Bill Barr did not mince words about his brawl with House Democrats when he ran into Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday on the sidelines of a Capitol Hill event.
According to a source close to the attorney general, Barr approached her in a holding tent after the National Peace Officers Memorial Service and asked whether she had brought her handcuffs.
The quip was a reference to the calls from some rank-and-file Democrats for Barr himself to be arrested, amid the fight over access to Russia probe documents.
The House Judiciary Committee voted last week to hold Barr in contempt for failing to comply with a subpoena for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s unredacted Russia report and underlying materials, as President Trump asserted executive privilege to protect those same files from release.
Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., was one of the first calling for the House to pursue “inherent contempt,” which would have Barr arrested by the sergeant at arms—a tactic reportedly not employed since the 1930s.
Several other lawmakers, including Reps. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., and Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., have warmed to the idea.
“We know how to arrest people around here,” Raskin told Politico. “And if we need to arrest someone, the [House] sergeant-at-arms will know how to do it. I’m not afraid of that.”
He added: “If they can arrest my constituents, we can arrest someone else who’s disobeying the law.”
But despite rank-and-file Democrats calling for the drastic measure, Pelosi has seemed cool to the idea. Last week, she pushed back when asked about the potential step.
“We do have a jail in the basement of the Capitol, but if we were arresting all of the people in the administration, we would have an overcrowded jail situation,” Pelosi said. “And I’m not for that.”
Inherent contempt is one of three contempt options available, along with criminal contempt (under which an individual is charged with a crime) and civil judgment (leading to a civil court process).
But while Pelosi has not outright called for his arrest, the speaker has claimed that the attorney general lied to Congress.
“He lied to Congress. And if anybody else did that, it would be considered a crime,” Pelosi told reporters last month. “Nobody is above the law. Not the president of the United States. Not the attorney general.
Pelosi’s public comments came after she, according to Politico, told Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., during a private caucus meeting Thursday: “We saw [Barr] commit a crime when he answered your question.”
She was referring to an April 9 hearing, where Crist had asked whether Barr knew what prompted reports that prosecutors on the special counsel team were frustrated with his initial summary. Barr said he did not.
But earlier this month, The Washington Post first reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller contacted Barr, both in a letter and in a phone call, to express concerns after Barr released his four-page summary of Mueller’s findings in March. Mueller pushed Barr to release the executive summaries written by the special counsel’s office. However, according to both the Post and the Justice Department, Mueller made clear that he did not feel that Barr’s summary was inaccurate. Instead, Mueller told Barr that media coverage of the letter had “misinterpreted” the results of the probe concerning obstruction of justice.
Pelosi was also asked if Barr should go to jail.
“There is a process involved here and as I said, I’ll say it again, the committee will have to come to how we will proceed,” Pelosi said.
“Speaker Pelosi’s baseless attack on the Attorney General is reckless, irresponsible and false,” Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in response.
Democrats have blasted Barr for weeks over his handling of the special counsel’s report. Barr initially released a four-page summary of Mueller’s findings, announcing in late March that the special counsel found no evidence of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election. Mueller did not come to a conclusion on whether the president obstructed justice, but Barr said the evidence was not sufficient to charge the president with such an offense.
While Democrats have criticized Barr for that swift conclusion, they have sought the completely unredacted version of the report in a bid to learn more about what information Mueller gathered regarding the obstruction probe. The report released publicly last month had redactions covering sensitive sources and methods, grand jury material, and other areas to protect the reputational interests of “peripheral players” in the investigation.
Barr and his deputies, however, have countered that they’ve made available to select members a version with minimal redactions — and Democrats have declined to look at it.
Source: Fox News Politics
Attorney General William Barr has appointed a U.S. attorney to examine the origins of the Russia investigation and determine if intelligence collection involving the Trump campaign was “lawful and appropriate,” a person familiar with the situation told Fox News on Monday evening.
Barr has appointed John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to conduct the inquiry, the source said.
Durham previously has investigated law enforcement corruption, the destruction of CIA videotapes and the Boston FBI office’s relationship with mobsters. He is to continue to serve as the chief federal prosecutor in Connecticut.
