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Trump on Whether He Plans to Fire Mueller or Rosenstein: ‘They’re Still There’

President Trump, via the White House

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump wouldn’t say Wednesday whether he planned to fire special counsel Robert Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein but indicated he has cooperated with the probe.

When asked if he had “concluded it is not worth the political fallout” to fire his way out of the special counsel investigation, Trump responded by calling the probe a “hoax” and said neither he nor his campaign did anything wrong.

“They’ve been saying I’m going to get rid of them for the last three months, four months, five months, and they’re still here. We want to get the investigations over with, done with, behind us,” the president said at a joint press conference in Florida with the visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Earlier this month, when asked whether he had plans to fire Mueller, Trump responded, “I think it’s a disgrace what’s going on. We’ll see what happens. Many people have said you should fire him. Again, they found nothing. And in finding nothing, that’s a big statement.”

Democrats and some Republicans have pledged to impeach Trump if he fires Mueller.

Trump, Allies Fear Cohen May Flip on President Under Pressure

President Trump at the White House, via the White House.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump and his outside advisers are growing more concerned that Trump’s longtime attorney and loyal ally, Michael Cohen, may cooperate with federal prosecutors if he’s charged with a crime.

Two sources close to the president told Politico that White House officials are openly questioning whether Cohen would flip if he is facing jail time. 

“That’s what they’ll threaten him with: life imprisonment,” said Alan Dershowitz, a frequent Trump defender who met with the president and his staff at the White House last week. “They’re going to threaten him with a long prison term and try to turn him into a canary that sings.”

FBI agents raided Cohen’s office, home and hotel room, seizing computers, phones and documents, including correspondence with his clients.

Investigators are scrutinizing, among other things, a $130,000 payment that Cohen said he gave adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who claims she had an affair with Trump in 2006.

“When anybody is faced with spending a long time in jail, they start to re-evaluate their priorities, and cooperation can’t be ruled out,” said one Trump ally who knows Cohen.

Trump and his advisers are more fearful of the Cohen investigation that the special counsel one, the sources said.

Pittsburgh Orders Police to Prepare for Riot If Trump Fires Mueller

Pittsburgh police

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The Pittsburgh Police Department has ordered its officers to bring riot gear to work over fears that President Trump will soon fire special counsel Robert Mueller, sparking civil unrest.

Pittsburgh police sent an email to officers on Wednesday, warning that the department has “received information of a potential large protest in the Central Business District” and police should prepare for a riot “until further notice,” according to an internal email first obtained by WTAE-TV, the ABC station in Pittsburgh. 

“We have received information of a potential large scale protest in the Central Business District,” read the internal email from Victor Joseph, commander of major crimes.

“There is a belief that President Trump will soon move to fire Special Prosecutor Mueller,” the email continued. “This would result in a large protest within 24 hours of the firing. The protest would be semi-spontaneous and more than likely happen on short notice.”

He added, “We may be needed to assist in the event that there is a large scale protest.”

Trump has ramped up his criticism of Mueller, who is investigating the president and his campaign, prompting fears that he could soon fire the special counsel.

On Wednesday, Trump wouldn’t confirm reports that he planned to soon fire Mueller, but said his administration has been transparent and cooperative with the probe.

Ex-FBI Agent Pleads Guilt to Leaking Secrets to Media

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A former FBI agent has pleaded guilty to leaking confidential documents to a news organization, becoming the first federal employee convicted as part of the Justice Department’s crackdown on government leaks.

Terry James Albury, 39, who previously was a special agent in the Minneapolis division, faces up to 20 years in prison on two counts of retaining and disclosing defense information.

“As this prosecution demonstrates, we will not waiver in our commitment to pursue and hold accountable government officials who violate their obligations to protect our nation’s secrets,” Assistant Attorney General John Demers said in a statement.

Albury has said he was exposing “systemic biases” within the bureau when he allegedly gave a national reporter documents relating to assessing confidential informants and “threats posed by certain individuals from a particular Middle Eastern country,” according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

An outline of the charges doesn’t mention the reporter or the news organization, but the timing of the alleged leaks coincide with an Intercept story published on Jan. 31, 2017, that accuses the FBI of aggressively investigating people deemed to have valuable sources. 

Federal prosecutors said they will continue to aggressively pursue government leakers.

“Terry Albury betrayed the trust bestowed upon him by the United States,” U.S. Attorney Doherty-McCormick said in a statement.  “Today’s guilty plea should serve as a reminder to those who are entrusted with classified information that the Justice Department will hold them accountable.”

McConnell Shut Down Bi-Partisan Bill to Protect Mueller from Trump

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged to shoot down any legislation aimed at protecting special counsel Robert Mueller from being fired by President Trump.

