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Latest news, details and analysis on the Mueller Report
The U.S. Department of Justice seal is pictured in Washington. | Samuel Corum/Getty Images
Previously secret 'alternative' Mueller report goes public
Compendium of evidence gathered by the special counsel's 'Team M' is heavily redacted.
The Justice Department has released portions of a previously unseen alternative version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on ties between former President Donald Trump and Russia.
However, the 37-page report prepared at the direction of Mueller deputy Andrew Weissmann and released this week under the Freedom of Information Act is heavily redacted. Justice Department officials withheld large swaths of the document on grounds of ongoing investigations, privacy and protecting internal deliberations.
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Biden chose Elizabeth Prelogar to become solicitor General. | AP Photo/Susan Walsh
Biden selects Elizabeth Prelogar to be solicitor general
She is a former clerk for Merrick Garland, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan.
President Joe Biden has nominated Elizabeth Prelogar, the veteran appellate lawyer who has pursued the administration’s interests at the Supreme Court over the past seven months, to become solicitor General on a permanent basis, the White House announced early Wednesday.
Prelogar, a Harvard Law graduate and a former clerk to Attorney General Merrick Garland during his tenure as a judge on the D.C. Circuit, served as a prosecutor on the staff of special counsel Robert Mueller during his investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards served as a senior adviser to the head of the Intelligence Division at the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Former Treasury official sentenced to six months in prison for Mueller-related leaks
Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards admitted to conspiring to violate the Bank Secrecy Act by disclosing what prosecutors said were more than 2,000 “suspicious activity reports.”
NEW YORK — A former senior Treasury Department official was sentenced Thursday to six months in prison for leaking thousands of confidential reports on suspect financial transactions.
The disclosures from Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, 42, fueled reports in BuzzFeed on issues related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, as well as a series by news organizations across the globe last September examining why banks around the world continued to do business with clients who regularly engaged in suspicious activity.
Robert Mueller arrives at a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee June 13, 2013. | Alex Wong/Getty Images
Mueller to help lead UVa law school class on Russia investigation
Mueller, who graduated from the school in 1973, will lead "at least one class" of the course.
Former special counsel Robert Mueller will take part in a University of Virginia law school class covering his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential ties to the Trump campaign, the school announced Wednesday.
Mueller, who graduated from the school in 1973, will lead "at least one class" of the course, which is being taught by three former senior Mueller team members, including deputy special counsel Aaron Zebley, according to a release from the school. The "short" class, called "The Mueller Report and the Role of the Special Counsel," will be taught in person this fall.
The Justice Department can appeal the judge's decision to force release of the memo. | Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo
Judge orders release of DOJ memo justifying not prosecuting Trump
Amy Berman Jackson blasts former Attorney General William Barr's spin on the Mueller report as "disingenuous."
A federal judge has ordered the release of a key Justice Department memo supporting former Attorney William Barr’s conclusion that former President Donald Trump should not be prosecuted for obstruction of justice over episodes investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller.
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued that ruling in a withering opinion that accused Barr of being “disingenuous” when describing Mueller’s findings and found that the Justice Department was not candid with the court about the purpose and role of the 2019 memo prepared by Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel.
For a time, Brandon Van Grack was the only former Mueller prosecutor in a leadership role at the Department of Justice. | Samuel Corum/Getty Images
Former Mueller prosecutor predicts increased pursuit of unregistered foreign agents
Departing FARA chief Brandon Van Grack predicted the Biden administration will continue the crackdown.
The Justice Department official who spearheaded the department’s crackdown on unregistered foreign agents praised the department’s tougher approach to enforcing the Foreign Agent Registration Act and predicted that DOJ will continue the crackdown under the Biden administration.
“It is clear that this incoming Justice Department remains very focused on addressing the issues pertaining to covert and malign foreign influence, and that they have every intention to continue to robustly enforce FARA,” Brandon Van Grack, who recently stepped down from his post as the chief of the revamped FARA office, said in an interview. “Probably you're dealing with a FARA unit that is more, better staffed, than it has been probably in my lifetime.”
Sen. Pat Toomey on Sunday criticized some of the Trump Administration's pardons. | Alex Wong/Getty Images
Sen. Toomey: Trump going too far with pardons
He noted the connection of some of those pardoned to the president.
Sen. Pat Toomey on Sunday said President Donald Trump had gone too far with some of his presidential pardons.
Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” the Pennsylvania Republican said that while the president had the right to pardon anyone, “I think it’s a misuse of the power” to pardon people whose greatest claim to this special form of justice is a connection to the president.
The people pardoned by President Donald Trump include former Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), who admitted to campaign finance violations. | Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images
Trump's latest batch of pardons favors the well-connected
Those receiving pardons include several indicted former members of Congress, players in the Russia scandal, and military contractors convicted for illicit killing in Iraq.
President Donald Trump issued a raft of pre-Christmas pardons and commutations Tuesday, favoring the well-connected and those with A-list advocates, while appearing to shunt aside — at least for now — more than 14,000 people who have applied for clemency through a small Justice Department office that handles such requests.
Some of Trump’s actions seemed intended to send clear messages, such as grants of clemency for the former campaign operative whose 2016 activities triggered the FBI probe that led to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and to four security contractors convicted for massacring Iraqi civilians in 2008, including one serving a life-sentence for first-degree murder.
The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed Donald McGahn for testimony in April 2019. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
House intends to continue pursuing McGahn testimony in 2021
The dispute is at its heart a separation-of-powers battle.
House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler intends to reissue a subpoena for former White House Counsel Don McGahn's testimony next year, the House told a federal appeals court Wednesday, confirming that Democrats intend to press ahead with its long legal battle to compel testimony from a star witness in special counsel Robert Mueller's obstruction of justice investigation of President Donald Trump.
