Friday, February 14, 2020

Last Call For It's Mueller Time, Con't

So a bit of good news on the "Justice Department" front, the investigation into former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe has been dropped.

The Justice Department has decided to abandon its efforts to seek criminal charges against former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, according to a letter sent to his attorneys.

McCabe's lawyers were told last September that he should expect to be indicted on charges stemming from inaccurate statements he made to FBI investigators about his actions around the time of the 2016 election. However, no indictment was ever returned, leading to speculation that the Washington-based grand jury probing the matter took the rare step of rejecting charges.

Prosecutors had been cagey since that time about the status of the investigation into McCabe, who has been a frequent subject of public attacks from President Donald Trump. In theory, they could have presented the case to another grand jury, but on Friday, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington informed McCabe's attorneys that it was giving up its quest to charge the FBI veteran.

"We write to inform you that, after careful consideration, the Government has decided not to pursue criminal charges against your client, Andrew G. McCabe," prosecutors J.P. Cooney and Molly Gaston wrote on behalf of the new U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Tim Shea. "Based on the totality of the circumstances and all of the information known to the Government at this time, we consider the matter closed."

McCabe expressed great relief at the decision, but sounded bitter about the probe hanging over him and his family for years.

"I have to say that as glad as I am that the Justice Department and the D.C. U.S. Attorney's office finally decided to do the right thing today, it is an absolute disgrace that they took two years and put my family through this experience for two years before they finally drew the obvious conclusion and one they could have drawn a long, long time ago," he said on CNN, where he serves as a paid commentator.

They couldn't even get a grand jury to indict.  For now, they're still playing by that rule.  But it wasn't the only reason why McCabe was spared.

The timing of Friday's letter to McCabe's lawyers may have been driven by a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by a non-profit watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics Washington. U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton, who is handling the FOIA case, had publicly pressed prosecutors to make a final decision about the McCabe prosecution and had set a deadline Friday for them to disclose previously-secret records related to the FOIA litigation.

The newly-disclosed files showed that in private, Walton was even more stern with prosecutors, warning them that Trump's complaints about McCabe would taint any decision they made.

"The public is listening to what's going on, and I don't think people like the fact that you got somebody at the top basically trying to dictate whether somebody should be prosecuted ... I just think it's a banana republic when we go down that road," Walton told government lawyers behind closed doors in September. "I think there are a lot of people on the outside who perceive that there is undo inappropriate pressure being brought to bear ... It's just, it's very disturbing that we're in the mess that we're in in that regard.

"I just think the integrity of the process is being unduly undermined by inappropriate comments and actions on the part of people at the top of our government," added Walton, an appointee of President George W. Bush. "I think it's very unfortunate. And I think as a government and as a society we're going to pay a price at some point for this."

Closing the case today also spares the Trump regime from having to answer the FOIA request.  That was what motivated the timing more than anything, I think.

It doesn't mean that the regime is done with McCabe however. The Trump vengeance plan now being executed across the country as Senate Judiciary chair Lindsey Graham is apparently making good on his threats to drag everyone involved in the creation of Mueller probe before the kangaroo court of Trumpworld, including, you guessed it, Andrew McCabe.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is requesting interviews with a slew of current and former Justice Department and FBI officials as part of his panel's probe into the department's handling of the investigation into Russia's election interference and the Trump campaign.

Graham sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr on Friday asking that he make 17 officials, many of whom are identified only by title, available for interviews.

"As you are aware, the committee is continuing to investigate matters related to the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation's handling of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, including the application for, and renewals of, a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [FISA] warrant on Carter Page," Graham wrote in the letter, according to a copy obtained by CBS News.

Graham notes in his letter that the committee will "additionally be directly contacting former Department officials to schedule transcribed interviews."

Graham has said he plans to call former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to testify as part of his investigation.

Graham, a top ally of Trump's, has vowed he will use his gavel to look into the origins of the Russia investigation and the decision to surveil Page, a former campaign aide.

"I'm going to get to the bottom of the FISA work process because it was an abuse of power of the Department of Justice, the FBI," Graham told CBS News on Sunday.

Graham added he would be doing "oversight of the FISA warrant system that failed."

Whether or not these testimonies will be televised is another thing, but getting interviews under oath would be the next step, much like House Democrats did in their impeachment investigation.  Expect months of testimony, leaks, and eventually televised hearings would be my guess.

