Mueller Will Never Indict Trump |The Republican News

Paul Rosenzweig
Donald Trump and Robert Mueller           © Catalyst Images Donald Trump and Robert Mueller
Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author on behalf of our content partner and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft 

The latest revelations about President Trump have, once again excited the interest of the public, leading to speculation that Special Counsel Robert Mueller may have amassed sufficient evidence to charge the president with obstruction of justice. Trump’s attempt to fire Mueller (which happened last June, but is only now being publicly reported) is, under this line of thinking, the final straw.

Color me deeply skeptical.

Mueller will not indict Trump for obstruction of justice or for any other crime.  Period. Full stop. End of story. Speculations to the contrary are just fantasy.

He won’t do it for the good and sufficient reason that the Department of Justice has a long-standing legal opinion that sitting presidents may not be indicted. First issued in 1973 during the Nixon era, the policy was reaffirmed in 2000, during the Clinton era. These rules bind all Department of Justice employees and Mueller, in the end, is a Department of Justice employee. More to the point, if we know anything about Mueller, we think we know that he follows the rules—all of them. Even the ones that restrict him in ways he would prefer they not. And if he were to choose not to follow the rules, that, in turn, would be a reasonable justification for firing him. So … the special counsel will not indict the president.

What can Mueller do if he finds evidence of criminality involving the president?  He can and will (as authorized by Department of Justice regulations) file a report on his findings with the attorney general (or, since Attorney General Sessions is, in this case, recused, with the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein). Rosenstein will then be faced with the important decision of whether and how to make that report public—whether to convey it to Congress or not; whether to release it publicly or not. The regulations are so vague (they say only that he “may determine that public release of these reports would be in the public interest, to the extent that release would comply with applicable legal restrictions”) that they, in effect, give Rosenstein plenary discretion to do whatever he thinks is in the best interest of the country.

US President Donald Trump            © Catalyst Images US President Donald Trump

So, every time you read about the threat to fire Mueller, remember this—the critical actor in most future scenarios is not Mueller, but Rosenstein. Knowing Rosenstein personally, I have high confidence that he will make what he thinks is the best decision for the country—the same may not be true of his replacement (or of the replacement attorney general, should Sessions be fired). That, of course, is why the highly dubious “secret memo” prepared by House Republicans reportedly targets Rosenstein—even though he is a Trump appointee who advocated firing Comey, Trump supporters fear he will follow the rule of law.

But what of the substance of the obstruction charge? Are pundits right that the case against Trump is becoming stronger—even if as a legal matter the president may not be charged?

Collateral cases, like those involving obstruction and perjury, are ones that involve derivative offenses, not the principal charges under investigation. Proving them often turns on proof of intent. You have to show that the defendant acted with the purpose of obstructing an investigation. That means these cases tend to rise or fall on the strength of the case proving the underlying crime. It matters very much to juries and the public that we know exactly what it is that a defendant is covering up. If we don’t think it matters that much (as many in America seem to have concluded when confronted with President Clinton’s sexual conduct) or that it hasn’t been proven, then the cover up is often forgiven.

 In the Trump investigation, we have yet to determine whether the campaign was involved in an underlying crime of electoral manipulation involving Russia, much less how the broader American public thinks of it.  Many, like me, see strong evidence of Russian interference in the American election system and good evidence (though less strong) that some in the Trump campaign willingly accepted this and sought to take advantage of it. But candor compels the recognition that evidence of President Trump’s personal involvement is much thinner than, say, that of his son-in-law and other campaign staff.

Indeed, in many ways, the sheer numerosity and blatantness of the president’s interventions suggests that he really is sincere in thinking that he did nothing wrong. Were he truly concerned about the criminality of his former actions he might well have been more cautious in so openly attempting to subvert the investigation. Unless and until stronger evidence of the president’s personal involvement in contacts with Russian influence peddlers is developed, the derivative obstruction case will remain substantively problematic as well.

