WASHINGTON — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Wednesday ordered a federal judge to drop the criminal case against Michael Flynn effective immediately.
Flynn, who served as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, had been accused of lying to the FBI about Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
In a 2-1 decision, the court ruled in favor of Flynn and the Trump administration, who had sought to prevent U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan from exercising his discretion on whether to proceed with the case.
“In this case, the district court’s actions will result in specific harms to the exercise of the executive branch’s exclusive prosecutorial power,” wrote Judge Neomi Rao. “The contemplated proceedings would likely require the Executive to reveal the internal deliberative process behind its exercise of prosecutorial discretion.”
Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, was one of several former Trump aides charged under former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. He had twice plead guilty to the charge.
In his dissent, Judge Robert Wilkins, an Obama administration appointee, said the Justice Department’s handling of the case raised questions that merited further scrutiny by the District Court.
“In 2017, the then-Acting Attorney General told the Vice President that Flynn’s false statements ‘posed a potential compromise situation for Flynn’ with the Russians,” Wilkins wrote. “Now, in a complete reversal, the government says none of this is true.”
“This is no mere about-face; it is more akin to turning around an aircraft carrier.”
When reached for comment, a Justice Department spokesperson said the agency was “happy” with the court’s decision.
WASHINGTON — Rudy Giuliani came out swinging Wednesday against former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s new tell all book.
During an appearance on Fox News, Giuliani, who serves as President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, called Bolton a “backstabber” and said he’s not quite sure “what happened” to him.
“I don’t care if he says what he saw or he doesn’t,” Giuliani said on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” of Bolton’s new book, “The Room Where It Happened.”
“If they want to publish what he says about me, I’m sure that’s not classified,” said Giuliani. “I’m happy to have him do it and I’m happy to respond to it because he’s a backstabber.”
Addressing Bolton’s claims that Giuliani and Trump “mishandled” foreign affairs, Giuliani said Bolton never came to him to address his concerns.
“He never came to me and gave me those concerns,” Giuliani said. “If he was concerned about that, if the man were a man rather than a backstabber, he would’ve talked to me…He’s selling out to sell a book. I don’t know what happened to him.”
The Trump administration has filed suit to block Bolton’s book, which is scheduled for release on June 23, on claims that it contains classified information.
In its filing, the Justice Department argues that Bolton “regularly came into possession of some of the most sensitive classified information that exists in the U.S. government,” as part of his day to day duties. Officials said Bolton’s manuscript, which contains over 500 pages, was “rife with classified information, which he proposed to release to the world” and contained “significant quantities of classified information that it asked Defendant to remove.”
“The United States is not seeking to censor any legitimate aspect of Defendant’s manuscript; it merely seeks an order requiring Defendant to complete the prepublication review process and to take all steps necessary to ensure that only a manuscript that has been officially authorized through that process — and is thus free of classified information — is disseminated publicly,” the suit argues.
In a statement Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union called the lawsuit “doomed to fail.”
Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU’s speech, technology and privacy project, said the Supreme Court rejected a half-century ago the Nixon administration’s efforts to block the release of the Pentagon Papers, and said it has been since established that prior restraints on publication are unconstitutional.
“As usual, the government’s threats have nothing to do with safeguarding national security, and everything to do with avoiding scandal and embarrassment,” Wizner said.
Calls for statement to John Bolton’s spokesperson was met with “no comment.”
WASHINGTON– Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was notified by Justice Department officials Thursday that they have rejected his appeal to avoid being criminally charged for lying to federal agents.
The Justice Department’s decision clears the way for McCabe to be indicted, say legal experts.
The news comes just one month after McCabe sued the Justice Department and U.S. Attorney General William Barr, claiming his firing in March 2018 was unlawful. McCabe was terminated by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions after an internal investigation revealed he had disclosed the agency’s probe into the Clinton Foundation.
According to sources, the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Columbia informed McCabe’s attorneys last month that charges against their client were being recommended.
McCabe and his legal team formally appealed the recommendation through Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and the U.S. attorney, Jessie Liu, on Aug. 21.
