Monday, October 29, 2018

More Recurring Russiagate

From Politico: How a Democratic majority could undermine the Mueller probe
If Democrats retake the House in the midterm elections, they’re prepared to use their newfound subpoena power to aggressively open probes into President Donald Trump’s finances and connections to Russia. But doing so — just as Mueller appears to be entering the final laps of his own probe — would create tensions between the special counsel and a newly crowned majority party replenished by scores of freshman lawmakers who rode into Capitol Hill on an anti-Trump wave.

House Democratic aides have been meeting informally in recent months to discuss ways to do their jobs while avoiding stepping on Mueller’s toes in 2019, even toying with the idea of calling the special counsel in for a private bipartisan briefing.

“The House may want to start their oversight by bringing in special counsel Mueller to hear from him,” said former California Rep. Henry Waxman, who chaired the House Oversight Committee during the final two years of the George W. Bush administration and has been meeting informally with House Democrats to discuss investigation strategies.

Potential conflicts could come on many fronts. For starters, Democrats will be eager to see Mueller’s findings and hard-pressed to give him space if he’s not finished yet. If Mueller’s Justice Department supervisors resist making the special counsel’s work public, a clash could emerge.

Perhaps most potentially disruptive: Democrats could cause Mueller problems if they start granting immunity to witnesses whom the special counsel still wants to question or prosecute.
 At Da Spectator, The Stench Still Lingers: Why Rod Rosenstein continues to have President Trump over a barrel.
In a court filing last week in the James Madison Project’s FOIA lawsuit against DoJ asking for those documents, DoJ made an extraordinary assertion. It said that it had “… determined that disclosure of redacted information in the Carter Page FISA documents could reasonably be expected to interfere with the pending investigation into Russian election interference.”

That assertion could only have been made at the behest of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team.

A year ago, it would not have been unusual for the Department of Justice to make such an assertion in behalf of Mueller’s ongoing investigation into supposed Russian interference in the 2016 election.

But it’s 2018, not 2017. The Mueller investigation has been going on since May 2017. After a year and a half, it evidently hasn’t come up with any conduct on the basis of which it could get a grand jury to indict anyone for conspiracy with any Russian entity — far less the Russian government — to interfere in the election.

What the DoJ’s position in the James Madison Project case means is that Rod Rosenstein told the president that if he stood by his order to declassify the Carter Page and other FISA documents, he would be obstructing justice. And that caused the president to withdraw his order. (Real Clear Investigations has the story.)

Now, you can quibble. If you look at the laws describing obstruction of justice — and there are nearly two dozen — you can say that a president declassifying papers relevant to a criminal investigation (if they even are) doesn’t fit neatly into those statutes’ definitions of the crime.

But remember, as my pal Andy McCarthy often reminds us, the “high crimes and misdemeanors” that the Constitution provides are grounds of impeachment needn’t be criminal offenses. They are, instead, political offenses. You needn’t break the law in order to be impeached under the Constitution.
More discussion of the obstruction threat by Sundance at CTH: Lee Smith Investigates: Rosenstein DOJ Threatens “Obstruction” Over Declassification Directive…
With the DOJ release, and the overlay of the sourcing from Lee Smith, we now have a better understanding of Rosenstein’s DOJ leverage. A threat, veiled or overt – it matters not, against the President under the auspices that any declassification would be considered obstruction of justice by Special Counsel Robert Mueller:
…“disclosure of redacted information in the Carter Page FISA documents could reasonably be expected to interfere with the pending investigation into Russian election interference”…
[…] “The obstruction trap was built into the special counsel,” a congressional investigator told RCI, speaking, like the two other sources in this article, only on condition of anonymity.  “If Trump fires Mueller, or Rosenstein, or declassifies documents [embarrassing to the FBI] it’s likely to bring an obstruction charge.”
And that would mean double jeopardy for Trump. “Obstruction is the instrument the Democrats are likely to use to impeach Trump if they win the House,” said the congressional source.
The upshot is that the president will likely hold off on declassification,  at least until after the midterms in November, and  congressional investigators are likely to be stymied, at least for now, in their quest to expose what they call Obama-era surveillance abuses. (read more)
For all intents and purposes Rod Rosenstein and Robert Mueller are joined in fate over the Russia probe. DAG Rosenstein hired former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel in part due to the recommendation of FBI Legal Counsel Jim Baker and FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. The Mueller probe was a shield and a sword.
Did Attorney General Lynch give James Comey his marching orders on how to let Clinton off the hook? That's what's being alleged in Thread by @almostjingo: "Who was telling Comey what to say? Rybicki sends a document titled midyear thoughts and wants to talk to Comey. Comey forwards that to someo […]". Seems like a good bet.

Sundance at CTH on George Papadopoulos Considering Withdrawal From Mueller Plea Deal…
There’s an interesting dynamic around George Papadopoulos. For some reason it appears he has only recently understood the scope, scale and totality of Operation “Spygate”; the corrupt enterprise within DOJ/FBI operation “Crossfire Hurricane”.

As he realizes the intentional and manufactured set-ups by John Brennan (CIA); Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok and Bill Priestap (FBI Co-Intel); along with Sally Yates, John Carlin, Mary McCord (DOJ-NSD); and the Robert Mueller crew, writ large; George Papadopoulos is now considering a withdrawal from his plea deal with Robert Mueller.
From the Perfessor at Legal Insurrection: Will the Feds flip Julie Swetnick against Michael Avenatti?
Here’s a thought experiment.

If you were a federal prosecutor, and given the choice, would you prioritize prosecuting:

(a) a clearly disturbed woman with a long history of flimflam, but who in herself has no important societal role but for her outlandish and possibly perjurious sworn statements against a Supreme Court nominee, or

(b) the high-profile lawyer who helped her and a second woman submit possibly perjurious sworn statements, who is a fixture on cable TV, and who has presidential ambitions.

If you say, ‘get the lawyer’ — come on down.

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