A web host called “DreamHost” has gone to court to challenge a demand from the Trump Administration for information on more than 1 million visitors to an anti-Trump website. The demand would covered 1.3 million IP addresses and raises highly troubling free speech and associational concerns. At a minimum, the demand appears wildly too broad and could easily chill political speech for those who oppose this Administration.
After 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.
Below 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.
The 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.
Fox News’ Martha MacCallum aired an interesting interview with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein this week in which the Rosenstein reaffirmed something that I have previously said: the memos leaked by James Comey were FBI documents and their release violated FBI rules and regulations. The media has largely ignored indications that some of the memos were indeed classified and that Comey broke FBI rules by leaking material to his friend (with the intent of his giving the information to the media). Rosenstein however did not address one glaring issue of his own: his own conflict of interest in continuing to oversee the Special Counsel investigation while being an obvious and important witness in that investigation.
It 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.
Below 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: