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Tag: obstruction of justice

Mueller Team Could Produce Indictments Addressing Collusion By Fall, Bloomberg News Reports

Special counsel Robert Mueller. Photo via FBI.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Do folks in the Trump camp need to keep worrying about the Robert Mueller probe?

Bloomberg News, citing a “person familiar with the probe,” reports that Mueller is preparing to accelerate his probe into possible collusion between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russians in the 2016 election.

The source tells Bloomberg that the Mueller team hopes to possibly produce indictments related to collusion by fall.  Mueller, the source says, hopes to soon turn his full attention to the issue, including whether  Trump obstructed justice.

 

Bi-Partisan Group to Craft Legislation to Protect Mueller

Special counsel Robert Mueller. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s suggestion that he may fire Robert Mueller has prompted a bipartisan group to craft legislation that is expected to be introduced Wednesday that would protect the special counsel’s job.

The bill, crafted by Republican Sens Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Democratic Sens. Chris Coons of Delaware and Cory Booker of New Jersey, would give any special counsel 10 days to seek an expired judicial review if he or she is fired, CBS News and the Associated Press

The two Republicans introduced seminary bills in August, but the legislation went nowhere because the lawmakers said they didn’t believe Trump would move to fire Mueller. But that has changed since Trump’s latest tirade over the FBI’s raid of the president’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen.

The legislation calls for an expedited review to determine whether there was good cause to fire the special counsel. In addition, records from the investigation would be preserved.

But moving the bill through the House and Senate would be difficult because Republicans control both legislative bodies and many have indicated they are confident Trump won’t move to fire Mueller.

“I don’t think he’s going to be removed,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “I think he’ll be allowed to finish his job.”

Nevertheless, some Republicans warned that firing Mueller would lead to consequences for Trump.

“There would be serious repercussions,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. “I’ve shared with the president what a massive mistake it would be for him to do this. I’ve done that in person.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, added Tuesday on Fox Business News: “It would be suicide for the president to want to talk about firing Mueller. The less the president said on this whole thing, the better off he would be, the stronger his presidency would be.”

Obstruction Case Against Trump Strengthens After He Asked Witnesses about Interviews

Donald Trump, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump questioned two key witnesses in the special counsel probe about discussions they had with investigators, ignoring his attorneys’ advice to avoid conversations that could be considered obstruction of justice.

The New York Times reports that special counsel Robert Mueller is aware of the conversations as his team investigates growing evidence that Trump interfered in the  Russia probe.

One of those conversations was with White House counsel Don McGhan, whom Trump reportedly urged to issue a statement denying the president had asked him to  order Mueller’s dismissal. But McGhan pressed back and reminded Trump that he had asked him to order Mueller’s termination.

In another conversation, Trump grilled his former chief of staff, Reince Priebus, about his interview with Mueller’s team.

Those conversations were revealed to Mueller in interviews with witnesses who considered the interactions as troublesome.

The interactions are likely to be used as further evidence that the president obstructed justice – an allegation first leveled against Trump after he fired then-FBI Director James Comey.

Fired FBI Director Comey to Break Silence in Televised Interview

Former FBI Director James Comey.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Director James Comey, whom President Trump fired over “this Russian thing,” plans to break his silence in his first televised interview since his termination last year.

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos will interview Comey for a special “20/20” segment on April 15.

The former FBI boss wrote a book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies & Leadership,” that will be published earlier than planned – April 17 – because of the relevance of the topics, the publisher said.

Trump initially said he fired Comey on May 9 because of the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton investigation in the lead-up to the election. But the president later admitted he terminated Comey because of “this Russian thing,” referring to conclusions by numerous U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the election.

Just eight days later, the Justice Department appointed Mueller, a former FBI director, to investigate Russia’s election meddling.

In testimony before lawmakers, Comey suggested he was fired after refusing Trump’s request to drop an investigation into a former campaign aide.

Comey served as the FBI director from 2013 to 2017.

Mueller’s Potential Obstruction of Justice Case Against Trump Hones in on Fiery Relationship with AG Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies before the House Judiciary Committee in November 2017.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump’s public humiliation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions has caught the attention of the special counsel team investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether the president obstructed justice.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is honing in on a period of time last summer when Trump reportedly met privately with his advisers to discuss replacing Sessions, whose recusal from the Russian probe has infuriated the president. To some in Trump’s inner circle, removing Sessions would make it easier to fire Mueller III, whose fate ultimately is determined by the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The authority to fire Rosenstein, a move that could help the president fire Mueller, belongs to Sessions, not Trump. 

Trump has publicly berated Sessions for recusing himself. If Sessions quit, Trump could replace him with someone willing to fire Mueller, who so far has gained indictments against four former Trump aides, a prominent attorney, 13 Russians and three Russian groups.

As Mueller builds an obstruction of justice case against the president, prosecutors are especially interested in the discussions between Trump and others about removing Sessions – a move that could be seen as an attempt to intervene in the probe, the Washington Post reported

Mueller’s team has questioned witnesses in recent months about those discussions and Trump’s state of mind in late July and early August of last year. Around the same time, Trump belittled Sessions on Twitter, calling him a “beleaguered” attorney general.

