本帖由 ccc 于 2017-08-02 发布。版面名称：渥太华华人论坛
Jeff Sessions Was Just Questioned in the Russia Investigation. Is President Trump Next?
Attorney General Jeff Sessions was questioned for hours in the special counsel’s Russia investigation, the Justice Department said Tuesday, as prosecutors moved closer to a possible interview with President Donald Trump about whether he took steps to obstruct an FBI probe into contacts between Russia and his 2016 campaign.
The Sessions interview last week makes him the highest-ranking Trump administration official, and first Cabinet member, known to have submitted to questioning. It came as special counsel Robert Mueller investigates whether Trump’s actions in office, including the firing of FBI Director James Comey, constitute improper efforts to stymie the FBI investigation.
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Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump told reporters on Wednesday that he would talk to special counsel Robert Mueller under oath and looks forward to the opportunity, but that he will listen to the advice of his lawyers.
Trump made the comments to a group of reporters who were meeting with chief of staff John Kelly at the White House.
"I am looking forward to it, actually," Trump said, when asked if he was going to talk to Mueller. "Here is the story: There has been no collusion whatsoever. There is no obstruction whatsoever. And I am looking forward to it."
Trump, during his exchange with reporters on Wednesday, said his interview would be "subject to my lawyers" but that he would personally like to do it.
Trump later said he would do the interview under oath.
"I would do it under oath. I would do it," he said, later adding, "I would do it under oath, yeah."
The special counsel investigation led by Mueller, a former FBI director, has seized headlines this week as a flurry of developments became public. CNN confirmed on Tuesday that former FBI Director James Comey and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have both been questioned by the special counsel, and sources confirmed to CNN that Mueller indicated interest in interviewing Trump, although it is not clear when the interview would take place.
Mueller's indicated focus is on the ouster of Michael Flynn as national security adviser and the firing of Comey in May.
Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Sergey Kislyak, who was the Russian ambassador to the US at the time, and said he was cooperating with Mueller's investigation into potential coordination between Trump associates and Russia to influence the 2016 election. Comey has said publicly that Trump tried to press him to drop an investigation into Flynn.
Trump has denied Comey's claims, which the former FBI director documented in contemporaneous memos, and previously said he would be willing to testify under oath.
But earlier this month, Trump dodged when asked about submitting to an interview for Mueller.
During a January news conference with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Trump suggested that an interview may not be needed.
"I'll see what happens. But when they have no collusion -- and nobody has found any collusion at any level -- it seems unlikely that you would even have an interview," Trump said.
Trump said last year that he would "100%" be willing to meet with Mueller.
Two sources familiar with the matter told CNN on Tuesday that Mueller has indicated interest in questioning Trump. The President's attorneys would like Trump's answers to come in written form only, but recognize it could end up being more of a combination of written and in-person interviews, or even solely an interview, CNN has reported.
Any interview between Trump and Mueller would serve as a likely crescendo in a months-long drama that has dogged that Trump White House.
The President also slammed Hillary Clinton for not being under oath during her interview with the FBI in 2016 which focused on her use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state.
"She didn't do it under oath, but I would do it under oath and you know she didn't do it under oath," he said. "Oh, I would do it under oath."
WASHINGTON — President Trump ordered the firing last June of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation, according to four people told of the matter, but ultimately backed down after the White House counsel threatened to resign rather than carry out the directive.
The West Wing confrontation marks the first time Mr. Trump is known to have tried to fire the special counsel. Mr. Mueller learned about the episode in recent months as his investigators interviewed current and former senior White House officials in his inquiry into whether the president obstructed justice.
Amid the first wave of news media reports that Mr. Mueller was examining a possible obstruction case, the president began to argue that Mr. Mueller had three conflicts of interest that disqualified him from overseeing the investigation, two of the people said.
Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, believed that firing Mr. Mueller would have a catastrophic impact on the presidency and would raise more questions about whether the White House was trying to obstruct the Russia investigation. Credit Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call, via Associated Press
First, he claimed that a dispute years ago over fees at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va., had prompted Mr. Mueller, the F.B.I. director at the time, to resign his membership. The president also said Mr. Mueller could not be impartial because he had most recently worked for the law firm that previously represented the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Finally, the president said, Mr. Mueller had been interviewed to return as the F.B.I. director the day before he was appointed special counsel in May.
