McCabe sues FBI, DOJ, blames Trump for his firing | TheHill


Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is suing the Justice Department and FBI over his termination from the agency last year, arguing that his firing was a politically motivated move stemming from President Trump‘s attacks against him and other Department of Justice (DOJ) officials.

McCabe alleges in the lawsuit filed Thursday that Trump administration officials “responded to Plaintiff’s two decades of unblemished and non-partisan public service with a politically motivated and retaliatory demotion in January 2018 and public firing in March 2018 — on the very night of Plaintiff’s long-planned retirement from the FBI.”

He claims that the actions have harmed his “reputation, professional standing, and dramatically reduced his retirement benefits.”

In the 48-page complaint, McCabe alleges that Trump was at the heart of his firing, saying the president “purposefully and intentionally caused the unlawful actions of Defendants … and other Executive Branch subordinates that led to Plaintiff’s demotion and purported termination.”

“It was Trump’s unconstitutional plan and scheme to discredit and remove DOJ and FBI employees who were deemed to be his partisan opponents because they were not politically loyal to him. Plaintiff’s termination was a critical element of Trump’s plan and scheme.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he was firing the No. 2 FBI official last March, pointing to findings from a DOJ watchdog that McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and “lacked candor — including under oath — on multiple occasions.”

The firing came shortly before McCabe would have been eligible for his pension, after more than 20 years at the bureau.

McCabe is asking a judge to find that “his demotion was unlawful and his purported termination was either a legal nullity,” and to award him with the retirement benefits he had planned on receiving as a former deputy director of the FBI.

 

Source: McCabe sues FBI, DOJ, blames Trump for his firing | TheHill

The Memo:  Mueller’s depictions will fuel Trump angst | TheHill


Special counsel Robert Mueller painted a damning picture of the Trump administration, even as he handed the president a victory on the central issue of collusion with Russia.

The Trump White House, as portrayed by Mueller, revolves around an impulsive and angry president who issues orders that underlings often defy, ignore or seek to delay.

The depiction will enrage a president who fixates on the concept of strength and is hypersensitive about any suggestion that he is not in absolute control of his administration.

“He will be livid to see this spelled out — and it is not clear that he is always aware when his advisers are doing this,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. “For someone who is already a little bit paranoid about institutional opponents, it will create even more of a sense of distrust within the White House.”

But people who have served in the Trump White House told The Hill that they heard the ring of familiarity — and felt no surprise — at the depictions offered in the special counsel’s report.

“I’ve personally been on the receiving end of a Trump broadside for trying to get him not to do something nuts,” one former White House official recalled ruefully.

A GOP strategist with ties to the White House, asked about the willingness of advisers to frustrate the president’s desires, laughed and said, “I think it was a good thing.”

The strategist asserted that Trump could be “very impulsive and choose to pop off” — a trait that created an imperative among people around him to save him from himself.

“Many of his staff who have experience — legal or political — understood the great perils that he would put himself in,” the strategist said.

Referring to those details becoming public, this source added, “I think it will annoy him. It will make him angrier. But at the same time, it may be a private lesson that he is learning that his staff were loyal by protecting him.”

It is far from clear that Trump sees it that way.

The president tweeted on Friday that statements within the Mueller report “are fabricated & totally untrue.”

Trump added, “Watch out for people that take so-called ‘notes,’ when the notes never existed until needed.”

The remark could be seen as a reference to former White House counsel Donald McGahn.

According to Mueller,

 

Source: The Memo: Mueller’s depictions will fuel Trump angst | TheHill

A timeline of the Mueller probe’s biggest developments | TheHill


More than two dozen Russian nationals and entities have been charged for their alleged efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, and Mueller has indicted individuals with ties to the Trump campaign and administration.

Those swept up in the high-profile investigation range from President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen to lesser-known figures like Alex van der Zwaan, who pleaded guilty to making false statements to investigators.

Trump has repeatedly attacked the probe as a “witch hunt,” while Mueller has remained tight-lipped throughout, largely choosing to speak by way of court filings and criminal charges.

As the investigation heads into 2019, here is a timeline of the biggest developments.

May 17, 2017: Mueller appointed special counsel

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announces Mueller’s appointment to oversee the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, a move that comes almost immediately after Trump fires James Comey as FBI director.

June 14, 2017: Possible obstruction of justice

 

Source: A timeline of the Mueller probe’s biggest developments | TheHill

Trump’s national security team is constant source of turnover | TheHill


Defense Secretary James Mattis‘s decision to quit the Trump administration is the latest indication of a Cabinet constantly being shaken up.

Mattis, who President Trump announced Sunday will leave office at the end of this year — ahead of the secretary’s preferred exit — is just the latest person with a high-level national security or foreign policy position to be headed out of the president’s orbit.

Some have resigned, others have been ousted, and a few have moved to other posts within the administration.

It will leave Trump with a different team in 2019.

Here’s a look at the top national security-related posts that have seen turnover under Trump.

National security adviser

Three people have served as Trump’s principal adviser on national security and foreign policy issues in the White House.

The president tapped Michael Flynn, a retired three-star Army general turned vociferous campaign surrogate, to serve as his national security adviser shortly after the 2016 election.

Flynn’s tenure was extremely brief. He was forced to resign less than a month into the post over revelations that he misled Vice President Pence about contacts with the Russian ambassador during the transition. Since then Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about those contacts, and he cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference.

Trump then appointed H.R. McMaster, another army lieutenant general. McMaster was widely viewed as one of the more moderate voices in the administration and was said to have clashed with Trump on various issues, including the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that Trump consistently disparaged on the campaign trail.

But McMaster didn’t last long, either. In April of this year, Trump moved to replace him with John Bolton, a George W. Bush-era official known for his hawkish views on China and Iran.

