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Trump Lawyer Accuses Mueller of ‘Unlawfully’ Obtaining Transition Team Emails

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The Trump attorney argued that special counsel Robert Mueller’s office has “extensively used the materials in question” during its investigation even though its some of the materials were subject to protections. | Alex Wong/Getty Images

A lawyer for President Donald Trump’s transition team alledges special counsel Robert Mueller unlawfully obtained tens of thousands of private emails during its investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election.

According to an  Axios, exclusive special counsel Robert Mueller confiscated thousands of e-mails and communications from President Donald J. Trump’s transition team, including emails from notable figures such as Jared Kushner and other high profile aides.

“Trump officials discovered Mueller had the emails when his prosecutors used them as the basis for questions to witnesses, the sources said.  The emails include 12 accounts, one of which contains about 7,000 emails, the sources said.

The accounts include the team’s political leadership and the foreign-policy team, the sources said.”

Kory Langhofer, an Arizona-based attorney representing Trump for America, spelled out the complaint in a seven-page letter sent Saturday to the main House and Senate oversight committees where he accuses Mueller’s team of potential violations of attorney-client privilege and the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unlawful search and seizure.

Mueller’s obtained the records earlier this summer from the General Services Administration, the government agency charged with holding all transition materials, even while it was “aware that the GSA did not own or control the records in question,” Langhofer wrote.

The Trump attorney also argued that Mueller’s office has “extensively used the materials in question” during its investigation even though its prosecutors were aware some of the materials were subject to claims of attorney-client privilege and other protections.

Mueller spokesman Peter Carr defended the special counsel’s work in a statement issued just past midnight on Sunday, several hours after this story first posted. “When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner’s consent or appropriate criminal process,” he said.

The Trump team’s complaint – which a source close to the transition said it intends to elevate by filing a formal letter to Mueller — is the latest in a series of legal maneuvers seeking to challenge the special counsel’s authority. The effort to rein in the probe is expected to increase as the Russia prosecutors continue their work while they simultaneously prepare for a criminal trial next year against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates.

Several former Justice and national security officials and experts in federal criminal law cast doubt Saturday that the Trump transition team’s complaint amounted to a serious breach.

“I seriously doubt there is anything here to taint the Mueller investigation,” according to William Jeffress, a white-collar defense attorney who represented Vice President Dick Cheney’s senior aide, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, during the Valerie Plame CIA leak investigation. Jeffress added the letter included no evidence to prove any privileged information had been obtained by Mueller’s team and that even if it were, there are procedures for retrieving them.

Democrats and Trump critics erupted after news of the letter broke, warning that the allegations against Mueller smacked of a pretext for Trump firing him. White House attorney Ty Cobb on Saturday declined comment about the transition team’s specific complaint, but he insisted to POLITICO that an ouster of Mueller isn’t in the offing.

“As the White House has repeatedly and emphatically said for months, there is no consideration at the White House of terminating the special counsel,” Cobb said.

According to Langhofer’s letter, the Trump transition team first learned that the special counsel had obtained the emails from GSA earlier this week. It took those concerns to Brandon Van Grack, a Mueller prosecutor, who confirmed the special counsel’s prosecutors had obtained laptops, cell phones and at least one iPad from GSA.

“But he assured us that the Special Counsel’s investigation did not recover any emails or other relevant data from that hardware,” Langhofer said.

The Trump attorney added that, during the conversation, Van Grack “failed to disclose the critical fact that undercut the importance of his representations, namely, that the Special Counsel’s Office had simultaneously received from the GSA tens of thousands of emails, including a very significant volume of privileged material, and that the Special Counsel’s Office was actively using those materials without any notice to TFA.” Van Grack also declined to identify the 13 transition officials whose materials the special counsel’s office had obtained.

In subsequent conversations, Van Grack declined to spell out what procedures the special counsel’s office had undertaken to protect the transition’s privileged communications and he also acknowledged Mueller hadn’t set up the kinds of ethical reviews required to protect the evidence and “instead simply reviewed the privileged communications contained in the PTT materials,” Langhofer said.

Trump’s transition lawyer also took aim in its letter at GSA, which it accused of “unlawful conduct” that undermines the Presidential Transition Act of 1963, a law that spells out the procedural rules for a change in power from one president to the next.

After learning in March that Russia investigators were seeking its records, Langhofer said he contacted GSA to get assurances that the transition’s lawyers would be the conduit for the materials. Then-GSA General Counsel Richard Beckler in June explained to him that all requests for the transition’s communications would indeed be routed through its lawyers and that GSA would hold all of the material in secure facilities.

