Larry Klayman on special counsel: ‘His band of leftist legal hacks have to go’
It is now known, not surprisingly given Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s apparent vendetta against President Donald Trump and his family, that Mueller hired a Clinton Foundation lawyer, Jeannie S. Rhee, along with other Clinton and Obama loyalists, to do a hit job on the president. But what is not generally known is that, as recently as 2016, Rhee represented the Clinton Foundation against my racketeering lawsuit’s allegations that Hillary Clinton sold government favors in return for bribes, including by approving the sale of 20 percent of America’s uranium mine reserves to Russia and concealed the racketeering enterprise with her private email server. Now, not surprisingly given Mueller’s highly politicized and leftist legal team, Jeannie Rhee is investigating Donald Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign as one of Mueller’s top lawyers. Will she and the others conjure Trump illegality? As they say in the South, “Do bears – these ones Russian bears – live in the woods?”
With Mueller’s experience, he knows that the lawyers he is hiring will stray far from the original basis for his grand jury probe and investigation generally. One has to conclude that Mueller intends a hatchet job on Trump in retaliation for James Comey’s firing, as well as for his own Washington, D.C., establishment club disdain for the president.
Two other lawyers on Mueller’s team gave the maximum $2,700 donation to Hillary Clinton in last year’s election. Three of Mueller’s team, – Weissmann, Rhee and Quarles – alone donated more than $50,000 to Democrats, and almost exclusively to Democrats, according to Federal Election Commission campaign finance reports.
Legally, Rhee can only investigate Trump. Having recently represented the Clinton Foundation, which Mueller could have found searching public reports, Rhee is not ethically or legally allowed to look into any of the outrageous and apparently illegal leaks from the Deep State defending Hillary Clinton’s loss, the disclosure of Clinton campaign emails to WikiLeaks and other related matters. Thus, Rhee likely cannot even investigate whether Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee or whether emails were leaked by DNC staffer Seth Rich.
Rule 1:7 of D.C.’s Rules of Professional Conduct require: “A lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter represent another person in the same or a substantially related matter in which that person’s interests are materially adverse to the interests of the former client unless the former client gives informed consent.”
To recap, as the head of Freedom Watch, I sued the Clinton Foundation, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton over their massive, organized, systematic campaign taking bribes in return for selling government favors and actions, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Jeannie S. Rhee, then with Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr, LLP, litigated against us case. The Clinton Foundation’s Motion to Dismiss was written and signed by Rhee with others. See www.freedomwatchusa.org. My lawsuit, Larry Klayman v. The Clinton Foundation, et al., drew a road map for James Comey and the FBI to prosecute Bill and Hillary Clinton for the largest bribery scheme in U.S. history. Yet, not surprisingly, Comey and the FBI under his watch ignored these clear and obvious crimes, even after Freedom Watch spelled it out for them.
And to make matters worse, notwithstanding his politicized and compromised legal staff, Mueller’s own conflicts of interest require his recusal as special counsel. Allegations against Trump turn exclusively upon the credibility and personal interests of Mueller’s colleague and “buddy cop” James Comey. Not only will the investigation impact Comey, but Mueller must judge his own friend’s credibility as a witness. Department of Justice regulations are extended to the special counsel by 28 C.F.R. § 600.7, including:
28 CFR § 45.2 Disqualification arising from personal or political relationship.
(a) Unless authorized under paragraph (b) of this section, no employee shall participate in a criminal investigation or prosecution if he has a personal or political relationship with:
(1) Any person or organization substantially involved in the conduct that is the subject of the investigation or prosecution; or
(2) Any person or organization which he knows has a specific and substantial interest that would be directly affected by the outcome of the investigation or prosecution.
Once a question is raised, the supervisor must assure himself that:
28 CFR § 45.2 (b)(2) The employee’s participation would not create an appearance of a conflict of interest likely to affect the public perception of the integrity of the investigation or prosecution.
This situation is especially dangerous for the “All the President’s Men” and women, including Ivanka Trump, because Attorney General Jeff Session, having panicked over the Democratic and leftist media onslaught over Russia, precipitously recused himself. And, since early May, the FBI has been in the control of an Obama hold-over, Acting Director Andrew McCabe. Not coincidentally, McCabe’s wife ran as a Democrat for the Virginia State Senate against Republican Sen. Dick Black. Jill McCabe received $467,500 from Common Good VA, a political action committee controlled by Clinton ally Gov. Terry McAuliffe – whom I sued and deposed during the 1990s for illegal Clinton money laundering and other criminality. McCabe campaigned for his Democratic wife in Virginia. The FBI – for the time being, before a new FBI director, Christopher Wray, is finally confirmed takes the reins (and he appears to be a toothless establishment yes-man) – continues firmly to be in the hands of the Obama/Clinton/Democrat “Deep State.”
The bottom line is this: Its now clear that the Mueller investigation is not just conflicted, but deeply compromised. And even more importantly, Mueller, according to my client Dennis Montgomery, an NSA/CIA whistleblower, illegally surveilled Trump and others when he was director of the FBI. Mueller and his band of leftist legal hacks have to go.
The president should fire Mueller and not worry about appearances before it is too late and the nation becomes even more deeply embroiled in a maze of Democratic and leftist political machinations that harm the interests of We the People. President Trump was elected to do his job and clean out the swamp in Washington, D.C. He can start by getting rid of Mueller and his politicized staff and directing his timid and kowtowed attorney general to commence a grand jury criminal probe of Mueller as well as his good establishment friend Comey.
Larry Klayman is a former Justice Department prosecutor and the founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch. His latest book is “Whores: Why and How I Came to Fight the Establishment.”
