Many were stunned to learn that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office Friday night issued an extremely rare statement disputing aspects of Buzzfeed’s Thursday bombshell. That bombshell, as you know, says that President Donald Trump instructed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress.
First, it’s important to read the statement issued by Mueller’s spokesperson, Peter Carr.
“BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate.”
So, to be clear, Mueller is not stating the story itself, that the President told Cohen to lie to Congress, is false. He’s saying the way Buzzfeed described “specific statements,” documents, and testimony “are not accurate.”
Here’s what Buzzfeed’s Editor-in-Chief, Ben Smith, told Rachel Maddow Friday night:
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) January 19, 2019
Also on Maddow, former U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg, who served as the the acting head of the DEA says point blank: “the core of the Buzzfeed story is accurate.”
And here’s what some other legal and experts and former government officials are saying.
Mariotti is a former federal prosecutor and currently a CNN Legal Analyst:
It means that the sources didn’t capture some important nuance or qualification and thus overstated the evidence that Mueller has.
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) January 19, 2019
Former Chief Spokesperson for the U.S. Dept. of Defense:
FWIW my take as a former government spokesman: the statement from the Special Counsel’s office tonight is not a full-throated denial of the @BuzzFeed story, but a way of saying to the public: “the arc of the story has merit but we disagree with the nuance.”
— George Little (@georgelittledc) January 19, 2019
Former National Security Council Spokesperson:
Take it from me, this is how a gov spox says “Parts of the story are wrong and parts are right, but I can’t tell you which parts are which because it would require confirming some things or refuting with info that I don’t want to reveal (because it’s sensitive or damaging).” https://t.co/aDjCcnRaZf
— Caitlin Hayden (@CaitlinHayden) January 19, 2019
National security journalist Marcy Wheeler:
Mueller has spent 1.5 years ensuring they never get accused of leaking. If BF’s sources were SDNY, then SDNY just endangered that effort. And THAT is prolly why SCO made a statement, not (primarily) bc of what BF said.
— emptywheel (@emptywheel) January 19, 2019
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What Cassidy Hutchinson’s Testimony Means for Criminal Prosecution of Donald Trump: Report
Former White House senior aide Cassidy Hutchinson revealed some new information to the House Select Committee investigating the attack on Congress and the attempt to overthrow the election.
One question being asked by the New York Times, however, is whether the information she gave was enough to aid in a potential criminal prosecution of former President Donald Trump.
Among the things she told the committee was that as Trump went onstage Jan. 6 to speak to the rally crowd he knew that there were people in the audience with weapons, including guns. Instead of trying to deescalate the crowd, she said that he wanted the supporters brought closer and allowed in even if they had weapons that wouldn’t normally make it through metal detectors.
“Legal experts said the testimony provided more evidence to support a possible criminal prosecution, as it suggested that Mr. Trump was aware of the potential for violence but went on to urge his supporters to head to the Capitol,” wrote the Times analysis.
Trump then called on the crowd to “fight like hell” and told them that he would lead them to the Capitol in a powerful march.
“And after this, we’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you, we’re going to walk down, we’re going to walk down,” he said, repeating the phrase. “Anyone you want, but I think right here, we’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated.”
The Times pointed that the Justice Department said that it doesn’t have an explicit investigation focusing on Trump. There is, however, evidence that the DOJ is moving swiftly on the fake electors’ scandal. Meanwhile, Trump legal adviser John Eastman was raided by federal agents, including FBI agents, who took his phone to turn it over to the Justice Department Inspector General. That is an indication that there’s an internal investigation happening over the role some lawyers like Jeffrey Clark played in the attempt to overthrow the election.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department has captured many of those who came after Congress on Jan. 6 and interviews with them reveal that they’re placing the blame squarely on Donald Trump. Some said that Trump called them to Washington and to the Capitol for Jan. 6.
“Ms. Hutchinson’s testimony could place Mr. Trump into a conspiratorial relationship with members of the mob, lawyers said, suggesting that he pushed them into action even though he was aware that they presented an immediate threat,” wrote the Times.
Hugo Lowell, reporter for The Guardian, explained that Hutchinson’s comments “marked a new degree of apparent consciousness of guilt among Trump’s closest advisers – in addition to that of at least half a dozen Republican congressmen and the Trump lawyer John Eastman – or fear that they might have committed a crime.
He went on to explain that “in raising Giuliani’s interest in a pardon, Hutchinson also testified that Trump’s former attorney may have also been central to a crime with respect to his seeming knowledge of what the far-right Oath Keepers and Proud Boys groups were planning for January 6.”
The idea that the White House knew about the involvement of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys “raised the spectre that the former president’s then-attorney [Giuliani] was broadly aware of the intentions of two far-right groups.” Many of the groups’ members have since been arrested and charged with seditious conspiracy.
Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe urged the DOJ to be forthcoming about its intentions to dodge the implications of politicization.
