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Politics Robert Mueller considered speaking up earlier against Trump and Barr's attacks, sources say

03:05  14 july  2020
03:05  14 july  2020 Source:   cnn.com

Former US attorney for SDNY Geoffrey Berman testifies at House Judiciary Committee

  Former US attorney for SDNY Geoffrey Berman testifies at House Judiciary Committee Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman is testifying behind closed doors on Capitol Hill Thursday over his firing by Attorney General Bill Barr last month.Berman arrived on Capitol Hill Thursday before noon, and is set to testify in private before the House Judiciary Committee as part of its investigation into his removal.

Special counsel Robert Mueller said in a rare and remarkable public statement Wednesday his investigation could not clear President Donald Trump and that charging the President was not an option his office could consider .

Former special counsel Robert Mueller has broken his silence in a Washington Post story castigating Donald Trump for commuting Roger Stone’ s prison Speaking on Sunday to CNN’ s State of the Union, the House speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats in the House will pursue legislation to restrict

Former special counsel Robert Mueller chose to break his silence and defend his investigation this weekend after weeks of contemplating doing so, in part because an inflammatory and factually incorrect White House statement attacked his prosecution of President Donald Trump's ally Roger Stone, according to multiple sources familiar with the Mueller team.

Donald Trump, Robert Mueller are posing for a picture © Getty Images/AP

Mueller's Washington Post op-ed on Saturday -- in which he declared Stone "rightly" remained a convicted felon -- came after members of the special counsel's team had urged him to say something. Mueller has considered publicly defending his former office and their findings on Russian interference in the 2016 election for months -- especially after the Justice Department reversed his decision to prosecute former national security adviser Michael Flynn, the sources said.

READ: Ousted Manhattan US Attorney Berman testifies Barr 'repeatedly urged' him to resign

  READ: Ousted Manhattan US Attorney Berman testifies Barr 'repeatedly urged' him to resign Geoffrey Berman, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, on Thursday testified that Attorney General William Barr "repeatedly urged" him to resign before forcing him out in June.Berman told the House Judiciary Committee that prior to his ouster, he resisted Barr's urging because "there were important investigations in the office that I wanted to see through to completion."Those investigations included whether President Trump's personal attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, violated laws on lobbying for foreign interests as it relates to Ukraine.

In a Washington Post op-ed, Robert Mueller insists Roger Stone earned his conviction and that the investigation of President Trump was handled fairly and properly. Robert S . Mueller III testified before the House Judiciary Committee last July. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post).

Robert Mueller breaks his silence and condemns Trump for commuting Roger Stone' s sentence. Trump and McConnell are the twin tribunes of America' s ruin – vote them out | Robert Reich. Democrats say the investigation is a move to appease President Trump ahead of November’ s election.

Mueller decided not to speak after the Flynn reversal, according to the sources, but the attacks by the White House justifying Stone's commutation on Friday finally pushed him to speak out and break away from his strict approach to stay above the political fray.

The public statement from the former special counsel known for remaining silent was a signal of just how far Trump, Attorney General William Barr and Trump's Republican allies in Congress have sought to attack and undermine the two-year investigation into Russian election interference.

In recent months, Barr has pushed to lighten Stone's now-commuted sentence and is attempting to drop Flynn's lying charge, while the Trump administration has declassified a series of documents that Republicans and the Trump campaign have used to attack the origins of the Russia probe -- and Trump's 2020 presumptive opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Attorney General Barr told Trump he shouldn't grant Roger Stone clemency

  Attorney General Barr told Trump he shouldn't grant Roger Stone clemency Barr had previously said that Roger Stone's prosecution was "righteous" and the sentence was fair, and defended his decision to oppose a stricter sentence for Stone. The Justice Department and White House did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment. Stone, a former campaign aide, was convicted of lying to Congress and obstruction and witness tampering after being indicted by a grand jury as part of former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's 2016 presidential election meddling. Democrats quickly criticized the decision and called it an abuse of the rule of law.

Mueller said that his team had not made any determination as to whether Trump had committed a crime Charging Trump with a crime was therefore “not an option we could consider ,” he said Notably, Mueller did not accuse Attorney General William Barr of misrepresenting his report when he

Former special counsel Robert Mueller wrote an op-ed about the commutation over the weekend Asked about Mueller ’ s op-ed, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said , “He had to come up Trump earlier retweeted a message from from game show host Chuck Woolery claiming that

Mueller's op-ed directly rebutted the White House's announcement that Trump would commute Stone's sentence. The White House had called Mueller's work a "baseless investigation" and "witch hunt," and Stone's prosecution "the product of recklessness borne of frustration and malice" from "overzealous prosecutors."

