Did The Special Counsel’s Office Just Leak Against Trump?

440px-Director_Robert_S._Mueller-_III-1The Washington Post is reporting that Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election has now expanded to look into whether President Donald Trump attempted to obstruct justice.  What is most notable is not the investigation of obstruction of justice.  Rather it is the fact of the leak that is alarming.  Former FBI Director James Comey (who followed Mueller at the Bureau and has had a long relationship with Mueller) just admitted to leaking damaging information against Trump.  Comey, who was tasked with investigating leakers, became a leaker himself. Now, the Special Counsel’s office is accused by Trump’s counsel of leaking informing damaging to Trump — an office that could be asked to consider unauthorized leaks as part of its investigation.  While such leaks could come from witnesses, those witnesses appear in large part high-ranking members of the Trump administration unless they came from a briefing with members of Congress.

The leak became a torrent with the disclosure that Daniel Coats, the current director of national intelligence, Adm. Mike Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency and Richard Ledgett, Rogers’ departed deputy, all agreed to participate in interviews with Mueller’s investigators as part of the investigation.

My concern with the leak is that it seems so strategically placed. Just days after a story that Trump was considering the termination of Mueller, the Washington Post is reporting a leak that Mueller is now investigating Trump. That would make it even more difficult to fire Mueller (which would be a truly moronic move at this point anyway).  Leaks are also problematic because of Mueller’s controversial history with Comey.  When he was appointed, I noted that he would not be viewed as neutral by the Trump team.  He shares a long history and friendship with Comey.  For that reason, he was a curious choice — a choice made even more controversial with the rising importance of Comey to the investigation.

As noted earlier, the appointment of a Special Counsel and the investigation in obstruction of justice was made virtually inevitable with the firing of James Comey. However, given the allegations of leaks as part of this scandal, it would be alarming if the Special Counsel or his staff are engaging in their own self-serving leaks.

The news of the expansion of the investigation should push the White House toward more  strategic thinking rather than simple tactical moves.  The White House enraged many after the Senate hearing by having cabinet level officials — three — refuse to answer questions without a formal invocation of executive privilege.  Mueller is now likely to get the answers to these questions.  As I mentioned in a recent column, Attorney General Sessions should have stated an intention to confirm whether he has permission to discuss presidential communications or has a formal invocation of privilege.  Absent an answer or an invocation, he risks a finding of contempt.  Moreover, these three appearances reinforced the image that the Trump White House has something to hide. Sessions should have had a formal invocation in hand given the two prior witnesses and their refusal to answer questions.

It is often better to be your own messenger at times like this. If these communications are going to be revealed, the White House should be the vehicle for the disclosure.  While the information might be negative, the waiving of privilege vis-a-vis Congress would undermine claims of obstruction.  If reports are true that Coats told staff that Trump had tried to get him to intervene with Comey, it would reinforce Comey’s own recollection of his meeting with Trump.

The leak was clearly designed to put Trump and the public on notice — making any moves by Trump against the investigation more problematic and potentially incriminating.  Trump cannot afford to add evidence of the use of his office to obstruct or harass the various investigation.  If Mueller decides that the statements made in the Trump meetings could constitute evidence in a criminal investigation, he would likely prevail in getting the information.  The issue therefore is whether Trump wants to be forced into disclosing this information or doing so voluntarily.

What do you think?

82 thoughts on “Did The Special Counsel’s Office Just Leak Against Trump?”

  1. “…[G]iven the allegations of leaks as part of this scandal, it would be alarming if the Special Counsel or his staff are engaging in their own self-serving leaks.”

    We are bearing witness to a coup d’état that began on November 9th, 2016. The Deep State had put their money on Hillary Clinton being POTUS–for she promised all kinds of favours to USIntel, the Military Industrial Complex, D.C.-Insiders, Wall Street, corporate-vultures & foreign regimes. Trump upset the apple-cart. Worse, Trump refused to honour Hillary’s promises that enriched the Clinton Foundation.

    When Trump challenged the FBI/CIA–that was the beginning of the end. The Deep State USIntel have a stranglehold over our government. The US Constitution & Rule of Law exists to keep the hoi-polloi in-line–not the powerful. He must be made an example of… Hillary was supposed to be POTUS so that the top %1% could get hold of 99.999% of the wealth instead of the 99% that they stole during the Clinton-Bush-Obama years.

    Trump never had a chance–He fired Comey: that was unforgivable to the Deep State. Mueller has been sent in to finish him: It’s been reported that Mueller is angry & has promised to avenge Comey’s firing & Hillary’s loss. Mueller has been a water-carrier, or should I say, a uranium-carrier for Hillary–and Mueller & Comey have carried water for the Clintons for years.