In January, House Republican Reps. Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows wrote to Durham seeking a briefing, saying they had “discovered” that Durham’s office was “investigating [former FBI General Counsel James Baker” for unauthorized disclosures to the media.”
Durham’s review would exist alongside the ongoing probe by DOJ Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz, who is continuing to review potential surveillance abuses by the FBI — an investigation that began last March and that Fox News is told is nearing completion.
Republicans also have been looking for answers from U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber, who was appointed a year ago by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to review not only surveillance abuses by the FBI and DOJ, but also authorities’ handling of the probe into the Clinton Foundation.
Huber, Republicans have cautioned, apparently has made little progress and has spoken to few key witnesses and whistleblowers. But, in January, then-Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker reportedly indicated at a private meeting that Huber’s work was continuing apace.
Durham’s appointment comes about a month after Barr told members of Congress he believed “spying did occur” on the Trump campaign in 2016. He later said he didn’t mean anything pejorative and was gathering a team to look into the origins of the special counsel’s investigation.
In obtaining a secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to surveil former Trump aide Carter Page, the FBI copy-pasted directly from a disputed Washington Post opinion article to suggest the Trump campaign may have been compromised. The bureau also repeatedly assured the court that it “did not believe” British ex-spy Christopher Steele was the direct source for a Yahoo News article implicating Page in Russian collusion.
But, London court records showed that contrary to the FBI’s assessments, Steele briefed Yahoo News and other reporters in the fall of 2016 at the direction of Fusion GPS — the opposition research firm behind the dossier. Fusion GPS was retained by the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee (DNC), a piece of information not stated in the FISA application.
The FISA application also copied and pasted directly from a Washington Post opinion piece that claimed the Trump campaign had “worked behind the scenes” to “gut” the GOP platform on Russia and Ukraine.
Internal FBI text messages exclusively obtained by Fox News earlier this year showed that a senior DOJ official raised concerns about the bias in a key FISA warrant, but that FBI officials pressed on.
“There’s a document that’s classified that I’m gonna try to get unclassified that takes the dossier — all the pages of it — and it has verification to one side,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Graham Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” this weekend. “There really is no verification, other than media reports that were generated by reporters that received the dossier.”
Graham specifically cited the report from The Hill’s John Solomon that the FBI was expressly told that Steele, the bureau’s confidenial informant, had admitted to a contact at the State Department that he was “keen” to leak his discredited dossier for purposes of influencing the 2016 election.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec’s written account of her Oct. 11, 2016, meeting with Steele was apparently sent to the FBI, according to records unearthed in a transparency lawsuit by Citizens United.
Fox News’ Catherine Herridge and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News Politics
Attorney General Bill Barr has assembled a “team” to investigate the origins of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign, an administration official briefed on the situation told Fox News on Tuesday.
Barr told lawmakers at a contentious hearing on Tuesday that he was reviewing the bureau’s “conduct” during the summer of 2016. Republicans have repeatedly called for a thorough investigation of the FBI’s intelligence practices following the conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
This is a developing story; please check back for updates.
Source: Fox News Politics
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen will travel to the southern border this week with plans to visit ports of entry and speak with law enforcement officials before joining President Trump in California on Friday near a section of border wall, DHS officials told Fox News.
Nielsen will travel to El Paso, Texas, on Wednesday to visit a port of entry, border station and be briefed by local officials, before traveling to Yuma, Arizona, on Thursday to meet with DHS leaders from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for a roundtable with law enforcement and local officials, as well as representatives from non-governmental organizations.
El Paso has been hard hit by the surge in illegal immigrants coming across the southern border. The Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) sector and facility is currently over capacity by 280 percent, with more than 3,400 migrants in custody, officials say.
On Friday, Nielsen will travel to Calexico in California, where she is scheduled to join Trump in visiting the border wall and participate in a roundtable discussion on the border crisis and “the way forward.”
Trump has declared an emergency at the southern border, and in recent days has mulled closing the border in response to the increase in illegal border crossings — while calling for Mexico to increase efforts to stop the migration flows across the border.
