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Trump Administration Seeking To Undermine Robert Mueller’s Investigation

Donald Trump Robert Mueller

A pair of reports that dropped yesterday evening raise the prospect that the Trump Administration is seeking to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and the links between the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the campaign, and both raise the prospect that Trump could be considering even bolder moves as the investigation seems to get closer and closer to him.

First up, The New York Times is reporting that Trump’s team of advisers and lawyers is seeking information about Mueller and his team in an effort to undermine his investigation:

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s lawyers and aides are scouring the professional and political backgrounds of investigators hired by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, looking for conflicts of interest they could use to discredit the investigation — or even build a case to fire Mr. Mueller or get some members of his team recused, according to three people with knowledge of the research effort.

The search for potential conflicts is wide-ranging. It includes scrutinizing donations to Democratic candidates, investigators’ past clients and Mr. Mueller’s relationship with James B. Comey, whose firing as F.B.I. director is part of the special counsel’s investigation.

The effort to investigate the investigators is another sign of a looming showdown between Mr. Trump and Mr. Mueller, who has assembled a team of high-powered prosecutors and agents to examine whether any of Mr. Trump’s advisers aided Russia’s campaign to disrupt last year’s presidential election.

Some of the investigators have vast experience prosecuting financial malfeasance, and the prospect that Mr. Mueller’s inquiry could evolve into an expansive examination of Mr. Trump’s financial history has stoked fears among the president’s aides. Both Mr. Trump and his aides have said publicly they are watching closely to ensure Mr. Mueller’s investigation remains narrowly focused on last year’s election.

During an interview with The New York Times on Wednesday, Mr. Trump said he was aware that members of Mr. Mueller’s team had potential conflicts of interest and would make the information available “at some point.”

Mr. Trump also said Mr. Mueller would be going outside his mandate if he begins investigating matters unrelated to Russia, like the president’s personal finances. Mr. Trump repeatedly declined to say what he might do if Mr. Mueller appeared to exceed that mandate. But his comments to The Times represented a clear message to Mr. Mueller.

“The president’s making clear that the special counsel should not move outside the scope of the investigation,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a White House spokeswoman, said during a news briefing on Thursday.

Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the special counsel, declined to comment.

For weeks, Republicans have publicly identified what they see as potential conflicts among Mr. Mueller’s team of more than a dozen investigators. In particular, they have cited thousands of dollars of political donations to Democrats, including former President Barack Obama, made by Andrew Weissmann, a former senior Justice Department official who has expertise in fraud and other financial crimes. News reports have revealed similar donations by other members of Mr. Mueller’s team, which Mr. Trump’s allies have cited as evidence of political bias. Another lawyer Mr. Mueller has hired, Jeannie Rhee, represented the Clinton Foundation.

To seek a recusal, Mr. Trump’s lawyers can argue their case to Mr. Mueller or his boss, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. The Justice Department has explicit rules about what constitutes a conflict of interest. Prosecutors may not participate in investigations if they have “a personal or political relationship” with the subject of the case. Making campaign donations is not included on the list of things that would create a “political relationship.”

The examination of Mr. Mueller’s investigators reflects deep concerns among the president’s aides that Mr. Mueller will mount a wide-ranging investigation in the mold of the inquiry conducted by the independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr during the 1990s. Mr. Starr’s investigation into President Bill Clinton began by reviewing an Arkansas land deal and concluded several years later with the president’s impeachment over a lie about a sexual affair.

By building files on Mr. Mueller’s team, the Trump administration is following in the footsteps of the Clinton White House, which openly challenged Mr. Starr and criticized what Mr. Clinton’s aides saw as a political witch hunt.

Mr. Trump’s advisers are split on how far to go in challenging the independence of Mr. Mueller, a retired F.B.I. director and one of the most respected figures in law enforcement. Some advisers have warned that dismissing Mr. Mueller would create a legal and political mess.

Nevertheless, Mr. Trump has kept up the attacks on him. In his interview with The Times, which caught members of his legal team by surprise, he focused on the fact that Mr. Mueller had interviewed to replace Mr. Comey as the F.B.I. director just a day before Mr. Mueller was appointed special prosecutor, saying that the interview could create a conflict.

