This seems like a not that subtle shot over the bow at Rod Rosenstein as Robert Mueller issues subpoenas for Trump Organization document related to their business with Russia.
Thursday afternoon, the New York Times published an explosive report revealing that special counsel Robert Mueller had subpoenaed documents from the Trump Organization, “including some related to Russia.” The subpoenas bring Mueller’s investigation, which has already resulted in the indictment of Trump’s former campaign manager and national security adviser, even closer to the president.
One way to get a sense of the White House reaction to this revelation is to turn on Fox News.
Immediately after the report, Fox News turned to its chief intelligence correspondent, Catherine Herridge. Herridge revealed she had already spoken to Trump’s lawyers about the the New York Times report. She then articulated a harsh criticism of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Herridge noted that it has already been reported that Mueller has been investigating whether the United Arab Emirates tried to financially influence the Trump campaign. This, Herridge claimed, meant that Mueller had already exceeded the authority granted to him by the Justice Department.
She then set her sights on Rod Rosenstein. “Every time Mr. Mueller goes beyond that mandate,” Herridge said, “it’s not like he’s a rogue actor. He has to get the permission of the deputy attorney general. What we know is that he’s had Rod Rosenstein’s permission to go beyond that original mandate…”
Now like your basic typical Conservo-publican Herridge understanding a plain english is wrong — but there’s more to this than just that.
Mueller’s appointment documents specifically state that he can investigate the following:
“any links and/or coordination bet ween the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump” and “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”
So if they happen to be talking to Trump people and discover another crime in progress, or another crime that has previously occurred they CAN pressure that.
This isn’t a new point for them to stumble over, Paul Manafort’s lawyers have been tripping over it for a while now.
Manafort, who faces more than 300 years in prison on money laundering and other charges, and his attorneys argued that special counsel Robert Mueller had exceeded his authority by investigating alleged crimes beyond collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
“This is such a silly filing by Paul Manafort,” said former Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller, now an MSNBC analyst.
“It’s pretty obvious that Bob Mueller is acting completely within his mandate,” Miller said. “The mandate makes clear he can look at anything else that arises from the investigation, and his supervisor, (deputy attorney general) Rod Rosenstein, has made it abundantly clear a number of times that he is closely coordinating with him. Any time he’s gone into a new area he’s gotten his supervisor’s approval to do so.”
Even the basic claim made by Manafort attorney’s that Mueller doesn’t have the authority to file charges against Manafort for money laundering is flawed, because quite a bit of that money was provided by Russian Oligarch Oleg Deripaska, even if it was funneled through other sources in Ukraine.
On top of that the Trump Organization had previous business in Russia in 2013 with the Miss Universe Pagaent which involved Emin and Arar Agalarov who helped arrange for the Don Jr. Trump Tower meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya — so that might seem relevant. Trump has a history of renting and selling real estate to Russian Oligarch to the tune of nearly $200 Million over recent years as well as possibly $1.5 Billion from shell companies over the last few decades and he also attempted to setup a deal from Trump Tower Moscow using the Agalarov’s in 2013, and then again in 2016 during the campaign while using a sanction Russian Bank (VEB).
So yeah, there seems like good reason to get documents from TrumpOrg related to Russia.
But what we’re seeing from Fox and from Manafort’s lawyers seem to be pretty much in lockstep with what Vanity Fair is reporting is happening behind Trump’s dull eyes as he pulls and end-run around Rosenstein by firing Jeff Sessions.
Perhaps most consequential forRobert Mueller’s investigation, sources said Trump has discussed a plan to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions. According to two Republicans in regular contact with the White House, there have been talks that Trump could replace Sessions with E.P.A. Administrator Scott Pruitt, who would not be recused from overseeing the Russia probe. Also, as an agency head and former state attorney general, Pruitt would presumably have a good shot at passing a Senate confirmation hearing
With Sessions out of the way and Pruit in place without being recused, he would take over supervision of the Mueller probe and could — in theory — fire him using the excuses cooked up by Herridge over “scope”, or even more likely he could simply reverse Rosenstein previous decisions allowing for these additional elements of the investigation by simply ignoring the plain English text in the original appointment documents.
Frankly, I wouldn’t put either option beyond them.
Politico reports that Trump’s lawyers finally admit that he may have to be interviewed or testify and begins to prep him for being possibly interviewed personally by Mueller as soon as next week.
The Trump Admin levied sanctions for Russian Election Meddling — The measures target five entities and 19 individuals — including the FSB, Russia’s top spy service; the military intelligence agency [GRU] and 13 people recently indicted by Robert Mueller, [This will be news to Trump!]
New York Times reports that an internal recommendation has been given to Sessions arguing that McCabe deserves to be fired over allowing his staff to talk to reporters, even though he will officially retire next week.