Friday, 19 May 2017

The Washington Post/Derek Hawkins: Twice Robert Mueller threatened to resign from the FBI. Twice he decided not to.

The Washington Post
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Twice Robert Mueller threatened to resign from the FBI. Twice he decided not to.

By Derek Hawkins May 18

Play Video 1:48
Who is Robert Mueller?

Former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III has been appointed special counsel to oversee an investigation of possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Here’s what you should know about Mueller. (Amber Ferguson/The Washington Post)

In 2004, then-FBI director Robert S. Mueller III famously threatened to resign from his post if President George W. Bush reauthorized a warrantless wiretapping program that Justice Department lawyers had deemed unconstitutional. After a dramatic confrontation at the foot of the attorney general’s hospital bed, Bush acquiesced, and the program was modified.

The episode — held up as a testament to Mueller’s integrity and independence — was recounted widely after Mueller on Wednesday was tapped to oversee the probe into possible coordination between President Trump’s associates and Russian officials.

But it wasn’t the only time during his 12-year tenure as FBI director that Mueller threatened to leave office in protest. A second, less publicized showdown with the White House came two years later. It wasn’t as clear cut as the confrontation over warrantless wiretapping, but it was every bit as tense.

Under Mueller, who led the FBI from 2001 to 2013, the agency was conducting a corruption investigation of William Jefferson, a Democratic representative from Louisiana. Jefferson was suspected of having accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for promoting a range of business ventures in Africa.

In May 2006, the FBI obtained a warrant to search Jefferson’s congressional office in Washington, as The Washington Post reported at the time.

It was an extraordinary move, the first time in U.S. history that the FBI had conducted a physical search of a congressman’s office. But it was necessary, the FBI argued, because other options had fallen short.

The May 20 raid on Jefferson’s office, which involved 15 FBI agents and lasted 18 hours, set off a firestorm on Capitol Hill. Congressional leaders from both parties accused the FBI of violating the separation of powers. They demanded that the seized documents be returned immediately. White House officials also objected, among them Vice President Richard B. Cheney’s chief of staff, as The Post reported.

During a heated back-and-forth, White House aides ordered the FBI to give the materials back to Jefferson.

Mueller, along with then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and his deputy, threatened to resign in protest, as The Post reported. The search was legal, they said, backed by a search warrant signed by a federal judge.

The FBI also alleged that Jefferson was trying to conceal evidence. During a previous search of Jefferson’s house in New Orleans, the congressman was seen stuffing documents into a blue bag in his living room, according to an affidavit justifying the raid on his office. On top of that, the affidavit said, a search of Jefferson’s Washington apartment had uncovered $90,000 in cash hidden in a freezer.

The two sides deadlocked. In the meantime, members of the House called a hearing in which constitutional scholars blasted the raid. One of them, Bruce Fein, testified that the FBI had run afoul of the Constitution’s prohibitions on questioning members of Congress for “Speech or Debate in either House.”

“Let them resign,” Fein said of Mueller and the others. “I am astonished that the president would not have fired them for undertaking this action without consulting him in advance.”

Ultimately, the White House backed down. As a compromise, Jefferson’s documents were placed under seal for 45 days. Some of the materials would remain there much longer, tied up in litigation. In 2009, Jefferson was convicted of nearly a dozen corruption charges and sentenced to 13 years in prison. He is scheduled for release in 2023.

Mueller did not comment publicly on the Jefferson raid, as Barton Gellman wrote in a 2011 Time magazine profile of Mueller. When asked at the time about what principle was at stake, Mueller hesitated:

    “I think you’ve perhaps hit on a —” Mueller says, then stops. “I’m just going to stay away from it. I was close, but I’ve just got to stay away from it.”

