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Tag: Rod Rosenstein

Read: 37-Page Indictment of Russians Interfering with U.S. Elections

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

The Justice Department on Friday announced the indictments of 13 Russians and three Russian groups accused of waging a sophisticated, covert propaganda campaign to help get Donald Trump elected.

Special counsel Robert Mueller unveiled the 37-page indictment, which you can read here. 

Special counsel Robert Mueller

The indictment alleges the Russians stole the identities of Americans, spread falsehoods on social media, staged political rallies and exploited flashpoint issues, such as race, immigration and religion, to sow divisions.

“The indictment alleges that the Russian conspirators want to promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy,” Rod  Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general overseeing the investigation, said in a brief news conference announcing the charges. “We must not allow them to succeed.”

The indictment amounted to a detailed rebuttal of President Trump’s claims that Russian interference was a “hoax” peddled by the “fake news.”

Top DOJ Official Steps Down to Avoid Prospect of Overseeing Special Counsel Probe

Rachel Brand is stepping down as third in command.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Fearing she would be tapped to oversee the special counsel investigation of Donald Trump and Russia, the Justice Department’s third in command decided to step down and avoid the president’s escalating attacks on the DOJ and other federal law enforcement agencies.

Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, who is taking a job as an executive at Walmart, was already frustrated with mounting, unfilled vacancies under the Trump administration, according to multiple people close to Brand, NBC News reports

Since Brand was next in line to oversee the widening special investigation, she became increasingly worried when President Trump began publicly criticizing the DOJ’s second in command, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

In May, Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether the Kremlin had any ties with Trump’s campaign. Since then, Rosenstein has been the target of Trump’s relentless criticism in what has become a campaign to undermine confidence in the department overseeing the investigation.

While announcing her departure, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from the Russia investigation, called Brand a “lawyer’s lawyer.”

Brand said in a statement, “I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish over my time here.”

As Trump Escalates ‘Witch Hunt’ Rhetoric, No. 3 at Justice Department Steps Down

Rachel Brand is stepping down as third in command.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Rachel L. Brand, the third in command at the Justice Department and the first woman to serve as associate attorney general, plans to step down after nine months on the job as President Trump and his allies escalate their criticism of the nation’s top law enforcement agencies.

Brand was in the difficult position of being next in line for deputy attorney general, a post held by Rod Rosenstein, who appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to oversee the Trump and Russia investigation. Rosenstein has been a frequent target of attacks by the president and his allies because he is overseeing what Trump has repeatedly called a “witch hunt.”

Democrats and others who support the investigation are worried Rosenstein will be replaced with a Trump ally who is willing to fire Mueller.

Brand, worked in appointed posts in the past three presidential administrations, will soon begin working in a top level position at Wal-Mart, the New York Times reports

FBI Agents Association Issues Statement in Support of Director Christopher Wray

Christopher Wray (File photo)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI Agents Association issued a statement Thursday showing support for FBI Director Christopher Wray who has expressed concerns about Congress releasing a classified memo written by Republican staffers for Rep. Devin Nunes.

“The FBI Agents Association appreciates FBI Director Chris Wray standing shoulder to shoulder with the men and women of the FBI as we work together to protect our country from criminal and national security threats,” said the associations president, FBI agent Thomas O’Connor. “As Director Wray noted, FBI Special Agents have remained steadfast in their dedication to professionalism, and we remain focused on our important work to protect the country from terrorists and criminals—both domestic and international. Special Agents take a solemn oath to our country and to the Constitution, and the American public continues to be well-served by the world’s preeminent law enforcement agency.”

Senior White House officials and advisers say that President Trump wants the document published because he sees it as key to making changes at the Justice Department, particularly pushing out Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, the Washington Post reports.

 

Trump Asked Mueller’s Boss If He Was ‘On My Team’

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, via Justice Department.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump asked the top Justice Department official overseeing the special counsel investigation whether he was “on my team” during a December meeting at the White House, according to CNN

The candid question to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein came in the midst of an obstruction of justice investigation that began when the president fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017 for allegedly refusing to pledge “loyalty” to the president by dropping an investigation of a former Trump aide who has since been indicted.