“He was sitting in that chair,” Mr. Trump said during the Oval Office interview. “He was up here, and he wanted the job.” Mr. Trump did not explain how the interview created a conflict of interest.

In addition to investigating possible collusion between Russia and Mr. Trump’s advisers, the special counsel is examining whether the president obstructed justice by firing Mr. Comey. Some of Mr. Trump’s supporters have portrayed Mr. Mueller and Mr. Comey as close friends. While they worked closely together in the Justice Department under President George W. Bush and are known to respect each other, associates of both men say the two are not particularly close.

Mr. Mueller’s team has begun examining financial records, and has requested documents from the Internal Revenue Service related to Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul J. Manafort, according to a senior American official. The records are from a criminal tax investigation that had been opened long before Mr. Trump’s campaign began. Mr. Manafort was never charged in that case.

Federal investigators have also contacted Deutsche Bank about Mr. Trump’s accounts, and the bank is expecting to provide information to Mr. Mueller.

The Washington Post, meanwhile reports that Trump’s team is looking into everything from undermining the investigation to attempting to undercut it by doing things such as issuing pardons, including the possibility that the President could pardon himself:

Some of President Trump’s lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president’s authority to grant pardons, according to people familiar with the effort.

Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves.

One adviser said the president has simply expressed a curiosity in understanding the reach of his pardoning authority, as well as the limits of Mueller’s investigation.

“This is not in the context of, ‘I can’t wait to pardon myself,’ ” a close adviser said.

With the Russia investigation continuing to widen, Trump’s lawyers are working to corral the probe and question the propriety of the special counsel’s work. They are actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work, according to several of Trump’s legal advisers.

A conflict of interest is one of the possible grounds that can be cited by an attorney general to remove a special counsel from office under Justice Department regulations that set rules for the job.

Responding to this story on Friday after it was published late Thursday, one of Trump’s attorneys, John Dowd, said it was “not true” and “nonsense.”

“The President’s lawyers are cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller on behalf of the President,” he said.

Other advisers said the president is also irritated by the notion that Mueller’s probe could reach into his and his family’s finances.

Trump has been fuming about the probe in recent weeks as he has been informed about the legal questions that he and his family could face. His primary frustration centers on why allegations that his campaign coordinated with Russia should spread into scrutinizing many years of Trump dealmaking. He has told aides he was especially disturbed after learning Mueller would be able to access several years of his tax returns.

Trump has repeatedly refused to make his tax returns public after first claiming he could not do so because he was under audit or after promising to release them after an IRS audit was completed. All presidents since Jimmy Carter have released their tax returns.

Further adding to the challenges facing Trump’s outside lawyers, the team’s spokesman, Mark Corallo, resigned on Thursday, according to two people familiar with his departure. Corallo did not respond to immediate requests for comment.

“If you’re looking at Russian collusion, the president’s tax returns would be outside that investigation,” said a close adviser to the president.

Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s private lawyers, said in an interview Thursday that the president and his legal team are intent on making sure Mueller stays within the boundaries of his assignment as special counsel. He said they will complain directly to Mueller if necessary.

“The fact is that the president is concerned about conflicts that exist within the special counsel’s office and any changes in the scope of the investigation,” Sekulow said. “The scope is going to have to stay within his mandate. If there’s drifting, we’re going to object.”

Sekulow cited Bloomberg News reports that Mueller is scrutinizing some of Trump’s business dealings, including with a Russian oligarch who purchased a Palm Beach mansion from Trump for $95 million in 2008.

“They’re talking about real estate transactions in Palm Beach several years ago,” Sekulow said. “In our view, this is far outside the scope of a legitimate investigation.”

The president has long called the FBI investigation into his campaign’s possible coordination with the Russians a “witch hunt.” But now, Trump is coming face-to-face with a powerful investigative team that is able to study evidence of any crime it encounters in the probe — including tax fraud, lying to federal agents and interference in the investigation.

“This is Ken Starr times 1,000,” said one lawyer involved in the case, referring to the independent counsel who oversaw an investigation that eventually led to House impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton. “Of course, it’s going to go into his finances.”

Following Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James B. Comey — in part because of his displeasure with the FBI’s Russia investigation — Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel in a written order. That order gave Mueller broad authority to investigate links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, as well as “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation” and any crimes committed in response to the investigation, such as perjury or obstruction of justice.

Mueller’s probe has already expanded to include an examination of whether Trump obstructed justice in his dealings with Comey, as well as the business activities of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.

Trump’s team could potentially challenge whether a broad probe of Trump’s finances prior to his candidacy could be considered a matter that arose “directly” from an inquiry into possible collusion with a foreign government.

The president’s legal representatives have also identified what they allege are several conflicts of interest facing Mueller, such as donations to Democrats by some of his prosecutors.

(…)

Currently, the discussions of pardoning authority by Trump’s legal team are purely theoretical, according to two people familiar with the ongoing conversations. But if Trump pardoned himself in the face of the ongoing Mueller investigation, it would set off a legal and political firestorm, first around the question of whether a president can use the constitutional pardon power in that way.

“This is a fiercely debated but unresolved legal question,” said Brian C. Kalt, a constitutional law expert at Michigan State University who has written extensively on the question.

No president has sought to pardon himself, so no courts have reviewed it. Although Kalt says the weight of the law argues against a president pardoning himself, he says the question is open and predicts such an action would move through the courts all the way to the Supreme Court.

“There is no predicting what would happen,” said Kalt, author of the book, “Constitutional Cliffhangers: A Legal Guide for Presidents and Their Enemies.” It includes chapters on the ongoing debate over whether presidents can be prosecuted while in office and on whether a president can issue a pardon to himself.

Any hint of a President seeking to undermine an investigation of his own Administration by an independent counsel raises obvious comparisons to the Watergate scandal and President Nixon’s infamous decision to fire Archibald Cox on a Saturday night in October 1973. That move, of course, was resisted by Nixon’s own Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Richardson’s top deputy William Ruckelshaus, both of whom refused to comply with Nixon’s order to fire Cox. That led to Nixon firing both Richardson and Ruckelshaus and relying on then Solicitor General Robert Bork to fire Cox. In the end, of course, firing the outside prosecutor looking into the Watergate scandal did nothing to stop the investigation. Cox was replaced by Leon Jaworski, who continued to pursue the investigation of Nixon and his associates, an investigation that eventually led to the Supreme Court ruling that required the President to hand over tapes of conversations between the President and his top advisors that included conversations about the events surrounding the Watergate break-in and the Administration’s effort to cover up that plot and various other nefarious actions surrounding the 1972 election. Cox’s firing also did nothing to stop the ongoing Congressional investigations, which ultimately led to the drafting of Articles of Impeachment against Nixon that would have easily passed the House and led to his conviction and removal by the Senate if Nixon had not resigned from office.

Nothing in these reports indicates that we’re actually anywhere close to those events forty-four years ago, of course, but the fact that the Trump Administration is even discussing the possibility of undermining Mueller’s investigation at this early stage suggests that the President and people around him are growing concerned that he is getting close to something that could embarrass or undermine the President and those close to him. The reports also come amid reports, some of which are alluded to by the reports in the Times and the Post, that Mueller’s investigators are seeking to expand the investigation to include a look at the financial records of the President and the people around him to determine if there were any compromising links to Russian banks or financiers, something that has been alleged in the past by many who have looked into Trump’s finances. Whether these reports about the expanding scope of the investigation are accurate or not, the reports from sources inside the White House seem to indicate that they are the catalyst for Trump becoming increasingly unnerved by Mueller, someone whose reputation in Washington is seemingly above reproach. Given that, any effort by Trump to try to undermine Mueller’s investigation is likely to be perceived in much the same way that his decision to fire James Comey was, as an effort to undermine an investigation that seems to be coming dangerously close to things that Trump doesn’t want to see made public.

The same can be said about the issue of Presidential pardons. As an initial matter, it’s worth noting that all that’s being reported is that Trump’s lawyers are researching the issue, there’s no indication that the President is actually seriously considering exercising such powers to protect those around him or even himself. It’s also worth noting that Trump’s lawyers have responded to these reports by denying that anyone is talking about pardons, but of course, that doesn’t mean they aren’t at least researching the issue. If they did so, however, they’d discover that even a Presidential pardon wouldn’t necessarily stop an investigation that could do real damage to the Trump Presidency. First of all, in addition to being a potential criminal investigation, Robert Mueller’s investigation is also a counter-intelligence and fact-finding investigation with the mission of uncovering the extent to which Russia was able to undermine and influence the 2016 election. That aspect of the investigation would not be impacted by any Presidential pardons and could actually be made easier due to the fact that someone who has already been pardoned would have no real legal basis for exercising their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Second, pardons will do nothing to stop the ongoing Congressional investigations into the same matters that Mueller is looking at, and also makes those investigations somewhat easier to the extent it would mean that potential witnesses would not be able to refuse to answer questions from the relevant committees. Finally, without even getting to the somewhat bizarre question of whether or not a President can pardon himself, it’s worth noting that the pardon power does not apply to cases of impeachment.

Where we go from here depends in large part on what the Trump Administration does next. If they really do try to publicly undermine Mueller’s investigation or, more radically, try to have him removed from office, though, it would seem clear that any such move would only be more likely to increase the level of suspicion already surrounding this President. If the President has nothing to hide as his spokespersons and supporters have contended then the logical conclusion would seem to be that there would be no reason for him to seek to undermine an independent investigation whose professional reputation would be above reproach. Therefore, just as it did with regard to James Comey, the Administration’s efforts to undermine Mueller have to be interpreted as an indication that there’s something they don’t want to see become public knowledge. So, don’t be surprised if Trump moves against Mueller some time in the near future.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. MBunge says:

    For the love of all that is holy, do NOT make me bring up the all-out war that Bill Clinton conducted against Ken Starr.

    Mike

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 42

  2. Terrye Cravens says:

    @MBunge: For the love of God, is it possible for a Trumpbot to defend their God King without bringing up one or both of the Clintons…speaking of which, they both endured years and years of investigations from Republicans with a lot less whining.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 44 Thumb down 0

  3. James Pearce says:

    the Trump Administration is seeking to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election

    Shocker…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  4. Todd says:

    On the subject of pardons, I have a question. We know that a President can only issue pardons for Federal crimes. But now that Mueller’s team is looking into the Trump family finances, how likely is it that some/all of the information they find could at some point down the road (for instance if President Trump really did fire Mueller) be shared with say the Attorney General of New York, or the Manhattan District Attorney?

    Those entities obviously wouldn’t be able to do anything to a sitting President. But for those in his circle, it would seem that any crimes they’ve committed (which have already been uncovered) that could also be charged at the State level are not going to just go away. Or am I understanding it wrong?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 0

  5. michael reynolds says:

    @MBunge:
    You have become reliably dishonest. Have you no capacity for shame left?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 0

  6. Dave Schuler says:

    I’m content to let the process work its way through. If the Trump Administration wishes to shoot itself in the foot (or head, depending), I have little problem with its doing so.

    I’d be more concerned about the investigation not casting a wide enough net than about its casting its nets too wide but, as I say, I’m content to let the process work its way through.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  7. michael reynolds says:

    As I said on another thread:

    1) Pardon
    2) Resign
    3) Flee

    Paying $1000 an hour lawyers to look into whether you can pardon your associates, family and self is an admission of guilt. Demanding that a prosecutor doesn’t look at finances is not only an admission of guilt, it’s one of the stupider admissions of guilt you’ll ever see.

    Trump is not a billionaire. Trump is a guy who owes more than he can afford to pay to Russian money-launderers. His ’empire’ is a house of cards – cut off his KGB lines of credit and it all comes tumbling down.

    If he fires Mueller he’ll face a widespread rebellion within all levels of government, even some Republicans. Huge crowds will descend on Washington. Trump’s guilt will be self-evident and the GOP will have to decide whether their party now supports a criminal conspiracy.

    So the smart move – the only smart move left – is to pardon, resign, grab any cash he can and decamp to a foreign country where he cannot be pursued under state laws. His best end now is living out a life of mere millionaire-hood in some authoritarian state where he can continue tweeting about vast left-wing conspiracies that drove him from office just as he was about to MAGA.

    @MBunge will of course believe him.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 1

  8. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: ” Have you no capacity for shame left?”

    It’s simply not possible to support Trump and hold on to your capacity for shame. That said, have no clue why he chose to render himself stupid to support this thug.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  9. Mikey says:

    @Terrye Cravens: It’s whataboutism, a favored tactic of cold-war era Russia. Not surprising the Trumpists have adopted it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  10. al-Alameda says:

    “This is Ken Starr times 1,000,” said one lawyer involved in the case, referring to the independent counsel who oversaw an investigation that eventually led to House impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton. “Of course, it’s going to go into his finances.”

    This really goes to the heart of the notion that Trump never thought he’d actually win the election. Ongoing refusal to release tax returns? We’re closer to knowing exactly why he refuses to do so.

    I feel really bad about all of this, I really do.
    #schadenfreude

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  11. michael reynolds says:

    @wr:

    When you accidentally knock over a glass and spill some wine, you apologize.

    When you take a shit on the living room rug, you haven’t had an accident, you’ve lost your goddamn mind and you have no choice but to deny, deny, deny.

    Unfortunately for @MBunge we’ve all been here watching while he squeezed one out on the rug. We know, and in his heart he knows, what he did.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  12. Mister Bluster says:

    …all that is holy,..
    This would not include your pervert hero REPUBLICAN President Pork Chop Pud.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  13. Franklin says:

    @MBunge: I’ll take that as, “got nothing.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  14. Scott says:

    The various law enforcement agencies (FBI, Treasury, District AGs) and Intel agencies already know a great deal about the overlap between Russian organized crime, Russian banks, Russian Oligarchs, and Russian Government. The rest of us is going to find out. Some of us will be shocked; many will not. Tangled webs and all that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  15. JKB says:

    That Mueller and his highly politically partisan staff are jumping the rails so early certainly looks like there is no there there the Russian Collusion Illusion. Now they are going fishing. And Mueller’s office is leaking like a sieve.

    Now that they are going for IRS data, how long before the “above reproach” investigation leaks Trump’s tax returns?

    And Trump is showing he is the master at getting the media to reinforce his message that this investigation is a witch hunt with their breathless reports that now, the “above reproach” investigators are going off the reservation to sift through financial records from 40 yrs ago.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 34

  16. JKB says:

    That Mueller and his highly politically partisan staff are jumping the rails so early certainly looks like there is no there there the Russian Collusion Illusion. Now they are going fishing. And Mueller’s office is leaking like a sieve.

    Now that they are going for IRS data, how long before the “above reproach” investigation leaks Trump’s tax returns?

    And Trump is showing he is the master at getting the media to reinforce his message that this investigation is a witch hunt with their breathless reports that now, the “above reproach” investigators are going off the reservation to sift through financial records from 40 yrs ago.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 19

  17. Raymond Smith says:

    The investigation needs to cover all of the GOP Congressional members as well. Seems they have worked very hard themselves to hinder(Obstruct) investigations. It is amazing how they are currently very supportive of legislation that would make it easier for Russia or any country to hack our elections.
    The GOP has morphed into the GrandOldPutinParty. Seems their base loves denial of this fact. I wonder how long it will take before the highly negative affects of their parties legislation hit them in their faces and they realize they have all been played as fools.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  18. michael reynolds says:

    @JKB:

    And with that JKB slips the surly bonds of reality.

    Here, these guys do cult deprogramming. There’s help, just seek it out: http://wellspringretreat.org/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  19. Kylopod says:

    @wr:

    That said, have no clue why he chose to render himself stupid to support this thug.