Hours before the Washington Post broke the story Wednesday about Mueller’s interest in any attempts to remove Sessions, Trump lashed out at the attorney general again on Twitter over the handling of Republican claims of misconduct in the FBI: “Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!”

A little over a week ago, Trump blasted Sessions again over the president’s calls for an investigation into the Obama administration. 

Mueller was appointed on May 17, 2017, to investigate Russian interference in the election. Eight days earlier, Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey, who told Congress he rebuffed the president’s request to drop an investigation of his former campaign aide and national security adviser Michael Flynn, who has since been indicted on charges tied to the Mueller investigation.

Since then, Mueller’s team has been investigating whether the president obstructed justice by firing Comey for failing to stop a federal investigation.

On Wednesday, Sessions responded to Trump’s criticisms about the Justice Department’s handling of Republican allegations that the FBI and DOJ inappropriately obtained a surveillance warrant for Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aide who was suspected of being a Russian operative.

In an unusual public statement, Sessions responded, “We have initiated the appropriate process that will ensure complaints against this Department will be fully and fairly acted upon if necessary. As long as I am the Attorney General, I will continue to discharge my duties with integrity and honor, and this Department will continue to do its work in a fair and impartial manner according to the law and Constitution.”

Trump’s Attorneys Explore Ways to Limit President’s Testimony in Mueller Probe

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump’s lawyers, who have been exploring legal routes to prevent the president from testifying in the special counsel investigation, are willing to consider a sit-down interview if the questions are “limited in scope.”

The president’s lawyers are considering whether to give Trump the green light to testify on conditions that the questions “don’t test his recollections in ways that amount to a potential perjury trap,” a source close to Trump’s legal team told the Wall Street Journal

For now, Trump’s lawyers are exploring all options for Trump’s testimony before Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the president obstructed justice and if his campaign team colluded with Russia to undermine the presidential election.

“Everything is on the table,” the source said.

Those options include providing written responses and limited verbal testimony.

Trump initially boasted that he would testify, but his lawyers strongly discouraged an interview, fearing the president would lie and perjure himself.

Mueller’s team repeatedly wants to question Trump’s decisions to fire then-FBI Director James Comey and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who has been indicted in the probe.

Attorneys in Trump-Russia Probe Believe Mueller Could Indict Trump

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

At least two lawyers representing key Donald Trump associates believe special counsel Robert Mueller may be leading the probe to a historic first – indicting a sitting president.

Legal experts have debated whether Robert Mueller has the authority to bring criminal charges against Trump, who has repeatedly been accused of obstructing justice by interfering with the investigation and those overseeing it.

But two attorneys whose clients were targeted by the widening investigation told Politico they believe Mueller may indict the president of obstruction of Justice. 

The lawyers emphasized they’re unaware of specific plans to charge Trump, but based on their legal experience, they think an obstruction of justice case wend its way through criminal court.

“If I were a betting man, I’d bet against the president,” one of the lawyers told the publication.

Even though the legal standards for indicting a president are limited, a second lawyer representing a senior Trump official said Mueller could show how seriously he’s taking the case with an indictment against the sitting president, which has ever happened in the U.S.

“It’s entirely possible that Mueller may go that route on the theory that, as an open question, it should be for the courts to decide,” the lawyer told Politico.

“Even if the indictment is dismissed, it puts maximum pressure on Congress to treat this with the independence and intellectual honesty that it will never, ever get,” the lawyer continued.

Other lawyers are skeptical that Mueller can bring charges to Trump because it likely would create major constitutional questions.

A boastful and confident Trump said last week he wanted to sit down for a face-to-face interview with Mueller’s team, but his attorneys quickly tried to prevent that encounter from happening.

Trump aides have privately expressed fears that Trump, who is often loose with the facts to fit his narratives, will perjure himself under pressure.

The special counsel investigation has so far produced indictments against four former Trump associates, two of whom have agreed to plead guilty in exchange for helping prosecutors with the case.

Trump Blasts Leadership of FBI, DOJ Today As He Plans to Release Ahead Politically Divisive Memo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump blasted “the top leadership and investigators” of the FBI and Justice Department this morning, just hours before he is expected to publicly release a secret, much-disputed memo that alleges the two agencies abused their power to spy on one of the president former aides during the 2016 presidential election.

”The top Leadership and Investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department have politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans – something which would have been unthinkable just a short time ago. Rank & File are great people!” Trump tweeted early Friday. 

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines Monday to approve the release of the memo written by GOP staff over the objections of the Justice Department, which warned the document’s disclosure would be “extraordinarily reckless.” In a rare move Wednesday, the president’s FBI expressed “grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”   

Democrats argue the unprecedented release of confidential material by Republicans is a part of a misleading and desperate effort to undermine the special counsel investigation of Trump, his former and current aides and Russian officials who interfered with the U.S. election.

Even Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan warned GOP members to resist exaggerating the memo’s findings and not to use it to undermine the Robert Mueller investigation, which so far has indicted four former Trump aides.

But it appears, especially from Trump’s tweet this morning, that the president and his allies plan to weaponize the politically divisive memo as part of a larger campaign to erode trust in the intelligence agencies overseeing the Mueller probe, which now is focusing on whether the president obstructed justice by trying to fire or silence top members of the FBI and Justice Department.

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