Robert Mueller III, Special Counsel

Written by  //  September 20, 2017  //  Government & Governance, U.S.  //  No comments

See also The Russia probe

What Donald Trump Needs to Know About Bob Mueller and Jim Comey
The two men who could bring down the president have been preparing their entire lives for this moment.
(Politico Magazine) Robert Mueller might just be America’s straightest arrow—a respected, nonpartisan and fiercely apolitical public servant whose only lifetime motivation has been the search for justice. He was the most influential and longest-serving FBI director since J. Edgar Hoover himself, and someone who has settled since his retirement from government in 2013 into being that rare voice-beyond-reproach that companies and organizations recruit to lead investigations when they need to tell shareholders or the public that they’ve hired the most seasoned and respected person they can find, someone who will pursue a case wherever it leads without fear or favor. He became the first FBI director to serve a complete 10-year term since Hoover, only to then see Barack Obama reappoint him for a special two-year term, a decision that required a special act of Congress and made him the only person to be appointed head of the FBI by two different presidents, of different parties. (18 May 2017)

20 September
Mueller Seeks White House Documents Related to Trump’s Actions as President
(NYT) Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, has asked the White House for documents about some of President Trump’s most scrutinized actions since taking office, including the firing of his national security adviser and F.B.I. director, according to White House officials.
Mr. Mueller is also interested in an Oval Office meeting Mr. Trump had with Russian officials in which he said the dismissal of the F.B.I. director had relieved “great pressure” on him.
The document requests provide the most details to date about the breadth of Mr. Mueller’s investigation, and show that several aspects of his inquiry are focused squarely on Mr. Trump’s behavior in the White House.

10 August
Report: Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort Tipped Off the Feds to Don Jr.’s Russia Meeting
(New York Magazine) Paul Manafort squealed to authorities about the now-infamous 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer, Bloomberg reports in a piece about special counsel Robert Mueller putting the screws to the former Trump campaign manager. The revelation about the meeting, which Manafort attended, is buried in a story that emphasizes Mueller’s attempt to flip the 68-year-old Trump ally and make him an asset for the prosecution.
It’s unclear when Manafort told authorities about the meeting, which is a detail of some import. But if we assume Manafort tipped off investigators about the meeting before it became public last month, then he’s shown some openness to helping out the prosecution, which may give Mueller reason to believe he can be persuaded to fully switch sides.

7 August
Why Trump Should Be Afraid With Robert Mueller on the Case
Indictment and impeachment are on the table as the special counsel moves into high gear
(Rolling Stone) Since his appointment on May 17th, Mueller, a notoriously press-shy former FBI director, has been operating behind the scenes to put together a formidable army of prosecutors, Justice Department officials and investigators. Already, Mueller’s team includes 16 attorneys, along with more than 20 staff members, and it’s likely more will be added as the investigation moves forward.
As Mueller closes in, Trump prepares his base for the worst
(WaPost) President Trump is again attacking the media this morning, and his broadsides carry a newly ominous edge: He is both faulting the media for allegedly downplaying the size and intensity of support from his base and accusing them of trying to deliberately weaken that support for him.
Because Trump is undermining our democratic norms and processes in so many ways, it is often easy to focus on each of them in isolation, rather than as part of the same larger story. But, taken together, they point to a possible climax in which Trump, cornered by revelations unearthed by Robert S. Mueller III’s probe and by ongoing media scrutiny, seeks to rally his supporters behind the idea that this outcome represents not the imposition of accountability by functioning civic institutions, but rather an effort to steal the election from him — and from them.
A Better Way to Protect Robert Mueller
President Trump has shown himself willing to go as far as the law allows him, and perhaps farther. Under existing rules, he has the power to derail the special counsel’s inquiry, and the new bills do little to change that. A tougher law is needed to keep Mr. Mueller’s investigation on track.
(NYT Opinion) Senators introduced two bipartisan bills last week to block President Trump from firing Robert Mueller, the special counsel in the Russian election tampering investigation. Both bills mean well, but both miss the mark. While they provide Mr. Mueller with a modicum of job security, they do not prevent President Trump from interfering with the investigation.
A better bill would provide Mr. Mueller with more than just protection against removal. At a minimum, it would require the attorney general (or the deputy attorney general in the event of recusal) to inform the House and Senate Judiciary Committee chairmen and ranking members immediately if he interferes with a special-counsel investigation. (Under the current regulations, the attorney general need not report to Congress until after the end of an inquiry.) An even stronger measure would prohibit such interference altogether, as the old independent counsel statute did. It would also eliminate the annual reauthorization requirement, and it would supply Mr. Mueller with a stable budget.

4 August
Is Mueller’s grand jury a big deal?
(WaPost) Commentators who assert revelation of a grand jury in federal court in Washington to investigate possible criminal wrong-doing is no big deal have a point. Technically, this is just one more step in the prosecutorial process, allowing for testimony under oath and subpoenas for documents. … However, in some practical and political ways the grand jury is a key milestone.
For one thing, when the grand jury starts taking testimony under oath from witnesses, we’ll have a good sense of where this is going. If the witnesses are largely or entirely people involved in Trump team members’ representations about their meetings with Russians, the decision to fire James B. Comey and the actions taken thereafter, we’ll know the emphasis is on possible obstruction of justice, lying to the FBI, lying or giving incomplete information to Congress, witness intimidation, etc. (In this regard, using a grand jury in Washington might also be seen as a step a prosecutor would take to prepare for indictments in the jurisdiction in which the alleged crimes were committed.)

