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Tag: Rod Rosenstein

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

President Trump, via White House.

By Steve Neavling

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.

Trump’s Deputy AG: No Good Reason to Fire Mueller

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifying before a House committee Wednesday.

By Steve Neavling

In a powerful rebuke to Donald Trump and Republicans, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testified Wednesday that he saw no good reason to fire special counsel Robert Mueller from his investigation into possible collusion between the president’s campaign and Russia.

Republicans grilled Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller, following recent revelations that two FBI officials on Mueller’s team were mocking the president in text messages.

Rosenstein defended Mueller, saying he is properly overseeing the investigation and has taken action when confronted with allegations of bias on the special counsel team.

“I know what he is doing,” Rosenstein told the House Judiciary Committee. “I am not aware of any impropriety.”

Rosenstein added that he would not comply with Trump if the president ordered him to fire Mueller, unless there was “good cause” for his removal.

“As I’ve explained previously, I would follow the regulation: If there was good cause, I would act,” Rosenstein said. “If there were no good cause, I would not.”

House Republicans Pledge Contempt Charges Against FBI, DOJ

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

By Steve Neavling

U.S. House Republicans are preparing to wage war against FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as the special investigation into Trump’s campaign increases in intensity.

Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes and other committee Republicans are drafting a contempt of Congress resolution against the two leaders, claiming lawmakers are being stonewalled as they seek material related to probe, Bloomberg reports

The action follows media reports about FBI Agent Peter Strzok’s  removal from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team for writing text messages criticizing Trump and supporting Hillary Clinton.

Nunes said the FBI and Justice Department are refusing to fully comply with an Aug. 24 committee subpoena.

“In light of today’s press reports, we now know why Strzok was dismissed, why the FBI and DOJ refused to provide us this explanation, and at least one reason why they previously refused to make Deputy Director McCabe available to the Committee for an interview,” Nunes said.

“By hiding from Congress, and from the American people, documented political bias by a key FBI head investigator for both the Russia collusion probe and the Clinton email investigation, the FBI and DOJ engaged in a willful attempt to thwart Congress’ constitutional oversight responsibility,” he said.

Other Stories of Interest

Rosenstein: Leak Investigations Won’t Target Journalists

typewriter-reporterBy Steve Neavling

The Justice Department’s escalation of probes into government leaks will not target journalists, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Sunday.

“We don’t prosecute journalists for doing their jobs,” Rosenstein said on “Fox News Sunday.” “That’s not our goal here.”

The Justice Department announced last week that it was stepping up investigation into government leaks. Under the Trump administration, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said leak investigations have tripled.

“We will not allow rogue anonymous sources with security clearances to sell out our country any longer,” Sessions said at a news conference Friday.

Rosenstein clarified Sessions’ position on Sunday.

“The attorney general has been very clear that we’re after the leakers, not the journalist,”  Rosenstein said. “We’re after the people who are committing crimes.”

Other Stories of Interest

FBI, Justice Department Offer Starkly Different Positions on Trump’s Budget Cuts

Photo via FBI

Photo via FBI

By Steve Neavling

Top officials for the FBI and Justice Department are at odds over the impact of President Trump’s proposed budget cuts.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe offered Congress starkly different positions on whether Trump’s spending reductions would hurt FBI operations, Politico reports.

McCabe told the House Appropriations subcommittee that “every program” in the bureau would be adversely affected and would force the reduction of employees, including agents.

“It will certainly impact us in many ways. It is a broad and deep reduction that will touch every program. it will touch headquarters. It will touch our field offices,” McCabe told a House Appropriations subcommittee Wednesday. “It is a reduction that is not possible to take entirely against vacancies. It’s a reduction that will touch every description of employee within the FBI. We will lose agent positions. We will lose analyst positions and, of course, professional staff.”

Rosenstein seemed to suggest McCabe was exaggerating and that the spending cuts would not impact national security or violent crime.

“I believe that if you look at the budget, we are not cutting the critical areas — violent crime, terrorism, the areas that you’ve raised are areas where there will be no cuts, cybercrime, all those areas,” Rosenstein said at a parallel Senate hearing, under questioning by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “And so the effort in this budget, as I understand it, is to reduce only in areas that are not critical to those operations.”

According to Rosenstein, the number of FBI agents would increase by 150 to 12,484.

