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In this week's podcast-exclusive, listen to Ari Melber's analysis of new reporting that revealed President Trump allegedly ordered the prosecution of his political adversary, Hillary Clinton and a key Mueller probe witness, James Comey. Ari breaks down why this is the most significant legal scandal to hit the Trump White House since reports Trump tried to fire Bob Mueller.
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Aired 3 months ago 20:08
Thursday, November 8: Mueller's New Boss
It's Thursday, November eighth in Robert Mueller has a new boss. We start here. Hours after the twenty eighteen midterms go into the books, President Trump pushes his attorney general out the door. This was a fire and just like that. A public critic of Muller is now overseeing his investigation Democrats promised to protect him. But they're not in charge yet. They just want him to do one thing. Let Bob finish what the White House and congressional Republicans are saying about their next steps and don't look now. But another campaign is underway. Nancy Pelosi is clearly the front runner right now who will lead the Democrats as they take over the house from ABC news. This is start here. I'm Brad milkey. Remember the last time we had a big national election. The newly elected president sent out Sean Spicer to do battle with the press. This was the largest audience to ever witness in inauguration period will yesterday the day after the midterms the president's to showed up himself the Blue Wave that they talked about. I don't know if there ever was such thing, but could have been if we didn't do the campaigning problem. What's the word bonkers? Yeah. I in a bunkers press conference, President Trump declared Tuesday of victory we lost the house. He said but Republicans did expand their lead in the Senate. Rick Scott one, and I helped him then the president started pointing fingers I I've Republicans who refused to cling to him amid a wave election, but Mia love gave me no love and she lost to bed. Sorry about that. And then reporters who asked him questions about his tone on the trail, your your weight, and this became a huge moment as he clashes with C N N's Jim Acosta there a White House. Intern reaches over and tries to yank the microphone out of. His hands a cost of puts his arm up and holds on. Let me ask you. If I may ask the question as president. Are you worried enough? That's that's one of the other folks that's enough. Pardon me, ma'am, later that night, the White House announced it had suspended a cost as access to the White House in part. They said for laying his hands on an intern, which he didn't this is Jim Acosta. I am in front of the White House. The cost of tweeted the moment the secret service informed him right before he went on air. But I am now giving my heart pass to the secret service. But I want to go back to that exchange because he was just one of several reporters to ask about this investigations both from congress they can play that game. But we can play better and from special counsel, Robert Muller. I let it just go on. They're wasting a lot of money. And the question came that the president has been avoiding from months, you know, you said you're not a fan of your attorney general Jeff Sessions. So would you ever fire him? And with no election in front of him. No backlash from voters. Elaine congress. The president took a pass we're looking at a lot of different things including cabinet. I'm very happy with most of my cabinet, but minutes after he left the podium. We learned that. There was a plan. This is ABC news special report, and it was already in the works. Attorney general Jeff Sessions has now resigned at the request of the president takes effect immediately. And you might not have realized it then. But at that moment, there was a new acting attorney general his name is Matthew Whitaker, and that makes sense, right? That sounds like a baby step right wrong. This is huge. This is the only thing that matters today. Because at that moment, Matthew Whitaker was placed in charge of Robert Muller's Russia probe. Remember, the only reason you even know deputy attorney general rod Rosenstein name under mounting pressure. From Capitol Hill attorney general Jeff Sessions, stepping aside is because Jeff Sessions had recused himself from anything to do with Russian election meddling Rosenstein became that guy. Well, no sessions. No need for Rosenstein Whitaker is now the new sheriff in town. We're gonna go to ABC's, Mike Levin. He covers the Justice department. And that is where he is right now. Mike first question was this resignation or was Jeff Sessions fired? This was a firing. This was not sessions choice as one DOJ person told me he had no choice. So this was a firing. Also, how did it go down about your attorney general, and your deputy attorney general do they have long term job security answer that at a little bit different time. While that press conference was going on. I was at DOJ walking around the courtyard, and you can tell something was going on. There were a bunch of black SUV's more than usual sort of driving around the courtyard. We saw security personnel. There was something going on. Then we learned concessions had been had in fact resigned officially at Trump's request and sources were everyone here. Justice department officials say they were stunned that it happens so quickly after the midterms. So it's just a matter of hours after the results came in. That Mr. sessions was fired. Yeah. You were there as sessions left the building, and