A word to the wise: I definitely don’t favor leaks from DOJ, but the sooner it becomes publicly clear that the criminal investigation has reached Trump, the harder it’ll be for him, by officially announcing his candidacy, to claim that his indictment would be a political act. ⏳
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) June 29, 2022
Founder and executive director of Protect Democracy Ian Bassin noted that the idea of attempting to intimidate witnesses is a potential criminal offense for Trump. If the people relaying the message to Hutchinson and the other witness are investigated for being part of that it’s unclear if they will implicate the president.
Rep. Cheney now sharing evidence of witness intimidation. New potential criminal charges against Trump and others. This is serious Mafia stuff.
— Ian Bassin 🇺🇦 (@ianbassin) June 28, 2022
Sol Wisenberg, a former deputy to special counsel Ken Starr, told the Times that it’s clear Trump has criminal culpability.
Did Trump commit a crime? “This is the smoking gun,” Sol Wisenberg, a former deputy to Ken Starr, tells me about today’s hearing. “There isn’t any question this establishes a prima facie case for his criminal culpability on seditious conspiracy charges.”
— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) June 28, 2022
Secret Service Agent Called Protestors Tear-Gassed During Trump Bible Photo Op ‘Rioters’ and ‘Anarchists’: Report
A U.S. Secret Service agent referred to the tear-gassed peaceful protestors gathered in Lafayette Park across from the White House in June of 2020 as “rioters,” “anarchist[s],” and, apparently, “Anti American Thugs” as he or she wrote fondly of then-President Donald Trump.
The revelation comes via veteran journalist Andrew Beaujon, a senior editor at Washingtonian, who obtained a redacted email in response to his Freedom of Information Act request. Beaujon posted a screenshot of the email Wednesday, apparently in an effort to show Secret Service agents are not non-partisan. Two allegedly are pushing back against Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony from Tuesday, before the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack. Through a source the agents who were close to Trump are reportedly claiming he did not grab the steering wheel or lunge at one of his Secret Service drivers.
Hutchinson testified she was told by an agent Trump “grabbed at the steering wheel” and lunged at the agent’s “clavicle.”
Beaujon tweeted: “About that Secret Service pushback: Here’s a redacted message from someone in the Uniformed Division, White House Branch, in response to my FOIA for Secret Service emails during the 2020 protests by the White House.”
“I have been out their [sic] on the front lines face to face with the rioters/anarchist[s],” the email reads. “Yesterday President Trump proudly walked across Lafayette Park going to the recently damaged St. John’s Church. Together with high ranking administration officials the President was photographed with Bible in hand in front of the Church. After the photo he marched backed to the White House symbolizing Anti American Thugs.”
While the wording is strange it seems clear the agent is a supporter of Donald Trump and opposed U.S. citizens exercising their First Amendment rights, just as they were being gassed.
One year after the incident, during which Trump was highly-criticized, an Inspector General’s report raised additional questions, as Vox reported in June of 2021.
One senior White House official at the time said the Trump White House was “celebrating” the tear-gassing of the protestors.
Legal Experts Urge Committee to Subpoena Ginni Thomas After She Backs Away From Testifying
Legal experts are encouraging the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack to subpoena far right-wing activist and lobbyist Ginni Thomas, now that she is backing out from appearing barely weeks after saying she “looks forward” and “can’t wait” to testify.
In an 8-page letter, her attorney says he needs “a better justification for why Mrs. Thomas’s testimony is relevant,” The Washington Post reports.
The Committee has been interested in speaking with her since at least last summer but had declined to invite or subpoena Thomas, the spouse of a sitting U.S. Supreme Court Justice. After evidence of email correspondence between her and the infamous “coup memo” author John Eastman, the Committee said they would like to talk with her. She quickly told the right-wing Daily Caller she “can’t wait to clear up misconceptions. I look forward to talking to them.”
Virginia Thomas, who goes by “Ginni,” is a longtime and powerful name in Washington who actively, according to reports, pushed dozens of state and federal officials to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Her attorney says he sees no reason for her to speak with the Committee.
“Mrs. Thomas has expressed a willingness to try to come before the Committee as a means of clearing her name,” Thomas’ attorney Mark Paoletta wrote in a letter, HuffPost adds. “But, based on my understanding of the facts … I do not believe there is currently a sufficient basis to speak with Mrs. Thomas.”
Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, now a law professor and MSNBC/NBC News legal analyst, is calling for Thomas to be subpoenaed.
“Thomas said she’d testify during the uproar,” Vance said via Twitter. “Now, she’s hoping to duck under the radar with so much other news. She should be subpoenaed like any other witness & if she fails to appear, treated like Bannon and Navarro, as she has no privilege to avoid testimony.”
Attorney, MSNBC anchor, and legal analyst Katie Phang tweeted, “SUBPOENA her. Now.”
Seth Abramson, an attorney and author said: “Only by issuing a subpoena to Ginni Thomas *now* does Congress have a chance of being able to work through her inevitable legal challenges and refer her to DOJ for a Criminal Contempt indictment *before* a possible handover of Congress to the insurrectionists in early 2023.”
Miranda Yaver, PhD, a political science professor who teaches courses on law at Wheaton also tweeted, “Subpoena Ginni Thomas.”
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