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Tag: Robert Mueller

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.”

Mueller Breaks Silence After 2-year Special Counsel Investigation

Special counsel Robert Mueller. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller made his first public statement on the Russia investigation Wednesday, saying the inquiry is officially closed and he’s retiring from the Justice Department.

“I have not spoken publicly during our investigation,” Mueller, a Republican, said. “I’m speaking out today because our investigation is complete.”

Mueller, who was appointed in May 2017 to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, reiterated his main findings, including insufficient evidence to prove Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.

Mueller also said he did not make a decision on whether Trump obstructed the investigation, citing a Justice Department law that prohibits the indictment of a sitting president. He said “charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.”

During the two-year investigation, numerous people were indicted and convicted of crimes.

Mueller said he had no plans on elaborating on the report he issued.

“I hope and expect that this will be the only time I will speak to you about this matter,” Mueller told reporters.

Democrats have wanted Mueller to testify about his findings.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said it’s time for Congress to “respond to the crimes, lies and other wrongdoing of President Trump – and we will do so.”

“No one, not even the President of the United States, is above the law,” Nadler tweeted.

Comey Blasts Trump for ‘Dumb Lies’ about FBI, Defends Bureau’s Handling of Case

Former FBI Director James Comey.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Director James Comey slammed President Trump as “a liar” for “ranting about treason and corruption at the FBI” and defended the bureau’s decision to investigate the Trump campaign.

In an op-ed published by the Washington Post, Comey denounced Trump’s claims as empty rhetoric and “dumb lies.”

“There was no corruption. There was no treason. There was no attempted coup,” Comey wrote. “Those are lies, and dumb lies at that.”

Comey said the “stubborn facts” are that seven weeks before the FBI discovered Russia was interfering in the presidential election in mid-June 2016, one of Trump’s key advisers told “an allied ambassador” that Russians had “dirt” on Clinton “in the form of thousands of emails.” In addition, the bureau learned “that the Russians could assist the Trump campaign through the animus release of information damaging to Clinton.”

“When we finally learned of it in late July, what should the FBI have done? Let it go? Go tell the Trump campaign? Tell the press? No. Investigate, to see what the facts were,” Comey wrote. “We didn’t know what was true. Maybe there was nothing to it, or maybe Americans were actively conspiring with the Russians. To find out, the FBI would live up to its name and investigate.”

And so the FBI did to investigate, “carefully, professionally and discreetly,” Comey wrote.

“If there was nothing to it, we didn’t want to smear Americans. If there was something to it, we didn’t want to let corrupt Americans know we were onto them. So, we kept it secret. That’s how the FBI approaches all counterintelligence cases.”

Comey said the FBI investigated “to see whether it was true that Americans associated with the campaign had taken the Russians up on any offer of help.”

“We didn’t gather information about the campaign’s strategy,” Comey wrote. “We didn’t ‘spy’ on anyone’s campaign.”

Comey denounced Trump’s campaign of illegal spying as a “conspiracy theory that makes no sense.”

But Comey didn’t make a case for not investigating the FBI’s role in the campaign because he said he’s confident “the work was done appropriately and focused only on discovering the truth of very serious allegations.”

Newly Unsealed Court Documents Reveal Suspicious Ties Between Cohen And Russian-Linked Firm

Michael Cohen, former attorney for President Trump.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer and so-called fixer Michael Cohen exchanged hundreds of phone calls and text messages with a Russian-linked firm beginning on Election Day in 2016, according to newly unsealed court documents obtained by several news outlets.

The FBI also discovered that Cohen, who is now serving a three-year prison sentence, received $500,000 for consulting work from Columbus Nova, which is connected to the influential Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. The company’s CEO Andrew Intrater introduced Cohen to Vekselberg. Vekselberg and Intrater are cousins and business associates.

After the FBI began investigating what appeared to be suspicious emails and bank transfers from Cohen’s accounts, special counsel Robert Mueller followed up with search warrants between July and November 2017 to determine whether the exchanges violated any laws, including wire fraud and money laundering.

The new records also reveal that Cohen received more than $280,000 from Trump since February 2017.

The revelations are important because they show how early Mueller and the FBI were aware of suspicious activity involving Cohen.

Roger Stone Mulls Lawsuit to Determine If He Was Under FBI Surveillance

Roger Stone on ABC’s “This Week.”

