Supporters of California’s sanctuary laws rally outside a San Francisco courthouse in 2017. Haven Daley/APhide caption
Supporters of California’s sanctuary laws rally outside a San Francisco courthouse in 2017.
A federal appeals panel has upheld California’s controversial “sanctuary state” law, ruling that the measure does not impede the enforcement of federal immigration laws in that state.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a unanimous decision, found that the state law, known as SB 54, limiting cooperation between state and local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities does not conflict with federal law.
The judges said they “have no doubt that SB 54 makes the jobs of federal immigration authorities more difficult.” But “California has the right … to refrain from assisting with federal efforts.”
The decision upholds a lower court ruling issued in July 2018.
The Trump administration had sued California in March 2018, arguing the Constitution gives the federal government sweeping authority over immigration matters. The administration also had challenged two other state laws. One, AB 450, requires employers to alert employees before federal immigration inspections. The other, AB 103, gives the California attorney general the authority to inspect immigration detention facilities.
The appeals panel upheld both of those laws, although it blocked a subsection of the inspection law that gave state authorities jurisdiction to examine the circumstances surrounding the apprehension and transfer of immigrant detainees.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra praised the ruling.
“We continue to prove in California that the rule of law not only stands for something but that people cannot act outside of it,” Becerra said in a statement.
“The people this law protects the most are the criminal aliens,” ICE said in an emailed statement. “To be clear, ICE neither expects nor wants, local law enforcement agencies to participate in immigration enforcement in the community; but as law enforcement officers, we do expect our partners to participate in protecting public safety.”
The judges declined to block the most contentious law, Senate Bill 54, which prohibits police and sheriff’s officials from notifying immigration authorities when immigrant inmates are released from prison. In the opinion, Judge Milan D. Smith Jr. wrote: “We have no doubt that makes the jobs of federal immigration authorities more difficult.” However, he added that the law “does not directly conflict with any obligations” placed on state or local governments by federal law “because federal law does not mandate any state action.”
The court also upheld a California law, Assembly Bill 450, mandating that employers alert employees of any upcoming federal immigration inspection share the inspection results with employees who may not be authorized to work in the U.S. Judge Smith, who was nominated to the federal bench by George W. Bush, ruled that the state law “imposes no additional or contrary obligations that undermine or disrupt the activities of federal immigration authorities.”
The court did block part of Assembly Bill 103, which requires the state to review detention facilities where immigrants are held, ruling that a provision requiring the state to review circumstances surrounding the apprehension and transfer of detainees puts an impermissible burden on the federal government.
“Only those provisions that impose an additional economic burden exclusively on the federal government are invalid,” wrote Judge Smith.
The Justice Department sued California over its sanctuary laws in March 2018, with then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying that they hindered cooperation between federal and local law enforcement and prevents the government from enforcing federal immigration law. U.S. District Judge John Mendez previously threw out the federal government’s challenge to Senate Bill 54, Assembly Bill 103 and part of Assembly Bill 450.
California officials have said the immigration laws promote trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has repeatedly sued the Trump administration, mostly over immigration and environmental decisions, said the ruling shows that states’ rights “continue to thrive.”
“We continue to prove in California that the rule of law not only stands for something but that people cannot act outside of it,” Becerra said in a statement.
The Justice Department had no immediate comment.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Attorney General William Barr says special counsel Robert Mueller’s report recounts 10 episodes involving President Donald Trump that were investigated as potential acts of criminal obstruction of justice. (April 18) AP, AP
WASHINGTON – To thwart a federal investigation of Russian efforts to help him win the White House, President Donald Trump fired the FBI director, ordered an aide to fire special counsel Robert Mueller and urged associates to pressure the attorney general to curb the inquiry.
Four months into his term, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. The next day he told Russia’s foreign minister that he “faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off…. I’m not under investigation.”
When Mueller was appointed days later to take over that investigation, Trump feared it would end his presidency. He told then-White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller, but McGahn refused and later told another White House aide thatthe president asked him to “do crazy s—.”
Trump also erupted at his first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, for removing himself from managing the Russia investigation because of his work for Trump’s campaign. After Mueller was appointed in May 2017, Sessions handed Trump a resignation letter, but Trump pocketed it instead of ousting him.Then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said it would be bad for Trump to keep the letter because it would act like a “shock collar” that would hold “DOJ by the throat.”