The real witch hunt is happening before our eyes.

Lowering The Barr, Con't

Following up on this morning's news, this afternoon has been a Valentine's Day massacre on the rule of law in the US.  First of all, Donald Trump straight up decreed that he has the right to interfere in any Justice Department case as he sees fit.

President Trump asserted Friday that he had the legal right to intervene in federal criminal cases, a day after Attorney General William P. Barr publicly rebuked him for attacks on Justice Department prosecutors and others involved in the case of Roger J. Stone Jr., the president’s longtime friend.

In a morning tweet, Mr. Trump quoted Mr. Barr saying that the president “has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.” The president said he had “so far chosen” not to interfere in a criminal case even though he insisted that he is not legally bound to do so.

“This doesn’t mean that I do not have, as President, the legal right to do so, I do, but I have so far chosen not to!” he said.

The assertion by the president, rejecting a request by Mr. Barr to stop tweeting about the department’s cases, adds to the mounting controversy over the decision by senior Justice Department officials to overrule prosecutors who had recommended a seven to nine year sentence for Mr. Stone, who was convicted of seven felonies in a bid to obstruct a congressional investigation that threatened the president.

That recommendation infuriated Mr. Trump, who called the department’s handling of the case “a disgrace” and later praised Mr. Barr after his top officials intervened to recommend a lighter sentence for Mr. Stone. The four prosecutors who were overruled resigned from the case in protest; one quit the department entirely.

The Justice Department and Bill Barr immediately followed up with...interfering in federal cases involving Trump.  Surprise!

Attorney General William P. Barr has assigned an outside prosecutor to scrutinize the criminal case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, according to people familiar with the matter.

The review is highly unusual and could trigger more accusations of political interference by top Justice Department officials into the work of career prosecutors.

Mr. Barr has also installed a handful of outside prosecutors to broadly review the handling of other politically sensitive national-security cases in the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, the people said. The team includes at least one prosecutor from the office of the United States attorney in St. Louis, Jeff Jensen, who is handling the Flynn matter, as well as prosecutors from the office of the deputy attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen.

Over the past two weeks, the outside prosecutors have begun grilling line prosecutors in the Washington office about various cases — some public, some not — including investigative steps, prosecutorial actions and why they took them, according to the people. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive internal deliberations.

The Justice Department declined to comment.

The intervention has contributed a turbulent period for the prosecutors’ office that oversees the seat of the federal government and some of the most politically sensitive investigations and cases — some involving President Trump’s friends and allies, and some his critics and adversaries.

Barr is clearly setting the stage not for a Trump pardon of Flynn, Stone, and Manafort, but outright overturning their convictions so that he doesn't have to.   The question then is what the Durham investigation means for prosecuting Trump's enemies list.

But it starts with the Flynn plea deal.

US Attorney Jeffrey Jensen of St. Louis has been tasked with taking a second look at some aspects of the sensitive cases, one of the officials said. It was not clear which other cases were under review, and what form the reviews had taken. 
Jensen is working together with Brandon Van Grack -- the former Mueller prosecutor who led the case against Flynn -- to review the case, according to a Justice Department official. It's possible that if the department continues to fight Flynn's attempts to withdraw his guilty plea, Van Grack could be a witness on the circumstances of his plea deal, according to several people familiar with the case.

Putting Justice Department prosecutors on the stand to justify their plea deals in a case involving a witness against the person in the White House.   Sure seems like Barr is opening the door for a massive purge.

Things are moving at a pretty rapid pace now, as expected after Trump was unshackled by his Senate GOP enablers.

It will not end well for our republic.

Retribution Execution, Con't

There's a lot to cover today as Trump has gone completely off the rails, and there's little doubt now that the remaining Justice Department investigation into the Mueller probe itself is going to be used to put a lot of Trump's enemies, perceived and real, in jail.

Trump administration officials investigating the government’s response to Russia’s election interference in 2016 appear to be hunting for a basis to accuse Obama-era intelligence officials of hiding evidence or manipulating analysis about Moscow’s covert operation, according to people familiar with aspects of the inquiry.

Since his election, President Trump has attacked the intelligence agencies that concluded that Russia secretly tried to help him win, fostering a narrative that they sought to delegitimize his victory. He has long promoted the investigation by John H. Durham, the prosecutor examining their actions, as a potential pathway to proving that a deep-state cabal conspired against him.

