There has been a rather ominous new development in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections and the possible collusion of the Trump campaign with Russia.
From the New York Times:
Lawyers for Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, notified the president’s legal team in recent days that they could no longer discuss the special counsel’s investigation, according to four people involved in the case, an indication that Mr. Flynn is cooperating with prosecutors or negotiating such a deal.
Mr. Flynn’s lawyers had been sharing information with Mr. Trump’s lawyers about the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who is examining whether anyone around Mr. Trump was involved in Russian efforts to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
That agreement has been terminated, the four people said. Defense lawyers frequently share information during investigations, but they must stop when doing so would pose a conflict of interest. It is unethical for lawyers to work together when one client is cooperating with prosecutors and another is still under investigation.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has called for special counsel Robert Mueller to resign or be fired.
In a speech on the House floor Wednesday, Gaetz said, “We are at risk of a coup d’état in this country if we allow an unaccountable person with no oversight to undermine the duly-elected President of the United States. That is precisely what is happening right now with the indisputable conflicts of interest that are present with Mr. Mueller and others at the Department of Justice.”
Last week, Gaetz introduced a resolution that argues Mueller is compromised because he served as FBI director when the Obama administration signed off on a deal allowing a Russian company to purchase a Canadian energy company with uranium operations in the U.S. in 2010.
“These deeply troubling events took place when Mr. Mueller was the Director of the FBI. As such, his impartiality is hopelessly compromised. He must step down immediately,” Gaetz said in a statement Friday.
New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin writes:
Forgive yourself if you are confused about developments in the Russia, Russia, Russia storyline. In fact, there are so many moving parts that you shouldn’t trust anybody who isn’t confused.
Consider this, then, a guide to the perplexed, where we start with two things that are certain. First, special counsel Robert Mueller will never be able to untangle the tangled webs with any credibility and needs to step aside.
Mueller, whose office is apparently leaking the “secret” news that a grand jury has approved charges against an unidentified defendant, assumed his role with one big conflict, his relationship with his successor at the FBI, James Comey. That conflict has morphed into several more that are fixable only by resignation.
That became obvious last week when events showed that any honest probe must examine the Obama White House and Justice Department. Mueller served as head of the FBI for more than four years under President Obama and cannot be expected to investigate his former colleagues and bosses.
But without that necessary step, his work would be incomplete at best. So it’s time for him to say bye-bye.
Goodwin further opines, basically, that as bad as the week has been for Mueller, it’s been even worse for Hillary Clinton.
From the Chicago Tribune:
Even as President Donald Trump’s advisers encourage him to accept the realities of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, longtime friends and allies are pushing Trump to fight back, citing concerns that his lawyers are naive to the existential threat facing the president.
Trump supporters and associates inside and outside the White House see the conciliatory path as risky to the maverick president’s tenure. Instead, they want the street-fighting tweeter to criticize Mueller with abandon.
The struggle between supporters of the legal team’s steady, cooperative approach, and the band of Trump loyalists who yearn for a fight, comes as the Mueller probe begins lapping at the door of the Oval Office. Mueller, who is investigating the firing of former FBI director James Comey and other key actions of the Trump administration, has signaled that his team intends to interview multiple current and former White House officials in the coming weeks and has requested large batches of documents from the executive branch.
In private, Trump remains relatively calm for now, but that doesn’t mean he thinks the Russia probe is legitimate, and he could return to fighting Mueller at any moment, according to a group of about 15 Trump allies, advisers and former campaign aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak candidly about private conversations with the White House.
From Fox News:
Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team running the Russia collusion probe are being accused by fellow attorneys of employing aggressive and questionable tactics in past cases, potentially putting a dent in his straight-shooter image.
As the investigation heats up and key players like former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and press secretary Sean Spicer are interviewed by investigators, several attorneys with experience in federal cases spoke out with their concerns this week.
For instance, “Harvey Silverglate, a criminal defense attorney in Massachusetts, wrote an opinion piece accusing Mueller of once trying to entrap him when Mueller was acting U.S. attorney in Boston.”
Harvey Silverglate, who has “known Mueller during key moments of his career as a federal prosecutor,” writes, “My experience has taught me to approach whatever he does in the Trump investigation with a requisite degree of skepticism or, at the very least, extreme caution.”:
When Mueller was the acting United States Attorney in Boston, I was defense counsel in a federal criminal case in which a rather odd fellow contacted me to tell me that he had information that could assist my client. He asked to see me, and I agreed to meet. He walked into my office wearing a striking, flowing white gauze-like shirt and sat down across from me at the conference table. He was prepared, he said, to give me an affidavit to the effect that certain real estate owned by my client was purchased with lawful currency rather than, as Mueller’s office was claiming, the proceeds of illegal drug activities.
My secretary typed up the affidavit that the witness was going to sign. Just as he picked up the pen, he looked at me and said something like: “You know, all of this is actually false, but your client is an old friend of mine and I want to help him.” As I threw the putative witness out of my office, I noticed, under the flowing white shirt, a lump on his back — he was obviously wired and recording every word between us.
According to New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin, a threat to Donald Trump’s presidency has “gained new steam” with reports “that special counsel Robert Mueller had wiretapped former Trump campaign boss Paul Manafort and plans to indict him.”
According to CNN, which first carried the wiretapping report, Manafort was surveilled under a FISA warrant, meaning the FBI suspected he was operating as a foreign agent. The network said it is possible G-men listened to the president talking to Manafort because the wiretap continued into this year and Trump and Manafort often talked in 2017.
If so, that would mark an infamous history — an American president being overheard by secret agents of his own government.
I have been reluctant to reach that conclusion, believing that “deep state” is a more fitting concept for a Third World country that has corrupted institutions and no rule of law or history of individual freedom.
But I’m beginning to wonder. The more we learn about the last eight years and eight months, the more reason there is to believe that something is rotten in Washington.
I don’t just mean the ordinary corruption of the swamp variety. I mean something fundamental, something that suggests major elements in our government believe they, and not the people, are sovereign.
Which brings us back to the ultimate test: Did Obama or somebody working for him put Trump under surveillance during or after the election for the purpose of a political coup?
It’s a frightening question, all the more so because I suspect the answer will be yes — if we can ever get to the truth.