The recommendation of McCabe’s indictment is the latest development in the FBI’s investigations around the 2016 presidential election, when the agency was charged with investigating both Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
McCabe, 51, has often been the subject of President Donald Trump’s rage. The president frequently called for McCabe’s termination on the grounds that he was biased against him and that he had tipped the scales in the FBI Russia probe to favor Clinton. McCabe denied the president’s allegations.
WASHINGTON (Judicial Watch) — Jacob “Jake” Sullivan, Hillary Clinton’s senior advisor and deputy chief of staff when she was secretary of state, has now answered Judicial Watch’s questions under oath.
Judicial Watch has released the transcript of this court-ordered deposition in which he admits that both he and Clinton used her unsecure non-government email system to conduct official State Department business.
The organization’s court-ordered discovery centered upon whether Clinton intentionally attempted to evade the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by using a non-government email system and whether the State Department adequately searched for records responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request.
In the questioning, Sullivan admitted that he had used his personal Gmail account at times for State Department business but denied that he had sent classified information to Secretary Clinton’s unsecured personal system.
After Judicial Watch pointed out that on January 26, 2010, Sullivan sent a classified email with the subject line “call sheet,” Sullivan testified: “When I sent this email, my best judgment was that none of the material in it was classified, and I felt comfortable sending the email on an unclassified system. The material has subsequently been unclassified but at the time that I sent it, I did not believe that it was classified.”
Sullivan’s deposition is part of United States District Judge Royce C. Lamberth’s order for senior officials — including Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, Jacob Sullivan, and FBI official E.W. Priestap – to respond under oath to Judicial Watch’s questions.
A full transcript of the deposition is available by clicking here.
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department will announce the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe as soon as next week, according to sources close to the investigation.
Newly confirmed Attorney General William Barr is expected to submit a summary of Mueller’s findings to Congress shortly after he announces the conclusion of the inquiry.
President Trump on Wednesday declined to give his opinion on whether he believes the Mueller report should be released, instead saying that decision will “be totally up to the new attorney general.”
“That’ll be totally up to the new attorney general. He’s a tremendous man, a tremendous person, who really respects this country and respects the Justice Department, so that’ll be totally up to him,” Trump told reporters in the White House.
It is unclear how much of Mueller’s final report would be made public and the timing of the announcement is subject to change.
During his nomination hearing last month, Barr, who took over for acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, declined to commit to making the full report available to the public or to Congress but said he would follow Justice Department guidelines and release as much of the report to the public as possible.
Over the course of the last two years, Mueller has investigated claims of collusion between Russia and President Trump to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
Trump has repeatedly denied such claims, referring to the allegations as no more than a “witch hunt.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal authorities took a man into custody Friday in Florida in connection with the mail-bomb scare that earlier widened to 12 suspicious packages, the FBI and Justice Department said.
The man was identified by law enforcement officials as Cesar Sayoc, 56, of Aventura, Florida. He was arrested at an auto parts store in the nearby city of Plantation.
Court records show Sayoc has a history of arrests.
Law enforcement officers were seen on television examining a white van, its windows covered with an assortment of stickers, in the city of Plantation in the Miami area. Authorities covered the vehicle with a blue tarp and took it away on the back of a flatbed truck.
The stickers included images of American flags and what appeared to be logos of the Republican National Committee and CNN, though the writing surrounding those images was unclear.
President Donald Trump said he expected to speak about the investigation at a youth summit on Friday.
The development came amid a coast-to-coast manhunt for the person responsible for a series of explosive devices addressed to Democrats including former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton.
Law enforcement officials said they had intercepted a dozen packages in states across the country. None had exploded, and it wasn’t immediately clear if they were intended to cause physical harm or simply sow fear and anxiety.
Earlier Friday, authorities said suspicious packages addressed to New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and former National Intelligence Director James Clapper — both similar to those containing pipe bombs sent to other prominent critics of President Donald Trump— had been intercepted.
