With special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe reportedly delivering a report to Attorney General William Barr as soon as next week, President Donald Trump may feel that if the report fails to implicate him directly in any specific wrongdoing, he will finally be out of the woods.
But as former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Wednesday night, that is far from the case.
For one thing, Katyal said, while the report may be a final summation, signifying the end of the investigation under special counsel regulations, which is what the media seems to assume, that is not necessarily what it is. “There’s also a separate provision in the regulations for ‘urgent action reports,’ and it’s certainly possible that all this is is Mueller saying he’s providing some sort of report but not a final report. It doesn’t say he’s concluding the investigation on his own or anything like that.”
For another thing, if it is indeed the final report, Barr would then have to write his own report and deliver it to Congress, “and it’s contemplated in the regulations that that report should be public, if the public administration of justice so requires. So two different reports.”
“But most importantly, these are only about Mueller and his investigation, which is a very limited one, into Russia counterintelligence and then obstruction of justice, the firing of [FBI Director James] Comey,” Katyal added. “It doesn’t have to do with the Southern District investigation, the Trump Foundation, the other things Congress is looking into and the like. So that’s all separate.” And worse still, if the investigation only makes a brief summary public, that could actually be “counterproductive” to the president, because “it won’t resolve anything.”
If Trump believes the end of the Mueller investigation will be the end of his legal problems, Katyal said, he’s in for a big surprise. The investigation, he said, is like “the internet,” and when Trump focuses all his anger on the Mueller probe, “he’s like a 1950s hacker cutting a phone line … this is a much bigger, much more metastasized investigation.”
Former Acting Solicitor General @neal_katyal says Pres. Trump seems not to fully understand the number of legal threats he faces outside the Mueller probe:
"He's like a 1950s hacker cutting a phone line. This is a much bigger much more metastasized investigation." pic.twitter.com/ML4aTQtCWV
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) February 21, 2019
Katyal is right. There are numerous investigations unfolding into Trump and the GOP that have nothing to do with Mueller, from the Southern District of New York’s probe into the president’s former attorney Michael Cohen paying off women, to the District of Columbia prosecutors investigating admitted Russian agent Maria Butina’s infiltration of the NRA, to the New York State Attorney General’s and Tax Office’s probe of the Trump Foundation, to the criminal investigation of Trump’s inaugural fund, to the lawsuitalleging Trump violated the Emoluments Clause when foreign diplomats stayed at his hotel, to the endless string of investigations in Congress into his finances, his actions in office, and his Cabinet members.
Even if Mueller goes away, Trump’s problems have no end in sight.
The Republicans’ impeachment lawyer made 2 huge mistakes in questioning Gordon Sondland
Ambassador Gordon Sondland delivered complex and convoluted impeachment testimony on Wednesday about his involvement in President Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal. He gave detailed evidence recounting the president and the rest of the administration’s involvement in his effort to get Ukraine to launch investigations of Trump’s political opponents — including by leveraging a potential White House meeting and a hold on military aid.
But he also, to the Republicans’ delight, left some ambiguity about how much Trump had been involved in the effort to leverage the aid, saying that he had “presumed” Ukraine’s announcement of the investigations would release the hold. And he noted that, in one phone call the president — as the scheme was slowly being uncovered — Trump angrily denied there was a quid pro quo.
Rick Santorum smacked down for claiming Sondland testimony helped Trump
On Wednesday's edition of CNN's "Cuomo Prime Time," former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) tried to argue that the testimony of E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland actually helped President Donald Trump — and was promptly challenged.
"I think the Democrats had a good morning. I don't think they had a good afternoon," said Santorum. "I think what when the Republicans actually started questioning Sondland about the details, I think it fell apart a little bit."
"How so?" asked Chris Cuomo.
"He said the president never said any of these things to him," said Santorum. "In fact, what the president said, he quoted what the president said is, no, there's no quid pro quo. What he says is, well, I'm surmising, this is what I'm just sort of gathering. Did anything come from the president? No, it came from Rudy Giuliani."
‘The cost of acquitting Donald Trump just went up’ for the Republicans: MSNBC’s Joy Ann Reid
MSNBC host Joy Ann Reid explained during the post-hearing wrap-up that things aren't looking good for Republican senators up for reelection in 2020.
In the wake of EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland's testimony, things are getting more difficult for Republicans faced with a vote on impeachment.
"Even if [the numbers] don't move, the problem is going to be a lot of these people have to run for re-election, letting the president off the hook when it's pretty clear what happened," Reid said. "This is pretty simple, and if I'm Cory Gardener (R-CO), I'm not feeling great."
Brian Williams noted that Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) is one of the many Republicans "who's leaving town on a fast horse." If anyone could be pealed off by Democrats, Williams thinks it is Hurd.