Mueller Tasks Adviser With Getting Ahead of Pre-Emptive Pardons

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U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has a distinctly modern problem. The president, judging by his tweets, could try to pardon people in his circle even before prosecutors charge anyone with a crime.

Mueller’s all-star team of prosecutors, with expertise in money laundering and foreign bribery, has an answer to that. He’s Michael Dreeben, a bookish career government lawyer with more than 100 Supreme Court appearances under his belt.

Acting as Mueller’s top legal counsel, Dreeben has been researching past pardons and determining what, if any, limits exist, according to a person familiar with the matter. Dreeben’s broader brief is to make sure the special counsel’s prosecutorial moves are legally airtight. That could include anything from strategizing on novel interpretations of criminal law to making sure the recent search warrant on ex-campaign adviser Paul Manafort’s home would stand up to an appeal.

"He’s seen every criminal case of any consequence in the last 20 years," said Kathryn Ruemmler of Latham & Watkins LLP, who served as White House counsel under President Barack Obama. "If you wanted to do a no-knock warrant, he’d be a great guy to consult with to determine if you were exposing yourself.”

Three Decades

Dreeben, 62, built that expertise over three decades as an appeals lawyer at the Justice Department. As a deputy solicitor general, he’s pored over prosecutors’ moves in more than a thousand federal criminal prosecutions and defended many of them from challenges all they way to the nation’s highest court.

Dreeben has begun working on legal issues as a counselor to Mueller but is also retaining some of his solicitor general work for the sake of continuity, according to Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel’s office. Carr declined to elaborate on Dreeben’s work with Mueller or make Dreeben available for comment.

Pre-emptive pardons are a distinct possibility now that current and former Trump advisers are under Mueller’s scrutiny. Trump himself has tweeted that everyone agrees the U.S. president has “complete power to pardon." Some of those kinds of executive moves have been well studied, including Gerald Ford’s swift pardon of Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton’s exoneration of fugitive financier Marc Rich. But the legal territory is largely uncharted over pardons of a president’s own campaign workers, family members or even himself -- and how prosecutors’ work would then be affected.

Trump, Russia and the Early Murmurs About Pardons: QuickTake Q&A

What Dreeben brings to the question, say those who know him, is a credibility that comes from parsing how criminal prosecutions have played out across the country. A balding and bearded New Jersey native with a slightly nasal delivery, he has a knack for building careful arguments and the eloquence in court to lay them out in well-reasoned paragraphs, said Miguel Estrada, a lawyer at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP.

His path wasn’t exactly direct. Dreeben intended to pursue an advanced degree in history at the University of Chicago before changing his mind and enrolling at Duke University School of Law, according to a profile of him last year in Law360. He studied at Duke under Sara Beale, who’d worked in the Solicitor General’s office and helped plant the idea of representing the U.S. in arguments before the country’s highest court.

Dreeben got his first shot in 1989. His opponent before the Supreme Court was another first-timer, a private practice lawyer named John Roberts.

Dreeben lost. But the moment left an impression on Roberts, now the court’s Chief Justice. After Dreeben made his 100th argument before the court last year, Roberts called him back to the lectern, recalling the decades-earlier meeting.

“You have consistently advocated positions on behalf of the United States in an exemplary manner,” Roberts said, extending the court’s appreciation for his “many years of advocacy and dedicated service.”

Dreeben had urged the court that day to uphold the conviction of former Virginia governor Robert McDonnell on charges of public corruption. The Supreme Court ultimately overturned McDonnell’s conviction.

Dreeben’s reviews of how cases were built against McDonnell and others will be invaluable to Mueller. Appellate lawyers like Dreeben are stuck with decisions already made at the prosecutorial level, said Estrada, who worked in the Solicitor General’s office in the 1990s. But now, he added, Dreeben is in a position to troubleshoot problems before cases are filed.

“You have to argue what you’ve got, and the cake is already baked,” Estrada said. On Mueller’s team, by contrast, Dreeben “has the opportunity to measure the flour.”

http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/robert-mueller-investigating-trump...

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I thought Mueller was supposed to just be focused on Russia-collusion?  The witch-hunt continues to expand............ILLEGALLY.   Sessions:  get the hell off your ass!

Congress should get off it's collective ass also.

the President has full authority to pardon as he sees fit except in cases of impeachment.

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Taxpayers Shell Out $220K For
Another Dem’s Sexual Harassment Settlement

(TeaParty.org) – Just as the American taxpayer was finished reeling from outrage after John Conyers Jr. settled his sexual harassment lawsuit using taxpayer money, another Democrat has been caught in the same dirty act.

Up next is Democratic Congressman Alcee Hastings, accused of harassment and the unwanted touching of Republican staffer Winsome Packer, who was on the United States Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Hastings claims that he was not aware of the settlement and that he is outraged that taxpayer money was used to pay off the staffer.

“This matter was handled solely by the Senate Chief Counsel for Employment. At no time was I consulted, nor did I know until after the fact that such a settlement was made,” he said,according to Roll Call. “I am outraged that any taxpayer dollars were needlessly paid to Ms. [Winsome] Packer.”

From Politico:

The lawsuit was filed in 2011 by Judicial Watch, a public interest group. In the lawsuit, a former staffer on the United States Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Packer, alleges she was the victim of “unwelcome sexual advances” and “unwelcome touching” by then-chairman Hastings.

Packer also claimed retaliation by the congressman and his staff director, Fred Turner, who also was named in the suit. The conservative judicial watchdog charged that Packer was unfairly targeted because she was a Republican serving in a commission ruled by Democrats.

This wasn’t the first time that Hastings has had a run in with the law. He was formerly a federal judge in a district court in his home state of Florida. In 1988, he was impeached by the House for bribery and perjury, and was later removed from the bench by the Senate. He was only the sixth federal judge in the history of this country to be removed from the bench by the Senate.

The lawsuit against Hastings in 2011 was filed by Judicial Watch. At the time, Tom Fitton, who still heads Judicial Watch, said the following:

“The allegations against Alcee Hastings as detailed in this complaint are outrageous. For two years Hastings subjected Ms. Packer to a never-ending barrage of unwanted sexual advances. And when Ms. Packer tried, time and again, to put a stop to it, he resorted to threats and intimidation to force her compliance. Even after Hastings’ behavior caused Ms. Packer’s physical collapse, he would not relent. We look forward to holding Alcee Hastings and the other defendants accountable for their unlawful behavior in court.”

Ms. Packer says that she was sexually harassed by Hastings from 2008 to 2010 and that when she complained about it, Hastings and Commission Staff Director Fred Turner made threats against her, including termination.

The news about Hastings comes at the same time that sexual assault allegations have exploded in the Congress, leading to resignations by several of its members. In addition to Conyers’ scandal, Senator Al Franken was accused by several women of grabbing their breasts and butts. There is a picture of Franken cupping the breasts of a woman that had gone on a trip for the USO to entertain the troops. Taxpayers also paid out $84,000 for sexual harassment charges against Republican Blake Farenthold.

Both Conyers and Franken have resigned from the House and Senate respectively. All told, the taxpayers have footed $17 million out in settlements. Judicial Watch and others have filed Freedom of Information Act lawsuits to get the complete list of all payouts made on behalf of congressmen and possibly women. What they find out could further shock and outrage Americans, and spark a fire for more reform.

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