he was flanked by rod Rosenstein, along with that new acting AG Matt Whitaker you've dealt with Whittaker. Right. Who who is he he is listening? He is a solid conservative. No question about that. He does have experience of the Justice department at one time. He was the US attorney out of Iowa. He's a former football player quite gregarious Izzo gregarious that he's made public comments in the past about the Muller investigation on TV or I see a scenario where Jeff Sessions is replaced. It was a recess appointment, and that attorney general doesn't fire Bob Muller. But he just reduces the budget so low that his his investigation grinds to absolutely almost he's written columns criticizing the Muller investigation. And so there are questions about what that will mean four molar and for everything moving ahead. I just so we're clear then I mean, if this guy wants to he can shut down the Muller investigation like right now. Right. Well, he is again, he's technically the head of the investigation. The over. Seer of Muller reports to the attorney general and right now, the acting attorney general is Matt Whitaker at the same time Muller has done so much already. He's collected so much evidence. He's already brought so many indictments. He's brought so many people before the grand jury even if this investigation were to get shutdown tomorrow. It's not like everything goes away sound like things go poof. There is still so much to move forward with the low weight, Mikey any he's the boss, right? Are you saying he'd legally can't fire Muller? Or are you saying it's more like a political impossibility? I would say that is a political impossibility. And Mr. Trump, the president himself said that at that press conference yesterday, I could fire everybody right now when I don't wanna stop it. He said he doesn't want to stop because he knows that. It's just politically can happen. And Whitaker has been on record using some of the president's logic in defending that infamous Trump Tower meeting between his son the campaign staff and the Russian lawyer he told CNN once you would always have somebody from the campaign take that meeting and here that personnel. Sounds very much like Donald Trump. He also said investigating the president's finances would cross a line and he wants to just cutting off Robert Muller's funding. I mean does that impact whether he should oversee him? I think if if that were to happen. It would be that Whitaker has to accuse himself from the investigation just like sessions did and to do that he has to determine with career officials inside the Justice department that there's just too much of a conflict of interest perhaps based on previous statements. He's made about the Muller investigation and that he has to recuse himself. But I asked the very senior Justice department official if there's been any talk with senior officials ethics officials inside the Justice department about Whitaker recusing himself. And as of now, it seems like that has not happened. Well, and. There's been speculation. Right. That Robert Mueller might wrap up his investigation by the end of the year. If he's sitting on stuff right now does this affect when he might release whatever he's got. I don't see that happening Muller is such a by the book guy that I don't think he's going to change course, if Whitaker or someone else is going to try to stand in his way Muller is going to do what he has to do. And he's going to you know, just going to move forward. And in terms of weather reports come out or hear anything, you know, Muller falls new pressure. I just I don't see that happening. All right now. Dumps for now says my hey, thanks for filling us in. Thanks for. As you just heard. There are rules in place for this kind of decision contingencies. One person gets ousted you go to the DOJ rulebook and take his place. But what about the man who made the decision in? What about the people who could make rules to protect Robert Muller to bring an ABC senior congressional correspondent Mary Bruce. She is at the capitol right now and ABC's Johnson Tucci who is as plugged in as anybody to the inner thinking of this White House, and so John let me start with you. Because the president had a lot to talk about yesterday. Right. He had things to celebrate. So why fire the attorney general now we'll Brad every person I've spoken to close to the president is saying the same exact thing they thought the president was going to make this move in the coming days. But at the end of the day, it was shocking to everyone. And especially after they felt the president had a really good night in their opinion. The president himself was in a very good mood. All evening apparently didn't get much sleep because he was so happy about the results coming in from the. Senate and then to see this happen. I mean, one aide said to me he felt in Bolden. He just wanted to do it. And here we were it happened. Well, and Mary what was the reaction congress shock as well. Yes, the shock is a safe way of saying in shock and a lot of confusion, and then a lot of urgent call to get to the bottom of what really happened here. You are already seeing Elijah Cummings who's in line to become the chair of the powerful house committee on oversight and government reform saying that they need to investigate the real reason behind this firing to confirm that the new acting attorney general Whitaker, I will recuse himself from the special counsel probe and he wants to ensure that the DOJ has some safeguards in place to preserve the integrity of the Muller investigation. You're also seeing congressman Nadler who's in line to become the chairman of the has judiciary committee saying that they're going to issue immediate letters trying to to get information from key officials to preserve all the relevant documents related to this action. Look, congress is spooked and freaked out a little bit by this action. They wanna protect the special counsel. Title and already you're seeing Democrats who of course, now have subpoena power and a lot of other power behind them here on Capitol Hill on the house side using that that new power flexing. Some of that muscle to say, we gotta get the bottom of this. We'll be say that because he's New Democrats are about to be sworn in in a couple of months, but I mean this is moving day by day if they want to protect Robert Muller with legislation they need Republicans. Can they get that support remains to be seen? But you are seeing some Republicans at least voicing some concern. Look, look, you have, you know, incoming Utah Senator Mitt Romney stressing in a tweet that the Muller investigation needs to be allowed to be preceded unimpeded, and you have had, you know, over the previous months and weeks as there's been concerns that the president could take this step. There have been a lot of Republicans who have drawn some red lines saying that that Muller, you know, needs to be protected needs to be allowed to do his do his work here without the president or the Trump administration getting in his way the question is now whether they're going to take any action to try and make that actually come to fruition. But you know, if I could just jump in there for a second. Brad because you know, Mary's totally right. We're hearing the same thing over at the White House. They do not want the president to do anything that could cause any type of crisis that could result in some form of investigation potentially impeachment. If he didn't even to get rid of Bob Malo, did he could dig him further into a whole totally they they want. Bob Muller to finish be done and go away that is the thing right now that we're hearing from Trump orbit. They just want him to do one thing. Let Bob finish. Don't do anything to piss off. Bob, don't do anything to screw up. Bob, just let Bob get done. And let's move on. This investigation. Fatigue. Been a long time the obvious question. John is is the president personally worried about what Robert Muller hats, you know, every conversation. I've had Brad. I mean, the president obviously said it multiple times during that long press conference got nothing zero. You know, why? Because there is nothing. But you know, everything we hear that he has been very confident. You know, I've got nothing to hide. I did nothing wrong. I didn't know about these meetings that my son and my campaign chairman Paul Manafort were having with that Russian lawyer in Trump Tower, or they are adamant about that. I mean, he is repeatedly saying it's a witch hunt because he just doesn't know what. Bob Muller can find. I think at the end of the day. And I know we've said this before it's going to be less about what Bob Muller fines related to Russia and the other investigations that are coming out of this. What we're gonna see on Capitol Hill. What we're going to see coming out of the southern district in New York. What we're going to see out of the New York state attorney general's office. A lot of different threads that are coming out from Bob Muller. And if I could just jump in there to look you have to remember that Republican leaders appear top Republicans for months have said that they don't need to take action here to protect Robert Muller because essentially the president, you know, wouldn't be so dumb as to as to take some kind of action to impede this investigation. I haven't seen clear indication yet that we needed to pass something. To keep him from being removed because I don't think that's going to happen. Democrats. Of course, have not shared that sentiment. And now, you feel Democrats are getting very nervous. What's happening is people? Don't like the results, and therefore the effort is let's shut him down. And that would be a big mistake. But both were green in the same way. That Santigi said that those at the White House want Muller's simply to be left alone. That is the overarching sentiment here on Capitol Hill. A question is just whether they need to actually formalize some parameters. And now, of course, you have all these calls from Democrats to have the White House and the administration fork over some documents. Yeah, you and the reporters in DC were warning us before election day, you guys this could get real real quickly. And I know you guys are running on a full tank of gas right now. Right. Oh, yeah. Totally. Yeah. Marion aren't gonna go do another round right now. You want to easy week not stretch to them at all. I'll see you later. Thank you. Brad. Next up on start here. They've been to the minority for eight years. Now, it's time for Democrats to get their house in order. Have a dream. But don't know where to begin. I didn't want him limited looking for wisdom for women who've already been there, you will constantly be given the opportunity to lose yourself. Welcome to ABC's. No limits. I'm your host, Rebecca Jarvis. And each week. We're talking to the game changing women about success lessons learned along the way. And of course, the worst advice, I really thought about this worst advice ever you can hear new episodes of no limits every week on apple podcasts or your favorite podcast app. Everything to do with Jeff Sessions. Of course has completely