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Trump Now Talking Presidential Pardons as He Targets, Tries to Block Special Counsel Robert Mueller

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Obama Attorney General Holder Warns Trump

President Donald Trump is now inquiring about the scope of his power to pardon people, including himself, and he is targeting Robert Mueller, attempting to discredit the special prosecutor and constrain his investigation.

“Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe,” according to the Washington Post. “A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves.”

The Post cautioned that Trump isn’t actively looking to pardon himself.

“This is not in the context of, ‘I can’t wait to pardon myself,’ ” a close adviser said.

And Mueller is under the microscope, with the Trump team wanting to limit his powers. That follows Trump’s direct threat during his Wednesday New York Times interview, in which he cautioned Mueller to not look into the Trump family’s business finances. (Mueller is looking into the Trump family’s business finances.)

“Some of President Trump’s lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president’s authority to grant pardons, according to people familiar with the effort,” the Post adds.

The Trump team is looking for ways to discredit one of this nation’s most respected law enforcement officers, former FBI Director Robert Mueller.

“Trump’s lawyers are working to corral the probe and question the propriety of the special counsel’s work. They are actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work, according to several of Trump’s legal advisers.”

Maddow gives a breakdown:

Obama-era Attorney General Eric Holder weighed in overnight:

One of America’s least credible politicians, Newt Gingrich, a strong Trump ally and the attack dog the Trump team trots out when they are in crisis mode, went after Mueller overnight, serivng up an inane argument:

Apparently, this latest rage from the President all comes down to money. His money. His businesses. His financial dealings with Russia, or Russians. Which seems now to be why he has always refused to release his tax returns. But what he didn’t know is Special Counsel Robert Mueller has the authority to investigate Trump’s tax returns and all his finances, and doesn’t even need to notify Trump.

“The president is also irritated by the notion that Mueller’s probe could reach into his and his family’s finances, advisers said,” th Washington Post continues, noting that “Trump has been fuming about the probe in recent weeks as he has been informed about the legal questions that he and his family could face.”

“His primary frustration centers on why allegations that his campaign coordinated with Russia should spread into scrutinizing many years of Trump dealmaking. He has told aides he was especially disturbed after learning Mueller would be able to access several years of his tax returns.”

Trump’s private attorney, who has his own possible financial improprieties, told the Post they are looking to constrict the scope of Mueller’s investigation.

“The scope is going to have to stay within his mandate. If there’s drifting, we’re going to object,” Jay Sekulow said.

And he then tried to turn the tables on Mueller.

“The fact is that the president is concerned about conflicts that exist within the special counsel’s office and any changes in the scope of the investigation.”

Many legal experts are now concerned Trump will fire Mueller. That would lead to a constitutional crisis.

Fomer U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara:

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell weighed in also:

 

 

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr 

 

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ONLY COLLUSION ONLY OBSTRUCTION

‘Jurors Meet With Defendant’: Anger Grows Over Report GOP Senators Met With Trump to Map Out ‘Rigged’ Impeachment Trial

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News from The Washington Post that top White House officials held a clandestine meeting Thursday with Republican Senators to map out a plan to limit the Senate impeachment trial while President Trump has been secretly “courting” Senate Republicans in an effort to gauge and gain their loyalty has many angered and alarmed.

The House is expected to pass articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, which would require the Senate to hold an impartial trial, over which the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court would preside. It very much is a legal proceeding with historic consequences for the future of America’s democracy.

Republicans appear to not have grasped this fact, not the gravity of their constitutional duties.

Many Americans are growing angered as a result. Some are calling the Senate impeachment trial “rigged” before it has even begun. Others are pointing out that this is akin to jurors meeting with the “defendant to discuss how long they think they have to let the trial go on.”

“Juries don’t collude with the accused criminals they’re judging,” one person on Twitter said. “Only collusion, only obstruction,” said another.

Take a look at the responses:

Meanwhile, the fact that the target of an investigation is conspiring with the very public servants who will serve as jurors on his trial is shocking to some.