"I expect to promptly reissue the Committee subpoena to Mr. McGahn to ensure this Committee’s litigation and corresponding legislative and oversight efforts continue uninterrupted," Nadler said in a memo to the Judiciary Committee , which accompanied the 66-page court filing signed by House Counsel Douglas Letter.
Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn leaves the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C. | Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo
Judge tosses criminal charge against Flynn following Trump pardon
Although Judge Emmet Sullivan ultimately ended the case, he lambasted the Justice Department.
A federal judge has closed the four-year-old criminal case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn, acknowledging the pardon that President Donald Trump issued last week to the only Trump administration official charged in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan — who’d been wrestling for months with a highly unusual request from Attorney General William Barr to drop the prosecution — said Tuesday that bid was rendered moot by Trump’s decision to grant Flynn a sweeping pardon for his alleged lies to the FBI and any other offenses he may have committed in connection with Mueller’s probe.
Attorney General William Barr disclosed the move in a letter to Congress. | Jeff Roberson - Pool/Getty Images
Barr taps Durham as special counsel, pushing probe into Biden era
The attorney general revealed his latest move to dig into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation.
Attorney General William Barr has appointed U.S. attorney John Durham as a special counsel to investigate the origins of the FBI’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The appointment formalizes Durham’s ongoing probe, but more significantly, would give Durham latitude to continue the politically explosive investigation after President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January.
Former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani. | Julio Cortez/AP Photo
Giuliani denies report that he discussed pardon with Trump
The former New York mayor was reportedly under investigation by federal prosecutors and has drawn scrutiny for his dealings in Ukraine.
Rudy Giuliani on Tuesday appeared to deny aspects of a news report that he has allegedly discussed with President Donald Trump the possibility of being issued a preemptive pardon before Trump leaves office.
“#FakeNews NYT lies again,” Giuliani wrote on Twitter . “Never had the discussion they falsely attribute to an anonymous source. Hard to keep up with all their lies.”
Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, pleaded guilty in 2017. | AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
’Any and all possible offenses’: Trump pardon grants Flynn a sweeping reprieve
The formal language, revealed Monday, clears the former national security adviser of any crimes he might have committed connected to the Mueller investigation.
President Donald Trump’s pardon of his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, includes an extremely broad reprieve from any possible crimes he might have committed connected to special counsel Robert Mueller’s two-year investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The formal language of the pardon emerged in a Justice Department court filing on Monday seeking dismissal of the lingering criminal case against Flynn, who pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia. Flynn has since renounced his plea and accused prosecutors and investigators of framing him, charges echoed by Trump as he battled the Mueller probe.
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
Trump pardons former national security adviser Flynn
Michael Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to FBI agents investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Outgoing President Donald Trump pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Wednesday for lying to FBI agents investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon,” the president tweeted. “Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!”
Robert Mueller makes an opening statement before testifying to the House Judiciary Committee on July 24, 2019. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
House asks Supreme Court to postpone Mueller grand jury case
Democrats want to reconsider their approach with the Trump presidency ending.
The House is asking the Supreme Court to postpone consideration of Democrats’ 18-month effort to obtain former special counsel Robert Mueller’s secret evidence, citing the imminent inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
In a filing with the high court on Tuesday, House counsel Doug Letter urged the court to postpone a Dec. 2 hearing on the matter. Biden’s ascension to the Oval Office, combined with a newly constituted Congress taking office next year will require the House Judiciary Committee to reconsider how to pursue its investigation, Letter said.
Former deputy Trump campaign aide Rick Gates said he strongly supports President Donald Trump's reelection. | Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo
Rick Gates, who flipped on Trump in Russia probe, seeks redemption
The former Manafort deputy, who remains on probation, has opened a boutique consulting firm to help clients navigate the federal government.
As attempted comebacks go, it’s an audacious gambit.
Rick Gates, the former Trump aide who pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in the Robert Mueller probe — and then helped put other Trump associates in jail — hasn’t just launched a book tour aimed at clearing his name. He’s also started a new strategic consulting firm for companies looking to navigate the federal government.
The Russian national flag. | Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Opinion | There’s Not a Russian Under Every Bed
The left’s focus on Russia has taken on the trappings of a conspiracy theory with a comforting, monocausal explanation for everything: Russia did it.
The Russians haven’t loomed so large as a dark, sinister hand influencing the course of American society since the Red Scares of the 20th century.
Then, it was largely the right that warned of Russian infiltration; now it is progressives who see Russians altering the course of American history through dark manipulations.
Don McGahn, then the White House counsel, looks on as Justice Brett Kavanaugh testifies during his 2018 Supreme Court confirmation | Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Appeals Court pushes McGahn arguments into 2021
The House’s power to enforce its subpoenas — to McGahn or anyone else — will be on the line.
The House's fight to subpoena former White House counsel Don McGahn — a central witness to evidence that President Donald Trump obstructed special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation — will stretch deep into 2021, a federal appeals court determined Thursday.
The move ensures that potential testimony from the GOP lawyer comes well after Trump's reelection or the inauguration of Joe Biden.
Weissmann notes that his book chronicles just how desperate the team was to record all their actions in the event that Trump summarily fired them all, as he threatened to do from the outset of the probe. | Pat Sullivan/AP Photo
‘Mueller’s pitbull’ has a few regrets
Prosecutor Andrew Weissmann says the recent revelations about Donald Trump’s tax returns vindicate his argument that the probe didn’t go far enough.
If you believe the headlines, Andrew Weissmann was special counsel Robert Mueller’s “pitbull,” his closest aide, the shadow power behind the two-year investigation of President Donald Trump and his campaign’s contacts with Russia.
But in Weissmann’s own telling, his reputation as an outsize force was overstated — fueled, the longtime federal prosecutor believes, by a secret anti-Mueller public relations effort driven by Paul Manafort and Sean Hannity. And it’s belied by the sheer number of major prosecutorial decisions on which he ended up on the losing side.
