Posts tagged with "Mueller investigation"

Mum’s the word: Hope Hicks refuses to answer House Judiciary questions about Trump

June 20, 2019

Former Assistant to the President and Communications Director Hope Hicks has followed instructions from Donald Trump and his White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone, not to cooperate with questions from the House Judiciary Committee concerning obstruction of justice by the administration in the Mueller investigation.

In conformity with a subpoena, Hicks appeared on the Hill on June 19 for a closed-door meeting with the committee, chaired by Representative Jerry Nadler (D-New York).

However, Hicks—one of President Trump’s most trusted advisers until she resigned just one day after her previous testimony before the same House panel in February 2018—refused to answer questions Wednesday about her time working in the White House.

Representative David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) a member of the committee and of Democratic leadership, told reporters Wednesday that Hicks was preventing Congress from doing its oversight work.

“She has answered some and mostly she is hiding behind the facetious claim of complete immunity about anything to do with her service in the White House,” he said, according to a report by NBC News.

“The president’s lawyers are directing her not to answer any questions even as we are recounting stuff she told to the special counsel,” he added. “This will be the beginning of what I presume will be litigation.”

In a letter sent to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., on June 18, the night before Hicks’s scheduled testimony, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone asserted that Hicks was “absolutely immune from being compelled to testify before Congress with respect to matters occurring during her service as senior adviser to the president.”

But, NBC News reported, Nadler dismissed those claims. “I reject that assertion” regarding blanket executive privilege, he said in a response released late Tuesday night, adding that after the panel posed questions to Hicks, “we will address privilege and other objections on a question by question basis.”

According to the network news outlet, the Democrats on the panel had planned to focus their questions Wednesday on what they say are five crimes of obstruction of justice established by the Mueller Report against Trump, as well as campaign finance violations stemming from alleged election-year hush money payments.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Trump to oust Jessie Liu from Manafort, Butina, Stone prosecutions; tap her for #3 spot at DOJ

March 7, 2019

In another move that could be seen as obstructive, President Donald Trump intends to nominate Jessie Liu, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, to be the associate attorney general, a senior U.S. official familiar with the decision has told NBC News.

In her current position, Liu has been overseeing the prosecutions of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort; alleged Russian spy (and cooperating witness) Maria Butina; Trump longtime confidant Roger Stone; and Sam Patten, a Manafort associate with suspected ties to Russian intelligence.

While the Manafort case is close to resolution and sentencing; what will happen to the other prosecutions, if she is transferred to the number-three position at the Department of Justice, is unknown.

It has been widely bruited that the newly seated Attorney General William Barr suggested Liu for the number-three slot. That position at DOJ has been open since last February, when then-Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand left to take a position as a lawyer for Walmart.

If confirmed by the Senate, Liu would oversee the civil division, the civil rights division, the antitrust division, the office overseeing police reform, and other divisions not related to criminal prosecutions or national security.

Trump’s intention to nominate her was first reported by The Wall Street Journal on March 5.

Liu was nominated by Trump to serve as the head federal prosecutor in D.C. and was confirmed in September 2017. Liu also served on Trump’s transition team, a position that Democrats raised as a potential conflict of interest during her confirmation as U.S. attorney.

Last month, Trump nominated Jeff Rosen, the Transportation Department deputy secretary, to the number-two post at the Justice Department, the deputy attorney general.

Rod Rosenstein—who has overseen the Mueller investigation since 2017 and is the current deputy attorney general—is expected to leave his post in the coming weeks.

In an administration that could hardly be more hostile to Mueller’s Russia investigation, AG Barr announced on March 5 that he would not recuse himself from the probe, NBC News reported.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Like father, like daughter: Ivanka Trump has ‘zero concern’ about the Russia investigation

February 11, 2019

In an interview with ABC News that was broadcast on February 8, First Daughter and White House Adviser Ivanka Trump said that she “barely” knew about the Moscow Trump Tower deal that her family’s business pursued while her father was running for president.

“Literally almost nothing,” Ivanka Trump said of her knowledge of the negotiations, during which Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly was offered a free penthouse valued at $50 million if he signed off on the deal.

“There was never a binding contract. I never talked to the—with a third party outside of the organization about it. It was one of—I mean we could have had 40 or 50 deals like that, that were floating around, that somebody was looking at. Nobody visited it to see if it was worth our time. So this was not exactly like an advanced project,” the president’s elder daughter said.

Trump further downplayed the significance of doing business in Russia during the sit-down with the network, noting that other major hotel chains have properties there.

“It’s not like it’s a strange thing, as a hospitality company or a development company, to have a hotel or a property in Russia. We’re not talking about Iran. It was Russia. And we weren’t even advanced enough that anyone had even visited the prospective project site. So it really was just a non-factor in our minds. I’m not sure that anyone would have thought of it,” she added.