Here’s a rundown of Trump’s no-win options:
Undermine the investigation
The president’s attorneys say they’ve been cooperating with Mueller, preserving documents he’s requested out of both the White House and the 2016 campaign.
But it’s been an entirely different story in public.
Since early June, Trump and his surrogates have been engaged in an intense campaign to discredit Mueller. During a Fox interview last month, the president raised questions about the special counsel’s ”very bothersome” relationship with the ousted FBI Director James Comey, calling them “very very good friends” – a claim that sources close to both Comey and Mueller dispute — in an effort to establish a conflict of interest.
Speaking to the New York Times earlier this week in the Oval Office, Trump posited that Mueller wasn’t the right person to be investigating him because he’d interviewed for the FBI job as Comey’s replacement, arguing that it, too, compromised Mueller.
“There were many other conflicts that I haven’t said, but I will at some point,” Trump said.
The Washington Post on Thursday reported that Trump and his team are working to discredit Mueller’s expanding staff of veteran Justice Department attorneys and white-collar criminal experts, by highlighting potential conflicts and past political activity. On Friday, senior strategist Kellyanne Conway took issue with Democratic campaign contributions some of Mueller’s staff have made to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. ”It is relevant information for people to have,” she said on Fox & Friends.
Attacking Mueller may be a keen strategy for Trump to score political points with his base: Forty percent of Republican voters said in a recent Fox News poll they don’t have much confidence in Mueller.
Former federal prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg said that while it could help bolster support for Trump, it likely will not affect the outcome of the investigation.
“Mueller and his team I guarantee aren’t going to be the least bit swayed by anything Trump or Kellyanne Conway say about them,” Zeidenberg said. “It’s just background noise. It may not even be noise.”
The idea has been kicking around Washington for months: Trump, so dissatisfied with the notion of the Russia investigation, could keep replacing his Justice Department leadership if they don’t follow his order to get rid of the special counsel — much as President Richard Nixon did in the Saturday Night Massacre.
Trump this week sidestepped the idea in his New York Times interview. When asked directly if he’d consider firing Mueller, the president replied, “I can’t answer that question because I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
But Trump and his lawyers also have gone out of their way to point to ways they think the Mueller probe is straying into territory they don’t welcome, like his finances and business dealings, leaving open the door for the president to attempt to remove Mueller.
John Dowd, now Trump’s lead outside attorney, took issue on Thursday with the suggestion in a Bloomberg story that Mueller’s investigation had broad enough sweep to look into Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, as well as the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a South Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008. Those issues, Dowd said, were “in my view well beyond the mandate of the Special counsel; are unrelated to the election of 2016 or any alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and most importantly, are well beyond any Statute of Limitation imposed by the United States Code.”
Legal experts have disputed the characterization that Mueller doesn’t have the authority to examine the president’s finances or to examine past behavior. The special counsel’s probe, in fact, is likely to cover everything from how Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s stolen emails ended up on WikiLeaks to the Russian-connected social media accounts that blasted out fake news stories into the feeds of critical swing state voters.
Also fair game: Trump’s business history, especially if it shows connections with Russia that would explain why the Kremlin was interfering with the presidential election. And while statutes of limitations on criminal cases typically are five years, when presented as part of an ongoing conspiracy prosecutors often do have leeway to go back into history and use that material as evidence. “These things can go back 20 years,” Zeidenberg said. “He wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t investigate that.”
But firing Mueller wouldn’t end the investigation into Trump. Asha Rangappa, a former FBI special agent, wrote in POLITICO Magazine on Friday that FBI agents “working on any leads would continue to pursue them out of the relevant FBI field offices or FBI headquarters until the counterintelligence and criminal questions are resolved.”
And Trump could pay a political price. Mueller is, after all, a registered Republican who was appointed to lead the FBI in 2001 by President George W. Bush. “I think the best advice would be to let Robert Mueller do his job,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters in June. Across the Capitol, Sen. Marco Rubio, a 2016 GOP primary rival of Trump’s, told reporters this week it would be a “mistake” if Trump canned Mueller.
There’s no disputing that Trump has the power to pardon anyone he wants over the Russia probe (except perhaps himself, there’s a legal debate there), before they’re even charged with a crime. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a finalist to be Trump’s vice president, reminded listeners on the “Diane Rehm Show” about this back in December when the then-president elect’s biggest obstacle looked to be whether he’d face questions about hiring family members and the constitutional challenges surrounding conflicts of interest with his businesses. “It’s a totally open power,” he said.
The notion gained renewed attention on Thursday when the Washington Post, citing a White House adviser, reported Trump had expressed “a curiosity in understanding the reach of his pardoning authority” with respect to the Russia probe.
Sensing the political blowback, Trump attorneys have raced to squash the pardon talk. “There is nothing going on on pardons, research – nothing,” Dowd told BuzzFeed. “Pardons are not being discussed and are not on the table,” his colleague, Jay Sekulow, told CBS.
Pardons also wouldn’t be an end game for the Russia probes, and they could end up making matters worse for Trump himself. “Mueller can take all those pardoned people and put them in front of a grand jury and squeeze then and find out what’s going on,” Zeidenberg said. “You’d have the question of whether these pardons are part of a scheme to obstruct justice.”
Excusing staff of potential criminal penalties is also no end run around Congress, which under the Constitution still maintains its authority to remove a president. While the political hurdles would be high – a majority of House members and two-thirds of the Senate for conviction – the political repercussions could be enough to start a wave, especially if this all goes down before the 2018 mid-term elections.
“I think it’d encourage the impeachment movement,” said Robert Bennett, a white-collar lawyer who represented President Bill Clinton during the Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky scandals. “People who would not support it now might very well support it then.”