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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "subpoena"

Breaking: Trump’s former Russia adviser subpoenaed — and now testifying

Westlake Legal Group schiff-engel-cummings Breaking: Trump’s former Russia adviser subpoenaed — and now testifying The Blog testimony subpoena Rudy Giuliani National Security Council impeachment House Democrats Gordon Sondland Fiona Hill

In a curious set of circumstances, former nat-sec adviser Fiona Hill has begun testifying before House committees this morning. The expert on Russian affairs served the last three administrations in various posts, most recently as an aide to Donald Trump’s national security advisers. Hill had already been scheduled to appear this morning on her own volition, but her attorney announced that the House had issued her a subpoena on top of that:

Why a subpoena if Hill had already agreed to appear? It might relate to document demands that accompanied the request for her testimony issued last week:

Democratic committee chairmen Adam Schiff (Calif.), Eliot Engel (N.Y.) and Elijah Cummings (Md.) sent a letter to Fiona Hill asking her to testify on Oct. 14. She would testify in front of the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Reform committees, a letter released by Axios said.

The letter, dated Wednesday, said Hill’s testimony would be considered part of the impeachment inquiry sparked by Trump’s request to the Ukrainian president to look into potential 2020 opponent former Vice President Joe Biden. …

The letter includes a list of documents requested from Hill, who left her position in August, dating back to Jan. 20, 2017, including documents related to phone calls and interactions between the presidents of the U.S. and Ukraine or efforts by the Trump administration to work with Ukraine to investigate Biden.

The subpoena might have been requested by Hill to get around any potential claims of privilege or of executive-branch work product. The last-minute nature of the subpoena would also make it more difficult for the White House to obstruct Hill’s testimony with a court challenge, while letting Hill off the hook in other ways.

All of this is curious for another reason. A week ago, the White House insisted that it would refuse to cooperate with the House impeachment “inquiry,” in part because the full House never authorized these committees to conduct one. Yet it did nothing to stop former US ambassador Marie Yovanovitch from testifying last week, and now it appears they have taken no steps to keep Hill from talking and providing documentation to the committees. Has the Trump administration changed their strategy again in dealing with the House on impeachment, or are they just resigned to its inevitability at this point?

Perhaps the White House is less concerned about Trump in Hill’s testimony than Rudy Giuliani might be. According to Politico, Trump’s attorney might be the subject of Hill’s interrogation:

Democrats view Fiona Hill’s testimony as critical to their understanding of the extent to which Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, bypassed official U.S. government channels by pressuring Ukrainian officials to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s possible opponent in the 2020 presidential election. …

Hill worked on the National Security Council overseeing U.S. policy toward Russia and is a longtime critic of Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin, in stark contrast to a president who has openly challenged the intelligence community’s conclusion that Moscow interfered in the 2016 presidential election to boost Trump. A fluent Russian speaker, Hill helped engineer the administration’s harsh response to a Russian chemical attack in the U.K., among other internal efforts to promote a more skeptical approach to Moscow.

WBUR expects Hill to highlight the cowboy nature of Giuliani’s diplomacy in Ukraine and tie it to Gordon Sondland:

Hill, who declined to elaborate on her planned testimony, is expected to discuss concerns she raised over the ouster of longtime diplomat Marie Yovanovitch, whose removal as the ambassador of Ukraine has become a key topic in the impeachment inquiry. She is also likely to speak about how, in her view, Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, and Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, were operating a Ukraine policy outside of the National Security Council.

“She will certainly explain that the channel that was apparently open by Ambassador Sondland and Rudy Giuliani, these were things that were going on outside the purview of the National Security Council,” said Angela Stent, the director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies at Georgetown University.

That may be interesting, but in and of itself it means little. The NSC exists for the president’s benefit, not the other way around. The president can set policy with or without the NSC’s approval, and can also conduct diplomacy with or without the NSC’s blessing too. The “purview” of the NSC consists entirely of whatever the president chooses to share with it and whatever advice he chooses to take from it. The members of the NSC have their own jurisdictions where their authority runs more strongly, but diplomacy ultimately is policy directed by the president.

Furthermore, it’s not clear to what extent Hill can elucidate on the NSC’s knowledge of Ukraine matters. Hill did not hold a position that would normally participate in NSC meetings, although she may well have attended some or all of them. The national security adviser and deputy NSA are regular attendees, but no one below that rank has a seat at the table. Hill’s testimony might be second-hand to NSC operations, which isn’t necessarily conclusive but could be useful to pointing out where to go next in an inquiry.

Democrats seem intent on pulling on that thread, anyway. What’s curious is the White House’s lack of action to stop them from doing so.

The post Breaking: Trump’s former Russia adviser subpoenaed — and now testifying appeared first on Hot Air.