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Conservative provocateur Roger Stone is threatening to file a federal lawsuit to determine whether he was under FBI surveillance during the Trump campaign.

“We have strong reason to believe that Mr. Stone was among three advisors to candidate Trump who was under surveillance by the FBI during the 2016 presidential campaign,” Stone’s attorney Paul Jensen wrote in a May 20 letter to the federal government, The Hill reports.

Jensen’s assertion is based on a January 2017 story by The New York Times, which revealed that the FBI had been monitoring Donald Trump associates and the Russian government during the presidential election.

“Having exhausted our administrative remedies we are now contemplating a tort lawsuit as a means to force the government to disclose the facts in this serious matter and to determine if Mr. Stone’s 4th amendment rights were violated,” Jensen’s letter continued.

Stone, who was unable to substantiate his claims, has been charged with seven counts, including making false statements to Congress, obstruction a government investigation and tampering with a witness. He is awaiting trial.

Trump Jr. Reaches Deal to Testify Before Senate Intelligence Committee Again

Donald Trump Jr., via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump Jr. has reached an agreement with the Senate Intelligence Committee to testify before the panel in mid-June.

As part of the deal, Trump Jr.’s interview will be limited to four hours and will take place behind closed doors.

Trump Jr. is expected to be questioned about a proposed Trump Tower Moscow project and his involvement in a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer who promised “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

Some Democrats suspect Trump Jr. may have lied to congressional investigators when he said he never told his father about the June 2016 meeting. According to Robert Mueller’s report, Michael Cohen recalled Trump Jr. telling his father over the phone about a meeting to collect “adverse information” on Clinton.

It will be Trump Jr.’s second closed-door interview.

Report: Steve Bannon Urged FBI Officials in 2017 to Put ‘Differences’ with Trump Behind Them

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s decision to ask then-FBI Director James Comey to pledge loyalty to his presidency was one of the primary reasons special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed.

But it turns out, Trump wasn’t the only White House official to engage with the FBI as it investigated Russia’s role in the presidential election.

A day after Trump asked for Comey’s loyalty in April 2017, then-White House strategist Steve Bannon asked two top FBI officials to put their “differences” with Trump’s administration behind them, according to The Guardian, which cited “people familiar with the matter.”

Bannon’s discussion was with then-Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe and Bill Priestap, who was then serving as the bureau’s assistant director of counter-intelligence.

According to The Guardian, McCabe documented Bannon’s remarks in a memo obtained by Mueller’s team. Bannon also was questioned about the discussions.

But for reasons that remain unclear, Mueller’s final report never mentioned Bannon’s meetings with the top FBI officials.

Legal analysts said it “was highly unusual for a senior White House official to make such remarks to the FBI officials, especially at a time when the White House was facing scrutiny,” The Guardian reported.

Richard Painter, former White House ethics lawyer for George W. Bush, said the remarks were “reckless” because it could appear that Bannon was pressuring the FBI officials.

“This is the type of conduct that risks obstruction charges. You do not make public comments, you do not contact the FBI or anyone at the DoJ about a pending investigation, and the reason is that those types of contacts can be seen as obstruction of justice,” Painter said. “When you say ‘we are all on the same team’, well, what does that mean?”

How Democrats Plan to Continue Fight over Mueller Report And Defiant Trump Officials

Former special counsel Robert Mueller. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The fight over the Robert Mueller report is far from over.

After Democrats threatened to impose fines on Attorney General William Barr for refusing to turn over the full, unredacted report, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., expressed optimism that Mueller would testify before Congress.

“The American people have a right to hear what the man who did the investigation has to say and we now know we certainly can’t rely on the attorney general who misrepresented his conclusions,” the House Intelligence Committee chairman said on “This Week” Sunday. “So he is going to testify.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

Schiff also said Democrats are not backing down from imposing fines and holding contempt hearings against Trump officials who refuse to comply with congressional subpeonas.

“We’re are going have to use that device if necessary, we’re going to have to use the power of the purse if necessary,” he said. “We’re going to have to enforce our ability to do oversight.”

Also on Sunday, Schiff said he fears the country cannot “survive another four years” of Trump.

“I don’t think this country could survive another four years of a president like this, who gets up every day trying to find new and inventive ways to divide us,” the congressman cautioned. “He doesn’t seem to understand that a fundamental aspect of his job is to try to make us a more perfect union. But that’s not at all where he’s coming from.”