Investigators believe the mailings were staggered. The U.S. Postal Service searched their facilities 48 hours ago and the most recent packages didn’t turn up. Officials don’t think they were sitting in the system without being spotted. They were working to determine for sure. The officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.
The FBI said the package to Booker was intercepted in Florida. The one discovered at a Manhattan postal facility was addressed to Clapper at CNN’s address. An earlier package had been sent to former Obama CIA Director John Brennan via CNN in New York.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Friday the Justice Department was dedicating every available resource to the investigation “and I can tell you this: We will find the person or persons responsible. We will bring them to justice.”
Trump, on the other hand, complained that “this ‘bomb’ stuff” was taking attention away from the upcoming election and said critics were wrongly blaming him and his heated rhetoric.
Investigators were analyzing the innards of the crude devices to reveal whether they were intended to detonate or simply sow fear just before Election Day.
Law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that the devices, containing timers and batteries, were not rigged to explode upon opening. But they were uncertain whether the devices were poorly designed or never intended to cause physical harm.
Most of those targeted were past or present U.S. officials, but one was sent to actor Robert De Niro and billionaire George Soros. The bombs have been sent across the country – from New York, Delaware and Washington, D.C., to Florida and California, where Rep. Maxine Waters was targeted. They bore the return address of Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.
The common thread among the bomb targets was obvious: their critical words for Trump and his frequent, harsher criticism in return.
Trump claimed Friday he was being blamed for the mail bombs, complaining in a tweet sent before dawn: “Funny how lowly rated CNN, and others, can criticize me at will, even blaming me for the current spate of Bombs and ridiculously comparing this to September 11th and the Oklahoma City bombing, yet when I criticize them they go wild and scream, ‘it’s just not Presidential!’”
The package to Clapper was addressed to him at CNN’s Midtown Manhattan address. Clapper, a frequent Trump critic, told CNN that he was not surprised he was targeted and that he considered the actions “definitely domestic terrorism.”
Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN Worldwide, said in a note to staff that all mail to CNN domestic offices was being screened at off-site facilities. He said there was no imminent danger to the Time Warner Center, where CNN’s New York office is located.
At a press conference Thursday, officials in New York would not discuss possible motives or details on how the packages found their way into the postal system. Nor would they say why the packages hadn’t detonated, but they stressed they were still treating them as “live devices.”
The devices were packaged in manila envelopes and carried U.S. postage stamps. They were being examined by technicians at the FBI’s forensic lab in Quantico, Virginia.
The packages stoked nationwide tensions ahead of the Nov. 6 election to determine control of Congress — a campaign both major political parties have described in near-apocalyptic terms. Politicians from both parties used the threats to decry a toxic political climate and lay blame.
Trump, in a tweet Thursday, blamed the “Mainstream Media” for the anger in society. Brennan responded, tweeting that Trump should “Stop blaming others. Look in the mirror.”
The bombs are about 6 inches (15 centimeters) long and packed with powder and broken glass, according to a law enforcement official who viewed X-ray images. The official said the devices were made from PVC pipe and covered with black tape.
The first bomb discovered was delivered Monday to the suburban New York compound of Soros, a major contributor to Democratic causes. Soros has called Trump’s presidency “dangerous.”
Associated Press writers Laurie Kellman, Ken Thomas, Jill Colvin and Chad Day in Washington and Jim Mustian, Deepti Hajela, Tom Hays and Michael R. Sisak in New York contributed to the contents of this report.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Justice Department on Wednesday announced Attorney General Jeff Sessions will investigate claims that social media giants such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are censoring pages based on their conservative views.
The announcement came after a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing was held in which top officials from Facebook and Twitter faced often intense grilling on whether or not they had ever targeted or “shadow banned” conservative pages for political gain, claims Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has repeatedly denied.
“The Attorney General has convened a meeting with a number of state attorneys general this month to discuss a growing concern that these companies may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms,” the statement said.
President Donald Trump has claimed that he, himself, has been the target of censorship and “fake news” by both the mainstream press and on social media and that he believes platforms including Facebook and Twitter often discriminate against conservatives based on their own left-leaning political bias.
