Were you excited to hear Robert Mueller testify to Congress in a few days? Well, put that excitement on hold because it appears that his testimony will now be delayed until July 24th.
Getcha popcorn ready…Robert Mueller will testify before Congress on July 17 after House Democrats issued a subpoena for his appearance, a move that paves the way for a reluctant special counsel to answer questions publicly for the first time about his 22-month investigation into President Donald Trump.
“Our democracy is at its best when the American people are in a position to fully trust in their government and institutions. Throughout my career, I have fought to ensure that our elected officials are transparent and held accountable so voters can draw their own conclusions. I have never been a reactionary. I am not someone who has called for the president’s removal from day one. I believe in a thoughtful, measured approach. Opening an impeachment inquiry is the most appropriate way to ensure that Congress and the American people have a full accounting of the facts.”
More than 50 pages of buddy-buddy text messages, sent between Fox News Host Sean Hannity and Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort in 2017 and 2018, were released Friday by a Washington, D.C., federal judge. In between affectionate banter, mainly of Hannity rather desperately trying to prove his undying support for Manafort, Manafort said he feared Special Counsel Robert Mueller would want him to “give up” Donald Trump or Jared Kushner. “I would never do that,” said Manafort.
“The overall turning of tables could not be more dramatic. Manafort did his best to wriggle out from under the lawful Justice Department investigation of him and the president. Now that same department is acting as his friend, as well as the president’s friend; and friends look out for one another…As long as Trump is president, Barr enjoys total dominion at the Justice Department. The department’s special treatment of Manafort illustrates why that state of affairs is so worrisome.”
Democrats have had enough of Trump. A POLITICO/Morning Consult poll finds that more than two-thirds of self-identified Democratic respondents believe Congress should launch impeachment proceedings. Sixty-seven percent said lawmakers should begin proceedings, while 18% disagreed, and 15% didn’t know. Asked in the same poll whether candidates should accept information on their opponents offered by a foreign government, 61% said “probably not” or “definitely not.”
“It seems like every day brings new allegations about this administration’s conduct. The sheer volume of them can be overwhelming and make it difficult to focus. The special counsel, far from exonerating the president on criminal obstruction of justice charges, presented a compelling case that the president violated the law. It is important for Congress and the American people to understand the misconduct that occurred and how it threatened our national security so that we can fulfill our own responsibilities as citizens to make informed choices about our leaders.”
“Mueller has finished his work, and — save for foreign-policy bureaucrats keeping their actions secret from the president — there’s no obvious mechanism for identifying and limiting the threat of Russian leverage over him. For all we know, Trump is still being promised, or even receiving, payoffs from Russia. None of these actions would amount to crimes. They do, however, constitute a crisis — not just of national security but of national sovereignty.”
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been transferred to a correctional facility in New York but will remain in federal custody while he faces state fraud charges. An anonymous senior Justice Department official official says Manafort’s lawyers raised concerns about his health and safety if he was transferred to Rikers Island. They proposed he remain in federal custody and made available to state officials when needed.
“Unless Democrats and Republicans in Congress impeach Trump, every future president has grounds to ask foreign adversaries to launch covert operations against his or her political rivals in the United States. But impeachment would backfire on Democrats, right? Not if they do it right. The more I reflect on the Clinton impeachment, the more I realize he didn’t survive because Republicans overreached. He survived because he made sure his public-facing focus was always on the lives and concerns of voters. He compartmentalized the impeachment drama inside a team of lawyers, pollsters and communications specialists — and had them weaponize the case against him.”
Democrats investigating Donald Trump for obstruction of justice are eyeing a new strategy to break the president’s all-out oversight blockade: calling witnesses who never worked in the White House, including presidential confidants such as former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Other Russia probe-related figures who never served in Trump’s administration, such as Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, are also prime game.
ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos spent 30 hours with Donald Trump over two days for a 20/20 interview that aired on Sunday. No surprise, it was filled with alarmingly dictatorial statements. “There’s never been a time in the history of our country where somebody was so mistreated as I have been,” he said—a point with which the assassinated President Abraham Lincoln or the slaves he freed might disagree. “I run the country,” Trump responded, when asked if the president can obstruct justice.
Trump is disputing former White House counsel Don McGahn’s account in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into whether the president obstructed justice during the course of the probe in Russian election interference. McGahn testified to Mueller that Trump instructed him multiple times to have the acting attorney general remove the special counsel because of perceived conflicts of interest.
The House Intelligence Committee has issued subpoenas to former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Rick Gates, President Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman. In a statement Thursday morning, the committee said it had subpoenaed the pair for “documents and testimony” in relation to the information they provided to the Mueller Report.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday praised his former adviser Michael Flynn, who had pleaded guilty as part of the federal Russia investigation, and offered him “good luck” one day before an update was due in the case ahead of sentencing.
The president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., on Wednesday appeared for a second time before the Senate Intelligence Committee, which issued a subpoena for his testimony after he resisted coming voluntarily. Trump Jr. told reporters after the two-and-a-half hour closed-door session Wednesday that he did not have to correct his previous testimony and was “not at all” worried about perjury. The panel is completing its two-year investigation into Russia’s 2016 election meddling.
“Of all the questions that Mueller helped resolve, he left many critical questions unanswered — what happened to the counterintelligence investigation?,” House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff said as he opened a hearing on counterintelligence issues on Wednesday. “Were there other forms of compromise, like money laundering, left out, uninvestigated or referred to other offices? Were individuals granted security clearances that shouldn’t have them? And are there individuals still operating in the administration that leave America vulnerable?”
Donald Trump and his top allies are moving to make Justin Amash pay for standing up for the rule of law by becoming the sole Republican congressman to call for the president’s impeachment. Trump has raised the primary challenge idea with Vice President Mike Pence, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, and North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, a close Trump ally who co-founded the conservative House Freedom Caucus with Amash.
In a letter sent to FBI Director Christopher Wray today, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Ron Wyden asked what steps the agency took after an incident of election hacking, revealed in the Mueller report. In August of 2016, Russia targeted employees of “a voting technology company that developed software used by numerous U.S. counties to manage voter rolls, and installed malware on the company network.” VR Systems has since been confirmed as the targeted company.
Donald Trump Jr. will return to Capitol Hill on Wednesday for a second closed-door interview with members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, as part of a deal he struck with leaders last month after the panel issued a subpoena for his testimony. He is expected to spend about four hours with the committee answering a limited number of questions — including queries about a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer promising incriminating information about Hillary Clinton.
“By blocking or attempting to block Mueller’s investigation, the president was seeking to thwart an investigation into a foreign power’s interference in our election, ‘which would diminish our ability to detect and defend against future threats.’ [Former U.S. attorney Barbara McQuade] reminded the committee that in four instances (‘counts’ in an indictment), all three elements of obstruction were found.”
The House passed a resolution which would empower the body to give Congress the option of taking AG Barr and/or former WH Counsel Don McGahn to court in order to obtain documents from the Mueller report.
No stranger to presidential scandal, John Dean, the former White House counsel whose 1973 testimony helped bring down Richard Nixon, testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Monday, as the first interview of its Mueller report hearings. He carefully laid out six parallels between the Mueller report and the Watergate investigation as it relates to obstruction of justice.
Democrats are looking to pass legislation that ensures the abuses outlined in the Mueller report can’t happen again—at least not without clear legal ramifications. A package of legislation would address election security and obstruction of justice by a sitting president, prohibiting a president from interfering in a law enforcement investigation. Another likely piece of legislation, Duty to Report, would require campaign aides and entities to report foreign contacts and influence to law enforcement.
The Department of Justice has agreed to give the House certain materials and evidence from the Mueller probe, which were previously withheld, in exchange for the House not voting on holding Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for ignoring a congressional subpoena. The evidence from the Mueller probe will allow Congress to continue its investigation of Donald Trump’s possible obstruction of justice.
