Special counsel Robert Mueller is expanding his investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election – and now his team has sent a grand-jury subpoena seeking all communications between a former Trump aide and a so-called “hit list” of 10 members of Trump’s team, including the president himself.
Meanwhile, on Monday, President Trump ripped into former President Barack Obama, accusing him of launching an investigation into his campaign “with zero proof of wrongdoing” before the 2016 election to help “Crooked” Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House.
Trump also said the former president did nothing to stop Russian meddling during the election.
Axios.com reviewed Mueller’s subpoena sent to an unidentified witness last month. The witness appears to be former Trump aide Sam Nunberg. The site says the document seeks all communications between the witness and the following people on Mueller’s “hit list” since Nov. 1, 2015:
- Carter Page (former foreign-policy adviser to the Trump campaign)
- Corey Lewandowski (former Trump campaign manager)
- President Donald J. Trump
- Hope Hicks (outgoing White House communications director and Trump campaign adviser)
- Keith Schiller (former deputy assistant to President Trump and former director of security for the Trump Organization)
- Michael Cohen (Trump’s longtime lawyer who worked for the Trump Organization for more than a decade)
- Paul Manafort (former Trump campaign manager)
- Rick Gates (political consultant and Trump’s former campaign aide)
- Roger Stone (former Trump campaign adviser)
- Steve Bannon (former White House chief strategist and chief executive officer of Trump’s 2016 campaign)
The subpoena seeks emails, work documents, text messages, phone logs and other records of communications exchanged between the witness and the 10 individuals.
In an interview with MSNBC, Nunberg said he’d refuse to comply with the “ridiculous” subpoena from Mueller. He said it would be “really funny” if Mueller arrested him for ignoring his subpoena and that “my lawyer is about to dump me right now.”
“What they sent me was absolutely ridiculous,” Nunberg said. “They wanted every email I had with Roger Stone and with Steve Bannon. Why should I hand them emails from Nov. 1, 2015?
“I was preparing it. Should I spend 50 hours going over all my emails with Roger and with Steve Bannon? And then they wanted emails I had with Hope Hicks, with Corey Lewandowski. Are you giving me a break? It’s ridiculous.”
He added: “They asked for communications with Carter Page. Are you giving me a break? Do you think I would ever talk to that moron?”
Nunberg said he’s “not a fan of Donald Trump,” but, he added: “Mr. Trump’s right. The president is right. It’s a witch hunt. And I’m not going to cooperate! … Donald Trump did not collude with the Russians! It’s the biggest joke to ever think Donald Trump colluded with the Russians.”
Watch the MSNBC interview with Nunberg:
Nunberg appeared on more than a dozen news shows and repeated his statements, vowing not to cooperate and daring Mueller to arrest him. However, by late Monday evening, he appeared to suggest he may, indeed, cooperate with Mueller.
The grand-jury subpoena is one of the latest moves in Mueller’s apparent effort to cast a wide investigative net aimed at Trump and former campaign officials.
On Monday, President Trump tweeted: “Why did the Obama Administration start an investigation into the Trump Campaign (with zero proof of wrongdoing) long before the Election in November? Wanted to discredit so Crooked H would win. Unprecedented. Bigger than Watergate! Plus, Obama did NOTHING about Russian meddling.”
Former FBI Director James Comey told Congress that the FBI’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the presidential election began in late July 2016, roughly 20 months ago. Trump’s campaign for president was launched on June 16, 2015. Mueller’s subpoena seeks communications dating back to the period when the campaign was only five months old.
Mueller and his team may be building a case alleging President Trump obstructed justice by firing Comey and attempting to protect himself and his aides during the Russia probe. For months, many news organizations have indicated Mueller has his sights on possible obstruction charges against Trump.
Former Trump adviser Roger Stone said Sunday that he believes Mueller is aiming to his President Trump with “some kind of process crime: perjury or obstruction of justice, something related to either the firing of Gen. [Michael] Flynn or the firing of FBI Director Comey.”
Even Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, told HBO he believes Mueller is focused on alleged obstruction of justice.
“Well, I think that you technically have an obstruction of justice case that already exists,” Holder said during an interview on “Real Time with Bill Maher. “I’ve known Bob Mueller for 20, 30 years. My guess is, he’s just trying to make the case as good as he possibly can.”
The headlines went wild in May 2017 when President Trump fired Comey. That same month, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel to investigate possible interference by Russia in the 2016 presidential election. The Justice Department gave Mueller an extraordinarily broad mandate to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign” and “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”
As WND reported, lifelong Democrat Alan Dershowitz, a prominent Harvard Law School professor and constitutional scholar who voted for Clinton in the 2016 election, has argued that President Trump was well within his authority to fire Comey, even for no reason at all.
Under the Constitution, Dershowitz explained, the president has the power to terminate any executive branch official at will. And the FBI director is an executive branch official.
In December, former top federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy told WND: “Whether you think firing Comey was a good idea or bad idea, the fact is the president has the power to terminate any officer of the executive branch at will. He doesn’t need a reason. He could wake up Tuesday morning and say, ‘Gee, I feel like firing somebody,’ and he can fire the FBI director. He has that power because the only official in the executive branch who has power is the president. Everyone else in the executive branch is a delegate of the president’s power.
“You’re not going to be able to make an obstruction case out of the fact that Trump removed Comey. And you’re not going to be able to make an obstruction case out of the fact that Trump told Comey, ‘I’d really like to see you let the case go on [former national security adviser Michael] Flynn.'”
The New York Times reported Saturday that Mueller’s investigation appears to be broadening beyond Russia to include “possible attempts by the Emiratis to buy political influence by directing money to support Mr. Trump during the presidential campaign.”
The Times reported that a Lebanese-American businessman named George Nader has been questioned by Mueller’s team and is now a focus in the investigation. Nader is said to have served as an adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed. During the Clinton administration, he tried to coordinate an Israel-Syria peace deal. According to Fox News, Nader has frequently visited the White House during the Trump administration and was close to former Trump strategist Steve Bannon.
The Times reported that it has a copy of a memo acquired by Nader that discusses a private Oval Office meeting between President Trump and Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy, who owns a private security company that has high-dollar contracts with the United Arab Emirates.
On Sunday, congressional Republicans called for a second special counsel to investigate the DOJ and FBI’s handling of the Clinton email probe and the Trump-Russia investigation, arguing that it may be “unavaoidable,” particularly if the federal officials engaged in surveillance abuse.