Why The IG Report Undermines Mueller’s Obstruction Investigation

Below is my column on the implications of the IG report for the obstruction allegations being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.  I have previously written how the most likely explanation for actions taken by this Administration will be found in Ockham’s Razor and that theory that requires the least number of assumptions.  The IG report is an example of following such logic rather than assumptions.

 

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Paul Ryan, Censor Deputatus

 

By Mike Appleton, Weekend Contributor 

I’ll admit that I had no idea who was serving as Chaplain of the House of Representatives until the recent controversy over the forced resignation of Fr. Patrick Conroy, S.J. But if someone had told me only that a Catholic priest had just been fired as House Chaplain, I would have guessed that he was a Jesuit.

The Society of Jesus has been a thorn in the side of princes and popes for centuries. Jesuits have been periodically banned by kings and suppressed by the Church, but they have always returned to continue speaking truth to power, inspired by a rich tradition of Ignatian spirituality and a fierce intellectual independence. My own alma mater, Jesuit High School in El Paso, Texas, occupied a campus built by Mexican Jesuits during a period of anti-clerical political repression in Mexico.

While I was still contemplating the meaning of the termination, the resulting political outcry resulted in Paul Ryan’s capitulation to political reality and Fr. Conroy’s reinstatement. But the question remains: what was behind the request for his resignation? The explanation initially provided, that he was not meeting the “pastoral needs” of  his congressional flock, struck me as contrived. Nor did I buy into the excuse that he was a victim of generalized anti-Catholic attitudes among certain House members. The correct answer, I believe, lies behind Fr. Conroy’s own comments that he had been asked to “stay out of politics” following a prayer before the opening of a House session on the then pending tax overhaul bill. The words of that prayer suggest that Fr. Conroy’s sin was primarily theological.

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Justice Department Tells Court That Trump’s Own Admissions Undermine Claims Of Attorney-Client Privilege Over Cohen Material

160px-Official_Portrait_of_President_Donald_Trump_(cropped) I (and many others) have cautioned the President for over a year that his tweets and public comments are underlying his case (and litigation like the immigration challenges) in federal court.  Now the Justice Department has used the President’s latest comments in a call-in to “Fox and Friends” as eviscerating efforts to claim privilege over documents on his behalf in the review of the material seized from his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.  While opposing counsel like Democratic state attorneys general have used Trump’s comments against his Administration and the Justice Department has struggled to defend against such use, this is the first time that his own Justice Department is using the President’s comments effectively against his interests.  In the meantime, it was revealed yesterday that the FBI seized 16 different cellphones from Michael Cohen.

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SHOULD TRUMP PARDON COHEN?

Below is my column on the question of whether President Donald Trump should pardon his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.  Cohen has notified a judge in California that he will refuse to answer questions in a case brought by counsel for Stormy Daniels by invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.  President Trump, who has ridiculed people who invoke their Fifth Amendment rights, called into Fox and Friends to

 

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Florida Judge Removed After Posting Of Video Berating Sick Woman In Wheelchair

screen-shot-2018-04-22-at-10-17-03-pm.pngBroward County Circuit Judge Merrilee Ehrlich is facing a torrent of criticism over her berating a defendant who is obviously experiencing serious physical discomfort in the courtroom.  Defendant Sandra Faye Twiggs, 59, complained about her trouble breathing but Ehrlich abused her and her counsel in a tirade on April 15th that has resulted in Judge Ehrlich being relieved of her duties.  It will not be of much relief to Twiggs, who died three days later.  Update: Ehrlich will now be forced into retirement.

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The Curious Case of The Andrew McCabe Legal Defense Fund

Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the curious timing of a legal defense fund for Andrew McCabe — started and closed before the release of a report on his conduct.  With the sentencing of the first Mueller defendant, Dutch lawyer Alex van der Zwaan, there are obvious questions of why people like Flynn and van der Zwaan should face prison for single false statements while McCabe is accused of lying four times, including twice under oath.  Mueller’s office insisted that anyone who lies to investigators deserves to be sentenced and punished, but that standard appears to change be somewhat fluid when a former high-ranking FBI official is implicated.  Nevertheless, I can certainly understand McCabe’s interest in a legal defense fund given the ongoing IG investigation and addition of a prosecutor to the team.  However, the money was raised before donors could know the full account of the allegations against McCabe. Moreover, McCabe can use this money for any legal needs as he enters private life.

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The Proposed Mueller Protections Would Achieve Little While Risking Much For Congress

800px-Capitol_Building_Full_ViewBelow is my column in the Hill newspaper on the push for new legislation to Robert Mueller.  I supported the appointment of a Special Counsel and still believe that Mueller must be allowed to complete his work. However, this legislation would do little in terms of real protection while putting at risk a major piece of precedent from the Supreme Court.

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