“These reports are troubling and raise concerns about record retention and transparency,” Sen. Ron Johnson wrote in a letter to DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz. | Samuel Corum/Getty Images
Johnson seeks IG probe of wiped Mueller team phones
Records released by the Justice Department this week suggest top Mueller aides erased records from at least 15 phones.
Senate Homeland Security Chair Ron Johnson is asking a Justice Department watchdog to probe recently revealed documents that suggest members of special counsel Robert Mueller's team wiped records from their official phones.
Records released by the Justice Department this week in response to a Freedom of Information Act request suggest top Mueller aides erased the information from at least 15 phones, citing forgotten passwords, physical damage and missing hardware.
- The Russia Connection
What’s New in the Unredacted Mueller Report?
If you strain your memory very hard, you might recall a man named Robert Mueller.
Only a short year ago, the special counsel was the man of the hour. Now, in the middle of a pandemic, a protest movement over police violence, and a presidential campaign, the urgency of Mueller’s findings has—understandably—faded. Nevertheless, both Congress and news organizations are still pushing to squeeze more information out of the Mueller report. The Supreme Court will hear a dispute over whether the House of Representatives may access grand jury material redacted from the report, while litigation by various news organizations has resulted in the release of search warrants and affidavits related to the Roger Stone investigation and tranche after tranche of summaries of FBI interviews conducted by Mueller’s team.
And most recently, BuzzFeed News and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) successfully sued for the release of a version of the Mueller report with many fewer redactions—uncovering new text written by Mueller’s office that has been hidden for the past year.
So what fresh material is available in the new, improved, less-redacted Mueller report?
In one sense, not very much. The redactions lifted by BuzzFeed and EPIC’s litigation all pertain to the case of Roger Stone, which was pending when the report was first released but has now been completed—hence the court’s willingness to release this material. As a result, a fair amount of the newly unsealed material had already become public when the government presented it during Stone’s trial. Other pieces of the material were previously reported on by news organizations or, in one case, presented to Congress and the public by the witness who told Mueller about the incident in the first place.
But there are a few shreds of information that are really, genuinely new, and they’re damning of the president. Namely: Trump had direct knowledge of Roger Stone’s outreach to WikiLeaks, according to multiple witnesses interviewed by Mueller. He encouraged that outreach and asked his campaign chairman to pursue it further, those witnesses said. And Mueller’s office appears to have strongly suspected, without putting it in so many words, that Trump lied to the special counsel in his written answers to Mueller’s questions about the Stone affair.
The redacted report hinted at this. But it’s another thing to see it spelled out unmistakably by the special counsel.
Given that the full text of the original report is a hefty 448 pages, and the BuzzFeed/EPIC version clocks in at 394, it’s not that easy to find the fresh material at a glance. Below, I’ve set out the redacted pages from the original report alongside their newly unredacted copies. You can scroll through the PDF documents (available directly here and here ) and see what changed from copy to copy. If you click through to the PDFs themselves, the unredacted text is highlighted in yellow.
To keep things streamlined, I’ve included only the pages where redactions were lifted. If you want to read the full report as it appears in the BuzzFeed/EPIC release, including the pages where nothing changed from the original, you can do so here . The report as first released to the public in April 2019, including all redactions, is available here .
You’ll also find below a breakdown of what unsealed information is available, listed by page number and separated by volume. In each case, I’ve put together short descriptions of the newly available facts, incorporating quotes from the relevant sections of the Mueller report along with my own summary text. I’ve attempted to note instances where information was previously available and flagged where readers might find those earlier accounts. If a fact is stated on multiple pages, I’ve included it only once.
“...Roger Stone made several attempts to contact WikiLeaks founder Assange, boasted of his access to Assange, and was in regular contact with Campaign officials about the releases that Assange made and was believed to be planning.” (Vol. I, p. 51)
This is the overarching theme of the newly unsealed information—much of which became public in the indictment of Stone in January 2019 and over the course of Stone’s trial. It’s the details that follow that are more noteworthy.
“...beginning in June 2016 and continuing through October 2016, Stone spoke about WikiLeaks with senior Campaign officials, including candidate Trump.” (Vol. I, p. 51)
While the redacted report hints at involvement by Trump, the hidden material makes this frustratingly unclear. The unredacted copy directly states that Trump spoke multiple times with Stone about WikiLeaks’s release of material damaging to Clinton. Specifically, according to the report, Stone told the Trump campaign “as early as June 2016”—that is, at least a month before WikiLeaks began its releases on July 22—that Assange would release damaging documents.
Much of this material became public during Stone’s trial thanks to Rick Gates, a campaign official indicted as part of the Mueller probe who testified against Stone . Gates testified then that he and campaign chairman Paul Manafort spoke with Stone about future WikiLeaks releases in June, and that the campaign’s interest in what Stone had to offer peaked after July 22—that is, after it turned out that Stone’s information might have been accurate. According to Gates, Manafort expressed interest in more information on WikiLeaks and asked Gates to keep in touch with Stone about possible future releases.
All this is now also documented in the unredacted report—much of it, footnotes show, derived from FBI interviews with Gates. But the report also documents matching testimony from Manafort himself, who told Mueller’s office that “Stone told Manafort he was dealing with someone who was in contact with WikiLeaks and believed that there would be an imminent release of emails by WikiLeaks” (Vol. I, p. 52).
According to Michael Cohen, Stone told Trump in a phone call before July 22 that “he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and in a couple of days WikiLeaks would release information.” After the July release, Trump “said to Cohen something to the effect of, ‘I guess Roger was right.’” (Vol. I, p. 53)
Cohen informed Congress of this incident in his public testimony in February 2019—which is cited in the report itself, along with an FBI interview of Cohen. During his testimony, as the report notes, he estimated that the Stone call took place on July 18 or 19. In Cohen’s account, he was in Trump’s office in Trump Tower when Stone called and Trump put the call on speakerphone, allowing Cohen to hear.
The fact that Trump later commented “I guess Roger was right” (according to Cohen) is new, however.
