Politics Republicans hammer Mueller, FBI as Russia investigation intensifies

06:06  07 december  2017
06:06  07 december  2017 Source:   msn.com

Mueller investigation cost $6.7 million within first five months

  Mueller investigation cost $6.7 million within first five months The price tag is likely to rile some conservatives who are wary of the special counsel’s work.The price tag is likely to rile Republicans who have been critical of Mueller's team and wary of a lengthy and costly investigation, though independent counsels have in the past spent tens of millions of dollars on lengthy probes.

Republican activists and lawmakers are engaged in a multi-front attack on special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe of possible connections between associates of President Trump and Russian agents, trying to stop or curtail the investigation as it moves further into President Trump’s inner circle.

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Robert Mueller wearing a suit and tie: Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is shown testifying before a 2013 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing when he was FBI director. © Kevin Lamarque/Reuters Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is shown testifying before a 2013 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing when he was FBI director. Republican activists and lawmakers are engaged in a multi-front attack on special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's probe of possible connections between associates of President Trump and Russian agents, trying to stop or curtail the investigation as it moves further into Trump's inner circle.

For months, the president and his allies have been seizing on any whiff of possible impropriety by Mueller's team or the FBI to argue that the Russia probe is stacked against Trump — potentially building the political support needed to dismiss the special counsel.

Mueller deputy praised DOJ official after she defied Trump travel ban order: 'I am so proud'

  Mueller deputy praised DOJ official after she defied Trump travel ban order: 'I am so proud' A top prosecutor who is now a deputy for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe praised outgoing Attorney General Sally Yates after she was fired in January by President Trump for refusing to defend his controversial travel ban. The email, obtained by Judicial Watch through a federal lawsuit, shows that on the night of Jan. 30, Andrew Weissmann wrote to Yates under the subject line, “I am so proud.”He continued, “And in awe. Thank you so much. All my deepest respects.

Robert Mueller , ex director of the FBI , is special counsel for the Trump/ Russia investigation — an He has served both Republican and Democratic administrations and enjoys broad support on both Congress must continue and intensify the investigations it is currently conducting, respectful of the

FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee June 19, 2013 on The cooperation is the latest indication that the federal probe into President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman is intensifying . Senate Republicans set to pass tax bill after delay.

Several law enforcement officials said they are concerned that the constant drumbeat of conservative criticism seems designed to erode Mueller's credibility, making it more politically palatable to remove, restrict or simply ignore his recommendations as his investigation progresses.

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Fox News Channel personality Sean Hannity, one of the president's informal advisers as well as one of his most vociferous defenders, on Tuesday night called Mueller "a disgrace to the American justice system'' and said his team is "corrupt, abusively biased and political.''

Several conservative lawmakers held a news conference Wednesday demanding more details of how the FBI proceeded last year in its probes of Hillary Clinton's use of personal email and Russian election interference. This week, the conservative group Judicial Watch released an internal Justice Department email that, the group said, showed political bias against Trump by one of Mueller's senior prosecutors.

Schiff: Criticisms of Mueller probe meant to discredit potential future charges

  Schiff: Criticisms of Mueller probe meant to discredit potential future charges Rep. Adam Schiff is dismissing the GOP's accusations of bias in the Mueller investigation, saying they're partisan efforts to discredit the investigation's potential findings.On CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday morning, host Jake Tapper asked the California Democrat about the GOP's accusations of bias within the investigation into allegations of collusion by the Trump campaign in Russia's efforts to influence last year's election. Schiff, who serves as the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Republicans' criticisms are "an effort to tear at the very idea that there is an objective truth.

"I fully support the decision to appoint former FBI Director Robert Mueller to oversee the ongoing investigation into Russia ," Colorado Republican Sen.

The resolution alleges poor handling of an FBI investigation into Russian corruption in 2009 of an American uranium-trucking company, in Biggs has consistently hammered Mueller and has referred to the investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia the “ Mueller witch hunt.”

Fresh ammunition came this weekend, when it was revealed that Peter Strzok, the top FBI agent on Mueller's team, had been removed over politically charged texts he'd exchanged with another former member of the Mueller team, senior FBI lawyer Lisa Page. The texts appeared to favor Clinton and disparage Trump, according to people familiar with the matter.

"The question really is, if Mueller was doing such a great job on investigating the Russian collusion, why could he have not found the conflict of interest within their own agency?'' Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) asked at the news conference. Meadows, leader of the Freedom Caucus, cited a litany of other issues that he said show bias on the part of the FBI and Mueller, including past political donations by lawyers on Mueller's team.

An FBI spokesman declined to comment.

Accusations of bias against Mueller from conservatives have become commonplace in the public debate about the president and the Russia probe, and Republicans are expected to grill FBI Director Christopher A. Wray about those matters when he testifies Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee.

Trump attorney says conflicts require second special counsel

  Trump attorney says conflicts require second special counsel Lawyer Jay Sekulow says the Justice Department and FBI can no longer ignore the 'multiple problems' created by 'obvious conflicts of interest.'Jay Sekulow confirmed his remarks, which were first reported by Axios, in which he said the DOJ and FBI can no longer ignore the "multiple problems" created by "obvious conflicts of interest" while a special counsel investigates allegations of collusion between Russia and Trump's presidential campaign. Robert Mueller, a former FBI director, began leading that federal probe in May.

A group of conservative Republican lawmakers introduced a resolution on Friday to call for Robert Mueller to recuse himself as the special counsel investigating Russian X- FBI Muller should by Decency Recuse himself From sale of URANIUM 20% To Russia .??? Was it a threat to his…? Or $$%.

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The chairman of that committee has been pressing the Justice Department to appoint a second special counsel — one to probe Clinton, as well as the FBI's handling of past Clinton-related probes. Law enforcement officials also expect Wray will be pressed on that issue again Thursday in the wake of the Strzok-Page revelations, which are being investigated by the Justice Department's inspector general.

