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Mueller Report

Mueller’s House Testimony Likely Off Until At Least June



House Democrats are backing away from plans to hold a blockbuster hearing this month with Robert Mueller after talks stalled out with the special counsel and his representatives.

Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and a senior Democratic committee aide told POLITICO on Friday that there’s no Mueller hearing planned for next week, though that could also change at a moment’s notice if the special counsel said he’s ready to testify.

“I would assume not,” Nadler replied when asked whether Mueller would be appearing before the upcoming Memorial Day recess, which starts next Friday.

A Judiciary staffer later added, “Mueller could always call us and say, ‘The heck with it, I want to come in Wednesday,’ and we would make time. But at the moment, no Mueller planned for next week.”

Nadler had set a tentative May 23 deadline for Mueller to publicly testify in a letter last month after the release of a redacted version of the special counsel’s 448-page report.

But the prospect of a Mueller hearing before Nadler’s Judiciary panel, or a separate hearing with the House Intelligence Committee, has been stuck in limbo ever since a broader fight between Democrats and the Trump administration over access to documents and testimony tied to the special counsel’s Russia investigation.

President Donald Trump earlier this month wrote on Twitter that Mueller “should not testify” and his administration has invoked or threatened to invoke executive privilege on a range of outstanding congressional requests, including for access to a full unredacted version of the special counsel’s report and its underlying evidence.

In an interview Thursday with The Wall Street Journal, Attorney General William Barr said it’s up to Mueller to decide whether to appear before lawmakers. “It’s Bob’s call whether he wants to testify,” said Barr, who Nadler’s Judiciary Committee earlier this month voted to hold in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over a copy of the full Mueller report.

So far, Democrats and Mueller have yet to reach an agreement on the details or timing for a hearing with the special counsel. Peter Carr, a Mueller spokesman, declined comment when asked Friday about the special counsel making a public appearance before lawmakers.

Mueller remains a government employee and still has a small staff assisting him with closing down his office, Carr has confirmed. But Carr also had no further explanation for the discrepancy from an earlier comment he gave reporters in mid-March, upon the announcement that the Russia probe was over, that Mueller planned in the “coming days” to leave the Justice Department.

Congressional hearings with Mueller are expected to cover a wide range of topics, from his conclusion that he found no evidence that anyone from the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election to his decision to not charge the president with obstruction of justice.

Republicans eyeing a Mueller hearing see it as a chance to press the special counsel on the underlying motivations for the investigation and his reliance on FBI agents who shared anti-Trump text messages. Democrats, meantime, have signaled interest in pressing Mueller to see whether there’s any additional daylight between him and Barr, whom the special counsel criticized in writing for failing to “fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of the Russia investigation during its public rollout.

(Reporting by POLITICO)

Mueller Report

Mueller: Special Counsel Probe Did Not Exonerate Trump




WASHINGTON (AP) — Special counsel Robert Mueller said Wednesday he was legally barred from charging President Donald Trump with a crime but pointedly emphasized that his Russia report did not exonerate the president. If he could have cleared Trump of obstruction of justice he “would have said so,” Mueller declared.

The special counsel’s remarks, his first in public since being tasked two years ago with investigating Russian interference to help Trump win the 2016 presidential election, stood as a strong rebuttal to Trump’s repeated claims that he was exonerated and that the inquiry was merely a “witch hunt.” They also marked a clear defense to criticism, including by Attorney General William Barr, that he should have reached a determination on whether the president illegally tried to obstruct the probe by taking actions such as firing his FBI director.

Mueller made clear he believed he was restrained from indicting a sitting president — such an action was “not an option.” He did not use the word ‘impeachment” but said it was Congress’ job to hold the president accountable for any wrongdoing.

“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller said. “We did not however make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.”

Mueller’s statement largely echoed the central points of his 448-page report released by the Justice Department last month with some redactions. But his remarks, delivered at the department, were nonetheless extraordinary given that he had never before discussed or characterized his findings and had stayed mute during two years of feverish public speculation.

Mueller, a former FBI director, said his work was complete and he was resigning to return to private life.

Under pressure to testify before Congress, he did not rule it out. But he seemed to warn lawmakers that they would not be pulling more detail out of him. His report is “my testimony,” he said, and he won’t go beyond what is written in it.

Trump, who has repeatedly and falsely claimed that Mueller’s report cleared him of obstruction of justice, modified that contention somewhat shortly after the special counsel’s remarks. He tweeted, “There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent. The case is closed!”

His personal attorney, Jay Sekulow, said that Mueller’s announcement “puts a period on a two-year investigation that produced no findings of collusion or obstruction by the president.”

Mueller’s comments, one month after the public release of his report on Russian efforts to help Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton, appeared intended to both justify the legitimacy of his investigation against complaints by the president and to explain his decision to not reach a conclusion on whether Trump had obstructed justice.

Indicting Trump, he said firmly, was “not an option” in light of a Justice Department legal opinion that says a sitting president cannot be charged. But, he said, the absence of a conclusion should not be mistaken for exoneration.

