(AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

Republicans find their email scandal for Robert Mueller's investigation

The special counsel has found government emails from the Trump transition team, and it's sparking anger


Jeremy Binckes
December 17, 2017 2:28PM (UTC)

The White House's latest charge against special counsel Robert Mueller — the man tasked with investigating whether or not President Donald Trump illegally colluded with Russia during the 2016 campaign season — is that Mueller is actually investigating things seriously.

The latest point of controversy comes over emails that the Trump transition team sent after he was elected in November 2016, but before he was inaugurated in January of this year.

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In a seven-page letter to the House and Senate committees involved in the Russia probe, Trump for America lawyer Kory Langhofer said that Mueller violated the Fourth Amendment by asking for, and getting, the emails, which were housed on government servers. The main question concerns whether or not the special counsel's office needed a subpoena to retrieve the emails, which were handed over to the office.

Legally speaking, Trump's assertion doesn't carry much merit. As a General Services Administration official told BuzzFeed, "No expectation of privacy can be assumed" when using transition devices.

Democrats fear that those partisan committees are looking for a way out, so they can end the investigation without having to cast judgement. Investigating how Mueller is conducting his investigation could be the easiest way for Republicans to halt the independent investigation, and possibly give the administration cover should the president decide to fire Muller, as has been a pervasive fear in Washington over the past few weeks. As Politico noted:

The Trump team’s complaint – which a source close to the transition said it intends to elevate by filing a formal letter to Mueller — is the latest in a series of legal maneuvers seeking to challenge the special counsel’s authority. The effort to rein in the probe is expected to increase as the Russia prosecutors continue their work while they simultaneously prepare for a criminal trial next year against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates.

This latest allegation, as meritless as it may be, reinforces Democratic concerns that partisans are throwing out any allegation possible to provide a pretext for Trump to fire Mueller, and not have to deal with the fallout that he faces for suddenly firing former FBI Director James Comey

On Saturday morning, John Cornyn, the second-highest ranking Republican in the Senate, indicated that the general Republican consensus was falling in line with Trump's early-morning tweetstorms in which he claimed there was a partisan "witch hunt" against him.

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Jeremy Binckes

Jeremy Binckes is the senior news editor at Salon.com.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Donald Trump Emails John Cornyn Robert Mueller Trump-russia Investigation

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