First some housekeeping news. The FBI is eliminating a couple of dust bunnies as FBI officials Lisa Page and James Baker resign
Two FBI officials who have faced scrutiny in recent months resigned from the bureau on Friday, sources familiar with their departures have confirmed to CNN.But the FBI is still not looking under the carpeting as FBI won't seek out messages from Peter Strzok, Lisa Page exchanged on personal devices. "Don't turn on the lights, 'cause I don't want to see!"
Lisa Page, who served as an FBI lawyer and close adviser to former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, voluntarily resigned Friday, a source close to Page told CNN.
Page came under increasing attack after her text messages with FBI special agent Peter Strzok criticizing President Donald Trump came to light last winter. She briefly served on special counsel Robert Mueller's team last summer before returning to her duties at the FBI.
. . .
James A. Baker, the former general counsel for the FBI and one of former FBI Director James Comey's closest advisers, also resigned Friday, according to a source familiar with Baker's departure. A second source familiar with Baker's thinking said his departure was unrelated to Page's resignation and that hers came as a surprise to him.
The Big News of the day is the Federal Judge who accused Bob Mueller of trying to railroad Paul Manafort to get Trump. Giving Ace credit for the headline: Judge to Mueller's Team in Manafort Case: "Come On, Man," You're Just Trying to Railroad Manafort to Get to Trump
Brutal.More at Business Insider: 'Come on, man!': A federal judge cast serious doubt on Mueller's case against Manafort and suggested he's using it to get Manafort to flip, Vox: Robert Mueller’s team just had a really rough day in court, Reuters: U.S. judge says Mueller should not have 'unfettered power' in Russia probe
A federal judge on Friday harshly rebuked Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team during a hearing for ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort -- suggesting they lied about the scope of the investigation, are seeking "unfettered power" and are more interested in bringing down the president.This CNN article has some extended quotes:
"You don't really care about Mr. Manafort," U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III told Mueller's team. "You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you to lead you to Mr. Trump and an impeachment, or whatever."
Further, Ellis demanded to see the unredacted "scope memo," a document outlining the scope of the special counsel’s Russia probe that congressional Republicans have also sought.
The special counsel argues that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein granted them broad authority in his May 2, 2017 letter appointing Mueller to this investigation. But after the revelation that the team is using information from the earlier DOJ probe, Ellis said that information did not "arise" out of the special counsel probe – and therefore may not be within the scope of that investigation.
Mueller's team says its authorities are laid out in documents including the August 2017 scope memo -- and that some powers are actually secret because they involve ongoing investigations and national security matters that cannot be publicly disclosed.
Ellis seemed amused and not persuaded.
He summed up the Special Counsel's Office as, "We said this was what [the] investigation was about, but we are not bound by it and we were lying."
He referenced the common exclamation from NFL announcers, saying: "C'mon man!"
"You don't really care about Mr. Manafort's bank fraud," Ellis said to prosecutor Michael Dreeben, at times losing his temper. Ellis said prosecutors were interested in Manafort because of his potential to provide material that would lead to Trump's "prosecution or impeachment," Ellis said.In other words, how can an authorization of power written in 2017 to investigate crimes that supposedly happened in 2016 reach back to include 2005 crimes? How can 2005 crimes be said to have "arisen" out of the 2017-2018 investigation?
"That's what you're really interested in," said Ellis, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan.
Ellis repeated his suspicion several times in the hour-long court hearing...
"We don't want anyone in this country with unfettered power. It's unlikely you're going to persuade me the special prosecutor has power to do anything he or she wants," Ellis told Dreeben. "The American people feel pretty strongly that no one has unfettered power."
When Dreeben answered Ellis' question about how the investigation and its charges date back to before the Trump campaign formed, the judge shot back, "None of that information has to do with information related to Russian government coordination and the campaign of Donald Trump."
Ellis also complained that the bulk of that August memo he received was highly redacted. He told Mueller’s office to take two weeks to consult with U.S. intelligence agencies to see whether they would sign off so that he can personally review a sealed, unredacted version of the memo.The Congress has been attempting to see the whole thing for quite a while:Some extended conversation at Althouse: "You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort’s bank fraud. You really care about getting information that Mr. Manafort can give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump and lead to his prosecution or impeachment or whatever." As usual the fun is in the comment section.
Dreeben told him the redacted portions did not pertain to the Manafort case.
“I’ll be the judge,” Ellis said.
The "memo" referred to is the memo in which Rod Rosenstein granted "powers" to Mueller to prosecute. Rich Lowry at Politico: Rod Rosenstein Jumps the Shark - The Mueller investigation is out of bounds—and it’s the deputy AG who needs to be held accountable
This is a sweeping and intrusive inquiry that isn’t just about about official acts, but about the president’s state of mind. Mueller doesn’t just want to know what Trump did or what he said, but what were his thoughts in any given moment.Micahel Walsh: Whose Constitution Is It, Anyway? Kimberly Strassel: Why the Justice Department Is Defiant
It’s an avenue of investigation that is literally boundless. Mueller wants to know what Trump did when the news broke in January 2018 that the president considered firing Mueller the year before. Perhaps now there will be a question about what Trump thought when the New York Times reported that Mueller wants to ask him about his thinking.