In August, while Beckler was in the hospital and incapacitated, Mueller’s office and FBI agents approached GSA twice for Trump transition materials, Langhofer said. GSA career staff, he added, produced the materials without making exceptions for attorney-client, deliberative process or presidential communications privileges.

Beckler died in September, and career GSA staff didn’t consult or inform his successor of what Langhofer called “the unauthorized production of PTT materials.”

Ken Nahigian, the Trump transition’s executive director and trustee, said in an interview that GSA’s decision to share the emails with Mueller’s office would have a long-term detrimental effect for future transitions. “Future transitions will have to re-examine this relationship,” he said. “Justice by any means isn’t justice.”

The latest complaint against Mueller comes amid a barrage of criticism from Trump allies that the special counsel investigation itself is tainted on multiple fronts. Republicans have increasingly urged Trump to fire Mueller regardless of the political consequences.

Mueller taking on the role since mid-May, has already obtained a guilty plea and cooperation from former national security adviser Michael Flynn. That followed criminal indictments against Manafort and Gates on charges that include money laundering and tax evasion. Both men have pleaded not guilty and a trial is expected next year. The special counsel has also obtained a guilty plea from former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos for lying to the FBI.

As the Trump transition complaint surfaced Saturday, several Democrats and former Justice officials cautioned that it may be an additional attempt at casting doubt on Mueller’s integrity.

“’Private documents’ on a US Government, public email system? What are they afraid was found? Baloney. This is another attempt to discredit Mueller as his #TrumpRussia probe tightens,” Rep. Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat and member of the House Judiciary and Intelligence panels, posted on Twitter.

“Why are Trump’s lawyers upset that Mueller obtained transition emails from a government agency? (Hint: They’re just playing politics, but this is a bad sign for them.),” added former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti on Twitter.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, questioned why Trump officials would be taking issue with an attempt by GSA to cooperate with investigators.

“Our committee has direct jurisdiction over the Presidential Transition Act, and it simply does not support withholding transition team emails from criminal investigators,” the Maryland Democrat said. “The president’s lawyers have said they want to fully comply with special counsel Mueller’s investigation, so it is odd that they now suggest they would have withheld key documents from federal investigators.”

Axios and Politico contributed to this report.

 

LeNora Millen         12-17-17

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Oklahoma Teachers Exercise their Voice

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Oklahoma Teachers Exercise their VOICE!

Oklahoma public school teachers banded together to strike for supplies and better wages

Have you heard the “tea” on the statewide teacher walk-out in the state of Oklahoma and the ripple effect it’s starting in the country? Well, if you haven’t and you’re the kind of person that need numbers and statics, which are important, don’t get me wrong. I hope that this article encourages you to take a deeper look into this now national situation and also, take a deeper look at your education system in your own backyard. However, in this article, I want to give readers a candid look inside of the protest from the perspective of a now local resident and a first time experience of anything like this.

I originally had no intention of attending the walk-out at the state capital here in Oklahoma City. To keep it all the way real, which I wouldn’t have it another way, I didn’t think it would last more than a day if it happened at all. Now I know, some of you are probably wondering why I’m glad you asked… While I’m not a public educator, I’ve lived in Oklahoma City for 10 years now and have worked closely with the public school system for the majority of my time here. Teachers have been complaining about things like lack of fair pay, little to sometimes no supplies and little to no budget to properly serve those with special needs, to name a few. However, even though this is a real problem, the teachers stay for something much bigger than themselves and their personal needs, they stay for the love of the children and communities they serve. Because, I know first hand of the passion and degree of selflessness it takes to continue to work under certain conditions, I didn’t think they would actually follow through with it.

April 2, 2018, was the first day of the protest and over 35,000 we’re said were in attendance. In my gut, I didn’t think it would last but thought they put forth a gallant effort to get the attention of Governor Mary Fallin and legislators. Day 2 a reported 38,000 was reported to have been in attendance, the people weren’t backing down. In fact, they said they weren’t moving until their voices were heard! I had the exhilarating experience of attending Day 3 of the protest at the capital with, again well over 30,000 people in attendance, standing strong. By this time, teachers from Tulsa Oklahoma banded together to make the 107-mile walk to the capital and the public educators in  Kentucky started a protest of their own. I’ve never actually experienced anything like that in my life and I wanted to give you my raw perspective on what it was like up close and personal.  I’ll start by saying that seeing the coverage is one thing but actually being there has had an entirely different effect and perspective for me as an individual.

