WASHINGTON, May 30, 2018 — In a series of tweets, President Donald Trump said Wednesday that his frustration with Attorney General Jeff Sessions stemmed from a lack of candor over Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from having any involvement in the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The extent of the president’s anger at Sessions was revealed Tuesday in a New York Times story detailing how he’d demanded that Sessions reverse his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation — a demand Sessions refused.
Trump subsequently ordered then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to ask for Sessions’ resignation shortly after he’d recused himself, but Priebus never completed the task. The president would later savage his Attorney General in a series of tweets, reportedly hoping he’d be humiliated enough to resign and pave the way for a more “loyal” replacement who’d presumably sideline the investigation.
The president’s tweets invoked an alternative explanation for the story offered by South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy, in which Gowdy said Trump’s anger at Sessions stemmed not from Sessions’ failure to “protect” him from the ongoing investigation into whether the Trump campaign had any ties to Russia but from Sessions failure to inform Trump before he took the job.
“I think what the President is doing is expressing frustration that Attorney General Sessions should have shared these reasons for recusal before he took the job, not afterward. If I were the President and I picked someone to be the country’s chief law enforcement officer, and they told me later, ‘oh, by the way, I’m not going to be able to participate in the most important case in the office,’ I would be frustrated too…and that’s how I read that,” Gowdy said before imagining the president asking Sessions why he didn’t inform Trump and allow him to pick somebody else out of the many “really good lawyers in the country.”
“I wish I did!” Trump added.
But as a previous New York Times story reported, Trump’s anger at Sessions stemmed from his view that the job of the Attorney General — the nation’s chief law enforcement officer — was more akin to a “fixer” who’d “protect” the president from investigations. He also reportedly demanded that White House Counsel Donald McGahn interceded to dissuade Sessions from recusing himself.
McGahn did carry out the president’s request, but was unsuccessful, as Sessions refused and recused himself in accordance with Justice Department rules.
Trump also reportedly claimed that he expected the head of the Justice Department to protect him in the way then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy supposedly protected his brother, President John F. Kennedy. He reportedly asked, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” referring to the onetime counsel to Sen. Joseph McCarthy, R-Wisc., who represented Trump during his early years as a New York real estate developer.
Trump Admits Russia Helped Him Get Elected
WASHINGTON, May 30, 2019 — After two and a half years of denying that Russia’s interference in the 2016 election was aimed towards boosting his candidacy, President Trump on Thursday admitted that Russia’s efforts had helped him win the presidency.
“Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected. It was a crime that didn’t exist,” Trump wrote during a Thursday morning tweetstorm meant to frame counter-narrative to the declaration by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller that his team could not say the President did not obstruct justice by firing former FBI Director James Comey or by directing associates to order Mueller’s firing.
Mueller ended roughly two years of silence on Wednesday — his last day at the Justice Department — with a dramatic public statement revealing that his team had not been permitted to consider whether Trump violated the law because of a longstanding DOJ policy forbidding the indictment of a sitting chief executive.
“Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider,” Mueller said, adding later that the Constitution “requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.”
Trump’s statement that he “had nothing to do with Russia helping [him] get elected” is the first time he has ever acknowledged that either the massive social media disinformation campaign or the theft of emails from the Democratic National Committee and members of Hillary Clinton’s campaign team — and their distribution through third parties like WikiLeaks — played a role in his election.
But as he departed the White House en route to the Air Force Academy’s graduation ceremony, Trump went back on the attack against Mueller by repeating a number of baseless claims about alleged “conflicts of interest” that should have made the former FBI director ineligible for the Special Counsel position.
“Robert Mueller should have never been chosen because he wanted the FBI job and didn’t get it,” Trump said, repeating a false claim he has repeatedly made concerning a visit Mueller made to the White House in 2017, shortly before then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed him to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
Despite Trump’s frequent claim that Mueller had asked to interview for the job he’d held from 2001 through 2013, page 293 of the Mueller Report describes how White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon “recalled that the White House had invited Mueller to speak to the President to offer a perspective on the institution of the FBI.”
According to the report, Bannon told investigators that “although the White House thought about beseeching Mueller to become Director again, he did not come in looking for the job.”
Trump also attacked Mueller for not looking into a wide range of conspiracy theories involving former FBI Director James Comey, ex-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI Agent Peter Strzok and former FBI attorney Lisa Page before suggesting Mueller was a “total conflicted person” who harbored political bias against him and his presidency “I think Mueller is a true ‘Never Trumper,’ he’s someone that dislikes Donald Trump,” he said.
When asked about his tweet that seemed to acknowledge Russia’s role in his 2016 win, he immediately began an attempt to walk back what he had tweeted earlier that day before suggesting — without evidence — that Russia’s efforts to boost his candidacy had instead helped “the other side” and equating unfavorable press coverage with a state-sponsored effort to sway another country’s election.
