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Tag: special counsel

Justice Department Moves to Drop Criminal Case Against Michael Flynn, Drawing Criticism

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department dropped its criminal case against Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, citing documents detailing how FBI officials planned to handle a January 2017 interview with Flynn.

The decision to recommend that a judge dismiss the case drew immediate criticism from legal experts and Democrats, who raised serious questions about the motivations of the DOJ and Attorney General William Barr.

Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with a Russian diplomat and even cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign.

In documents filed Thursday in federal court in Washington D.C., the Justice Department said, “The Government has concluded that the interview of Mr. Flynn was untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn,” NBC News reports.

“The Government is not persuaded that the January 24, 2017 interview was conducted with a legitimate investigative basis and therefore does not believe Mr. Flynn’s statements were material even if untrue,” the filing said.

The decision follows the release of an internal review into the handling of the case. Flynn’s lawyers claimed the review shows Flynn had been entrapped into lying when FBI agents interviewed him.

Trump applauded the DOJ’s recommendation.

“I didn’t know that was happening at this moment. I felt it was going to happen just by watching and seeing like everybody else does,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.

“He was an innocent man,” he said of Flynn. “He is a great gentleman.”

The move was “outrageous,” chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said.

“The evidence against General Flynn is overwhelming. He pleaded guilty to lying to investigators. And now a politicized and thoroughly corrupt Department of Justice is going to let the President’s crony simply walk away,” Nadler said in a statement.

Former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, who responded to the DOJ’s actions by saying “This is not justice,” urged Justice Department lawyers not to resign.

“DOJ lawyers of integrity will be tempted to resign over today’s motion to dismiss the Flynn case,” McQuade tweeted. “My advice is to please stay. We need you instead of those who might replace you.”

The recommendation still needs to be approved by Judge Emmet Sullivan.

Appeals Court: DOJ Must Disclose Grand Jury Material to Democrats on House Committee

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A federal appeals court on Tuesday ordered the Justice Department to give House lawmakers secret grand jury testimony from special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, The Washington Post reported.

The 2-1 decision is a partial victory for House Democrats who have been trying to obtain the grand jury material. The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals, which upheld a district court ruling a year ago, can be appealed to the full court or the Supreme Court.

That means the secret material from the investigation does not yet have to be disclosed.

Rick Gates Sentenced to 45 Days in Jail for Lying to FBI, Conspiring to Conceal Money

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates with Trump.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates was sentenced Tuesday to 45 days in jail and three years probation for lying to the FBI and conspiring to conceal tens of millions of dollars.

Gates, 47, had faced up to six years in prison, but a federal judge in Washington D.C. showed leniency because of Gates’ help providing information for the special counsel probe.

“He’s had to testify, be identified as a known cooperator in the glare of public attention at a time of deep political division in our society, when people are demonized for being on the other side, and he was seen as turning on his own side,” U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said, The New York Times reports. “Gates’ information alone warranted, even demanded further investigation from the standpoint of national security, the integrity of our elections and enforcing criminal laws.”

Gates, who pleaded guilty in February 2018, will be able to serve his sentence on weekends, the judge said. Gates also was ordered to pay a $20,000 fine and perform 300 hours of community service.

“I greatly regret the mistakes that I have made, and I have worked hard to honor my commitment to make amends,” Gates said in a prepared statement.

In a sentencing recommendation, Assistant U.S. Attorney Molly Gaston complimented Gates for his assistance in the investigation.

“Under exceedingly difficult circumstances and under intense public scrutiny, Gates has worked earnestly to provide the government with everything it has asked of him and has fulfilled all obligations under his plea agreement,” Gaston wrote this month.

Gates’ attorney, Thomas Green, asked for probation and community service for his client.

Former Trump Campaign Aide Rick Gates May Dodge Prison Time Today

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates with Trump.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday morning in federal court in Washington D.C.

Gates, 47, who pleaded guilty in February 2018 to lying to the FBI and conspiring to conceal tens of millions of dollars, had faced possible jail time.

Gates had been facing up to six years in prison, but he may get no time behind bars because of what federal prosecutors said was his “extraordinary assistance” in the special counsel investigation, The Washington Post reports.

“Under exceedingly difficult circumstances and under intense public scrutiny, Gates has worked earnestly to provide the government with everything it has asked of him and has fulfilled all obligations under his plea agreement,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Molly Gaston wrote in a sentencing recommendation this month.

Gates’ attorney, Thomas Green, asked for probation and community service for his client.

“We submit that Richard Gates has accepted responsibility for his misconduct in every way possible,” Green wrote.

Rod Rosenstein Was ‘Angry, Ashamed, Horrified’ by Trump’s Abrupt Firing of Comey

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told the FBI he was “angry, ashamed, horrified and embarrassed” about the abrupt firing of then-FBI Director James Comey, according to the latest release of documents related to the Robert Mueller investigation.