Mueller wrote that the prosecutors acted "with the highest integrity. Claims to the contrary are false." He reiterated that Stone was rightly convicted of obstruction, lying to Congress and witness tampering, and that Russian efforts to interfere with the election to help the Trump campaign deserved investigation.

A representative for Mueller declined to comment.

During the two-year investigation, Mueller's team was notorious for its silence, speaking only through its final report and court filings against multiple members of Trump's team, including Stone and Flynn. But in recent months as the attacks on the investigation have amplified, members of the special counsel team have begun to get more vocal, especially about Stone, who still insists he was unfairly convicted.

Mueller defends Russia probe, says Stone remains a felon

  Mueller defends Russia probe, says Stone remains a felon WASHINGTON (AP) — Former special counsel Robert Mueller sharply defended his investigation into ties between Russia and Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, writing in a newspaper opinion piece Saturday that the probe was of “paramount importance” and asserting that a Trump ally, Roger Stone, “remains a convicted felon, and rightly so" despite the president's decision to commute his prison sentence. The op-ed in The Washington Post marked Mueller's first public statement on his investigation since his congressional appearance last July.

Asked about Robert Mueller ’ s op-ed, Trump ’ s press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Fox News. "He had to come up with process crimes, which Former special counsel Robert Mueller wrote an op-ed about the commutation over the weekend, defending his officie’ s work in the case and saying Stone

Former special counsel Robert Mueller wrote an op-ed about the commutation over the weekend Asked about Mueller ’ s op-ed, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said , “He had to come up Trump earlier retweeted a message from from game show host Chuck Woolery claiming that

One of the Stone prosecutors, Jonathan Kravis, who quit the Justice Department following the watered down sentencing recommendation, wrote an op-ed criticizing the Justice Department's moves in May. Another, Aaron Zelinsky, testified before a congressional committee last month that the Justice Department's approach to Stone before his sentencing hearing was overtly political.

After the Stone commutation announcement, yet another prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann, announced he would publish a book before the election that is critical of Trump and Barr.

But Mueller's decision to publish an op-ed was a step even further.

Several people familiar with Mueller have emphasized the former FBI director's long-time unwillingness to break ranks from the Justice Department and his strict approach to stay out of the political arena.

But Barr has dulled nearly every publicly known prosecution Mueller left for the department to finish and launched his own review of the FBI's work on the probe, while Trump has continuously attacked the investigation as an illegitimate one, claiming it tried to undermine his election win.

After Mueller's Op-Ed, Sen. Lindsey Graham Now Says He'll Call the Former Special Counsel to Testify

  After Mueller's Op-Ed, Sen. Lindsey Graham Now Says He'll Call the Former Special Counsel to Testify Graham had previously brushed off Democrats' requests for Mueller to testify in the Senate , telling CNN in April 2019, “I’m all good, I’m done with the Mueller report.” Mueller later testified before the House. The only invitation Graham had previously offered Mueller was an opportunity to respond to Attorney General William Barr’s Senate judiciary Committee testimony. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.

Asked about Robert Mueller ’ s op-ed, Trump ’ s press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Fox News. "He had to come up with process crimes, which is Former special counsel Robert Mueller wrote an op-ed about the commutation over the weekend, defending his officie’ s work in the case and saying

Special counsel Robert Mueller ' s public statement Wednesday presented a stark contrast to the attorney general regarding the significance of the Justice Department guidelines against indicting a president.

Mueller's investigation did not establish a criminal conspiracy between Trump's campaign and Russia. But he uncovered evidence that people inside and associated with the Trump campaign welcomed and encouraged Russian activity that they thought could help their candidate win.

He also documented extensive contacts between Russians and Trump campaign officials and multiple attempts by Trump to obstruct the Russia investigation.

Prosecutors follow Mueller's lead

Until recently, the prosecutors who worked in the special counsel's office stayed in line with the silence of a boss they revere. Many had their own reasons for not speaking, according to half a dozen Washington, DC, lawyers familiar with their thinking. A few still work for the Justice Department, but many left the special counsel's office for lucrative private law firm positions.

