Last week, a Washington court of appeals ruled that former Attorney General Bill Barr lied about Donald Trump’s involvement in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign cycle. Just days prior to Mueller’s report being released, Barr said that he’d read the report and Trump did nothing wrong.
The Justice Department released the memo on Trump’s obstruction of Mueller’s prob revealing that it was more than clear he believed that Trump committed a crime in several cases when he tried to obstruct justice.
Speaking to MSNBC about the release of the memo on Wednesday, former Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann explained that the memo, penned by Barr’s two top deputies Steven Angel and Ed O’Callaghan, provides new evidence that Barr covered up for Trump.
“Essentially it lays out a lot of what was redacted and we know it was a heavily redacted form of this before and it lays out the basics,” explained NBC News justice reporter Ryan Reilly. “It does seem to be making what amounts to a defense argument for Trump in a lot of these cases. There’s one line in here regarding the line where this was [former FBI Director James] Comey telling the president that he hoped that he could let this go, and they actually write in here that there was not — it was not directing a, quote, clearly directed particular action in the investigation and Comey did not react at the time as though he had received the direct order from the president.”
He went on to call it “defensive” and make a case for what Barr had already decided: that Trump wasn’t going to be guilty of anything.
But it was Weissmann who gave inside information into what he experienced while working for Mueller. The Mueller report made it clear that there were at least 10 instances of obstruction of justice by the former president. Barr, on the other hand, wrote there was no obstruction.
“This memo, as you said, is a doozy because it has been kept under wraps and the Department of Justice thought even giving it to the district court for [the judge] to read, there is a reason when she read it that her decision was that this needs to be made public. The court of appeals agreed with her. Now to the substance. Why did they try and keep this under wraps? There is a sentence in here that is astounding to me,” Weissmann continued. “The two senior staff, say to Bill Barr that the reason he should make the decision is because if the memo comes out it might be read to imply that the president committed obstruction. Let me just repeat that: that the reason Bill Barr needs to say something is because if the memo because if the report comes out it could be read to say that the president committed obstruction.”
He explained that it’s noticeable that there’s no discussion on the memo about Bill Barr telling Mueller that he wants the special counsel to conclude whether Trump committed any obstructions of justice in his investigation or not.
“We now know clearly from his memo did not send it back to Mueller — who reported to him — was because he knew exactly what the answer would be. Because it says in black and white that this memo could be read to conclude that the president committed obstruction,” Weissmann concluded.
There is another point, he explained, that is simply “dead wrong.” At one point in the memo it says that Trump didn’t commit obstruction of justice because you can’t obstruct justice when you’re not guilty of the underlying crime.
“That is legally wrong,” he explained. “Our report actually addresses that. We cite all cases including the Arthur Anderson case which I know very well and this memo simply does not successfully, at least in my view, address the legal precedents, and it is not the case that you cannot be guilty of obstruction if you didn’t commit the underlying crime.”
Finally, he said that the point the memo gets completely wrong is that Mueller’s report found no evidence of an underlying crime or conspiracy with the Russians.
“That’s not what our report said,” Weissmann concluded. “It said that there’s evidence. It’s just that we didn’t think there was evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. So, the sort of upshot, Nicolle is, I can understand why the department has fought long and hard not to have this see the day and it’s quite a shocking document.”
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House Votes to Boot George Santos 311-114
Representative George Santos (R-NY) has been expelled from Congress following a 311-114 vote; two House members voted “present.”
The expulsion of Santos follows a debate on his fate on Thursday. The vote required a two-thirds majority, or 290 of the 435-seat chamber. This is Santos’ third vote of expulsion; last month, a vote failed with 31 Democrats voting against, according to The Hill.
While the vote was decisive, some notable Republicans voted to save Santos, including House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN).
“We’ve not whipped the vote and we wouldn’t,” Johnson told CNN Wednesday. “I trust that people will make that decision thoughtfully and in good faith. I personally have real reservations about doing this, I’m concerned about a precedent that may be set for that.”
Santos himself had harsh words for the House following the vote. Leaving the capitol building, he briefly spoke with reporters.
“The House spoke that’s their vote. They just set new dangerous precedent for themselves,” he told CNN. “Why would I want to stay here? To hell with this place.”
He then cut his time short, telling reporters, “You know what? As unofficially no longer a member of Congress, I no longer have to answer your questions.”
Santos also faces 23 federal charges, which include fraud, money laundering and misuse of campaign funds, according to CNN. He has pleaded not guilty. An Ethics Committee report found evidence that Santos used campaign funds for Botox and even an OnlyFans account.