“The opinion says the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing,” Mueller said, referring to the Justice Department legal opinion. That would shift the next move, if any, to Congress, and the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which would investigate further or begin any impeachment effort, commented quickly.

New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler said it falls to Congress to respond to the “crimes, lies and other wrongdoing of President Trump – and we will do so.”

On the other hand, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that Mueller “has decided to move on and let the report speak for itself. Congress should follow his lead.”

Trump has blocked House committees’ subpoenas and other efforts to dig into the Trump-Russia issue, insisting Mueller’s report has settled everything.

That report found no criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to tip the outcome of the 2016 presidential election in Trump’s favor. But it also did not reach a conclusion on whether the president had obstructed justice.

Barr has said he was surprised Mueller did not reach a conclusion on whether the president had criminally obstructed justice, though Mueller in his report and again in his public statement Wednesday said that he had no choice. Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided on their own that the evidence was not sufficient to support an obstruction charge against Trump.

Barr, who is currently in Alaska for work and was briefed ahead of time on Mueller’s statement, has said he asked Mueller if he would have recommended charging Trump “but for” the legal opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel, and that Mueller said “no.”

“Under longstanding department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office,” Mueller said. “That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view that, too, is prohibited.”

Mueller, for his part, complained privately to Barr that he believed a four-page letter from the attorney general summarizing the report’s main conclusions did not adequately represent his findings. Barr has said he considered Mueller’s criticism to be a bit “snitty.”

Read the full redacted Mueller report below:

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Mueller Report

Search Warrants Tied To Former Trump Lawyer Cohen Released




WASHINGTON (AP) — Five search warrants have been made public in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer.

The warrants are in response to requests from news organizations.

The documents reveal the wide-ranging scope of Mueller’s investigation and early concerns about possible financial connections to Russia.

The documents show how investigators zeroed in on bank accounts for a company Cohen formed and used to make hush-money payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels, who has said she had a sexual relationship with Trump. Trump denies it.

Cohen says he made that payment at Trump’s behest.

Prosecutors appeared particularly interested in payments to the account that had connections to Russia.

Cohen recently began a three-year prison sentence on charges including lying to Congress and campaign finance violations.

Read the just-released search warrants below:

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Mueller Report

GOP Lawmaker Says Trump’s Conduct Meets ‘Threshold For Impeachment’




© J. Scott Applewhite/AP Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., center, hosts a news conference at the Capitol in Washingto. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), a critic of President Trump who has entertained a run against him in 2020, became the first Republican congressman to say the president “engaged in impeachable conduct” based on the Mueller report.

The Michigan lawmaker, often the lone Trump dissenter on his side of the House aisle, shared his conclusions in a lengthy Twitter thread Saturday after reviewing the full report by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

Amash wrote that after reading the 448-page report, he had concluded that not only did Mueller’s team show Trump attempting to obstruct justice, but that Attorney General William P. Barr had “deliberately misrepresented” the findings. He added that “few members of Congress even read Mueller’s report.”

“Contrary to Barr’s portrayal, Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment,” Amash wrote. 

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The president often claims the report shows “no collusion, no obstruction,” though neither is true. Mueller did not establish a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, which interfered in the 2016 election. Mueller did not rule on the question of obstruction of justice, saying it was something Congress should determine.

Amash wrote that it was partisanship keeping Republicans from exercising their obligation to provide checks and balances.

“When loyalty to a political party or to an individual trumps loyalty to the Constitution, the Rule of Law — the foundation of liberty — crumbles,” he tweeted.

Amash, a libertarian, considers himself a strict constitutionalist and in February was the lone Republican to join a Democratic bill to stop Trump from declaring a national emergency to fund his border wall.

“From the time the president was elected, I was urging them to remain independent and to be willing to push back against the president where they thought he was wrong,” Amash told CNN in March. “They’ve decided to stick with the president time and again, even where they disagree with him privately.”

When Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen testified before a House committee in February, most Republicans dismissed him as a convicted liar. Amash asked Cohen: “What is the truth President Trump is most afraid of people knowing?”

Elected in 2010 during the tea party wave, Amash co-founded the House Freedom Caucus, which at the time devoted itself to issues such as repealing the Affordable Care Act. Since Trump’s election, the group has morphed into a mouthpiece for the president on Capitol Hill.

Despite his frequent critiques of the president — when Trump mocked former congressman Mark Sanford last year after he lost his House race in South Carolina’s Republican primary, Amash called it a “dazzling display of pettiness and insecurity” — Trump has not hit back.

But in June 2017, Dan Scavino, the White House social media director, was reprimanded for violating a law forbidding federal employees from campaigning when he encouraged an Amash primary challenge, tweeting: “@justinamash is a big liability. #TrumpTrain, defeat him in primary.”

The White House and the Justice Department are currently at loggerheads with congressional Democrats over the latter’s desire to do their own vetting of Trump.

Amash’s full-throated condemnation of Barr, Trump and his colleagues could give Democrats more ammunition to continue pursuing their investigations.

(Reporting by Washington Post)

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