“Maybe I did a better job because I’m good with the Twitter and I’m good at social media, but the truth is they were all on Hillary Clinton’s side, and if you look at what was going on with Facebook and with Google and all of it, they were very much on her side,” Trump said.
“What we’re concerned about is how Twitter has in some ways it looks like selectively, adversely affected conservatives,” Rep. Steve Scalise, (R)-La., said during Wednesday’s House hearing.
Scalise cited Rep. Marsha Blackburn, (R)-Tenn., who claimed her Senate campaign announcement video was taken down by Twitter as an example. In response, Twitter claimed that the removal of Blackburn’s campaign video was “a mistake” which was quickly corrected, and apologized for the “error”.
Throughout his testimony, Dorsey pushed back several times, denying claims that he nor anyone to his knowledge at Twitter had ever targeted conservatives to further a political agenda.
“I want to start by making something clear: we don’t consider political viewpoints, perspectives, or party affiliation in any of our policies or enforcement decisions. Period,” he said. “Impartiality is our guiding principle.”
The Justice Department did not set a date for the upcoming meeting and it has not yet been revealed how many attorneys general will attend.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (The Hill) — Special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly hiring additional prosecutors to work on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Several current and former U.S. officials said Mueller is adding prosecutors from U.S. attorney’s offices and the Justice Department headquarters, Bloomberg reported Thursday.
Officials added that this could be a sign that Mueller is prepared to step away from the probe and leave it in the hands of a larger team of prosecutors, officials said.
Mueller’s team, currently composed of 17 federal prosecutors, is handling a large amount of casework associated with the yearlong investigation into Russian meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
More money is being directed toward the Justice Department’s permanent investigations rather than Mueller’s temporary probe, according to recent expense statements.
Mueller’s team spent $7.7 million from May 2017 through March. The Justice Department has spent $9 million through the same time frame.
The Washington Post reported late last month that several additional Mueller team members were specifically assigned to the indictments of 13 Russian nationals.
Those cases are expected to continue long after the probe into Trump campaign collusion is finished, according to the report.
Mueller has already handed off the investigation into Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Bloomberg reported.
Investigators with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York are investigating Cohen for possible bank fraud and campaign finance violations.
The special counsel has already issued 20 indictments and secured five guilty pleas from individuals.
One of the most notable defendants is former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, whom Mueller hit with a superseding indictment last month.
Manafort and his longtime aide Konstantin Kilimnik were accused of trying to coach two witnesses or prevent them from testifying.
A federal judge revoked Manafort’s bail and sent him to jail in June.
He is charged with multiple financial crimes, including obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
The allegations came from Mueller’s investigation. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
His trial is set to begin later this month.
Soloman Wisenberg, a former deputy independent counsel who investigated President Clinton, told Bloomberg that Manafort’s trial will require “all hands on deck.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Bloomberg) — Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told President Donald Trump last week that he isn’t a target of any part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Rosenstein, who brought up the Mueller probe himself, offered the assurance during a meeting with Trump at the White House last Thursday, a development that helped tamp down the president’s desire to remove Rosenstein or Mueller, the people said.
After the meeting, Trump told some of his closest advisers that it’s not the right time to remove either man since he’s not a target of the probe. One person said Trump doesn’t want to take any action that would drag out the investigation.
The change in attitude by the president comes after weeks of attacks on the special counsel and the Justice Department, raising questions about whether he might take drastic steps to shut down the probe.
The shift gives some breathing room for Mueller, as well as Rosenstein, who has been criticized strongly by House Republicans for being slow to comply with requests for classified documents. Last week’s meeting was set up in part to allow Rosenstein to assuage Trump’s frustration with his decisions.
U.S. stocks pared their decline on the news. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was down 0.5 percent at 3:40 p.m. in New York after an earlier slump of as much as 1 percent.
At the same time, Rosenstein’s message may have been based on a technicality. Trump may not officially be a target, but Mueller hasn’t ruled out making him one at some point in the future, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the unfolding investigation.