 All of which brings us to a final thought, admittedly far more speculative that what has gone before. Something concerns the president. That is clear. If it is not the alleged collusion with Russia, then what is it?

Wisps of information in the wind suggest a far different, deeper concern. The president’s finances have always been suspect. Some have thought them resting on shaky foundations. Ongoing investigations have looked to his banking and investments as well as those of his closest family. Several of the special counsel’s prosecutorial hires specialize in money laundering cases—an odd specialty for an election fraud/computer hacking case (which, basically, is what the Russia investigation amounts to). Perhaps, just perhaps, it is that investigation that has motivated the President’s response.

Special counsel Robert Mueller departs Capitol Hill following a closed door meeting in Washington. Mueller’s team of investigators has recently questioned a former British spy who compiled a dossier of allegations about President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)© Catalyst Images Special counsel Robert Mueller departs Capitol Hill following a closed door meeting in Washington. Mueller’s team of investigators has recently questioned a former British spy who compiled a…


Donald Trump and Robert Mueller

But even here one should not repose too much hope in the Mueller investigation. Mueller will not indict the president, even for money laundering. The resolution of the current American crisis is going to be political, not criminal. The future lies with Congress and, ultimately, the electorate, not with prosecutors and the courts.      (The Atlantic)

Continue reading


Firing Mueller “Would Be The End” Of The Trump Presidency – Lindsey Graham

Emily Stewart
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is taking a hard line on the Russia investigation and the president’s seeming inability to stay out of it.On Sunday, Grham warned that Firing Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating the Russia scandal, would be the end of the Donald Trump presidency — adding that everyone surrounding the president knows it.

“It’s pretty clear to me that everybody in the White House knows it would be the end of President Trump’s presidency if he fired Mr. Mueller,” Graham told ABC’s Martha Raddatz in an appearance on This Week on Sunday.The remarks come amid revelations that Trump ordered Mueller’s firing last June, reported by the New York Times this week and subsequently confirmed by other outlets, including the Washington Post and CNN. Top White House lawyer Don McGahn threatened to quit instead of going through with the president’s order, which apparently stopped the president from going through with it. The report provides another example of President Trump’s attempts to interfere with ongoing investigations — a pattern of behavior that has put him under scrutiny for potential obstruction of justice.

US President Donald Trump              © Catalyst Images US President Donald Trump

Graham said he didn’t know whether the stories about Trump’s order to fire Mueller or McGahn’s threat to quit stopping him were true, despite them being confirmed by multiple reputable news outlets (and, oddly enough, by Sean Hannity), but said he believes Mueller should look into it. “We’re not just going to say it’s fake news and move on. Mueller is the best person to look at it,” he said. He clarified he sees no evidence Trump wants to fire Mueller now.

Graham was among a group of both Republican and Democratic senators last summer to introduce legislation seeking to block Trump from firing Mueller. He co-sponsored a bill with Democratic Senator Cory booker (D-NJ). A similar measure was introduced by Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Chris Coons (D-DE) around the same time.

On Sunday, Graham said he’d be “glad to pass it tomorrow” but clarified that he thinks “it would be good to have legislation protecting all special counsels.” He also called for a special counsel to probe the Department of Justice and the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation and the early stages of the Russian investigation — seemingly toeing a line in an attempt not to anger the president or other Republicans.

US President Donald Trump                   © Catalyst Images US President Donald Trump

Many lawmakers remain lukewarm on Trump potentially firing Mueller

Graham largely stands alone in the GOP in the forcefulness of his rhetoric on the Russia investigation and his commitment to protecting Mueller.

In an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union with Jake Tapper on Sunday, Republican Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) said it “probably wouldn’t hurt” to pass one of the proposed bills to block the president from firing Mueller. Collins, widely considered one of the party’s most moderate lawmakers, said enshrining that protection in law isn’t a bad idea. “There are some constitutional issues with those bills, but it would certainly not hurt to put that extra safeguard in place, given the latest stories,” she said.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) disagreed, saying he still just can’t see why such legislation would be necessary. “I don’t think there’s a need for legislation right now to protect Mueller,” he said In an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd on Meet the Press. “So we’re raising an issue that’s not.”

