Offbeat: Mueller power questioned in first post-Sessions court hearing - PressFrom - US

OffbeatMueller power questioned in first post-Sessions court hearing

23:20  08 november  2018
23:20  08 november  2018 Source:

Jeff Sessions 'confident' Mueller probe will be handled 'appropriately'

Jeff Sessions 'confident' Mueller probe will be handled 'appropriately' Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions expressed confidence in a new interview that special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election will be handled "appropriately." require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.getMedianetNativeAds(true); }); Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, Sessions said that although he finds the duration of the investigation -- it was launched in spring 2017 -- unexpected and "unhealthy," the former Alabama senator said "the country is committed to this course.

First , in the Eastern District of Virginia, where Paul Manafort is facing one of the two indictments against him, Judge T. S. Ellis hammered Mueller ’s prosecutors over Mueller ’s allegations will never be tested in court . That makes his indictment more a political statement than a charging instrument.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions took questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. Democrats took issue with his refusing to answer certain questions on Watch the hearing from start to finish. Watch Live: Jeff Sessions Testifies Before Senate Committee Video by The New York Times.

Mueller power questioned in first post-Sessions court hearing© Andrew Harnik, File/AP Photo Challenges to Robert Mueller’s authority to date have gone nowhere.

A drive to derail special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the Trump campaign was taken up by a powerful federal appeals court Thursday as a three-judge panel heard arguments that the special prosecutor’s appointment last year was legally flawed and unconstitutional.

The judges heard an appeal from a former aide to Trump adviser Roger Stone, Andrew Miller, who resisted a grand jury subpoena in order to create a legal vehicle to challenge Mueller’s authority to continue his year-and-a-half long probe into alleged collusion between the Trump political operation and Russia during the 2016 presidential race.

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At a tense hearing in a federal court in Virginia on Friday, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III sharply questioned whether Mueller exceeded his authority in filing tax and bank fraud charges against Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort.

The judge questioned why Mueller 's office was directly pursuing the bank fraud charges against Manafort, but had handed off an investigation of Trump's personal Mueller 's team, who appeared unaccompanied at a hearing in March, were joined Friday by an Alexandria-based public corruption

The arguments Thursday marked the first public outing for members of the special counsel’s team since Democrats won future control of the House in the November midterms and Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and gave the investigators a new boss: acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker.

Before the lawyers said a word, the senior member of the panel, Judge Karen Henderson, said the judges had decided to set aside Sessions’ departure — for now.

“Argue this case as if it was being argued yesterday morning,” said Henderson, an appointee of President George H.W. Bush.

However, Henderson signaled that the developments might well impact the legal issues around Mueller’s authority. “We will most likely be asking for supplemental briefing,” she said.

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Kavanaugh turned aside questions on abortion, gun rights and how Congress might get around That appeared to be the first time in the hearing that Kavanaugh was pressed directly to respond to a (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post ). At another point in the hearing , Kavanaugh said he

The questioning grew mildly tense, with Blumenthal suggesting that Kavanaugh’s answers were ambiguous After pausing for lunch, the hearings are getting back underway. The first hours brought an The Supreme Court itself operates in a relatively anachronistic format, blocking cameras — and

Miller lawyer Paul Kamenar declared early in his presentation that Mueller has a troubling amount of power, far exceeding that of a typical federal prosecutor.

“The special counsel does exercise extraordinary prosecutorial and governmental powers,” Kamenar told the judges. “He can bring indictments in multiple jurisdictions. He’s like a U.S. attorney at large.”

Kamenar’s argument focused largely on the regulations under which Mueller was appointed. Miller’s attorney complained that they appear to give a special counsel “free rein” about how to conduct his probe.

“He can indict without consulting the acting attorney general,” Kamenar said.

Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben, who represents Mueller’s office, told the appeals court that Kamenar was wrong to suggest that Mueller can essentially set his own course and decide when he needs to tell Rosenstein about any plans for or developments in the probe.

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Normal court protocol lists “the political leader of the office” as the highest name on the list of filing attorneys at the top of official documents. They are asking the court to throw out Paul Manafort‘s challenge that Mueller exceeded his authority. Manafort was one of the first casualties of the

For Mueller , Sessions is possibly a key witness of two major allegations that he is likely investigating: if there are any Trump campaign ties to Russia, and whether the president tried to obstruct the Russia investigation by firing former FBI Director James Comey. Trump dismissed Comey last May after both

“I think the court may have been given a slightly different impression than the way the regulations actually operate,” Dreeben declared. “We are therefore required to submit reports to the acting attorney general in accordance with Department of Justice urgent report guidelines. ... Major events in investigations are reported up the chain of command.”

“The acting attorney general can ask the special counsel for explanation of any investigatory step,” Dreeben added. “He’s aware of what we’re doing. ... It’s not the case that the special counsel is off wandering in a free-floating environment and can decide when to report.”

Judge Judith Rogers said the regulations may not capture how Mueller’s investigation was being overseen, raising the possibility he was being more closely supervised than the rules may require.

“It doesn’t say under no circumstances shall the deputy attorney general ask for more reporting,” said Rogers, an appointee of President Bill Clinton. “The way I read the record is we just don’t know what is going on.”

Kamenar suggested the appeals court might want to send the case back to a district court judge to explore how tightly Mueller was being supervised.