Trump met in June 2017 with former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and forced him to take dictation for a message to Sessions. Trump said he felt “treated very unfairly” and told Sessions that the inquiry should be limited to “investigating election meddling for future elections,”not the one that had put him in office. Lewandowski never delivered the message.
“The president’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that was largely because the persons who surrounded the president declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests,” the report said. “Consistent with that pattern, the evidence we obtained would not support potential obstruction of justice charges against the president’s aides and associates beyond those already filed.”
Trump’s personal lawyers said in a statement Thursday that the president’s actions were justified. They said he acted correctly in firing Comey for launching a “biased, political attack,” though that is not the reason Trump gave at the time for ousting the FBI director.
“Instead of protecting the time-honored principle that the president – as with any American – is innocent until proven guilty, they clearly set up a scheme to derail the President – pushing a twisted narrative claiming he was guilty until proven innocent,” they said in the statement.
Mueller also suggested Congress could make its own judgment about the president’s conduct with evidence from the report, one that is not necessarily tethered to criminal law.
“With respect to whether the president can be found to have obstructed justice by exercising his powers under Article II of the Constitution, we concluded that Congress has authority to prohibit a president’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice,” Mueller’s report said.
The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said the report provided substantial evidence that Trump tried to obstruct justice.
“Even in its incomplete form, the Mueller report outlines disturbing evidence that President Trump engaged in obstruction of justice and other misconduct,” Nadler said. “The report concluded there was ‘substantial evidence’ that President Trump attempted to prevent an investigation into his campaign and his own conduct.”
More about Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller’s report:
The redacted report was released in two volumes on Thursday, one dedicated to answering whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election and the other to whether the president attempted to obstruct the investigation.
In the report, Mueller laid out what investigators considered to be key events in which they believed Trump had sought to influence the investigation into his campaign. Most had been revealed publicly already, but the special counsel’s report spelled them out in staggering detail.
Among the evidence outlined in the report:
Trump’s reaction to the Russia investigation. Sessions announced his recusal from the investigation March 2, 2017, because he had worked on Trump’s campaign. Trump expressed anger, and that weekend Trump took Sessions aside and urged him to “unrecuse.”
Trump fired Comey on May 9, 2017. Trump had earlier asked Comey to go easy on his investigation of then-National Security Adviser Mike Flynn. On March 30, Trump asked Comey to “lift the cloud” of the Russia investigation. The day after firing him, Trump told Russia’s foreign minister: “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job.”
The appointment of Mueller and efforts to remove him. Trump reacted angrily to Mueller’s appointment. “Oh my God,” Trump said, according to the report. “This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency.”
Efforts to have McGahn deny that Trump ordered him to have Mueller removed. After the media reported on June 14, 2017, that Mueller was investigating possible obstruction, Trump reacted with a series of tweets criticizing the Justice Department and Mueller. Trump called White House counsel Don McGahn at home June 17, 2017, and said Mueller had conflicts and should be removed. McGahn didn’t carry out the direction, however, deciding that he would resign rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre, a reference to former President Richard Nixon firing prosecutors during the Watergate investigation. Trump later met with McGahn in the Oval Office and pressured him again, but McGahn refused to back away. McGahn “perceived the president to be testing his mettle,” the report said.
Efforts to curtail Mueller’s investigation. Trump met June 19, 2017, in the Oval Office with Lewandowski, his former campaign manager, and dictated the message to Sessions. Lewandowski said he understood. A month later, Trump met with Lewandowski again and the former aide said the message would be delivered soon. Hours later, Trump criticized Sessions in an interview with The New York Times. Lewandowski didn’t deliver the message but asked White House official Rick Dearborn to do it. But the request “definitely raised an eyebrow” for Dearborn, who was uncomfortable with the task and didn’t follow through.
Conduct involving former Comey and former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn. Flynn falsely denied in mid-January to FBI agents and top administration officials that he had talked to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. On Feb. 14, the day after Trump requested Flynn’s resignation, Trump told an outside adviser: “Now that we fired Flynn, the Russia thing is over.” The adviser disagreed. Later that afternoon, Trump met one-on-one with Comey and said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” Former Deputy National Security Advisor K.T. McFarland declined a Trump request to draft a letter stating Trump hadn’t directed Flynn to discuss sanctions with Kislyak because she wasn’t sure it was true. A White House counsel’s office attorney thought the request would look like a quid pro quo for an ambassadorship she was offered.