After the first WikiLeaks dump, Manafort spoke with Trump about Stone’s apparent foreknowledge of the release. Trump “responded that Manafort should stay in touch with Stone. Manafort relayed the message to Stone[.]” (Vol. I, p. 53)
Gates’s testimony in Stone’s trial gave part of this story: Gates told the jury that Manafort asked him to keep in touch with Stone about upcoming WikiLeaks releases and that Manafort said he personally would keep others on the campaign updated, “including the candidate.”
Now, though, the unsealed portions of the report give Manafort’s side of the story as well, revealing that Manafort spoke directly with Trump and that the directive for campaign officials to keep up with Stone came from Trump himself. (The footnotes to portions of the text describing claims by Manafort are still redacted, and are labeled in the original report as redacted grand jury material—consistent with court documents that show Manafort testified twice before the grand jury.)
“ Gates also stated that Stone called candidate Trump multiple times during the campaign. Gates recalled one lengthy telephone conversation between Stone and candidate Trump that took place while Trump and Gates were driving to LaGuardia Airport. Although Gates could not hear what Stone was saying on the telephone, shortly after the call candidate Trump told Gates that more releases of damaging information would be coming.” (Vol. I, p. 54)
The original report included a tantalizing redaction—the only text available of the material quoted above described a car ride with Trump and Gates to the airport, and the fact that Trump told Gates to expect more “damaging information.” Now it’s clear that Trump got that information from Stone himself. But this material was revealed in the Stone trial, too—Gates’s testimony made headlines at the time.
“Stone also had conversations about WikiLeaks with Steve Bannon, both before and after Bannon took over as chairman of the Trump campaign” in August 2016—telling Bannon after he became chairman that WikiLeaks would soon release material damaging to the Clinton campaign. (Vol. I, p. 54)
This, too, became public during the Stone trial—in this case thanks to testimony by Bannon himself.
Page 47 of the unredacted report also includes more information about the back-and-forth between Bannon and Stone, some of which was previously available in the Stone indictment and all of which was subsequently published in the form of email exchanges released by the New York Times. On Oct. 3, 2016, Breitbart editor Matthew Boyle—named in the report only as “a reporter”—emailed Stone to ask about Assange’s plans. Stone responded, “I’d tell Bannon but he doesn’t call me back.” The next day, after a confusing press conference by Assange, Bannon wrote to Stone asking, “What was that this morning???” and whether Stone had “cut deal w/ clintons???” Stone responded that Assange was afraid he would be killed and that “a load [of information would be released] every week going forward.”
Following the initial July 22 release, Stone reached out to right-wing media personality Jerome Corsi instructing him to “[g]et to Assange … and get the pending [WikiLeaks] emails[.]” Corsi began his own outreach to Assange through an associate, Theodore Malloch. On Aug. 2, Corsi wrote to Stone, “Word is friend in embassy plans 2 more dumps. One shortly after I’m back. 2nd in October. Impact planned to be very damaging.” (Vol. I, p. 52)
Shortly after this exchange, Stone made “the first of several public statements” announcing he had been in touch with Assange, the report states, though he later said that “the communication was via ‘a mutual friend’”—presumably Corsi.
This information was previously available through the Stone indictment and the draft statement of offense in Corsi’s case. (Corsi entered plea negotiations with Mueller’s team, he says, but later called off the negotiations and provided the draft statement to the Washington Post . No charges have been brought against him.)
Stone also reached out to Assange through New York radio host Randy Credico, beginning in August 2016. At one point Stone asked Credico to ask Assange for certain emails from Clinton or the State Department, which Credico did. Then, “[i]n late September and early October 2016, Credico and Stone communicated about possible WikiLeaks releases.” (Vol. I, pp. 56-57)
This back-and-forth between Credico and Stone is documented in the Stone indictment, though Credico is not named. The radio host shared his account of his interactions with Stone as a witness in Stone’s trial .
Stone emailed prominent campaign donor Erik Prince about Assange on Oct. 3 and wrote that “the payload is still coming.” Stone told Prince by phone that “WikiLeaks would release more materials that would be damaging to the Clinton campaign” and “indicated to Prince that he had what Prince described as almost ‘insider stock trading’ type information about Assange.” (Vol. I, p. 57)
The Stone indictment includes information about Stone’s “payload” email and the phone call, though Prince is described only as “a supporter involved with the Trump Campaign.” Prosecutors revealed that the mysterious supporter was Prince during Stone’s trial .
Mueller investigated whether Stone was involved in WikiLeaks’s Oct. 7 release of emails belonging to Clinton aide John Podesta—a release that took place only hours after the Washington Post published the Access Hollywood tape. But the special counsel found little evidence. (Vol. I, pp. 58-59)
The original text of the redacted report described conflicting evidence as to whether Corsi had reached out to Assange to encourage WikiLeaks to release the emails following the Access Hollywood story. (To some extent, that conflict seems to have stemmed from Corsi’s own unreliability: By Mueller’s account, Corsi contradicted himself multiple times over the course of his interviews with the special counsel.)
Now, the unredacted text shows that Stone was also a part of this drama. According to Corsi, Stone reached out to him before the Post published the story and seemed to know about the tape. Corsi told the special counsel’s office both that he told Stone to reach out to Assange and suggest WikiLeaks publish further emails, and that Stone told Corsi to do so. Corsi himself made some of this information public in his book about his experience of the Mueller investigation, published January 2019—as Andrew Prokop exhaustively describes at Vox—but given Corsi’s slipperiness with the truth, it’s useful to have Mueller’s account of the matter.
If Stone and Corsi really had connected with Assange on Oct. 7, it could be significant: it would mean that figures connected with the Trump campaign pushed for a WikiLeaks release to distract attention from the Access Hollywood tape. But as Mueller wrote in the original, redacted report, his office “found little corroboration” for Corsi’s various accounts of the day. Phone records show a call between Stone and the Post on Oct. 7, and calls between Corsi and Stone, but that’s it.