“If we don’t make a deal with Congress…or if Mexico doesn’t do what they should be doing…then we’re going to close the border, that’s going to be it, or we’re going to close large sections of the border, maybe not all of it,” he said.
“We’re going to have a strong border or we’re going to have a closed border,” he said. “We’re going to see what happens.”
DHS announced that it is taking a “disaster response” approach to the crisis and that Nielsen has directed agencies to “surge resources and personnel” toward border security and migration management. Nielsen said the administration is treating the immigration crisis as a “Cat 5 hurricane disaster.”
“We are bringing all of the agencies together; we’re asking everybody to chip in,” Nielsen said on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
Source: Fox News Politics
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen affirmed Friday that the possibility of closing the southern border with Mexico is “on the table.”
Nielsen made the remarks during a phone call with reporters, adding, “If we have to close ports to take care of all of the numbers that are coming, we will do that. … It’s on the table.”
The question arose after President Trump tweeted out that “if Mexico doesn’t immediately stop ALL illegal immigration coming into the United States throug (sic) our Southern Border, I will be CLOSING……..the Border, or large sections of the Border, next week.”
Nielsen asserted that there are so many people coming to the areas between legal ports of entry that DHS is being forced to reallocate its resources, basically taking personnel from legal sites and sending them to the portions of the border where migrants are slipping in illegally.
DHS officials say the reallocation of resources will cause commercial delays at the border.
The U.S. southern border system “is past emergency and truly at the breaking point,” Nielsen said.
DHS officials say the number of interdictions at the southern border is surging, from 60,000 a month last year to 75,000 last month — on pace to reach 100,000 this month.
DHS officials also say they recently saw the 100th large group of migrants crossing illegally this year. A large group is a classification for more than 100 people traveling together.
A letter Nielsen sent to Congress Thursday isn’t just about trying to kick unaccompanied minors out of the county, according to DHS officials, but is rather a plea to change the laws about what Nielsen can do.
Currently, if an unaccompanied minor from Mexico doesn’t meet asylum criteria, DHS can send them home, but that’s not true of a child from other Central American countries like Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
In the cases of children from those countries, DHS is required by law to transfer the children to Heqalth and Human Services, but if that agency can’t accept them, they are left to languish in the care of Customs and Border Protection, which DHS officials say does not have adequate facilities for children.
Source: Fox News Politics
Attorney General Bill Barr plans to submit the full version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation report to Congress by “mid-April, if not sooner,” and will not give the White House a sneak peek, Fox News has learned.
The timetable comes as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle – and especially Democrats – demand that Barr turn over the full report. Barr submitted a four-page summary to congressional leaders on Sunday reporting Mueller did not find evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, while he did not reach a conclusion on whether President Trump obstructed justice.
“As we have discussed, I share your desire to ensure that Congress and the public had the opportunity to read the Special Counsel’s report. The Special Counsel is assisting us in this process,” Barr wrote to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.
Barr said the Justice Department and the special counsel are “well along in the process of identifying and redacting” sensitive material, including material that “by law cannot be made public,” “material the intelligence community identifies as potentially compromising sensitive sources and methods; material that could affect other ongoing matters, including those that the Special Counsel has referred to other Department offices; and information that would unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties.”
Barr said that he anticipates they “will be in a position to release the report by mid-April, if not sooner.” A Justice Department official this week told Fox News that the Mueller report is more than 300 pages long.
Barr added that: “Although the President would have the right to assert privilege over certain parts of the report, he has stated publicly that he intends to defer to me and, accordingly, there are no plans to submit the report to the White House for privilege review.”
Barr also responded to requests from Nadler and Graham to testify before their respective committees, saying he believes “it would be appropriate for me to testify publicly on behalf of the Department shortly after the Special Counsel’s report is made public.” He added that he is available to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 1, 2019, and before the House Judiciary Committee on May 2, 2019.
The Democratic chairs of six House committees set a deadline of April 2 to submit the “full report.” They also called on him to start turning over “the underlying evidence and documents that same day.”