“You know who helped me get elected? I got me elected,” he said, pointing a finger at his chest. “Russia didn’t help me at all.”
However, one person who has acknowledged Russia’s role is Russian President Vladimir Putin. During a joint news conference with Trump at the two leaders’ summit in Helsinki, Finland, Putin was asked if he had wanted Trump to win and directed any actions to further that goal.
“Yes, I did.”
Mueller Says Charging Trump ‘Not An Option’ Under DOJ Rules: ‘The Constitution Requires A Process Other Than The Criminal Justice System’
WASHINGTON, May 29, 2019 — After more than two years of silence, Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Wednesday said that his office could not say “with confidence” that President Trump did not violate laws against obstructing justice, but charging him with violating them was “not an option” because Justice Department policy precludes indicting a sitting chief executive for a federal crime.
“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not,” Mueller said, directly contradicting claims of “no obstruction” made by both Attorney General William Barr and President Trump himself.
Instead, Mueller explained that his office was constrained by a legal opinion authored by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which concludes that indicting a sitting president would be unconstitutional.
“Under longstanding department policy, a president president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office,” Mueller said.
“Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.”
In a clear nod toward Congress’ power to impeach and remove a chief executive for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” Mueller explained that the Constitution “requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.”
Mueller’s refutation of Barr’s claims that Trump did not obstruct justice came nearly two years to the day he was named as Special Counsel by then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Rosenstein appointed Mueller, a lifelong Republican who served in senior positions in the Justice Department during the the Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton administrations before serving as FBI Director under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, following Trump’s firing of Mueller’s successor as FBI Director, James Comey.
In a letter sent to inform Comey of his termination, Trump cited a memorandum by Rosenstein which criticized Comey’s handling of the investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
But Rosenstein decided to appoint Mueller as a Special Counsel after Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt that he’d fired Comey because of the FBI investigation into whether Trump or members of campaign had any involvement with Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
Mueller described that interference campaign as consisting of “multiple systematic attempts” by individuals currently under indictment.
“That allegation [of interference] deserves the attention of every American,” he said.
Trump immediately brushed off Mueller’s refutation of his claim to have been exonerated by the report in a tweet which blatantly misstated what Mueller had said moments before.
“Nothing changes from the Mueller Report. There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent. The case is closed!” Trump tweeted.
Other Trump associates weighed in shortly after, echoing the same claims Trumpworld figures have made since the Mueller Report’s release while largely ignoring Mueller’s statement emphasizing the fact that Trump could not be charged with a crime and that impeachment was the only constitutionally-permissible way to address wrongdoing by a President under DOJ rules.
“Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s remarks today confirmed what we already knew. There was no collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign, and there was no case for obstruction,” Trump 2020 Campaign Manager Brad Parscale said in an emailed statement.
“President Trump has been fully and completely exonerated. Mueller said his investigation is over. The case is now closed.”
Another statement posted to Twitter by White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders closely tracked Parscale’s language and repeated some of the same baseless claims about what Mueller and his report had said.
“The Special Counsel has completed the investigation, closed his office, and has closed the case,” Sanders wrote in a tweet. “The report was clear — there was no collusion, no conspiracy — and the Justice Department confirmed there was no obstruction.”
“After two years, the Special Counsel is moving on with his life, and everyone else should do the same.”
But Mueller’s statement did not support Parscale’s and Sanders’ assertions that there had been insufficient evidence to charge the President with obstruction of justice.
In his remarks, Mueller only noted that there had not been sufficient evidence to charge Trump or any of his associates with conspiring alongside any participants in Russia’s efforts to interfere with the election, while his report detailed numerous instances of Trump campaign officials meeting with Russian nationals and promoting material that Russia had stolen from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign officials.
While Trumpworld dismissed Mueller’s remarks as nothing new, the sole Republican to speak out in favor of the House launching an impeachment inquiry, Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., reacted to Mueller’s nod toward Congress’ impeachment powers in a tweet posted shortly after the Special Counsel concluded his statement.
“The ball is in our court, Congress,” he wrote.
Mueller To Break Silence With Statement On Russia Investigation
WASHINGTON, May 29, 2019 — Special Counsel Robert Mueller will deliver a statement on his investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, the Justice Department said in a statement Thursday.
Mueller, who was director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 2001 through 2013, has not spoken publicly since then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed him as a Justice Department Special Counsel in May 2017.
His remarks are set to begin at 11:00 am, though the Justice Department said Mueller will not take questions afterward.
A senior Trump administration official said the White House was notified of Mueller’s intention to speak last night, and that the administration would withhold comment until after he has concluded his remarks.
As White House communications staffers began what one press aide described as a “half-hour meeting,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders revealed that President Trump is “aware” of Mueller’s impending statement and was monitoring the situation
Sanders had no comment on whether Trump would speak following Mueller’s remarks or on whether the White House been briefed on what Mueller plans to say.
This is a developing story — check back for details.