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Tag: obstruction of justice

Mueller Defends Special Counsel Investigation, Saying It Wasn’t ‘a Witch hunt’

Former special counsel Robert Mueller testifies before congress.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former special counsel Robert Mueller on Wednesday rejected repeated claims by President Trump that the investigation into Russia’s election interference was a witch hunt.

The defense of his investigation came during several hours of testimony before two congressional committees.

“Your investigation is not a witch hunt, is it?” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., asked.

“It is not a witch hunt,” Mueller responded.

During most of the hearings, Mueller stuck to his pledge to narrow his responses to his widely reported final report. But that didn’t mean the hearings were without new information.

Earlier in the day, Mueller suggested he did not pursue charges against Trump because of the Justice Department’s position that a sitting president can’t be indicted.

“And I’d like to ask you the reason, again, that you did not indict Donald Trump is because of OLC (DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel) opinion stating that you cannot indict a sitting president, correct,” Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., asked.

“That is correct,” Mueller said at 10:50 a.m.

But three hours later, Mueller corrected his earlier statement.

“Now, before we go to questions, I want to go back to one thing that was said this morning by Mr. Lieu who said, and I quote, ‘You didn’t charge the president because of the OLC opinion’,” Mueller said. “That is not the correct way to say it. As we say in the report, and as I said at the opening, we did not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime.”

During the hearing, Mueller emphasized that one of the most alarming discoveries was the breadth of Russia’s interference during the presidential election. In his opening statement, Mueller said the investigation found “sweeping and systematic” Russian interference during the 2016 election.

He repeated the report’s conclusion that there was not ample evidence that Trump’s election team colluded with Russia.

But, Mueller stressed, the report did not exonerate Trump on obstruction, contradicting the president’s insistence that the special counsel team concluded he did nothing wrong.

“Based on Justice Department policy and principles of fairness, we decided we would not make a determination as to whether the president committed a crime,” Mueller said. “That was our decision then and it remains our decision today.”

How to Watch Mueller’s Long-Awaited Testimony Before Congress

Robert S. Mueller III testifies before Congress.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s long-awaited testimony before Congress begins Wednesday morning and includes two separate hearings.

Mueller’s first appearance begins at 8:30 a.m. in front of the House Judiciary Committee. That will be followed by another two hours before the House Intelligence Committee.

Mueller will be accompanied by Aaron Zebley, a longtime aide granted permission to assist Mueller with questions.

Most major broadcast networks will carry the hearings live. Even Fox News, despite earlier reports, will be airing the testimony. Also covering the hearings are C-SPAN, CNN, and MSNBC, both on television and online.

Mueller will be given a 30-minute break after the three-hour House Judiciary Committee meeting that begins at 8:30 a.m.

As predicted, President Trump called the hearings “a rigged Witch Hunt.”

What to Expect from Mueller’s Testimony Before Congress This Week

Special counsel Robert Mueller Mueller.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Robert Mueller, the special counsel who investigated Russian election interference, will testify before two U.S. House committees on Wednesday.

Mueller reluctantly agreed to testify after Democrats issued a subpoena.

So what should Americans expect?

Democrats are hoping Mueller’s testimony will provide new and compelling evidence against Trump. Republicans plan to excoriate Mueller over what they consider FBI bias against the president.

If history is any indication, Mueller will be factual, dispassionate and nonpartisan.

Mueller has already said that everything he knows about the investigation is inside his 448-page report. So it’s unlikely Democrats will get dramatic, new testimony.

Mueller has repeatedly said he found no evidence that Trump colluded with Russia. But Mueller’s report makes clear that Trump may have obstructed justice and that the special counsel did not pursue charges against the president because of the Justice Department’s position that sitting presidents cannot be indicted.

On Sunday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said on Face the Nation that he plans make clear to Americans that there’s “a pretty damning set of facts that involve a presidential campaign in a close race welcoming help from a hostile foreign power.”

“Who better to bring them to life than the man who did the investigation himself?” Schiff asked.

Reluctant Mueller to Testify Before House Committees; Trump Declares ‘Presidential Harassment’

Special counsel Robert Mueller. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former special counsel Robert Mueller has reluctantly agreed to testify in open session before Congress on July 17.

Mueller will appear before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees after being issued a subpoena to discuss the Russia investigation.

Mueller undoubtedly will be questioned about evidence that President Trump obstructed justice. In his final report, Mueller documented 10 instances of Trump trying to thwart the investigation. But Mueller did not conclude whether the president’s actions amounted to a crime, citing a Justice Department policy preventing the indictment of a sitting president.

The decision to press forward belongs to Congress.

Last month, Mueller insisted he would not testify.

“Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report,” Mueller said on May 29. “It contains our findings and analysis, and the reasons for the decisions we made. We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself. The report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress.”

In a letter to Mueller on Tuesday, Reps. Jarrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the committees, addressed the special counsel’s reluctance to testify.

“The American public deserves to hear directly from you about your investigation and conclusions,” the chairmen wrote. “We will work with you to address legitimate concerns about preserving the integrity of your work, but we expect that you will appear before our committees as scheduled.”

