Gregg Jarrett: Mueller’s Investigation a ‘Hoax From the Outset’

Critics of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation have long argued that it has no basis. The salacious anti-Trump dossier by former British spy Christopher Steele that launched the investigation has been discredited, they argue. Newly confirmed congressional testimony from former Justice Department official Bruce Ohr proves that the DOJ — and members of Mueller’s team — were aware of Steele’s anti-Trump bias.

In an op-ed for FoxNews.com, Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett argues that Mueller should have investigated officials at the DOJ for their ties to the dossier. Instead, he hired them for his team. “The integrity of Mueller’s special counsel team has been compromised. The credibility of any forthcoming report should be viewed through the lens of deep skepticism,” Jarrett writes.

THE CARAVAN IS COMING: Approximately 1,000 Central American migrants in the newest caravan have begun the process of crossing into Mexico from Guatemala, a Mexican immigration official stationed at the border between the two countries told Fox News on Thursday night … A new process instituted by Mexico means that migrants will have to wait five days for their paperwork to be processed before entering the country. The new system is meant to keep things orderly after the last caravan rushed the border via the Suchiate River at the Guatemalan border city of Tecún Umán. Members of the caravan are staying in Guatemalan shelters and camping out in a nearby park. However, officials are planning to open a shelter on the Mexican side of the border Saturday to house migrants until they are allowed to enter the country.

.. OCASIO-CORTEZ A DEM KINGMAKER? – “They’re all going to have to kiss Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s ring. When they’re running for president, in one way or another, they’re going to kiss the ring. And she’s only been in town for seven days. That’s pretty amazing.” – Laura Ingraham, on “The Ingraham Angle,” on the sudden growing power of freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., in the Democratic Party. WATCH

Checking Robert Mueller

The sentencing judge brings to light dodgy FBI conduct in the Mike Flynn case.

Robert Mueller has operated for 19 months as a law unto himself, reminding us of the awesome and destructive powers of special counsels. About the only possible check on Mr. Mueller is a judge who is wise to the tricks of prosecutors and investigators. Good news: That’s what we got this week.

.. The agents (including the infamous Peter Strzok) showed up within two hours. They had already decided not to inform Mr. Flynn that they had transcripts of his conversations or give him the standard warning against lying to the FBI. They wanted him “relaxed” and “unguarded.” Former Director James Comey this weekend bragged on MSNBC that he would never have “gotten away” with such a move in a more “organized” administration.

.. The whole thing stinks of entrapment, though the curious question was how the Flynn defense team got the details. The court filing refers to a McCabe memo written the day of the 2017 meeting, as well as an FBI summary—known as a 302—of the Flynn interview. These are among documents congressional Republicans have been fighting to obtain for more than a year, only to be stonewalled by the Justice Department. Now we know why the department didn’t want them public.

.. They have come to light thanks to a man who knows well how men like Messrs. Mueller and Comey operate: Judge Sullivan. He sits on the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, and as he wrote for the Journal last year, he got a “wake-up call” in 2008 while overseeing the trial of then-Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska. Judge Sullivan ultimately assigned a lawyer to investigate Justice Department misconduct.
.. The investigator’s report found prosecutors had engaged in deliberate and repeated ethical violations, withholding key evidence from the defense. It also excoriated the FBI for failing to write up 302s and for omitting key facts from those it did write. The head of the FBI was Mr. Mueller.
.. Judge Sullivan has since made it his practice to begin every case with a Brady order, which reminds prosecutors of their constitutional obligation to provide the defense with any exculpatory evidence. On Dec. 12, 2017, days after being assigned the Flynn case, Judge Sullivan issued such an order, instructing Mr. Mueller’s team to turn over “any evidence in its possession that is favorable to defendant and material either to defendant’s guilt or punishment.” Had any other judge drawn the case, we likely would never have seen these details of the FBI’s behavior.

It’s clear that something has concerned the judge—who likely sees obvious parallels to the Stevens case. The media was predicting a quick ruling in the Flynn case. Instead, Judge Sullivan issued new orders Wednesday, demanding to see for himself the McCabe memo and the Flynn 302. He also ordered the special counsel to hand over by Friday any other documents relevant to the Flynn-FBI meeting.

.. Given his history with the FBI, the judge may also have some questions about the curious date on the Flynn 302—Aug. 22, 2017, seven months after the interview. Texts from Mr. Strzok and testimony from Mr. Comey both suggest the 302 was written long before then. Was the 302 edited in the interim? If so, by whom, and at whose direction? FBI officials initially testified to Congress that the agents did not think Mr. Flynn had lied.