The documents shed more light on Rosenstein, who called for a special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, since his boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, had recused himself.

Rosenstein said he met with White House officials on May 8, 2017, and came under the impression that Comey was going to be fired. Rosenstein was told to write a memo criticizing the FBI director.

That day, Rosenstein wrote a memo outlining Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Mueller report, via Buzzfeed.

Expecting that he or Sessions would be tasked with firing Comey, Rosenstein asked to speak with Comey the next day. But he quickly discovered that Comey had been fired via email.

He told the FBI that he was surprised that media accounts of the firing claimed it was Rosenstein’s idea to terminate the FBI director.

Rosenstein said he was asked to attend a press conference about Comey’s firing, but he refused, telling a Justice Department spokeswoman that he “cannot participate in putting out a false story.”

A few days later, Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel, a decision that made Trump “angry, surprised, and frustrated,” according to Hope Hicks, one of the president’s closest aides.

DOJ: Trump Jr., McGahn Did Not Testify Before Grand Jury in Mueller Probe

Donald Trump Jr., via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department confirmed Sunday that former White House counsel Don McGahn and President Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., never testified before a federal grand jury during the Robert Mueller probe.

The details were revealed as part of an ongoing court battle between the House of Representatives and the Justice Department.

“Don McGahn did not testify before the grand jury. Indeed, none of the witnesses for whom the Committee requested FBI Interview Reports in Volume II of the Mueller Report, testified before the grand jury, with the exceptions of [redacted],” the DOJ notice states, The Hill reports. “Donald Trump, Jr. also did not testify before the grand jury.” ry

Details of why McGahn and Trump Jr. didn’t testify are still unclear. The Mueller report indicated Trump Jr. declined a voluntary interview.

McGahn agreed to private interviews, which played a major role in Mueller’s report.

Former FBI Director Returns to WilmerHale After Serving as Special Counsel in Russia Probe

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Robert Mueller, the former special counsel who investigated Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign, is rejoining the law firm WilmerHale.

Mueller was a partner at the firm since 2014, but stepped down in May 2017 while he began investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 special election.

Mueller will return to focusing on high-profile investigations and crisis management.

“We couldn’t be happier to have Bob, our extraordinary friend and colleague, return to WilmerHale,” Robert Novick, the firm’s co-managing partner, said in a news release. “Few lawyers have been entrusted with as many matters of national significance as Bob, in both his public service and in private practice. Bob embodies the highest values of our firm and profession. We’re privileged to work alongside him once again.”

Mueller said he’s happy to be back.

“I’m glad to be at WilmerHale once again, a firm with a tradition of honoring public service,” Mueller said. “It was an honor to serve as special counsel. Now, I look forward to resuming my private practice alongside the talented lawyers at the firm.”

Mueller served as FBI director for 12 years under two presidents. He began leading the fBI just one week before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Mueller Defends Special Counsel Investigation, Saying It Wasn’t ‘a Witch hunt’

Former special counsel Robert Mueller testifies before congress.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former special counsel Robert Mueller on Wednesday rejected repeated claims by President Trump that the investigation into Russia’s election interference was a witch hunt.

The defense of his investigation came during several hours of testimony before two congressional committees.

“Your investigation is not a witch hunt, is it?” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., asked.

“It is not a witch hunt,” Mueller responded.

During most of the hearings, Mueller stuck to his pledge to narrow his responses to his widely reported final report. But that didn’t mean the hearings were without new information.

Earlier in the day, Mueller suggested he did not pursue charges against Trump because of the Justice Department’s position that a sitting president can’t be indicted.

“And I’d like to ask you the reason, again, that you did not indict Donald Trump is because of OLC (DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel) opinion stating that you cannot indict a sitting president, correct,” Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., asked.

“That is correct,” Mueller said at 10:50 a.m.

But three hours later, Mueller corrected his earlier statement.

“Now, before we go to questions, I want to go back to one thing that was said this morning by Mr. Lieu who said, and I quote, ‘You didn’t charge the president because of the OLC opinion’,” Mueller said. “That is not the correct way to say it. As we say in the report, and as I said at the opening, we did not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime.”

During the hearing, Mueller emphasized that one of the most alarming discoveries was the breadth of Russia’s interference during the presidential election. In his opening statement, Mueller said the investigation found “sweeping and systematic” Russian interference during the 2016 election.

He repeated the report’s conclusion that there was not ample evidence that Trump’s election team colluded with Russia.

But, Mueller stressed, the report did not exonerate Trump on obstruction, contradicting the president’s insistence that the special counsel team concluded he did nothing wrong.

“Based on Justice Department policy and principles of fairness, we decided we would not make a determination as to whether the president committed a crime,” Mueller said. “That was our decision then and it remains our decision today.”