    “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” – Hillary Clinton wants to bring Trump down so that history will vindicate her loss & cover-up her crimes. She’ll have the last laugh, if she has to bring the rest of us down with her. I’m no fan of Trump–but while Hillary drinks an ocean of champagne, our nation will be the worse for this coup d’état: The gloves are off & it’s better to lay-low than to challenge the Deep State dictatorship.

  2. I disagree that there needs to be an express invocation of privilege before someone can refuse to answer on the basis of the privilege. For example, if an attorney is asked at a party what his client told him about something, the attorney must refuse to answer notwithstanding that the client was not there to invoke the privilege.

  3. When a man leaks he is usually standing up but could be sitting down. When a woman leaks she is almost always seated. The type of seat is important. There must be a hole in the seat but not in the bucket. When there is a hole in the bucket one must tell Lizza.
    Here we have leak, leak, bo beak, banana fanna fo feek.

    Names like Trump, Comey, Mueller. Leakers. Can not leak in the right places. Can not clean up their leaks which miss the outhouse hole or the toilet. There is a hole in the bucket and the nation is getting fed up. There is a phrase which goes way back in our history: Don’t Pee On Me!
    It is associated with Don’t Tread On Me!

    1. “There’s a hole in the bucket,
      dear Lisa, dear Lisa,
      there’s a hole in the bucket,
      dear Lisa a hole!”

      1. “Then fix it dear Georgie.
        deer Georgie, dear Georgie.
        Then fix it dear Georgie,
        Dear Georgie fix it!

  4. Comey stated, Trump was not under investigation……
    The idiots in the White House, took that to be the ALL CLEAR.!!
    They wanted, to tell all the world.!!
    It meant, HE was not under investigation…..AT THAT PARTICULAR TIME.!!
    I always knew…that caveat was there.!!

    We have a full blown crisis now on our hands. Don’t tell me Flynn and Kushner, in the beginning, were
    Talking to the Russians to get to know them BETTER.!??? They were doing the Orange one’s bidding…
    OF COURSE.!!

    Where are the jobs, The Orange one promised.?
    Where is the ” working” across the aisle.?
    Where is the cheap Gas.?
    Where are we exploring for oil, so we are not dependent on OPEC.?
    Where are the lower taxes.?
    Where is the Wonderful, Health Care.?

    Trump, cannot do the job he was elected to do.

  5. Is there any body in washington really fair and honorable?

    1. Henry Peterson died in 1991. Robert Bork died in 2012. Antonin Scalia died in 2016.

  6. Rosenstein appoints Mueller as special counsel. Mueller and Comey are best friends. Special counsel by law cannot be best friends with key witness. Comey admits being a leaker. Lynch obstructs justice by not allowing Comey to use term investigation. Lynch meets husband of target of investigation on airport tarmac. Comey makes a strong case against Hillary but refuses to indict her. Nobody investigating Lynch. Nobody investigating IRS or Clinton Foundation. Media reporting Trump collusion with Russia with not a “smidgeon” of evidence. Trump expresses hope and now is accused of “obstruction”. None of this makes sense to me. Methinks me smells a skunk in the closet here!! This is obviously a witch hunt and a well-organized attempt to bring Trump down!

  7. Prof. Turley, you need to think outside the box more. Is it possible that someone from the Trump camp leaked this information in an effort to pin the blame on Mueller’s office, hoping to force out Mueller? I’m sure stranger things have happened. Mueller could have said or done something to someone in the White House indicating that Mueller is investigating Trump. And the White House could have leaked the information about the investigation through a third party.

    Or it could be as you suspect.

    But you don’t know that. It may not make sense on the surface for the White House to have leaked this story, but the folks in the White house, including Trump, seem committed to making self-destructive choices.

    One thing is certain: Don’t trust any side when it comes to “leaks”. Everyone does it. Some of the “leaks” are accurate, Some of them are not accurate. Bannon probably leaks to destroy Kushner, and vice versa. Seems like the White House is a circular firing squad in that respect. They all have their favorite press “buddies” who will regurgitate what they are told, in an effort to sell copy and make money. These press buddies wittingly or not turn into human “Scud Missiles” aimed at the leaker’s intended target.

    The US motto with respect to the SALT treaties was “trust but verify.” When it comes to leaks, the motto should be “distrust until you verify.”