 
Image by The White House via Flickr 

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YOU CAN'T DO THAT

White House Secretly Meeting With Republicans to Limit Impeachment Trial as President Courts GOP Senators

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The Trump White House is in secret  talks with top Senate Republicans to draft a strategy on how the impeachment trial will be conducted after the House passes what are expected to be damning articles of impeachment. The president has been focused the past few weeks on sitting down with Senate Republicans individually or in small groups to take the temperature of the caucus and to woo those who have occasionally suggested they might be uncomfortable with the actions he has taken that have led to the current impeachment inquiry.

“A group of Republican senators and senior White House officials met privately Thursday to map out a strategy for a potential impeachment trial of President Trump, including proceedings in the Senate that could be limited to about two weeks,” The Washington Post reports late Thursday afternoon.

Among the Republican Senators who clandestinely met with top Trump White House advisors are: Mike Lee (Utah), Ron Johnson (Wis.), John Neely Kennedy (La.), Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), Ted Cruz (Texas) and Tom Cotton (Ark.). The six strong Trump supporters met, according to the Post, “with White House counsel Pat Cipollone, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, senior adviser Jared Kushner, and counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway.”

Earlier Thursday Politico reported “Trump cozies up to GOP during impeachment,”noting the President has been “aggressively courting Senate Republicans” including Susan Collins and Mitt Romney, both seen as potentially dangerous to Trump should the Senate hold an impeachment trial.

In a separate Politico article Politico suggests the White House attempted to convince the majority-Republican Senate to immediately dismiss any articles of impeachment and hold no trial.

Senators “informed the White House that there simply aren’t the votes to approve a motion to dismiss the trial; it would take just three Republicans to block any impeachment vote on the Senate floor.”

The Washington Post echoed that reporting, explaining that “even a two-week trial could run counter to what Trump has expressed privately. The president is ‘miserable’ about the ongoing impeachment inquiry and has pushed to dismiss the proceedings right away.”

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CONSPIRACY THEORISTS

Watch: Nunes Stunned When State Dept. Official Knocks Down His ‘Black Ledger Isn’t Real’ Conspiracy Theory

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Intelligence Committee Ranking Republican Member Devin Nunes Thursday afternoon appeared stunned when he questioned a U.S. State Dept. official during the impeachment hearings and did not get the answer he anticipated.

Rep. Nunes has been spewing far right wing conspiracy theories during each impeachment hearing over the past two weeks, including the thoroughly debunked lie that Ukraine – not Russia – attacked the U.S. 2016 election.

(Earlier one of today’s witnesses, Dr. Fiona Hill, publicly lambasted the spreading of the false Ukraine conspiracy theory as she sat just feet away from Nunes. The video is here.)

Nunes asked David Holmes, who is the State Dept.’s counselor for political affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine about the “black ledger.”

That line of questioning did not go well for Nunes.

Nunes asked if Holmes had “ever heard of the black ledger.”

“I have,” Holmes replied.

“The black ledger – is that seen as ‘credible’ information?” Nunes asked.

“Yes,” Holmes responded without hesitation.

Surprised, Nunes repeated his question.

“The black ledger is credible?”

“Yes,” Holmes again replied.

Nunes did not look pleased.

“Bob Mueller did not find it credible. Do you dispute what Bob Mueller’s findings were? – They didn’t use it in the prosecution or in the report.”

“I’m not aware that Bob Mueller did not find it credible. I think it was evidence in other criminal proceedings. Its credibility was not questioned in those proceedings, but I’m not an expert on that.”

Holmes is correct – it was used as evidence in prosecutions (see below).

The black ledger is a register of off-the-book payments made by the corrupt now-former ruling party of Ukraine – not today’s ruling party.

It contains details of 22 payments allegedly made to Paul Manafort, totaling $12.7 million, by his former client, the ex-President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych. Manafort later became Donald Trump’s election campaign chairman. When the ledger was exposed Manafort was forced to resign from the Trump campaign. He is now in prison, serving a 90-month federal sentence.

Mueller actually did find the black ledger credible, as The Washington Post reported one week ago. It was used as evidence in Mueller’s indictment against Manafort.

Rep. Nunes appears to believe the existence of the black ledger and its authenticity are conspiracy theories. He is the one spreading conspiracy theories. The black ledger is real.

 

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