Posts tagged with "Department of Justice"

DOJ declines to defend Trump ally in lawsuit over January 6 insurrection

July 29, 2021

The U.S. Department of Justice declined on Tuesday, July 27, to defend a congressional ally of former President Donald Trump in a lawsuit accusing them both of inciting supporters at a rally in the hours before the January 6 storming of the Capitol, reports The New York Times.

Law enforcement officials determined that Representative Mo Brooks (R-Alabama) was acting outside the scope of his duties in an incendiary speech just before the attack, according to a court filing. Brooks had asked the department to certify that he was acting as a government employee during the rally; had it agreed to defend him, he would have been dismissed from the lawsuit and the United States substituted as a defendant.

“The record indicates that Brooks’s appearance at the January 6 rally was campaign activity, and it is no part of the business of the United States to pick sides among candidates in federal elections,” the Justice Department wrote.

The DOJ added, “Members of Congress are subject to a host of restrictions that carefully distinguish between their official functions, on the one hand, and campaign functions, on the other.”What’s more, the Justice Department’s decision shows it is likely to also decline to provide legal protection for former President Trump in the lawsuit, The New York Times said.

According to the Times, legal experts have closely watched the case because the Biden Justice Department has continued to fight for granting immunity to. Trump in a 2019 defamation lawsuit where he denied allegations that he raped the writer E. Jean Carroll and said she accused him to get attention.

Such a substitution provides broad protections for government officials and is generally reserved for government employees sued over actions that stem from their work. In the Carroll case, the department cited other defamation lawsuits as precedent.

The Brooks decision also ran counter to the Justice Department’s longstanding broad view of actions taken in the scope of a federal employee’s employment, which has served to make it harder to use the courts to hold government employees accountable for wrongdoing.

Brooks did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lawyers for the House also said on Tuesday that they declined to defend Brooks in the lawsuit. Given that it “does not challenge any institutional action of the House,” a House lawyer wrote in a court filing, “it is not appropriate for it to participate in the litigation.”

The lawsuit, filed in March by Representative Eric Swalwell (D-California) accuses Mr. Brooks of inciting a riot and conspiring to prevent a person from holding office or performing official duties.

Swalwell accused Brooks, Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr,. and his onetime personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani of playing a key role in inciting the January 6. attack during a rally near the White House in the hours before the storming of the Capitol.

Citing excerpts from their speeches, Swalwell accused the men of violating federal law by conspiring to prevent an elected official from holding office or from performing official duties, arguing that their speeches led Trump’s supporters to believe they were acting on orders to attack the Capitol.

Swalwell alleged that their speeches encouraged Trump’s supporters to unlawfully force members of Congress from their chambers and destroy parts of the Capitol to keep lawmakers from performing their duties.

During the rally, Brooks told attendees that the United States was “at risk unlike it has been in decades, and perhaps centuries.” He said that their ancestors “sacrificed their blood, their sweat, their tears, their fortunes and sometimes their lives” for the country.

“Are you willing to do the same?” he asked the crowd. “Are you willing to do what it takes to fight for America?”

Mr. Swalwell said defendants in his lawsuit had incited the mob and had continued to stoke false beliefs that the election was stolen.

“As a direct and foreseeable consequence of the defendants’ false and incendiary allegations of fraud and theft, and in direct response to the defendants’ express calls for violence at the rally, a violent mob attacked the U.S. Capitol,” Swalwell said in his complaint. “Many participants in the attack have since revealed that they were acting on what they believed to be former President Trump’s orders in service of their country.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Trump Justice Department secretly subpoenaed records on top Democrats, their families, and staff

June 14, 2021

After a series of damaging leaksto the media about contacts between senior White House functionaries and Russian officials during the early moments of the Trump Administration, the Department of Justice took the extraordinary step of subpoenaing data from Apple on top Democrats, their families, and their staff, in an effort to identify the source of the leaked information, The New York Times was first to report on Thursday night, June 10.