Efforts to prevent public disclosure of evidence. When Trump heard of press inquiries about a June 9, 2016, meeting in Trump Tower between a Russian lawyer and members of his campaign, the president edited a press statement for his son Donald Trump Jr., who attended the meeting, by deleting a line that acknowledged the meeting was with “an individual who (Trump Jr.) was told might have information helpful to the campaign” and instead said only the meeting was about adoptions.
The president’s communications director, Hope Hicks, had warned Trump that email setting up the meeting were “really bad” and the story would be “massive” when it broke. Trump told Hicks on at least three occasions not to disclose information about the meeting. “But the evidence does not establish that the president took steps to prevent the emails or other information about the June 9 meeting from being provided to Congress or the special counsel,” Mueller’s report said.
Further efforts to have Sessions take control of the investigation. Trump met privately with Sessions in the Oval Office in October 2017 and told him to “take (a) look” at investigating Clinton. After Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017, Trump met with Sessions in the Oval Office and suggested if he un-recused himself, he would be viewed a “hero.” “I’m not going to do anything or direct you to do anything,” Trump told Sessions, according to a note-taker. “I just want to be treated fairly.” Sessions said he had never seen anything improper during the campaign, but didn’t change his decision.
Conduct toward Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort to influence their testimony. In November 2017, the report says that the president’s personal counsel left a voicemail with Flynn’s counsel saying the White House needed a “heads up” about Flynn’s testimony and cooperation with the government. “The president also privately asked advisers to pass messages to Flynn conveying that the president still cared about him and encouraging him to stay strong,” Mueller’s report said. In January 2018, Manafort told Gates he had talked to the president’s personal counsel and they were “going to take care of us.”
The reports says Gates asked Manafort if anyone mentioned pardons, and Manafort said no one used that word. Some of the material was redacted due to ongoing prosecutions. When Flynn ended his joint defense agreement with Trump, the president’s personal counsel said he would make sure Trump knew of his “hostility.” But Trump praised Manafort publicly during his trial and said he was being treated unfairly.
Conduct involving former personal lawyer Michael Cohen. After the FBI raided the home and office of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, Trump reached out to Cohen publicly and privately to “hang in there” and “stay strong.” Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani set up a “back channel” through another lawyer, Robert Costello, who told Cohen he should “Sleep well tonight … you have friends in high places.” Cohen told Mueller that he understood that as long as he stayed on message, Trump would take care of him – either with a pardon or by shutting the investigation down. But Trump called Cohen a “rat” after he began cooperating with Mueller during the summer of 2018.
USA TODAY Justice Correspondent Kristine Phillips on three things to look for in the redacted Mueller report. USA TODAY
Mueller said he relied on several factors in weighing potential obstruction charges, including whether there was an act of obstruction, a connection to an official proceeding and criminal or corrupt intent. Such prosecutorial decisions are often reached without interviewing an investigation’s subject, as Trump declined to be interviewed in this case, Mueller wrote.
“The evidence we obtained about the president’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were making a traditional prosecutorial judgment,” Mueller’s report said. “At the same time, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
Because Mueller made no decision on obstruction charges, Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller and oversaw much of his work, made their own judgment that the evidence the special counsel gathered “is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”
“There is substantial evidence to show that the president was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents and fueled by illegal leaks,” Barr said Thursday.
Trump’s personal lawyer argued that the president couldn’t be charged with obstruction for using his constitutional authority to close an investigation or terminate an FBI director. While acknowledging that broad authority, Mueller said his authority coexists with Congress’s to enact laws that protect investigations.
Mueller secured several guilty pleas during his investigation, which could be viewed as obstruction by those participants.
Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about interactions with Russians ambassador Sergey Kislyak before Trump took office. during the transition. Flynn awaits sentencing. But the question legal experts have asked is why he lied to investigators four days after taking office – and whether someone told him to lie.
Mueller’s report found that “while there is evidence, described below, that the president knew Cohen provided false testimony to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow project, the evidence available to us does not establish that the president directed or aided Cohen’s false testimony.”
But the report said Trump appeared to have tried to influence Cohen’s testimony. “In analyzing the president’s intent in his actions towards Cohen as a potential witness, there is evidence that could support the inference that the president intended to discourage Cohen from cooperating with the government because Cohen’s information would shed adverse light on the President’s campaign-period conduct and statements,” Mueller’s report said.
