EXCLUSIVE: Trump Launched Campaign to Discredit Potential FBI Witnesses https://t.co/eWCvTH461o
— Robbie Gramer (@RobbieGramer) January 26, 2018
President Donald Trump pressed senior aides last June to devise and carry out a campaign to discredit senior FBI officials after learning that those specific employees were likely to be witnesses against him as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, according to two people directly familiar with the matter.
In testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8, recently fired FBI Director James Comey disclosed that he spoke contemporaneously with other senior bureau officials about potentially improper efforts by the president to curtail the FBI’s investigation of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election…
Not long after Comey’s Senate testimony, Trump hired John Dowd, a veteran criminal defense attorney, to represent him in matters related to Mueller’s investigation. Dowd warned Trump that the potential corroborative testimony of the senior FBI officials in Comey’s account would likely play a central role in the special counsel’s final conclusion, according to people familiar with the matter.
In discussions with at least two senior White House officials, Trump repeated what Dowd had told him to emphasize why he and his supporters had to “fight back harder,” in the words of one of these officials…
While Dowd’s private advice to the president would ordinarily be protected by attorney-client privilege, Mueller might be able to probe comments that Trump made to others about that legal advice by asking him directly about it as well as anyone else he shared that advice with.
A person with direct knowledge of the matter said although Dowd explained the risks of senior FBI officials joining Comey in testifying against Trump, that information was part of a broader presentation to the president about Mueller’s investigation. It is not improper, but in fact is a duty, for an attorney to explain to a client how they are at risk, the source said. What may have been improper, however, were actions Trump took upon learning that information.
Since Dowd gave him that information, Trump — as well as his aides, surrogates, and some Republican members of Congress — has engaged in an unprecedented campaign to discredit specific senior bureau officials and the FBI as an institution.
The FBI officials Trump has targeted are Andrew McCabe, the current deputy FBI director and who was briefly acting FBI director after Comey’s firing; Jim Rybicki, Comey’s chief of staff and senior counselor; and James Baker, formerly the FBI’s general counsel. Those same three officials were first identified as possible corroborating witnesses for Comey in a June 7 article in Vox. Comey confirmed in congressional testimony the following day that he confided in the three men.
In the past, presidents have attacked special counsels and prosecutors who have investigated them, calling them partisan and unfair. But no previous president has attacked a long-standing American institution such as the FBI — or specific FBI agents and law enforcement officials…
That Trump may have been motivated to attack specific FBI officials because they were potential witnesses against him could demonstrate potential intent that would bolster an obstruction of justice case.
You’d think, given the Mafia contacts NYC building developer Trump has allegedly developed, he’d have been told by now that ‘okay, we’ll just get rid of those troublemaking witnesses’ is *not* as easy and foolproof a tactic as ‘declaring bankruptcy and walking away from my latest failure’. But then again, maybe he’s What His Party Wants…
Republicans are now more satisfied with the "moral and ethical climate" of the country than they have been for 8+ years pic.twitter.com/cWFS1VfI7g
— Will Jordan (@williamjordann) January 26, 2018
After eight years of having to suffer under the most personally upstanding president in decades, Republicans finally have their moral and ethical role model in charge: Donald Trump. https://t.co/JOkrPV5yj6
— Eric Kleefeld (@EricKleefeld) January 26, 2018
"Sen. Thom Tillis was one of the first Republicans to try to save the special counsel. Now he says his bill isn’t urgent, even after news Trump tried to fire Mueller."https://t.co/3XPg4vxw6i
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) January 26, 2018