    He’s been commenting at OTB for years, possibly longer than even I have. There are actually several consistent features to his behavior and outlook. These include: (1) He always acts like he’s smarter than everyone else, and that the rest of us are all clueless sheep (2) He seems to worship at the altar of knee-jerk contrarianism (3) He has made the use of strawman arguments practically into an art form (4) Just about the only sign of ideological leanings consists of vague allusions to a neoconservative, neoliberal elite that’s been screwing up the political system for decades.

    I remember him displaying all these traits several years ago, long before Trump’s rise. He was bashing the Clintons back then, and engaging in strawman arguments all the same. But the regulars here were less likely to notice because his range of views at the time didn’t place him in the same framework as the standard Fox-fried hit-and-run right-wing trolls. One thing that’s changed since then is that for the past several months he seems to have completely abandoned all attempts to engage with other commenters. All he does is drop his stink bombs in threads and then promptly disappear, pretending to ignore all the rebuttals. But I can tell you from personal experience that even back when he used to reply to others, he didn’t seriously address anyone’s actual arguments, and on more than one occasion I had him attributing to me a position that ran contrary to something I had explicitly stated earlier in the same conversation. In short, he’s always been on autopilot, which is very convenient for someone taken to defending the indefensible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  20. CB says:

    @JKB:

    Is…this serious? This can’t be serious. Do you actually believe this? That it’s off the rails because they’re looking at his finances during a collusion investigation? Are you simple?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  21. KM says:

    @Todd :
    I was under the impression the NY AG was already looking into such things. Trust me, there’s enough dirt on him running around that city that will slough off like a mudslide should he pardon himself. He’s not getting away so easily. Having the utter gall to abuse a Presidential power to walk away clean like that will paint a target on him so large you could see it from space.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  22. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @MBunge: As ridiculous as what @JKB said is, it is light years ahead of your pissant and picayune rant/drivel. Study and learn from a (self-purported) master intellect. Trolls have to be entertaining. Pick up your game!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  23. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Todd:

    it would seem that any crimes they’ve committed (which have already been uncovered) that could also be charged at the State level are not going to just go away. Or am I understanding it wrong?

    You are correct. A presidential pardon does not immunize the pardoned from prosecution for the same offense(s) under parallel state laws. Only the governor(s) of the states in question have that authority.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  24. teve tory says:

    @MBunge: When did the war begin? Year 4 of the investigation? Year 5?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  25. teve tory says:

    Now that they are going for IRS data, how long before the “above reproach” investigation leaks Trump’s tax returns?

    Hopefully not long. Trump’s the only presidential candidate in my lifetime to refuse to release the returns, and then lie about why. Reports this week say he’s freaking out that Mueller might have access to them. So you know there’s some heinous shit he’s hiding in there. I can’t wait to see it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  26. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @JKB:

    investigators are going off the reservation to sift through financial records from 40 yrs ago

    It’s actually from about 32 years ago forward, which isn’t all that different from the nearly 20 year interregnum with regard to digging through Whitewater.

    This guy’s involvement with questionable Russians (and more than a few Italians, wink wink) goes back to at least 1985, if not a few years earlier.

    I would suggest that you read Mueller’s mandate again. You’re completely ignoring two out of three explicit empowering clauses (which isn’t surprising). His jurisdiction isn’t limited to the campaign and it isn’t limited to efforts to influence the election.

    His jurisdiction is pretty much in Trump’s face, which is why Mangolini is panicking. He knows what Mueller’s likely to find.

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  27. teve tory says:

    I bet it’s a metric assload of dirty russian Ameros he’s laundering.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  28. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @teve tory:

    So you know there’s some heinous shit he’s hiding in there.

    The stuff that’s incriminating hides in the corporate returns.

    Now, that will undoubtedly all come out in the end as well – Bob Mueller has hired ninjas, and that includes the quiet forensic accountant hires. They’ll ferret it all out once they have the documents in front of them. It isn’t a question of if, but instead more once of when. Keep in mind that this staff roster closely parallels the one from the Southern District that gutted the Gambinos. They’re quite capable, well armed and driven by idealism. They won’t let go of this one until they’ve got him.