Contributing: John Kelly, Ledyard King, Gregory Korte, Kevin McCoy, Steve Reilly and Deirdre Shesgreen
More about special counsel Robert Mueller’s report:
Hilaria, who now has four kids with Alec, knew she’d be stepping into a sensitive situation, given he has daughter, Ireland Baldwin, with Basinger. In a candid Instagram post on Thursday, the “Mom Brain” podcast co-host opened up about navigating a blended family and her relationship with Basinger.
“I love my stepdaughter [Ireland] as much as I love my biological children and I become a mommy lioness when I see comments that insinuate otherwise,” she wrote alongside a photo of her looking up to Ireland.
“Having a stepchild is a delicate matter. Especially one who is grown. I think my relationship with her has been so successful because I never tried to step in as her mommy,” continued Hilaria, who then began to sing Basinger’s praises.
“She has a good mother, who I have tremendous respect for…and I put myself in Kim’s shoes: if my children ever had a stepmother, I’d want her to let me be number one.”
Hilaria made sure she received Ireland’s approval before seriously pursuing her relationship with Alec, which would ultimately result in marriage and a large family. Had Ireland rejected her, Hilaria said she wouldn’t have continued to date the “Saturday Night Live” actor. She also felt it was important to have a good relationship with Basinger.
“Family is first and she needed to be ok with me. We have never had a fight or a bad moment. Nor have I with her mother,” Hilaria shared. “Ireland and I love each other and she knows that I am here for her…”
Hempstead Wright also told Kimmel about his experience in college, which he had previously spoken to Fox News about as well, at the Season 8 premiere.
“Nobody was nasty or unpleasant. It was just an overwhelming experience,” he previously told Fox News.
“I think I hadn’t quite anticipated just how excited people would be. But obviously it’s the first time most of them have left home, and they’re all excited, and then they see the Three-Eyed Raven somewhere… So it’s like, understandably they got quite excited. It was a strange time, but I’m really glad I did it,” he added.
Fox News’ Tyler McCarthy contributed to this report.
Thursday marked the end of a corrupt investigation into an innocent president, driven entirely by political motivations and resulting in the complete and total exoneration of President Trump.
After 2,800 subpoenas, 500 search warrants, and 500 witnesses, Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded in his redacted report released Thursday: “The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
Attorney General William Barr similarly stated in his summary of the Mueller report’s conclusions March 24: “Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”
To put it simply, there was no collusion. And there was no obstruction. Only a partisan investigation that began in the heat of the 2016 presidential campaign.
Now it is time to investigate the corrupt origins of this investigation that prompted the nearly two-year Mueller probe of an innocent president and wasted $35 million in taxpayer funds along the way.
Now it is time to investigate the corrupt origins of this investigation that prompted the nearly two-year Mueller probe of an innocent president and wasted $35 million in taxpayer funds along the way.
In July 2016 the FBI opened an investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia – based on no credible evidence. In the course of this investigation, partisan Obama-era FBI officials spied on members of the Trump campaign.
“Spying did occur,” Barr testified recently before the House Judiciary Committee in what amounted to a “failure among a group of leaders there at the upper echelon” of the FBI.
Perhaps most egregious of all was the use of a dossier funded by the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee in an application for a warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Without disclosing the political origins of the dossier, the FBI used a document full of foreign misinformation to obtain a warrant used to spy on a Trump campaign adviser, trampling on his Fourth Amendment rights in the process.
But it didn’t just stop with the FBI. In December 2016, after Trump had been elected, Obama administration officials “incidentally” unmasked the identities of Trump associates whose names were intercepted in the course of foreign surveillance.
All of this must be investigated, and certainly when cast in the light of internal text messages between FBI employees.
Just after the FBI investigation had been launched, FBI agent Peter Strzok texted to FBI lawyer Lisa Page: “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office – that there’s no way he (Trump) gets elected – but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before 40.”
Here was a blatant admission of an “insurance policy” against a Donald Trump presidency being discussed inside the FBI as rampant surveillance was ongoing against the Trump campaign and as a Democratic-funded dossier full of lies was circulating at high levels in Obama’s Justice Department and FBI.
And yet, when all was nearly said and done after 10 months of investigating, Strzok expressed reticence in joining the office of newly appointed Special Counsel Mueller because, in his words, “there’s no big there” with regard to criminal wrongdoing by President Trump.
Even so, a nearly two-year special counsel investigation wasted $35 million to conclude Strzok was right about “no big there.”
