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Tag: special counsel

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.

FBI Believes Russian Hackers Penetrated At Least One Florida County’s Computers

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI concluded Russian hackers breached “at least one” Florida county government as part of an operation to infiltrate the state’s computer systems ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

The findings were revealed in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, which was released Thursday.

Mueller reported that Russia’s military intelligence agency was able to “gain access to the network of at least one Florida county government.”

Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff, or GRU, attempted to breach other counties’ systems in Florda by sending spearphishing emails to more than 120 email accounts operated by Florida county election officials.

“We understand the FBI believes the operation enabled the GRU to gain access to the network of at least one Florida county government,” Mueller’s report states.

The report did not indicate whether any of Florida’s election results were compromised. Mueller said the FBI and Homeland Security were investigating the incidents.

Florida is a key swing state in presidential elections.

Mueller Report: Sarah Sanders Admitted She Made Up Claims about FBI Agents

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. Via White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

When Sarah Sanders gathered in front of reporters the day after President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017, the White House deputy press secretary made a claim that became an ongoing narrative.

She asserted that “countless” FBI agents had confided in the White House that they no longer had confidence in Comey.

Turns out, she wasn’t telling the truth, according to special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

In an interview with Mueller’s team, Sanders, who has been promoted to press secretary, said the assertion was a “slip of the tongue.”

“She also recalled that her statement in a separate press interview that rank-and-file FBI agents had lost confidence in Comey was a comment she made ‘in the heat of the moment’ that was not founded on anything,” the report stated.