  8. From the Guy that designed the NSA, William Binney. If you’re an Idiot please don/t watch, it will not help you.

  9. The damned Director of the FBI serves at the Pleasure of the President. The President was no longer pleased with the Director’s Performance, so he fired him. President Trump was told by Comey three times that he was NOT being investigated for colluding with the Russians. The members of Congress knew that, yet no one would say it. When Trump says he fired Comey because of the Russian investigation, that’s what he means. He means that Comey would not announce, or release a statement indicating, that Trump was NOT being investigated for colluding with the Russians. It doesn’t matter what the damn protocol is. It seems no one is following protocol. Everyone is breaking the law. Leak, leak, leak …. the crime is releasing classified information. Not one investigation was stopped because Comey was fired. Not one second was lost.

  10. Robert Mueller, wasn’t he the one that helped cover up 911? Oh, we forgot, that’s right he was.

    Gee, I wonder what the friendly’s at NSA & Naval Intel have on this & Comey’s Commie/Nazi American Hating Trash’es Azzes? What’s that deputy AG’s name again?

    Target sighted Captain, fire all info at will.

  11. Comey leaked info, by his own admission, to a friend to cause the appointment of a special counsel. Mr. Mueller is a personal friend of Mr. Comey and is being compensated for that service. I see a conflict of interest and another special counsel must be appointed.

    1. Mueller’s friendship with Comey is just part of the problem.
      4 of the 5 members of the special counsel’s team that Mueller appointed are partisan Democrats.
      As far as the Washington Post source for the leaks, Congress could investigate the sources of the leak.
      According to WaPo, the information was obtained from “five unidentified sources”.
      Congressional commitees could call in Mueller, members of Mueller’s team, White House staff, DOJ officials, etc.
      Members of Congressional commitees wanted to know “who said what to whom and when it was said” when questioning Sessions, Coats, and others.
      If their curiosity is even-handed, I’m sure that they’ll want testimony about conversations within the Mueller special counsel’s office, or maybe about the information flow from that office to the media.😏
      If they claim “judicial privilege” or “investigators’ privilege” and refuse to answer, accuse them of stonewalling.

  12. I have absolutely no idea why trump “Obstructed justice” or why he’s being “investigated” for it. Sessions will go down as the biggest Judas or moron of all time if Trump is somehow impeached over this. Who is Rosenstein? Why was he selected DAG? His selection of Mueller is highly suspicious as is his haste in appointing him.

    Or maybe appointing Mueller was all the idea of those anonymous “Trump white house aides” who are always so much clever then Trump. We’ve seen this again and again, where “clever” Republicans instead of standing firm decide they’ll give him into Democrat pressure and rely on some so-called “Non-partisan’ figure to play fair and give them what they want.

  13. OK, sooo I am lazy, and I don’t want to type this again, so here is a copy and paste of what I wrote earlier on another thread, about why Sessions did not blab his private conversations with Trump:

    Let me explain this to you as a simple matter of physics. As far as we know, the Arrow of Time only runs in one direction. That is from the present, to a subsequent time frame.

    Now, if a President has the right to exert a privilege over a particular conversation, when does the President first have any knowledge that the details of a particular conversation is going to be queried? Is it BEFORE the question is asked, or is it AFTER the question is asked.

    Now, on Planet Earth, most of us will choose the AFTER option. I am not sure about you. Perhaps, you believe that President Trump, or any President should possess the quality of CLAIRVOYANCE. Based on some of your other fantastical beliefs, it would certainly not surprise me. But, I am going to go with the vast majority of humans who think the proper answer is, that a President would not know about a query about a particular conversation until AFTER the question was asked.

    Therefore, with this simple basis of PHYSICAL REALITY, someone answering the question before knowing whether or not the President might wish to assert the privilege, would be be effectively preventing the President from being able to assert the privilege.

    Therefore, what Sessions told the sassy-a$$ goofy b*tch, was simply a matter of reality. He could only answer the question AFTER the President had a chance to make his choice.

    See, just a tiny lick of common sense and your nonsensical concerns evaporate away!

    My BFF, Penelope Dreadful, an attorney, says this is a really legally sound argument that I made.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  14. I had the same impression when I read and reread the WaPo Article which ahd no factual foundation to speak of just references to “officials’ which could have been steel mill managers in Poland.They weren’t tied to anyone just sort of ‘in the mix.’ Maybe it was that one General’s girlfriend who was a reporter but the thought did cross my mind is Mueller turning into another present all done up for Christmas but running a much the same operaton.

    Well….maybe this newly hired prosecutorial staff are for his offices leakers, Maybe for dim illuminary. Or maybe it’s just another red herring then the question becomes Red Herring, Red State or the original meeting of the Red State meaning USSR which or maybe he just tossed some crumbled crackers in the air to see who would take the bait.

    So far the far left has acted true to form.

  15. Mueller and Comey are two birds of feather–with apologies to the birds. They are both well-seasoned liars and coverup artists, whose primary job is to protect the criminals taking orders from the Elite Establishment.

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