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Tag: Robert Mueller

Trump Conspicuously Absent from Ceremony to Install New FBI Director

Christopher Wray is sworn in as the new FBI director. Photo via FBI.

Christopher Wray is sworn in as the new FBI director. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump was a no-show while Chris Wray was officially installed as the new FBI director during a ceremony in a courtyard at FBI headquarters Thursday.

Wray, a former federal prosecutor, was appointed by Trump after firing then-FBI Director James Comey, who also did not attend. Neither did special counsel Robert Mueller.

White House officials said Trump wanted to stay away from the ceremony because of the ongoing Russia investigation.

“Our mission is simple but profound — to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution. That mission hasn’t changed, and it won’t change — not as long as I have anything to say about it,” Wray said at the ceremony.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions praised Wray as “brilliant, hardworking and an American patriot.

VP Pence’s Lawyer Meets with Special Counsel over Russia Probe

Vice President Mike Pence.

Vice President Mike Pence.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The lawyer representing Vice President Mike Pence in the Russia probe met with special counsel Robert Mueller this summer.

Pence sent his attorney, Richard Cullen, to meet with Mueller to explain that Pence is willing to cooperate with the investigation, Politico reports

So far, it doesn’t appear Pence is a target of the investigation, which has largely focused on former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and the president’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner.

Bills to Prevent Trump from Firing Special Counsel Run into Legal Hurdles

Robert Mueller, via FBI

Robert Mueller, via FBI

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Senators from both sides of the aisle are backing legislation to make it more difficult for President Trump to fire special counsel Robert Mueller.

But the New York Post reports that the legislation “ran into legal hurdles Tuesday at the Senate Judiciary Committee.” 

The issue is whether the proposals are legal.

Akhil Reed Amar, a professor at Yale Law School and a Democrat, told the committee that the legislation likely won’t pass constitutional muster.

“I must sadly report as a scholar who has studied the Constitution I believe the bills in their current forms are unwise and unconstitutional. It gives me no pleasure to say this,” said Amar, who suggested instead a new bipartisan senatorial oversight panel.

University of Texas Law School Prof. Stephen Vladeck and University of Chicago Law School Prof. Eric Posner disagreed.

“I conclude that they do not violate the principles of separation of powers and, on the contrary, advance important constitutional values,” Posner testified.

Two bills are being considered by the committee.

“Both bills were introduced when media speculation was rampant that President Trump was contemplating firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller,” said Committee chair Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). “The President has said that he does not intend to fire the special counsel, and I think that he made the right decision.”

IRS Finally Discloses Tax Information to Special Counsel about Trump Campaign

President Trump, via White House

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

After clashing with the special counsel investigating Russia’s meddling in the presidential election, the IRS is now sharing information with Robert Mueller, the head of the ever-growing probe.

CNN reports the IRS Criminal Investigation division is disclosing tax records about campaign aides, including former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former White House national security adviser, Michael Flynn. 

The disclosure of information to special counsel happened after the IRS and Mueller’s team met with officials at the Treasury Department.

CNN wrote:

CNN has learned the IRS Criminal Investigation agents had been working with the FBI to investigate Manafort since before the election in a similar probe that centered on possible money laundering and tax fraud issues, according to the sources. It’s unclear if Flynn is now or was previously under investigation by the IRS. CNN has reported that Mueller’s team is examining Flynn’s payments from Turkey and Russia.

A former high-level Justice Department official says the information shared would include anything tax return-related such as real estate and banking records. The former official added the IRS is very restricted in what information it can share under Title 26 US Code and would normally need a specific grand jury subpoena in order to share tax returns with another agency.

The new information about the depth of IRS involvement renews questions surrounding the controversial issue of President Donald Trump’s tax returns, which he refused to release during the campaign despite decades of precedent by presidential candidates.

Other Stories of Interest

Mueller Requests Documents Related to Trump Jr.’s Statements on Russia Meeting

Donald Trump Jr., via Wikipedia

Donald Trump Jr., via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller is requesting documents from the White House that are related to Donald Trump Jr.’s original statements on the suspicious meeting he had with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower.

The statement, which was later proven to be false, was drafted on Air Force One and approved by President Trump, the Hill reports

Mueller’s team also wants to interview staffers who were on Air Force One at the time the statement was written.

Trump Jr., who is the president’s eldest son, has become a target of the investigation as Mueller’s team digs deeper into alleged collusion between the president’s campaign staff and Russian operatives.

Earlier this month, Trump Jr. met with Senate investigators.

“Mueller’s investigation appears to be picking up steam as he continues to look into whether Trump campaign associates colluded with the Russians to sway the election in their favor,” the Hill reports.

Donald Trump Squarely in Crosshairs of Special Counsel Investigation

President Trump, via White House

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is turning his attention to President Trump’s actions in office, including the termination of his national security advisor and FBI director.

The New York Times also reports Mueller is honing in on an Oval Office meeting between Trump and Russian officials after the president said dismissing Comey had relieved “great pressure” on him.” 

Mueller is asking the White House for documents related to some of Trump’s most scrutinized actions while in office.

The news indicates that Trump is now squarely in the crosshairs of the investigation.

Manafort Offered to Provide Briefings of Presidential Race to Russian Tied to Kremlin

Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Paul Manafort, who served as Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, is accused of offering to provide briefings on the presidential election to a Russian billionaire with close ties to the Kremlin, the Washington Post reports

People familiar with the discussions said Manafort made the offer in an email less than two weeks before Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination.

Manafort requested that his email be provided to Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum magnate who has past connections with Manafort.

“If he needs private briefings we can accommodate,” Manafort wrote in the July 7, 2016, email.

Federal authorities have no evidence yet that Deripaska received the email or any briefings.

Deputy U.S. Attorney Rosenstein Interviewed by Special Counsel Mueller’s Office

Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has been interviewed by Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office about President Trump’s firing of former FBIU Director James Comey, the Wall Street Journal reports. 

The interview, which occurred earlier this summer, creates the odd scenario of investigators questioning the officials directly overseeing the investigation. Mueller, for example, reports to Rosenstein after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation.

Mueller is investigating whether Trump obstructed justice by firing Comey in May.

The interview “could be a sign that Mr. Mueller’s team doesn’t view Mr. Rosenstein as a central witness in its probe, as the deputy attorney general hasn’t withdrawn himself from overseeing it since that interview,” the Journal reported.

The subject of the interview wasn’t immediately clear.