overshadowed. The fact that in fifty five days new members of congress will take over and at the house, we'll flip to the Democratic Party. President Trump is tweeting about the race to be the next speaker of the house writing, quote, Nancy Pelosi deserves to be chosen speaker of the house by the Democrats without actually means in the corridors the capital is that a new race has already begun to see who will control that democratic house and what they will do with their new power ABC's. John Parkinson is stationed in his perch above the house floor as always John. How's it going? Brett good. So so the big question, I guess is Nancy Pelosi going to be the next speaker of the house. I think if I had to put any money on it, which of course, I won't. I would say yes, Nancy Pelosi is clearly the front runner right now. And she faces no challenges for speaker. I heard the president say I deserve to be speaker. I don't think anybody deserves anything. It's not about what you have done. It's what you can do. And really the surprising thing to me is that. Her top deputies, Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn. They're going to both run for majority leader and majority whip respectively, and they're not really facing any solid challengers yet either and that surprising to you. Because John you thought some young progressives might come up here. Yeah. I thought maybe, you know, you'd see some some of the younger members who really fought against Pelosi when she was in the minority and tried to to seek concessions from her. Then I thought that maybe some of them would step up. You know, you've seen some of these people like Joe Kennedy out on the trail really stumping for Democrats and hop CEO's making three hundred times their average worker is not right? Someone that you know, maybe thought of close it doesn't get there could be somebody that could unite the caucus. So there is one challenger to James Clyburn for majority whip. And that comes from congresswoman Diane to get from Colorado. She announced yesterday that she's going to enter that race. But right now, we got to think that Clyburn with all the support of the Congressional Black caucus. He's really clearly the front runner for that number three position as well. And so let's talk about what Democrats actually want to do because it's it's very easy to be the opposition to be United as the opposition to the White House gets a little trickier when you're actually in charge, right? Yeah. Definitely gets a little bit harder to actually legislate. But now they're that democratic check against the president here in Washington, and they wanna put every single major Trump administration policy along with the president and his business empire under the microscope here and really examined him through the committee process. I think and through their oversight responsibilities. Yeah. Mary told us earlier about Elijah Cummings becoming that oversight chair. I guess that'll be the next thing to get ironed out who actually gets all the committee assignments that they want John over in the house. Thank you. All right. Thanks, brad. And one last thing, let's not get too ahead of ourselves. The midterm elections are still sorting themselves out right now votes remained to be counted their voices that were waiting to be heard Stacey Abrams has still yet to concede. The Georgia governor's race. She thinks she might be able to force a runoff against secretary of state, Brian Kemp and Senator Bill Nelson says he is still in recount territory in Florida, and they want to be the first candidates saved by a big stack of ballots counted at the last minute, New Jersey Democrat Andy kin leaped in front of his house opponent because of Malin votes. A New Mexico Democrat won her race after absentee swung in her favor. Meanwhile, in the house a couple more seats have gone in the favor of the Democrats, New Jersey Democrat, Andy Kim went from trailing two leading just because of mail-in votes. But there are still about ten seats yet to be decided and forget about candidates for a second. Sometimes the things that really tell you about a place or it's ballot measures in an election where people campaigned on. Healthcare three red states, but it to expand Medicaid Utah. Nebraska and Idaho to states Kansas in Maine selected governors that could likely join in in Alabama and West Virginia abortion is still legal. It has to be because of Roe v. Wade, but if that ruling is ever overturned, those two states will be ready. They passed measures that would help quickly ban abortion several states, including Washington rejected measures aimed at curbing climate change. And speaking of the air, you breathe Michigan became the ten state to fully legalize marijuana. You can start here tomorrow morning. Subscribe button is your friend. And if you wanna make sure good journalism gets out into the world the way to help other people. Find this podcast. It's simple rating and review in on apple podcast. And by telling everyone about it at work sound like the smart one for more on these stories at the ABC, news dot com or the news app. I'm Brad milkey. See tomorrow. We are really strong women people new to hear what women have to say. And that's that's what makes the show so good ABC's. The view now available as a podcast with bird, Abby Huntsman, joy, Behar son house, Dan and Megan McCain, and you're gonna who's anybody who wants to make it to the next level in politics has to come on the show. Up to all of us to continue the conversation on apple podcasts or your favorite podcast app. Every week afternoon.