The House Intelligence Committee is preparing for its first public hearings next week on the Mueller report. The Committee is expected to have former FBI spy hunters and other counterintelligence experts testify on the danger of the Trump campaign’s Russian contacts.
Prosecutors on Thursday made public the audio file of a voicemail that President Trump’s former personal lawyer John Dowd left for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s attorney. The written transcript was released previously.
“The point would not be to take old-school House impeachment leading to possible Senate removal off the table at the outset. Instead, the idea would be to build into the very design of this particular inquiry an offramp that would make bypassing the Senate an option while also nourishing the hope that a public fully educated about what this president did would make even a Senate beholden to this president and manifestly lacking in political courage willing to bite the bullet and remove him.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democrats pushing for an impeachment effort that rather than wanting to see President Donald Trump impeached, she wanted to see him “in prison.” According to the report, Pelosi made the remark at a meeting on Tuesday night as House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler asked to be able to begin an impeachment inquiry.
While offering no timetable on when such a hearing would take place, House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler said that he was confident that Special Counsel Robert Mueller would testify soon. He added that the Committee would use a subpoena if necessary.
“The idea of an Anglo-American conspiracy that secretly runs the world is hardly new among fringe groups, left and right, but it gets an odd boost from this president. Britain is the club that Trump desperately wants to join but simultaneously resents. He’s the ‘America First’ populist who this week exalted in being received by British royalty.”
Economist Robert Reich writes, “With impeachment on everyone’s mind right now, here is the 10-step process for impeaching the President of the United States. It could come in handy very soon.”
The Trump administration is continuing its obstructive behavior by instructing former White House staffers Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson not to cooperate with a congressional subpoena. They faced a deadline today to turn over documents in a House probe into potential abuse of power, public corruption, and obstruction. Both also have been subpoenaed to appear for testimony later this month, but their cooperation is now in doubt.
President Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort will be moved from a federal prison lockup in Pennsylvania to Rikers Island later this week. Manhattan District Attorney requested the transfer after a New York grand jury charged Manafort with a number of crimes, including residential mortgage fraud and falsifying business records. The transfer could come as soon as Thursday.
George Nader, the man responsible with helping arrange the Seychelles meeting in January 2017 between Erik Prince and a Russian official close to Putin, was arrested in JFK International airport on child pornography charges. Nader, a key witness in the Mueller probe, was previously arrested on child pornography charges in 1985.
The House Judiciary Committee announced that it will hold a hearing next week to address the Mueller report and presidential obstruction of justice. As Trump and his administration continue to stonewall Congress’ investigations, hearings such as the one just announced are to be expected.
Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s television defense attorney, said he was considering bringing a $17 million legal action against former special counsel Robert Mueller. Giuliani was incensed that Mueller did not come to a prosecutorial conclusion on Trump’s obstruction of justice. He conveniently forgot, or didn’t care that Mueller laid out over ten instances of such obstruction but said he was prevented from bringing charges due to a Department of Justice regulation.
Emmet Flood, the lead White House lawyer during the Mueller investigation is stepping down. Trump announced Flood’s departure in a tweet, praising Flood for his outstanding work during the investigation.
“Mr. Mueller’s refusal to pass judgment on whether the president broke the law is one example of how the special counsel operated by rules ill fitted for the Trump era. He said nothing and the president said everything. He worked in secret, allowing the president to fill the void with reckless accusations of a witch hunt. His damning conclusions were encased in dense legal jargon that the president distorted into a vindication.”
In one of the documents from Michael Flynn’s case released by the DOJ, was the transcript of a voicemail from Trump’s lawyer John Dowd left for Michael Flynn’s lawyer, Rob Kelner. In the voicemail Dowd is seen trying to pressure Kelner to provide him with information regarding Flynn’s discussions with Special Counsel Mueller. Dowd also presses Kelner to remember the “President and his feelings toward Flynn”.