But if it was not important, why did her father, then-candidate Donald Trump, deny it repeatedly?

“First of all, I don’t know Putin, have no business whatsoever with Russia, have nothing to do with Russia,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Kinston, North Carolina, on Oct. 26, 2016, ABC News noted.

Asked if she has any concerns about any of her loved ones being caught up in the ongoing Mueller probe, Ivanka Trump denied it.

“Are you concerned about anyone in your life that you love being involved?” ABC’s Abby Huntsman, co-host of the network’s morning show, The View, asked.

“I’m not. I’m really not,” Trump said.

Research contact: @JordynPhelps

Trump to Sessions: ‘Stop the rigged witch hunt right now’

August 2, 2018

President Donald Trump is feeling the heat—and it is not environmental. On August 1, he implored Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end the federal investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections that is being helmed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

As usual, the president took to Twitter to make his intentions known. At 9:24 a.m., he tweeted, “This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further. Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA!”

The angry “ask” came after a week in which the POTUS’s probable involvement in a Trump Tower meeting with the Russians in June 2016 grabbed headlines, thanks to a revelation by former Trump lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen.

In addition, Trump’s instructions to Sessions were issued on the second day of the Alexandria, Virginia-based federal trial of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager. Manafort is accused of bank and tax crimes.

The media quickly characterized his tweet as a form of obstruction of justice. The Washington Post’s Carol Leonnig was prompt to report (also on Twitter) : “NEW: Trump lawyers tell me his tweets this morning are simply “his opinions” and not evidence of an ongoing effort to obstruct the Russia probe. @RudyGiuliani and @JaySekulow call in to explain @realDonaldTrump well-established practice.”

What’s more,  Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell ( 15th District, California) rapidly tweeted, “Just as a reminder, @realDonaldTrumps tweets are official statements. [Press Secretary] Sarah Sanders might try to spin it now into “opinion,” but Trump is telling his subordinate Jeff Sessions what he wants him to do: stop Mueller’s investigation.”

And progressive organization, MoveOn, commented, “If @real DonaldTrump sabotages #Mueller‘s #TrumpRussia investigation we will need to take swift action. Text ALERT to 668366 & head here: …http://www.trumpisnotabovethelaw.org” 

Presidents typically do not weigh in on ongoing Justice Department investigations, The New York Times said, “but … Trump has been outspoken about his anger and frustration with the Russia investigation, which predates his presidency and was later taken over by …. Mueller.…. Trump has also said that he never would have made … Sessions his attorney general if he knew … Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia inquiry.”

The special counsel is also looking into some of Trump’s tweets about. Sessions and the former FBI Director James Comey —and whether the messages were intended to obstruct justice, the Time said.

A CNN poll conducted by SSRS posted on June 22 found that most Americans continue to believe that the Russian effort to influence the 2016 presidential election is a serious matter that should be investigated, but the constant criticism by President Donald Trump of special counsel Robert Mueller is taking its toll. The number of Americans who approve of how Mueller is handling the investigation has dropped from 48% in March to 44% in May to just 41% [in June], the lowest it has been in CNN’s polling.

Mueller has a lot of company; no one connected with this matter is coming out of it in a positive light. According to CNN, his favorable rating is just 32%; former FBI Director James Comey’s favorability is just 28%; Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s lawyers in the Russia investigation, is viewed favorably by only 31% of Americans.

Research contact: @CNNPolitics

48% of Americans: Mueller investigation is unbiased

January 23, 2018

A plurality of Americans (48%) perceive Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election to be fair, according to findings of a Marist Poll released on January 17. By contrast, 28% do not think it is, and 23% are unsure.

Political affiliation contributes heavily to the mix: Nearly three-quarters of  Democrats (72%) consider the probe to be unbiased, while just over one-quarter of Republicans (26%) say the same.

More than two-thirds of Americans (68%) think Mueller should be allowed to finish his investigation. Only 14% think he should be fired, and 18% are unsure. On the issue, bipartisan agreement exists. 76% of Democrats, 71% of Independents, and 59% of Republicans think Mueller should see the investigation to its conclusion.

Surprisingly enough, Marist found, more than four in ten Americans (42%) have little or no knowledge of Robert Mueller, who was director of the FBI from 2001 through 2013.

“Robert Mueller is not well-defined, and that makes views about the fairness of the investigation and whether it should continue tentative,” commented Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

Do Americans have faith in the country’s institutions? Overwhelmingly, residents nationally have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the military (87%).

However, confidence wanes in relation to other institutions. Majorities of Americans have confidence in the Supreme Court (59%), church or organized religion (58%), the FBI (57%), public schools (53%) and the courts (51%). Fewer put credence in banks (50%), organized labor (49%), the presidency (43%), big business (39%), and the Democratic Party (36%).

Research contact: Lee.Miringoff@Marist.edu