“Your four-page summary of the Special Counsel’s review is not sufficient for Congress, as a coequal branch of government, to perform [its] critical work. The release of the full report and the underlying evidence and documents is urgently needed by our committees to perform their duties under the Constitution,” they wrote.
But Congress is likely to see a partially redacted version of the report.
The Justice Department leader and a small team of senior officials have been reviewing the report since its submission, working to remove sensitive material related to ongoing grand jury investigations.
Barr cited these considerations in his original memo to Congress, noting that federal law “protects the integrity of grand jury proceedings and ensures that the unique and invaluable investigative powers of a grand jury are used strictly for their intended criminal justice function.” He said his team must determine what material can and cannot be made public and, “As soon as that process is complete, I will be in a position to move forward expeditiously in determining what can be released in light of applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies.”
Mueller’s determination that the investigation did not support claims of collusion were touted by President Trump as a “total exoneration.”
Democrats, though, have sought more information about what Mueller may have found on the obstruction issue. While Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein determined they could not support an obstruction case, Democrats challenged that conclusion as they sought the full report.
The recent letter to Barr also reminded him of the March 14 vote in the House calling for the release of the full Mueller report. The measure passed unanimously.
Barr stated in his confirmation hearing that he wanted to be as “transparent” as possible in the process of releasing the Mueller report, and repeated that sentiment in his letter to Congress setting out Special Counsel Mueller’s principal conclusions.
Source: Fox News Politics
A person familiar with the situation told Fox News Thursday that there was real doubt that Liu could receive the necessary votes on the Senate Judiciary Committee after Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, came out against her. Conn Carroll, a spokesman for Lee, confirmed that the senator opposed Liu’s appointment "based on her past record on life issues," but declined to comment further.
The person added that Liu was vice president of the National Association of Women Lawyers when that group opposed the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court by then-President George W. Bush in 2005. A source familiar with the matter said that Liu did not sign the letter opposing Alito’s nomination, but her name did appear on it because of her position with the organization.
However, the person said Liu did sign a letter in support of Alito, a fellow alumnus of Yale Law School. In a further twist to the story, Lee clerked for Alito while the latter was a federal appeals judge, then did so again after Alito was confirmed to the high court in 2006.
The NAWL also has a history of filing amicus briefs that took liberal-leaning positions on issues such as abortion. The person told Fox News that Liu considered the NAWL to be a professional networking group and was "not generally aware" of the group’s political activities.
A Justice Department spokesperson acknowledged that "a women’s lawyer association that Liu was affiliated with over a dozen years ago took certain controversial positions at the time.
"While we believe the criticisms of Jessie are unfair, she did not want her nomination to become a distraction," added the spokesperson, who added that Liu will continue as U.S. attorney for Washington D.C.
Attorney General William Barr said in a statement that Liu "is one of the finest, most impressive people serving in the Department of Justice. She has been an outstanding United States attorney and would have made an outstanding associate attorney general. I have zero doubt she would have faithfully executed my priorities and advanced my rule-of-law agenda."
Barr added that he was appointing Liu to be chairwoman of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee of United States Attorneys (AGAC) because, as he put it, "I need Jessie to play a broader role in the Department."
Liu, 46, was an assistant U.S. attorney in Washington from 2002 until 2006 and prosecuted violent crimes, drug trafficking and fraud cases. She later served as deputy chief of staff for the Justice Department’s national security division, a counsel to the deputy attorney general and as a deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil rights division.
Liu also worked as deputy general counsel at the Treasury Department and was a partner at the law firms Morrison & Foerster and Jenner & Block.
As associate attorney general, Liu would have been responsible for overseeing the department’s civil litigation. Trump nominated her to be U.S. attorney for D.C. in June 2017 and she was confirmed by the Senate that September.
Fox News’ William Mears and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News Politics
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report is more than 300 pages long, according to a senior Justice Department official.
The official told Fox News Thursday that Attorney General Bill Barr told House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., about the length of the report during a short phone call on Wednesday.
A spokesman for the special counsel declined to comment when asked about the length of the report.
Barr, on Sunday, released a four-page summary of the Mueller report, saying that the special counsel found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians during the 2016 presidential election.