After receiving the president’s order to fire Mr. Mueller, the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, refused to ask the Justice Department to dismiss the special counsel, saying he would quit instead, the people said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing a continuing investigation.
Mr. McGahn disagreed with the president’s case and told senior White House officials that firing Mr. Mueller would have a catastrophic effect on Mr. Trump’s presidency. Mr. McGahn also told White House officials that Mr. Trump would not follow through on the dismissal on his own. The president then backed off.
Ty Cobb, who manages the White House’s relationship with Mr. Mueller’s office, said in a statement, “We decline to comment out of respect for the Office of the Special Counsel and its process.”
Mr. McGahn, a longtime Republican campaign finance lawyer in Washington who served on the Federal Election Commission, was the top lawyer on Mr. Trump’s campaign. He has been involved in nearly every key decision Mr. Trump has made — like the firing of the former F.B.I. director — that is being scrutinized by Mr. Mueller.
Mr. McGahn was also concerned that firing the special counsel would incite more questions about whether the White House was trying to obstruct the Russia investigation.
Around the time Mr. Trump wanted to fire Mr. Mueller, the president’s legal team, led then by his longtime personal lawyer in New York, Marc E. Kasowitz, was taking an adversarial approach to the Russia investigation. The president’s lawyers were digging into potential conflict-of-interest issues for Mr. Mueller and his team, according to current and former White House officials, and news media reports revealed that several of Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors had donated to Democrats.
Mr. Mueller could not legally have considered political affiliations when making hiring decisions. But for Mr. Trump’s supporters, it reinforced the idea that, although Mr. Mueller is a Republican, he had assembled a team of Democrats to take down the president.
Another option that Mr. Trump considered in discussions with his advisers was dismissing the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, and elevating the department’s No. 3 official, Rachel Brand, to oversee Mr. Mueller. Mr. Rosenstein has overseen the investigation since March, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself.
Mr. Trump has significantly ratcheted back his criticisms of Mr. Mueller since he hired Mr. Cobb for his legal team in July. A veteran of several high-profile Washington controversies, Mr. Cobb has known Mr. Mueller for decades, dating to their early careers in the Justice Department.
He advised Mr. Trump that he had nothing to gain from combat with Mr. Mueller, a highly respected former prosecutor and F.B.I. director who has subpoena power as special counsel. Since Mr. Cobb’s arrival, the White House has operated on the premise that the quickest way to clear the cloud of suspicion was to cooperate with Mr. Mueller, not to fight him.
Nonetheless, Mr. Trump has wavered for months about whether he wants to fire Mr. Mueller, whose job security is an omnipresent concern among the president’s legal team and close aides. The president’s lawyers, including Mr. Cobb, have tried to keep Mr. Trump calm by assuring him for months, amid new revelations about the inquiry, that it is close to ending.
President Trump said that Mr. Mueller, who had been a member of his golf club in Sterling, Va., left it years ago after a disagreement about club fees. Credit Al Drago for The New York Times
Mr. Trump has long demonstrated a preoccupation with those who have overseen the Russia investigation. In March, after Mr. McGahn failed to persuade Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the inquiry, Mr. Trump complained that he needed someone loyal to oversee the Justice Department.
The former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said Mr. Trump asked him for loyalty and encouraged him to drop an investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn. Mr. Comey said he sidestepped those requests. He was soon fired.
In an interview with The New York Times in the Oval Office in July, the president pointedly kept open the option of firing Mr. Mueller, saying that the special counsel would be passing a red line if his investigation expanded to look at Mr. Trump’s finances. Mr. Trump said he never would have made Mr. Sessions the attorney general if he had known he would recuse himself from the investigation.
Last month, as Republicans were increasing their attacks on the special counsel, Mr. Trump said in an interview with The Times that he believed Mr. Mueller was going to treat him fairly.
“No, it doesn’t bother me because I hope that he’s going to be fair,” Mr. Trump said in response to a question about whether it bothered him that Mr. Mueller had not yet ended his investigation. “I think that he’s going to be fair.”
