of conflicts of interest, including a dispute over fees that Mueller owed at Trump golf club in Sterling, Va.

White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II declined to ask the Justice Department to fire the special counsel and threatened to quit, saying the president’s allegations of conflicts of interest were not strong enough to hold up in court and could have a catastrophic effect on the presidency. The termination, he added, would give the appearance that Trump was trying to obstruct the Russia probe.

McGahn, a longtime Republican campaign finance lawyer, served as the lead lawyer for Trump’s campaign.

Trump then backed off.

The president’s meddling in the investigation has made him a target of the probe since firing then-FBI Director James Comey. Also this week came revelations that Trump had asked the acting FBI director, Andrew McCabe, whom he voted for in the presidential election. Axios also reported this week that the Trump administration pressured the president’s new FBI director Chris Wray to fire McCabe. Wray responded that he would resign before firing his deputy director without just cause.

Mueller is expected to soon question Trump about the firing of Comey to determine whether the president tried to obstruct justice.

Trump Says He’s ‘Looking Forward’ to Speaking Under Oath As Part of Russia Probe

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A defiant and resolute President Trump said Wednesday he is “looking forward” to testifying in the special counsel investigation into ties between his campaign and Russians, insisting he did nothing wrong.

Trump told reporters at an impromptu question-and-answer session that he’s so confident of his innocence that he will testify under oath – a move that could have enormous consequences for his presidency.

“Here’s the story, just so you understand,” Trump said in the West Wing.

“There’s been no collusion whatsoever. There’s no obstruction whatsoever, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Trump cast himself as the victim of an over-zealous crusade to undermine his presidency and pledged to vigorously defend himself.

“You fight back,” Trump said.

The surprise press conference comes during a tumultuous week of discoveries for the president. Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, became the first cabinet member last week to be questioned by special counsel Robert Mueller. 

Trump also was accused of asking the acting FBI director Andrew McCabe about whom he voted for in the presidential election. 

And Trump’s new FBI director, Christopher Wray, threatened to resign after coming under intense pressure from the administration to fire McCabe.

Flynn Met with FBI Investigators without an Attorney or Trump’s Knowledge

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Just two days after he was sworn in as President Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn secretly met with FBI investigators to answer questions about his communications with Russians.

Flynn, who pleaded guilty late last year to lying to the FBI about ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia, didn’t bother to bring an attorney and never mentioned the meeting to the president or his inner circle, NBC News reports. 

As part of an agreement with the FBI, Flynn has pledged to cooperate with the special counsel team investigating ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

The FBI interview on Jan. 24, 2017, is considered a key moment in the special counsel investigation, setting in motion an ever-increasing probe with allegations ranging from collusion to money laundering. The investigation, led by Robert Mueller, so far has produced indictments against four of Trump’s closest associates, and the president said Wednesday that he is “looking forward” to clearing his name in an interview with the special counsel team.

Flynn was fired after less than a month on the job for lying the Vice President Mike Pence about contacts with Russians who wanted Hillary Clinton defeated.

Special Counsel Probe Reaches Trump’s Inner Circle with AG Sessions Interview

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before Congress about contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The special counsel investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia has officially penetrated the president’s inner circle.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions was questioned for several hours last week as special counsel Robert Mueller and his team of legal experts dive deeper into allegations against President Trump and his former and current associates, the New York Times reported. 

It wasn’t immediately clear what questions were posed to Sessions, but he is a key witness in several targets of the probe: During the campaign, Sessions met with several Russian officials and was involved in developing Trump’s positions on Russia.

The attorney general also may have information about the firing of then-FBI director James Comey.

The president’s relationship with Sessions has been rocky since he recused himself in any future investigations involving Trump’s campaign since the former Alabama senator had close ties  of his close ties to the campaign.

So far, Mueller’s investigation has produced indictments against four former Trump campaign.

What Happens to Mueller’s Trump-Russia Probe Under a Government Shutdown?

Special counsel Robert Mueller

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

If the U.S. Senate can’t avert a government shutdown by ending a spending impasse by midnight Friday, the special counsel investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia won’t be impacted, according to the Justice Department.