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Trump: You know who’d make a good NH Senator, right?

Westlake Legal Group trump-nh-lewandowski Trump: You know who’d make a good NH Senator, right? The Blog subpoena obstruction of justice New Hampshire Mueller report House Democrats Corey Lewandowski 2020 Senate

Are you ready for Senator Corey Lewandowski? Donald Trump certainly is, as he made clear twice yesterday. Trump stopped short of a formal endorsement at his rally in New Hampshire, but told his former campaign adviser to “let us know” what his 2020 plans are. Earlier in the day, he’d promoted the idea on a local talk-radio show too:

President Trump on Thursday all but endorsed his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, for a potential Senate run from New Hampshire, saying he would be “hard to beat” if he ran and a “great senator” if he won.

Mr. Trump first made the remarks in an interview with the New Hampshire radio host Jack Heath, amid reports that Mr. Lewandowski is seriously considering a campaign in his home state to become the Republican challenger to the Democratic incumbent, Senator Jeanne Shaheen.

At a re-election campaign rally in Manchester, N.H., on Thursday night, Mr. Trump again stopped short of an outright endorsement, though he told the crowd that Mr. Lewandowski would “go into Washington and he’s going to have you in mind.”

He said that he had been asked whether he would support Mr. Lewandowski, whom Mr. Trump fired at the urging of his children in June 2016, but with whom he has remained close.

“They’re all saying, ‘Are you going to support him?’” Mr. Trump said. “I said, ‘I don’t know if he’s running.’ So Corey, let us know please, if you don’t mind.”

It’s the first presidential embrace of Lewandowski in a very long while, which makes this newsy enough. Lewandowski received subpoena demands from House Democrats yesterday over his recollection about alleged incidents of obstruction of justice by Trump. He appeared in the Mueller report in two separate episodes, and unlike aides like White House counsel Don McGahn and Hope Hicks, Lewandowski had no formal role and may not be able to claim executive privilege as a result:

Lewandowski is also the first of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s most significant witnesses who had no formal role in the White House to be served with a subpoena by the Judiciary Committee as it considers whether to recommend articles of impeachment. That subpoena in particular will test the president’s ability to block him from cooperating, as he has with most other witnesses subpoenaed by Congress.

In one of Mueller’s most damning findings, Lewandowski described to him a directive from Trump that he tell then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he must constrain Mueller’s investigation or be fired. Lewandowski, at one point, asked Dearborn to deliver the message to Sessions instead, but Dearborn ultimately refused.

In a second episode, according to the special counsel’s report, the president again asked Lewandowski to pressure Sessions to limit Mueller’s scope to future election interference attempts.

Lewandowski’s battle with the House would certainly color any Senate campaign he’d try to mount in New Hampshire. That wouldn’t do Granite State Republicans much good, and they’re nowhere near as enthusiastic as Trump about those prospects. And it’s not just the subpoena that has them worried, either:

That kind of talk is prompting an outbreak of agita among Republicans in the Granite State. “There’s zero added value to have somebody like Cory on the ticket,” said Dave Carney, a longtime G.O.P. strategist in the state. …

But some Republicans in the state are fiercely opposed to Mr. Lewandowski’s candidacy, leaving them in rare open revolt to the White House. Many are concerned with the baggage he would bring to the race: He was accused of grabbing a female reporterwhen he worked for the campaign, and he has drawn scrutiny over his “advisory” business, which let him represent clients while remaining close to the White House.

Former Senator Judd Gregg called Mr. Lewandowski a “thug.” The Union Leader, a conservative bulwark in the state, published a signed editorial against his candidacy. And Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, is signaling to allies that he’d rather Mr. Lewandowski sit out the race.

Their argument: Mr. Lewandowski could win the primary, but he’d cost Republicans the state in the general election. They also say he would do little to expand on Mr. Trump’s base in the fiercely independent state.

The Union-Leader warned Trump on Wednesday that he could win the state if Lewandowski doesn’t ruin prospects for him:

New Hampshire Democrats could find themselves in a role-reversal next year, weighed down by a national ticket so far out in leftist looney land that independent voters may hold their noses and vote for Trump as the lesser of two evils. Some lower races may then follow suit.

Unless, of course, “Republican” candidates are of the Corey Lewandowski type. Aptly called a political “thug” by Judd Gregg, Lewandowski is no more a Republican than is his man, Trump. On any given day, he will be having whatever Trump is embracing at the time: record-high debt and deficits, an isolationist America, and a coarsening and debasement of political discourse and basic civility that should shame the once Grand Old Party.

