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Mueller was incapable of charging Trump with obstruction because of ‘defective’ regulations: former assistant

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A former assistant to Robert Mueller said the special counsel did not charge President Donald Trump with obstruction of justice because of “defective” regulations surrounding his position.

In an interview with Newsweek, Michael Zeldin — the former special counsel for money laundering under Mueller when he was assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s criminal division — said his former boss needed more independence in his role.

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“My thought is that the special counsel regulations are defective,” Zeldin said, “because of the problem we see in this case, which is the special counsel is really not a truly independent counsel.”

Though Mueller was not managed day-to-day by the DOJ, he was nevertheless “obliged to adhere to Department of Justice policy and perhaps preference—unless he objects to their decision, in which case there has to be a notification to Congress,” the attorney said.

The report noted that when Zeldin and Mueller worked together at the DOJ in the early 1990’s, they operated under a Watergate-era law governing independent counsels that Congress allowed to expire in 1999.

The newer special counsel law, according to the Congressional Research Service, allows for “less ‘independence’ from the attorney general and the Department of Justice than did the independent counsels.”

“The problem we find ourselves in today in part is Mueller went along with the Department of Justice’s policy that he felt that he was really duty bound to,” Zeldin said, adding that DOJ regulations on the release of documents “swung the pendulum too far in favor of secrecy.”

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“So now we have the situation where everyone is clamoring for an understanding of what underlies Mueller’s belief that the evidence does not exonerate the president,” the attorney said, “and we don’t have an easy way to get it.”

Because the full report has not yet been disclosed to the public — and may never be — Americans “don’t really know how big of a problem it is” that Mueller left the obstruction question blank.

Zeldin added that there was potentially a disagreement between the special counsel’s office and Attorney General William Barr, which may have resulted in Mueller deferring to the DOJ’s “traditional decision to not prosecute” and not pushing for a subpoena.

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Barr, the former Mueller aide said, “just pulled out one sentence from the report and, like most things, things don’t make sense until you see the full context, so we’re also left groping in the dark.”

“That’s the problem,” Zeldin concluded.

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Chinese diplomats unleashed to pummel the reeling Trump administration: report

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According to a report from Politico, Chinese diplomats have been unleashed, as well as urged, to attack Donald Trump's administration and the U.S. in general via social media like Twitter -- turning the president's favorite social media platform back on him.

"The tactic comes as China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has reportedly urged his diplomats to adopt a 'fighting spirit,' which has led to Chinese diplomat Lijian Zhao to describe "America as 'unjust, 'inhumane' and 'hypocritical.' He’s gone so far as to slam neighborhood segregation in Washington, D.C., and assert that 'racial discrimination, gun violence, violent law enforcement are chronic diseases deeply rooted in U.S. society," Politico reports.

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Trump’s next 100 days will dictate whether he can be re-elected or not — here’s why

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According to CNN pollster-in-residence Harry Enten, Donald Trump's next 100 days -- which could include an impeachment trial in the Senate -- will hold the key to whether he will remain president in 2020.

As Eten explains in a column for CNN, "His [Trump's] approval rating has been consistently low during his first term. Yet his supporters could always point out that approval ratings before an election year have not historically been correlated with reelection success. But by mid-March of an election year, approval ratings, though, become more predictive. Presidents with low approval ratings in mid-March of an election year tend to lose, while those with strong approval ratings tend to win in blowouts and those with middling approval ratings usually win by small margins."

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Who is the audience for the Judiciary Committee’s impeachment hearing?

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What is the purpose and who is the audience for Wednesday’s Judiciary Committee Hearing? The Democrats must do better, for all our sakes.

I have long expressed my exasperation with the timid way in which the House Democratic leadership has only reluctantly moved toward impeachment, even in the face of the damning Mueller Report, and then has proceeded in the most narrow and legalistic way imaginable.

Trump is a very dangerous President, and it is imperative that he be called to account and ultimate removed for his abuses of office. The current crisis could be an opportunity for the Democrats to do this in a way that is legally and politically empowering. But the Democrats seem intent, yet again, on squandering this opportunity with their legalistic narrowness.

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