On Thursday, Santos said he refused to resign because otherwise, “they win.”
“If I leave the bullies take place. This is bullying,” Santos said. “The reality of it is it’s all theater, theater for the cameras and theater for the microphones. Theater for the American people at the expense of the American people because no real work’s getting done.”
Santos also threatened to file a resolution to expel Representative Jamaal Bowman (D-NY). Bowman pulled a fire alarm in September. Bowman pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge, and said it was an accident. He said he thought the fire alarm would open a locked door as he rushed to a vote. Bowman paid a $1,000 fine.
There have only been six total expulsions from the House, including Santos. Santos is the only Republican to ever be expelled from the House.
The previous expulsion was in 2002, when Representative James Traficant (D-OH) was expelled after a 420-1 vote. Traficant had been convicted on 10 counts of corruption-related crimes.
Before Traficant, Representative Michael “Ozzie” Myers (D-PA) was the first representative of the modern era to be expelled. Myers got the boot following his conviction for accepting bribes. Myers couldn’t keep out of trouble; in 2022, he was convicted and sentenced to 30 months in prison on charges of election fraud.
Prior to Myers, the only expulsions from the House were in 1861, at the start of the Civil War. Henry Cornelius Burnett (D-KY), John William Reid (D-MO) and John Bullock Clark (Whig-MO) were all expelled for joining the Confederacy.
Peter Navarro, Former Top Trump White House Advisor, Guilty of Criminal Contempt
Peter Navarro, the controversial economist and former top Trump White House advisor, was found guilty by a jury on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress Thursday afternoon after a short trial that began on Tuesday.
Navarro refused to comply with a congressional subpoena issued by the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack.
Legal experts had predicted a “quick conviction” after Navarro, called a “conspiracy theorist” who promotes “fringe” economic theories, had called no witnesses. The jury deliberated for under five hours. He faces up to two years in prison.
“The defendant chose allegiance to former President Trump over compliance with a subpoena,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Aloi told the jury Thursday, as Politico reported. “The defendant chose defiance.”
“Our government only works when people play by the rules and it only works when people are held accountable when they do not,” Aloi also said, during closing arguments. “When a person intentionally and deliberately chooses to defy a congressional subpoena, that is a crime.”
Politico reported earlier that “ Navarro has long claimed that Trump told him to defy the committee’s Feb. 9, 2022 subpoena and assert executive privilege, a demand he said conferred immunity from having to cooperate with Congress’ investigation.”
“There’s no mistake, no accident,” prosecutor John Crabb told jurors, NBC News adds.
“That man thinks he’s above the law,” Crabb said. “In this country, nobody is above the law.”
‘Look for a Quick Conviction Here’: Navarro Jury Could Reach a Verdict ‘Early This Afternoon’
Peter Navarro‘s criminal contempt of Congress trial is moving quickly and the jury may come to a verdict as early as this afternoon, court watchers say.
Navarro, who has been called a “conspiracy theorist” who holds “fringe” and “oddball” economic views, is a former top Trump White House aide. He advanced “Big Lie” election fraud claims and refused to comply with a February, 2022 subpoena issued by the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack. He was criminally indicted in June of 2022 by a federal grand jury.
The trial began Tuesday in D.C. federal court.
Just before 11 AM Thursday the case was handed to the jury, Politico’s Kyle Cheney reports.
“Given the brevity of the case, a verdict is highly likely in the next few hours,” Cheney adds, noting: “If convicted, he faces up to one year on each of two counts — one for refusing to testify, one for refusing to provide docs.”
“Navarro has long claimed that Trump told him to defy the committee’s Feb. 9, 2022 subpoena and assert executive privilege, a demand he said conferred immunity from having to cooperate with Congress’ investigation,” Politico reports. “For months, U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta wrestled with intricate questions about how executive privilege might apply to a former adviser to a former president, whether Navarro’s belief that Trump had invoked the privilege constituted a defense to the charges and how the Justice Department’s decision to charge him compares with its longstanding views of immunity for some senior executive branch officials from compelled congressional testimony.”
Wednesday evening, former top DOJ official Harry Litman noted, “Peter Navarro evidence already done, closing arguments tomorrow. Basically, it’s an incredibly simple case — he knew he had to comply with the subpoena, and he still thumbed his nose at it.”
Adding the the government called three witness but “Navarro called nobody,” Litman predicted: “Look for a quick conviction here.”
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