Judges have the ability to reject plea deals and require a prosecutor to make a case at trial. The criminal-justice system isn’t only about holding defendants accountable; trials also provide oversight of investigators and their tactics. And judges are not obliged to follow prosecutors’ sentencing recommendations.

No one knows how Judge Sullivan will rule. His reputation is for being no-nonsense, a straight shooter, an advocate of government transparency. Whatever the outcome, he has done the nation a favor by using his Brady order to hold prosecutors to some account and allow the country a glimpse at how federal law enforcement operates. Which is the very least the country can expect.

 

Trump Castigates Mueller Investigation as ‘Disgrace to Nation’

President says White House ‘is running very smoothly’ despite staffing shake-ups

President Trump asserted on Thursday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election is in complete disarray and a “disgrace to our Nation,” while adding that his White House is operating smoothly as news emerges of high level shake-ups.

In a series of tweets early Thursday, the president said “The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess.”

“They have found no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts. They are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want. They are a disgrace to our Nation and don’t…care how many lives the ruin.”

It wasn’t immediately clear how Mr. Trump came to these conclusions about the Mueller probe’s inner workings. The White House and Mr. Trump’s outside counsel didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

.. Mr. Trump also described officials with the special counsel’s team as “Angry People” and described Mr. Mueller himself as “highly conflicted,” saying that he served under President Obama’s administration for eight years.

.. Mr. Trump and his lawyers are in the process of developing responses to written questions provided by Mr. Mueller’s investigators on the subject of collusion, according to a person familiar with the matter. The lawyers are expected to submit the responses by the end of the week.

After those questions are submitted, the president’s legal team has said it will discuss with the special counsel whether he still wants a sit-down interview with Mr. Trump. “I’d have to say…the lawyers are against it,” Rudy Giuliani, one of Mr. Trump’s attorneys, said in an interview last week.

.. “The White House is running very smoothly and the results for our Nation are obviously very good. We are the envy of the world,” he said. “But anytime I even think about making changes, the FAKE NEWS MEDIA goes crazy, always seeking to make us look as bad as possible! Very dishonest!”

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump removed his deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel, moving to quickly resolve an unusual feud pitting first lady Melania Trump against her husband’s National Security Council.

Ms. Ricardel lost Mrs. Trump’s support after a dispute involving the first lady’s trip to Africa last month, according to current and former administration officials. Aides to the two women clashed over whether the first lady’s plane would have seats for National Security Council staff, and relations deteriorated after that, these people said.

Advisers to the president described turbulence inside the White House in recent days, with aides jockeying for new positions left by officials who are departing or expected to depart.

Ms. Ricardel’s abrupt departure came amid a broader shake-up that could see the exit of chief of staff John Kelly and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

Why Mueller Can’t Subpoena Trump

There are significant factual disputes about these episodes, but all involve the president’s exercise of his core constitutional powers as chief executive, including the power to appoint and remove high-level executive-branch officials, to supervise the performance of their duties (as in the Espy case), and to determine law-enforcement priorities. We have argued in these pages that the president cannot obstruct justice by exercising the discretionary powers of his office, especially in determining whether and why to fire high-level presidential appointees like Mr. Comey. According to the two leaked letters from Mr. Trump’s lawyers to Mr. Mueller, they take essentially the same view.

Any prosecution based on Mr. Trump’s exercise of his core constitutional authority would dramatically impair the executive’s status as a coequal branch of government, considering that Congress enjoys immunity under the Speech and Debate Clause while exercising its legislative powers. It would also inject the judiciary into the president’s decision-making process, requiring judges to delve into matters that are inherently political.

Developments over the past year reinforce our view that it would unconstitutionally debilitate the presidency to base an obstruction charge on gainsaying the president’s motives in exercising his core responsibilities. Mr. Trump’s critics have also accused him of obstructing justice by using his pardon power. They claim his pardons of Joe Arpaio, Scooter Libby and Dinesh D’Souza —whom he considers victims of previous political prosecutions—were meant to reassure targets of Mr. Mueller’s probe that they too might be pardoned. Under such logic, a president under investigation could not discharge his constitutional duties at all, including the use of military force overseas—which can always be cast as a “wag the dog” strategy.

..  That independent-counsel investigation did not concern the exercise of presidential authority. They concerned allegations of perjury and obstruction from Mr. Clinton’s personal relationship with a White House intern.

.. Because constitutional considerations were not in play

.. Mr. McGahn spent nearly 30 hours describing the substance of his conversations with Mr. Trump and offering his assessment that the president’s actions were lawful.