More than three-quarters of voters are already interested in the 2020 presidential election, including over half, 52 percent, who are “extremely” interested, according to the latest Fox News Poll. That matches interest levels typically seen only in the last weeks before Election Day.
The enthusiasm is on both sides. Fifty-seven percent of voters who supported Hillary Clinton in 2016 are “extremely” interested in the upcoming election, as are 57 percent of Donald Trump voters, and two-thirds of self-identified “very conservatives” (67 percent) and “very liberals” (65 percent).
Democratic primary voters are upbeat about many of their options. Nearly 8 in 10 would be satisfied with Joe Biden (78 percent) or Bernie Sanders (75 percent) winning the nomination, while 6 in 10 would be happy with Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren (each 61 percent).
Compare that to 53 percent who would be satisfied if the nominee were Beto O’Rourke, 50 percent Cory Booker, 43 percent Pete Buttigieg, 38 percent Julian Castro or Kirsten Gillibrand, or 34 percent Amy Klobuchar. Still, there is room for opinions to change for these candidates, as at least 3 in 10 primary voters don’t know enough about each to have an opinion.
Two candidates, Harris and Buttigieg, perform notably better among “extremely” interested Democratic primary voters: satisfaction with Harris as the nominee goes from 61 to 70 percent, and satisfaction with Buttigieg increases from 43 to 50 percent.
Among Democratic primary voters, men, women, whites, and non-whites generally agree on the candidate ratings, but there is a significant difference in opinion among age groups. Primary voters under age 45 are more likely than those 45 and over to say they would be satisfied if Sanders were the nominee (82 percent vs. 68 percent). Those ages 45+ (82 percent) are happier if Biden is the nominee than those under 45 (73 percent).
Eighty percent of those satisfied with Biden as the nominee would also be happy with Sanders, and 83 percent of those happy with Sanders would be fine if Biden wins.
There’s little fallout from the criticism that Biden’s “touchy” behavior has made some women uncomfortable. Most, 76 percent, are unconcerned about it. That includes 82 percent of Democratic women, 82 percent of Democrats, 81 percent of women over age 45, 71 percent of women under 45, 68 percent of Republicans, and 67 percent of GOP women.
Almost all Republican primary voters, 88 percent, would be pleased with President Trump as the 2020 GOP nominee. That includes 64 percent who would be “very” satisfied.
Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld announced April 15 he is challenging Trump for the Republican nomination. His first task is improving his name recognition, as 50 percent of primary voters have never heard of him. Twelve percent would be satisfied if he wins.
The poll tested several policy proposals discussed on the campaign trail. Majorities support establishing Congressional term limits (80 percent favor), pushing for renewable energy (70 percent), providing government-run health insurance for all (59 percent), providing free college tuition for all (57 percent), reducing government regulations (57 percent), and abolishing the Electoral College (52 percent).
There is less support for building a border wall (45 percent favor), increasing the number of Supreme Court justices (37 percent) and paying reparations for slavery (32 percent).
The top three policies favored by Democrats are Medicare for all (87 percent), renewable energy sources (86 percent), and free college tuition (81 percent). For Republicans, the largest numbers favor term limits (86 percent), a border wall (83 percent), and fewer regulations (74 percent).
“There’s appreciable support for free benefits from the federal government along with reining in that same government,” says Republican pollster Daron Shaw. “I’m not sure the public sees the irony.” Shaw conducts the Fox News Poll with Democratic counterpart Chris Anderson.
Meanwhile, a majority, 53 percent, believes GOP policies benefit the rich and powerful rather than everyday Americans (32 percent), while voters are more likely to see the Democratic Party as being for everyday Americans (40 percent) than the rich (34 percent).
When considering significant policy proposals that are now law, voters continue to view the 2010 Affordable Care Act more favorably than the 2017 tax reform law. Forty-seven percent have a positive opinion of ObamaCare compared to 36 percent for the GOP tax law.
Conducted April 14-16, 2019 under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company (R), this Fox News Poll includes interviews with 1,005 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide who spoke with live interviewers on both landlines and cellphones. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for all registered voters, and five points for both the Democratic (413) and Republican primary voter samples (374).
Take, for instance, the afternoon of May 10, 2017 when White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters that former FBI Director James Comey had been fired because he’d lost the confidence of President Trump, the Department of Justice and members of both parties in Congress. And, for good measure: “Most importantly, the rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in Comey.”