Aired Last month 4:36
5 Takeaways from the AG Confirmation Hearing
What are the point four Tuesday January the fifteenth? I'm Chris cillizza cutting through the political spin to bring the news, you need to know news on Capitol Hill, actually know, the government is still shut down. But yes, there was some movement in that William bar Donald Trump's nominee to be the next attorney general had his confirmation hearing on Tuesday. And I would say it was a good day for bar and for a Trump administration hoping to get a new attorney general a little less. Good day for Donald Trump himself because bar repeatedly expressed confidence in Robert Mueller special counsel probe the Justice department and law enforcement more generally in the country. So I just wanna go through a few key takeaways from it number one, I mentioned this. But bar was crystal clear in his support for Bob Muller. He said, I don't believe Mr. mode be involved in a witch hunt. He said that he had told the president in a meeting in twenty seventeen that mother was a. A quote straight shooter and should be treated as such. He said that if he was asked to fire motor for what he believed to be not good 'cause he refused that order and he would resign. He also said it was unimaginable. And quote that Muller would do something that would force his hand that would make Baras attorney general fire him take way number two bar doesn't really care. What people think of how he would do the job? I thought one of our strongest suits was he said he wasn't worried about being bullied by the president or congress or the media because he's in his later years, and he's not terribly concerned about career advancement. He said this, quote, if you've yourself as having a political future don't take the job because if you take this job, you have to be ready to make decisions in spill, all your political capital and have no future because you have to have that freedom of action, and I feel I'm in a position in life where I can do the right thing and not really care about the consequence in the sense that I can truly be independent man what a life number three bar was critical of former FBI director James Comey, but only to oppose. So Trump obviously has been hugely critical of Komi city was ally or a leaker bad person to the country favored by firing him. Here's what bar said, he said, quote, I think Jim Komi is as I've said an extremely gifted man who served the country with distinction in many roles, but I thought that to the extent he actually announced the decision was wrong in the other thing is if you're not going to indict someone the need own stand up there in unload negative information about the person. Now, he's referring there to combs decision in July twenty sixteen to announce it he was not indicting Hillary Clinton over her decision to have a private Email server where Komi ran Clinton down that it was bad, judgment, etc. Etc. Let me give you two more in their related number four bar agreed with Jeff Sessions decision to recuse himself from the Russia probe. Now. You'll remember Donald Trump believes that this was the root of every problem. He's had with Russia session saying well as a political supporter of Trump in two thousand sixteen I will step out of this as generals. So there's no appearance of bias well bar admitted he didn't know all the facts. But he said he thought that. That quote, he probably did the right thing recusing himself of sessions. But and this is my fifth and last quay bar was not so willing to say he would recuse himself because of an eighteen page memo hero in which he advised the White House that Muller should not be allowed to interview. Trump over Trump's decision to fire Jim Komi bars argument was essentially this was a very specific argument about a very specific statute. He didn't have all his facts. It was a theoretical conversation that went nowhere, and therefore he didn't need to recuse himself a good hearing for bar. He did not get tripped up. He stayed very conversational. He did not get upset and he offered Democrats. Many of these shirts is that they had hoped to get from him as related to the molar prob-. That's news. You need to know for this January the fifteenth for much more, please check out my daily Email newsletter. You can do it by signing up for it at CNN dot com slash the point. You can also sign up for this audio briefing, Stitcher. Spotify apple podcasts, or wherever you get your podcast, and you can call it up. On your Google, home or your Amazon echo device. Hey, Sekou Smith here from the hang time podcast. Join me, and my main man John Shuman every week as we break down, the latest, NBA, news and storylines with. Yes. From around the league, be sure to subscribe to NBA hang time on apple podcasts. Spotify an NBA dot com slash podcast for new episodes every Monday and Thursday this season.
The Point with Chris Cillizza
Aired 21 hrs ago 22:27
McCabe Vs. Trump
Get exclusive insider access to Milan style and design with WSJ magazine and into Garay make private visits to galleries top restaurants and shops late coamo and much more book this once in a lifetime trip at Indy. Gory dot com slash WSJ magazine or call six four six seven eight zero eight three eight three. From the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal. This is Potomac watch former FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe says Donald Trump the president states could be a Russian asset and the president returns the favor calling him a liar who can't be trusted. We'll try to sort through the facts of this latest round of Donald Trump versus the former officials of Jim Komi former director Jim commes Federal Bureau of investigation. And what it tells us anything about the Robert Mueller probe going forward? Welcome. I'm Paul zhigo here with my colleague from the editor aerial page of the Wall Street Journal, Kim strassel. Hello, kim. Hello, paul. All right. Let's talk about the Andrew McCabe saga went on sixty minutes on Sunday to tell the world that he had had a conversation after the firing in may twenty seventeen by Donald Trump. James Komi with then deputy attorney general rod Rosenstein who said that over whether or