Jeanne Shaheen faces a tough re-election bid next year. She only got 51.5% of the vote in 2014, albeit in a GOP wave election. Against a well-prepared and attractive Republican challenger with Trump at the top of the ticket running against a hard-Left progressive, the GOP could steal the seat from Democrats and stop them from gaining control of the Senate. Lewandowski, however, has so much baggage that he’d be lucky to keep Shaheen from getting 60% of the vote.

Lewandowski has yet to respond. Perhaps he should consider sending his regrets to this invitation, and the White House might want to pay closer attention to what the state party tells them about their electorate.

The post Trump: You know who’d make a good NH Senator, right? appeared first on Hot Air.

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House Dem: The Mueller subpoena is coming

Westlake Legal Group himes-scarborough House Dem: The Mueller subpoena is coming The Blog subpoena Robert Mueller obstruction of justice Mueller report Joe Scarborough Jim Himes Jerrold Nadler House Judiciary Committee House Intelligence Committee adam schiff

Vent in haste, repent at leisure. House Democrat Jim Himes withstands a gale-force righteous rant from MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough about Robert Mueller’s disinclination to testify before Congress before gently pointing out that it’s misdirected. The Morning Joe host rails on about forcing Mueller to testify about “ten examples of the president of the United States obstructing justice,” and practically shouts at the Connecticut Democrat, “Why don’t you subpoena him?”

“It’s going to happen,” Himes finally says, “he’s going to get subpoenaed.” But when Himes tells Scarborough that the testimony will be behind closed doors, Joe begins to flip out again — until Himes explains that his committee has nothing to do with obstruction of justice issues:

Himes serves on the House Intelligence Committee, not the Judiciary Committee. Scarborough’s rant should have been directed to a member of the latter, most especially chair Jerrold Nadler. A subpoena from Himes’ committee to explore the special-counsel report would require a closed session to delve into anything not already covered in Mueller’s report, and would relate to the Russia-collusion hypothesis rather than obstruction. Mueller found no evidence of any intent by the campaign to collude with Russian intelligence, which is why Democrats and other opponents of Trump — such as Scarborough — have focused all their attention on obstruction instead.

The demand for a subpoena is still mystifying even in the context of obstruction, however. Scarborough angrily dismisses Mueller’s statement that the special-counsel report is his testimony, arguing that not everyone has had a chance to read its 500 pages. It’s been two months since the report’s release; those who are interested in the report have had plenty of time to read it. If there’s a member of Congress who has not yet read the report, it’s out of sloth rather than a lack of opportunity. And if they haven’t read it, how would they understand the context of Mueller’s conclusions well enough to comprehend his testimony, let alone formulate questions for Mueller to answer under subpoena?

And why is it Mueller’s problem that people haven’t read the report? The Washington Post’s version hit #1 on the New York Times’ best seller list, and it’s still in Amazon’s top 20 as of this morning, even though it’s also free here. (The Alan Dershowitz version sold like hot cakes, too.)

Anyway, Mueller has never said he wouldn’t honor a subpoena. All Mueller said was that the report fully explains his conclusions, and that further action is out of his hands. He offered to brief Judiciary but only in closed session, as Mueller understandably doesn’t want to get into the center ring of the partisan circus. Nadler and Intel chair Adam Schiff have attempted to negotiate his appearance without resort to a subpoena, but thus far Mueller’s just not volunteering for the task. If he gets drafted, so be it, but it’s not likely to produce anything other than what Mueller put in the report — which, as a DoJ institutionalist, he sees as the outer boundary of a prosecutor when no indictment will be issued.

At this point, one has to suspect that Nadler and Schiff see less value in a Mueller subpoena than they’re letting on. Mueller’s not likely to give them anything more, and it would allow Republicans to ask a lot of questions about the origins of the FBI’s interest in the Trump campaign and perhaps misconduct regarding the FISA warrant and bias within the bureau. Better to take Mueller’s report as their own launching pad while it still puts them ahead of the game.

The post House Dem: The Mueller subpoena is coming appeared first on Hot Air.

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Giuliani: We’d love Mueller to testify after that statement

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Be careful what you wish for. Until Wednesday morning, the official White House line on Robert Mueller was “case closed,” and solid opposition to congressional testimony. Now, however, The Daily Beast reports that Rudy Giuliani and other inner-circle figures want Mueller hauled before Congress — in hopes that Republicans will “eviscerate” him:

Trump himself has come out against Mueller testifying before Congress, and key Republicans on Capitol Hill have followed suit by stating that the issue is effectively “closed.”

But those positions have softened, if not changed, significantly after Mueller’s public statement on Wednesday, in which he stated that he would have exonerated Trump if he could have and said that he was prohibited by Department of Justice guidelines from bringing charges against a sitting president.

