Giuliani says Trump may consider pardons after Russia probe
By HOPE YEN
Monday, June 18
WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said Sunday the president might pardon his jailed, onetime campaign chairman and others ensnared in the Russia investigation once special counsel Robert Mueller’s work wraps up, if he believed they were treated “unfairly.”
Until then, consideration of clemency is unnecessary, Giuliani said, as the White House presses to bring the yearlong investigation to an end.
Giuliani denied that Trump was trying to send a message to Paul Manafort, who was the 2016 chairman for nearly five months, or others to refrain from cooperating with prosecutors. The former New York City mayor suggested that an end to the investigation could be in sight one way or the other — either by undercutting the Mueller’s inquiry as illegitimate, or if necessary, by agreeing to a Trump interview with prosecutors under limited conditions.
“The president is not going to issue pardons in this investigation,” Giuliani said. “Because you just cloud what is becoming now a very clear picture of an extremely unfair investigation with no criminality involved in it of any kind.”
But, he added, “When it’s over, hey, he’s the president of the United States. He retains his pardon power. Nobody is taking that away from him. He can pardon, in his judgment.”
Manafort was sent to jail last week after a federal judge revoked his house arrest over allegations of witness tampering in the Russia investigation. Trump has criticized that decision as “very unfair” as Manafort prepares for two criminal trials.
Trump has worked outside the traditional pardon process and used his clemency powers in cases where he believed prosecutors may have been motivated by politics. He made clear on Sunday his view of Mueller’s investigation, saying it was “on pretty weak grounds right now.”
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she thought it would be “more helpful if the president never mentioned the word pardon again with respect to the Russian investigation because he wants to get that Russian investigation completed. And every time he brings up the issue of pardons it gives the investigators something else that they have to look into.”
Seeking to undermine Mueller’s work, Trump and his lawyers have seized on a Justice Department inspector general’s report on the 2016 Hillary Clinton email investigation that found insubordination and poor judgment at the FBI. Some of the officials who worked on the Clinton investigation also worked on the FBI’s Russia probe, but the report did not find that political bias had tainted the Clinton review.
The Justice Department has asked its internal watchdog to review whether there was any politically motivated surveillance by the FBI of the Trump campaign.
“This is a case where it’s crying out for someone to investigate the investigators,” Giuliani said. “We want the Mueller probe to be investigated, the way the Trump administration has been investigated.”
Echoing Giuliani’s view, former White House strategist Steve Bannon said there was no need for pardons because Trump could disrupt the Russia investigation by firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller.
Bannon suggested that Trump should order Rosenstein to comply in the next two days with every subpoena he has received from congressional committees.
“If he does not do it in 48 hours, he’s fired,” Bannon said. “You’re not going to need pardons. … With the exposure of all this, as we go into it, we’re going to get into the substrate and the foundation of the entire Mueller investigation.”
Signaling some openness to a Trump interview with Mueller’s team, Giuliani outlined the possibility under narrow conditions and said he expected Trump to make a decision by July 4. Giuliani said he is opposed to having an interview but “the president wants to do it so we have to sort through it.”
“If we did have it … obviously what we would really like something in writing, responded to in writing. And it can be under oath.”
He said the interview could be audio recorded, but that questions would need to be limited just to specific questions about “the heart of the probe” — allegations of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Mueller is also investigating questions of whether Trump improperly sought to obstruct the probe, such as by firing James Comey as FBI director, and if Trump refuses an interview, Mueller could resort to a subpoena to compel testimony.
Giuliani said they’d prefer that Trump sit for a two-hour interview and Mueller’s team probably wants four, “so let’s settle at three.”
“There might be a narrow area that we could all agree on,” he said.
Giuliani spoke on CNN’s “State of the Union” and CBS’ “Face the Nation,” and Bannon appeared on ABC’s “This Week.” Collins was on CBS.
FBI agent removed from Russia probe is willing to testify
By ERIC TUCKER
WASHINGTON (AP) — An FBI agent who was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team after sending anti-Trump text messages says he is willing to testify before Congress.
A lawyer for Peter Strzok (STRUCK) told House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte in a letter Sunday that his client is willing to testify before his panel or any other committee that invites him.
Strzok was criticized in a recent Justice Department inspector general report for creating an appearance of conflict because of text messages he traded with another FBI employee.
Strzok was involved in the Hillary Clinton email investigation and was later added to Mueller’s team. He was removed last summer once the messages were discovered.
His lawyer, Aitan Goelman, has said bias didn’t affect his client’s investigative decisions.
Trump’s Hobbesian trade war
by Tom H. Hastings
Now comes the Trump Trade War, his Bellum omnium contra omnes, war of all against all. It is the most spiritless, cynical, pessimistic perspective on human nature and international relations imaginable. It is also doomed to simply amount to an alienated attack on American consumers and workers.
I’m an old man who developed a hearing problem over the decades. I’m well into my senior citizen years and on my fourth generation of hearing aids, each improvement changing my life, saving my ability to work, and rescuing me from what would be increased social isolation. Trump’s tariffs affect the import of high tech gear, including the most advanced components of state-of-the-art hearing aids. Do I care where components of my hearing aids are made or where they are assembled into the final product? I do not. Do I care if Trump alters not only the price of my hearing aids but possibly the quality? Yes, I do.
If you have a device such as a phone, a laptop, any notebook or tablet, Trump is stepping on you. He is driving up the price and possible dragging down the quality of what you can purchase and use. Thanks, Dear Leader.
Making cars, motorcycles, and other consumer goods that sell big in China—or Canada, or any of the countries Trump is hitting with tariffs, is now going to see a radical reduction in markets. From soybeans to distilled spirits, the exports from the US are going to plummet as erstwhile trading partners respond in kind. Did you vote for him? Trump speaks for you. Trump is your leader. Trump is taking you right over the cliff. Trump’s momentary success living in the White House as unemployment drops is now about to snatch failure from the jaws of victory. Hear that snap, crackle, pop? That is the giant bubble-bursting sound with the Trump Lurch into Trade Wars that he says are “easy to win.”
This is a guy who makes glib promises and instant blame-others excuses for his many failures, including, by the way, six declarations of bankruptcy. He refuses to own his mistakes and calls himself clever for taking advantage of laws that unfairly stick everyone else with the losses and debts. So when his trade war bombs and you are jabbed with the costs and consequences, Trump will refuse to be accountable. I mean, this is a guy who orders children snatched from their parents at the border and then repeatedly blames “the Democrats.” Huh? He did it, no Democrat, not one. He could fix it. His cruelty and obdurate rationalizations are epic and inexcusable.
Indeed, the only possible way to hold him responsible is to impose all possible penalties, from indictment to impeachment. He will assume no component of culpability that is not simply brought down on him, and he will go kicking and screaming, but he must go if we have an ounce of collective common sense and decency.
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