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Archive for June 14th, 2017

Sessions’ Explanation for Dodging Some Questions Raises Red Flags

AG Jeff Sessions testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.

AG Jeff Sessions testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Jeff Sessions often refused to answer questions from lawmakers on Tuesday, claiming that he does not have to disclose private deliberations involving the president.

But analysts are questioning whether Sessions’ use of executive privilege was appropriate and just an excuse to avoid answering tough questions.

For example, Sessions declined to say whether he was aware of the White House discussing future pardons if anyone in the Trump circle is charged with colluding with Russia to undermine the presidential election.

“You’re impeding this investigation by refusing to answer questions,” Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, told Sessions during the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing Tuesday. “I think your silence speaks volumes.”

Sessions acknowledged that Trump has not asserted executive privilege and that the attorney general has no authority to claim it.

“It’s my judgment that it would be inappropriate for me to answer and reveal private conversations with the president when he has not had a full opportunity to review the questions and to make a decision on whether or not to approve such an answer,” Sessions said.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Cornell Law School professor Jens David Ohlin said Sessions did not provide an adequate reason to refuse to answer questions. 

“His justification for refusing to answer the questions was completely incoherent. He claimed executive privilege but then denied that he had done so,” Ohlin said. “It made no sense whatsoever. He’s basically trying to have his cake and eat it, too: claim executive privilege but then pretend that he didn’t. His position has no basis in law, common sense, or logic.”

Congressional Democrats to Sue Trump over Foreign Payments to His Businesses

US CapitolBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Nearly 200 Democratic members of Congress are planning to file a federal lawsuit today accusing President Trump of violating the Constitution by accepting money from foreign governments for his business empire.

The suit alleges Trump violated the Foreign Emoluments Clause, who prohibits the president from accepting payments from foreign governments without congressional consent, the New York Times reports. 

At least 184 members of Congress have already signed the draft complaint, as of Tuesday evening.

Among the allegations is that Trump is profiting from foreign diplomats who stay in his hotels.

“The founders ensured that federal officeholders would not decide for themselves whether particular emoluments were likely to compromise their own independence or lead them to put personal interest over national interest,” the lawsuit states. “An officeholder, in short, should not be the sole judge of his own integrity.”

It is the third such lawsuit alleging that Trump is using his leadership position to profit from foreign governments.

Comey’s Friend Turns Over Ex-FBI Director’s Memos to Bureau

Former FBI Director James Comey testifies about President Trump before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Former FBI Director James Comey testifies about President Trump before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Director James Comey’s potentially explosive memos about his encounters with President Trump are now in the hands of the bureau.

Politico reports that Comey’s friend, Daniel Richman, a Columbia University law professor, turned over the records to the FBI, which is investigating alleged collusion between Trump’s inner circle and Russian officials to meddle in the presidential election. 

The FBI also is trying to determine whether Trump tried to obstruct justice by firing Comey after he refused to stop the Russia investigation.

Comey said he kept detailed memos of his murky conversations with Trump.

Those memos could become key evidence in the case against Trump. 

Trump Interviewed Mueller for FBI Director Job Before Special Counsel Appointment

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller.

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump met with former FBI Director Robert Mueller to ask if he’d want to become the bureau’s top boss again, just a day or two before Mueller was appointed special counsel over the investigation into Russia meddling with the presidential election.

The discussion between Trump and Mueller was revealed by Trump friend and Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy in an interview on PBS’ “NewsHour” Monday evening. 

Ruddy said the president “was looking at (Mueller) potentially to become the next FBI director. That hasn’t been published but it’s true.”

Mueller haws served 12 years as FBI director.

Now Ruddy and other Trump allies are saying Mueller shouldn’t have accepted the special counsel job because of his recent discussion with Trump.

Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed Tuesday that Trump interviewed Mueller for the top FBI job.

In Ruddy’s interview with PBS, he suggested the president should fire Mueller as special counsel.

Deputy AG: No Plans to Fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller

Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general.

Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The deputy U.S. attorney general assured Congress on Tuesday that special counsel Robert Mueller would have “the full degree of independence” to investigate allegations of Russia interfering in the presidential election.

“Director Mueller is going to have the full degree of independence that he needs to conduct that investigation appropriately,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, the Business Insider reports

Rosenstein’s assurance comes after Donald Trump’s friend suggested the president may fire Mueller.

But that power belongs to Rosenstein, who said he sees no good reason to fire Mueller.