Stone lied to the House Intelligence Committee in May 2017, denying any efforts to reach out to Assange. He also threatened Credico to prevent Credico from testifying and contradicting Stone’s statements to the committee. These actions were the basis of the criminal charges against him . (Vol. I, pp. 196-197)
This material is available in the Stone indictment.
When then-Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr briefed the White House about the Russia investigation in March 2017, he appears to have provided information about Stone’s case as well. Notes from Deputy White House Counsel Annie Donaldson include the line “Stone (can’t handicap).” (Vol. II, p. 52)
The redacted report made clear that Donaldson’s notes discussed former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Manafort, former campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page and former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos (“Greek Guy”). The portion of the notes discussing Stone was previously redacted. It’s not clear what Donaldson might have meant by “can’t handicap.”
Mueller’s analysis of Trump’s efforts to obstruct the investigation by dissuading witnesses from testifying included Trump’s tweets about Stone, as well as his actions toward Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn. (Vol. II, pp. 128-133)
Among the instances of potential obstruction of justice analyzed in Volume II of the report, Mueller includes Trump’s conduct toward Flynn, Manafort, and what until now was a redacted third individual (along with Michael Cohen). Context made fairly obvious that Stone was the third person. (An enterprising reader could, for example, Google the various quotes and news headlines included in this section from which the third person’s name had been redacted, and see that these snippets referred to Stone.) But now it’s spelled out in black and white.
Much of this newly unredacted Stone section is more or less what one would expect. As with the sections on Manafort and Cohen, it describes the president’s public tweets and other statements discouraging cooperation with the government. At one point, for example, Mueller notes Trump’s December 2018 tweet that Stone had “guts” in declining to “make up lies and stories about ‘President Trump.’” (In fact, Susan Hennessey and I analyzed this tweet as possible obstruction of justice at the time.)
The Manafort and Flynn sections of the report both included public statements by the president along with evidence of previously unknown, behind-the-scenes maneuvering by Trump and his team to keep witnesses from testifying. The new Stone section, on the other hand, includes only Trump’s public tweets: There’s no hidden strong-arming here.
Mueller does, however, strongly imply in the unredacted text that Trump lied to the special counsel’s office—perhaps the biggest bombshell to come out of this new material.
The special counsel ackn owledged during his congressional testimony that Trump had been less than entirely truthful in his written answers to questions posed by Mueller’s team. Until now, though, few specifics were available about the nature of those untruths. Readers were left to sift through Trump’s answers—appended to the report itself—and draw their own conclusions. The unredacted report, though, shows that Mueller’s office doubted the honesty of Trump’s assertions that he did not remember any discussions about WikiLeaks with Stone. The relevant paragraph is worth reading in full:
With regard to the President’s conduct towards Stone, there is evidence that the President intended to reinforce Stone’s public statements that he would not cooperate with the government when the President likely understood that Stone could potentially provide evidence that would be adverse to the President. By late November 2018, the President had provided written answers to the Special Counsel’s Office in which the President said he did not recall “the specifics of any call [he] had” with Stone during the campaign period and did not recall discussing WikiLeaks with Stone. Witnesses have stated, however, that candidate Trump discussed WikiLeaks with Stone, that Trump knew that Manafort and Gates had asked Stone to find out what other damaging information about Clinton WikiLeaks possessed, and that Stone’s claimed connection to WikiLeaks was common knowledge within the Campaign. It is possible that, by the time the President submitted his written answers two years after the relevant events had occurred, he no longer had clear recollections of his discussions with Stone or his knowledge of Stone’s asserted communications with WikiLeaks. But the President’s conduct could also be viewed as reflecting his awareness that Stone could provide evidence that would run counter to the President’s denials and would link the President to Stone’s efforts to reach out to WikiLeaks. On November 28, 2018, eight days after the President submitted his written answers to the Special Counsel, the President criticized “flipping” and said that Stone was “very brave” for not cooperating with prosecutors. Five days later, on December 3, 2018, the President applauded Stone for having the “guts” not to testify against him. These statements, as well as those complimenting Stone and Manafort while disparaging Michael Cohen once Cohen chose to cooperate, support the inference that the President intended to communicate a message that witnesses could be rewarded for refusing to provide testimony adverse to the President and disparaged if they chose to cooperate.
In other words, Mueller suspected that Trump may have lied in his answers to the special counsel’s office. Then, he suspected, the president may have pushed Stone not to testify in order to prevent Mueller from discovering that deception.
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A New Version Of The Mueller Report Reveals That Mueller Declined To Charge Donald Trump Jr. And Roger Stone With Computer Crimes
The document was released in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by BuzzFeed News.
BuzzFeed News Reporter
The Department of Justice released a new version of the Mueller report Friday afternoon that reveals for the first time that former special counsel Robert Mueller considered charging Donald Trump Jr. with a misdemeanor “computer intrusion” crime for accessing an anti-Trump website using a password he obtained from WikiLeaks.
The new version of the report on Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election also said that Mueller declined, citing insufficient evidence, to charge the political operative Roger Stone with crimes related to the hacking of Democratic National Committee computers and email accounts. And the evidence Mueller's investigators collected “did not establish” that the Trump campaign’s then-director of national security, JD Gordon, was acting as an agent of Russia when he arranged for changes to the Republican platform "pertaining to assistance to Ukraine" during the 2016 convention.
The new version of the Mueller report contains nearly a dozen new unredacted passages and was released in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by BuzzFeed News in 2019. The lawsuit sought portions of the report that would reveal the identities of people Mueller considered charging and whose names were originally redacted. A lower court ruled against BuzzFeed News, which appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit last year. Today's release marks the third time BuzzFeed News has forced the Justice Department to unredact portions of the 448-page report.
The previously undisclosed passages of the document that relate to Trump Jr. say that Mueller considered whether the then-president’s son should be charged with a misdemeanor under a section of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for intentionally accessing a protected computer without authorization.