Indeed, the Times reported, at least a dozen people associated with the House Intelligence Committee had their records seized, including then–ranking member of the committee Adam Schiff and committee member Eric Swalwell

According to a report by Slate on Friday, the surveillance reportedly encompassed the subjects’ metadata, whom they were communicating with—not the content of those communications. One of the individuals whose records was subpoenaed was a minor, presumably a family member of one of the targets, because the DOJ suspected officials might be using their children’s computer to leak to avoid detection.

The surveillance was not made known to the targets until last month, due to a gag order on Apple that recently expired.

Other administrations, including the Obama Administration, have aggressively hunted leakers—but, Slate notes, the latest revelations show how far and beyond the Trump administration was willing to go, essentially from the start of the Trump presidency.

The records seized were reportedly from 2017 and early 2018, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions bore the brunt of Trump’s rage about all things Russia. Leaked contacts between Michael Flynn and then–Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak led to Flynn’s ouster and ultimately federal charges.

The leaked information was explosive: It showed the continuation of curious contact between Trump World and Russia; it also revealed that the FBI had used a court-authorized secret wiretap on Kislyak that ensnared the future national security adviser.

“Ultimately, the data and other evidence did not tie the committee to the leaks, and investigators debated whether they had hit a dead end and some even discussed closing the inquiry,” the Times notes. “But William P. Barr revived languishing leak investigations after he became attorney general a year later. … Barr directed prosecutors to continue investigating, contending that the Justice Department’s National Security Division had allowed the cases to languish, according to three people briefed on the cases.” The moves smacked of political targeting to some in the Justice Department.

The secret targeting of sitting members of Congress by the opposite party—particularly, those leading an investigation related to the White House, is an extraordinary step that requires truly extraordinary evidence, Slate says. Adding that,so far reports indicate no evidence was found linking the targets to the actual leaks.

What was found was that the Trump Administration had an ulterior motive: snooping on its political enemies.

These disturbing revelations come on the heels of news that the Trump DOJ carried out similar, secret surveillance of journalists covering the White House for a host of major news organizations—raising serious questions about the appropriateness of the Trump administration’s use of its surveillance powers in what Slate characterized as “a broad and dangerous overreach.”

Research contact: @Slate

Don McGahn agrees to testify about events described in Mueller report

May 14, 2021

On May 12, the Department of Justice and House Judiciary Committee reached an agreement that will allow former Trump White House Counsel Don McGahn to offer testimony about events described in special counsel Robert Mueller’s 2019 Russia investigation communiqué, The Wall Street Journal reports.

According to the Journal, Wednesday’s agreement, detailed in a court filing to the Washington, D.C., federal appeals court, “sidesteps a messy legal fight that could have reshaped relations between the Executive Branch and Congress.”

Democrats who run the Judiciary Committee have sought. McGahn’s testimony for two years as part of an inquiry into potential obstruction of justice by former President Donald Trump during  Mueller’s Russia investigation.

The agreement, which comes months after the Biden administration assumed control of the Justice Department, limits McGahn’s testimony to a closed-door transcribed interview with the committee to be scheduled as soon as possible. He will be permitted to testify about matters referenced in the public portion of Mueller’s report. A transcript may be released publicly, according to the agreement.

Neither McGahn, nor an attorney representing him, has responded to a request for comment. The Justice Department didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The deal showcases the limits of the federal courts to enforce congressional claims against executive-branch officials. The committee initially sought McGahn’s testimony through a subpoena in April 2019.

Democrats’ effort to compel him to testify prevailed in a lower court, but the Justice Department, representing McGahn, appealed the decision. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit struggled to reach a definitive conclusion, hearing and rehearing the case several times. The matter was set for another hearing in front of the full D.C. circuit later this month and might have landed in the Supreme Court had no agreement been reached.

The agreement for McGahn’s testimony makes the case moot, leaving unresolved the legal issue of whether the House may subpoena a close White House aide.