“If they allow [GOP Reps.] Meadows and Jordan and few of the others there, they’ll eviscerate him more than they did Michael Cohen,” said Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney during and after the Mueller probe. Giuliani said it would be “emotionally satisfying to have” Mueller testify and that “in terms of the politics of it, I would love to have him testify. I think he’s afraid to.”

The former New York City mayor and current Trump lawyer said he’d spoken to the president both before and after Mueller’s televised statement to the press. Asked to describe Trump’s views, Giuliani told The Daily Beast that all he could say was, “I can sum up his feelings as: Nothing new, no new facts, it’s all smoke and mirrors, so what?” Of Mueller’s conduct, he added: “I’m angrier about this than [Trump] is.”

Perhaps Giuliani should take a cue from his boss. It’s true that Mueller’s presser essentially allowed the special counsel to issue a closing statement to the political jury unchallenged, but it’s also true that the Mueller report does the same thing — in much greater detail. Republicans and Democrats have spun both to great effect for their own purposes, in large part because Mueller hasn’t responded at all, other than his reiterative valediction two days ago.

It’s also true that cross-examination has the potential for nailing down the Republican pushback on the obstruction issues. Potential, however, is a curious thing; it often goes unrealized, and as any prosecutor knows, cross-examination can easily backfire, too. Democrats will have their own opportunities to help Mueller shore up those arguments and to emphasize the most damaging parts of Volume II. It would be the highest stakes of all high-stakes gambles for the White House to encourage Mueller to take the stand in a hope that they could get the experienced lawman to demolish his own case.

Short of desperation, it’s the kind of gamble that Trump should pass on taking. What’s the upside? Republicans have made their “cased closed” argument as best as possible, helped along by Mueller’s own reluctance to reach a specific conclusion. Do they want Mueller to change his mind on that? It seems doubtful that Mueller would shift to an explicit “cased closed” on obstruction after his statement Wednesday, so any public change in his position is likely to be, er, not helpful. Even without that, giving Mueller an opportunity to make minced meat out of Republican talking points on this subject seems like a very bad idea.

The best that can be said of this idea is that it’s a briar-patch strategy. It might convince Mueller to resist a subpoena a little more strenuously than before, but even better, it might discourage Democrats from issuing one in the first place. That seems to be the direction Jerrold Nadler’s leaning now anyway:

Following extraordinarily rare public remarks Wednesday by special counsel Robert Mueller, where he appeared to close the door on any possibility of him testifying to Congress, a top House Democrat backed down on previous threats to compel Mueller’s appearance with a subpoena.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler did not explicitly rule out the option of issuing a subpoena, but the Democrat’s remarks to reporters in his New York district contrasted prior vows made earlier this month to subpoena Mueller and that the special counsel “will come at some point.”

Instead, Nadler shied away from that position, just hours after the special counsel stated, “the report is my testimony.”

“Mr. Mueller told us a lot of what we need to hear today,” the chairman said when prompted whether he would subpoena Mueller.

That’s a silly statement, as Mueller didn’t say anything yesterday that wasn’t already in his report, except to praise William Barr for releasing it publicly. It’s enough of an excuse to back down off a subpoena threat, and sudden enthusiasm for Mueller’s testimony might be an even better excuse.

The post Giuliani: We’d love Mueller to testify after that statement appeared first on Hot Air.

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Hmmm: Federal grand jury subpoena takes aim at Gillum’s 2018 campaign

Westlake Legal Group gillum-explain Hmmm: Federal grand jury subpoena takes aim at Gillum’s 2018 campaign The Blog Tallahassee subpoena grand jury Florida corruption Andrew Gillum

Throughout his campaign in Florida’s gubernatorial election, Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum insisted that he was not a target of a federal corruption investigation. Now, however, a federal grand jury has taken a keen interest in Gillum and his 2018 campaign. The Tampa Bay Times reports that a subpoena demands records from the campaign as well as from a former employer and a non-profit where Gillum worked:

Andrew Gillum is a focal point of a recently issued federal grand jury subpoena that demands information on the former Democratic candidate for governor, his campaign, his political committee, a wealthy donor, a charity he worked for and a former employer.

The subpoena, obtained by the Tampa Bay Times and previously unreported, could reflect a new level of federal inquiry into Gillum, the former mayor of Tallahassee who narrowly lost to Republican Ron DeSantis last year. …

Previously, the investigation had centered on corruption inside Tallahassee government, including during Gillum’s time as mayor. The newer subpoena is more focused on Gillum’s 2018 campaign and people and organizations with clear ties to Gillum, but with less obvious connections to Tallahassee city hall.

