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Tag: special counsel

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.”

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.

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.

Trump Flip Flops, Says Mueller ‘Should Not Testify’ Before Congress

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump has reversed his position on whether special counsel Robert Mueller should testify before Congress, suggesting Democrats want “a redo” of the investigation.

Two days after telling reporters that Attorney General William Barr should decide whether Mueller testifies, Trump on Saturday changed his tone.

“Bob Mueller should not testify. No redos for the Dems!” the president tweeted Sunday.

“After spending more than $35,000,000 over a two year period, interviewing 500 people, using 18 Trump Hating Angry Democrats & 49 FBI Agents — all culminating in a more than 400 page Report showing NO COLLUSION — why would the Democrats in Congress now need Robert Mueller to testify,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

“Are they looking for a redo because they hated seeing the strong NO COLLUSION conclusion? There was no crime, except on the other side (incredibly not covered in the Report), and NO OBSTRUCTION,” Trump added.

Bar told a Senate committee last week that he has no objection to Mueller testifying.

5 Takeaways from Attorney General Barr’s Testimony about Mueller Report

Attorney General William Barr testifies on Wednesday.

Attorney General William Barr was defiant Wednesday while testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Here are five takeaways from the hearing:

1. Calls for Barr to resign

Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, demanded Barr resign, accusing him of lying to Congress and covering up for President Trump.

“You lied to Congress.” Hirono said. “Now we know more about your deep involvement and trying to cover up for Donald Trump. Being attorney general of the United States is a sacred trust. You have betrayed that trust. America deserves better. You should resign.”

2. “Misleading” testimony

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, accused Barr of “purposely misleading” the committee when he suggested he was “not aware of any challenge to the accuracy of the findings.”

Leahy pointed out that Mueller expressed his misgivings with Barr about his handling of the Mueller report.

“Mr. Barr, I feel that your answer was purposely misleading, and I think others do, too,” Leahy told the attorney general.

3. Barr suggests Trump ‘fully cooperated’

Barr insisted Trump “fully cooperated” with Mueller’s investigation, drawing criticism from Democrats.

Mueller’s report repeatedly indicated that Trump and his team failed to cooperate with a lot of the investigation and that the president refused to sit down for an interview.

The report states, “We again requested an in-person interview, limited to certain topics, advising the President’s counsel that ‘this is the President’s opportunity to voluntarily provide us with information for us to evaluate in the context of all of the evidence we have gathered.’ President Trump declined.”

4. Barr has no qualms with Mueller testifying 

When Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, asked Barr if Mueller should testify, Barr responded, “I already said publicly, I have no objection.”

But when Durbin asked if former White House counsel Don McGahn should testify, Barr said, “That’s a call for the President to make.”

Durbin responded, “Well, he’s a private citizen at this point.”

Barr said, “I assume he would be testifying about privileged matters.”

5. Barr refers to Mueller report as “my baby”

Barr testified that Mueller’s report was “my baby” after the special counsel turned it over to the Justice Department.

“His work concluded when he sent his work to the attorney general,” Barr said. “At that point, it was my baby, and I effective overrode the regulations, used discretion, to lean as far forward as I could to make that public. And it was my decision how and when to make it public, not Bob Mueller’s.”

Barr is scheduled to testify Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee.

Deputy AG Rosenstein Defended Role in Mueller Report, Fired Back at Critics

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, via Justice Department.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Robert Mueller in May 2017 to investigate Russian interference during the presidential election, fire back Thursday at politicians and journalists who have questioned his handling of the probe.

Rosenstein defended the nearly two-year special counsel investigation, saying “our nation is safer, elections are more secure, and citizens are better informed about covert foreign influence schemes.”

Speaking at the Public Servants Dinner of the Armenian Bar Association, Rosenstein spoke publicly for the first time since Mueller’s report was made public.

“As acting Attorney General, it was my responsibility to make sure that the Department of Justice would do what the American people pay us to do: conduct an independent investigation,” said Rosenstein, who leaves the Justice Department next month.

Rosenstein and Attorney General William Barr made the decision that President Trump did not obstruct justice.

“I did pledge to do it right and take it to the appropriate conclusion,” Rosenstein said. “I did not promise to report all results to the public, because grand jury investigations are ex parte proceedings. It is not our job to render conclusive factual findings. … We just decide whether it is appropriate to file criminal charges.”

How Trump Continues to Mislead the Public on the Mueller Investigation

Flie photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump continues to distort the truth about Robert Mueller’s investigation, falsely claiming he was fully exonerated from a report that was drawn up by “highly conflicted” prosecutors.

The Associated Press examined recent claims by Trump to determine whether he was being truthful.

On Saturday, Trump tweeted, The Mueller Report … was written as nastily as possible by 13 (18) Angry Democrats who were true Trump Haters, including highly conflicted Bob Mueller himself.”

Even Trump’s own aides admit this isn’t true. The president’s assertions that Mueller is “highly conflicted” stem from Mueller interviewing for the FBI director position before he was appointed special counsel and Mueller’s dispute over membership fees at a Trump golf course.

According to the special counsel’s report, Trump’s closest aides said the president’s complaints don’t represent “true conflicts.”

Further, Mueller is a lifelong Republican appointed by a member of Trump’s administration, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

On Saturday, Trump also tweeted that “The Mueller Report should not have been authorized in the first place.”

That claim rests on the false assertion that the investigation was prompted by an anti-Trump dossier financed by the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Truth is, as the Mueller report indicates, the FBI’s investigation “began months before it received the dossier,” the AP wrote.

“Within a week of the (WikiLeaks) release, a foreign government informed the FBI about its May 2016 interaction with Papadopoulos,” the report stated. “On July 31, 2016, based on the foreign government reporting, the FBI opened an investigation into potential coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign.”

On Thursday, Trump and several of his aides, including Vice President Mike Pence, claimed the report exonerated the president of any wrongdoing.

The report clearly stated the opposite.

“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” Mueller wrote. “Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment.”

Further, the report cites 10 examples of possible obstruction by the president.

“The evidence does indicate that a thorough FBI investigation would uncover facts about the campaign and the President personally that the President could have understood to be crimes or that would give rise to personal and political concerns,” the report states.