Questions asked by Mr. Durham, who was assigned by Attorney General William P. Barr to scrutinize the early actions of law enforcement and intelligence officials struggling to understand the scope of Russia’s scheme, suggest that Mr. Durham may have come to view with suspicion several clashes between analysts at different intelligence agencies over who could see each other’s highly sensitive secrets, the people said.

Mr. Durham appears to be pursuing a theory that the C.I.A., under its former director John O. Brennan, had a preconceived notion about Russia or was trying to get to a particular result — and was nefariously trying to keep other agencies from seeing the full picture lest they interfere with that goal, the people said.

But officials from the F.B.I. and the National Security Agency have told Mr. Durham and his investigators that such an interpretation is wrong and based on a misunderstanding of how the intelligence community functions, the people said. National security officials are typically cautious about sharing their most delicate information, like source identities, even with other agencies inside the executive branch.

Mr. Durham’s questioning is certain to add to accusations that Mr. Trump is using the Justice Department to go after his perceived enemies, like Mr. Brennan, who has been an outspoken critic of the president. Mr. Barr, who is overseeing the investigation, has come under attack in recent days over senior Justice Department officials’ intervention to lighten a prison sentencing recommendation by lower-level prosecutors for Mr. Trump’s longtime friend Roger J. Stone Jr.

A spokesman for Mr. Durham did not respond to phone and email inquiries. The C.I.A. and the National Security Agency declined to comment. The people familiar with aspects of Mr. Durham’s investigation spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic.

The indictments of Trump's enemies are coming.  Barr at this point is begging Trump to stop tweeting about them so that he can get them rolled out without it being too obvious.

In an exclusive interview, Attorney General Bill Barr told ABC News on Thursday that President Donald Trump "has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case” but should stop tweeting about the Justice Department because his tweets “make it impossible for me to do my job.”
Barr’s comments are a rare break with a president who the attorney general has aligned himself with and fiercely defended. But it also puts Barr in line with many of Trump’s supporters on Capitol Hill who say they support the president but wish he’d cut back on his tweets.

“I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases,” Barr told ABC News Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas.
When asked if he was prepared for the consequences of criticizing the president – his boss – Barr said “of course” because his job is to run the Justice Department and make decisions on “what I think is the right thing to do.”

But Trump won't be contained, and everyone knows the game is up anyway.  He'll never stop tweeting.  He doesn't care. The consiglieri is warning the boss that the feds will notice, and the boss keeps on buying yachts and cars and fur coats and telling everybody at the butcher shop that the guys who tried to prosecute him are gonna get whacked anyway.

He's openly making quid pro quo threats against NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo and laughing at him openly on Twitter.

President Donald Trump appeared Thursday to link his administration's policies toward New York to a demand that the state drop investigations and lawsuits related to his administration as well as his personal business and finances.

Hours before New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was set to meet the president at the White House, Trump tweeted that Cuomo “must understand” that National Security far exceeds politics,” a reference to his administration’s recent decision to halt New York’s access to the Global Entry and other “trusted traveler” programs that allow New Yorkers faster border crossings and shorter airport lines.

Trump continued, “New York must stop all of its unnecessary lawsuits & harrassment, start cleaning itself up, and lowering taxes.”

Trump’s invocation of “lawsuits & harrassment” was a reference to the state’s numerous lawsuits against his administration and also against Trump’s business, which is based in New York.

That prompted Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), one of the House managers who prosecuted Trump’s impeachment in the Senate, to accuse the president of “expanding his abuse of power to blackmailing U.S. states (threatening millions of people he supposedly works for). In this case, he's holding New York state hostage to try to stop investigations into his prior tax fraud.”

State attorney general Letitia James has subpoenaed for Trump’s financial records, and the state is pursuing multiple inquiries about the Trump Organization’s business practices. James also just secured a $2 million settlement from Trump’s now-defunct charitable foundation, which was accused of numerous violations of misuse of funds.

The settlement prompted a sharp rebuke from Trump, who tweeted on Nov. 7 that James’ suit against the foundation was for “political purposes.”

“When you stop violating the rights and liberties of all New Yorkers, we will stand down,” James said Thursday, responding to Trump’s tweet. “Until then, we have a duty and responsibility to defend the Constitution and the rule of law. BTW, I file the lawsuits, not the Governor.”

Much more after the jump.  It's been a while since I've split a post up like this, but the lawlessness is coming at breathtaking speed.


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