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Tag: Justice Department

The #3 Spot in Justice Department Remains Open, and For Good Reason

Rachel Brand (Doj photo)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The number three position at the Justice Department remains vacant, and for good reason, writes New York Magazine:

The Trump administration can’t seem to fill it, probably because the president has made it clear there’s a good risk of becoming the next target of his ire.

As President Trump continues to denigrate Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Twitter, and his allies in Congress lay the groundwork for him to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the number-three position at Justice Department has been vacant since Rachel Brand stepped down in February. The official reason given for her departure was that she could not pass up the top legal position at Walmart, but NBC News reported that she told friends she felt “overwhelmed and unsupported” in the job, and feared she would be asked to oversee the Russia investigation.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Trump administration has put filling the associate attorney general position on the back burner after several candidates expressed similar concerns. Since Sessions has recused himself, if Rosenstein were to do the same oversight of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe would fall to the associate AG. In a Saturday Night Massacre situation, the number-three official could easily wind up as acting attorney general.

More Blurry Lines: John Kelly to Attend DOJ Briefings on Controversial Informant

President Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The lines continue to get blurred in the Trump era.

White House chief of staff John Kelly plans to attend two briefings at the Justice Department on Thursday about an FBI informant who interacted with the Trump campaign in the 2016 election.

Kelly’s presence comes despite previous White House assurances that no member of the president’s team would attend the Justice Department gathering, Politico notes.

It’s unclear if the briefings will include documents or details about the informant’s work for the FBI or whether they’ll cover the intelligence community’s reluctance to share the highly classified information with members of Congress, the publication writes.

 

Matthew Miller: Rod Rosenstein’s Decision Shows ‘The System is Failing’

Matthew Miller was director of the Justice Department’s public affairs office from 2009 to 2011.

By Matthew Miller
For the Washington Post

Rod Rosenstein

President Trump on Sunday launched his most direct attack on the Justice Department’s independence since he fired FBI Director James B. Comey, taking to Twitter to “hereby demand” that it open a counter-investigation of the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Trump’s demand crossed every institutional norm that has long safeguarded the Justice Department’s independence. The president was calling for an investigation into both political opponents from the former administration and career law enforcement agents, without evidence of wrongdoing, for the obvious purpose of undermining a criminal probe into his own conduct and that of his associates. Trump was clearly testing the limits of the system that constrains presidential interference with the Justice Department. And the response so far — including Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein’s decision to refer the matter to the department’s inspector general — shows that the system is failing.

There is no legitimate justification for asking the inspector general to investigate a hyped-up claim that the FBI inappropriately infiltrated the Trump campaign. Just as in February there was no legitimate justification for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in response to claims by House Republicans, asking the inspector general to investigate alleged — and debunked — abuses by the department in securing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant against former Trump aide Carter Page.

To read the full column click here.

Stefan A. Halper, the FBI Source at the Center of a Controversy

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s no longer a secret: Stefan A. Halper is the FBI source who assisted the Russia investigation, the Washington Post reports.  He’s at the center of a standoff between congressional Republicans and the Justice Department.

The Post describes him as a well-connected veteran of past GOP administrations who convened senior intelligence officials for seminars at the University of Cambridge in England. The Post goes on to write:

In the summer and fall of 2016, Halper, then an emeritus professor at Cambridge, contacted three Trump campaign advisers for brief talks and meetings that largely centered on foreign policy, The Washington Post reported last week.

At some point that year, he began working as a secret informant for the FBI as it investigated Russia’s interference in the campaign, according to multiple people familiar with his activities.

Justice Department Directs IG to Investigate Trump’s Claim of FBI Spying on HIs Campaign

President Trump, via White House

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Here’s the latest political storm in Washington.

The Justice Department on Monday directed, a the behest of President Donald Trump, the Inspector General to probe the president’s allegation that his campaign had been “infiltrated or surveilled” by the FBI, NBC News reports.

“The Department has asked the Inspector General to expand the ongoing review of the FISA application process to include determining whether there was any impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted its counterintelligence investigation of persons suspected of involvement with the Russian agents who interfered in the 2016 presidential election,” Department of Justice spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement.

As always, the Inspector General will consult with the appropriate U.S. Attorney if there is any evidence of potential criminal conduct,” she added.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein weighed in saying “if anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action.”

While some see this as legitimate, others see it as a tactic by the Trump camp to try to discredit the Robert Mueller investigation.

 

Sally Yates: Trump ‘Tearing Down the Legitimacy’ of the Justice Department

Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Sally Yates, the acting Attorney General fired by President Donald Trump last year, says the president’s caustic tweets aimed at Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and special counsel Robert Mueller are collectively “tearing down the legitimacy” of the Justice Department, Yahoo! News reports.

Yates, speaking at the 2018 Ideas Conference hosted by the Center for American Progress on Tuesday, urged the country not to ignore Trump’s attacks on the rule of law, Yahoo! News reports.

“What I worry about is the normalization of so much that is not normal,” said Yates.

“There is a time-honored tradition at the Department of Justice, at least since Watergate, that is nonpartisan,” Yates said. “There is a wall between the Department of Justice and the White House when it comes to criminal investigations and prosecutions.”

Trump has been hammering away at that wall so often and with such ferocity, she said, “nobody’s rolling their eyes anymore,” Yahoo! reports.

 

Trump Wants Justice Department to Go After Oakland Mayor For Tipping Off Residents About ICE Raids

Oakland’s Mayor Libby Schaaf (Facebook photo)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

California in particular has been bumping heads with President Donald Trump over immigration policy.

The latest: Trump wants the Department of Justice to investigate Oakland’s Mayor Libby Schaaf  for obstruction of justice after she warned constituents of upcoming raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents across northern California, Newsweek reports.

“I mean, you talk about obstruction of justice, I would recommend you look into obstruction of justice for the mayor of Oakland, California, Jeff,” Trump said, motioning to Sessions during a White House roundtable discussion with California elected officials and law enforcement officers.

“She informed them, and they all fled—or most of them fled—and that whole operation, that took a long time to put together,” Trump said.

 

Majority of Republicans Believe FBI, DOJ Are ‘Framing’ Trump

Special counsel Robert Mueller

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A majority of Republicans believe the FBI is conspiring to frame President Trump as part of the special counsel investigation into connections between his campaign and Russia, according to a new poll from YouGov released Wednesday

Participants were asked, “Do you believe Donald Trump is being framed by the FBI and the Department of Justice?”

The survey found that 61% of Republicans believe he is. Only 17% of Republicans think Trump is not being framed, while 21% are unsure.

Overall, though, only 29% of Americans believe the FBI and Justice Department are conspiring to frame the president.

The poll surveyed 1,500 American adults in early May.

The survey had a margin of error of 3%.

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