With access to the relevant documents and everyone around the president, the special counsel has no material facts left to find.

.. Interviewing or interrogating the president could shed additional light only on his own thoughts and motives—exactly what executive privilege is designed to protect.

.. Mueller knows that losing a subpoena court fight would prolong and delegitimize his investigation. He is unlikely to press the point.

 

McGahn, White House Counsel, Has Cooperated Extensively in Mueller Inquiry

The White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, has cooperated extensively in the special counsel investigation, sharing detailed accounts about the episodes at the heart of the inquiry into whether President Trump obstructed justice, including some that investigators would not have learned of otherwise, according to a dozen current and former White House officials and others briefed on the matter.1

In at least three voluntary interviews with investigators that totaled 30 hours over the past nine months, Mr. McGahn described the president’s fury toward the Russia investigation and the ways in which he urged Mr. McGahn to respond to it

.. It is not clear that Mr. Trump appreciates the extent to which Mr. McGahn has cooperated with the special counsel. The president wrongly believed that Mr. McGahn would act as a personal lawyer would for clients and solely defend his interests to investigators

..  Mr. McGahn cautioned to investigators that he never saw Mr. Trump go beyond his legal authorities, though the limits of executive power are murky.

.. the two rarely speak one on one — the White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, and other advisers are usually present for their meetings — and Mr. Trump has questioned Mr. McGahn’s loyalty.

.. Mr. McGahn that he has called the president “King Kong” behind his back, to connote his volcanic anger, people close to Mr. McGahn said.

.. Mr. Burck said that Mr. McGahn had been obliged to cooperate with the special counsel. “President Trump, through counsel, declined to assert any privilege over Mr. McGahn’s testimony

.. He wanted to take on Mr. Mueller directly, attacking his credibility and impeding investigators. But two of his newly hired lawyers, John M. Dowd and Ty Cobb, have said they took Mr. Trump at his word that he did nothing wrong and sold him on an open-book strategy.

.. As White House counsel, not a personal lawyer, he viewed his role as protector of the presidency, not of Mr. Trump. Allowing a special counsel to root around the West Wing could set a precedent harmful to future administrations.

..  Mr. Trump blamed him for a number of fraught moments in his first months in office, including the chaotic, failed early attempts at a ban on travelers from some majority-Muslim countries and, in particular, the existence of Mr. Mueller’s investigation.

.. Mr. McGahn’s decision to cooperate with the special counsel grew out of Mr. Dowd’s and Mr. Cobb’s game plan, now seen as misguided by some close to the president.

.. Last fall, Mr. Mueller’s office asked to interview Mr. McGahn. To the surprise of the White House Counsel’s Office, Mr. Trump and his lawyers signaled that they had no objection, without knowing the extent of what Mr. McGahn was going to tell investigators.

Mr. McGahn was stunned

.. Mr. Burck has explained to others that he told White House advisers that they did not appreciate the president’s legal exposure and that it was “insane” that Mr. Trump did not fight a McGahn interview in court.

..  the White House has to understand that a client like Mr. Trump probably made politically damaging statements to Mr. McGahn as he weighed whether to intervene in the Russia investigation.

.. Mr. McGahn and his lawyer grew suspicious. They began telling associates that they had concluded that the president had decided to let Mr. McGahn take the fall for decisions that could be construed as obstruction of justice, like the Comey firing, by telling the special counsel that he was only following shoddy legal advice from Mr. McGahn.

.. McGahn told people he was determined to avoid the fate of the White House counsel for President Richard M. Nixon, John W. Dean, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice in the Watergate scandal.

Mr. McGahn decided to fully cooperate with Mr. Mueller. It was, he believed, the only choice he had to protect himself.

.. “This sure has echoes of Richard Nixon’s White House counsel, John Dean, who in 1973 feared that Nixon was setting him up as a fall guy for Watergate and secretly gave investigators crucial help while still in his job,” said the historian Michael Beschloss.

.. By exerting attorney-client privilege, which allows the president to legally withhold information, they would have gained the right to learn what Mr. McGahn planned to tell investigators and what he might reveal that could damage the president. But the president’s lawyers never went through that process, although they told people that they believed they still had the ability to stop Mr. Mueller from handing over to Congress the accounts of witnesses like Mr. McGahn and others.

.. Mr. Burck and Mr. McGahn met the special counsel team in November for the first time and shared all that Mr. McGahn knew.

.. Mr. McGahn gave to Mr. Mueller’s investigators, the people said,

.. it became apparent that Mr. McGahn and Mr. Burck had overestimated the amount of thought that they believed the president put into his legal strategy