“The conduct at issue was Trump Jr.’s use of a password, supplied to him by WikiLeaks in a Twitter direct message, to access the website ‘putintrump.org’ in September 2016,” the unredacted passage said.
Although the report goes on to say that Mueller’s office could establish “each element of a misdemeanor,” the special counsel ultimately determined “that prosecution of this potential violation was not warranted.”
“In this instance, Trump Jr. accessed the website shortly before it went public using a ‘guessed’ password that, although it was sent to him individually, had also been posted by WikiLeaks to its public Twitter account, such that anyone following WikiLeaks could have gotten the same preview of the website that Trump Jr. did,” the newly unredacted passage of the report said.
The report continued: “That fact, among others, would make it difficult to prove that Trump Jr. acted to further any crime or tort or that he obtained information valued at more than $5,000 — which are the kind of circumstances that can trigger felony punishment under the statute. Given that Trump Jr. did not himself initiate the plan to access the website or guess the password, the absence of evidence that his acts caused any damage to the website or obtained valuable information, the technical nature of the violation, and the minimal punishment that a misdemeanor conviction could be expected to carry in these circumstances, the Office decided against pursuing charges.”
Stone, a Trump ally, was found guilty of lying to congressional investigators about his communications with WikiLeaks and tampering with a witness, but was later pardoned by Trump. Stone boasted to campaign staff members about his connection to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who organized the release of internal emails that had been hacked from Democratic National Committee computers.
The discussion of Gordon, a former Pentagon spokesperson, and Mueller's decision not to charge him refers to events at the 2016 Republican convention in Cleveland. Gordon flagged an amendment that rebuked Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine and called for supplying Ukrainians with lethal weapons. He reportedly said that position didn’t reflect Trump’s views on Ukraine. The platform was ultimately changed from advocating lethal weapons to advocating “appropriate assistance.” Mueller’s investigators sought to determine whether Gordon “was acting at the direction of Russia” when he had the platform amended.
In response to the new disclosure, Grant Smith, Stone’s attorney, said, “This vindicates Mr. Stone's position that he in no way participated in or had knowledge of any activities of Wikileaks and confirms what we knew all along.” Trump Jr. and Gordon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Last November, a three-judge panel for the appeals court unanimously ruled that there is a “significant public interest” in lifting the veil of secrecy over the redacted passages and that “disclosure would also show how the Special Counsel interpreted the relevant law and applied it to already public facts in reaching his declination decisions.”
The Justice Department had argued the redacted passages should be kept from public view to protect the privacy rights of the people in question. ●
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TOP LEGAL NEWS OF THE WEEK
Mueller finds no collusion with russia, leaves obstruction question open.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation did not find sufficient evidence that President Donald Trump’s campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the United States’ 2016 election and did not take a clear position on whether Trump obstructed justice.
The Robert F. Kennedy Building, headquarters of the U.S. Department of Justice
Mueller concluded his 22-month investigation and submitted a report to Attorney General William Barr on Friday, March 22. Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reviewed the report over the weekend and filed a four-page summary of the report to Congress Sunday afternoon that was also released to the public.
In his letter to Congress, Barr summarizes the Mueller investigation as looking at two areas: Interference by Russia in the 2016 presidential election and obstruction of justice.
The special counsel found that Russia did interfere with the election, but “did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple efforts from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.”
As far as obstruction, the Mueller report laid out facts on both sides but did not reach a conclusion. Barr’s letter said that “the Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.’”
But Barr said that he and Rosenstein "have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel's investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense."
Mueller and his team filed charges against 37 defendants, secured seven guilty pleas and one conviction at trial. Six former associates and advisors of President Trump were among those charged. The case of Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates was transferred Saturday from the special counsel’s office to federal prosecutors in Washington.
While no more indictments will come from the special counsel, investigations of Trump, his campaign and his businesses continue in Congress, and federal and state jurisdictions in New York, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Barr pointed out in his letter that parts of Mueller’s report dealt with grand jury testimony and would need to be reviewed and possibly withheld from Congress and the public.
There has been wide bipartisan support that the original Mueller report be released, and that Congress and the public have access to the report’s source material.
House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said that Congress must see the full report and all the evidence and was willing to use subpoena power to secure those.
“It was just announced there was no collusion with Russia,” Trump said Sunday “It was a complete and total exoneration.” Trump also added that the investigation was “illegal” but did not elaborate.
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Special counsel Mueller's report has been released to the public — read key findings here
- Mueller said Trump's "efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests."
- The investigation found that the Trump campaign "expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts" even though the probe did not establish coordination.
- When Jeff Sessions told Trump about Mueller's appointment, Trump slumped back in his chair and said, "Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I'm f----d."
Special counsel Robert Mueller found "substantial evidence" that President Donald Trump's firing of James Comey was due to the FBI director's "unwillingness to publicly state that the president was not personally under investigation" — but Mueller's team concluded that Congress can make a determination on whether Trump obstructed justice.
Those were among the findings of Mueller's 22-month investigation of Russia's interference in the 2016 election. The Justice Department released the 448-page report Thursday in redacted form.
Mueller said his investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference campaign. The team defined coordination as "an agreement — tacit or express — between the Trump Campaign" and the Kremlin.
Here's the full report .
Some of Mueller's key findings on the Russian influence campaign include:
- The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in "sweeping and systematic fashion."
- Russia's efforts to target the U.S. through the Internet Research Agency influence operation began in 2014.
- That campaign began as a generalized program designed years earlier to undermine the U.S. electoral system, but by early 2016 morphed into a targeted operation to favor Trump and harm candidate Hillary Clinton.
- Mueller found that the Trump campaign "expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts" even though the probe did not establish coordination.
- Content from a Russian IRA-controlled Twitter account was cited or retweeted by Trump campaign officials and surrogates, including Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Kellyanne Conway, Brad Parscale and Michael Flynn.
