FOX News correspondent Gregg Jarrett wrote an opinion piece on Friday to explain how special counsel Robert Mueller has approached his investigation into President Donald J. Trump and his alleged ties to Russia.
Like a card shark who’s “stacked the deck” against his opponent, Mueller is arranging the cards in such a way that will ensure a crushing defeat.
Mueller’s choice of Washington, D.C., as the venue in which to convene a grand jury to examine evidence in the Russia-Trump investigation says it all, claims Jarrett. He points out, “It would be difficult to find a group of people more hostile to Trump than in the nation’s capital. The president garnered a scant four percent of the vote there, compared to Hillary Clinton’s 93 percent.”
Jarrett also notes, “There was already a grand jury convened in Virginia looking into the related Michael Flynn matter and Mueller could have easily presented his case there. But no, that would run the risk of being potentially fair to the president since the jurors there are more apt to be politically bi-partisan. So, from the outset, Mueller dealt himself a high ace on his way to a royal flush.”
Jarrett then talks about how the grand jury process itself has “devolved into a one-sided farce, favoring only the prosecution.”
Through the accepted use of abusive tactics, Jarrett says that the entire system “is anathema to fairness,” pointing out that “there are no enforceable rules of evidence during grand jury proceedings, which means that otherwise inadmissible hearsay or double-hearsay is perfectly acceptable. Unauthenticated documents are copacetic. Prosecutors are free to present only incriminating evidence, to the exclusion of exculpatory evidence. All too often grand jurors simply rubber-stamp a prosecutor’s instructions.”
And then there’s the Obama-appointed judge who will probably oversee the D.C. grand jury. “Under local court rules, Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell is the one who presides over decisions on grand jury subpoenas, witness testimony, any executive privilege and possible 5th Amendment assertions,” says Jarrett, noting that she has worked closely with former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and one of Mueller’s top staff lawyers, Andrew Weissman.
“Howell and Weissman were even co-authors of a scholarly law article that explored obstruction of justice… which just happens to be part of what Mueller is reportedly investigating in the Russia-Trump case. Betsy Woodruff of the Daily Beast uncovered this nugget. A conflict of interest? Surely. But don’t expect a judicial recusal anytime soon, even though Judge Howell teaches ethics at American University’s law school,” says Jarrett, cynically.
Another way in which Mueller has stacked the deck against Trump is by hiring a staff of legal liberals. “Out of 14 lawyers retained thus far, eight have donated to Democrats while none appear to have contributed a nickel to Republicans,” says Jarrett, adding that several of Mueller’s lawyers were generous Clinton donors, and one even represented the Clinton Foundation. “The special counsel could have selected a more balanced team devoid of partisan ties, but he deliberately chose not to do so,” he says.
And then there’s Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who penned the infamous memo advising President Trump to fire FBI Director James Comey. “In any obstruction case arising therefrom, Rosenstein would be a prosecutor, investigator and witness all rolled into one. Despite his glaring conflict of interest, Rosenstein has made no move to step aside,” says Jarrett, noting that this means he probably won’t fire Mueller for his own similar conflict of interest.
Jarrett further points to Mueller’s close relationship to James Comey, the key witness, “which creates a disqualifying conflict of interest specifically forbidden by the special counsel law itself (28 CFR 600.7 and 45.2), not to mention the Code of Professional Responsibility which governs the conduct of lawyers. Their record as longtime friends, allies and partners is well-documented and indisputable.”
And even though there’s no way that Mueller could be completely impartial “in judging the credibility of his friend versus the president who fired his friend in deciding whether to pursue a charge of obstruction,” Jarrett points out that Mueller refuses to recuse himself. “Even scrupulously honest people can be influenced in ways they do not recognize themselves. This is exactly why there are legal and ethical rules that demand recusal based on prior relationships. Even the appearance of a conflict is sufficient for recusal.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is the perfect example of an honest broker when it comes to recusal.
Jarrett concludes, “The only good hand the president may have requires a trump card called innocence. Does he have it? There is no bluffing in this game.”
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