Wednesday, May 2, 2018

It's Mueller Time, Con't

In a spate of either tightly-controlled Mueller team defensive leaks (or wildly self-damaging Trump regime leaks about Mueller's team) we've learned quite a bit about where the Mueller probe is going this week, and what Republicans are in turn up to.  

First, House Republicans are making it very clear that they will not only refuse to endorse the ongoing Mueller probe, and not only do they plan to fully back Trump when he tries to fire Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, but that they're willing to impeach Rosenstein in Congress to protect Dear Leader.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Tuesday lashed out at Republican allies of President Donald Trump who have drafted articles of impeachment against him, saying the Justice Department won’t be extorted or give in to threats.

Rosenstein, speaking at a question-and-answer session at the Newseum, chided the lawmakers who have prepared the document by saying that “they can’t even resist leaking their own drafts” and that they lack “the courage to put their name on it.”

“I can tell you there have been people who have been making threats privately and publicly against me for quite some time, and I think they should understand by now, the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted,” Rosenstein said, in response to a question about news reports on the articles of impeachment.

“We’re going to do what’s required by the rule of law,” he added. “And any kind of threats that anybody makes are not going to affect the way we do our job.”

He did not elaborate on what he meant by threats, but some congressional Republicans have excoriated him for his oversight role of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Now the House Freedom Caucus is calling for Rosenstein to resign, and while there's zero chance of Rosenstein being removed by a two-thirds Senate vote, the point is to feed the perpetual outrage machine in an effort to try to keep Republican voters interested in the GOP's exploits. 

Back here in reality, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has apparently raised the possibility of subpoenaing Trump if he won't submit to those interview questions, and that has been the source of the White House's last two months of inchoate rage.

In a tense meeting in early March with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, President Trump’s lawyers insisted he had no obligation to talk with federal investigators probing Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

But Mueller responded that he had another option if Trump declined: He could issue a subpoena for the president to appear before a grand jury, according to four people familiar with the encounter.

Mueller’s warning — the first time he is known to have mentioned a possible subpoena to Trump’s legal team — spurred a sharp retort from John Dowd, then the president’s lead lawyer.

“This isn’t some game,” Dowd said, according to two people with knowledge of his comments. “You are screwing with the work of the president of the United States.”

The flare-up set in motion weeks of turmoil among Trump’s attorneys as they debated how to deal with the special counsel’s request for an interview, a dispute that ultimately led to Dowd’s resignation.
In the wake of the testy March 5 meeting, Mueller’s team agreed to provide the president’s lawyers with more specific information about the subjects that prosecutors wished to discuss with the president. With those details in hand, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow compiled a list of 49 questions that the team believed the president would be asked, according to three of the four people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly. The New York Times first reported the existence of the list.

And that kind of kills my theory that Mueller provided the questions, it's Trump's lawyers who did, and either they're the worst lawyers in human history, or they know their client is toast (or both). Hell, they don't even have the security clearances needed to defend Trump now that John Dowd is gone.

However, a subpoena fight could go all the way to SCOTUS, and there's always the chance that Trump could win.

Many legal observers believe that if Mueller issues a grand jury subpoena for Trump's testimony, the courts will order the President to comply, because the Supreme Court has repeatedly ordered presidents to comply with subpoenas. 
During independent counsel Kenneth Starr's investigation of President Bill Clinton related to Monica Lewinsky, prosecutors eventually subpoenaed the president for grand jury testimony. Clinton's lawyers attempted to delay Clinton from speaking to prosecutors for months and told a federal judge they would avoid arguing the issue in court. They ultimately agreed to let Clinton appear before the grand jury without the weight of a subpoena. 
In 1974, in United States v. Nixon, the Justices unanimously directed President Richard Nixon to comply with a criminal trial subpoena for the White House tapes. And in 1997, in Clinton v. Jones, the Court directed Clinton to comply with a subpoena for his deposition in Paula Jones' civil sexual harassment lawsuit against him. 
Yet if Mueller attempts to force Trump to testify under subpoena -- as many legal analysts suspect could happen -- the sources familiar with the thinking of Trump's legal team say they believe Trump could successfully challenge the subpoena all the way to the Supreme Court. 
One of the sources says the legal team views a subpoena for a presidential interview as "precipitating a constitutional crisis." 

You read that right, the Trumpies believe a months-long subpoena fight would turn the country against Mueller and the Democrats, greatly boost GOP enthusiasm among outraged midterm voters, and ultimately result in a SCOTUS win that would cripple the Mueller probe, if not provide the legal context and political cover to end it by firing everyone in sight.

Also, I'm actually a world-class hot-air balloon racer and former British secret service agent.

Stay tuned.

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