Tuesday was so full of breaking news on problems with the “Trump/Russia” investigation that it’s hard to know where to start. But I’ll save the potentially most monumental for last.
Over a dozen House Republicans are calling for a second special counsel to look into the FBI’s investigations of both Hillary and Trump and the apparent spying on the Trump campaign –- in particular, how and why the investigation was initiated. It’s understandable that they would want this; the Justice Department really can’t be trusted to investigate itself, and the Mueller probe is tainted in ways we all know. Also, the IG is limited; he can’t indict anybody, convene a grand jury or deal with anyone currently outside the DOJ/FBI. Considering that practically the whole top tier of Obama’s FBI is gone now, plus Loretta Lynch, plus Hillary, plus Obama, who is the IG going to talk to? BUT, there are problems with a special counsel as well: for example, who would be supervising this special counsel and deciding the scope of the investigation? If it’s Rod Rosenstein, how would this be an improvement?
In more news, a meeting has been set for Thursday to include Devin Nunes, Trey Gowdy, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and Edward O’Callaghan (Rod Rosenstein’s deputy) to discuss information directly related to “informants” (spies) in the Trump campaign who reported back to the FBI. Rod Rosenstein –- acting in place of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who may as well be playing golf in Palm Springs --- agreed to cooperate in this, but it’s hard to predict what shape such “cooperation” will take. Will members of Congressional committees actually be able to see documents, or will they only be briefed? Will Democrats be included, as Chuck Schumer is demanding, and will the meeting be plagued with leaks as a result?
And here’s more: One-time Trump campaign advisor Michael Caputo –- remember the man who was pretty well bankrupted just from the legal costs associated with testifying to the special counsel? –- says there must have been more than one “informant” (spy) because he was approached, repeatedly, by someone himself. This person claimed to have been talking with a former government official who said he had Hillary-related emails that he wanted to get to the Trump campaign. The timeline fits, but this person claims to have been doing nothing more than engaging in cocktail chatter. One interesting side note: Caputo says he told all this to Mueller’s team but that they didn’t seem interested and didn’t even appear to be taking notes.
Another campaign associate, Sam Clovis, who worked on Trump’s foreign policy team, is now sure he was approached during the campaign because the man who initiated contact was Stefan Halper. As he said in an interview with Tucker Carlson, Halper told him he knew Carter Page, and he thinks Halper was using their meeting to help him get a meeting with George Papadopoulos. They talked mostly about China, not Russia. At the time, Clovis thought nothing of it, but recent reporting caused him to suspect Halper’s real intent was to create a link between Hillary’s emails and the Trump campaign. “This clearly was an effort to build something that did not exist,” he said.
Oh, and there’s more news. If you missed former CIA Director James Clapper’s appearance on THE VIEW, agreeing with Joy Behar that the Trump campaign should be GLAD his campaign was being infiltrated by spies to root out Russians, well...consider yourself lucky.
I saved the most interesting news for last. By far the most significant story of the day is the case made by Northwestern University law professor Steven Calabresi that the appointment of Robert Mueller is flatly unconstitutional. As explained by Mark Levin on his Tuesday radio show, the Appointments Clause of the Constitution makes the distinction between “inferior” officers (such as administrative assistants, chiefs of staff, etc.) and “principal” officers (such as cabinet secretaries and U.S. attorneys), who must be nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The argument goes that Mueller was given such massive power –- far more expansive than that of past special counsels/prosecutors, with no real oversight or limit –- that he is, in effect, a “roving U.S. attorney.” In fact, four members of his team, including Andrew Weissmann, appearing in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, in the Paul Manafort case were also appointed as special assistant U.S. attorneys. And if officials of that status are reporting to Robert Mueller, that definitely means he is at least the equivalent of a U.S. attorney. The special counsel, if he’s to be given such power, MUST be appointed by the President –- NOT by Rod Rosenstein, who usurped the President’s power –- and then he MUST be confirmed by the Senate. So Mueller’s appointment as special counsel was a big fat mistake (in that way, and in every other way I can think of).
Incidentally, this is the court presided over by Judge T. S. Ellis III, the one who had plenty to say about Mueller’s “squeeze” tactics in the Manafort case. Wonder what he might say about this!
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