“The law requires that when there is a dispute in court between the legislative and executive branches, the two must work in good faith to find a compromise—and I am pleased that we have reached an arrangement that satisfies our subpoena, protects the Committee’s constitutional duty to conduct oversight in the future, and safeguards sensitive executive-branch prerogatives,” said Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat.

The case was sparked by a dispute between the House panel and the Trump White House, the Journal notes. Although McGahn already had left government service at the time of the subpoena, White House attorneys refused to allow his appearance, asserting that as a close aide of the president he had absolute immunity against being compelled to testify—a legal theory never before tested in court.

At the time, Democrats said they needed McGahn’s testimony to investigate allegations that Mr. Trump had obstructed justice by repeatedly attempting to shut down the Mueller probe. Trump has long denied obstruction and customarily called the Mueller investigation a “witch hunt.”

Research contact: @WSJ

Schumer urges Republicans not to block anti-Asian hate crimes measure

April 14, 2021

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said Tuesday that he plans to bring a bill targeting anti-Asian hate crimes to the floor this week—and urged Republicans not to block it, NBC News reports.

“Combating hate in the Asian American community can and should be bipartisan,” Schumer said at a press conference with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Asian American lawmakers.

According to NBC, Schumer noted he needs 60 senators to vote to proceed to the legislation—which means that, even if all 50 Democratic members were to vote in favor of taking up the bill, they would still need support from 10 Republicans.

“I hope it’ll be many more than 60. Who would oppose this very simple, but necessary legislation?” Schumer asked.

The legislation, which Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) introduced in March, would direct the Department of Justice to expedite the review of COVID-19-related hate crimes reported to law enforcement agencies and help them establish ways to report such incidents online and perform public outreach.

The bill also would direct the attorney general and the Department of Health and Human Services to issue best-practices guidance on how to mitigate racially discriminatory language in describing the COVID–19 pandemic.

If the bill advances to debate, Schumer said he intends to hold a vote on a bipartisan amendment from Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), stemming from their own anti-hate crime proposal. Their bill would streamline the national reporting systems used by law enforcement agencies and train them in investigating hate crimes. It would also create a hate crimes hotline, establish programs to rehabilitate offenders, and expand assistance and resources for victims.

Pelosi, meanwhile, said a similar measure proposed by Representative Grace Meng (D-New York) will be marked up in committee in the House in the next week and will get passed immediately on the floor.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Biden targets ‘ghost guns’ and ‘red flag’ laws in new gun control measures

April 9, 2021

In a Rose Garden speech on March 8, President Joe Biden announced that he would introduce regulations to limit “ghost guns;” and would make it easier for people to flag family members who shouldn’t be allowed to purchase firearms with a series of executive actions taken in the wake of recent mass shootings, NBC News reported.

The actions Biden intends to take are limited—and will still likely face legal opposition from gun rights advocates, who view any efforts to limit access as a violation of the Second Amendment.

The changes come in the wake of shootings in Georgia and Colorado and focus not just on trying to limit mass shootings, but also at reducing other forms of gun violence, such as suicides and domestic violence, Biden said.

“Gun violence in this country is an epidemic and it is an international embarrassment,” Biden said in remarks he made in the Rose Garden. He was joined by Vice President Kamala Harris and Attorney General Merrick Garland. A number of Democratic congressional members, gun control advocates, and local officials also attended.

Biden also announced he is nominating David Chipman, a gun control advocate, to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF.

The White House detailed the planned executive actions, arguing that Biden’s instructions to the Department of Justice will curb access to guns, NBC News said.

Biden directed the DOJ to write rules that will reduce the proliferation of “ghost guns,” homemade firearms often made from parts bought online and that do not have traceable serial numbers. Biden said he wants kits and parts used to make guns to be treated as firearms where the parts have serial numbers and are subject to a background check.

Biden also sought to reduce access to stabilizing braces, which can effectively turn a pistol into a more lethal rifle while not being subject to the same regulations that a rifle of similar size would be. Biden said the alleged shooter in Boulder appears to have used one of these devices.