FBI director

Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey in May 2017 is viewed as one of the most controversial moments of his presidency.

The move came just months after Comey publicly confirmed the existence of the FBI’s investigation into whether associates of the Trump campaign coordinated with Moscow to interfere in the 2016 election.

And while the firing was predicated on a recommendation from the Justice Department that Comey be removed for his handling of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server, Trump later told NBC News that the “Russia thing” factored into his decision. Mueller is said to be reviewing Comey’s firing in his probe into whether the president obstructed justice.

Comey, who has since become a frequent critic of Trump, later testified before the Senate that the president had asked him to abandon the FBI’s investigation into Flynn.

The Senate later confirmed Christopher Wray, another veteran of the George W. Bush administration, as FBI director.

Attorney general

Now-former Attorney General Jeff Sessions joined the administration as a trusted confidant with whom Trump had built a strong rapport during the campaign.

 

Source: Trump’s national security team is constant source of turnover | TheHill

Mob boss gone mad: Trump longs to go after Clinton, apologizes for murderers | Salon.com


Last week, the Federalist Society grand poobah Leonard Leo, widely credited as the mastermind behind Trump’s extremist court-packing scheme, got into a bit of spat with another high powered conservative legal luminary. That would be George Conway, the prominent Trump critic who is also the husband of Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway. Leo was upset because Conway had started a legal organization called Checks and Balances, which is dedicated to opposing Trump’s abuse of presidential power and degradation of the rule of law.

Leo said he found the whole concept outrageous. Just because the president spouts off day and night wondering why the Department of Justice isn’t jailing his political rivals and demanding that its top officials pledge fealty to him as he imagines Joe McCarthy’s lawyer (and Trump mentor) Roy Cohn would have done — well, isn’t an abuse of power unless he takes action.

Leo told Axios:

I measure a president’s sensitivity to the rule of law by his actions, not his off-the-cuff comments, tweets or statements. And the president has obviously had lots of criticisms about former Attorney General Sessions and about the department, but at the end of the day, he hasn’t acted upon those criticisms.

This was fatuous in all respects but particularly so since Trump has just fired Jeff Sessions because he followed the ethical guidelines of the department and recused himself from the Russia investigations, thus failing to protect Trump. That is taking action. The same goes for firing James Comey for failing to quash the Russia investigation.

 

Source: Mob boss gone mad: Trump longs to go after Clinton, apologizes for murderers | Salon.com

Dems race to protect Mueller probe | TheHill


House Democrats are racing to protect special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, and they’re not waiting until they assume the majority to do so.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) organized an emergency conference call on Thursday between rank-and-file Democrats and the top members on investigative committees to discuss President Trump’s decision to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replace him with an official who has repeatedly criticized the Mueller probe.

On the call, Democrats contemplated their next steps, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) warned members they are facing a “crisis moment.”

After the call, Nadler, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, announced on CNN that Democrats may insist on including protections for the Russia probe in the next government funding bill, though such a demand could trigger a shutdown fight if they follow through.

“We can urge — and we will — that the bill I introduced that would protect the independence of the special counsel, saying he can only be dismissed for [due] cause … We can insist that that be a condition of passage of the remaining legislation to fund the government,” Nadler said.

Calls for the GOP to hold emergency hearings and demands for the acting attorney general to recuse himself have so far gone unanswered, underscoring a harsh reality for Democrats: they are still in the minority for another two months and have little power.

Still, their efforts send a clear signal that Democrats are gearing up to make the issue a top investigative priority starting in January.

In an interview with The Hill, Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the Democrat likely to lead the House Intelligence Committee during the next Congress, is already signaling an interest in interviewing Sessions about his firing.

“On this particular question of what led up to his firing or what information he may have in terms of obstruction to justice, I think that will be of interest to not only our committee but the Judiciary Committee and others as well,” Schiff said.

Democrats are vowing to conduct rigorous oversight and hold the administration accountable, something they say the GOP failed to do.

“We have watched the Republican Majority abdicate it’s role of providing a check to abuses of power, and we must start holding people accountable for their actions,” a Judiciary Committee spokesman told The Hill in a statement when asked about Trump’s firing of Sessions.

Trump has repeatedly bashed Mueller’s probe as a “witch hunt,” and his appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general has renewed fears that he wants to quash the investigation.

Trump has denied this, and called a question Friday about whether he wanted to rein in the probe a “stupid question.”

 

Source: Dems race to protect Mueller probe | TheHill

Paul Krugman: ‘This Could Be Worse Than Letting Mueller Finish’ : Daily Kos


Donald Trump acted out badly the day after the midterm elections. His firing of Jeff Sessions was not his most brilliant moment.

Paul Krugman

@paulkrugman

Some midair thoughts (yes, I’m on airplane wifi, so this is all going v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y) on Trump/Sessions/Mueller. My first reaction on the replacement of Sessions with a complete hack was despair; but maybe needs to be rethought 1/

Paul Krugman

@paulkrugman

Surely the plan was always to kill the Mueller investigation after the midterm. But this was probably envisioned as something to go along with a GOP House that would block all other inquiry. Trump’s anger over the loss may have moved him to act without thinking things through 2/

 

Source: Paul Krugman: ‘This Could Be Worse Than Letting Mueller Finish’ : Daily Kos

Trump ousts Attorney General Jeff Sessions : NBC News


Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned Wednesday at President Donald Trump’s request.

The announcement — made by Trump on Twitter — came the day after the midterm elections.

“At your request, I am submitting my resignation,” Sessions wrote to Trump, adding that he was “honored to serve” the president.

 

Source: Trump ousts Attorney General Jeff Sessions : NBC News