Last Thursday President Trump wrote a memo to authorize the declassification of surveillance documents of the 2016 Trump campaign. Attorney General William Barr had stated in the Mueller Report hearings that he believed there was spying during the original investigation.
Two days ago, Robert Mueller made a timely public appearance to comment on the Russia investigation. He explained the basis for his conclusions in the two-volume report. Mueller said “it would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution.” That alluded to the fact that the DOJ is not permitted by law to prosecute a sitting president. Mueller didn’t rule out impeachment as a way to prosecute the president.
Arleen Richards, our America Daily election and politics reporter, joins us from the New York office.
Mueller’s First–and Last–Public Statement
Do you think Robert Mueller’s recent public appearance was in response to President Trump’s declassification memo?
Arleen Richards: I do think it could be viewed that way and, depending on how you interpret what he says, it could suggest that Trump obstructed justice. That’s because Mueller couldn’t say Trump didn’t commit a crime. He noted that the DOJ can’t do anything about it anyway. But whatever is in those FISA documents may outweigh any claims of obstruction. The president has been in an all out battle since before he took office. Congress may start impeachment proceedings to explore further, but I’m not sure who they would call to testify. What’s interesting to me is that Mueller made it clear that he would not be appearing before Congress in any hearings and that the report is his testimony.
Will that make it difficult for Congress to indict the president for committing a crime?
Arleen Richards: If the special counsel’s office of the Department of Justice was not able to get sufficient evidence to accuse the President of a crime, it may be difficult for Congress to do. Mueller is satisfied that Attorney General Barr has released the majority of the report, which Congress can rely on. They haven’t wanted to accept it as submitted. They passed on the opportunity to meet with the Department of Justice to get some clarification. So it will be interesting to see what basis Congress relies on to start impeachment proceedings.
Let’s talk about the documents in question. President Trump has been hinting since last year that he would declassify FISA documents. Last September, he ordered the Justice Department to declassify key FISA documents, but they never did. What are the chances that the documents will be declassified now?
Arleen Richards: If we just read the mainstream media reports without digging further, it’s hard to believe that President Trump is actually acting within his executive powers. We have to be clear about what’s happening behind closed doors to understand that there are other factors involved. His decisions have all been compliant with the limitations of the Constitution. This recent declassification order can help to shine light on how the whole Russia collusion story really started. I think Barr has a strategy, and he probably already knows who the major players are. So the official declassification will likely be timed to coincide with some other big event. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Conflicting Media Reports
There have been a number of media reports since 2016 with different versions of the same stories, so it’s difficult to know what the real truth is.
I’ve been reviewing many different reports from the mainstream media. And what I’m realizing is, if I only rely on the Washington Post or the New York Times, I’ll have the impression that President Trump is acting beyond his executive powers and obstructing justice. But when I read chronological analyses of what occurred throughout the investigation and I go back and review the relevant memos and reports, I get a better understanding about why President Trump may be making the decisions he’s made. To me, it’s like an all out war now between good and evil. — Arleen Richards
I’m assuming you’re referring to the Democrats and Republicans because, as we see unfolding in the media, many Democrats call for impeachment, and Republicans ask for answers about the investigation. The Democrats do seem to be in sort of a panic and really eager to get rid of Trump.
Arleen Richards: That’s exactly right. There are two writers who I think are capturing the underlying reasons for this public show down. Brian Cates, a writer based in South Texas, and a contributor to the Epoch Times and Jeff Carlson, a financial analyst who is also a contributor to the Epoch Times. Both have been following the Russia collusion investigations. President Trump coined the term Spygate last May, calling it a political scandal. So Brian and Jeff also use that term. Jeff, last October prepared a step by step analysis of everything that has happened since President Trump announced his candidacy. And I will refer to that analyses over the next few weeks as we dig deeper into this story.
It’s good for our listeners to be able to connect what is happening now to what these gentlemen knew or suspected was happening all along. And there are others who have been following this story, with similar opinions. Can you tell us how the memorandum President Trump issued for declassification connects to the beginning of the original investigation.
Arleen Richards: The interesting thing about the memorandum is that President Trump addressed it to several federal departments and intelligence agencies. He asks for their cooperation on the 2016 Presidential Campaigns. He doesn’t just refer to his own campaign, but makes it plural to include other campaigns. Jeff points this out in a recent analysis and says he thinks they are looking into interference in other campaigns.
Panic in DC
This story which is about to unfold could implicate some of the very same Democrats who have been trying to stop it. Trump makes reference to a great evening and said it started from there. Is he saying that Hillary Clinton started the Russia collusion story.
Arleen Richards: It wasn’t only Hillary Clinton who didn’t want Trump to win the presidency. You have to remember, he was a political outsider. He came on the scene bold and loud, unafraid of anyone. He spoke his mind and he challenged the establishment and he didn’t care what they thought. Jeff says that Britain and the European Union were worried. Here’s what he wrote:
“Governing bodies in Britain and the European Union were also worried. Candidate Trump was openly challenging monetary policy, regulations, and the power of special interests. He challenged Congress, he challenged the United Nations and the European Union, he questioned everything.”
Here’s where the CIA director John Brennan comes in. He took the lead in a plan to stop Trump from winning the presidency. But we don’t know who appointed him or if he took it upon himself to do it. In any case, he was not assigned that duty by President Obama, so the information he gathered from foreign intelligence in the UK was not official. But he did get the ball rolling by spreading it in the domestic intelligence community. And James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence assisted him.
Press play to listen. What do you think we’ll learn with the declassification? Please let us know in the comments below.