    What Cheetoh fears in his personal returns isn’t criminal so much as it is embarrassing – they detail an emperor who has no clothes. Trump has traded for years on this manufactured image of his business acumen – he presents an image to the world of being a bigshot / high-roller which is, to put it kindly, a lie, and his entire sense of existence is built around playing that role.

    Take it away – expose him for what he actually is (an essentially bankrupt failure living on credit) – and you’ll have injured the core of his being. Fundamentally destroyed his raison d’etre.

    Being convicted is one thing. Being exposed as a failure & a fraud is entirely another. I’d give even odds on which one Trump is more afraid of.

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  29. teve tory says:

    I’m trying to visualize what Capitol Hill and Faux News would look like if Bill Clinton or Barack Obama had discussed with their lawyers the possibility of pardoning themselves and their families. Hannity would have gone to 3 hours a night and renamed his show Criminal Treason Dictator Watch.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  30. teve tory says:

    What Cheetoh fears in his personal returns isn’t criminal so much as it is embarrassing – they detail an emperor who has no clothes. Trump has traded for years on this manufactured image of his business acumen – he presents an image to the world of being a bigshot / high-roller which is, to put it kindly, a lie, and his entire sense of existence is built around playing that role.

    I’m sure you’re right about this–there’s probably nothin too criminal in his personal returns, but they’ll show that, far from being a billionaire, he’s worth diddly squat and being propped up by questionable Russian cash.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  31. Moosebreath says:

    @MBunge:

    Response outsourced to Josh Marshall. His summary:

    “These are simply not remotely comparable sets of facts – to suggest otherwise is risible and lazy. Presidents never like prosecutors who investigate them. This is obvious and unremarkable. Republicans despised Lawrence Walsh in the 80s. Democrats villified Ken Starr in the 1990s. Neither President publicly threatened either man. Indeed, even President Nixon, who is considered by all today as the prototypical presidential malefactor, only demanded the firing of Archibald Cox well into his investigation. As much as his actions were illegitimate, he could at least point to specific and highly consequential actions and say they crossed some line. Mueller has not actually even done anything yet.

    President Trump through the totality of his actions, demands and threats has made it crystal clear that he will not accept any investigation of himself, his campaign or his family. He won’t even let it start. No President, not even Nixon, ever suggested such a thing.”

    So in other words, you have no idea what you are talking about. Again.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  32. grumpy realist says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I’m just hoping that it will come out. Am afraid that the Republicans are too scared of Trump’s base to push back on Trump’s antics and are far too willing to shut down anything that might produce anything embarrassing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  33. Gustopher says:

    “undermine” sounds awfully close to “obstruct”.

    The intent is clearly the same, but undermining might –might– stick to technically legal means.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  34. Hal_10000 says:

    @MBunge:

    The war on Ken Starr was bad. It is peanuts compared to what Trump is doing. Clinton never fired Starr. He never fired Reno. He never demanded that people in the DOJ swear personal fealty to him. And even if he did do those things, that. Does. Not. Make. What. Trump. Is. Doing. OK.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  35. DrDaveT says:

    @michael reynolds:

    And with that JKB slips the surly bonds of reality

    …and dances the skies on denial-silvered wings?

    Awesome poem. Awesome story. Much better allusion than @MBunge deserves here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  36. Terrye Cravens says:

    @JKB: You are insane. Mueller is a Republican. His staff is not partisan, it is highly competent and very well trained…I suppose that you think Ivanka should have gotten the job.. And Trump is looking more and more like a guilty man…Tell me? Are you really serious in this post or is it some kind of a joke? Because I can not believe people really are that dense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  37. Mister Bluster says:

    Please release my comment.
    Please let me know why the spam filter snagged it so I can avoid pissing off the squirrels.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  38. gVOR08 says:

    @Terrye Cravens:

    I can not believe people really are that dense.

    The traditional estimate is 27%. They get a lot of help from FOX “News”, Breitbart, and a lot of stuff that’s far worse.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0