Per NBC, moments ago:


Bowing to public and Congressional pressure, Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Bob Mueller on Wednesday to be a special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, Justice Department officials said.

Mueller will take command of the prosecutors and FBI agents who are working on the far reaching Russia investigation, which spans multiple FBI field offices on both coasts.

Mueller led the FBI for 12 years under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

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Tamara Shepherd's picture

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Rosenstein quote (USA Today):


"I determined that it is on the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a special counsel to assume responsibility for this matter," Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Wednesday. "My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted."

Based on the "unique circumstances," Rosenstein said, "the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command."

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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Update at NBC tonight: Flynn, Manafort Are Key Figures in Russia Probe Mueller Will Lead


Officials say multiple grand jury subpoenas and records requests have been issued in connection with the two men.

...

Law enforcement officials tell NBC News that both Flynn and Manafort are formally considered "subjects" of a criminal investigation, though their lawyers say they have done nothing wrong. A "subject" is someone whose conduct is being examined by the investigation, and may be suspected of a crime.

The FBI investigation is a hybrid of both a criminal and counter intelligence probe. One source who viewed a grand jury subpoena in the Flynn case said it was unusual in that it did not specify any law that allegedly had been broken.

This characterization of the investigation as a "hybrid" answers some confusion I've had. Just today, a former CIA director interviewed on a cable news channel (unsure who or which) expressed disdain that news anchors are speaking of Trump's possible "obstruction of justice." He explained that the term "obstruction" pertains to a criminal investigation, while his understanding of the proceedings is that this is a counter intelligence investigation. He therefore likened these TV news personalities to officials for a baseball game calling football penalties.

But maybe not?

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Criminal or counter intelligence investigation?

Well, I continue this morning to try to flesh out my understanding on the nature of this FBI investigation. That part of the quote in my above post--"... it was unusual in that (the Flynn subpoena) did not specify any law that allegedly had been broken"--is what's troublesome. That is, if we hope to see a judge levy a penalty for a given behavior, isn't it necessary for the law to specify somewhere that the behavior is, in fact, criminal???

This seeming hole in the Flynn subpoena very much reminded me of the flawed lawsuit brought by Sanders supporters against the DNC after the primary, in which they leveled six or seven counts but in only one count cited a law that plaintiffs believed had been broken, namely a single local ordinance just tangentially related to their complaint. You'll recall that the suit went nowhere, presumably because the choice of a private organization (like the DNC) to violate its own internal bylaws is not a criminal matter but rather a matter in which the organization's own members may be expected to levy a "penalty"--even if that "penalty" is just members' outrage against the parent organization. (I'll share that when I pointed this out to some of my fellow Sanders supporters last summer, several found my observation to be "traitorous" to Sanders, but I wasn't dismissive of their desire to levy a penalty against the DNC, I was just pointing out that they likely couldn't levy a penalty of that sort, like a civil lawsuit, I mean.)

Anyway, if this is an apt parallel, it would seem the Flynn subpoena in a purportedly criminal investigation can't "stick" either? I therefore asked Mr. Google "can a subpoena in a criminal investigation fail to cite the law(s) allegedly broken?" but the answers I got weren't much related to my question.

I next asked Mr. Google my broader question, namely "is the Flynn/Manafort probe a criminal investigation or a counterintelligence investigation?" but the answer I got linked first to this same NBC story I cite in the above post, asserting that it's both. Overnight, the answer I'm getting is now linking to Daily Kos and a number of other blogs which seem to be copying and pasting the solitary assertion NBC makes, that it's both, without offering readers any fuller explanation as to how any criminal penalties might ultimately be assessed to defendants?

I'm flounderin' here. Do chime in if you can...

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Flynn won't bite

This morning, the AP has a one-paragraph story, Flynn's lawyer says he won't answer Senate committee's subpoena, running in identical form across the McNewspapers of several metro areas.

The AP has had three hours to explain to readers why Flynn won't bite--and presumably his lawyers said something beyond just "no"--but we haven't been provided any explanation yet.

Did Flynn decline to produce the requested docs because, like that grand jury mentioned in my above post, the Senate committee didn't cite any laws broken in their subpoena, either? Or does the Senate committee have to cite any laws broken? My quick read of Contempt of Congress on Wiki didn't enlighten me, either.

Media just aren't making this stuff particularly clear. Anybody?

EDIT: The above linked story was updated later this morning and its headline now reads "Senate panel now says it has not received a subpoena response from Flynn's lawyer after chairman's contrary comments." Possibly, then, answers to some of my questions will arrive with Flynn's response.

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