Indictments Tainted by Conflicts of Interest and Media Leaks

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Robert Mueller recently received some sharp criticism for his role in conducting an investigation into purported Russian collusion. However, the disapproval of the special counsel seems to have come from an unexpected source.

The Wall Street Journal, which is known to be unfriendly to President Donald Trump, called on Mueller to resign.

The Journal opined, “The Fusion news means the FBI’s role in Russia’s election interference must now be investigated—even as the FBI and Justice insist that Mr. Mueller’s probe prevents them from cooperating with Congressional investigators.”

“Mr. Mueller is a former FBI director, and for years he worked closely with Mr. Comey. It is no slur against Mr. Mueller’s integrity to say that he lacks the critical distance to conduct a credible probe of the bureau he ran for a dozen years. He could best serve the country by resigning to prevent further political turmoil over that conflict of interest,” the Journal stated.

The discredited dossier, paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC to the opposition firm Fusion GPS, may have been used to launch the investigation that led to Mueller’s appointment.

Mueller is the same individual who was the FBI director that oversaw the agency’s investigation into the criminal behavior of Russian bribery, extortion, and money laundering that had the underlying purpose of obtaining control over America’s uranium supply.

Part of Mueller’s FBI probe at the time centered on Uranium One, the infamous entity involved in the sale of one-fifth of the U.S. supply of uranium. It is self-evident that any current investigation into Russian activities would be severely impacted by Mueller’s past. This special counsel evidently lacks the independence that is required in order to conduct an impartial probe and may additionally have conflicts when it comes to looking into the propriety of the FBI’s investigation of Russian criminality.

In this same time period when the Journal is applying pressure on Mueller and several scandals that implicate the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee are dominating much of the media, CNN is somehow the recipient of an exclusive breaking story indicating that charges have been brought by Mueller’s grand jury and an arrest may soon occur.

The cable news outlet cited anonymous sources that were “briefed on the matter.”

Sharyl Attkisson, former investigative journalist for CBS News, does not view the timing of the reports of the Mueller indictments as coincidental.

“Friday leak of grand jury indictments. If you’ve ready [read] The Smear, you probably believe it’s intended to dominate news coverage this weekend and drown out talk of Uranium One scandal. You’re pretty smart!” Attkisson tweeted.

Conventionally, an individual who is indicted by a grand jury is immediately notified; however, according to CNN, neither the defendant or the defendant’s lawyers have been notified.

The grand jury is an important part of our criminal justice system and is prominently featured in the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.

The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure specify that a prosecutor may not leak evidence, or even the existence of a grand jury’s investigation, to the press. A sealed indictment is an indictment that is sealed so that it stays non-public until such a time as it is unsealed.

In the rare case such as this when the indictment is sealed, the judge orders that the indictment be kept secret until the defendant is in custody or has been released pending trial. No person may disclose the indictment’s existence, except as necessary to issue or execute a warrant or a summons. Consequently, it is clearly illegal to leak information on a sealed indictment to the press.

In August of this year, leaks appeared in the press indicating that Mueller had impaneled a grand jury, and the possibility exists that an individual or group of individuals within Mueller’s office may be the source of information about the initial impaneling of the grand jury as well as the sealed indictments recently leaked to CNN.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made the criminal nature of such a leak clear.

“First off, it’s supposed to be kept a secret … There are very strict criminal laws about disclosing grand jury information. Now, depending on who disclosed this to CNN, it could be a crime,” the governor told ABC’s “This Week.”

Christie, calling upon his experience as a former prosecutor, emphasized how seriously grand jury secrecy is taken by those in the criminal justice system, stating that the public has to have “confidence in the fact that the grand jury process is secret and as a result fair… Again, we don’t know who leaked it to CNN. It would be a crime if prosecutors or agents leaked it.”

South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy, Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, appeared to lay the responsibility on Mueller for allowing the media to learn about sealed grand jury charges in the Russia investigation.

“In the only conversation I’ve had with Robert Mueller, I stressed to him the importance of cutting out the leaks,” Gowdy told “Fox News Sunday.”

“It’s kind of ironic that the people charged with investigating the law and the violations of the law would violate the law,” the chairman remarked.

Even though CNN did not indicate who had been charged, the number of individuals charged, or what charges had been filed by Mueller’s team, the cable network appeared to have some knowledge of whom the subject of the sealed indictment may be.

CNN reporter Pamela Brown indicated that the network knows more than they have reported concerning the identity of the individual or individuals targeted by Mueller’s indictment.

“We have a sense of who the charges are against, the person or people, but our understanding is that the person or people who have been charged have not been notified yet,” Brown said.

Leaking to the press would appear to be consistent with the heavy handed tactics Mueller’s team has been utilizing. In July the team reportedly told former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort that it planned to indict him. Subsequently, Manafort’s door lock was reportedly picked and an unannounced pre-dawn raid of his Virginia home was conducted.

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