McDonnell says the bill is a waste of time because he’s confident Trump won’t fire Mueller, whose investigation so far has landed indictments against 22 individuals and entities.

“I’m the one who decides what we take to the floor. That’s my responsibility as the Majority Leader, and we will not be having this on the floor of the U.S. Senate,” the defiant Republican said in an interview Tuesday on Fox News

A small band of Republicans has emerged to support a bill that would give a fired special counsel 10 days to request an expedited judicial review on whether the termination was for “good cause.” In fact, the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to have enough votes next week to pass the bill.

But McConnell emphatically said he would not hold a floor vote on the legislation. 

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Trump’s intentions are irrelevant because the protections are good policy to have on the books.

“I don’t think he’s going to fire Mueller, but I think institutionally it would be nice to have some protections,” Graham said Tuesday.

Trump has stepped up his attacks on the FBI, Justice Department and special counsel probe said the federal raid on his personal lawyer’s various properties, phones and computers. He also has hinted at firing Deputy Attorney General Andrew McCabe, who hired Mueller and oversees the special counsel investigation. 

The legislation would give any special counsel a 10-day window to seek expedited judicial review of a firing, and would put into law existing Justice Department regulations that require a firing to be for “good cause.”

Seething Trump Changes Mind about Mueller Interview After Raid of Personal Attorney

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump is so infuriated by the FBI’s seizure of records from his personal attorney that he has decided he won’t sit down for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller and instead is searching for a larger arsenal of attorneys.

Trump previously ignored the advice of his lawyers and pledged to sit down with Mueller, who is investigating whether the president’s campaign colluded with Russia or Trump obstructed justice. But that all changed on April 9, when FBI agents raided Michael Cohen’s office, home, hotel, computers and phones, the Washington Post reports.

The president’s lawyers are still willing to discuss an interview and are aware that Trump could change his mind – as he frequently does – but his legal team now believes a sit-down with Mueller is less likely.

The raid has concerned Trump that agents got their hands on sensitive correspondence between him and his attorney, and he believes the seizure was done in bad faith, two people familiar with the president’s frustration told the Post.

Meet the Little-Known Trump Official Who Could End the Mueller Probe

Solicitor General Noel Francisco

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The fate of the special counsel investigation that has cast a long shadow of the White House may ultimately fall into the hands of Solicitor General Noel Francisco, a little-known Trump appointee who happens to be no fan of the FBI or its former director, James Comey.

Many legal experts believe Trump lacks the authority to fire Rosenstein on his own, so the next quickest way to end the special counsel probe is to get someone else to do it.

If Trump fires Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller and is overseeing the investigation, the next in line to become Mueller’s boss is Francisco, who has a history of fighting to protect what he sees as broad executive privileges.

Like Trump, Francisco has claimed Comey, whom the president fired in May, is motivated by a political biased against Trump. That has raised concerns that Francisco would be more likely to follow orders to fire Mueller, whose 11-month investigation has landed indictments against more than 20 people and entities.

“I don’t think we know enough to be confident,” Eric Columbus, a former senior Obama Justice Department official, told Politico. “I doubt he would fire Mueller but could limit him, which has always been the greater concern.”

Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation, the removal of the deputy AG would give control of the Mueller investigation to the third-ranking Justice Department official, the associate attorney general, a job that has been vacant since Rachel Brand resigned from the position in February and has yet to be replaced.

Under Justice Department rules, Francisco, 48, is the next in line.

If Trump follows through, the move would be strikingly similar to President Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre in which he fired his attorney general and deputy attorney general for refusing to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox. The terminations left the decision up to Solicitor General Robert Bork, who fired Cox. A judge later ruled the termination was illegal.

 

As Trump Attacks, More Americans Are Losing Confidence in Mueller Probe

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The public’s confidence in special counsel Robert Mueller is dropping as President Trump and his allies step up their attacks against the probe, the FBI and the Justice Department.

Mueller’s favorability ratings fell 11 points over the past month, with 32% of Americans viewing the special counsel favorably, 30% holding an unfavorable view and 38% without an opinion, according to an NPR/PBS News Hour/Marist Poll

The poll shows Democrats and Republicans are deeply divided over the former FBI director appointed to investigate Russia and President Trump’s campaign. Mueller’s favorability among Democrats is at 56%, with 19% viewing him favorably and a quarter uncertain.

Nearly half of surveyed Republicans expressed an unfavorable view of Mueller favorability, a dramatic increase from 30% last month. About 16% of Republicans view Mueller favorably, and another 35% are undecided.

Independents are almost evenly divided, with 35% viewing Mueller favorably, 30% unfavorably and 34% are unsure.