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Mueller may drop something big before Labor Day

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Robert Mueller
Robert
Mueller.

Thomson
Reuters



  • There is mounting speculation that special counsel
    Robert Mueller will come out with something substantial in the
    Russia investigation as soon as Friday.
  • Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s lead defense
    lawyer, has for some time called for Mueller to release a final
    report by September 1, and said speculation that Mueller will
    make a big release on Friday “makes sense.”
  • John Dowd, Trump’s former defense attorney who is in
    frequent touch with the president’s legal team, said Friday
    that Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein are not
    authorized to release a report because the information
    contained in it is protected by executive privilege.

All eyes are on special counsel Robert Mueller amid mounting
speculation he could come out with something substantial in the
Russia investigation before Labor Day.

Mueller is investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016
election and whether members of President Donald Trump’s campaign
colluded with Moscow to tilt the race in his favor.

MSNBC host Chuck Todd first raised the possibility of significant
developments in the Russia probe when he suggested during Thursday’s
edition
of “Meet the Press Daily” that there could be a major
release from Mueller on Friday.

“I’ll be honest with you, I’m not missing work tomorrow,” Todd
said. “I wouldn’t miss work tomorrow.”

The anchor added that people who worked with Mueller on the probe
would have ended it if they had not found evidence of collusion,
adding that he also believes Mueller will likely lay low between
Labor Day and the November midterm elections to avoid accusations
of political interference.

On Friday morning, Axios reported that
speculation of such a Friday revelation was “hot among the
president’s legal team.” The publication listed possible evidence
Mueller has at his disposal — such as Trump’s tax returns, bank
records, and Trump Organization records — that the public is not
yet aware of.

The speculation ‘makes sense’ to Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani

Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal defense attorney, told Business
Insider on Friday that he had no inside information as to whether
Mueller will make a big release on Friday. But he said
speculation that the special counsel may do so “makes sense.”

Giuliani has for some time called on Mueller to issue his final
report by September 1 so that it is not released too close to the
midterm elections.

Mueller has given no indication that he will release a final
report anytime soon. But his team reportedly told Trump’s lawyers
earlier this year that they expected to wrap up a report on the
obstruction of justice portion of their investigation by the end
of the summer.

John Dowd, who led Trump’s defense team until Giuliani took the
helm earlier this year, said of the investigation: “The sooner
it’s over, the better.”

Dowd is in frequent contact with Giuliani and other members of
Trump’s legal team. Asked about the special counsel’s decision
compile a report on his findings in the obstruction case he has
been building against the president, Dowd said Mueller and Deputy
Attorney General Rod Rosenstein do not have the authority to
release such a report in the first place.

“Who says he’s going to release a report?” Dowd said. “Mueller
can’t release a report because any information he gathered for it
is protected by executive privilege. He needs permission from the
White House to release it.”

Mueller likely decided to write a report on his findings because
current Department of Justice (DOJ) policy says a sitting
president cannot be indicted. Once the report is complete, he
will submit it to Rosenstein, who has final say over whether to
make the information in it public, and whether to refer it to
Congress to consider impeachment.

Dowd said Friday that Rosenstein is not authorized to release the
report either because he also functions within the executive
branch.


donald trump
Donald
Trump.

Getty Images/Chip
Somodevilla


Legal experts told Business Insider that such a claim of
executive privilege would be unlikely to hold up in court for
several reasons. Among other things, they pointed out that Trump
has publicly commented — via interviews and tweets — on several
events that are central to Mueller’s obstruction case.

“You can’t claim executive privilege over something when the
president already tweeted it out to his 50 million Twitter
followers,” said Jeffrey Cramer, a former federal prosecutor who
spent 12 years at the DOJ.

Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago, said
that while the White House could theoretically claim that certain
information in the report is protected by executive privilege, a
court would likely strike that argument down.

“What the White House would essentially be saying, then, is that
a prosecutor can obtain information from the president or the
White House, but they can’t do anything with it,” Mariotti said.
“That’s a very weak argument.”

Giuliani told The Daily Beast on
Thursday that while Mueller prepares his report, Trump’s legal
team is preparing a “counter-report” that will seek to
delegitimize Mueller and the Russia probe.

Giuliani added that the report will contain two sections: the
first will question the legitimacy of the Russia investigation by
highlighting the purported conflicts of interests Trump’s lawyers
claim federal investigators face, and the second will address the
specific claims of Trump-Russia collusion and obstruction of
justice.

In the aftermath of the convictions last week of Trump’s former
longtime lawyer Michael Cohen and ex-campaign manager Paul
Manafort, Democratic aides told Business
Insider they were awaiting
Mueller’s report before making any
further determinations on what their strategy regarding the
president and his possible impeachment will be.

One Democratic Senate aide, who requested anonymity to provide
Democratic thought on the matter without speaking directly for
their boss, said Cohen’s plea deal and Manafort’s guilty verdict
don’t change any calculations for the time being, but do set the
stage for possible actions after Mueller’s report is released.

“The smart thing to do is to let the investigation play out — and
do everything we can to protect its independence — and then make
a determination based on Mueller’s report and any charges they
recommend,” they said.

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