Barr’s summary also revealed that Mueller decided not to rule on whether President Trump obstructed justice–kicking the decision back to the Justice Department. On Sunday, Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein effectively cleared Trump, saying that the evidence from the case was not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction-of-justice offense
The Justice Department is expected to release Mueller’s full report, with redactions, in the coming weeks.
Congressional Democrats blasted Barr’s short summary of Mueller’s findings, and have called for full transparency, urging the release of the full report to Congress and the public by April 2.
Barr has employed the help of Mueller, along with federal prosecutors in the special counsel’s office, to help to determine which portions of the report can be made public, and which portions need to remain under seal due to sensitive grand jury materials and methods.
"How can I say this more clearly? Show us the report," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday, adding that she would support subpoenaing the Justice Department for the full report should officials fail to comply with the Democrat-imposed April 2 deadline.
Source: Fox News Politics
A version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election will be available to Capitol Hill lawmakers in “weeks, not months,” Attorney General Bill Barr told Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham during a Monday phone call, Fox News has learned.
According to a senior Department of Justice official, Barr did not tell Graham, R-S.C., that he intends to share the report with the White House in advance of the public release.
Graham’s office did not immediately confirm the official’s statements.
A Justice Department official detailed to Mueller’s team, meanwhile, has now been detailed back to the DOJ to help sort through the report in order to determine what is permissible to release publicly and what is not.
Mueller submitted his long-awaited report to Barr last Friday and it was quickly revealed that no further indictments related to the probe would be forthcoming.
A four-page summary released Sunday by Barr discussing the “principal conclusions” of the 22-month investigation stated that Mueller did not establish evidence that President Trump’s team or any associates of the Trump campaign had conspired with Russia to sway the 2016 election — "despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign."
Although Mueller noted that his report did not "exonerate" Trump on obstruction-of-justice accusations, Barr wrote, the "report does not recommend any further indictments, nor did the Special Counsel obtain any sealed indictments that have yet to be made public."
Trump later tweeted that the summary results equated to "Complete and Total EXONERATION!"
Fox News’ Gregg Re contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News Politics
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is not recommending any further indictments as part of his sweeping Russia investigation which effectively ended Friday, according to a senior Justice Department official.
Mueller transmitted to the Justice Department the report on his team’s probe into Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates during the 2016 presidential election. While the probe’s conclusions are not yet known, the investigation already has led to indictments, convictions or guilty pleas for nearly three-dozen people and three companies.
But a senior DOJ official told Fox News Mueller is “not recommending any further indictments.”
Information about the contents of the report could start to emerge in the coming days.
There has been speculation for the entirety of the investigation, lasting nearly two years, on whether President Trump or his family members could face criminal consequences.
Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani told Fox News on Friday that the Trump legal team is “confident” in the results of the report.
“This marks the end of the investigation. We await a disclosure of the facts,” Giuliani said. “We are confident that there is no finding of collusion by the President and this underscores what the President has been saying from the beginning – that he did nothing wrong.”
The president has repeatedly blasted the investigation as a “witch hunt” and has maintained his innocence, stating since May 2017 that there was “no collusion” between himself, or members of his campaign, and Russia during the 2016 presidential election.
Mueller has charged 26 Russian nationals while three Russian companies have been charged with interfering in the 2016 presidential election.
But none of the Trump associates have been charged with crimes related to collusion, though Mueller’s team charged former Trump associate Roger Stone in January with lying about his communications with WikiLeaks, which published hacked Democratic emails during the election.
Other convictions include: former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who both pleaded guilty to making false statements in 2017.
Former campaign adviser Rick Gates in 2018 pleaded guilty and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted and later pleaded guilty in a separate financial crimes case dating back before the 2016 election.
Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to making false statements in a case brought by Mueller in November.
Alex van der Zwaan, a London-based lawyer, pleaded guilty to making false statements this year, and Richard Pinedo, a California man, pleaded guilty to identity fraud in 2018.
Fox News’ John Roberts and Alex Pappas contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News Politics