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House Committee Investigations into Trump

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#21

But Democrats on Capitol Hill say that, beyond Newbold, there is a small army of whistle-blowers from across the government who have been working in secret with the House Oversight Committee to report on alleged malfeasance inside the Trump administration. Lawmakers and aides are reluctant to discuss information they have gleaned from anonymous government tipsters in detail. But the list of whistle-blowers who either currently or previously worked in the Trump administration, or who worked closely with the administration, numbers in the “dozens,” according to a senior aide from the committee now led by Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland.


#22

Rep. Jerry Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr Thursday requesting the public release of summaries of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report prepared by his investigators, as well as all communications between the Justice Department and Mueller’s office about the document.

The big news here is that Nadler is demanding, not just the report, but also the communications between Mueller’s team and Barr prior to Barr releasing his whitewash “summary.” In other words, Nadler is virtually accusing Barr of a cover up.

Based on press reports, Nadler is alleging that Barr suppressed the summaries written by Mueller’s team which they intended to be released to the public. He further alleges that Barr then substituted his misleading “summary” in the form of his public letter. The first three paragraphs of Nadler’s letter are a scathing rebuke of Barr:

Dear Attorney General Barr,

I write to you regarding troubling press reports relating to your handling of Special Counsel Mueller’s report, and to urge that you immediately release to the public any “summaries” contained in the report that may have been prepared by the Special Counsel.

The New York Times and the Washington Post both report that some in the Special Counsel’s office have raised concerns about your March 24 letter summarizing the results of the Special Counsel’s investigation. The Post wrote that “members of [Special Counsel] Mueller’s team have complained to close associates that the evidence they gathered on obstruction was alarming and significant.”

These reports suggest that the Special Counsel prepared his own summaries, intended for public consumption, which you chose to withhold in favor of your own: “Some members of the office were particularly disappointed that Barr did not release summary information the special counsel team had … prepared for different sections of the report, with a view that they could [be] made public.” In fact, one unnamed U.S. official is quoted as saying that “Mueller’s team assumed the information was going to be made available to the public … 'and so they prepared their summaries to be shared in their own words-and not in the attorney general’s summary of their work, as turned out to be the case.”’

Here’s Nadler’s letter to Barr in full.


#23

Tonight Rachel Maddow listed all the current investigations into Trump’s Inaugural Committee. Wow! There are seven! Here they are (with links to articles about the investigations – albeit, there’s not much info for the Brooklyn probe):

Notes:

  1. The first two House investigations fit neatly in this thread – the five others don’t technically belong here, but I thought it would be impressive to list them all together in the spirit of Maddow’s report and this seemed like a good spot for that. As those five Federal and State investigations progress, I’m sure we’ll be posting about them in the daily threads.

  2. If you’re wondering why the U.S. Court in California has become involved, it’s probably due to the Elliott Broidy connection (just my guess). He was a Finance Vice-Chair on the Inaugural Committee and has an office in Los Angeles that was recently raided by the Feds (see the Los Angeles link above for more info).


#24

I’ve been down the inaugural rabbit hole a bit, there’s a lot there. Not surprised.


#25

So this one is from Buzzfeed News. Still seems fishy, and sketchy, but if true this would be the scenario Barr testified in congress that would be considered Obstruction of Justice.

Read this with a grain of salt and remember that Cohen really doesn’t want to go to jail. Too tailor made to what information is already out there. I post this because you may see it on social media and I just wanted to provide a warning.

Attorneys for Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former fixer, submitted documents to lawmakers Thursday night accusing Trump and his team of lawyers of instructing Cohen to lie to Congress about when negotiations ended to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

In a 12-page memo sent to top House Democrats, Cohen’s attorneys said Trump “encouraged Cohen to lie and say all Moscow Tower project contacts ended as of January 31, 2016 using ‘code’ language — telling Cohen during various conversations that there was ‘no collusion, no Russian contacts, nothing about Russia’ after the start of the campaign.’”

[…]

The more than 100 pages of documents included with Cohen’s memo claim to lay bare a “conspiracy to collude” with the Russian government during the campaign, along with an array of other crimes by the president. The memo also for the “first time discloses Michael Cohen’s testimony to the Mueller team and to other non-public testimony to congressional committees,” according to Cohen’s legal team.


#26

Weird new fight within the House Judiciary Committee, Republicans are arguing that in order for the committee to see the unredacted Mueller report and the underlying evidence, the committee would first have to open an impeachment investigation.

:thinking: Looks like they’re trying to push Dems into making an impeachment play. I don’t think they can do that… Dems should keep making the legislative argument and open a 9/11 style Commission investigation into how to prevent future elections from being perverted. Then Dems can hold the Republicans publically accountable for not addressing this issue sooner.