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orb-weaver
5/18/2017 4:46 PM GMT
It seems to me that they were justified in making the search. They needed a warrant to do so, which they received from a judge. The Justice Department required a second branch of government in order to investigate a third. Sounds like checks and balances to me. Maybe in the case of searching a congressman's congressional offices the Constitution should be amended to require that the warrant be issued by the Supreme Court since it would be such a serious action. But anyway, I don't think Mueller violated the separation of powers.
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ObjectiveReader1
5/18/2017 2:55 PM GMT
The search of Jefferson's office was a bad precedent. As it was, the search turned up little. 

The search of jeffrson's house turned up thousands of dollars In cash hidden in a freezer. Also a dangerous precedent.
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spectre13
5/18/2017 3:14 PM GMT
The courts have been known to dismantle precedents, based on the law. 

A productive search is less the point than whether or not it was lawfully conducted and authorized by a court.
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ObjectiveReader1
5/18/2017 3:18 PM GMT [Edited]
Your point is well taken. I think that it's a dangerous precedent for the FBI to search a ckbtressman's home or office. The confess funds and oversees the FBI. 

Allowing the fbi to search a congessman's home or office is to allow the FBI to take out a member of Congress. That is a dangerous precedent
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mencik
5/18/2017 4:54 PM GMT
Allowing a Congressman to use their home or office as an absolute safe haven to hide the ill-gotten gains of corruption is a dangerous precedent too. That is why the Judicial branch mediated between Legislative and Executive and issued the search warrant.
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Dryly 41
5/18/2017 12:25 PM GMT
"Twice Robert Mueller threeatened to resign from the FBI. Twice he decided not to".

So, what we got us here is another indecisive Drama Queen.

Robert Mueller III, or, Bobby Three Sticks is exactly the wrong person to be appointed Special Prosecutor for the following reasons:

First: He's a Republican which, while not necessarily disqualifying, it become problematical for reasons spelled out below;
Second: Bobby Three Sticks served in the highly, highly and unsuccessful Bush II-Cheney administration which is disqualifying;
Third: And most disqualifying is his close association, friendship and working relationship with James Comey. Rod Rosenstein's May 9, 2016 Memorandum to Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was a shoddy work product but he was exactly right in the misconduct by Comey throughout the 2016 Presidential Campaign. If Comey were indicted and tried on a criminal charge of violating the Hatch Act a newly minted attorney who just passed the bar would merely put the evidence of what Comey did during the 2016 Presidential Campaign coupled with the numerous written rules, regulations, policies and procedures of the Justice Department that Comey violated and he gets his first conviction. The same is true if Comey were indicted for Abuse of Power or Abuse of his Office. Bobby Three Sticks will not do this.
Fourth: Equally, if not more disturbing, is the role that numerous rouge Republican FBI Agents played in the 2016 Presidential Campaign. It fell to British Newspapers such as the Guardian and Financial Times to spell it out. The Guardian reported that a rouge Republican FBI Agent told him there were so many Anti-Hillary Clinton and pro-Trump Agents is the NYC Office they called it "TRUMPLANDIA".
The Federal Bureau of Investigation had a liaison with the Trump Campaign during the 2016 Presidential Campaign in the persons of Mr. Rudy Guiliani and Mr. James Kallstrom.
The Federal Bureau of investigation coordinated with the Trump campaign.
con'td.
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Dryly 41
5/18/2017 12:31 PM GMT
This cordination between the Federal Bureau of Investigation is exemplified by the October 26, 2016 appearance of Mr. Rudy Guiliani on Fox News where, without even a question posed, he alerted Fox Viewers of an "October Surprise" that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had for Hillary Clinton. Guiliani knew of what he spoke as two days later James Comey published his October 28, 2016 letter reopening of the Clinton email investigation which swung the election to the Republican demagogue Trump.
There is no way in Hell that Bobby Three Sticks will deal with the loss of American democracy at the hands of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 
American democracy is gone. We did not have a free and fair election in 2016 and may not have one again.
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spectre13
5/18/2017 3:15 PM GMT
Good thing you don't have a job where people's liberty might be at stake. Or do you?
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