Trump-appointed judge upholds special counsel Mueller’s authority

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN

Updated 11:39 AM ET, Mon August 13, 2018
(CNN)  A federal district judge who was appointed by President Donald Trump has upheld Robert Mueller’s appointment and constitutional authority in the special counsel’s case against Russian social media propagandists.
Judge Dabney Friedrich, who serves at the trial-court level in DC federal court, said Concord Management and Consulting could not have its case tossed on constitutional grounds. The Russian company accused of backing a social media effort to sway voters against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton claimed Mueller didn’t have power to bring the case because he was not appointment by the President and confirmed by Congress. Mueller was appointed under the authority of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has broad power as the acting head of the Justice Department for the 2016 election probe.
Roger Stone aide skips out on grand jury testimony, challenging Mueller subpoena
“The appointment does not violate core separation-of-powers principles. Nor has the Special Counsel exceeded his authority under the appointment order by investigating and prosecuting Concord,” Friedrich wrote in an opinion published Monday morning. She was one of the first judges Trump placed into a federal court position.
Friedrich cited opinions by three other federal judges — Amy Berman Jackson, who oversees Paul Manafort’s criminal foreign lobbying case; T.S. Ellis, who oversees Manafort’s financial fraud case; and DC District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell — to back up her decision.
All three judges also denied requests to invalidate Mueller’s authority, with Howell writing as recently as late July that a witness subpoenaed to turn over documents and to testify before the grand jury about Roger Stone would have to. That witness, Andrew Miller, has been held in contempt of the court and now may appeal.
Trump, along with his lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow, have claimed that Mueller’s investigation violated the Constitution. Most notably, Trump said in an early June tweet that Mueller’s appointment was “totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL.” Monday’s ruling specifically rejected some of these arguments that Trump’s lawyers have made on television.

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Rick Gates Flips on Manafort, Says They Committed Crimes Together

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty

Rick Gates flipped on his former business partner Paul Manafort Monday, testifying in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, that he committed crimes with the onetime Trump campaign chairman. When asked by Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye if he was involved in any criminal activity with Manafort, Gates reportedly responded “yes.” When Azonye asked if he committed any crimes with Manafort, Gates said “yes” again. CNN reports that Gates then told prosecutors that he and Manafort had 15 overseas accounts that they did not report to federal prosecutors, and that he did not submit the required documentation for these accounts “at Mr. Manafort’s direction.” Gates also said that he had cheated Manafort out of “several hundred thousand” by submitting false expense reports. Earlier, Manafort’s defense implied that Gates embezzled “millions of dollars” from his accounts. This comes after Gates agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation as part of a plea deal. Manafort is on trial on bank and tax fraud charges.

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This Major Mueller Court Victory Means Trump is Doomed

Posted on Sun, Aug 5th, 2018 by Leo Vidal

Special Counsel Robert Mueller just obtained a major court ruling that destroyed any chance Donald Trump ever had of getting his case thrown out.

Many people in Trump’s camp have argued that Mueller doesn’t have the legal authority under the U.S. Constitution to go after the president. That argument has now gone down in flames.

Federal Chief Judge Beryl Howell just issued a long 92 page ruling spelling out Mueller’s legal authority in detail which essentially means that nobody else is going to be able to challenge that authority. She’s a Chief Judge, so this sets a strong legal precedent that will be followed in subsequent cases.

The specific case in question concerned the grand jury testimony of Roger Stone associate Andrew Miller, and whether he could be forced to testify.

Over the course of her 92 page analysis Howell strongly rejected an attempt by Miller to quash a subpoena to testify before the grand jury. This may hurt Stone and Trump, but more importantly it sets forth the detailed legal explanation for why the “scope of the Special Counsel’s power falls well within the boundaries the Constitution permits.”

In other words: Mueller’s power is valid under the U.S. Constitution, so don’t try to challenge it.

Miller’s lawyers had argued that Mueller is a “principal officer” who was unconstitutionally appointed since he was not nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

Chief Judge Howell found Miller’s claim without merit because of the Supreme Court’s decision in Morrison v. Olson, which upheld the constitutionality of provisions of a federal statute creating an independent counsel. There also are subsequent court decisions saying the same thing.

Howell’s ruling holds that Mueller is legally considered to be an “inferior officer” under the supervision of deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, and thus did not need to be nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

“Mr. Mueller’s appointment, without presidential appointment and senatorial confirmation, did not violate the Appointments Clause,” Howell wrote in her opinion.

The importance of this ruling cannot be overstated. It takes away the last vestiges of hope that Manafort, Stone, Trump or anyone else who may be charged by the special counsel had that their cases might be thrown out.

Mueller has huge amounts of evidence to support his indictments so the only real legal defense the defendants have ever had is to get their cases thrown out on the grounds that the special counsel’s probe was not legitimate.

Manafort tried this several times and all of his motions were rejected, which means he’s very likely to be convicted.

By forcing Andrew Miller to testify before the grand jury Mueller has made his legal position rock solid, and he has weakened the legal positions of Donald Trump, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and all of their underlings.

Mueller just scored a huge legal victory during a grand jury proceeding but it has a much bigger impact. This ruling will help him ultimately take Trump down because Donald Trump and his lawyers are going to try to use the same defense strategy that Manafort and Miller did.

When it’s Trump’s time to be charged his lawyers will certainly try to argue against Robert Mueller’s legal authority and try to get the case thrown out. But, after a Chief Judge solidified and clarified  Mueller’s legal authority in a ninety-two page ruling, they have no chance of being successful.

This may have seemed like a minor ruling but in fact it is the type of ruling that could ultimately bring Donald Trump down.

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Dissecting Mueller’s Most Significant Questions for President Trump (Video)

Dissecting Mueller’s Most Significant Questions

What are the most important takeaways from the questions the special counsel, Robert Mueller, wants to ask President Trump? Times reporters discuss.Read more: https://nyti.ms/2n2SGWq

Posted by The New York Times on Thursday, August 2, 2018

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