Tallahassee’s ABC affiliate has more on the subpoena:

The subpoena also demands information on:

John H. Jackson, the president and CEO of the Schott Foundation for Public Education, a Massachusetts based non-profit. Gillum was listed as a board member on the non-profit’s website until March 2017. Also on the subpoena is a related organization, Opportunity to Learn Action Fund. Gillum was president of that non-profit as recently as 2017, according to its tax documents.

Donald Sussman, an investor and philanthropist who donated $1.5 million to Gillum’s bid for governor. Harris Parnell, a donor adviser who has worked for Sussman, is also named.

Sharon Lettman-Hicks, a long-time friend and adviser to Gillum who is currently the CEO of the National Black Justice Commission, a black LGBTQ advocacy group. She served with Gillum on the board of the Schott Foundation. Her public relations firm, P&P Communications, is also listed in the subpoena.

It’s not clear yet that Gillum is the specific target of a federal investigation, but he seems to be the dot through which all of this connects. It’s also not clear if this is an extension of the existing federal probe into corruption in Tallahassee that has already resulted in three convictions, or if this is something entirely new. Either way, it’s bad news for Gillum, at least politically, as well as for the people and entities connected to him.

The Orlando Sentinel reminded readers of the known federal probe:

But during the campaign, Gillum fended off questions surrounding an ongoing FBI investigation into corruption in Tallahassee city government while he was mayor, saying he met with investigators and was told he wasn’t the focus of the investigation.

An undercover FBI investigator posed as a developer looking to secure a project, and accompanied Gillum and other city officials on a trip to New York, even providing him with tickets to the “Hamilton” Broadway musical.

Gillum recently agreed to pay a $5,000 ethics fine relating to those issues and hasn’t been charged with any wrongdoing.

So far the FBI sting has resulted in more than 40 counts each against Scott Maddox, a former Tallahassee city commissioner and former Florida Democratic Party chairman, Paige Carter-Smith, a Maddox associate, and JT Burnette, a Tallahassee developer.

Gillum’s settlement took place only a month ago, as the Tallahassee Democrat notes. They also provide a few more details about the subpoena that suggests it might be an entirely new investigation:

A source familiar with the matter told the Tallahassee Democrat that the subpoena is dated March 26. It asks that information be returned to FBI agent Michael Wiederspahn, whose name has not appeared on previously reported federal subpoenas in the Tallahassee investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Kunz, who is heading up the Maddox prosecution, also is listed on the document.

That’s curious indeed. If the timing is correct, it suggests that Gillum settled his previous issues while the government was actively subpoenaing records in another matter. Maybe Gillum’s legal team felt that the new subpoena posed no risks and decided to deal with the extant issues at the time. Or perhaps the feds settled the other case cheaply because they had something much juicier in the pipeline on Gillum.

Which will it be? It will likely be a long while before we find out. The feds won’t talk about an open investigation, and Gillum’s denials won’t be credible in the least. It would be fascinating, though, to know who leaked the subpoena.

The post Hmmm: Federal grand jury subpoena takes aim at Gillum’s 2018 campaign appeared first on Hot Air.

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Trump’s average approval rating reaches highest point since February 2017

Westlake Legal Group t-16 Trump’s average approval rating reaches highest point since February 2017 Trump The Blog subpoena rcp rating mueller job fivethirtyeight biden approval

On Friday he touched 45.1 percent in the RCP poll of polls. Today he’s up a tick to 45.3. The last time he had seen 45 percent in RCP was February 21, 2017.

Westlake Legal Group r-2 Trump’s average approval rating reaches highest point since February 2017 Trump The Blog subpoena rcp rating mueller job fivethirtyeight biden approval

It’s remarkable, and maybe not coincidental, that he’s hitting new heights in approval at a moment when House Democrats are closer to impeaching him than they’ve ever been. The past month has been consumed with chatter about the Mueller report’s evidence of obstruction of justice, about Bill Barr misleading Congress by concealing Mueller’s concerns about his summary, and about a so-called “constitutional crisis” triggered by the White House moving to exercise executive privilege to block subpoenas on a range of issues. Result: Trump’s gone from 43.1 percent average approval in late April, which is standard for him, to 45.3 percent now, his highest number in two years. The reason Pelosi’s nervous about pulling the trigger on impeachment is that she fears the political dynamic will force Republicans and right-leaning independents to circle the wagons even more tightly around POTUS.

I wonder if this data doesn’t prove her right. The noisier Democrats seem to get about blowing him up, the better his numbers turn.

The truth could be more prosaic, though. The big story in electoral politics since late April, when Trump’s numbers began rising, is Joe Biden’s big splash into the presidential race and momentary domination of the field. Maybe some right-leaning indies are watching that, tasting a little early bile at the thought of a Biden presidency, and hugging Trump more tightly. Or, if you prefer your theories even more prosaic, how about the latest blockbuster jobs report on May 3? “Unemployment rate falls to the lowest since 1969” is a headline that should be good for an extra point or two in presidential job approval.