On my way to the capital, I didn’t know what to expect, it was bumper to bumper traffic down 23rd street. I saw people walking from as far as three miles back with bright signs, picketing on their way to the capital. I would be lying if I told you I didn’t say a little prayer driving past them, just hoping I had a closer parking place just for me… whoa yes! Keep in mind, I just started doing research that morning and even with that, I didn’t know how deep it would be. I found a spot a little under a mile from the action and for that, I was grateful.

  Upon the first exit of my car, I felt an almost magnetic pull in the atmosphere that drew me towards the masses. It was a surreal feeling as if I couldn’t help it. I don’t think I’ve experienced a situation where I was standing near or in the middle of a crowd of people where most of the attendees stood in agreement of what they saw as the greater good for humanity. Sure, this amount of people fill-up arena venues and stadiums all over the world every day with numbers larger than this. However, this was an entirely different energy that surged among the masses.   

Coming alone to something like this definitely has its pros and cons, but I decided to make the best out of this situation and take it all in. I took my time and literally observed everything before I actually arrived and walked straight into the nucleus of the action. To be honest, my mind was blown before I got there. The first thing I noticed was the amount of school age kids that were there to either stand with their parents or support their teachers. I’m not kidding, there was an almost equal ratio of teens to adults. Most made very creative signs that reflected their personal feelings and viewpoints. People of all races, colors, and creeds stood together in unity, standing for what they believed was right. 

  I was overwhelmed by the number of people that wanted to be a part of my candid coverage for Exposure Magazine. I walked next to different groups of people and gained many different perspectives, from both sides, although mostly from one, how affected the public education community and the children that are in it really are. Because people were literally standing there ALL DAY there were food vendors who volunteered their foods and services to the cause. Other services that we might not think of like water and restrooms were also provided and school-aged kids 18 and under had everything provided for them free of charge, from snacks, water, meals and even some local events were held around the city, and childcare in some places as well.

The photo (on the left) depicts not only the unity but the faith exercised by some of the teens in attendance at the protest rally. However, I must acknowledge some of the views from the opposing side as well. People were concerned that a rally like this could cause an uproar in not only the state of Oklahoma but the country as a whole, which could threaten not only overthrowing the government at a state level but eventually the country. There were also some angry parents across the state that were concerned that, they weren’t properly informed or considered during the uprising in standing against both local and state officials. Parents that are accustomed to their children going to school all day. The walkout could cause other unforeseen charges such as childcare, extra food, and transportation expenses. Some parents are concerned, if this goes on much longer, they too, are at risk of not having a job.  Some people think this entire protest can help create a lose/lose effect on children both home and at school. I completely understand and see this side clearly. Seeing this side so clearly made me want to take a deeper look at another viewpoint, just to even out the playing field so to speak.

 

As I walked through the massive amounts of people, reading the signs, listening to conversations and observing the different emotions throughout the capital, I found myself almost at the front of the stage which to me, served as the nucleus of the protest. This is where I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing teacher of Del City school district Joy A. Glenn Ahmad. She has been a teacher since 1976 and explained her viewpoint with literal tears in her eyes. Ahmad explained that the teachers demanded 200 million dollars from local and state officials which would cover a $6,000 raise to teachers, some whom haven’t seen a raise for over a decade and some who are only making it with the help of there spouses income to sustain their own family. The rest of the money would be used for much-needed supplies and educational material for the 700,000 students the public school system serves.

Students stand together and pray with teachers during Oklahoma Teacher Walkout 2018

Teachers voices were in fact heard and they were granted 50 million dollars, a quarter of what they were asking, which only would cover the much-needed raises for the teachers. This offer was rejected by the teachers and the strike continued as planned. Teachers claim that this was less about them and more about the students they serve and they refused to take a raise and leave the students needs out. To give me a clear perspective she shared the picture with me you see to the left.

The book cart shared among teachers and students

  I know, it seems like a cart with books on it, what’s the big deal, right? I thought the same thing until she explained to me that this was the cart of books shared between classes for teaching materials for both students and teachers. This cart is the only access to educational materials for the entire high school. I was shocked, to say the least, I couldn’t help but wonder if the parents who are against the protest are aware of the true condition of their children education. Were they aware that this was perhaps the reason for Oklahoma having the lowest test scores and reading scores in the country? Or, does the need to survive and provide for their families now take precedence over the future of their children and possibly the future of the leaders of the state of Oklahoma. This is obviously an “elephant in the room” that couldn’t be ignored anymore. What do you think? Are you aware, truly aware of your education system in your own backyard? This movement that now, has national attention will continue for week 2 in the state Oklahoma. Teachers claim, they will not back down until their voices are heard! This protest has potential to change the education system not only in the state but in the country. Don’t forget to keep up with both local and national news for up close and personal coverage. 