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), who is up for reelection in 2018 and is one of the party’s more moderate members, told NBC’s Todd on Sunday that Trump’s order to fire Mueller was probably just “New York talk” — sort of taking a line from Trump’s “locker room talk” excuse over the Access Hollywood tape. When pressed on the assertion by Todd, he went on to discuss Trump’s business record and explain that that’s probably why Trump thought it would be a good idea to cut Mueller. “You have a person who’s the president of the United States that has been totally in control of his life, personally and professionally,” he said. “Now all of a sudden he’s understanding there’s equal branches and there’s equal powers.” Manchin said if Trump fires Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the person who actually has the authority to fire Mueller, that’s when he’d start to worry.

Whether Trump firing Mueller would actually lead to any consequences is, at the very least, unclear — Republican lawmakers aren’t exactly chomping at the bit to really go after the president. Their latest comments on the matter aren’t exactly heartening. (

Continue reading


New Special Counsel Robert Mueller Has History Of Standing Up To The White House


Matea Gold, Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger
Then-FBI Director Robert Mueller is sworn in during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee in 2013.© Alex Wong/Getty Images Then-FBI Director Robert Mueller is sworn in during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee in 2013.  

Robert S. Mueller III, who served as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation during the last two administrations, brings to his new role as special counsel a proven willingness to take on a sitting president.

In a high-drama episode in 2004, he and then-Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey were preparing to resign from their positions if President Bush reauthorized the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretap program without changes. Bush backed down.

Now, Mueller is charged with another politically fraught mission: the investigation of possible coordination between President Trump’s associates and Russian officials seeking to meddle in the 2016 campaign.

Former colleagues said the ex- Marine Corps officer and former U.S. attorney, who was sworn in as FBI director a week before the 2001 terrorist attacks, is uniquely suited to the task.

“He doesn’t sway under political pressure,” said Thomas J. Pickard, who served as deputy director of the FBI under Mueller on Sept. 11, 2001. He noted that President Obama extended Mueller’s term, even after he had served through all eight years of the Bush administration. “For 12 years, he kept the FBI out of politics,” Pickard added.

George J. Terwilliger III, who has known Mueller since both were assistant U.S. attorneys three decades ago, said that “if a special counsel had to be appointed, I think Bob is a terrific choice.”

“I have no doubt that he will be even handed — including going hammer and tong after anyone who is leaking investigative or classified information,” said Terwilliger, who served as deputy attorney general while Mueller led DOJ’s criminal division. “Bob’s got a career that is marked by handling the highest-profile matters out of the public eye with his nose to the grindstone and attention to the business.”

Neil MacBride, a former U.S. attorney who has worked with Mueller in a variety of jobs, called him “the real deal, the most respected prosecutor in America.”

A former deputy attorney general who later did a stint prosecuting homicide cases in Washington, Mueller is a known as a no-nonsense, relentless prosecutor with a deep reverence for the rule of law.

“The most devastating thing that can happen to an institution is that people begin to shade and dissemble,” he told Washingtonian magazine in 2008.

Mueller also has long ties to major players in the tumultuous political story that has engulfed Trump’s presidency. Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who tapped Mueller for the task, served under him at the Justice Department as a criminal prosecutor. Comey, whom Trump abruptly fired last week, was his ally during the Bush era and then succeeded him as FBI director.

Until his surprise appointment Wednesday, Mueller served as a partner at WilmerHale, a firm that represents former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Trump’s daughter Ivanka and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law.

Robert T. Novick, the firm’s co-managing partner, said Wednesday that Mueller had left effective immediately. Two WilmerHale partners who worked with Mueller in the past are expected to join him in the special counsel’s office, according to Novick: Aaron Zebley, Mueller’s chief of staff when he was FBI director, and James L. Quarles III, who worked with Mueller at the law firm in the 1990s.