If you’re a pessimist, though, you could always point to the fact that RCP’s poll of polls doesn’t adjust the polls it tracks for “house effects,” as FiveThirtyEight’s tracker does. The difference can be significant and explains why FiveThirtyEight usually shows poorer numbers for Trump than RCP does. For instance, the very Trump-friendly Rasmussen poll currently has POTUS at 50/49 in approval. RCP includes that 50 percent number in its tracker as-is but FiveThirtyEight “adjusts” it for its pro-Trump lean and translates it to a “true” approval rating of 44/50. In FiveThirtyEight’s poll of polls, Trump *isn’t* at a two-year high. He’s at 42.4 percent, up since late April but not at a level that’s unusual for him to have reached. He was at 42.5 percent as recently as February. It may be that Trump’s surging polls at RCP are an artifact of that site’s methodology for calculating its average and little more. When both RCP *and* FiveThirtyEight show him at two-year highs then we’ll know he’s breaking out.

The post Trump’s average approval rating reaches highest point since February 2017 appeared first on Hot Air.

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Lindsey Graham to Trump Jr: If I were you, I’d ignore that subpoena from the Senate Intelligence Committee

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I don’t know what he means here when he says his legal advice to Trump Jr would be to “call it a day.” If you’re a private citizen and you’re subpoenaed, you have four options: Show up and answer questions, show up and plead the Fifth, threaten to plead the Fifth unless you’re granted immunity, don’t show up and be held in contempt. Which does he mean by “call it a day”?

I think he’s thinking of a new fifth option: Exercise your royal prerogative as a Trump not to answer questions with no consequences to you for doing so. Don Jr needn’t follow the rules to which the grimy masses are subject. That’s Republican “populism” in 2019.

According to CNN, Junior and Richard Burr’s Committee have been negotiating since December about a follow-up appearance, with Trump reportedly having agreed twice to come in before backing off. His last scheduled appearance was to have happened on April 4, two weeks after Barr issued his summary of the Mueller report announcing that the special counsel wouldn’t be charging anyone with conspiracy in Russiagate. You can imagine how that changed Don Jr’s calculus. Up to that point, fearing that he might be indicted, he had been cooperative with Congress, probably figuring that that fact would help him during the criminal process if he were charged. Once he realized he wouldn’t be charged, his incentive to keep talking vanished. And so the two sides were at an impasse:

Sources with knowledge of the discussions told CNN the committee initially provided Trump Jr. with a list of roughly a dozen topics that investigators want to cover, including the Trump Tower meeting and Trump Tower Moscow. Trump Jr.’s legal team expected a much shorter followup interview than proposed by the committee, which would not agree to limit the time or topics, according to the sources.

But Trump Jr.’s lawyers are pushing back at addressing questions about the June 2016 meeting or Moscow project because he’s already sat before three congressional committees for more than 20 hours and answered questions about those topics under oath, the people said. Trump’s lawyers viewed the format of the followup interview as effectively a “do-over” from his 2017 appearance.

There is a concern, echoed by several Republicans, that the interview is an effort to try to catch Trump Jr. in a lie since several Democrats have already accused Trump Jr. of committing perjury, the sources said.

The panel allegedly wants to clear up “discrepancies” in some of the testimony it’s heard about the Trump Tower meeting with the Russian lawyer and the Trump Tower Moscow project that Don Jr, Ivanka, and Michael Cohen were involved in. Perfectly understandable for Burr to want more answers about that; perfectly understandable for Don Jr not to want to expose himself to further legal jeopardy; perfectly understandable for Trump Sr to stick up for his son by criticizing the decision to subpoena him.

But having Republican members of Congress, including Senate colleagues of Burr’s, coming out of the woodwork to pressure Burr on Junior’s behalf is a rolling disgrace, not least because they realize better than most people how much political courage it took for Burr to sign that subpoena. He’s a young man by Senate standards, just 63 years old. He’s said that he won’t run again for Senate but people have said that before and changed their minds. His chances at another term are probably dead now. If he had any thoughts of running for governor potentially, those are probably out the window too now that he’s made enemies of the Trump family. It may even cost him friends in Republican social circles in North Carolina if this standoff deepens and he’s forced to cite Junior for contempt. Given the steep price to him personally and professionally, whatever he needs to know from Trump must be important enough for him to incur that cost. At a minimum, if they’re afraid to risk the president’s wrath by defending Burr, you’d think Republicans on the Hill would remain studiously neutral in the dispute out of respect for his guts in following through on this.