Do Democrats have to begin the process of impeaching President Donald Trump in order to access special counsel Robert Mueller’s secrets?

That legal debate began raging inside the House Judiciary Committee on Friday after a new federal court ruling suggested that Congress’ access to some confidential evidence — like the kind obtained by Mueller — hinges on lawmakers launching a “judicial proceeding.”

Republicans on the committee say the only “judicial proceeding” Congress can lead is an impeachment inquiry – a claim they say is backed up by legal precedent and history. Democrats would have to launch one against Trump if they want Mueller’s grand jury evidence, Republicans say.

[…]

Judiciary Committee Democrats are also pushing back against the notion that impeachment would be a requirement to get Mueller’s grand jury evidence. Democrats say courts haven’t ruled out other avenues that would count as “judicial proceedings.”

“I can understand why Republicans would like to interpret this morning’s decision as cutting off all access by congress to these materials. There’s probably something very damaging to the president there,” said a Democratic Judiciary Committee counsel. “But no court, including the D.C. Circuit in this morning’s case has ever held that Congress must be in an impeachment proceeding in order to access grand jury materials.”

To bolster their case, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) has argued that Congress received access to grand jury material amassed by prosecutors in investigations of Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. Ken Starr, the independent counsel who investigated Clinton, turned over a mountain of grand jury material to Congress, Nadler noted earlier this week.

“As a legal matter, the Judiciary Committee has always had access to grand jury material involving questions of presidential misconduct, and I can’t imagine the courts ultimately deciding otherwise in this case,” said Julian Epstein, who was the committee’s chief counsel in 1998, when Democrats received Starr’s grand jury evidence. “This Republican gamesmanship of wanting an impeachment declaration is childish form over substance, and the courts will not likely bow to that kind of rhetorical legerdemain.”

The House Intelligence Committee may have a claim to the information as well, said Barb McQuade, a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, in a call with reporters. “One of the other exceptions to the grand jury secrecy rule is that an attorney for the government may disclose grand jury material to a federal official whose job includes foreign intelligence work,” she said.


#27

Three powerful House committee chairs asked Capital One for documents last month related to President Donald Trump’s business empire — and the financial giant said it was already preserving documents but needs a subpoena in order to comply, according to letters obtained by POLITICO.

The March 11 request from House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) comes amid intensifying congressional scrutiny of the president’s financial records and tax returns.

The lawmakers asked Capital One for all documents related to the president’s revocable trust, the Trump Organization and other subsidiaries of his financial empire. Notably, the Democrats asked for documents that might have been turned over to special counsel Robert Mueller.

In a March 21 response to the committee leaders, Capital One executive Brent M. Timberlake said the corporation is “preserving the documents and materials,” but could only turn over the information if the committees issue a subpoena.


#28

:face_with_raised_eyebrow:

California Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said Sunday he was planning to send eight criminal referrals to Attorney General William Barr as soon as this week.

Nunes, who investigated accusations of FBI and Department of Justice abuse while he was previously chairman of the intelligence panel, did not say who he would be referring in a Fox News interview on Sunday.

Appearing on Fox’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” Nunes said five of the referrals are related to lying to Congress, misleading Congress and leaking classified information.

The other referrals, Nunes said, are allegations of lying to the FISA court that approves foreign surveillance warrants, manipulating intelligence and what he described as a “global leak referral,” which Nunes said wasn’t tied to one individual.


#29

#30

#31

#32

Excerpt from Day 722

Atty James Baker has been pretty informative about what went down in Justice Dept…He was the one who spoke with Benjamin Wittes a few months back and said the Obstruction was the collusion.

I like what I hear from him.

Here’s the previous link from January Day 722

Lawfare Blog Benjamin Wittes poses a further question about whether the fact that the President sought to obstruct the Russian Investigation, via firing of Comey, which sent the FBI into another investigation about the President…is indeed at the core of what Mueller must be looking for.

Just as it’s title suggests -

What if the Obstruction Was the Collusion? On the New York Times’s Latest Bombshell

Wittes had discussions w/ Michael Schmidt NYT and had a long interview for former FBI lawyer James Baker, who said the investigation is about…“It was about Russia. It was always about Russia. Full stop.”


#33

Topic header has been updated.


#34

More on the Baker testimony from Politico

Under questioning in 2018 from a Democratic committee lawyer, Baker described numerous officials who were distressed that the president may have obstructed justice when he fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017. Baker said he had personal concerns and that they were shared by not just top FBI brass but within other divisions and at the Justice Department as well.

