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Ex-Mueller employee calls on lawmakers to pass new independent counsel law to avoid another Congress-Barr feud

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A former federal prosecutor is calling on Congress to re-establish an independent counsel law so that investigators like Robert Mueller will have more self-determination in the future.

“How did we arrive at this moment?” Michael Zeldin, a former Mueller employee at the Justice Department, wrote in a CNN column published Saturday. “Why, unlike the reports of previous independent counsels, is Mueller’s unredacted report not being provided to Congress or the American people?”

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With the “inevitable fight” that’s soon to unfold between Congress and Attorney General Bill Barr over the release and redaction of Mueller’s report, Zeldin urged lawmakers to ask themselves one burning question: “How can we avoid a similar situation in the future?”

“My answer: It is time to bring back the Independent Counsel statute,” the ex-prosecutor declared.

Zeldin, like many others, noted that independent counsel regulations were put into effect in 1978 (and in the shadow of Watergate) “to remove the inherent conflict of interest that could arise when the Justice Department was investigating the President and other top Executive Branch officials.”

After independent counsel Ken Starr’s “detailed, and what some considered unnecessarily salacious, report” about then-President Bill Clinton’s relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, however, Congress allowed the former law to expire in 1999. The Justice Department then drafted special counsel regulations — the same ones that governed Mueller’s investigation.

Though the concerns that ultimately led to the end of the independent counsel law were valid, Zeldin wrote, it let to the predicament presented by the DOJ’s oversight in the release of his report — an issue that did not exist under the previous regulations.

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The independent counsel law’s protocol included investigators’ submission of the final report to a court that then decided to release all or part of the report to the public, the ex-prosecutor noted. It also gave Congress oversight of the release of the report and required independent counsels “to advise the House of Representatives of any substantial and credible evidence that may constitute grounds for an impeachment.”

Though President Donald Trump never did fire Mueller, his ability to do so — and his attempts to wield that power as a political bludgeon — would also have been eliminated had the independent counsel law still been active.

Under the previous law, only attorneys general could fire independent counsels, Zeldin noted, and they could get a judicial review after being removed to determine if the firing was improper.

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Finally, the ex-prosecutor noted, the independent counsel law declared that investigators had “much greater authority and discretion” than special counsel regulations.

The only way for Congress to “remedy” the many problems presented by the executive branch during and after Mueller’s investigation, Zeldin concluded, is for them to reauthorize the independent counsel law.

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2020 Election

Here are 3 winners and 3 losers from the 2020 Democratic presidential primary debate

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Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined the other leading Democratic presidential primary candidates Wednesday night in the fieriest evening of the race so far.

His presence on the stage drew fire from the other candidates, but it also seemed to change the overall tone of the debate, with more attacks, counter-attacks, and passion than was generally seen earlier in the campaign.

Here’s a (necessarily subjective!) list of the winners and losers from the fray:

Winners

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) — Warren hit her stride right as the debate started by attacking Bloomberg for his record on the mistreatment of women, racist policies, and his tax returns. She repeatedly came back to skewer the former mayor, making herself the biggest and most notable presence in the debate. But importantly, she also continuously brought the discussion back to the issues she cares about — like expanding health care, environmental justice,  and consumer protection — while getting in digs at the other candidates on the stage.

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After bombing in #DemDebate internet changes Mike Bloomberg’s ‘death’ date on Wikipedia

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Someone online changed former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's information on Wikipedia during the Wednesday debate to say that he died on Feb. 19.

After being ripped to shreds during the MSNBC Democratic debate, it became clear that Bloomberg wasn't quite as prepared as the other Democratic candidates.

The Wikipedia article was also changed to indicate that his cause of death was Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

https://twitter.com/joshrobin/status/1230333066280886273

Bloomberg had several unfortunate moments, namely his refusal to release female accusers from nondisclosure agreements, he came out in favor of fracking, he blamed India for China's involvement in climate change, and many many more things.

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Internet slams ‘cringe-worthy elitist’ Mike Bloomberg for saying he’s too rich to use TurboTax

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At the Democratic presidential debate in Nevada, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg stumbled after being asked when he will release his tax returns, when he suggested that he "can't go to TurboTax" because he's too wealthy.

Moderator: "You've said you'll release your tax returns, but why do Democrats have to wait?"

Bloomberg: "We do business around the world. The document will be thousands of pages. I can't go to TurboTax."

😂😂😂#DemDebate

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