But all of the Trump servants in the chamber have taken up the cause of protecting the royal offspring. Cruz, Rand Paul, Jim Jordan, and of course ol’ Lindsey Graham: Not one of them knows precisely what Burr’s concerns are or where the Intelligence Committee investigation stands but they’re eager to earn presidential favor by extending Trump Jr the sort of political cover that no commoner could dream of. Special exceptions from legal process for the presidential brood is one of the swampiest things I can think of. And of course it’s mostly tea-party heroes who are calling for them, the latest reminder lest there was any doubt from current federal spending levels of how far short of its ideals that movement fell.

What Graham might mean here by “call it a day” is Trump Jr tearing up the subpoena and daring Burr to hold him in contempt. Would a Republican senator dare threaten a Trump with consequences for flouting the law? Rest assured that if Burr does, Graham will be on TV shilling for Junior in that case too. In a better world, he’d be worried about being disciplined by the South Carolina bar for what he’s suggesting here. Exit quotation: “A lawyer should demonstrate respect for the legal system and for those who serve it, including judges, other lawyers and public officials. While it is a lawyer’s duty, when necessary, to challenge the rectitude of official action, it is also a lawyer’s duty to uphold legal process.”

The post Lindsey Graham to Trump Jr: If I were you, I’d ignore that subpoena from the Senate Intelligence Committee appeared first on Hot Air.

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Republicans Scoff at Don Jr. Subpoena While Democrats Suggest Prison Time

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I posted yesterday about the Senate Intelligence committee subpoenaing Donald Trump Jr. for reasons that aren’t clear to anyone. This is especially perplexing because noted squish Republican Sen. Richard Burr is the chairman. He’s already talked to Don Jr. for 9 hours and told him he wouldn’t have to come back.

What’s changed? What new evidence has sprung forth that overrides to the conclusions in the Mueller report, requiring yet more testimony? Speculatively, this has liberal Sen. Mark Warner’s name written all over it. Burr has always been a sucker for Senate decorum and bi-partisanship. Democrats would of course never capitulate in this way if the shoe was on the other foot.

Republicans are starting to react and they aren’t too happy about it.

Weak is a good way to describe this.

The irony is that Burr, despite being extremely accommodating to the other side, has been relentlessly savaged by the press and Democrats over his handling of the investigation. He was maligned as a hack for briefing the White House on his on the matter just last year. When Burr correctly noted that they had found no evidence of a Trump-Russia conspiracy, he was challenged by Mark Warner directly.

You’d think Burr wouldn’t be keen to keep indulging this nonsense but you’d apparently be wrong.

Sen. Lindsey Graham had this to say.

This is the right answer, at least for Don Jr. personally. Noway should he reappear before a committee he’s already spoken nine hours to. The only reason Democrats want him back is to try to catch him in a perjury trap based on his previous testimony. There will be no new information provided because we already know everything. The idea that the Senate Intel committee has figured something out that Mueller didn’t is laughable.

Meanwhile, Democrats are talking about sending Don Jr. to prison because they apparently have a fetish for jailing political opponents now.

Hopefully, by stark warning this ABC reporter actually means unhinged nonsense. When Hillary associates defied subpoenas during 2016, did Blumenthal ever call for prison time? Of course he didn’t.

We also got this hilarious shot and chaser from resident “conservative” at the Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin.

You see, now it’s cool to demand jail time for your political opponents. Doing so back in 2016 toward Hillary in regards to actual criminal activity? Well, that was completely out of bounds. Consistency isn’t their thing.

I don’t know where this is going to go. Don Jr. can’t just ignore the subpoena because he doesn’t qualify for executive privilege like Don McGahn does. What he can do is challenge it legally or plead the 5th. If he can produce proof that the Senate did tell him he wouldn’t have to come back, that might also be valuable.

No matter what, noway would I reappear without a fight.

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Judiciary Committee votes to hold Barr in contempt, Nadler declares “constitutional crisis”

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This reeks of a stunt designed to appease the left in lieu of impeaching Trump, which House Democrats really don’t want to do. If they won’t get tough with Trump for fear of the political consequences they’ll at least throw progressives a bone by getting tough with Barr, even though no one on either side expects any consequences to flow from this contempt decision apart from a perfunctory court process over the redacted parts of the Mueller report. The timing is suspicious too, as Republicans on the Committee noted today that their own decision to hold Eric Holder in contempt over the Fast and Furious case seven years ago played out over a much longer time horizon. But speed suits Nadler’s and Pelosi’s purposes: The quicker they have this fight with Barr, the sooner they can backburner impeaching Trump.

It’s not as if Barr’s insistence on redactions to the report is outlandish, notes Gabe Malor:

Most of the redacted material is in the collusion part of the report anyway. If Democratic efforts to impeach Trump are focused on obstruction, which they almost have to be given Mueller’s verdict that Trump didn’t conspire with Russia, why do they need the unredacted report to proceed with “oversight”? Haul Mueller in, quiz him on obstruction, and make a call on impeachment.

