• December 6, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Conor Shaw, Counsel to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

    This report examines why President Trump cannot easily bring an end to the Russia investigation by firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Authors Noah Bookbinder, Norman Eisen, and Caroline Fredrickson explain that Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein, not President Trump, is the one who has authority to fire Mueller.  While President Trump might compel others to do so on his behalf or instruct the attorney general to revoke DOJ’s special counsel regulations, the risks of doing so are prohibitive.  History warns that he would be risking his presidency, not to mention increasing his exposure to charges of obstruction of justice. In addition, we explain that any firing could be subject to court challenge by Special Counsel Mueller, his staff, and possibly other parties.  Mueller's dismissal also would not necessarily bring an end to the investigation that he is leading. Finally, we review the ways in which Congress might make it even harder for President Trump to end the Russia investigation by codifying the special counsel regulations and pre-committing to a course of action that would deter interference with the Russia investigation.

  • October 18, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Barbara McQuade, Professor from Practice, University of Michigan Law School, and former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan

    Last week’s comprehensive paper from the Brookings Institution analyzing the case for obstruction of justice against President Donald J. Trump makes a compelling case that the President has violated the law. The report takes a deliberately narrow focus, and it likely just scratches the surface of the investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III.  Mueller will no doubt want to conduct a complete investigation to learn the broader picture of Russian involvement in the 2016 election, so that if there is a case for impeachment, even the Republican-controlled House of Representatives will be unable to ignore it. 

  • November 15, 2010
    Guest Post

    By Melanie Sloan, executive director, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). Sloan participated in a recent ACS panel discussion on national security, government transparency, and the First Amendment. Her guest blog is adapted from comments she gave during the event. Video of the event is available here.
    In 2007, an archivist digging through a batch of military papers discovered a handwritten note by Abraham Lincoln exhorting his generals to pursue Robert E. Lee's army after the battle of Gettysburg, underscoring one of the great missed opportunities for an early end to the Civil War.

    The note says ''the rebellion will be over'' if only ''Gen. Meade can complete his work.'' Lincoln says he wants the ''substantial destruction of Lee's army.''

    A week after Lincoln's note, the Confederate army slipped across the Potomac River into Virginia and the war continued for two more years.

    Though Gen. George Meade led the Northern troops in the battle at Gettysburg that marked the turning point of the war, he has always been faulted for not closing in and destroying Lee's army.

    Historians said the letter reinforced the idea that Lincoln desperately sought to turn Gettysburg into a decisive victory that would have stopped the bloodshed.

    Although General Meade had communicated the notes contents to others at the time, finding the original document pinned down what Lincoln was thinking and provided validation.

    The discovery of this letter was widely publicized, its contents were analyzed and dissected and scholars reconsidered an important period in our nation's history through the prism of this significant new information.

    In 2006, thanks to a tip, the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) discovered that millions of emails had gone missing from White House servers during the Bush administration. Though the White House initially denied this, it turned out to be true. Emails from numerous White House components, including the Office of the Vice President and the Executive Office of the President went missing from the period of the beginning of the war with Iraq, from October 2003 through March 2005. Some of those documents might have provided insight into the administration's rationale for that war and some of those documents might have shed light on the administration's decision to leak Valerie Plame Wilson's covert identity to the press.