#thatsall 

 

-Deonna Marie

 

Deonna Marie | The Gift of Voice, Professional Classical Singer, Vocal Coach, and Speaker

Facebook: @thegiftofvoice

Instagram: @thegift_ofvoice

Email:  deonnamarie2003@gmail.com

Youtube: Deonna Marie Cattledge

 

 

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The Former President Barack Obama Speaks: In your own ability to make a difference in your community and your country.

The Former President Barack Obama Speaks:

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Friend —

A little over a year ago, at my farewell address in Chicago, I asked you to believe. Not in a candidate, or a politician, or a party — in yourself.

In your own ability to make a difference in your community and your country.

For eight years in the White House — and long before that — I’d seen it happen time and time again: ordinary people who got involved, stayed involved, and pushed for a better future for this country we love.

That’s how change happens.

And this November, we have a chance to make that change happen in local and federal elections across the country. We cannot squander it.

Commit to vote in November 2018. Say you’ll fulfill your duty as a citizen, and that you’ll keep pushing for progress.

That faith I placed all those years ago in the power of ordinary Americans to bring about change — that faith has been rewarded in ways I couldn’t possibly have imagined.

In the past year, I saw people like Kim, an OFA volunteer in Virginia, bravely share her story during the health care fight — of how, before Obamacare, her 13-month-old son Isaac was on the verge of being kicked off insurance as he went through surgery after surgery. She spoke up, and helped save health care for Isaac and millions of Americans.

I saw folks in South Carolina identify a problem with their town’s outdated, dangerous school buses — then roll up their sleeves, do some organizing, and get the statehouse to fund new buses for Charleston’s kids.

And I saw a new generation of young leaders grab clipboards, collect signatures, and decide to run for office themselves.

Throughout 2017, I saw Americans all over the country step up, have the tough conversations, and speak out about the issues affecting us all. We have to keep it up in 2018 — because every ballot measure, every election, every conversation on an issue we care about — it all matters.

There are no do-overs.

So right now, I’m asking you to make a commitment: Seize the power you have. Speak up. Make this democracy work. Do not succumb to cynicism. And say you’ll vote in 2018 — there’s too much at stake this year to sit this out.

I’m in

Thank you,

Barack Obama

Reported by Tam Lawrence

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Trump Tweets About an ‘Insecure’ and ‘Biased’ Oprah Winfrey Over Her ’60 Minutes’ Segment

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Oprah Winfrey in a 60 minutes segment with a voter focus group on America’s political divide.  (Photo Courtesy of CBS News).

Donald Trump venting over the FBI and the Russia investigation took to Twitter on Sunday night in a tweetstorm attack on Oprah Winfrey following her “60 Minutes” segment on America’s political divide. Despite his denial of spending time watching television, his response to Winfrey stated otherwise.

“Just watched a very insecure Oprah Winfrey, who at one point I knew very well, interview a panel of people on 60 Minutes,” tweeted Trump, “The questions were biased and slanted, the facts incorrect. Hope Oprah runs so she can be exposed and defeated just like all of the others!”

Winfrey’s report followed up her September segment featuring the same panel of Trump voters and non-Trump voters in the battleground state of Michigan. The goal of the segment was to understand their thoughts on his presidency and direction of the country one year after he took office.

In the wake of Winfrey’s historic #MeToo speech during the Golden Globes in January, an #Oprah2020 movement took root, with many stars – including Meryl Streep and Steven Spielberg – calling on Winfrey to consider running. Days later, Trump addressed the speculation, telling the press, “Yeah, I’ll beat Oprah.”

In 1999, Trump thought Winfrey would be a good running mate.  At the time Trump said: “I know her very well. You know, I did one of her last shows. She had Donald Trump – this was before politics – her last week, and she had Donald Trump and my family. It was very nice.”

Oprah Winfrey, despite earlier rumors of a presidential bid, has been clear that she has no intention of running for president.  Making it clear on her intentions she said in a 60 Minutes overtime clip separate from Sunday’s report. “If God actually wanted me to run, wouldn’t God kind of tell me?”

@LeNoraMillen       02-20-18

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