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Tag: Justice Department

Rod Rosenstein Plans to Step Down From Justice Next Month

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifying before a House committee in December 2017.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has weathered some pretty rocky times at the Justice Department,  is expected to step down in mid-March, CNN reports, citing a Justice Department official.

The official disputed any suggestion that the timing has something to do with the latest revelations from former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who claims that Rosenstein volunteered to wear a wire when meeting with President Trump.

CNN has reported that Attorney General Bill Barr has selected Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein.

Rod Rosenstein, Overseeing Russia Probe, Plans to Leave His Post

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifying before a House committee in December 2017.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who hired Robert Mueller to investigate Russian interference during the election, is preparing to leave his post.

The career prosecutor’s departure comes as the Senate prepares to confirm President Trump’s pick for attorney general, William Barr. The hearing is set to begin Jan. 15, and it could take a month or more before he is confirmed.

There are no signs that Rosenstein is being forced out by Trump, ABC reports.

Speculation mounted that Trump would fire Rosenstein in September after The New York Times reported the deputy AG considered secretly recording the president and invoking the Constitution’s 25th Amendment to remove him from office.

Trump has called the Mueller investigation a witch hunt, even as the special counsel secured convictions of some of the president’s former top aides.

Rosenstein had the authority to appoint a special counsel to investigate election interference because then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recused himself from any inquiries into Russia’s contacts with the Trump campaign team. Rosenstein appointed Mueller after Trump fired his FBI director, James Comey, who told lawmakers the president pressured him to stop investigating his national security director, Michael Flynn, who was later indicted.

 

Trump’s Pick for AG Has Long History of Defending Corporations, Telecommunications Companies

Trump’s attorney general pick, William Barr.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

William Barr, President Trump’s choice for attorney general, has a long history in the corporate world, often fighting the Justice Department that he could be leading for a second time.

Critics told The Wall Street Journal that Barr’s defense of large corporations and telecommunications companies for 25 years could create a bias as the top law enforcement official in the nation.

Barr, however, previously served as attorney general under President H.S. Bush and was known for being tough on crime.

Republicans scheduled Barr’s confirmation hearing for Jan. 15.

If confirmed, Barr would replace Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who has been criticized for refusing to step away from Robert Mueller’s investigation.

After Barr stopped serving as attorney general, he spent most of his time defending large companies, including telecommunications giant GTE.

DOJ Creates Department to Investigate FBI Officials Leaking Classified Information

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

So much classified information is being leaked from the FBI that the Justice Department created a new counterintelligence division to address the issue.

Records obtained by The Young Turks show the anti-leak department was created during the first year of President Trump’s administration.

“By law, the FBI is the lead federal agency responsible for the investigation of violations of the espionage laws of the United States,” reads the “Functions and Mission Statement” section of a document dated Nov. 10, 2017.

“The complicated nature of — and rapid growth in — unauthorized disclosure and media leak threats and investigations has necessitated the establishment of a new Unit,” the document reads.

State of Maryland Challenges Whitaker’s Appointment as AG

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s appointment of a loyalist, Matthew Whitaker, to replace ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions is facing a court challenge.

The state of Maryland plans to ask a federal judge Tuesday to declare that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should be the acting attorney general, not Whitaker, as a matter of law, the New York Times reports. 

In a draft filing, the state says Trump may not “bypass the constitutional and statutory requirements for appointing someone to that office.”

The request by Maryland is part of a lawsuit in which the state sued Sessions in his official capacity. Ellen L. Hollander, a 2010 Obama appointee to the Federal District Court for the District of Maryland, must identify Sessions’ successor as a defendant in the litigation.

A lot is at stake. The supervision of Robert Mueller as special counsel investigating Russia and Trump’s campaign and administration belongs to the head of the Justice Department, which is the acting attorney general.

Whitaker has long criticized Mueller’s position as illegal. Rosenstein, on the other hand, appointed Mueller in April 2017 to investigate Russia and the role Trump’s campaign played in election meddling.

Kelly Conway’s Husband: Hiring Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is Unconstitutional

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It might not come as a shock that some attorneys would conclude that the appointment of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is unconstitutional.

But it’s certainly a bigger deal when one of those lawyers speaking up is the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.

In an opinion piece in the New York Times, husband George T. Conway III, along with attorney Neal K. Katyal, write:

It means that Mr. Trump’s installation of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general of the United States after forcing the resignation of Jeff Sessions is unconstitutional. It’s illegal. And it means that anything Mr. Whitaker does, or tries to do, in that position is invalid.

Much of the commentary about Mr. Whitaker’s appointment has focused on all sorts of technical points about the Vacancies Reform Act and Justice Department succession statutes. But the flaw in the appointment of Mr. Whitaker, who was Mr. Sessions’s chief of staff at the Justice Department, runs much deeper. It defies one of the explicit checks and balances set out in the Constitution, a provision designed to protect us all against the centralization of government power.

If you don’t believe us, then take it from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, whom Mr. Trump once called his “favorite” sitting justice. Last year, the Supreme Court examined the question of whether the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board had been lawfully appointed to his job without Senate confirmation. The Supreme Court held the appointment invalid on a statutory ground.

Mueller Foes Urge Federal Court to End Special Counsel Probe of Russia, Trump

Special counsel Robert Mueller. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The legality of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia meddling and possible collision by Trump’s campaign is facing its most significant challenge since he was appointed in April 2017.

Lawyers for witness Andrew Miller, an associate of Trump’s longtime confidant Roger Stone, asked a federal appeals court on Thursday to end the investigation on the basis that it has no legal authority.

It’s the first challenge to Mueller’s authority that has reached a federal court of appeals.

Mueller’s job was made even more precarious this week when the president replaced Attorney General Jeff Sessions with Trump loyalist Matthew Whitaker, who could take over the special counsel investigation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Miller’s lawyer, Paul Kamenar, argued that Mueller’s power is excessive and outside the bounds of law because the special counsel position was created in regulation, not by a congressional statute.

“The special counsel does exercise extraordinary prosecutorial and governmental powers,” Kamenar told the judges, Politico reports. “He can bring indictments in multiple jurisdictions. He’s like a U.S. attorney at large.” 

Trump has long called the investigation a “witch hunt,” even as some of his allies have pleaded guilty to numerous charges and even have cooperated with federal prosecutors.

Mueller’s office has argued that a special counsel’s authority has long been upheld by both federal law and the courts have

Ex-FBI Attorney: Bureau, DOJ Were Not Joking about Removing Trump

Former top FBI attorney James Baker

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former FBI general counsel James Baker said discussions within the bureau about secretly recording President Trump in an effort to remove him from office was no joke.

Baker served in the leadership role in May 2017, when then-acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discussed the secret recordings.

Baker shared the information with Congress last week.

“As far as Baker was concerned, this was a real plan being discussed,” a source directly familiar with the congressional investigation told The Hill. “It was no laughing matter for the FBI.”

Rosenstein, who is scheduled to be interviewed behind closed doors on Thursday by House judiciary Committee members, has denied that the discussions were serious.