Some, until recent weeks, believed stepping up to defend their work wouldn't make a difference in the public discourse because the public had access to the 448-page report. Some took consolation in their belief that the Mueller report would stand up to scrutiny over time and the investigation ultimately will be on the right side of history.

A few cautiously tested the waters -- yet still refused to speak about the Mueller investigation itself.

Top Mueller prosecutor: 'We could have done more' in Russia investigation

  Top Mueller prosecutor: 'We could have done more' in Russia investigation A top prosecutor in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of President Trump's campaign and Russia is planning a new book that examines what he calls a "hard truth" about the probe; namely, that it was not as successful as it could have been.Andrew Weissman, the former head of the Justice Department's criminal fraud division, said he plans to release a memoir on Sept. 29 that details the Mueller team's efforts to investigate figures close to the Trump campaign and its battles with the White House, according to The Associated Press.

Andrew Goldstein, for instance, who worked on both the Russia and the Trump obstruction investigations for Mueller, signed his name to a list of ex-Southern District of New York prosecutors condemning Barr's removal of that office's head Geoffrey Berman. "The actions of the President and the Attorney General are an attack on the concept that investigations should be conducted in a nonpartisan manner," their open letter said.

In late June, Zelinsky, a Baltimore-based prosecutor still employed by DOJ, testified about Barr's politicization of the department in its handling Stone's sentencing.

"I have been told by the Department of Justice that my testimony today should adhere to the four corners of the Special Counsel's Office report," Zelinsky told to House Judiciary Committee. Speaking about the Stone case after Mueller closed his office, "I was told there was heavy political pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice to cut Roger Stone a break."

After Stone's commutation Friday, Zelinsky released a statement through his lawyer that said he "stands by his testimony and the findings of Special Counsel Mueller's investigation."

Before Zelinsky's testimony, Democrats on Capitol Hill initially reached out to another Stone prosecutor, Jonathan Kravis, gauging his willingness to testify.

But even Kravis, who didn't work on the Mueller team and instead contributed to Stone's case from the DC US Attorney's Office, was not receptive, sources said. He had written an op-ed in The Washington Post explaining his decision to leave the Justice Department in protest of Barr's interference in the Stone case, and said all he had wanted to say in writing.

Former Mueller Prosecutor Doubles Down: This Doesn’t Have to Be the End of the Roger Stone Story

  Former Mueller Prosecutor Doubles Down: This Doesn’t Have to Be the End of the Roger Stone Story Former Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann called on AG Barr to bring Roger Stone before a grand jury to find out why he lied to Congress.In a New York Times op-ed published Tuesday, former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann explained how President Donald Trump’s commutation of Stone’s prison sentence and fine may have left Barr and the Department of Justice better positioned to get to the truth of whatever Stone was lying about.

"I am convinced that the department's conduct in the Stone and Flynn cases will do lasting damage to the institution," Kravis wrote in the Post.

Testimony could be on the horizon

Now Mueller himself could be asked to return to Capitol Hill to testify, following his stilted appearance last year before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham on Saturday said he would call Mueller in to testify.

Graham is leading one of two Republican Senate committee investigations into the origins of the Mueller investigation and the FBI's Russia probe that's accelerating a years-long effort among Republicans in Congress to cast doubt on the validity of the special counsel's work.

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have said they also want to hear from Mueller. At a committee meeting last month where Graham received broad subpoena authorization for his probe, Democrats said the committee should be calling Mueller to testify. "I think this side would very well like to have him here," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the panel.

Graham said he agreed -- though he suggested someone like Weissmann might be better to testify.

If a hearing does happen, Democrats on the committee would want to hear from Mueller's top deputies and the prosecutors on the Stone and Flynn cases in addition to Mueller himself, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Robert Mueller, Donald Trump are posing for a picture © Getty Images

China responds to Barr speech, says it won't be bullied .
China on Friday responded to Attorney General William Barr's warnings to American business leaders the day before against promoting policies favorable to Beijing, saying it will not be bullied.Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said China's primary concern is improving its citizens' lives and keeping global stability and peace, according to The Associated Press."As an independent sovereign state, China has the right to safeguard its own sovereignty, security and development interests, to defend the achievements made by the Chinese people with hard work, to refuse any bullying and injustice against China, and to fight back a

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