Finally, he asked the DOJ to publish model “red flag” laws for states to use as guides. Red flag laws allow family members or law enforcement agencies to petition state courts to temporarily block people from obtaining firearms if they present a danger to themselves or others. Biden said states with such red flag laws have seen a reduction in the number of suicides.

Biden directed the DOJ to issue a report on firearms trafficking, which hasn’t been done since 2000. He also will announce support for programs aimed at “reducing gun violence in urban communities through tools other than incarceration,” according to a fact sheet shared by the White House.

The new guidelines are bound to face opposition from both sides of the aisle in Congress, NBC noted.

“The idea is just bizarre to suggest some of the things we are recommending is contrary to the Constitution,” Biden said.

And he has vowed to do more. In a call with reporters Wednesday night, administration officials stressed that Thursday’s actions were just the first step and that Biden would still pursue legislative solutions to gun violence.

“This is an initial set of actions to make progress on President Biden’s gun violence reduction agenda,” one official said. “The administration will be pursuing legislative and executive actions at the same time. You will continue to hear the president call for Congress to pass legislation to reduce gun violence.”

“The job of any president is to protect the American people, whether Congress acts or not,” Biden said. “I’m going to use all the resources at my disposal to keep the American people safe from gun violence. But there’s much more that Congress can do to help that effort.”

Biden asked Congress to pass legislation already through the House to tighten background checks and reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act. He also called again for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines; and removed liability protections for gun makers.

Research contact: @NBCNews

 

Judge appoints ‘hard-charging former prosecutor and judge’ to take on DOJ in Flynn case

May 15, 2020

Not so fast: Although the Department of Justice, led by Attorney General Bill Barr, dropped charges against Michael Flynn on May 7, Judge Emmet Sullivan—the federal adjudicator on the case—refused to simply fall in line.

After reassessing the evidence and arguments against President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Judge Sullivan appointed “a hard-charging former prosecutor and judge”on Wednesday, May 13, to oppose the DOJ’s effort to drop the case and to explore a perjury charge against Flynn, The New York Times reported.

The Times noted that the appointment of retired judge, John Gleeson, was an “extraordinary move in a case with acute political overtones.” Flynn had pleaded guilty twice to lying to investigators as part of a larger inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

Flynn later began fighting the charge and sought to withdraw his guilty plea. Then last week, the Justice Department abruptly moved to drop the charge after a long campaign by President Trump and his supporters, prompting accusations that Attorney General Bill Barr had undermined the rule of law and further politicized the department.

Judge Sullivan also asked Judge Gleeson to explore the possibility that by trying to withdraw his pleas, Flynn opened himself to perjury charges.

The Justice Department declined to comment, when contacted by the Times. Judge Gleeson did not respond to a request for comment. Judge Sullivan had said on Tuesday that he would consider briefs from outsiders known as amicus curiae, or “friend of the court,” who opposed the government’s request to dismiss the case against Flynn.

While judges do sometimes appoint such third parties to represent an interest they feel is not being heard in a case, Judge Sullivan’s move was highly unusual, Samuel Buell, a former federal prosecutor who now teaches criminal law at Duke University, told the Times.

Judge Sullivan, he said, is essentially bringing in an outsider to represent the point of view of the original prosecutors, who believed Flynn had committed a crime before Barr intervened and essentially replaced them with a prosecutor willing to say he had not.

“This is extraordinary for the judge to appoint somebody to argue against a prosecutors’ motion to dismiss a criminal case,” Buell told the news outlet. “But it’s extraordinary for a prosecutor to move to dismiss this sort of criminal case.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Thousands of former DOJ employees again call for Barr’s resignation

May 12, 2020

On May 11, more than 1,900 former Justice Department employees repeated their demand for Attorney General Bill Barr to head for the exits—asserting in an open letter that he had “once again assaulted the rule of law” by moving to drop charges against President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael  Flynn, according to a report by The Washington Post.