Nadler may have another motive here, though, anticipated by Jim Jordan:

“Bill Barr is following the law and what’s his response? Democrats are going to hold him contempt,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), “I think it’s all about trying to destroy Bill Barr because Democrats are nervous that he’s going to get to the bottom of everything.”

I think Bill Barr “getting to the bottom of everything” on how the Obama DOJ handled the start of Russiagate will end up roughly as disappointing to the right as Mueller’s conclusions were to the left, but there’s at least a chance that Barr and the IG will come up with something nefarious. If he does, rushing to hold him in contempt now gives Democrats a pretext to accuse Barr of retaliation later or to try to discredit his findings entirely. “How can we trust a claim of wrongdoing by an Attorney General who’s already been held in contempt for refusing to provide basic information about the Mueller investigation”?

Note that Nadler was asked point blank here why, if this is an, ahem, “constitutional crisis,” he won’t immediately proceed to take up impeachment of Trump for thwarting congressional oversight on various matters. All he can say is that sometimes impeachment isn’t the answer. Not the answer … to a constitutional crisis? If you needed further evidence that them making an example of Barr is just a way to placate the left amid their refusal to impeach, there you are. Exit quotation from Stephen “redsteeze” Miller: “We’re in the middle of a constitutional crisis which we’re going to allow to continue for more Sunday morning slots on CNN.”

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Begun, the executive-privilege wars have: White House telling McGahn to defy House Judiciary subpoena

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The executive privilege hammer has struck. Will Donald Trump get nailed for it? According to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House will tell former counsel Don McGahn not to comply with a congressional subpoena aimed at records of his work with Trump, and later his testimony. The press secretary told ABC News that the Trump administration considers the “case closed” after the Mueller report:

The White House will instruct former White House counsel Donald McGahn not to comply with a subpoena from House Democrats for documents related to the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, according to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.

“I don’t anticipate that that takes place,” Sanders said on ABC News’ “The Investigation” podcast Tuesday, when asked whether the White House will allow McGahn to comply with Democrats’ request. “We consider this to be a case closed and we’re moving forward to do the work of the American people.”

The “case closed” quip must have gone out from the West Wing as a talking point. Mitch McConnell used it in a speech to which his office alerted media with that specific phrase as a quote. We’ll have more on McConnell’s speech later, but it now looks like Republicans on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue will put pressure on Democrats to move on, so to speak, after the end of Robert Mueller’s investigation.

In fact, some Republicans are publicly saying they’re not even interested in hearing from Mueller himself, even though executive privilege claims won’t stop him from appearing if called. Sen. Thom Tillis says he agrees with Senate Judiciary chair Lindsey Graham on that point:

Absent a whole lotta movin’ on from House Democrats, that strategy is doomed to failure. Mueller will eventually appear at a committee hearing controlled by Democrats, which means they’re going to hear from Mueller whether they like it or not. At some point Graham may have to call Mueller to counter anything Jerrold Nadler uses from House testimony, at which point other Republicans might also rethink their current “move on” positions.

What about executive privilege? As long as Trump makes a valid claim, he can keep McGahn from testifying to any conversations they had — beyond what Mueller put in the record, of course, and excepting any discussions that involve patent illegality. As Mueller made clear in his report, Trump didn’t actually do anything illegal or even threaten to do so. The question for obstruction that Mueller left open was whether Trump had a corrupt intent behind any otherwise lawful exercises of his presidential authority.

Now that Mueller has released the content of those conversations, House Democrats insist that executive privilege no longer applies. Current White House counsel Emmet Flood addressed that issue in an angry letter to Mueller just after the release of his lightly redacted report. Flood took Mueller to task for exposing conversations that would have a clear executive-privilege claim after the White House agreed to a limited restraint on such claims to allow Mueller to do his job. Mueller took that extraordinary step without consulting the White House first, Flood insisted, when both sides agreed that such material would be “presumptively privileged.” Instead, Flood accused Mueller of violating that agreement to write a political document instead of meeting his responsibilities to make a prosecutorial decision to indict or decline.

If that’s true, then the White House has a much stronger case for executive privilege on McGahn and other witnesses quoted by name in Mueller’s report. Either way, though, it will be months before federal courts rule on the validity of the claim and Nadler’s subpoena. This standoff will become the new normal in Washington DC, and that new normal may well last a lot longer than Trump’s presidency. In fact, it started well before it with Eric Holder’s bizarre claim of executive privilege in Operation Fast and Furious, a scandal in which hundreds of people actually died. This is just further escalation on all sides.

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