Sanders went on to say that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had decided “on his own” to examine Comey’s performance and then expressed his concerns to Trump about them on May 8.
A reporter challenged Sanders, saying Comey, in fact, had enjoyed support from the vast majority of FBI agents. “Look,” Sanders chided the reporter, “we’ve heard from countless members of the FBI that say very different things.”
But it was Sanders who said very different things when questioned by Mueller’s investigators about her comment.
“Sanders told this Office that her reference to hearing from ‘countless members of the FBI’ was a ‘slip of the tongue,’” according to the report. “She also recalled that her statement in a separate press interview that rank-and-file FBI agents had lost confidence in Comey was a comment she made ‘in the heat of the moment’ that was not founded on anything.”
The same incident found former White House spokesman Sean Spicer spreading misinformation about Comey’s firing. The report determined that the decision to fire Comey had originated with Trump, who later pressed Rosenstein to own the decision.
“The President then called Rosenstein directly and said he was watching Fox News, that the coverage had been great, and that he wanted Rosenstein to do a press conference,” the report says. “Rosenstein responded that this was not a good idea because if the press asked him, he would tell the truth that Corney’s firing was not his idea.”
Spicer, at an impromptu news conference, picked up where Rosenstein would not tread, telling reporters: “It was all (Rosenstein). No one from the White House,” the report says.
Irate over a report in The New York Times that he had urged White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller, Trump directed McGahn to issue a statement denying the story. McGahn refused to do so several times, according the report.
“The President nevertheless persisted and asked McGahn to repudiate facts that McGahn had repeatedly said were accurate,” according to the report.
Mueller’s investigators unpacked this trunk full of lies from Trump campaign officials. The “investigation established that several individuals affiliated with the Trump campaign lied to (Mueller’s office) and to Congress, about their interactions with Russian-affiliated individuals and related matters. Those lies materially impaired the investigation of Russian election interference,” the report stated.
Some of those who lied, according to the report, violated the federal law:
Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying about his interactions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition.
George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser during the campaign, pleaded guilty to lying about the nature and timing of his interactions with a source who told Papadopoulos that the Russians had dirt on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the Trump Moscow project.
Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort lied to Mueller’s investigators and the grand jury concerning his interactions and communications with Konstantin Kilimnik about Trump Campaign polling data and a peace plan for Ukraine.
Contributing: Gregory Korte, John Kelly, Deirdre Shesgreen, Ledyard King and Kevin McCoy.
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“The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests,” Mueller’s report states.
Obstruction of justice is a serious charge that could begrounds for impeachment. It was part of the articles of impeachment against presidents Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon.
Here is a rundown of the 10 episodes of potential obstruction mentioned in the Mueller report:
1. Trump suggested “letting Flynn go.”
In December 2016, during the transition, Michael Flynn, who would become national security adviser, had two calls with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in which they discussed newly imposed U.S. sanctions on Russia. Flynn later lied to administration officials and the FBI about the calls, which got him fired from the White House and later resulted in himpleading guiltyto lying to investigators.
On Jan. 27, 2017, Trump had a private dinner with then-FBI Director James Comey in which he asked for Comey’s loyalty. In a private conversation the next day, Trump told Comey, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” according to Mueller’s redacted report.
Trump later instructed K.T. McFarland, then the deputy national security adviser, to contact Flynn, “telling him the President felt bad for him and that he should stay strong,” the report states. Mueller’s redacted report discusses whether Trump’s actions amount to obstruction of justice but does not make a definitive pronouncement.
2. Trump pushed Sessions to reverse his recusal from the Russia probe.
Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessionsrecusedhimself from the Russia investigation in early 2017 after reports that he had twice met with Ambassador Kislyak in 2016. Sessions’ recusal infuriated Trump, who privately asked the attorney general to reverse his decision. After Comey confirmed the existence of the Russia investigation in March 2017, the redacted report states Trump “contacted Comey and other intelligence agency leaders and asked them to push back publicly” on suggestions the president was connected to Russian meddling.
The special counsel found that “the evidence does not establish that the President asked or directed intelligence agency leaders to stop or interfere with the FBI’s Russia investigation” in this specific case. But the redacted report states the incident helps illuminate Trump’s motivations behind other actions with regard to the investigation and notes that he “complained to advisors that if people thought Russia helped him with the election, it would detract from what he had accomplished.”