not to remove the president of the United States using the twenty fifth amendment to the constitution, which calls for the vote of the cabinet, and and others that can remove a president from his responsibilities temporarily perhaps if he's disabled or unable for physical mental reasons to prosecute to to fulfil his his duties, at of course, has never been used in a in a in a position to deal with the political differences or any of the kind that Rosenstein and McCabe or supposed to have discussed rob Rosenstein said doesn't deny the conversation. But said he wasn't any position to be able to to move forward. Over the twenty fifth amendment and McCabe claims that Rosenstein brought it up and he merely shook his head and didn't offer very much in in in response. He did mention it later to James Baker who was the general counsel at the FBI. And according to Mr. MacKay, Mr Baker said, well, we're not there yet makes you wonder what would have taken for them to get their camp. I have to say, I I mean, most of the press is is is is looking at this as if this is simply another more evidence that Donald Trump may in fact, be a Russian asset while others, and I have to mend. I'm one of them looks at and says how in the world did we get here were senior Justice department, an F B I officials were talking about essentially, what would have been deposing president five months after an election on political grounds. Yeah, I'm with you. I find this nothing less than stunning. And also somewhat stunning that the. This is not taking that the same way too because we're talking about very serious questions here. And as you said unprecedented. Once I find the whole way McCabe is put this out to be interesting because it strikes me he went and did that interview with sixty minutes, and then an excerpt of it came out, and this point about the twenty fifth amendment came up and caused the reaction that you would think it would. And I think if you read between the lines Mr. MacKay, but put that out there precisely is in order to kind of raise the stakes and give further justification as it were for the steps. The FBI took to say, look, this is how serious this was you know, we truly believes the president could be a Russian assets so much so that we felt we needed to to look into this twenty fifth amendment step when the inevitable reaction came you notice that McCabe walked it back a little bit saying, oh, well, it wasn't a bunch of extend. Discussions that just came up this time, and it was really all on Rosenstein and not so much on me. I'm not quite sure he thought through just how big the blowback would be and that people would start using words like coup or bureaucratic coup or etc. And so this is how we get where we are. But it's it is obviously shocked enough people. We now have Lindsey Graham. And I think this is a great thing. Who's now heading the Senate Judiciary committee saying I'm going to get to the bottom of this. This is serious stuff. And he's using it as another reason, which is great to say that he's, you know, going to do a full out investigation into the FBI and DOJ's action during that timeframe and to decide whether or not any of this was legitimate or justified and I'm looking forward to that hearing even though we may not. We will if if Rosenstein and McCabe stick to their stories, we may not learn all that much new, but it could be interesting than the last to have them on the record talking about the extent of those conversations. And who they brought in if anyone to talk about it. Because as I mean, as I read the constitution that the twenty fifth amendment was passed in the wake of the JFK assassination to try to create for the to create a process by which he could have a a peaceful transfer of power, and it has been used I think in a couple of occasions regarding when presidents were incapacitated through surgery or something like that power Trask crew transferred for a short period of time to the vice president of the United States. It is not intended was not designed. And I think it's framers writers would have been appalled to to see it used and floated by the media and others. And much less. Public officials to try to talk about removing a president for for essentially political reasons that tool in under the constitution is impeachment. That's what impeachment is for. If somebody you really suspect to be a Russian agent you need to bring that through the impeachment ah process. Now, what's really also interesting? And I think is that that time that the weeks of may in two thousand seventeen around the Komi firing. They there's no question they were times of of enormous public uproar at least in the in Washington. And there was a lot of people panicked Kim, a lot of people in the press corps panicked. Maybe you had people in the Justice department panic. What is this all about? Why did Donald Trump fired Jim Komi? And and yet that's not an. Skews for people losing their bearings. Particularly journalists who wanna be out there trying to save. Let's follow constitutional means. Right. And we expect these people that are in the highest positions to be the ones that do keep their heads. And you would expect moreover guys like, rob Rosenstein, deputy attorney general at the time who is a lawyer knows the constitution. Well to understand that this is not a place, you go the twenty fifth amendment that there are obviously far more adequate and legitimate means of moving ahead, if you are a member of law enforcement in that is as you say, you go, and you tell congress, and you leave it with them if they want to pursue the avenue of impeachment or you continue your investigation until you actually have some evidence. Because look, I think that's a very important aspect of this too. We are two years. On from this moment, and at least publicly there is no concrete evidence in any way that Donald Trump was an asset of the Russian government. We'll see what Mr. Mueller comes up with when he puts his report out. But it seems hard to me at least to believe that if there was some such concrete evidence that wouldn't be out, but you have to go back to years ago, we had even less, and so they were having this discussion