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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The Case Against James Comey

440px-Comey-FBI-PortraitBelow is my column in The Hill Newspaper on the the case against former FBI Director James Comey for leaking FBI information to the media.  There has been an effort to confine the question of Comey’s actions in terms of criminality. There are laws that could be relied upon for a formal charge in court but that is unlikely and would counter prior prosecutorial practices.  However, the disclosure clearly violates a host of federal rules and regulations that bar such use of FBI information. It is therefore unlawful and unprofessional.  It is also potentially unethical under bar rules.

Here is the column:

 

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Report: Comey Asked Sessions Not To Leave Him Alone With Trump

donald_trump_president-elect_portrait_cropped440px-Comey-FBI-PortraitIt appears that President Donald Trump’s instilled a virtually phobic reaction in former FBI Director James Comey after his allegedly inappropriate pitch to terminate the investigation of former National Security Advisor Micheal Flynn.  According to the New York Times, Comey asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to leave him alone with Trump.  If true, the request for a type of chaperone in the Oval Office would represent a new low for the White House.  In the meantime (and equally embarrassing if true), ABC reports that Sessions actually asked Trump if he should resign due to his own deteriorating relationship with the President (who was reportedly still angry at Sessions for recusing himself from the Russian investigation). Notably, the White House declined to say whether Trump still has faith in Sessions at the White House press conference.

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Oregon Organic Farm Threatened With Forced Herbicide Use Reaches Settlement With County

Last weekend we featured two articles (HERE and HERE) describing a controversy involving the forced use of chemical herbicides on an organic farm that according to County officials was out of compliance in controlling noxious weeds that were threatening neighboring farms and crops.

The 2,000 acre organic farm in North Central Oregon is facing what could be an existential threat to its operations after county weed control authorities sent notice mandating that the farm use chemical herbicides to eradicate weed growth.

I attended the public hearing held at the Sherman County seat located in Moro, Oregon. Due to a very high volume of interest expressed by residents and those outside the community, the venue was changed from the County Courthouse to a gymnasium at the Sherman County High School. There was a great deal of uncertainty manifest in this hearing with strongly held opinions on many sides and one can say with near certainty that the publicity generated caused turmoil in this small community. In fact, the concern was so great, that a number of law enforcement officials were dispatched to the area to provide security to address a worry that things might get out of hand. But in the end the two sides reached an agreement that precludes the forced use of herbicides–and offered both a carrot and stick for both parties to strongly consider.

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McCabe: FBI Agents Were “Vocal” In Their Dissatisfaction Over Failure To Indict Clinton

Andrew_McCabe_official_photoHillary_Clinton_Testimony_to_House_Select_Committee_on_BenghaziThe testimony of Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe on Thursday grabbed headlines in his direct contradiction of the White House claim that former FBI Director James Comey has lost the support of career agents.  McCabe made clear that the rank and file were (and remain) entirely supportive of Comey.  However, I thought the most interesting aspect of the hearing was a brief discussion of the 2016 decision not to prosecute Hillary Clinton. McCabe, who is viewed by many Republicans as having problematic links to the Clinton camp (through his wife who ran for office with their financial support), said that the failure to indict Clinton produced “vocal” opposition from the agents investigating her conduct.

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