Exoneration First, Investigation Later: Comey Under Fire Over Draft Clearing Clinton Written Before Interviewing Key Witnesses

440px-Comey-FBI-Portrait200px-disneyqueenheartsBelow is my column in the Hill newspaper on the recent news about Comey drafting a statement declining to charge Hillary Clinton or her staff before key witnesses were interviewed or evidence reviewed.  The question is why Comey pursued the investigation if he felt comfortable months in advance in drafting the statement.  I do not share the President’s view that this draft shows a “rigged process,”  though some FBI agents have objected to the drafting of the statement in this context.  I take Comey at his word that he did not make up his mind until after all of the evidence was reviewed.  However, the draft does show a markedly different approach to the investigation of the Clinton emails and the Special Counsel investigation of the Trump Administration.

Here is the column:

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Trump Administration Demands Information On Over A Million Visitors To Anti-Trump Website

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Trump Attorney Blasts Mueller Over Manafort Raid

582px-US-FBI-ShadedSeal.svgWhite_House_North_Side_Comparison2After just recently sending the President’s “appreciation and greetings” and triggering new allegations of criminal acts, one of President Donald Trump’s lawyers, John Dowd, is now denouncing Mueller for the pre-dawn raid on the Alexandria home of former campaign manager Paul Manafort.  I have commented that the raid seemed intentionally heavy handed and meant to convey a message to Manafort. However, I fail to see why the President’s counsel (rather than Manafort’s counsel) should be making such objections. It, once again, removes any perceived separation between President Trump and obvious targets like Manafort.

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IT IS TIME FOR ROD ROSENSTEIN TO RECUSE HIMSELF

Rod_Rosenstein_Official_DAG_PortraitBelow is my column in the Hill Newspaper on the growing need for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to recuse himself from the Special Counsel investigation.  Rosenstein has alluded to the possible need for his recusal but continues to participate in an investigation that could have direct bearing on his own role and decision-making.  If he has material evidence on obstruction, he should not delay his recusal until he receives a formal request to appear before a grand jury.  His relevance to the obstruction investigation is obvious and he should not be determined questions of scope when his own conduct could fall within the jurisdiction of the Special Counsel.

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Report: White House Investigating Mueller

donald_trump_president-elect_portrait_cropped440px-Director_Robert_S._Mueller-_III-1The media is reporting that President Donald Trump’s legal team is investigating possible conflicts of interest  by former FBI Director Robert Mueller.  Today I ran a column in USA Today on those conflicts of not just Mueller but Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. I have great respect for Mueller but I believe it was a mistake of Rosenstein to select him given his history with Comey and his reported interview with Trump for Comey’s job.  Nevertheless, as I have stated since this story broke this morning, I am very concerned with any concerted effort to investigate the investigators.  Such an approach is less evidence of a strategy as a spasm.  Clearly, defense counsel has a right — if not an obligation — to raise any known conflicts of interest with the Justice Department.  Yet, such investigations can easily get out of hand and can trip legal wires if aides are too aggressive in investigating the investigators.

 

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Rosenstein: Comey Memos Were Confidential and Improperly Leaked

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Ninth Circuit Rules Against Trump . . . Using Trump As Main Witness Against Himself

donald_trump_president-elect_portrait_croppedninth-circuit-logoIt is the presidential version of death by cop.  Recently, I wrote a column on how Trump had become a witness against himself by, again, tweeting highly damaging observations about pending litigation and even contradicting the statements of his own legal team in the immigration order litigation.  As predicted, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit not only ruled against his Administration but relied on his damaging recent tweet to seal the deal.  The lack of message discipline extended to Trump friends this week after his friend, Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy, said Trump was considering firing Mueller: “I think he’s considering perhaps terminating the special counsel. I think he’s weighing that option. I think it’s pretty clear by what one of his lawyers said on television recently.”   The statement sent a chill throughout Congress.  Such a move would not only push Congress to pass a renewal of the Independent Counsel Act but magnify allegations of obstruction.

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