Sunday, April 8, 2018

A Spoonful of Russiagate

Not too much for a Sunday morning. Fox News has two views of the Mueller "investigation". Judge Andrew Napolitano asks What Is Robert Mueller looking for?
From the backgrounds of those whom Mueller’s grand juries have indicted and from the deals they have cut with him, it appears that Mueller is looking at three areas of potential criminal behavior. Mueller has already established as a base line the saturation of the 2016 presidential campaign by Russian intelligence agents. If his indictments of these Russians are accurate, they were here virtually and physically and they spent millions to help Trump. But the indicted Russians are not coming back to the U.S. for their trials.

Mueller is examining their potential American confederates for the crime of conspiracy -- or, as my colleagues in the media call it, collusion. This would be an agreement by campaign officials to accept something of value from a foreign person, entity or government, even if the thing of value -- for example, Hillary Clinton emails -- was never actually delivered. The crime is the agreement, and it is prosecutable after at least one of those who agreed takes a material step in furtherance of the agreement.

Mueller’s second area of examination is possible obstruction of justice by President Trump himself. Obstruction is the interference with a judicial proceeding for a corrupt purpose. Was FBI Director James Comey fired because Trump couldn’t work with him or because he was hot on the president’s trail and Trump wanted to impede that? If it was the former, it would have been licit. If it was the latter, it could have been criminal.

The third of Mueller’s areas is financial dealings by the pre-presidential Trump. These bear little surface relationship to Russian involvement in the campaign, yet evidence of wrongdoing must have come to Mueller from his FBI agents or his cooperating witnesses, and he is following the money as prosecutors do.

Where will all this go? The president cannot seem to find an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Mueller has 16 experienced federal prosecutors and a few dozen FBI agents passionately at work. And he also has witnesses he legally bribed and a few hundred thousand documents from the White House and from Trump’s financial affairs that the president has not personally reviewed.

And now Mueller wants to interview the president. Who will have the upper hand if that happens?
Mark Levin hammers ‘rogue prosecutor’ Mueller who he says is investigating NOTHING
Levin argues that Mueller is a rogue prosecutor who is investigating nothing, pointing out that there were no legal statutes with which his investigation was commissioned.

He also explains, as he has in the past, that Trump can’t be a criminal target because he can’t be indicted while he’s in office. And that’s the judgement, via two past memoranda, from the DOJ itself.

Levin goes on to explain that because of this, Mueller knows he can’t bring Trump in front of a criminal grand jury, which is why he wants to interview Trump and try to get him in a perjury trap.
Did Trump’s lawyers ask the right questions?
No question, the president’s lawyer(s) would have asked Mueller about Trump’s status — target or subject (or, perhaps they hoped, nothing at all except a possible witness). But any experienced criminal lawyer gains no comfort when he hears that his client is a subject. Indeed, when he hears that, he hears the words, “Your client is not a subject at this time.” Criminal lawyers understand that the status could change to target tomorrow if a piece of evidence falls into the prosecutor’s lap. In fact, most careful prosecutors say subject “at this time” as a matter of course.

The more valuable questions for the lawyer to ask the prosecutor may require a more candid response. Specifically, “Are you looking to prosecute my client?” And, if the answer is “yes,” “Are you open to not prosecuting him?” Those are the real questions for which defense counsel needs answers. If the prosecutor answers “yes” to the first, the defense lawyer knows that yielding to an interview or giving grand jury testimony are actions fraught with considerable danger. And assuming the prosecutor answers “yes” to the second question, this danger exists even if that interview or testimony might be sufficiently compelling to end the investigation and the prosecutor’s interest in that client.

The problem is that prosecutors may be unwilling to give a candid answer to such questions. They may beat around the bush with some evasive statement — “I can’t answer at this time”; “My office’s policy is not to answer questions like that”; “As I told you, he’s a subject.” This, of course, leaves the lawyer with nothing more than he had before: a client as a subject.

The Supreme Court once said in another context, involving the providing of exculpatory material to the defense, that there should not be a “sporting theory of justice.” Yet, prosecutors (I’m not referring here to Mueller, since I don’t know) frequently are willing to hide behind rhetoric and decline to let defense counsel know the true status of a client. This is so even at critical moments where the prosecutor may stand on the verge of that make-or-break decision of whether to prosecute.
. . .
If Mueller actually is seeking to indict Trump, as he may be, the president’s counsel probably asked him the right questions. And if so — and if Mueller is looking to interview him, particularly given the political considerations — doesn’t the president deserve an answer so that he and his lawyers can fairly evaluate their options?

John Brennan’s Contributions to Fraud Upon FISA Court… and Why the FBI Is Dodging Nunes (It is concealing the depth of Obamagate)
The FBI says it is redacting “sensitive information.” That’s true in an ironic sense: the FBI is very sensitive about the information, in that it illuminates the agency’s transformation into an opposition research shop for the Hillary campaign. Take her partisans out of the picture and the probe would never have started.

In an attempt to sanitize the probe, the media has attributed its origin to a drunken conversation between an Aussie diplomat and a minor Trump campaign volunteer. But that’s a joke. Maybe the FBI threw that into the pot at the last minute, but John Brennan had been stirring it for months before then. As Brennan told Congress, “we were uncovering information intelligence about interactions and contacts between U.S. persons and the Russians. And as we came upon that, we would share it with the bureau.” Notice his use of “we” in that statement. By “we,” Brennan meant his retinue of Hillary partisans at the CIA who had been shaking foreign intelligence agencies down for any dirt on Trump.
Paul Manafort accuses federal prosecutors of illegal property search
Manafort's attorneys say an investigator looked around the unit with the help of a former low-level employee of Manafort's who wasn't authorized to give them that permission. A day later, investigators used a warrant to collect the business documents within it. Both the initial visit and the raid violated Manafort's constitutional protections, his attorneys argued Friday.

During the search, FBI agents grabbed boxes of Manafort's business records, which covered his work for Ukrainian politicians and in a movie production business, according to the filing. An FBI agent said in an affidavit it believed Manafort might also have records in the boxes of his business relationship and legal tangle with Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who was sanctioned by the Trump administration Friday.

Prosecutors have said they've shielded Manafort and public from seeing descriptions in the warrant documentation that could reveal their ongoing investigation. In line with that approach, prosecutors had redacted several pages of an FBI agent's affidavit used to obtain the storage unit warrant, Friday's filing showed.
. . .
They emptied the storage unit in the search, Manafort's lawyers said.

Earlier Friday night, Manafort's attorneys said they needed a deadline extension until Monday to file a similar request to suppress evidence collected in a raid of his Alexandria, Virginia, home in late July. The judge hasn't responded to that request, which came in about an hour and a half before the filing deadline.

Manafort's attorneys are also trying to convince the judge to dismiss the case or dismiss some of the charges against Manafort in DC, and have also asked for more details from prosecutors about the indictment.
Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
As near as anyone knows, the storage unit was searched before a warrant was issued, although Rod Rosenstein produced a memo to justify it after the fact.

Civil rights aren't just for democrats.

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