- The IRA, posing as U.S. political activists, contacted persons affiliated with the Trump campaign in an effort to coordinate pro-Trump rallies.
- Whistleblower organization WikiLeaks, which is accused of accepting and publishing stolen Democrats' emails allegedly hacked by Russian intelligence, asked Trump Jr. to tweet a link in order to help them with "digging through leaked emails." Trump Jr. tweeted the link two days later.
- The Trump campaign planned a press strategy and communications campaign based on the possible release of Clinton emails by WikiLeaks, according to Rick Gates, Trump's former deputy campaign chairman.
- Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort instructed his business partner Gates to provide alleged Russian operative Konstantin Kilimnik "internal polling data." But Mueller's team "did not identify evidence of a connection between Manafort's sharing polling data and Russia's interference in the election."
- Investigators found "some evidence" that Trump knew about Michael Flynn's calls with the Russian ambassador — conversations Flynn was later charged with lying about — but the evidence was "inconclusive."
- Mueller did not subpoena Trump because it would create a substantial delay at a late stage in the investigation.
- The special counsel considered Trump's written answers, submitted in lieu of a face-to-face interview, "inadequate" but still decided against a subpoena fight.
- The special counsel accepted the Office of Legal Counsel's view on indicting a sitting president when making a determination about whether Trump obstructed justice. Apart from that precedent, Mueller's investigators said they "recognized" that accusing Trump of a crime "would place burdens on the president's capacity to govern and potentially preempt constitutional process for addressing presidential misconduct."
- Former White House counsel Don McGahn was disturbed by Trump's requests in June 2017 that McGahn recommend to the acting attorney general that Mueller "must be removed." The report says McGahn decided "that he would resign rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre."
- When then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Trump that Mueller had been appointed special counsel, a notetaker for Sessions wrote that Trump slumped back in his chair and said, "Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I'm fucked."
- The report states: "The President's efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests."
The redacted version of the report comes less than a month after Barr released a four-page letter summarizing what he called the "principal conclusions" in Mueller's report, including that the investigation did not find any conspiracy or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Barr also said that Mueller's report "did not exonerate" the president regarding obstruction of justice, but he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded there wasn't sufficient evidence to charge Trump.
The attorney general's summary was made public March 24, two days after Mueller delivered the report to the Justice Department. Democrats, particularly majority lawmakers and committee chairs in the House, have been pressuring Barr to release the full report , without redactions.
CNBC is reviewing it now and will continue to update this report.
When, If Ever, Will We Read the Full Mueller Report?
- By Ryan Bort
On Sunday, Attorney General William Barr delivered a brief, narrow summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller ’s nearly two-year investigation into the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia . The president and his allies responded by declaring the matter settled while doing all they can to convince Americans that Barr’s assessment exonerates Trump of any wrongdoing. The president’s surrogates are, as Trump might say, “working overtime” on cable news to press the issue . Trump, himself, is fighting for the cause on Twitter. On Tuesday morning, he tried to leverage Barr’s conclusion to bolster his argument that the mainstream media is the Enemy of the People.
The Mainstream Media is under fire and being scorned all over the World as being corrupt and FAKE. For two years they pushed the Russian Collusion Delusion when they always knew there was No Collusion. They truly are the Enemy of the People and the Real Opposition Party! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 26, 2019
As many have argued, a four-page summary of a massive investigation written by someone who has demonstrated a bias against said investigation should not be considered a definitive assessment. Regardless of what the White House says, Mueller’s findings cannot be truly understood until the complete report is released. Unfortunately, it’s up to Barr to determined how much of it will see the light of day, as Trump makes sure to note whenever reporters ask him whether he thinks the public should see the report. “It’s up to the attorney general but it wouldn’t bother me at all,” the president said on Monday.
It would, however, bother senate Republicans. Last week Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) blocked the senate from voting on a resolution calling for the report’s full release that had been passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 420-0. On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked an effort by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to unanimously pass the same measure. The move was applauded by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
Good. Because this measure is an unnecessary solution looking for a problem. Just like the previous one they had to prevent @potus from firing Mueller. https://t.co/x5wSwRZQbc — Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 25, 2019
After Barr submitted his summary to Congress, McConnell released a statement in which he emphasized the attorney general’s assessment that there was “no collusion, no conspiracy, no obstruction” between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. “I sincerely hope that now, at last, our friends on the left will be able to put aside their fixation on permanently re-litigating their loss in 2016 and actually join in the productive work that the rest of us have been proudly engaged in for two years and counting,” McConnell wrote.
The best way to convince congressional Democrats to “put aside” the Mueller investigation, one would think, would be to endorse the release of the full report. If Republicans like McConnell actually believe Barr’s assessment that the report exonerates the president, they should be demanding the its release with more vigor than Democrats.
But only Democrats are taking real action to force the issue. On Monday, six House committee chairs sent a letter to Barr requesting the report be submitted to Congress in full by Tuesday, April 2nd. The letter requesting the release was three pages, one shy of Barr’s summary of the entire report, the length of which is still unknown. “To the extent that you believe applicable law limits your ability to comply, we urge you to begin the process of consultation with us immediately in order to establish shared parameters for resolving those issues without delay,” the representatives wrote.
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The Chairs of the six relevant House Committees just officially requested the full Mueller report and underlying evidence be provided by April 2, 2019. #ReleaseTheReport pic.twitter.com/hDgxh2i82d — House Intelligence Committee (@HouseIntel) March 25, 2019
The letter was signed by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) and Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY).
“Special Counsel Mueller worked for 22 months to determine the extent to which President Trump obstructed justice,” Nadler wrote on Twitter. “Attorney General Barr took 2 days to tell the American people that while the President is not exonerated, there will be no action by DOJ.” Nadler also tweeted that the Judiciary Committee plans to call Barr in to testify about the “very concerning discrepancies and final decision making at the Justice Department following the Special Counsel report.”