3 August
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe heats up
Special counsel Robert Mueller is impaneling a grand jury in the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, according to The Wall Street Journal.
It’s a sign the probe is intensifying and could drag on for months.
(CNBC) Impaneling a grand jury suggests Mueller “believes he will need to subpoena records and take testimony from witnesses,” the Journal said.
It does not necessarily mean he will bring charges against Trump allies.
Former FBI Director Mueller is investigating Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin. The investigation has dogged and frustrated President Donald Trump during his first six months in office.

Even President* Trump Can’t Get the Best of a Grand Jury
Robert Mueller just opened up a new stage of the Russia investigation
(Esquire) The Wall Street Journal reported, citing two unnamed sources familiar with the matter, that the Washington, D.C. grand jury “began its work in recent weeks” and is separate from the one assisting with the probe into President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. The impanelment of that jury predated Mueller’s appointment as special counsel. The empanelment of a new, separate grand jury reflects the scope of Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the election and whether any members of Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.
… another thing about grand juries is that you have to show up. You can dodge a congressional subpoena, or finagle your way past an FBI interview, but if a grand jury subpoena gets dropped on you, unless your lawyer is very, very good, your ass is going to be in a chair and Robert Mueller is going to be looking at you.
They can’t rein it in. If Mueller wants to look at how the Trump Organization did its business with Russian interests before the president* even thought of being president, he can do that. If he wants to conduct exploratory surgery on Jared Kushner’s financial records, he can do that, too. If he wants to examine the working conditions in the Chinese factories where Ivanka’s line of shoes are made, it’s off to Asia we go. Meanwhile, congresscritters on both sides of the aisle are pushing legislation aimed at protecting Mueller from presidential retribution.

Some highly relevant background on Robert Mueller’s early education and commitment to the old-fashioned concept of ‘noblesse oblige’, so alien to the inhabitant of the Oval Office. This was posted on Facebook by Jim Schutze a friend of our friend Alex Shoumatoff, who also attended St. Paul’s.

So interesting to watch the attempt to paint Robert Mueller as a liberal Democrat. He was in my high school when I was there, two years ahead of me. I did not know him, except as the object of reverence by younger boys in the “Lower School.”
I can’t even make myself imagine him as a liberal or a Democrat. I laugh, in fact. And I do notice in his bio that he has always been a Republican.
I was there very anomalously, a cuckoo in the nest. I was a scholarship kid from the Middle West dropped by some mischievous Fate into the very heart and bastion of Waspdom — St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, a brit-style boys boarding school.
Mueller was two years ahead of me, captain of three varsity sports teams, very tall, handsome, the apotheosis of what was called a “Paulie,” which I was not. In this country, there is no one who could more perfectly embody the old Wasp aristocracy than Bobby Mueller, as he was called at the school. Of course, that makes him exactly the kind of person Trump has hated all his life.
I also note that Mueller has spent almost all of his life in public service, which is not exactly a surprise, given the pedigree and background. St. Paul’s imbued the Paulies with a deep sense of public service based on a very old-fashioned European notion of noblesse oblige.
I never went for that. I figured I was never going to be in on the noblesse, so why should I have to do the oblige? In my old age, having been exposed more to the products of the new American meritocracy that has replaced the Waspocracy, I sometimes wonder if noblesse oblige may have been better than no oblige at all.
Trying to make Mueller into a Democrat just strikes me as daffy. And I do have a last thought. If Mueller were a garden variety Dem like me, operating out of some kind of ex-post-‘60s liberalism, Trump would have far less to fear from him. Trump’s real problem is that Mueller probably will turn out to be a ramrod-stiff ice-cube-righteous Wasp with a stiff-upper-lip disdain for people who are messy. There will be no pity.

16 June
Robert Mueller expands special counsel office, hires 13 lawyers
(CNN) Mueller has assembled a high-powered team of top investigators and leading experts, including seasoned attorneys who’ve represented major American companies in court and who have worked on cases ranging from Watergate to the Enron fraud scandal.
Among them are James Quarles and Jeannie Rhee, both of whom Mueller brought over from his old firm, WilmerHale. He’s also hired Andrew Weissmann, who led the Enron investigation. “That is a great, great team of complete professionals, so let’s let him do his job,” former independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who investigated President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, told ABC News.
Fire special counsel?
As Mueller assembles his investigative team, statements by Trump’s friend Christopher Ruddy this week set off new questions.
Ruddy, who had been at the White House on Monday, told PBS that Trump is considering terminating the special counsel
But a source close to the President told CNN’s Jim Acosta that Trump has been advised to avoid such a dramatic move.

17 May
Robert Mueller, Former F.B.I. Director, Is Named Special Counsel for Russia Investigation
(NYT) The Justice Department appointed Robert S. Mueller III, a former F.B.I. director, as special counsel on Wednesday to oversee the investigation into ties between President Trump’s campaign and Russian officials, dramatically raising the legal and political stakes in an affair that has threatened to engulf Mr. Trump’s four-month-old presidency.
The decision by the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, came after a cascade of damaging developments for Mr. Trump in recent days, including his abrupt dismissal of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, and the subsequent disclosure that Mr. Trump asked Mr. Comey to drop the investigation of his former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn.
Mr. Rosenstein had been under escalating pressure from Democrats, and even some Republicans, to appoint a special counsel after he wrote a memo that the White House initially cited as the rationale for Mr. Comey’s dismissal.

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