in full knowledge and impact, you know, Andrew McCabe said as much they didn't have any proof at that time that this was all guesswork. So you continue your investigation to see if you find something and you follow it up from a law enforcement perspective. But you don't go down the road of the twenty fifth. I would point out too. By the way, that they, you know, Andrew McCabe is said, well, we did go, and we briefed the gang of eight about the fact that we had opened this official investigation into the president himself. And and I didn't get in. We didn't get any pushback at the time. And that to me is an astonishing. Statement, and it kind of gets to how slippery Mr. McCabe is. Because whatever their reaction might have been at that very moment when he said that obviously congress was very concerned because that was appointed which for instance, house intelligence, chairman, Devin Nunes, started looking himself into what the F B I and DOJ were doing well, I'm out to briefing of the gang of eight was in twenty seventeen. This was after Donald Trump was president. I want to continue with us about what Robert Muller knows or doesn't when we come back. We're you're listening to Potomac watch from the Wall Street Journal. From the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal. This is Potomac watch. Welcome back. I'm Paul zhigo with the Wall Street Journal with Kim strassel, and we're talking about the Andrew McCabe an FBI versus Donald Trump saga, which is continuing now with Andrew McCabe, hawking a memoir of his time in the FBI and specifically his interactions with Donald Trump and others about Donald Trump, Kim, let's let's step back from this. And try to consider what we know now. So far about where Robert Muller what he what he's done so far it will be two years in may for the investigation. So roughly about twenty one months he has had unlimited subpoena power. He has had the benefit of the counterintelligence operations of the of the federal government and has used those to indict the number of Russian. Hackers and others. And and yet, so where do we stand? I mean, I guess your view would be because there's two views narratives that seem to have developed here. If I can oversimplify one is that Robert Mueller is going full bore. He's got many different leads still to go. And he is he knows a lot more than we know. And you're going to come out with evidence that shows that if Donald Trump is not an active agent of the Russians are wasn't a conspirator than he is at a minimum of useful idiot, essentially, that's one one there and the evidence will show that clear and compelling evidence perhaps impeachable. All right. That's one of the other one is well, where's the evidence? We're twenty one months in. All right. We we haven't found it. And we haven't seen it when we've seen some. Indictments of people socio with the campaign for lying for offenses that aren't related to Russia related to other business impa Manafort, for example, the former campaign chairman, well, we haven't seen any evidence directly of any conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign or even much or even collusion. There are sort of facts of meetings and things none of which stitch together into a portrait of collusion. So that narrative suggests Trump is that Muller is winding down, and there may be less here than meets the is that a fair, summary, and your view where we are. Yeah. Absolutely. And I would note that those who continued while her as pursuing many different leads, and they're still lots to go, and there's all kinds of ways in which collusion could have happened. You know, a lot of them are in the press. Some obviously have an interest in more headlines and. And reader clicks. By continuing to talk about that. I think one weakness with that theory is that if you look, for instance, at the Muller has issued including on some of the main people that the press are convinced are the avenues furthest conspiracy. Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, the indictments themselves make no reference to any other further evidence. And it's it's some heart. Well, hard to see how those indictments could be done in such a way that you could just bury any other evidence like that. So it's it's it's hard to believe that they those figures are somehow central to some grand conspiracy. That Robert Mueller is waiting to lay out on us. I tend to gravitate more towards the second one only because and it's been notable Paul just in the past couple of weeks. Some of the folks that were in the middle of all of this back when it was happening have themselves started lowering expectations for what we might expect from Muller. I saw James Clapper. Former head of the deny out just this weekend. Saying, well, you know, it could be that he isn't going to answer any of those questions, and in this is going to be a little, you know, it's it's really going to be kind of a big nothing. And that is why by the way, you need to turn your attention to what House Democrats are now doing in their next stage of their investigation because you're not going to get anything from Bob Muller that to me suggests that they are worried that they're not going to get a grand collusion conspiracy. But they still want to keep the investigations rolling. So we're going to seamlessly transitioned to house and some journalists who've been the most breathless about some of this investigation are also making the point the Clapper did that maybe the final report of the final outcome of this will be less than they would have hoped regarding the House Democrats, Andrew Schiff ahead of the intelligence committee. Now, the Democrats run the house is doing exactly what Clamper suggested he is now in in essence reopening the in. The Russia probe particularly with a focus on Donald Trump's business with Russia. And he has even said that he does not think Muller will be thorough enough in going after any Donald Trump ties to joint your Bank, which was a financier over time. I think of some of the Trump operations, and he's going to do that. Now, if as a political matter if the if Muller does not find evidence of collusion, I think that that would