During the White House meeting, Trump also asked about the direction of the investigation, according to sources familiar with the meeting.

Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller in May to launch an investigation into the possibility of collusion between the Trump administration and Russia to undermine the presidential election in 2016. Rosenstein is in charge of overseeing the investigation because his boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, recused himself because he met with Russian officials while supporting Trump during the campaign.

A few days after the encounter  between Trump and Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general testified before a House committee that he saw no good reason to fire Mueller.

Sources told CNN in January that Trump was furious with Rosenstein and griped about wanting him removed. 

Trump Lobbied AG Sessions Not to Recuse Himself from Russia Probe

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before Congress about contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump instructed his White House attorney to urge Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s Russia investigation.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the probe into alleged collusion between Russia and Trump’s campaign, is aware of the president’s instructions to White House lawyer Donald F. McGahn, the New York Times and Associated Press report

The pair had a discussion just before Sessions announced he was stepping aside because of conflict-of-interest concerns, leaving the issue to his deputy, Rod Rosenstein.

About two months later, in May, Trump fired his FBI director James Comey, who claimed the president pressured him to drop the investigation. That prompted Rosenstein to appoint Mueller to lead the probe, following mounting allegations that Trump was trying to obstruct justice.

News that the president tried to prevent his attorney general from recusing himself raises more questions about whether Trump was trying to influence the election.

Manafort Sues DOJ, Claims Special Counsel Probe Exceeded Authority

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, filed suit against the Justice Department, arguing the special counsel investigation has exceeded its authority by indicated him on charges unrelated to the presidential campaign. 

Manafort, who also sued Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, said his indictment on conspiracy and money laundering charges are unrelated to whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to undermine the presidential election.

Therefore, Manafort alleges in the suit. Mueller does not authorize the special counsel “carte blanche to investigate and pursue criminal charges in connection with anything he stumbles across while investigating, no matter how remote.” 

Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general.

Rosenstein appointed Mueller in May to investigate allegations that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.

Manafort and his former campaign aide Rick Gates were charged in October and originally placed on house arrest.

Rosenstein’s lawsuit seeks to stop Mueller from investigating issues that are unrelated to Russian and alleged collusion.

“Mr. Mueller’s investigation of Mr. Manafort has extended far beyond links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” the lawsuit states. “The investigation has focused on Mr. Manafort’s offshore business dealings that date back to as early as 2005—about a decade before the Trump presidential campaign launched—and have been known to the United States government for many years.”

The Justice Department dismissed the lawsuit as “frivolous.”

“But the defendant is entitled to file whatever he wants,” the Justice statement said, USA Today reports

Legal Expert: Why Trump Won’t Be Able to Stop Mueller Probe

President Trump, via White House.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Fears that President Trump will orchestrate the termination of special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating whether the Republican’s campaign colluded with Russia, are likely overblown, argues Jack Goldsmith, co-founder of Lawfare and Harvard Law School professor.

I believe that what we learned in 2017 should give us confidence in 2018 that Trump will not be able to terminate the Mueller investigation,” Goldsmith wrote

Goldsmith points out that the Justice Department “took the proper steps despite the allegiance that political appointees typically feel toward the president who appointed them.”

They did so because they are embedded in and charged with running an institution with rules and norms that they feel personal and professional responsibility to abide by and uphold,” he added.

Yet despite Trump’s rhetorical crusade against Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and fired FBI Director James Comey, the investigation has continued unimpeded.

“In short, the political appointees in the Justice Department who are connected to the Mueller investigation have shown that they follow the rules and norms of the department despite the president’s wishes otherwise,” Goldsmith argued.

Even if Rosenstein gave into political pressure, he’d have trouble justifying kicking Mueller to the curb because he either has to show the special counsel’s proposed steps were “inappropriate or unwarranted under established Departmental practices” or that Mueller participated in “misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or for other good cause, including violation of Departmental policies.”

To do that, Rosenstein would need to explain his actions to Congress, which has been unwilling so far to intervene, save for a few conservative Republicans.

Trump’s has other options, but they too would be difficult to pull off. For example, Trump could fire Rosenstein, but he’d have trouble finding a Senate-confirmed official, as required by law, finding a replacement who interfere in the investigation.

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