That’s because all employees working on the special counsel probe are exempt from furlough since their paychecks don’t come from annual appropriations.

“All employees with the Special Counsel’s Office are considered exempt and would continue their operations in the case of a lapse in appropriations,” Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior told The Hill

Late Thursday, the U.S. House approved a short-term extension on government funding to allow the Senate an opportunity to reach an agreement by midnight to avert a shutdown.

But many Democrats emphatically pledged to reject the GOP plan without concessions that would prevent the deportation of younger immigrants who were brought to the country illegally.

Although Republicans have a majority in the Senate, the funding bill requires 60 votes to overcome a Democratic filibuster.

Bannon Issued Subpoena to Testify Before Grand Jury in Trump-Russia Probe

Steve Bannon

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Steve Bannon, the former White House chief adviser to President Trump, has been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury as part of the special counsel investigation into possible collusion between Russia and Trump associates.

The issuance of a subpoena, which compels testimony from Bannon, was a rare move by special counsel Robert Mueller, who has been interviewing dozens of former and current Trump officials in more informal settings that don’t require a subpoena, the New York Times reports

A notable exception was Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafot, who was subpoenaed and later indicted on various federal charges, including money laundering.

Why Mueller opted to subpoena Bannon, who joined the Trump campaign team in August 2016, is open to speculation.

On Tuesday, Bannon testified behind closed doors before the House Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. 

Bannon was subpoenaed last week, just days after the release of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” an explosive book in which Bannon raised serious legal questions about a June 2016 meeting at the Trump Tower between the president’s son Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and a Russian lawyer who reportedly offered to release compromising information about presidential rival Hillary Clinton.

Bannon, who was in the campaign’s inner circle when most of the alleged collusion with Russia took place, also predicted the special counsel probe is far from over and will focus on money laundering. 

“By forcing someone to testify through a subpoena, you are providing the witness with cover because they can say, ‘I had no choice — I had to go in and testify about everything I knew,’” said Solomon L. Wisenberg, a prosecutor for the independent counsel that investigated Bill Clinton when he was president.

Bloomberg: Mueller Comes Under Unfair, Partisan Attacks over Russia-Trump Probe

Special counsel Robert Mueller

By Editorial Board
Bloomberg

Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election is coming under growing attack from those most blinded by partisanship and — in the case of the White House — self-interest. Their motivations do not automatically render them wrong. A dispassionate review of the facts, however, does.

Their assaults fall into three main categories. The first two are easily rebuffed. The third lands a punch — but not the knockout blow they seek.

•    Discrediting Mueller. When President George W. Bush nominated Mueller, a fellow Republican, to lead the FBI in 2001, the Senate confirmed him by a unanimous vote. After he served his 10-year term, President Barack Obama gave him a two-year extension — and Senate support was again unanimous. Few people in Washington serving at the highest level of government can equal Mueller’s reputation for integrity and independence.

Yet critics charge that Mueller is somehow compromised by his longstanding relationship with James Comey, his former deputy and successor at the FBI, who initiated the Russia investigation. Republicans have had a hatelovehate relationship with Comey over the past two years, which says more about them than it does about him. Whatever one may think of how he handled his job, there is no evidence suggesting that Mueller is being influenced by him — or anyone else — in any way.

•    Discrediting Mueller’s work. Critics also charge that Mueller’s team is on a fishing expedition that has found no evidence the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the election –and thus should be shut down. They often cite the indictment of Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, whose charges concern not his campaign activities but his work for a pro-Russian government in Ukraine.

But — leaving aside the seriousness of those charges — Mueller’s mandate is to investigate not only Russian interference in the campaign, including any collusion, but also “any matters that arose or may arise” from the investigation. Manafort’s actions certainly qualify, as do the lies of two campaign officials (both of whom have already pleaded guilty) about their contacts with Russia.

It’s reasonable to expect Mueller to conclude the investigation in a timely fashion. But Congress cannot permit the White House to short-circuit his work.

To read more click here.