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In March, after questions were raised about Sessions ’s confirmation- hearing testimony about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United How can Mueller be removed from office? Because the office is meant to operate largely outside the authority of the Justice Department to be

One of the first court appearances by special counsel Robert Mueller 's team got off to an inauspicious start with a federal magistrate scolding prosecutors for being Typically, a public defender will stand in in such situations at least temporarily. "That's odd," former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer said.

“Maybe the district court should have a chance to take some record evidence to see the proof in the pudding in terms of supervision [and] what’s going on,” he said.

Still, Miller’s attorneys have signaled they want to see this case taken all the way to the Supreme Court. Trump seemed to give tacit approval to the legal challenge in August when he told Bloomberg News that he viewed Mueller’s operation as unlawful.

“I view it as an illegal investigation," he said, alluding to unnamed "great scholars" who say that "there never should have been a special counsel.”

During a press conference outside the courthouse, Kamenar said he expected the Supreme Court to rule in Miller’s favor if the case makes it there. “We believe at that point, with this current bench, that they would find that Mueller is basically acting as a rogue type of a prosecutor,” he said, alluding to the recent confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

But the road to the Supreme Court is likely to take months. If Miller loses his case before the three-judge panel, Kamenar said he might petition the entire appeals court to rehear the case. That would mean the case wouldn’t reach the Supreme Court until springtime at the earliest, he said.

Challenges to Mueller’s authority to date have gone nowhere. In May, federal judges presiding over separate criminal cases against Paul Manafort in Washington and Alexandria, Va., issued rulings rejecting the former Trump campaign chairman’s bids to toss out the charges by claiming the special counsel’s appointment was flawed.

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The Supreme Court is set to hear a seemingly minor case later this month on the status of administrative judges at the Securities and Trump's Solicitor Gen. Noel Francisco intervened in the SEC case to urge the high court to clarify the president's constitutional power to fire all "officers of the

Mueller could argue in court that Trump effectively fired Sessions after months of verbal abuse, a legal concept known as a constructive discharge, said Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor. Under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, Trump can appoint an acting official without Senate confirmation if

And in August another Washington-based federal judge turned down an attempt by the Russian company Concord Management to challenge Mueller’s jurisdiction after the firm was charged in connection with a Kremlin-linked online troll farm accused of targeting the 2016 American election.

Concord attempted to intervene in Miller’s appeal and also filed an appeal of its own, but later abandoned that. The appeals court turned down Concord’s attempt to join Miller’s appeal, but agreed to allow the Russia-based firm to take part in the case with a friend-of-the-court status.

Concord attorney James Martin said Rosenstein lacked any authority in the law to appoint someone from outside the Justice Department, like Mueller, to serve as a special counsel.

However, Judge Sri Srinivasan alluded to the fact that he previously served as deputy solicitor general and no specific law authorizes the hiring of someone to serve in that capacity.

“There is no statute that provides for a deputy solicitor general,” noted Srinivasan, an appointee of President Barack Obama.

Kamenar, Miller's attorney, picked up on this theme Thursday, arguing Sessions should have appointed the special counsel even though he was recused from the case.

"He cannot recuse himself from his constitutional duty to appoint the investigators any more than the president can say, ‘I’m recused from appointing the GSA director because I own property subject to his jurisdiction,’” Miller’s attorney said.

Miller himself, who lives in St. Louis, wasn’t in the courtroom on Friday. Dreeben and another prosecutor working for Mueller, Adam Jed, represented the special counsel. Dreeben appeared relaxed after he concluded his argument, leaning over to whisper something in Jed’s ear as he raised his eyebrows and smiled.

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The first major setback happened in February, when the federal judge assigned to the criminal case against Trump's former National Security Advisor, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ordered Mueller 's team to turn over any "exculpatory evidence" to Flynn's defense. Instead, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan issued the

A Sessions Court is a lesser court of law which exists in several democratic countries, including Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, and the United States of America. The session court is the highest criminal court in the district.

Legal experts have their doubts that Thursday’s case will shut down Mueller’s probe.

“I think just like every one of these arguments that’s been made it’s going to fail,” Dan Goldman, a former federal prosecutor who attended the Manafort trial as an MSNBC contributor, told POLITICO. “I see this as a dead loser for Miller.”

Miller’s attorneys have also predicted they expect to lose the round in front of the D.C. Circuit.

“That court is populated with a lot more liberal Obama appointed judges,” Kamenar said last month during an appearance on a radio show hosted by Michael Caputo, a former Trump aide who has also been questioned in the Russia probe.

“I don’t know whether I will win in that court. Quite frankly, I’m not expecting to,” Kamenar added.

He said as much again after arguments on Thursday.

“I think it’s gonna be hard to get two [of the three] judges ruling in our favor based on the way the arguments” went, Kamenar said. “But you never know.”

Mueller’s interest in Miller stems from the wider probe into Roger Stone, the longtime Trump associate who has said he’s preparing for a federal indictment.

About a dozen Stone associates have been questioned to date in the special counsel investigation, including Sam Nunberg and Kristin Davis, the former prostitution ring manager known as the “Manhattan Madam.”

Caputo, who also has been interviewed in the Mueller probe and by congressional investigators, said last month during the radio show that he’s long known Miller and his family and helped connect the Stone aide with his attorneys for the constitutional challenge.

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