Mr. Trump added: “There’s been no collusion. But I think he’s going to be fair.”
An Article of Impeachment Against Donald J. Trump
David Leonhardt JAN. 28, 2018
President Trump arriving at the White House on Friday . Credit Eric Thayer for The New York Times
There are good reasons to be wary of impeachment talk. Congressional Republicans show zero interest, and they’re the ones in charge. Democrats, for their part, need to focus on retaking Congress, and railing about impeachment probably won’t help them win votes.
But let’s set aside realpolitik for a few minutes and ask a different question: Is serious consideration of impeachment fair? I think the answer is yes. The evidence is now quite strong that Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice. Many legal scholars believe a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime. So the proper remedy for a president credibly accused of obstructing justice is impeachment.
The first article of impeachment against Richard Nixon argued that he had “prevented, obstructed and impeded the administration of justice.” One of the two impeachment articles that the House passed against Bill Clinton used that identical phrase. In both cases, the article then laid out the evidence with a numbered list. Nixon’s version had nine items. Clinton’s had seven. Each list was meant to show that the president had intentionally tried to subvert a federal investigation.
Given last week’s news — that Trump has already tried to fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating the Trump campaign — it’s time to put together the same sort of list for Trump. Of course, this list is based only on publicly available information. Mueller, no doubt, knows more.
1. During a dinner at the White House on Jan. 27, 2017, Trump asked for a pledge of “loyalty” from James Comey, then the F.B.I. director, who was overseeing the investigation of the Trump campaign.
2. On Feb. 14, Trump directed several other officials to leave the Oval Office so he could speak privately with Comey. He then told Comey to “let this go,” referring to the investigation of Michael Flynn, who had resigned the previous day as Trump’s national security adviser.
3. On March 22, Trump directed several other officials to leave a White House briefing so he could speak privately with Daniel Coats, the director of national intelligence, and Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director. Trump asked them to persuade Comey to back off investigating Flynn.
4. In March and April, Trump told Comey in phone calls that he wanted Comey to lift the ”cloud” of the investigation.
5. On May 9, Trump fired Comey as F.B.I. director. On May 10, Trump told Russian officials that the firing had “taken off” the “great pressure” of the Russia investigation. On May 11, he told NBC News that the firing was because of “this Russia thing.”
6. On May 17, shortly after hearing that the Justice Department had appointed Mueller to take over the Russia investigation, Trump berated Jeff Sessions, the attorney general. The appointment had caused the administration again to lose control over the investigation, and Trump accused Sessions of “disloyalty.”
7. In June, Trump explored several options to retake control. At one point, he ordered the firing of Mueller, before the White House counsel resisted.
8. On July 8, aboard Air Force One, Trump helped draft a false public statement for his son, Donald Trump Jr. The statement claimed that a 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer was about adoption policy. Trump Jr. later acknowledged that the meeting was to discuss damaging information the Russian government had about Hillary Clinton.
9. On July 26, in a tweet, Trump called for the firing of Andrew McCabe, the F.B.I.’s deputy director, a potential corroborating witness for Comey’s conversations with Trump. The tweet was part of Trump’s efforts, discussed with White House aides, to discredit F.B.I. officials.
10. Throughout, Trump (and this quotation comes from the Nixon article of impeachment) “made false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States.” Among other things, Trump repeatedly made untruthful statements about American intelligence agencies’ conclusions regarding Russia’s role in the 2016 election.
Obstruction of justice depends on a person’s intent — what legal experts often call “corrupt intent.” This list is so damning because it reveals Trump’s intent.
He has inserted himself into the details of a criminal investigation in ways that previous presidents rarely if ever did. (They left individual investigations to the attorney general.) And he has done so in ways that show he understands he’s doing something wrong. He has cleared the room before trying to influence the investigation. He directed his son to lie, and he himself has lied.
When the framers were debating impeachment at the Constitutional Convention, George Mason asked: “Shall any man be above justice?”
The same question faces us now: Can a president use the power of his office to hold himself above the law? Trump is unlikely to face impeachment anytime soon, or perhaps anytime at all. But it’s time for all of us — voters, members of Congress, Trump’s own staff — to be honest about what he’s done. He has obstructed justice.
He may not be finished doing so, either.