We can’t know the precise motivations behind the Justice Department’s and FBI’s refusal to make key information public. But whether it is out of real concern over declassification or a desire to protect the institutions from embarrassment, the current leadership is about 20 steps behind this narrative. Mr. Comey, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Andrew McCabe —they have already shattered the FBI’s reputation and public trust. There is nothing to be gained from pretending this is business as usual, or attempting to stem continued fallout by hiding further details.
Hard to avoid the feeling that some folks at DOJ are hoping they can get rid of Trump before the American people find out what they’ve really been up to all this time https://t.co/VZM0i05MFK— Buck Sexton (@BuckSexton) May 4, 2018
Mueller Probe Could Boost GOP Midterm Candidates Could and will are two different words, but yes, it could work out that way. The democrats have all but ceased to campaign on anything other than giving away the store to their interest groups and impeaching Donald Trump. John Sexton at Hot Air: Adam Schiff on impeachment: Let’s not give people the idea Democrats want to ‘nullify an election’, when that's exactly what they want. Matthew Contineiti at The Washington Free Beacon: The Media Is Killing the Democratic Party "The Democratic message has been reduced to Russia and Stormy Daniels"
Dr. John at Flopping Aces: The IG report will torch Comey, but it’s not all good news
James Comey deserves to have his ass reamed. He has brought great damage to the FBI. He has caused a loss of faith in the bureau. But this report will also breathe life into the moribund Hillary Clinton, who will stagger to her unsteady feet and once again shriek that the election was stolen from her. Just having to listen to her voice is punishment for America.
NBC Report on Cohen Wiretaps Confirms Prior Information – Mueller Investigation Took Over FBI Counterintelligence Operation… You know, the one touched off by the Steele Dossier and George Popadopolus drunken comments to a Clinton booster.
Donny Deutsch: Michael Cohen Told Me Rudy Doesn’t Know What He’s Talking About
Donny Deutsch: Michael Cohen Told Me Rudy Doesn’t Know What He’s Talking About
JUST IN: Rudy Giuliani issues statement "intended to clarify the views I expressed over the past few days." https://t.co/usoHflZShm pic.twitter.com/cHKwDvhMnq— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) May 4, 2018
Ace: Rudy Giuliani Has Some Kind Words for Comey the Redeemer He called him a baby. Ed Morrissey at Hot Air: Trump: Give Rudy A Break — “He’ll Get His Facts Straight” Eventually John Podhoretz at NY Post: There’s a clear method to Rudy’s ‘mad’ Trump defense
The Giuliani interview was, I think, intended as a threat, not only to Mueller, but to Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed him. Giuliani said pointedly that he doesn’t know Rosenstein and that his “good friend” Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, “should never have appointed Rosenstein.”The Dersh: Trump Better Off Challenging a Subpoena Over Sitting Down With Mueller
What’s more, Giuliani declared, “The two of them can redeem themselves, Sessions and Rosenstein. They should order the investigation over.”
. . .
Giuliani is a believer in waging total war against political enemies and those who’d stymie his efforts. His relentless hostility toward those he deemed hostile to him and his agenda was key to his own political success as mayor of New York. “Go for the throat” is something Trump surely wanted to hear, and something he wasn’t getting from his legal team. He’s getting it now. The temptation may be too alluring for him to resist.
AP: Trump’s new lawyer is top candidate for White House counsel
Liz Shields Hot Mic from yesterday: MSNBC Issues HUGE Correction To Michael Cohen ‘Wiretap’ Story, There Are Two Problems with Trump’s Claim that He Didn’t Know Where Stormy Daniels Payment Was Going, GOP Rep. Dent calls for oversight hearings on Stormy Daniels payment,
Comey blasts Giuliani for comparing FBI agents to 'stormtroopers', The Definitive List Of Media Screw-Ups On The Trump-Russia Story
Allahpundit: Why Hasn’t NBC Burned The Source Who Gave Them The Bogus Cohen Wiretap Story? Probably because it was NBC who got out ahead of their skis. And besides, give up a leak from a government source just because they mislead you is bad for business.
Larwyn's Linx: Are NBC and CNN Paying Off Top Spies Who Leaked Info With On-Air Jobs?: Are NBC and CNN Paying Off Top Spies Who Leaked Info With On-Air Jobs?: Lee Smith, Michael Caputo Attests to What I've Told You the Establishment Is Doing: EIB, Questions for Special Counsel Mueller: Lloyd Billingsley, NBC confirms Mueller inherited the "insurance policy": CTH
With Cat Out of Bag NBC Attempts Surveillance Obfuscation; Not "Taps", "Monitoring": CTH, Stormy's Lawyer: I Knew Cohen's Text Messages Were Illegally Tapped: GWP, Levin Says DOJ Precedent Shows 'Rogue' Mueller Cannot Indict Trump: FNI, Whose Constitution Is It, Anyway?: Michael Walsh, Generic GOP Candidates Win Polls in Majority of Senate Battleground States: Jack Heretik, Former CIA Chief Blames Trump for Creating "Post-Truth" World: Michael Ledeen, The FBI Shouldn’t Be Above The Law Either: David Harsanyi, Andy McCarthy with Levin: Mueller Has No Power to Subpoena Trump: Michael Morris
The Definitive List Of Media Screw-Ups On The Trump-Russia Story Could be more later today. Who knows?