[…]

“The leadership of the FBI, so the acting director … The heads of the national security apparatus, the national security folks within the FBI, the people that were aware of the underlying investigation and who had been focused on it,” Baker said, running through a list of officials he said were worried that the president may have fired Comey to hinder the Russia investigation.

Baker said other FBI executives informed him that Justice Department officials raised concerns about obstruction by Trump as well.


#35

Attorney General William Barr told lawmakers Wednesday that he will be looking to the “genesis” of the the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into potential ties between members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government began in 2016, saying, “I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal” – echoing some of the more inflammatory claims lobbed by President Donald Trump for months, but declining to elaborate on his concerns.

"I think spying did occur," Barr said, though he declined to provide the basis for his concern. "The question is whether it was . . . adequately predicated."

The news will likely be viewed as a welcome development to the President, who has regularly called for an investigation and, as recently as last week, told reporters more should be done to examine the origins of the Russia probe.


#36

More from the Baker testimony

James Baker, the former top lawyer of the FBI, said senior bureau officials — including at least one deemed to be free of anti-Trump bias — discussed the possibility in May 2017 that President Donald Trump had fired FBI Director James Comey “at the behest of” the Russian government.

In testimony to two Republican-led committees last October, Baker described mounting concerns that crystallized in the frantic days after the FBI director’s ouster, days that were punctuated by Trump’s on-air declaration that he fired Comey because of the Russia probe and his chummy Oval Office meeting with senior Russian officials, at which he reportedly trashed Comey as a “nut job.”

Baker described a discussion in those turbulent days that he had with Andrew McCabe — who became acting FBI director after Comey’s departure — and the bureau’s top counterintelligence official Bill Priestap, as well as top national security official Carl Ghattas. He also said it was possible that bureau attorney Lisa Page and counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok — whose anti-Trump text messages have drawn attention from Trump and Republicans — attended the meeting as well.

“So there was — there was a discussion between those folks, possibly all of the folks that you’ve identified, about whether or not President Trump had been ordered to fire Jim Comey by the Russian government?” asked Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), one of the committee members interviewing Baker.

“I wouldn’t say ordered. I guess I would say … acting at the behest of and somehow following directions, somehow executing their will,” he said. “[A]nd so literally an order or not, I don’t know.”

[…]

Mueller examined whether Trump attempted to obstruct the probe, and Baker’s testimony provides a window into the FBI’s view of that question in the immediate days following Comey’s firing. Mueller, according to a limited excerpt revealed by Barr, declined to reach a “traditional prosecutorial judgment” on whether Trump obstructed justice, but Mueller’s analysis has not been revealed.

Baker said the discussion among the top officials was meant to discuss the range of possibilities behind Trump’s firing of Comey. Acting at Russia’s urging “was one extreme,” he said.

“The other extreme is that the president is completely innocent, and we discussed that too,” Baked noted. “And so — and then you have things in the middle. And so —— so that was how it came up. There’s a range of things this could possibly be. We need to investigate, because we don’t know whether, you know, the worst-case scenario is possibly true or the president is totally innocent and we need to get this thing over with — and so he can move forward with his agenda.”

“The leadership of the FBI, so the acting director … the heads of the national security apparatus, the national security folks within the FBI, the people that were aware of the underlying investigation and who had been focused on it,” Baker said, running through a list of officials he said were worried that the president might have fired Comey to hinder the Russia investigation.

Baker said other FBI executives informed him that Justice Department officials raised concerns about obstruction by Trump as well.


#37

@matt is this separate from the IG investigation that will come out later this year?


#38

More Barr testimony today


#39

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service will not meet House Democrats’ deadline to turn over President Trump’s past tax returns by Wednesday, escalating what will likely culminate in a legal battle in the investigation into the president’s personal and business finances.

In a letter to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin writes that he needs more time to consult with the Department of Justice given the “unprecedented nature of this request.”


#40

Carl Kline will appear before the House Oversight Committee April 23 to explain why he overturned security clearances for the White House.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/former-white-house-official-accused-in-security-clearance-dispute-to-face-house-committee/2019/04/11/17de87c0-5c61-11e9-9625-01d48d50ef75_story.html?utm_term=.43c97618106a

A former White House official accused of overturning denials of security clearance during the Trump administration will appear before the House Oversight Committee on April 23, his lawyer told the panel in a letter Wednesday, despite his counsel’s pleas to postpone his testimony.

Carl Kline, who served as the White House personnel security director during the first two years of the Trump administration, will appear for the deposition as part of the panel’s long-standing investigation into security clearances under President Trump. The committee subpoenaed Kline in early April after a whistleblower in his office, Tricia Newbold, alleged that the White House was acting recklessly with the nation’s secrets by granting security clearances to individuals whom employees like her found unworthy.