Mueller grew up in Philadelphia and went to St. Paul’s School, the elite prep school in New Hampshire, where he played hockey with John F. Kerry, the former secretary of state.

At Princeton, he was inspired to join the Marine Corps by a former student who died in Vietnam, according to Washingtonian. He led a rifle platoon in Vietnam, eventually receiving numerous commendations, including the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

After graduating from the University of Virginia Law School, Mueller worked for a dozen years as an assistant U.S. attorney in San Francisco and Boston, where U.S. attorney William Weld described him as a “straight arrow.”

“He didn’t try to be elegant or fancy; he just put the cards on the table,” Weld told Washingtonian.

Mueller succeeded Weld as U.S. attorney in Boston and then went to Washington in 1989 as an assistant to Attorney General Richard L. Thornburgh, eventually rising to be chief of the criminal division. During his tenure, he worked on high-profile cases such as the prosecution of former Panamanian dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega and the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

After a stint at a private law firm, Mueller took a big pay cut to work as a homicide prosecutor in Washington for U.S. Attorney Eric H. Holder Jr. — a move that friends said showed how much prosecuting was in his blood.

Holder told The Post that Mueller called him and explained he was “shaken” by killings in the city and wanted a chance to be a line prosecutor and do something about it.

Holder called the conversation “one of the most extraordinary calls I’ve ever gotten.”

Holder later tapped Mueller to serve as U.S. attorney in San Francisco.

In 2001, Bush selected him to replace Louis J. Freeh as FBI director, a position friends said Mueller had long sought. He was unanimously confirmed by the Senate.

A week later, planes hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, upending his job and the bureau.

Pickard, who briefly served as his deputy, said that in the days after the attack, Mueller worked so hard that Pickard told his wife he needed to take a break: “I told her, ‘He’s killing us,’ ” Pickard recalled.

“He had a tremendous work ethic,” Pickard said. “He wouldn’t think anything of staying there until 9, 10, 11 p.m. at night and then showing up at 6 a.m. the next day, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready for work.”

Among Pickard’s duties was to brief Mueller. He said the FBI director would often reject summaries, asking instead to review the full notes taken by agents from their interviews. For exercise, he would stand for hours at a lectern, reading page after page. “He’s a real student — getting down into the details,” he said.

Less than three years later, Mueller and Comey were involved in the standoff with other Bush administration officials over an effort to extend the warrantless wiretapping program run by the National Security Agency.

At one point, Comey rushed to hospital bedside of Attorney General John D. Ashcroft to try to persuade him not to certify the extension sought by White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales and Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. Comey, who was serving as acting attorney general while Ashcroft recovered from gall bladder surgery, had refused to support the program’s continuation in its form.

Mueller arrived at the hospital shortly after the confrontation in Ashcroft’s room. He told the FBI agents guarding the room not to allow anyone else in to see Ashcroft without Comey’s permission.

When the Bush administration tried to proceed with the extension, Comey, Mueller and other Justice Department officials threatened to resign — forcing Bush to change the program.

After President Barack Obama was elected, he asked Congress to extend Mueller’s term past the statutory 10-year appointment, making him the second-longest-serving FBI director, after J. Edgar Hoover.

“Like the Marine that he’s always been, Bob never took his eyes off his mission,” Obama said when Mueller stepped down in 2013, adding: “I know very few people in public life who have shown more integrity, more consistently, under more pressure than Bob Mueller.”

As a partner at WilmerHale, which Mueller joined in 2014, he was frequently tapped by major corporations and institutions to conduct complex, sensitive internal investigations.

Among his recent clients was the defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, which hired him to review the company’s security procedures after one of its employees was charged with stealing classified data from the NSA. Another was the National Football League, which tapped Mueller to examine how the league handled a domestic abuse case involving former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.  (The Washington Post)

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: