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Tag: special counsel

Conservatives Try to Undermine Credibility of Special Counsel Robert Hur, Despite His GOP Background

Special Counsel Robert Hur

By Steve Neavling

Republicans are already attacking the credibility of the special counsel appointed to investigate classified documents found at President Biden’s home in Delaware and a think tank office in Washington D.C. 

But the attacks don’t add up. 

Robert Hur has a Republican background and was appointed to serve as U.S. attorney by former President Trump, MSNBC points out. Hur also clerked for late Supreme Court Justice William Rhenquist, a Federal Society conservative.

Hur also contributed to the campaigns of Republican candidates over the past 15 years. 

But that didn’t stop conservatives, like Kash Patel, a member of Trump’s inner circle, from characterizing Hur as “a swamp monster of the tier-one level.”

“He’s a government gangster,” Patel said during a conservative media appearance. “He’s now in charge of the continued crime-scene cover-up.”

Republicans also raised concerns that Hur previously worked as counsel for FBI Director Christopher Wray, who was appointed by Trump. 

“The Special Counsel that AG Merrick Garland just appointed is FBI Director Christopher Wray’s former assistant,” U.S. Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, tweeted. “They’re all in on it.”

Attorney Garland Merrick Garland appointed Hur to investigate the discovery of the classified documents last week.

Garland Appoints Special Counsel to Oversee Biden Document Probe

Special Counsel Robert Hur

By Steve Neavling

Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to investigate the discovery of classified documents at President Biden’s home in Delaware and a think tank office in Washington D.C. 

Robert Hur will oversee the probe after the White House confirmed that a second batch of classified documents were found in Biden’s garage and an adjacent room.

The documents were turned over to the National Archives. 

Hur’s role is to investigate “possible unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or other records,” the Justice Department said.  

In a prepared statement, Biden told reporters he plans to fully cooperate with the investigation, Reuters reports.

“As I said earlier this week, people know I take classified documents, classified material seriously. I also said we’re cooperating fully and completely with the Justice Department’s review,” Biden said.

In a statement, Hur said he will handle the investigation “with fair, impartial, and dispassionate judgment.” 

“I intend to follow the facts swiftly and thoroughly, without fear or favor, and will honor the trust placed in me to perform this service,” Hur said. 

Hur, who most recently was in private law practice in Washington, served as U.S. attorney in Maryland from 2018 to 2021. He also served as assistant U.S. attorney in Maryland from 2007 to 2014 and principal associate deputy attorney general from 2017 to 2018. 

In November, Garland named a special counsel, Jack Smith, to oversee the DOJ’s investigations of Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents. 

DOJ Seeks Mike Pence’s Testimony in Jan. 6 Criminal Investigation

Former Vice President Mike Pence

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department wants former Vice President Mike Pence to testify in the criminal investigation into Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. 

The request follows the appointment of a special counsel to oversee the inquiries involving Trump’s potential mishandling of national security documents and the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. 

Pence is considering the request, The New York Times reports.

But his testimony could be complicated if Trump tries to invoke executive privilege. 

Pence certified the election results on Jan. 6 and was the target of protesters who stormed the Capitol. 

Pence has said he disagrees with Trump’s attempts to hold onto power after losing the election. 

Justice Department Considers Appointing Special Counsel to Oversee Trump Investigations

Donald Trump, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department is discussing the possibility of appointing a special counsel to oversee the investigations of Donald Trump if he decides to run for president again, The New York Times reports.

The discussion comes as the Justice Department investigates Trump’s role in overturning the 2020 presidential election and his retention of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. 

While stumping for Republicans in Iowa on Thursday night Trump said he’s strongly considering running.

“In order to make our country successful and safe and glorious, I will very, very, very probably do it again,” Trump said. 

By appointing a special counsel, the Justice Department would have an easier time countering arguments that the investigation is a political witch hunt. 

If Attorney General Merrick Garland appoints a special counsel to handle the investigation of Trump, Garland would still have to decide whether to file charges. 

Garland “needs to have a lawyer with Republican pedigree on that team to send the message that this is not a political persecution,” John P. Fishwick Jr., who served as U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia from 2015 to 2017, told The New York Times

“This is the most important criminal case in our country’s history. Ultimately, every person in the United States will be the jury in this case, and they will need to have confidence that the prosecution team reflects all of them,” he said.

Jury Finds Clinton Campaign Lawyer Not Guilty of Lying to FBI

U.S. Attorney John Durham. Photo: DOJ

By Steve Neavling

Michael Sussman, a cybersecurity attorney who represented Hillary Clinton during the presidential election, was acquitted by a jury Tuesday of lying to the FBI. 

The jury’s decision represents a significant defeat for special counsel John Durham, who was investigating the origins of the federal investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. 

Sussmann was accused of lying to the FBI in September 2016 by falsely saying he was not representing Clinton’s campaign. At the time, Sussmann told the FBI that cybersecurity researchers were concerned about possible ties between Russia and the Trump organization. 

The false statement “deprived the FBI of information that might have permitted it to more fully assess and uncover the origins of the relevant data and technical analysis, including the identities and motivations of Sussmann’s clients,” the indictment stated. 

Sussman’s lawyers have long called the prosecution baseless and political. 

The jury took six hours to deliberate. 

After the trial, the jury’s forewoman said the Justice Department had a weak case. 

“Personally, I don’t think it should have been prosecuted,” the forewoman said, adding the government “could have spent our time more wisely,” The Washington Post reports.

Former Attorney General William Barr appointed Durham three years ago to investigation wrongdoing during the Russia-Trump investigation. 

Sussman thanked the jury. 

“I told the truth to the FBI,” he said. “Despite being falsely accused, I am relieved that justice ultimately prevailed in this case. As you can imagine, this has been a difficult year for my family and me. But right now, we are grateful for the love and support of so many during this ordeal, and I’m looking forward to getting back to the work that I love.”

Barr Slams Mueller’s ‘Heavy-Handed Criminal Investigation’ in forthcoming Memoir

Former Attorney General William Barr, via Justice Department.

By Steve Neavling

Former U.S. Attorney General William Barr in his forthcoming memoir criticizes the special counsel probe of Russia and former President Trump’s campaign, calling it a “heavy-handed criminal investigation.”

Barr’s book, “One Damn Thing After Another: Memoirs of an Attorney General,” takes aim at special counsel Robert Mueller, calling him “the wrong person to investigate it,” Yahoo News reports.

“But he never seemed to have stopped to examine whether there was an adequate basis for pursuing either a counterintelligence or criminal investigation,” Barr writes. 

According to an FBI agent, Barr says, “after Mueller came in, the office quickly developed a ‘Get Trump’ attitude and began with a preexisting conviction that there must be ‘something criminal.” 

Barr also slammed Mueller for staffing his office with Democrats. 

“The whole purpose of appointing Mueller was to assure the public that partisanship would not be involved in the investigation,” Barr wrote. “Mueller defeated the very purpose of his appointment. His staffing decisions engendered deep distrust in half the country. Based on later information about the way the investigation was conducted, those fears were not wholly unjustified.”

Barr said one “glaring omission” of Mueller’s investigation was failing to examine the credibility of Christopher Steele’s dossier. 

“Even though Mueller was supposed to investigate Russian efforts to interfere in the election, he never seemed to have explored the possibility that Steele’s dossier was used as a vector for Russian disinformation,” Barr wrote.

Near the end of the book, Barr describes Mueller’s “trembling” hands and “tremulous” voice, questioning whether Muller “might have an illness,” The New York Times reports.

Mueller Considered Charging Trump Jr. And Roger Stone But Found a Lack of Evidence

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

Special counsel Robert Mueller considered charging Donald Trump Jr. and GOP operative Roger Stone with crimes but ultimately declined, according to a newly unredacted version of the Mueller report. 

The new version of the report, obtained by BuzzFeed News, reveals new details about the report that produced multiple convictions against Trump associates.

Mueller opted not to charge Trump Jr. with a misdemeanor count of computer intrusion for using a password obtained from Wikileaks to access a website called “putintrump.org” before the 2016 election.  

Mueller also declined to charge Stone with crimes in connection to the hack of the Democratic National Committee. 

According to the report, Mueller said there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Trump Jr., who was able to gain access to the website. 

“Given that Trump Jr. did not himself initiate the plan to access the website or guess the password, the absence of evidence that his acts caused any damage to the website or obtained valuable information, the technical nature of the violation, and the minimal punishment that a misdemeanor conviction could be expected to carry in these circumstances, the Office decided against pursuing charges,” the report states. 

The evidence against Stone, who was pardoned by Trump after being found guilt of lying to congressional investigators and tampering with evidence, “was not sufficient” to warrant charges, according to the report. 

“The absence of evidence as to knowledge, in short, would both hinder the government’s ability to prove conspiracy liability and also potentially provide a First Amendment defense,” the report states. “Therefore, the Office did not seek charges against WikiLeaks, Assange, or Stone for participating in the computer-intrusion conspiracy.”

Update: Trump Pardons Michael Flynn

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling

Update: 5:12 p.m. Wednesday: As expected, President Trump pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

On late Wednesday afternoon he tweeted:

It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon. Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!


From Wednesday Morning

President Trump plans to pardon his former national security adviser Michael Flynn before leaving office, according to Axios and The New York Times

Flynn, 61-year-old retired lieutenant general, is among a number of people that Trump plans to pardon before his team ends, sources told the news outlets. 

Flynn is Trump’s first national security advisor and also was the target of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia. But he later fired his attorneys and asked to withdraw his guilty plea, claiming he was entrapped by the FBI and Justice Department. 

Attorney General William Barr, who has intervened in cases involving the president’s allies, has asked Judge Emmet Sullivan to dismiss the case in May. Sullivan has not made a decision

In April, weeks before the Justice Department intervened, Trump tweeted, “What happened to General Michael Flynn, a war hero, should never be allowed to happen to a citizen of the United States again!”

When asked about a potential pardon of Flynn in July, Trump said “I don’t have a decision to make” about a potential pardon for Flynn “until I find out what’s going to happen” with Flynn’s attempt to get his conviction tossed.

“I think he’s doing very well with respect to his case,” Trump told reporters at the time. “I hope that he’s going to be able to win it.”