Robert Mueller

Mueller Hires 13 Lawyers for Investigation

Politico: “Special counsel Robert Mueller has added 13 attorneys — with more still to come — as his investigation quickly expands beyond potential collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign with Russia to potential obstruction of justice case by the president… The prosecution team has experience going after everything from the Mafia and Enron to al Qaeda and President Richard Nixon.”

Mueller Is Investigating Kushner’s Business Dealings

Special counsel Robert Mueller “is investigating the finances and business dealings of Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, as part of the probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election,” the Washington Post reports.

“FBI agents and federal prosecutors have also been examining the financial dealings of other Trump associates, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Carter Page, who was listed as a foreign-policy adviser for the campaign.”

For members: Following the Money Could Lead to an Even Bigger Scandal

‘Can’t Fire Him Now’

Jonathan Swan: “Republicans are seizing on a familiar — and for them, distressing — pattern: when President Trump applies unconventional or inappropriate pressure to ‘independent’ public officials, his intervention is often followed by damaging leaks.”

“About an hour after the Washington Post broke the story Wednesday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice, I started hearing from Republicans who are starting to draw a straight line from Trump’s undisciplined venting to damaging leaks.”

Said one GOP operative close to the White House: “Leak was probably a response to stories about POTUS firing Mueller. Can’t fire him now.”

Why Republicans Are Worried About Mueller

Mike Allen notes that with the Washington Post bombshell report that the obstruction probe is in full swing, White House officials and Republicans sweating profusely for several reasons:

  • “They know Trump talked to countless people about ending the Flynn probe, so they assume Comey’s version of events is true.”
  • “They assume he did, indeed, ask Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, if they could help derail the Flynn probe, as the WashPost reported. They also assume he said similar things to other officials.”
  • “Nobody has privately mounted a straight-faced argument to us that Trump didn’t say this stuff to Comey or to Coats/Rogers. That’s telling in itself. The fact that the Trump public position — that Comey is a perjurer — isn’t being argued in private.”

Also troubling: “Any obstruction probe requires context, which means investigators digging into the finances of Flynn, Trump and Jared Kushner. This is the phase of the probe many Republicans have always feared most.”

Trump Won’t Fire Mueller… Yet

New York Times: “The president… began entertaining the idea of firing Mr. Mueller even as his staff tried to discourage him from something they believed would turn a bad situation into a catastrophe, according to several people with direct knowledge of Mr. Trump’s interactions. … For now, the staff has prevailed.”

“But people close to Mr. Trump say he is so volatile they cannot be sure that he will not change his mind about Mr. Mueller if he finds out anything to lead him to believe the investigation has been compromised. And his ability to endure a free-ranging investigation, directed by Mr. Mueller, that could raise questions about the legitimacy of his Electoral College victory, the topic that most provokes his rage, will be a critical test for a president who has continued on Twitter and elsewhere to flout the advice of his staff, friends and legal team.”

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

“My expectation would be that this would be the last straw for Republicans — that they would finally have to stand up to the president. Of course, that expectation has proved illusory in the past. So there’s no guarantee.”

— Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), quoted by the Washington Post, on speculation that President Trump might fire special counsel Robert Mueller.

Why Ruddy Floated the Idea of Firing Mueller

Chris Cillizza: “My (educated) guess is that during his visit to the White House on Monday, Ruddy heard that Trump was considering firing Mueller. Ruddy thought, rightly, that doing so would be an absolutely terrible political move. Rather than calling the President to tell him that, Ruddy took to a medium where he knew Trump would listen: TV.”

“Yes, this is strange, unorthodox and unlike any past president. But, so is almost everything Trump has said and done since he became a candidate for president almost exactly two years ago today.”

“Those who successfully influence Trump meet him on his terms, not their own. That’s what Ruddy is doing here. Telling Trump his opinions through the TV filter. Because he knows that’s the only way to ensure Trump will hear it.”

Trump Has Been Warned Against Firing Mueller

Playbook: “The reality is that Trump has sounded out associates about his concerns over Mueller — and no one knows what he might do. Trump would be making a big mistake if he tried to fire Mueller, and they don’t believe he will, aides said. He has been warned against it ‘by almost everyone,’ one adviser said. But he is often governed by self-preservation. He hates losing control of situations. He often lashes out when he feels someone could damage him. Plus, surrogates have begun telling him what trouble Mueller could pose. He met several times with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at Bedminster over the weekend.”

“So, yes, it seems unlikely Trump will try to fire Mueller. But then again, no one expected him to fire James Comey.”

Mueller Has Been Briefed on Comey’s Testimony

“Former FBI Director Jim Comey’s testimony Thursday is one of the most highly anticipated hearings in recent memory — but his words are unlikely to surprise special counsel Robert Mueller, whose team has been in contact with Comey,” Politico reports.

“Friends of Comey say they expect the testimony to largely stick to his conversations with President Trump and is unlikely to break ground on the investigation into potential collusion with Russia and any of Trump’s associates. That is not surprising, legal experts say, because of the ongoing investigation that Mueller took over last month.”

Mueller Gets Off to Quick Start

Wall Street Journal: “Robert Mueller quickly got to work as special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election: building a team, designing a budget and forcing the Federal Bureau of Investigation to withhold from Congress documents he may be interested in—all in his first full week on the job.”

“Mr. Mueller’s team has been assigned office space in a nondescript building in downtown Washington that is home to the Justice Department’s civil rights and environment and natural resources divisions. Mr. Mueller and his colleagues have been spotted using their badges to enter the office, conspicuous for their formal attire amid the other Department employees, who adhere to a more casual dress code.”

Mueller Cleared to Lead Russia Probe

“Justice Department ethics experts have concluded that newly appointed special counsel Robert Mueller can oversee the investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential election — even though his former law firm represents several people who could be caught up in the matter,” the Washington Post reports.

Mueller Has History of Standing Up the White House

Robert Mueller, “who served as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation during the last two administrations, brings to his new role as special counsel a proven willingness to take on a sitting president,” the Washington Post reports.

“In a high-drama episode in 2004, he and then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey were preparing to resign from their positions if President Bush reauthorized the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretap program without changes. Bush backed down.”

Washington Post: Democrats and Republicans agree Mueller is a great pick.