The letter, organized by the nonprofit group Protect Democracy, was signed by Justice Department staffers serving in Republican and Democratic administrations dating back to President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961). The vast majority were former career staffers — rather than political appointees — who worked as federal prosecutors or supervisors at U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country or the Justice Department in downtown Washington.

The signatories to the letter were united in their belief that Barr should resign, as the following excerpt shows:

In December 2017, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States …. The Department [of Justice] has now moved to dismiss the charges against Flynn, in a filing signed by a single political appointee and no career prosecutors. The Department’s purported justification for doing so does not hold up to scrutiny, given the ample evidence that the investigation was well-founded and — more importantly—the fact that Flynn admitted under oath and in open court that he told material lies to the FBI in violation of longstanding federal law.

Make no mistake: The Department’s action is extraordinarily rare, if not unprecedented. If any of us, or anyone reading this statement who is not a friend of the President, were to lie to federal investigators in the course of a properly predicated counterintelligence investigation, and admit we did so under oath, we would be prosecuted for it.

We thus unequivocally support the decision of the career prosecutor who withdrew from the Flynn case, just as we supported the prosecutors who withdrew from the Stone case. They are upholding the oath that we all took, and we call on their colleagues to continue to follow their example. President Trump accused the career investigators and prosecutors involved in the Flynn case of “treason” and threatened that they should pay “a big price.” It is incumbent upon the other branches of government to protect from retaliation these public servants and any others who are targeted for seeking to uphold their oaths of office and pursue justice.

It is now up to the district court to consider the government’s motion to dismiss the Flynn indictment. We urge Judge Sullivan to closely examine the Department’s stated rationale for dismissing the charges — including holding an evidentiary hearing with witnesses — and to deny the motion and proceed with sentencing if appropriate. While it is rare for a court to deny the Department’s request to dismiss an indictment, if ever there were a case where the public interest counseled the court to take a long, hard look at the government’s explanation and the evidence, it is this one. Attorney General Barr’s repeated actions to use the Department as a tool to further President Trump’s personal and political interests have undermined any claim to the deference that courts usually apply to the Department’s decisions about whether or not to prosecute a case.

Finally, in our previous statement, we called on Attorney General Barr to resign, although we recognized then that there was little chance that he would do so. We continue to believe that it would be best for the integrity of the Justice Department and for our democracy for Attorney General Barr to step aside. In the meantime, we call on Congress to hold the Attorney General accountable. In the midst of the greatest public health crisis our nation has faced in over a century, we would all prefer it if Congress could focus on the health and prosperity of Americans, not threats to the health of our democracy. Yet Attorney General Barr has left Congress with no choice. Attorney General Barr was previously set to give testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on March 31, but the hearing was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We urge the Committee to reschedule Attorney General Barr’s testimony as soon as safely possible and demand that he answer for his abuses of power. We also call upon Congress to formally censure Attorney General Barr for his repeated assaults on the rule of law in doing the President’s personal bidding rather than acting in the public interest. Our democracy depends on a Department of Justice that acts as an independent arbiter of equal justice, not as an arm of the president’s political apparatus.

A spokeswoman for Barr did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. However, Barr has publicly defended the move, telling CBS News that it was an “easy” decision and one for which he was prepared to take criticism. As the group of Justice Department alumni acknowledged, their letter is unlikely to persuade him to step down.

“I also think it’s sad that nowadays these partisan feelings are so strong that people have lost any sense of justice,” Barr told CBS News. “And the groups that usually worry about civil liberties and making sure that there’s proper procedures followed and standards set seem to be ignoring it and willing to destroy people’s lives and see great injustices done.”

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan must still approve the department’s request to drop the case, and so far has not indicated what he will do. The Justice Department alumni asked Sullivan to hold a hearing with witnesses to examine Barr’s legal reasoning and “to deny the motion and proceed with sentencing if appropriate.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Trump calls Michael Flynn ‘a hero’ after DOJ drops charges

May 11, 2020

Thanks to Attorney General Bill Barr, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn may now be free and clear of the federal charges to which he pleaded guilty in December 2017—and President Donald Trump is a happy man.