3. Trump fired Comey.
Trumpfired Comeyon May 9, 2017, and “acknowledged that he intended to fire Comey regardless of the DOJ recommendation and was thinking of the Russia investigation when he made the decision,” according to the redacted report. Trump was angered that Comey had not publicly stated that Trump wasn’t under investigation and worried the investigation would limit what he could do while in office.
“I just fired the head of the F.B.I.,” Trump told Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov after Comey’s firing, according to the report. “He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off ….. I’m not under investigation.”
There is evidence that Trump’s firing of Comey was an attempt to “protect himself from an investigation into his campaign,” according to the redacted report. But it also states that “the evidence does not establish that the termination of Comey was designed to cover up a conspiracy between the Trump Campaign and Russia.”
4. Trump tried to get rid of Mueller.
After special counsel Robert Mueller took his post in May 2017, Trump fumed to senior advisers that Mueller had conflicts of interest but was told that his criticisms had no grounds and were “ridiculous.” Nevertheless, Trump twice called White House Counsel Don McGahn to tell him that he wanted Mueller removed due to those perceived conflicts of interest ― the latter time more forcefully directing McGahn to tell Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to fire him.
“McGahn recalled the President telling him ‘Mueller has to go’ and ‘Call me back when you do it.’ … McGahn understood the President to be saying that the Special Counsel had to be removed by Rosenstein,” the redacted report states.
McGahn decided that he would not carry out the president’s order and instead informed White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus that he intended to resign, telling Priebus “that the President had asked him to ‘do crazy shit.’” Although McGahn ultimately did not resign and Trump did not follow up with him again, the redacted report discusses whether or not Trump’s actions were attempts to obstruct justice.
5. Trump tried to limit the special counsel’s investigation.
Days after Trump told McGahn to remove Mueller, he called former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski into the Oval Office for a private meeting. In the meeting, Trump dictated a speech for Sessions to give and then instructed Lewandowski to give it to the then-attorney general.
Trump wanted Sessions to state that Trump had been treated unfairly and that the special counsel’s investigation would be limited only to Russian interference in future elections rather than looking into past conduct. Trump’s speech for Sessions also featured the line “[Trump] didn’t do anything wrong except he ran the greatest campaign in American history,” according to the report.
Mueller’s redacted report discusses whether Trump’s attempt to curtail the probe constituted obstruction of justice, in one section finding that there is “substantial evidence” the president’s attempt “was intended to prevent further investigative scrutiny of the President’s and his campaign’s conduct.”
6. Trump tried to prevent the public disclosure of evidence.
Trump made numerous attempts to prevent emails surrounding a June 9, 2016, meeting between his son Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya from becoming public. The meeting stemmed from music promoter Rob Goldstone telling Trump Jr. that he could connect the campaign with Russian nationals who could offer dirt on Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s campaign, to which Trump Jr. responded: “if it’s what you say I love it.”
President Trump directed aides to “not publicly disclose the emails,” according to the redacted report, and also directed his son’s false statement to The New York Times that claimed the meeting was about adoptions. Although there is a lot of evidence that Trump tried to block information about the meeting from the public and press, the special counsel notes that “the evidence does not establish that the President took steps to prevent the emails or other information about the June 9 meeting from being provided to Congress or the Special Counsel.”
7. Trump tried to get the attorney general to take over the investigation.
Trump continued to be furious at Sessions for his recusal from the Mueller probe and at some point called him at home to ask that he reverse his decision, according to Sessions. The president said he wanted Sessions to take back his recusal so that he could direct the attorney general to investigate and prosecute Hillary Clinton. Trump repeatedly and publicly criticized Sessions for recusing himself over the following months.
Trump floated possible replacements for Sessions when talking with staff and brought up that a new attorney general would directly oversee the special counsel.
“There is evidence that at least one purpose of the President’s conduct toward Sessions was to have Sessions assume control over the Russia investigation and supervise it in a way that would restrict its scope,” the redacted report states.
8. Trump tried to get McGahn to lie about attempts to remove Mueller.
After The New York Timesreportedon Jan. 25, 2018, that Trump had told McGahn to get rid of Mueller, Trump tried to get McGahn to deny that the incident ever took place. Trump first instructed aides to relay the message to McGahn, but after the White House counsel refused to lie about the conversation, Trump held a meeting with him in the Oval Office where the president insisted that McGahn deny he was ever told to fire Mueller. McGahn still refused, and Trump additionally asked why McGahn had told the special counsel’s office about the incident.
