Saturday, March 17, 2018

It's Mueller Time, Con't

Republicans are now well into making their move against Robert Mueller this week.  I talked a few days ago about House Republicans shutting down their investigation of Trump/Russia, and predicted it would be the political cover the GOP needed to move against Muller.  It wasn't a particularly bold prediction to make, Trump's lawyers tipped their hand last Saturday in saying they wanted to cut a ridiculous deal where Muller agreed to end his investigation if Trump granted Mueller an interview.

We know what events triggered the move too: the grand jury testimony of former Trump campaign consultant Sam Nunberg combined with news that Mueller had subpoenaed financial documents from the Trump Organization itself earlier this year.  All sides know Mueller is closing in, which brings us to the present.  First, Senate Republicans are now on board with the House GOP on a new special counsel to go after the FBI and the basis of Mueller's investigation.

Four Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday sought the appointment of a second special counsel to aid the Department of Justice inspector general in probing the FBI's use of the so-called Steele dossier in its surveillance of a former Trump campaign aide.

The Judiciary panel's chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), was joined by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) in requesting that DOJ name a special prosecutor to zero in on possible mishandling of the FBI's Russia investigation prior to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller. Specifically, the quartet raised concerns about the FBI's relationship with Christopher Steele, who compiled a dossier of verified and unverified intelligence alleging a Russian effort to compromise now-President Donald Trump.

Grassley and Graham, who previously requested that the DOJ open a criminal probe of Steele's conduct, on Feb. 28 asked DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz to probe the department's handling of investigations into Trump transition or campaign officials, as well as the Trump administration before Mueller's appointment. Horowitz has been investigating possible DOJ misconduct related to the Hillary Clinton email investigation since early 2017.

The Republican senators noted in their Thursday letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that under current law, "the Inspector General does not have the tools that a prosecutor would to gather all the facts, such as the ability to obtain testimony from essential witnesses who are not current DOJ employees."

"Thus, we believe that a special counsel is needed to work with the Inspector General to independently gather the facts and make prosecutorial decisions, if any are merited," the Republicans continued. "The Justice Department cannot credibly investigate itself without these enhanced measures of independence to ensure that the public can have confidence in the outcome."

And if that's not enough, now we get to the heart of the matter: the Trump regime today is openly suggesting that it's time for Jeff Sessions to fire Robert Mueller.

President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, John Dowd, told The Daily Beast on Saturday morning that he hopes Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will shut down the Mueller probe.

Reached for comment by email about the firing of former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, sent The Daily Beast the text of Trump’s most recent tweet on the subject, which applauded the firing. Then he wrote that Rosenstein should follow Sessions' lead.

“I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier,” Dowd then wrote.

He told The Daily Beast he was speaking on behalf of the president, in his capacity as the president’s attorney

Dowd also emailed the text below, which is an annotated version of a line from a well-known 20th century play:

“What's that smell in this room[Bureau}? Didn't you notice it, Brick [Jim]? Didn't you notice a powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity in this room[Bureau}?... There ain't nothin' more powerful than the odor of mendacity[corruption]... You can smell it. It smells like death.” Tennessee Williams — ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’

Rosenstein is overseeing the probe because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from matters related to the 2016 campaign.

Dowd is now saying that he wasn't officially speaking in capacity as the lawyer to the office of president, but this is as close as you're going to get to  "Will no one rid me of this troublesome Mueller?" as it gets until it happens.

Here's my theory:  Tillerson being fired while on the crapper was done for two reasons: Trump wants a war to distract the American public, and he wanted to put pressure on Jeff Sessions.  Note Trump and the GOP have now asked Sessions to do three things, fire McCabe and deny him his full retirement benefits, appoint a special counsel to investigate the FBI and the Mueller probe, and fire Mueller.

Sessions has done one of the three now.

The question now becomes how long before he does the other two?  And when he does, what will the American people do when the GOP shrugs and goes along with it?

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