After Barr’s Department of Justice dropped charges on May 7, Trump—who has said that he would be open to bringing Flynn back to the White House—showered praise on his former aide, calling him “an innocent man,” “a great gentleman” and “a hero,” according to a report by Forbes.

Indeed, the president has been a strong supporter of Flynn throughout the three years that the case against him has been on the books : In February 2017, after just weeks on the job, Flynn was (reluctantly) fired from his post at the White House after he gave false statements about his relationship with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to Vice President Mike Pence, FBI investigators, White House aides, and the media.

Flynn admitted to talks with the ambassador prior to Trump’s inauguration, during which he had promised to ease Russian sanctions instituted by the Obama administration, the news outlet noted. In pleading guilty, Flynn said “I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right …. I accept full responsibility for my actions.”

Nevertheless, after the Justice Department moved to drop charges against Flynn for lying to the FBI (and others in the administration) about Russian contacts, Trump celebrated the news and launched into a rant about the Justice Department under President Barack Obama—saying the department’s investigation into Flynn was treasonous, Forbes reports.

Treason, which carries a penalty of death, has a strict definition: “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere.”

However, Forbes said, Trump hurled insults at the former administration, calling them “dishonest crooked people” and “human scum,” while also claiming the media is “very complicit” and that people who won Pulitzer Prizes for their reporting are “not journalists, they’re thieves.”

Indeed, according to Forbes, Trump and Flynn’s team have latched on to newly unsealed documents that they claim showcase corruption in Flynn’s charging. Handwritten notes from the FBI detail how they will conduct an interview with Flynn in 2017. “What’s our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired? If we get him to admit to breaking the Logan Act, give facts to DOJ and have them decide. Or, if he initially lies, then we present him [redacted] and he admits it, document for DOJ and let them decide how to address it.”

The notes also say, “If we’re seen as playing games, [White House] will be furious. Protect our institution by not playing games ….We regularly show subjects evidence, with the goal of getting them to admit their wrongdoing. I don’t see how getting someone to admit their wrongdoing is going easy on him.”

What will happen next? Judge Emmet Sullivan, the presiding judge on the case, is no pushover. While the DOJ has dismissed its charges, Sullivan knows that Flynn pleaded guilty—and may be unlikely to let him off so easily. He is also is not likely to introduce the equivocal and inconclusive new documents at this juncture.

Stay tuned.

Research contact: @Forbes

All four Roger Stone prosecutors resign from case after ‘Scofflaw AG’ pushes for shorter sentence

February 13, 2020

Attorney General Bill Barr has become the nation’s leading scofflaw, as he continues to put the president and his henchmen ahead of his own Constitutional duties.

Indeed, the entire team prosecuting Roger Stone abruptly resigned from the criminal case on Tuesday, February 12, NBC News reports, after the Justice Department announced that the recommended sentence for Stone, a longtime Trump associate, would be reduced.

The request for a shorter sentence for Stone than the recommended term of seven to nine years in prison came after President Donald Trump blasted the sentencing proposal as “a miscarriage of justice.”

The revised recommendation doesn’t ask for a particular sentence but says the one that was recommended earlier “does not accurately reflect the Department of Justice’s position on what would be a reasonable sentence in this matter” and that the actual sentence should be “far less.”

It urges the judge in the case, Amy Berman Jackson, to consider Stone’s “advanced age, health, personal circumstances, and lack of criminal history in fashioning an appropriate sentence,” the network news outlet notes.

“The defendant committed serious offenses and deserves a sentence of incarceration,” but based “on the facts known to the government, a sentence of between 87 to 108 months’ imprisonment, however, could be considered excessive and unwarranted under the circumstances. Ultimately, the government defers to the Court as to what specific sentence is appropriate under the facts and circumstances of this case,” the filing said.

After reports that a softer sentencing recommendation was imminent, lead prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky withdrew as a prosecutor in the case. A footnote in his court filing noted that “the undersigned attorney had resigned effective immediately.”

Zelinsky, who was a part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian election interference, is not resigning from the Justice Department but is leaving the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office and returning to his old job with the U.S. attorney in Maryland.

Another prosecutor, Jonathan Kravis, also resigned—both from the case and as an assistant U.S. attorney. Kravis on Tuesday filed a notice with the judge saying he “no longer represents the government in this matter.” The other two prosecutors, Adam Jed and Michael Marando, also withdrew from the case, NBC News reporrted.

Trump in a tweet earlier Tuesday called the department’s initial sentencing proposal “disgraceful!

“This is a horrible and very unfair situation,” the president wrote in a follow-up post on Twitter. “The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”

Top Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec told NBC News that the decision to reverse course on the sentencing recommendation was made prior to Trump’s almost 2 a.m. tweet.

The president told reporters in the Oval Office later Tuesday that he did not speak to DOJ about Stone’s sentencing. “I’d be able to do it if I wanted. I have the absolute right to do it. I stay out of things to a degree that people wouldn’t believe,” he said, before adding that he “thought the recommendation was ridiculous. I thought the whole prosecution was ridiculous.”

“I thought it was an insult to our country and it shouldn’t happen,” Trump said. “These are the same Mueller people who put everybody through hell and I think it’s a disgrace.”

In another tweet, the president suggested that the prosecutors had abused their authority. “Prosecutorial Misconduct?” he wrote in response to a tweet suggesting a pardon for Stone.

In response, NBC News reported, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York)  called on the Justice Department Inspector General to “open an investigation immediately.”

“The president seems to think the entire Justice Department is just his personal lawsuit to prosecute his enemies and help his friends. Rule of law in this grand tradition in this wonderful Justice Department is just being totally perverted to Donald Trump’s own personal desires and needs and it’s a disgrace,” Schumer told reporters in Washington. “Roger Stone should get the full amount of time the prosecutors recommended and we’re going to do some oversight of that.”

Research contact: @NBCNews

Brinksmanship: Unable to cut deal, Nadler soon may subpoena Mueller to testify before U.S. public

June 12, 2019

When and if former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies before Congress, his face will be familiar—but the story he tells won’t be, according to findings of a CNN poll fielded in May, which found that fully 75% of Americans have not read the Mueller report on Russian interference into the last presidential election and obstruction of justice by the Trump administration.

Most legislators have failed to read the 448-page document, either.

But that doesn’t include House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-New York)—who  told Democratic leaders at a closed-door meeting this past week that he could issue a subpoena to within two weeks to Mueller, if he is unable to reach an agreement to secure the former special counsel’s public testimony, according to two sources familiar with the meeting, Politico reported.

Nadler’s comments clarified whether the chairman had considered compelling Mueller’s attendance at a public hearing. The committee is still negotiating with Mueller, who, according to Nadler, is thus far only willing to answer lawmakers’ questions in private—a nonstarter for most House Democrats.

The sources cautioned the news outlet that the committee has not settled yet on a timetable for a potential subpoena to Mueller. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) hosted the meeting, and four other committee chairs were in attendance.

However, according to Politico’s sources, Nadler told reporters that he was “confident” Mueller will appear before his panel, and that he would issue a subpoena “if we have to.”

“We want him to testify openly. I think the American people need that,” Nadler added. “I think, frankly, it’s his duty to the American people. And we’ll make that happen.”

This week, the committee began to hear testimony related to the report, in an effort to educate the American public.

In addition, Nadler said that, with the threat of a civil contempt citation from the committee hanging over his head, Attorney General William Barr had agreed to release the underlying documents to the report, which had been requested by the House Judiciary Committee back in April.

However, on June 11, word came out that the White House would work with the Department of Justice to decide exactly how much (and what type of) material would be released—leaving the actual evidence that the committee would be permitted to see in question yet again.

Research contact: @politico