The redacted report presents evidence of Trump’s repeated attempts to get McGahn to change his story and states there is “substantial evidence” that the president tried to influence McGahn’s account “in order to deflect or prevent further scrutiny of the President’s conduct towards the investigation.”
9. Trump interfered with prosecutions.
Trump’s actions toward the special counsel’s witnesses is another point of possible obstruction, with the redacted report looking at his conduct concerning Flynn, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a third individual whose name is redacted ― possibly longtime adviser Roger Stone.
While the special counsel was prosecuting Manafort, Trump repeatedly stated that his former campaign chair was being treated unfairly and floated the possibility of a pardon. Both Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani publicly defended Manafort and talked about presidential pardon power. Trump engaged in similar actions with regard to Flynn, and his personal counsel left a voicemail on Flynn’s lawyer’s answering machine asking for “some kind of heads up” if “you’ve gone on to make a deal with … the government.”
The special counsel’s analysis mentions that Trump’s actions had the potential to sway Manafort, Flynn and jury members in their prosecution. This was especially the case with Manafort, the special counsel argues.
“Evidence concerning the President’s conduct towards Manafort indicates that the President intended to encourage Manafort to not cooperate with the government,” the redacted report states.
10. Trump tried to influence Michael Cohen.
Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen began cooperating with the special counsel’s office in July 2018 and told investigators that the president had repeatedly lied about the extent of a proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow. Cohen also admitted to falsely telling Congress that he briefed Trump on the project only three times, in an attempt to distance the president from Russia.
After the FBI raided Cohen’s home and office in April 2018 in relation to the special counsel’s investigation, Cohen says he began discussing pardons with the president’s personal counsel “and believed that if he stayed on message, he would get a pardon or the President would do ‘something else’ to make the investigation end,” the redacted report states. The president also tweeted that Cohen would not “flip” after the raid.
The Mueller investigation looked at whether Trump aided or participated in Cohen’s false statements to Congress and whether Trump tried to prevent Cohen from being truthful with the government. The special counsel found “the evidence available to us does not establish that the President directed or aided Cohen’s false testimony,” even if there is evidence that the president knew Cohen was lying. Regarding the president’s positive backing of Cohen before turning on him and calling him a “rat,” the special counsel’s office found that there is evidence to infer that Trump wanted Cohen to not cooperate with prosecutors and then sought to discredit him once he began aiding the investigation.
Amor Ftouhi’s statements stunned U.S. District Judge Matthew Leitman, who said he’d been “wrestling very hard” with a decision about whether to allow the Tunisia native a chance to someday be released from prison.
Leitman said the remarks “persuaded me beyond any shadow of a doubt” that a life term was appropriate for the 51-year-old Ftouhi, who moved to Montreal in 2007.
“He was crystal clear today: If he had the opportunity to kill more people, he would,” the judge said.
Ftouhi drove 1,000 miles from Montreal to the airport in Flint, Michigan, where he repeatedly stabbed Lt. Jeff Neville in the neck in June 2017.
Amor Ftouhi. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Investigators said Ftouhi wanted to take Neville’s gun and start shooting people at Bishop Airport. Ftouhi legally entered the U.S. at Champlain, N.Y., and arrived in Flint five days later. He tried but failed to buy a gun at a gun show and instead bought a large knife.
“Do I regret what I did? Never,” Ftouhi told the judge inside a federal courtroom in Flint. “I regret I didn’t get that machine gun. I regret I didn’t kill that cop.”
Ftouhi said he had a good education and many skills but felt discrimination in Canada because he wasn’t a white Christian. He pledged allegiance to his Muslim faith and said western countries and Arabic countries should be cursed if they “don’t rule according to Allah.”
He was convicted in November of terrorism and two other crimes.
Neville survived the attack but has lost feeling on the right side of his face. He retired from the airport police department because of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Police officers gather at Bishop International Airport following the June 21, 2017 attack. (Dominic Adams/The Flint Journal-MLive.com via AP)
“He picked the wrong Americans to attack that day,” Neville told Leitman, referring to fellow officers and witnesses who saved him and pounced on Ftouhi. “He should never walk the streets as a free man again.”
Ftouhi’s attorney, Joan Morgan, argued for a 25-year prison sentence in solitary confinement, saying it would effectively be a life term because of Ftouhi’s age. The judge praised Morgan’s work but repeatedly challenged her over the recommendation, especially after Ftouhi’s courtroom remarks.