But according to the FBI’s website, the bureau has about 13,500 agents.

Deputy AG: No Plans to Fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller

Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general.

Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general.

By Steve Neavling

The deputy U.S. attorney general assured Congress on Tuesday that special counsel Robert Mueller would have “the full degree of independence” to investigate allegations of Russia interfering in the presidential election.

“Director Mueller is going to have the full degree of independence that he needs to conduct that investigation appropriately,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, the Business Insider reports

Rosenstein’s assurance comes after Donald Trump’s friend suggested the president may fire Mueller.

But that power belongs to Rosenstein, who said he sees no good reason to fire Mueller.

Let The Seriousness Begin: The Stoic Ex-FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III Appointed Special Counsel in Russian Mess

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller

By Allan Lengel

Ex-FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, the stoic leader of the bureau from 2001 to 2013, has been appointed special counsel to investigate whether the Russians influenced the 2016 campaign and the administration of President Donald Trump.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the appointment on Wednesday, saying in a statement:

“In my capacity as acting Attorney General, I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a Special Counsel to assume responsibility for this matter. My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination. What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.”

“Each year, the career professionals of the U.S. Department of Justice conduct tens of thousands of criminal investigations and handle countless other matters without regard to partisan political considerations. I have great confidence in the independence and integrity of our people and our processes. Considering the unique circumstances of this matter, however, I determined that a Special Counsel is necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome. Our nation is grounded on the rule of law, and the public must be assured that government officials administer the law fairly. Special Counsel Mueller will have all appropriate resources to conduct a thorough and complete investigation, and I am confident that he will follow the facts, apply the law and reach a just result.”

Rosenstein’s appointment of Mueller isn’t likely to make Trump very happy. In fact, sources tell that Trump was very unhappy when Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself of the investigation, giving Trump less control of the matter.

Appointments of special counsels have usually not ended very well for different presidential administrations.

Mueller, a former federal prosecutor, is known as a no-nonsense guy. He became director days before Sept. 11, 2001, and was subsequently tasked with shifting resources to deal address terrorism. After a while, some complained too many resources were being taken away from some of the basic duties like addressing white collar crimes and violence.

He was replaced in 2013 by James Comey, who was appointed by President Barack Obama.

He played to mixed reviews within the bureau. He had his loyal folks within, but he also had agents who were glad to see him go.

That being said, no one expects him to pull punches in the probe.

Mueller has resigned from his private law firm to avoid any conflicts of interest.


Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, The Canary in the Coal Mine, Already Gasping for Air

Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general.

Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general.

By Allan Lengel

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, a former U.S. Attorney from Baltimore, is the canary in the coal mine for the Justice Department. In very short time, in that role, he’s already gasping for breath, having been put smack in the middle of the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

The phrase “canary in the coal mine” refers to caged canaries miners would carry down into the mine tunnels. If dangerous gases collected, the gases would kill the canaries before killing the miners. In this case, the dangerous gases could be the dubious demands by President Donald Trump that could compromise the Justice Department, and ultimately kill the canary’s government career.

Skeptics of the Trump administration have always expected that Attorney General Jeff Sessions would play politics and try to please his boss, the president.  But Rosenstein, a career prosecutor who has worked under both Republican and Democratic administrations, has a reputation as a straight shooter. The expectation is that he’ll stand up and say no if Trump tries to compromise the department. If Trump pushes too far and won’t back off, everyone assumes he’ll get fired or quit.

But very quickly, he’s already gasping for air.

Rosenstein authored a letter for the president detailing how Comey acted inappropriately during the Hillary Clinton email probe and implied he should be fired, but never said it outright. Trump then shot off a letter to Comey, saying he was going by the recommendation of Rosenstein and Sessions to fire him. Skeptics found it hard to swallow that Trump had concerns for Clinton.

Yellow canary - Serinus canaria on its perch in front of a white background

Rosenstein apparently felt duped, or at least that’s how it’s being portrayed in the press.

The Washington Post reported that Rosenstein threatened to “resign after the narrative emerging from the White House on Tuesday evening cast him as a prime mover of the decision to fire Comey and that the president acted only on his recommendation, said the person close to the White House, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.”

People will be closely observing, paying close attention to see if  the chirping continues to come from Rosenstein’s new office at Justice, or whether at some point, it’s silenced.