Schiff expressed similar frustrations. “Mueller spent two years investigating obstruction of justice and found evidence that ‘does not exonerate’ Trump,” he wrote. “Barr took two days to set aside that evidence. The entire report must be published and evidence provided to Congress so the American people can judge for themselves.”
On Monday, the Trump campaign sent a letter to television producers encouraging them to reconsider booking Nadler, Schiff and a handful of others who have criticized the 2016 campaign’s relationship with Russia. The campaign writes that “the only way to interpret [Barr’s] conclusions is as a total and complete vindication of President Trump.” Those arguing otherwise, the campaign claims, are “lying” and “reckless,” unlike a certain president who spent the better part of two years trying to stymie a federal investigation he is now praising .
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Court orders release of some redacted passages of Mueller report
A federal judge is ordering the Department of Justice (DOJ) to release four redacted pages of the Mueller report that detail who the special counsel declined to charge in his probe into Trump campaign ties to Russia.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit sided with BuzzFeed News in the case, directing a lower court to force the DOJ to unredact the pages, revealing both the names of high-level Trump campaign aides — a group expected to include Donald Trump Jr. — and the rationale for not charging them.
The investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller ultimately did not find sufficient evidence to charge former President Trump with a crime, but it detailed efforts Russia made to support his candidacy.
And buried in the redacted passages is the rationale behind not pursuing a campaign finance violation charge against a high-level Trump campaign staffer, likely Donald Trump Jr., as well as others who were investigated but ultimately not charged for making false statements and obstruction of justice.
“The redacted material covers how the Special Counsel carried out his duties to investigate and prosecute criminal conduct. … This public interest suffices to tip the balance in favor of disclosure, at least with respect to the information relating to individuals investigated for campaign violations,” Judge Karen Henderson wrote in an opinion for the court.
The Justice Department fought the release of the records under a public records exemption covering law enforcement matters, but BuzzFeed argued the information they contained “is precisely the kind of information that would allow the public to understand substantive matters of important law enforcement policy.”
The case involved an in camera review, which allowed the judges to review an unredacted copy of the Mueller report.
“Disclosure would also show how the Special Counsel interpreted the relevant law and applied it to already public facts in reaching his declination decisions. We reject DOJ’s argument that the public interest is reduced because ‘[m]ost of the Mueller Report has already been disclosed’ and the ‘Congress has also released a substantial volume of information about the events underlying the Special Counsel’s investigation,’” Henderson wrote.
“Those statements, in and of themselves, may be true but they are irrelevant to the fact that the Special Counsel’s legal analysis that led to the declination decisions has not been released and likely would ‘contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government.’”
The decision is only a partial victory for BuzzFeed. Left redacted are portions of the report dealing with those who are not public figures, with the court determining that the outlet did not make a sufficient case for disclosing the “highly stigmatizing” information given the potential reputational harm faced by those whose identities would be revealed.
“Of the individuals whose privacy interests may be jeopardized by disclosure of the requested information, only one is a public official. The remaining individuals are private citizens who served on a presidential campaign,” the court wrote.
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Supreme Court blocks release of full Mueller report while it hears Trump’s appeal
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The Supreme Court came to the aid of President Trump on Thursday by agreeing to hear his claim that the redacted parts of the Mueller report should not be seen or reviewed by the House Democrats who led the president’s impeachment.
The court’s decision, in a one-line order, means the public will not see — prior to this year’s presidential election — all of the findings of the official investigation of Russian meddling into the 2016 election and the administration’s possible obstruction of justice.
The justices voted to block the release of this information and said they would hear arguments in Department of Justice vs. House Judiciary Committee this fall over whether it would violate the principle of grand jury secrecy to give the material to the House.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the court’s “decision denying Congress access to the Mueller grand jury material is a serious setback to the interests of transparency and accountability. The extreme lengths the Trump administration has gone to [to] hide this material tells you all you need to know about their consciousness of guilt.”
The decision is the latest sign of the conservative justices’ lean toward the president and the executive branch over Congress. Four of the justices on the right worked as White House or Justice Department lawyers in earlier Republican administrations, and they regularly vote in favor of executive authority.
On Monday, the court by a 5-4 vote struck down Congress’ plan for a semi-independent director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, ruling the president has the power to fire the director at will. While the five conservatives said the Constitution calls for strong executive authority, the four liberal justices said it is Congress, not the president, who is empowered to structure the government.
The legal dispute over the Mueller report turns on whether the executive branch or the House has control over information and evidence gathered by a grand jury.
When President Nixon faced impeachment in the House, the Watergate grand jury investigation was shared with the House Judiciary Committee. Similarly when President Clinton faced impeachment over the Monica Lewinsky affair, the more than 400-page report compiled from the grand jury was sent to the House and immediately released to the public.
But Trump’s Justice Department took a different view. Its lawyers insisted on redacting some parts of the report issued by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, and they went to court to fight House Democrats who sought to examine this material.
A federal judge and the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ruled against the Justice Department in March on the grounds that the federal rules say grand jury material may be used in a “judicial proceeding,” and that an impeachment qualified as a judicial proceeding. The appeals court also said the grand jury is under the control of the district judge, not the Justice Department.
But Trump’s lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court in early May and asked to have that ruling put on hold. They argued for preserving the secrecy of the grand jury. They also said that, since the impeachment ended with Trump’s acquittal in the Senate, the House had no further need for the information.
In response, the House Democrats said the appeals court’s ruling “accords with the decisions of every judge who has ever considered the issue” of whether Congress may obtain grand jury findings that could figure in an impeachment. “It is also consistent with the position DOJ had maintained for nearly half a century before this case,” they said.
Still pending before the high court is Trump’s bid to block demands from House Democrats and a New York grand jury that seek his tax returns and financial records. Trump lost in three lower courts, and the justices are expected to rule, probably next week, on his appeal.
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