be a significant event, and I'm not so sure that whatever the House Democrats to would be able to come close in terms of of damaging the Trump the Trump presidency. So Muller is really still a main game here. I absolutely agree. I mean, you do see them working hard. Adam chef has been out there saying as you said, this this what he's attempting to do is say this is going to be a new phase as it were of the Trump Russia. Estimation. I it. It's actually sounds to me like it's a entirely separate investigation that gets into Trump's finances. And we've always known that Democrats were going to go down that road anyway, but their goal is to make it sound as it is still all connected with Russia. Keep the Russia fog out there. But I agree with you. If Muller comes out and says, look I've been doing this now for two years and pursued all this. And there is no concrete evidence. It's going to be harder poll for Democrats to make something like that. Stick. What happens? What happens Kim? If there is a if as John Dowd Trump's former lawyer who left the the as his attorney last year recently said, I don't even think there may be a report. So they may just close just say all right? This is the these are the extent of our indictments. We're going to pursue these cases to the end. But that's all there is what happens then politically that. Actually. I mean, it's hard to know Paul because on the one hand the great fear in the White House. And I think among some Republicans that was Muller was gonna put out a report that was somewhere in between. Right. It didn't have any concrete evidence of collusion. But instead, it would be a long rambling thing with a lot of innuendo and allow people to draw, you know, their own inferences about whether or not something untoward had happened. A lot of a lot of a lot of meetings a lot of episodes. But no canal. Acting tissue. No, connecting a framework. Right. And I think from the White House's perspective. That's a terrible place to be maybe even worse than will not worse in a claim collusion. But just in that it doesn't settle anything in an allows all the those who have conspiracy theories about this to to blow them even bigger at doesn't settle anything. But not putting out a report at all. There's a question. Does it do the same thing? Right. I mean, does it mean, maybe it's not as bad. But it's just a I think it would probably be a better situation for the White House. If there's no reported, a leave a lot of folks on the other side disappointed, and it'll be interesting to see what Muller does he doesn't necessarily have to follow any particular route here, some special counsels in past abusively written very long reports like Ken Starr into the the Clinton scenario. Others have taken the view that if there's. Nothing there to the actual crime or situation. They were asked to investigate than it wasn't their job to comment any further, and they closed up shop in one home. Well, some of those earlier independent counsels were when the late and unlamented independent counsel statute was enforced, and you right? You were Blige to report to issue. Some kind of report. Now, this is a special counsel without that statute under under internal just barmen rules, and there's no obligation for a special counsel issue. A report and several who have been named have not including the one remember that they're colder name to look into the CIA interogations. There was no public report issued in in in that in that in that case. So Muller has a lot of flexibility about what he might want to to do here. Now, of course in any case, you probably would be subpoenaed by the House Democrats, or at least invited to testify and tell them what he has. Has found. So so that could can lie that life could continue for him and his investigation after even he he says we have ended our our formal our formal work. I mean, I think that the the bottom line for me has always been. All right. Let's see the evidence. Let's wait. Let's look let's examine what he finds. And then we could make up our judgments about the the facts, and what it means for the Trump presidency and the election of two thousand sixteen after that that's still my default option. And so, but I do think he should wrap it up soon for the good of the country get this behind us and get people moving onto the away from litigating whether or not the twenty sixteen election was legitimate. But before we go Kim, I just want to talk about when more element with Andrew McCabe. And that is. He was identified by the inspector general as having lied to the FBI about the Hilary Clinton Email probe and a couple of instances, and that was referred to the by the I g to prosecutors to examine where does what do we know about where that stands? Well, it was referred in a couple of ways it was referred internally to the FBI to their office that handles the kind of professional conduct office, and that also handles HR, things, etc. And on the basis of that. He there was a recommendation he'd be terminated. And he was and of course, it caused a big brouhaha because he was he was fired right before he would have been eligible for his government, pension, etc. And he is continues to fight that separately. There are reports. But they have never been publicly confirmed or at least not by anyone on the record that he is subject of a grand jury investigation into this question of lying and potentially leaking. Remember, he was also fired for leaking information to the press nothing that was classified, you know, not a, but that we know of. But that was another reason that he was let go so these are yet unconfirmed reports Paul, and and I don't have any further information than that on them in the G scored him for lying about those leaks. Right. I mean that was yeah. That was part of the lion question. Exact. Well, all right. We shall follow this more. Thank you. We hope this helped a little bit and to dissect or at least to put the put all of these many accusations and counter-accusations into some context. Thanks, kim. Thanks to. All of you for listening. We'll be back later in the week with another addition Potomac watch.
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