Mueller did get a public vote of confidence Wednesday from Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, the senior Justice Department official overseeing the Russia probe — though Rosenstein did not address the Strzok inquiry. In an interview with NBC, Rosenstein was asked whether he was satisfied with what he had seen so far from the special counsel's office, and he said yes and noted that some public charges had been filed. "We're not in a position to talk about anything else that may be going on,'' he said.

Mueller first became aware in late July of text messages exchanged between Page and Strzok, who had been engaged in an affair, according to people familiar with the matter who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Trump lawyer: Mueller done with White House interviews, probe will be done within 'a few weeks'

  Trump lawyer: Mueller done with White House interviews, probe will be done within 'a few weeks' President Trump's personal attorney Ty Cobb said Tuesday that special counsel Robert Mueller has finished interviews with all the White House staff members he intends to speak with, according to multiple media reports. The special counsel's office declined to comment, however.Cobb has previously said he believes t he Mueller probe could be over soon.In August, he told Reuters he would be "embarrassed" if the probe was continuing past Thanksgiving. Weeks later, Mueller announced former national security adviser Michael Flynn had pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI.

Mueller is specifically empowered to examine “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Rosenstein s order came a week after he played a key role in Trump s firing of Comey, who had overseen the FBI s Russia investigation since last July.

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Strzok was removed from the job immediately and transferred to the FBI's human resources division, which was widely understood by his colleagues to be a demotion. Officials have said Page left the Mueller team two weeks earlier for unrelated reasons.

Trump tweeted this weekend that the FBI's reputation was "in Tatters.''

Strzok was a major player in both the Clinton and Russia probes, taking part in key interviews, including those of Clinton and Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty last week to lying to the FBI during that January questioning.

On Wednesday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) signed letters to the Justice Department and FBI demanding more information about Strzok's communications.

"Strzok's behavior and involvement in these two politically-sensitive cases raises new concerns of inappropriate political influence in the work of the FBI,'' Grassley wrote in one of the letters.

Matthew Miller, a Democrat and former Justice Department spokesman, said Grassley is part of a Republican effort to undermine Mueller's credibility over the long run.

"First, they want to kick up dust about Hillary Clinton so the conservative press has something to talk about that isn't Trump's misdeeds,'' Miller said. "The eventual goal, though, is to delegitimize Mueller in such a way that he can either be fired or can be ignored if he concludes the president broke the law.''

Poll: 54 percent say Mueller has conflict of interest

  Poll: 54 percent say Mueller has conflict of interest A majority of voters say special counsel Robert Mueller has a conflict of interest because of his past ties to former FBI director James Comey, according to the latest Harvard CAPS-Harris survey. When asked if Mueller has a conflict of interest "as the former head of the FBI and a friend of James Comey," 54 percent responded that the "relationship" between the two amounts to a conflict of interest, including 70 percent of Republicans, 53 percent of independents and 40 percent of Democrats.

First Charges Filed in Russia investigation – Robert Mueller to Make First

After federal agents served a search warrant on Manafort’s home in early July, prosecutors working for special counsel Robert Mueller reportedly threatened Manafort with an impending indictment.

A Grassley spokesman called Miller's comment "a baseless charge from a Democratic operative'' and said the senator has a "three-decade record of government oversight across administrations.''

Grassley also called Mueller an "honorable person" whose investigation should be allowed to "play out."

Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, has called for the Mueller probe to be shut down, saying his prosecutors are simply too biased against the president to conduct a credible investigation.

Fitton said the Justice Department and FBI "covered up'' the Strzok issue for months. "That's a scandal," he said. "Rosenstein needs to explain what he was doing, what he knew and when, and Mueller needs to explain himself as well. I think Mueller has fewer and fewer supporters in the Republican establishment, because of what he allowed to happen.''

The email released by Judicial Watch this week was sent by Andrew Weissmann, now on the Mueller team, back in January, when he was a senior Justice Department official in the criminal division. After then-acting attorney general Sally Yates was fired for instructing department employees not to defend Trump's first travel ban in court, Weissmann sent her a note saying he was "so proud and in awe'' of her. Judicial Watch said the email shows Weissmann is biased against the president.

In Congress, an effort by a Republican lawmaker to ensure Mueller could not be abruptly fired has lost steam.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who in August unveiled legislation to prevent Trump from firing Mueller without cause, said Wednesday that he felt no urgency for the Senate to take it up.

"Based on what's occurred with Flynn and some of the reports over the past week, I'm not overly concerned that we have to move quickly," Tillis said. He called his bill a "good governance" measure that lawmakers will continue to discuss.

Tillis offered a mixed review of the Mueller probe.

"Some of the questions raised about some of the people in the FBI and their behavior and possible biases make you want to go back and look at the role that they played and whether or not there was any bias that was woven into any results or observations they made," Tillis said. "But on the whole, I'm satisfied with the way it's progressing."

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), one of his party's most outspoken Trump critics, said he couldn't envision the president firing Mueller.

"I can't imagine him being terminated," Corker said. "To me, that would be a step too far."

As for the way the Mueller investigation is proceeding, Corker declined to opine. "I have almost no knowledge as to how it's proceeding," he said.

Trump’s legal team to meet with Mueller next week .
Lawyers for President Trump are set to meet with special counsel Robert Mueller's team next week. According to a CNN report, the president's team of private lawyers are hoping to gain insight into the special counsel's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign, and in particular, what the next steps in the pro be may be.Trump's lawyers have met with Mueller's team before. But the upcoming meeting comes after investigators have finished an initial batch of requests for interviews with White House personnel and after a number of documents have been turned over to the special counsel.

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