After the announcement of Mueller’s plans to testify, Trump tweeted, “Presidential Harassment.”

The hearings could accelerate impeachment proceedings in the House.

Comic Publisher to Transform Mueller Report into a Graphic Novel

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

It’s not easy getting Americans to read Robert Mueller’s dense, 450-page report.

A San Diego-based comic publisher may have found a way to make it more digestible – turning the dense report into a graphic novel half its size.

IDW Publishing is planning to publish an illustrated version of the report, which is the result of a two-year investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Spoiler alert: Mueller does not exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice.

Shannon Wheeler, an award-winning New Yorker cartoonist, is drawing the illustrations. The graphic novel is being written by veteran journalist Steve Duin.

IDW Publishing brands the graphic novel as “a comprehensive, understandable, and readable graphic novel version of the book every patriot needs.”

“Shannon and Steve have done an incredible job taking the rotten ingredients catalogued by Robert Mueller and turning them into a delicious satirical feast,” the book’s editor, Justin Eisinger, said. “It’s funny. It’s maddening. But it’s a great resource for anyone that wants to be informed about the findings of the most important law enforcement document created in our lifetime.”

Here’s how the publisher describes the book:

See Trump berate his Attorney General. Watch a petulant Commander-in-Chief lob insults at the White House counsel. Witness the “witch hunt” as it happened, cataloged as only the top lawman in the country could!

This staggering laundry list of questionable contacts, misleading statements, unreported engagements, and possible coordination — enough to stun any student of the U.S. Constitution — is laid bare with a cold, satirical edge.

You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You may Tweet in anger. But most importantly, you will be reading the report for yourself!

AG Barr: Mueller ‘Could’ve Reached a Decision’ on Whether Trump Obstructed Justice

AG William Barr speaks with CBS News.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Even though Robert Mueller said a Justice Department policy prevents charging a sitting president, Attorney General William Barr said the former special counsel could have declared whether President Trump broke the law.

In a CBS interview aired Thursday evening, Barr said nothing stopped Mueller from deciding whether Trump obstructed justice.

“I personally felt he could’ve reached a decision,” Barr said. “He could’ve reached a conclusion.”

Barr made the comments a day after Mueller spoke publicly for the first time since the two-year special counsel investigation began in 2017. Democrats in Congress believed Mueller had suggested during the press conference that Congress should investigate the special counsel’s findings.

Barr said he wasn’t so sure that’s what Mueller was saying.

“I’m not sure what he was suggesting, but the Justice Department doesn’t use our powers to investigate crimes as an adjunct to Congress,” Barr said.
Mueller said he didn’t reach a conclusion on whether the president obstructed justice because “a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office.”

FBI Translator Arrested on Charges of Lying to Investigators about Terrorism Probe

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A translator working for the FBI has been arrested on charges of lying to investigators about having contact with a suspect in a terrorism investigation.

Abdirizak Jaji Raghe Wehelie, 66, of Burke, Virginia, was arrested Saturday and charged with obstructing an investigation and making false statements to the FBI, the Justice Department wrote in a news release.

The Justice Department  accused Wehelie of having a personal relationship with a terrorism suspect, who had left a voicemail on Wehelie’s phone. When Wehelie translated the call, he failed to disclose the connection or reveal that it was his phone that the suspect had called.

The terrorism suspect’s phone was under court-ordered surveillance.

According to federal prosecutors, Wehelie later disclosed that he had been friends with the suspect for years.

Wehelie faces up to 25 years in prison.

Updated: Trump Directed Cohen to Obstruct Probe by Lying to Congress about Trump Tower in Russia

Michael Cohen, former attorney for President Trump.

Update: 1:11 p.m. Saturday — The Office of the Special Counsel disputed the BuzzFeed report, and issued the following statement:

“BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the special counsel’s office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony are not accurate,” said Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller.

BuzzFeed responded by saying that it stands by its story and asked the Office of Special Counsel to clarify what in its report is inaccurate.

_________________________

Report from Friday.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump told his long-time attorney and fixer Michael Cohen lie to Congress about plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to a bombshell report by BuzzFeed.

If true, Trump and his attorneys would have a hard time arguing the president didn’t attempt to obstruct justice.

But it gets worse for Trump. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has learned that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress “through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents,” BuzzFeed reports, citing two federal law enforcement sources involved in the investigation of what happened during and after the 2016 presidential election.    

It’s likely the most damning public finding yet against the president, who continues to insist the Mueller investigation is a “witch hunt.”

While Trump repeatedly told the public he had no business projects in Russia, he supported a plan for Cohen to visit the country during the presidential campaign and even personally meet with President Putin to get the Trump Tower moving, according to the sources.

“Make it happen,” Trump allegedly told Cohen.

According to BuzzFeed sources, Cohen received help preparing his testimony from attorneys close to the administration. Whether the attorneys knew Cohen planned to lie wasn’t not immediately clear.

After his testimony, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress.