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Brookfield, WI—Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05), the Dean of the Wisconsin Delegation, offered the following statement after Congressman Sean Duffy (WI-07) announced that he will step down from the House of Representatives:

“Sean and Rachel Duffy are dear friends and proud patriots. It has been an honor to mentor them and watch them excel, and I thank them for their service and leadership. They and their children are family to me. While it comes as a great loss to the people of Wisconsin, I understand the challenging times ahead for the Duffy family and respect their decision. Sean, Rachel, their unborn child, and the rest of the family are in my prayers. As I have seen them overcome many challenges before, I am confident that they will undertake this one with prayerful and humble hearts.”

By: the Waukesha Freeman

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has signed the Farmer Family Relief Act into law, a bill on which Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner was the lead Republican co-sponsor.

According to a press release from his office, Sensenbrenner said the Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019 brings needed help to a critical link in America’s economy and a vital part of American community life.

The law stems from Chapter 12 of the Bankruptcy Code, which Congress permanently enacted in 2005. Chapter 12 is used to help family

farmers reorganize their debts in times of need and keep farms going, the release states.

However, in the years after Chapter 12’s enaction, Sensenbrenner said family farms have become more expensive to operate and the ceiling on how much debt a family can reorganize lagged behind.

“The Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019 fixes this problem,” he said. “It raises the ceiling from the old, roughly four-and-one-half million dollar limit to a more reasonable $10 million.”

“This means that more family farmers will be

able successfully to reorganize when they need to — to the benefit of the economy and local communities across this land.”

By: KHGI

A University of Nebraska at Kearney student is working to give a voice to those who need it, starting in Washington D.C.

UNK officials said Ellery Butterfield, a psychology major with a public law minor, is working as an intern for third-district Congressman Adrian Smith through the University of Nebraska’s D.C. Professional Enrichment Academy.

They said the academy is open to any NU student interning in Washington, D.C.

“It’s a good way for Nebraskans to stay connected to other Nebraskans and start climbing the ladder once you’re here,” said Butterfield, who spent eight weeks in the nation’s capital. “It’s been a great experience.”

“If I was going to be in D.C., I wanted to see the politics and I wanted to see government at work,” Butterfield said. “Adrian Smith’s office does a fantastic job integrating interns into the inner-workings of the office.”

Butterfield said she is interested in the challenges facing people with mental disabilities and victims of abuse, as well as the lack of services available to address these issues.

“It’s important that we recognize these people deserve a voice,” said Butterfield, who has assisted at the Royal Family KIDS Camp for abused or neglected foster children and worked at Integrated Life Choices, which serves people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

UNK said through her internship, she was able to present a piece of legislation she believes the congressman should co-sponsor. Butterfield chose HR 1738, a resolution introduced by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin aimed at reducing child marriages, sex trafficking and sexual abuse by eliminating visa loopholes that allow minors to be brought to the country as spouses or fiancées of U.S. citizens.

“I marketed it as a bill that would create bipartisan discussion about immigration reform,” said Butterfield.

Butterfield said she believes other UNK students should strongly consider participating in the D.C. Professional Enrichment Academy, which offers academic credit and financial assistance.

“I think every college student should be looking for opportunities to improve themselves and grow professionally and personally, and this is an excellent opportunity for that,” she said. “Specifically, I think Nebraska college students need to realize their potential and their ability to impact the world around them, not just Nebraska. The Nebraska spirit is something D.C. could use a lot of and the country could use a lot of right now.”

By: Margot Cleveland of the Federalist

When Robert Mueller testified before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees last week, the biggest take-away was that the former special counsel did not know the name Fusion GPS—the firm the Clinton campaign hired to produce the Steele dossier. The breadth of Mueller’s ignorance, hedging, and silence in response to questions posed to him, however, was truly expansive.

While much of the criticism leveled at Mueller following his testimony focused on his ignorance of key facts and his confusion over the details contained in the special counsel’s report, the following seven lines of inquiry show Mueller knew exactly what he was doing.

1. I Don’t Know What the Regulations Say, Except When I Do

With Democrats hammering on Part 2 of the special counsel report, which addressed obstruction of justice, Republicans attempted to show that Mueller violated governing regulations by failing make a “charging or declination decision,” as required by the special counsel regulations.

“Let me begin by reading the special counsel regulations by which you were appointed,” Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. started: “It reads, quote, ‘At the conclusion of the special counsel’s work he or she shall provide the attorney general with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the special counsel.’ Is that correct?”

Mueller replied, “Yes,” allowing Sensenbrenner to hammer the point: “When a regulation uses the word ‘shall provide’ does it mean that the individual is, in fact, obligated to provide what’s being demanded by the regulation or statute, meaning you don’t have any wiggle room, right?”

But Mueller, knowing full well that he had slimed President Trump in violation of the special counsel regulations, feigned ignorance, claiming he “would have to look more closely at the statute.” “I just read it to you,” an exasperated Sensenbrenner countered, before noting that special counsel report did not render a prosecutorial decision.

However, later Mueller had no problems answering a question about the special counsel regulations when they weren’t even quoted to him. “And pursuant to the special counsel regulations,” Rep. Martha Roby began, “who is the only party that must receive the charging decision resulting from the special counsel’s investigation?” The “attorney general,” Mueller easily and correctly replied, showing that on the terms of the special counsel regulations, he was no fool.

2. I’m Not Getting Into Any Details That Make Me Look Bad

Roby also questioned Mueller about Attorney General William Barr’s request that, when turning in the final special counsel report, Mueller highlight any grand jury materials included. Barr had explained in his earlier congressional testimony that he had requested Mueller submit the final report with the grand jury materials identified to allow for a quick redaction and release.

But, as Barr testified earlier this year, “Unfortunately it did not come in that form…so there was necessarily going to be a gap between the receipt of the report and getting the full report out publicly.” Barr explained that delay prompted him to release the report’s bottom-line findings, which in turn triggered Mueller’s “snitty letter” to the attorney general. More on that later.

Roby wanted to know why Mueller had ignored his boss’ directive. “On March 24, Attorney General Barr informed the committee that he had received the special counsel’s report and it was not until April 18 that the attorney general released the report to Congress and the public,” Roby started. “When you submitted your report to the attorney general, did you deliver a redacted version of the report so that he would be able to release it to Congress and the public without delay?” Roby asked.

“I’m not going to engage in discussion about what happened after the production of our report,” Mueller replied. Roby persisted: “Had the attorney general asked you to provide a redacted version of the report?” Now Mueller answered, but with a dodge: “We worked on redacted versions together.”

So apparently Mueller was willing to discuss what happened after he produced the report. Well, only if the answer wouldn’t subject him to criticism, that is, since when Roby asked whether Barr requested “a version where the grand jury material was separated,” Mueller said, “I’m not going to get into details.”

There was no legitimate basis for Mueller to refuse to answer that question. Barr had already testified before Congress that he had asked the special counsel to identify the grand jury materials in the report and that Mueller had failed to do so.

3. Lawyer-Like Answers When He Wanted

Mueller also displayed his legal agility when asked, “Did you personally review all of the underlying evidence gathered in your investigation?” “To the extent that it came through the special counsel’s office, yes,” Mueller told the committee.

Why that qualification? Because Mueller knew the special counsel’s office had not received all of the underlying evidence related to the investigation. So much for a thorough investigation!

Other times, Mueller displayed his dexterity by allowing Democrats to characterize the special counsel report and then agree that their portrayal was “generally correct.” For instance, when asked whether “the president is asking his White House counsel, Don McGahn, to create a record that McGahn believed to be untrue while you were in the midst of investigating the president for obstruction of justice,” the special counsel did the lawyerly squish of “generally correct.”

4. Who Was the Puppeteer?

Mueller also refused to answer any factual questions that made his team look bad. When quizzed on who wrote the “snitty letter” to the attorney general “essentially complaining about the media coverage of your report,” Mueller replied, “I can’t get into who wrote it.” Mueller also refused to explain why he wrote a formal letter to Barr instead of calling the attorney general to express the same concerns, as Barr wonderedin a CBS News interview.

But his congressional inquisitor knew the answer—it was to change the narrative about the special counsel report, because that March 27 letter was soon leaked to the press. We at least know that Mueller didn’t authorize the letter’s release, because when asked if he had, he said, “I have no knowledge” of that. When pushed, though, Mueller quickly reverted to non-answer answers, and when asked why, after nearly two years without a leak, “this letter leaked,” the special counsel countered, “I can’t get into it.”

While we don’t know the author of the “snitty” letter or the individual responsible for leaking it, we do know that Mueller wasn’t about to let his top “pit bull” Andrew Weissmann be dissed. Rather, when quizzed on Weissmann’s questionable history, Mueller defended his top prosecutor. Weissmann is “one of the most talented attorneys we’ve had over a period of time,” Mueller responded, when the committee pointed out that Weissmann led the prosecution of Arthur Anderson in a criminal case so bogus the Supreme Court reversed it 9-0.

5. Sergeant Schultz Goes to Washington

While Mueller hedged or sat in silence to avoid giving damaging testimony, when confronted with the mistakes or omissions contained in the special counsel report—or misconduct by team members—Mueller heard nothing, saw nothing, and knew nothing. As just noted, he had no knowledge of the leak of “his” March 27 letter to Barr. Mueller also knew nothing about the special counsel report’s misrepresentations concerning conversations between Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen and Giorgi Rtskhiladze.

The Mueller report had branded Rtskhiladze “a Russian businessman,” but the letter Rtskhiladze’s lawyer sent to Barr to complain about the special counsel’s misrepresentations of his client explained that Rtskhiladze was born in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia and has been a permanent U.S. resident for 23 years and a citizen since 2017.

Rtskhiladze’s attorney also complained about the special counsel’s selective editing of text messages sent to Cohen. Mueller was “not familiar with that particular episode you’re talking about,” though.

6. It’s My Testimony and I’ll Talk If I Want To

For all his show about sticking within the four corners of the report, Mueller had no problem pontificating when he wanted to. For instance, when asked whether the lesson from the 2016 election would be that in future campaigns, presidential candidates would see no duty to report to authorities that a hostile foreign power is trying to influence the election, Mueller replied, “I hope this is not the new normal, but I fear it is.” That testimony served no basis but to smear Trump.

Another time, when asked what Jeff Sessions could have done to restrict Mueller’s investigation had the former attorney general “unrecused” himself from the probe, Mueller said he “wasn’t going to speculate,” but then added that “obviously, if he took over as attorney general he would have greater latitude in his actions that would enable him to do things that otherwise he could not.”

Then there was Mueller’s testimony-non-testimony related to the Carter Page Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) orders. Mueller was fine telling the committee that he was not in the approval chain, but didn’t want to discuss anything else.

Mueller was also completely okay with telling the committee that he only participated in a few of the approximately 500 interviews his team conducted. Similarly, Mueller wouldn’t say how many members of the special counsel team he had fired, but when asked whether he terminated Peter Strzok over an appearance of a major conflict of interest, Mueller answered: “No, he was transferred as a result of instances involving texts.”

Conversely, when asked whether special counsel lawyer Weissmann disclosed the email he had sent to former deputy attorney general Sally Yates expressing his pride and awe at her disobeying a direct order from President Trump, Mueller said “I’m not going to talk about that.”

“Is that not a conflict of interest?” Rep. Kelly Armstrong pushed. Again, “I’m not going to talk about that,” was Mueller’s response. But then Mueller told the committee that he was aware that special counsel team member Jeanne Ree had represented Hillary Clinton during the investigation into Hillary’s email scandal.

Then there was Mueller’s response to Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries’s legal analysis for obstruction of justice and concluding tirade that “this is the United States of America. No one is above the law. No one. The president must be held accountable one way or the other.” Mueller was comfortable noting that while, “I don’t subscribe necessarily to your—the way you analyzed that, I’m not saying it’s out of the ballpark.”

Other times, though, Mueller refused even a dribble of information, hiding behind his buzz phrases: “That is out of my purview”; “This is one of those areas which I decline to discuss”; “I can’t get into that”; and “It’s outside my jurisdiction.”

Selective Lack of Discussion Continues

Here are some other areas Mueller selectively didn’t want to discuss.

Mueller wouldn’t touch anything related to Christopher Steele and the Steele dossier—not even to tell the committee when he learned Steele’s allegations were unverified or if his team interviewed Steele. Nor would Mueller talk about Steele’s October 2016 meeting with the State Department’s Kathleen Kavalec. And he wanted nothing to do with any questions about Glenn Simpson, the front man for Fusion GPS.

Of course, Mueller also claimed to know nothing about Fusion GPS even though they had hired Steele to get dirt on Trump, and the Steele dossier contained loads of accusations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. Mueller also didn’t want to discuss the Russia lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, at the center of the Trump Tower meeting, or Veselnitskaya’s dinner with Simpson the night before and the night after she met with Donald Trump Jr. and others under the auspices of sharing dirt on Hillary.

The special counsel also refused to discuss Joseph Mifsud, the Maltese professor who informed George Papadopoulos that the Russians had dirt on Hillary—the tip that supposedly prompted the investigation into Trump campaign. The special counsel report said Mifsud lied to investigators three times, but Mueller wouldn’t explain why his team didn’t indict Mifsud for making false statements, as they had with Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos.

Mueller also refused to “get into” whether Mifsud had lied to the special counsel, whether Mueller had personally interviewed Mifsud, and whether Mifsud was a “Western Intelligence of Russian intelligence” asset. In fact, Mueller got on such a roll in refusing to answer questions about Mifsud that the special counsel forgot what he had included in his report. Who told Papadopoulos the Russians had dirt on Hillary? Rep. Jim Jordan asked. “I can’t get into that,” Mueller began, before Jordan interrupted:

Yes, you can. You wrote about it. You gave us the answer on page 192 of the report. You tell us who told him. Joseph Mifsud is the guy who told Papadopoulos. He lives in London and teaches at two universities. This is the guy who told Papadopoulos… [Mifsud] who puts the country through this whole saga, starts it off, for three years we’ve lived this now. He lies, and you guys don’t charge him. I’m curious as to why?

“Well, I can’t get into that,” Mueller claimed, shutting down the discussion.

Mueller also was not “going to go further in terms of discussing” the editing in the special counsel’s report that presented a telephone message from Trump’s former lawyer, John Dowd, to Flynn’s attorney in the worst possible light about Trump. The report made it appear that Dowd had improperly asked for confidential information, but the portion edited out of the transcript made clear that Trump’s attorney had done nothing of the sort.

Mueller was also “loathed” to answer Rep. Devin Nunes’s questions about why his report suggested that Ukrainian businessman and Paul Manafort associate Konstantin Kilimnik was a Russian spy, while ignoring “hundreds of pages of government documents—which special counsel Robert Mueller possessed since 2018—describing Kilimnik as a ‘sensitive’ intelligence source for the U.S. State Department who informed on Ukrainian and Russian matters.”

While Nunes noted, “It was important for the committee to know if Kilimnik has ties to our own State Department,” Mueller stayed mum, allowing the report’s portrayal of Kilimnik as a Russian agent connected to the one-time Trump campaign chair Manafort to go unanswered.

Nor would Mueller get into whether, when appointed special counsel, he anticipated investigating Trump’s firing of James Comey. He wouldn’t discuss when he realized there was no “there, there” in the Russia collusion investigation. He wouldn’t discuss whether there were “significant changes in tone or substance of the report made after the announcement that the report would be made available to Congress and the public.” I wonder why!

Then there was Mueller’s legal theory for obstruction of justice. “Not everyone in the justice department agreed with your legal opinion,” a committee member pointed out. “I’m not going to be involved in a discussion on that at this juncture,” Mueller countered.

“In fact, the attorney general himself disagrees with your interpretation of the law, correct?” Again, Mueller demurred, saying he’d leave that up to Barr to say. Mueller did admit, though, that “prosecutors sometimes improperly adhere to the law.”

7. Equal Justice Under the Law For Everyone But Trump

Mueller also hedged when Republican committee members questioned him on the inverted “guilty until proven innocent standard” applied in Part 2 of the special counsel’s report. That portion of the report summarized the possibility of charging Trump for obstruction of justice and presented an unheard of perspective of the prosecutorial role—one that would require Mueller to “conclusively determine[] that no criminal conduct [had] occurred” and set up the special counsel as the judge and jury charged with deciding whether to exonerate the president.

Of course, that was not Mueller’s job, as Attorney General Barr explained during his congressional testimony earlier this year. “The report says that they could not be sure they could clearly say that [Trump] did not violate the law,” Barr explained. But “as you know, that’s not the standard, we use in the criminal justice system,” the attorney general stressed. Rather, “it’s presumed that someone is innocent, and the government has to prove that they clearly violated the law. We’re not in the business of exoneration, not in the business of proving they didn’t violate the law—I found that whole passage very bizarre,” Barr concluded.

Rep. John Ratcliffe attempted to question Mueller on this “bizarre” passage in the report by first reminding Mueller that he had just testified that the special counsel team operated under and followed Department of Justice guidelines. Then Ratcliffe pounced: “Can you give me an example other than Donald Trump where the Justice Department determined that an investigated person was not exonerated because their innocence was not conclusively determined?”

“I cannot,” Mueller admitted, before attempting to justify his nonsense: “But this is a unique situation.” Mueller made that point a second time when confronted with the statute again: “Isn’t it true that on page one of volume two, you state when you’re quoting the statute, the obligation is to either prosecute or not prosecute?” “Generally, that is the case,” Mueller acknowledged, “although most cases are not done in the context of the president.”

Mueller’s right. Most cases are not done in the context of the president. That’s because never before in our country’s history has the losing side in a presidential election attempted a soft coup executed by a resistance burrowed in the DOJ, FBI, CIA, DIA, and, as is now clear, the special counsel’s office.

Margot Cleveland is a senior contributor to The Federalist. Cleveland served nearly 25 years as a permanent law clerk to a federal appellate judge and is a former full-time faculty member and current adjunct instructor at the college of business at the University of Notre Dame. The views expressed here are those of Cleveland in her private capacity.

By: Jacqui Fatka of Feedstuffs

The House passed bipartisan legislation, H.R. 2336, the Family Farmer Relief Act -- introduced by Rep. Antonio Delgado (D., N.Y.), along with House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jim Sensenbrenner (R., Wis.), House Agriculture Committee chairman Collin Peterson (D., Minn.) and Reps. TJ Cox (D., Cal.), Kelly Armstrong (R., N.D.) and Dusty Johnson (R., S.D.) -- which would ease the process of reorganizing debt through Chapter 12 bankruptcy rules.

According to the National Farm Bureau, last year, just 498 farms filed for Chapter 12 bankruptcy. By comparison: 766,000 consumers filed under Chapters 7 and 13. Over the last 10 years, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 have seen 10 million total filings, compared to just 5,000 Chapter 12 filings.

Delgado said 2018 marked the fourth consecutive year of rising bankruptcy rates as a proportion of the farm population. “This farm economy is exacerbated by an outdated bankruptcy filing cap that leaves farmers without options to restructure or repay their debt,” he said on the House floor.

Delgado added that Chapter 12 was created specifically to provide repayment flexibility and reorganizational advantages for family farms during poor economic times. “Unfortunately, this outdated debt cap has rendered Chapter 12 an inaccessible tool to thousands of farm families,” he said.

“We must do more,” Delgado stated in his speech on the floor.

“The Family Farmer Relief Act’s solution is simple. My one-sentence bill would adjust the debt cap to align with today’s land values and the cost of doing business for today’s farmers. Our legislation modifies Chapter 12 bankruptcy rules to raise the debt cap for eligibility to $10 million. This adjustment will provide farmers additional options to manage the current farm economy and allow farmers to retain assets and remain operational. Allowing farmers increased flexibility is critical to the health and wellness of our family farmers and the upstate [New York] economy at large,” Delgado said.

American Farm Bureau Federation president Zippy Duvall welcomed the bill’s passage. “After several consecutive years of a trying farm economy, updating Chapter 12 bankruptcy eligibility to the current scale and credit needs of U.S. agriculture is a necessity,” Duvall said, adding that the action will “ultimately help family farmers and ranchers avoid extremely difficult bankruptcy proceedings, giving them a better chance to get back on their feet and keep farming.”

By: Feedstuffs

The House passed bipartisan legislation, H.R. 2336, the Family Farmer Relief Act -- introduced by Rep. Antonio Delgado (D., N.Y.), along with House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jim Sensenbrenner (R., Wis.), House Agriculture Committee chairman Collin Peterson (D., Minn.) and Reps. TJ Cox (D., Cal.), Kelly Armstrong (R., N.D.) and Dusty Johnson (R., S.D.) -- which would ease the process of reorganizing debt through Chapter 12 bankruptcy rules.

According to the National Farm Bureau, last year, just 498 farms filed for Chapter 12 bankruptcy. By comparison: 766,000 consumers filed under Chapters 7 and 13. Over the last 10 years, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 have seen 10 million total filings, compared to just 5,000 Chapter 12 filings.

Delgado said 2018 marked the fourth consecutive year of rising bankruptcy rates as a proportion of the farm population. “This farm economy is exacerbated by an outdated bankruptcy filing cap that leaves farmers without options to restructure or repay their debt,” he said on the House floor.

Delgado added that Chapter 12 was created specifically to provide repayment flexibility and reorganizational advantages for family farms during poor economic times. “Unfortunately, this outdated debt cap has rendered Chapter 12 an inaccessible tool to thousands of farm families,” he said.

“The Family Farmer Relief Act’s solution is simple. My one-sentence bill would adjust the debt cap to align with today’s land values and the cost of doing business for today’s farmers. Our legislation modifies Chapter 12 bankruptcy rules to raise the debt cap for eligibility to $10 million. This adjustment will provide farmers additional options to manage the current farm economy and allow farmers to retain assets and remain operational. Allowing farmers increased flexibility is critical to the health and wellness of our family farmers and the upstate [New York] economy at large,” Delgado said.

American Farm Bureau Federation president Zippy Duvall welcomed the bill’s passage. “After several consecutive years of a trying farm economy, updating Chapter 12 bankruptcy eligibility to the current scale and credit needs of U.S. agriculture is a necessity,” Duvall said, adding that the action will “ultimately help family farmers and ranchers avoid extremely difficult bankruptcy proceedings, giving them a better chance to get back on their feet and keep farming.”

By: Margot Cleveland of the Federalist

When Robert Mueller testified before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees last week, the biggest take-away was that the former special counsel did not know the name Fusion GPS—the firm the Clinton campaign hired to produce the Steele dossier. The breadth of Mueller’s ignorance, hedging, and silence in response to questions posed to him, however, was truly expansive.

While much of the criticism leveled at Mueller following his testimony focused on his ignorance of key facts and his confusion over the details contained in the special counsel’s report, the following seven lines of inquiry show Mueller knew exactly what he was doing.

1. I Don’t Know What the Regulations Say, Except When I Do

With Democrats hammering on Part 2 of the special counsel report, which addressed obstruction of justice, Republicans attempted to show that Mueller violated governing regulations by failing make a “charging or declination decision,” as required by the special counsel regulations.

“Let me begin by reading the special counsel regulations by which you were appointed,” Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. started: “It reads, quote, ‘At the conclusion of the special counsel’s work he or she shall provide the attorney general with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the special counsel.’ Is that correct?”

Mueller replied, “Yes,” allowing Sensenbrenner to hammer the point: “When a regulation uses the word ‘shall provide’ does it mean that the individual is, in fact, obligated to provide what’s being demanded by the regulation or statute, meaning you don’t have any wiggle room, right?”

But Mueller, knowing full well that he had slimed President Trump in violation of the special counsel regulations, feigned ignorance, claiming he “would have to look more closely at the statute.” “I just read it to you,” an exasperated Sensenbrenner countered, before noting that special counsel report did not render a prosecutorial decision.

However, later Mueller had no problems answering a question about the special counsel regulations when they weren’t even quoted to him. “And pursuant to the special counsel regulations,” Rep. Martha Roby began, “who is the only party that must receive the charging decision resulting from the special counsel’s investigation?” The “attorney general,” Mueller easily and correctly replied, showing that on the terms of the special counsel regulations, he was no fool.

2. I’m Not Getting Into Any Details That Make Me Look Bad

Roby also questioned Mueller about Attorney General William Barr’s request that, when turning in the final special counsel report, Mueller highlight any grand jury materials included. Barr had explained in his earlier congressional testimony that he had requested Mueller submit the final report with the grand jury materials identified to allow for a quick redaction and release.

But, as Barr testified earlier this year, “Unfortunately it did not come in that form…so there was necessarily going to be a gap between the receipt of the report and getting the full report out publicly.” Barr explained that delay prompted him to release the report’s bottom-line findings, which in turn triggered Mueller’s “snitty letter” to the attorney general. More on that later.

Roby wanted to know why Mueller had ignored his boss’ directive. “On March 24, Attorney General Barr informed the committee that he had received the special counsel’s report and it was not until April 18 that the attorney general released the report to Congress and the public,” Roby started. “When you submitted your report to the attorney general, did you deliver a redacted version of the report so that he would be able to release it to Congress and the public without delay?” Roby asked.

“I’m not going to engage in discussion about what happened after the production of our report,” Mueller replied. Roby persisted: “Had the attorney general asked you to provide a redacted version of the report?” Now Mueller answered, but with a dodge: “We worked on redacted versions together.”

So apparently Mueller was willing to discuss what happened after he produced the report. Well, only if the answer wouldn’t subject him to criticism, that is, since when Roby asked whether Barr requested “a version where the grand jury material was separated,” Mueller said, “I’m not going to get into details.”

There was no legitimate basis for Mueller to refuse to answer that question. Barr had already testified before Congress that he had asked the special counsel to identify the grand jury materials in the report and that Mueller had failed to do so.

3. Lawyer-Like Answers When He Wanted

Mueller also displayed his legal agility when asked, “Did you personally review all of the underlying evidence gathered in your investigation?” “To the extent that it came through the special counsel’s office, yes,” Mueller told the committee.

Why that qualification? Because Mueller knew the special counsel’s office had not received all of the underlying evidence related to the investigation. So much for a thorough investigation!

Other times, Mueller displayed his dexterity by allowing Democrats to characterize the special counsel report and then agree that their portrayal was “generally correct.” For instance, when asked whether “the president is asking his White House counsel, Don McGahn, to create a record that McGahn believed to be untrue while you were in the midst of investigating the president for obstruction of justice,” the special counsel did the lawyerly squish of “generally correct.”

4. Who Was the Puppeteer?

Mueller also refused to answer any factual questions that made his team look bad. When quizzed on who wrote the “snitty letter” to the attorney general “essentially complaining about the media coverage of your report,” Mueller replied, “I can’t get into who wrote it.” Mueller also refused to explain why he wrote a formal letter to Barr instead of calling the attorney general to express the same concerns, as Barr wondered in a CBS News interview.

But his congressional inquisitor knew the answer—it was to change the narrative about the special counsel report, because that March 27 letter was soon leaked to the press. We at least know that Mueller didn’t authorize the letter’s release, because when asked if he had, he said, “I have no knowledge” of that. When pushed, though, Mueller quickly reverted to non-answer answers, and when asked why, after nearly two years without a leak, “this letter leaked,” the special counsel countered, “I can’t get into it.”

While we don’t know the author of the “snitty” letter or the individual responsible for leaking it, we do know that Mueller wasn’t about to let his top “pit bull” Andrew Weissmann be dissed. Rather, when quizzed on Weissmann’s questionable history, Mueller defended his top prosecutor. Weissmann is “one of the most talented attorneys we’ve had over a period of time,” Mueller responded, when the committee pointed out that Weissmann led the prosecution of Arthur Anderson in a criminal case so bogus the Supreme Court reversed it 9-0.

5. Sergeant Schultz Goes to Washington

While Mueller hedged or sat in silence to avoid giving damaging testimony, when confronted with the mistakes or omissions contained in the special counsel report—or misconduct by team members—Mueller heard nothing, saw nothing, and knew nothing. As just noted, he had no knowledge of the leak of “his” March 27 letter to Barr. Mueller also knew nothing about the special counsel report’s misrepresentations concerning conversations between Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen and Giorgi Rtskhiladze.

The Mueller report had branded Rtskhiladze “a Russian businessman,” but the letter Rtskhiladze’s lawyer sent to Barr to complain about the special counsel’s misrepresentations of his client explained that Rtskhiladze was born in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia and has been a permanent U.S. resident for 23 years and a citizen since 2017.

Rtskhiladze’s attorney also complained about the special counsel’s selective editing of text messages sent to Cohen. Mueller was “not familiar with that particular episode you’re talking about,” though.

6. It’s My Testimony and I’ll Talk If I Want To

For all his show about sticking within the four corners of the report, Mueller had no problem pontificating when he wanted to. For instance, when asked whether the lesson from the 2016 election would be that in future campaigns, presidential candidates would see no duty to report to authorities that a hostile foreign power is trying to influence the election, Mueller replied, “I hope this is not the new normal, but I fear it is.” That testimony served no basis but to smear Trump.

Another time, when asked what Jeff Sessions could have done to restrict Mueller’s investigation had the former attorney general “unrecused” himself from the probe, Mueller said he “wasn’t going to speculate,” but then added that “obviously, if he took over as attorney general he would have greater latitude in his actions that would enable him to do things that otherwise he could not.”

Then there was Mueller’s testimony-non-testimony related to the Carter Page Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) orders. Mueller was fine telling the committee that he was not in the approval chain, but didn’t want to discuss anything else.

Mueller was also completely okay with telling the committee that he only participated in a few of the approximately 500 interviews his team conducted. Similarly, Mueller wouldn’t say how many members of the special counsel team he had fired, but when asked whether he terminated Peter Strzok over an appearance of a major conflict of interest, Mueller answered: “No, he was transferred as a result of instances involving texts.”

Conversely, when asked whether special counsel lawyer Weissmann disclosed the email he had sent to former deputy attorney general Sally Yates expressing his pride and awe at her disobeying a direct order from President Trump, Mueller said “I’m not going to talk about that.”

“Is that not a conflict of interest?” Rep. Kelly Armstrong pushed. Again, “I’m not going to talk about that,” was Mueller’s response. But then Mueller told the committee that he was aware that special counsel team member Jeanne Ree had represented Hillary Clinton during the investigation into Hillary’s email scandal.

Then there was Mueller’s response to Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries’s legal analysis for obstruction of justice and concluding tirade that “this is the United States of America. No one is above the law. No one. The president must be held accountable one way or the other.” Mueller was comfortable noting that while, “I don’t subscribe necessarily to your—the way you analyzed that, I’m not saying it’s out of the ballpark.”

Other times, though, Mueller refused even a dribble of information, hiding behind his buzz phrases: “That is out of my purview”; “This is one of those areas which I decline to discuss”; “I can’t get into that”; and “It’s outside my jurisdiction.”

Selective Lack of Discussion Continues

Here are some other areas Mueller selectively didn’t want to discuss.

Mueller wouldn’t touch anything related to Christopher Steele and the Steele dossier—not even to tell the committee when he learned Steele’s allegations were unverified or if his team interviewed Steele. Nor would Mueller talk about Steele’s October 2016 meeting with the State Department’s Kathleen Kavalec. And he wanted nothing to do with any questions about Glenn Simpson, the front man for Fusion GPS.

Of course, Mueller also claimed to know nothing about Fusion GPS even though they had hired Steele to get dirt on Trump, and the Steele dossier contained loads of accusations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. Mueller also didn’t want to discuss the Russia lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, at the center of the Trump Tower meeting, or Veselnitskaya’s dinner with Simpson the night before and the night after she met with Donald Trump Jr. and others under the auspices of sharing dirt on Hillary.

The special counsel also refused to discuss Joseph Mifsud, the Maltese professor who informed George Papadopoulos that the Russians had dirt on Hillary—the tip that supposedly prompted the investigation into Trump campaign. The special counsel report said Mifsud lied to investigators three times, but Mueller wouldn’t explain why his team didn’t indict Mifsud for making false statements, as they had with Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos.

Mueller also refused to “get into” whether Mifsud had lied to the special counsel, whether Mueller had personally interviewed Mifsud, and whether Mifsud was a “Western Intelligence of Russian intelligence” asset. In fact, Mueller got on such a roll in refusing to answer questions about Mifsud that the special counsel forgot what he had included in his report. Who told Papadopoulos the Russians had dirt on Hillary? Rep. Jim Jordan asked. “I can’t get into that,” Mueller began, before Jordan interrupted:

Yes, you can. You wrote about it. You gave us the answer on page 192 of the report. You tell us who told him. Joseph Mifsud is the guy who told Papadopoulos. He lives in London and teaches at two universities. This is the guy who told Papadopoulos… [Mifsud] who puts the country through this whole saga, starts it off, for three years we’ve lived this now. He lies, and you guys don’t charge him. I’m curious as to why?

“Well, I can’t get into that,” Mueller claimed, shutting down the discussion.

Mueller also was not “going to go further in terms of discussing” the editing in the special counsel’s report that presented a telephone message from Trump’s former lawyer, John Dowd, to Flynn’s attorney in the worst possible light about Trump. The report made it appear that Dowd had improperly asked for confidential information, but the portion edited out of the transcript made clear that Trump’s attorney had done nothing of the sort.

Mueller was also “loathed” to answer Rep. Devin Nunes’s questions about why his report suggested that Ukrainian businessman and Paul Manafort associate Konstantin Kilimnik was a Russian spy, while ignoring “hundreds of pages of government documents—which special counsel Robert Mueller possessed since 2018—describing Kilimnik as a ‘sensitive’ intelligence source for the U.S. State Department who informed on Ukrainian and Russian matters.”

While Nunes noted, “It was important for the committee to know if Kilimnik has ties to our own State Department,” Mueller stayed mum, allowing the report’s portrayal of Kilimnik as a Russian agent connected to the one-time Trump campaign chair Manafort to go unanswered.

Nor would Mueller get into whether, when appointed special counsel, he anticipated investigating Trump’s firing of James Comey. He wouldn’t discuss when he realized there was no “there, there” in the Russia collusion investigation. He wouldn’t discuss whether there were “significant changes in tone or substance of the report made after the announcement that the report would be made available to Congress and the public.” I wonder why!

Then there was Mueller’s legal theory for obstruction of justice. “Not everyone in the justice department agreed with your legal opinion,” a committee member pointed out. “I’m not going to be involved in a discussion on that at this juncture,” Mueller countered.

“In fact, the attorney general himself disagrees with your interpretation of the law, correct?” Again, Mueller demurred, saying he’d leave that up to Barr to say. Mueller did admit, though, that “prosecutors sometimes improperly adhere to the law.”

7. Equal Justice Under the Law For Everyone But Trump

Mueller also hedged when Republican committee members questioned him on the inverted “guilty until proven innocent standard” applied in Part 2 of the special counsel’s report. That portion of the report summarized the possibility of charging Trump for obstruction of justice and presented an unheard of perspective of the prosecutorial role—one that would require Mueller to “conclusively determine[] that no criminal conduct [had] occurred” and set up the special counsel as the judge and jury charged with deciding whether to exonerate the president.

Of course, that was not Mueller’s job, as Attorney General Barr explained during his congressional testimony earlier this year. “The report says that they could not be sure they could clearly say that [Trump] did not violate the law,” Barr explained. But “as you know, that’s not the standard, we use in the criminal justice system,” the attorney general stressed. Rather, “it’s presumed that someone is innocent, and the government has to prove that they clearly violated the law. We’re not in the business of exoneration, not in the business of proving they didn’t violate the law—I found that whole passage very bizarre,” Barr concluded.

Rep. John Ratcliffe attempted to question Mueller on this “bizarre” passage in the report by first reminding Mueller that he had just testified that the special counsel team operated under and followed Department of Justice guidelines. Then Ratcliffe pounced: “Can you give me an example other than Donald Trump where the Justice Department determined that an investigated person was not exonerated because their innocence was not conclusively determined?”

“I cannot,” Mueller admitted, before attempting to justify his nonsense: “But this is a unique situation.” Mueller made that point a second time when confronted with the statute again: “Isn’t it true that on page one of volume two, you state when you’re quoting the statute, the obligation is to either prosecute or not prosecute?” “Generally, that is the case,” Mueller acknowledged, “although most cases are not done in the context of the president.”

Mueller’s right. Most cases are not done in the context of the president. That’s because never before in our country’s history has the losing side in a presidential election attempted a soft coup executed by a resistance burrowed in the DOJ, FBI, CIA, DIA, and, as is now clear, the special counsel’s office.

By: Ken Bredemeier of Voice of America News

WASHINGTON - U.S. President Donald Trump celebrated former special counsel Robert Mueller’s appearances Wednesday before two House of Representatives committees as “a very good day” for himself and fellow Republicans. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said after Mueller’s testimony about his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and alleged obstruction of justice by Trump that Democrats would push on in their own probes of the president and his administration.

“There was no defense for this ridiculous hoax, this witch hunt that’s been going on for a long time,” Trump told reporters using his oft-repeated dismissals of Mueller’s investigation. “What he showed more than anything else is that this whole thing has been three years of embarrassment and waste of time for our country.”

Trump and Republican members of Congress were critical of House Democrats for calling Mueller to speak before the intelligence and judiciary committees, saying they should be moving on from the probe.

But House leaders speaking after the testimony signaled their intention to keep a focus on the White House, including the prospect of future impeachment proceedings if they find sufficient evidence and public support.

“I do believe that what we saw today is a very strong manifestation, in fact some would say indictment, of this administration’s cone of silence in their cover-up,” Pelosi said. “This is about the oath we take to protect and defend the Constitution, but some of the actions that the administration may have taken — and we’ll see through our investigation — may have jeopardized our national security by strengthening Russia’s hand and interfering in our elections.”

Trump not exonerated

Mueller told members of Congress that his investigation did not exonerate Trump of obstructing justice by trying to thwart the probe, even though the U.S. leader has frequently claimed it did.

As hours of testimony started, House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler asked the prosecutor, “Did you totally exonerate the president?”

“No,” Mueller responded, later adding, “The president was not exculpated for the acts he allegedly committed.”

Mueller explained, however, that Trump could not be criminally charged because of a long-standing Justice Department policy prohibiting the indictment of a sitting president and so his team did not “make that calculation” whether Trump should be charged.

Later in the hearing, Republican Congressman Ken Buck asked Mueller, “You believe that he committed — you could charge the president of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office?

“Yes,” Mueller replied.

Trump has often attacked Mueller’s investigation, but Mueller, rebuffing one of the president’s frequent claims, said, “It is not a witch hunt.”

Little drama

These two exchanges were among the few dramatic moments during five hours of testimony that had been highly anticipated. To a significant degree, Mueller made good on his vow to stick to the confines of his lengthy report on Russia’s bold interference in the election three years ago and Trump’s alleged effort to inhibit the special counsel’s probe.

But whether the daylong hearings will have a lasting effect on Trump’s chances of winning a second term in 2020 and how Americans view him after hearing directly from Mueller is uncertain.

Mueller deflected dozens of questions about his 22-month probe and the 448-page report produced by his team of prosecutors, including declining to answer Republican lawmakers’ frequent queries about the origins of the Russia probe. He said questions about the start of the Russia investigation 10 months before he was named special counsel in May 2017 were “outside my purview” and currently the subject of a review by the Justice Department.

Mueller said his team unsuccessfully tried for a year to reach agreement with Trump to give testimony in person, but the president only answered some questions in writing and not about alleged obstruction.

He said the written responses were “not as useful as the interview would be,” but that prosecutors felt they were running out of time to subpoena Trump and then engage in a lengthy legal battle with the president’s lawyers over whether he would be compelled to testify in person.

Republicans frustrated, too

Mueller, hewing closely to his report’s findings, acknowledged to Republican Congressman Doug Collins that his investigators concluded there was insufficient evidence to charge Trump or any of his 2016 campaign staff with conspiring with Russia to help Trump win a four-year term in the White House.

Another Republican, Congressman James Sensenbrenner, attacked Mueller for continuing his probe even knowing that Trump could not be charged with a crime, although Mueller said that was permissible under Justice Department guidelines.

“If you’re not going to indict the president, then you’re just going to continue fishing, that’s my opinion,” Sensenbrenner said.

Lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee, who conducted the afternoon session, asked Mueller about his findings on how Russia interfered in the election to help Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton, his 2016 opponent. Democrats and Republicans alike had trouble getting Mueller to say anything of substance beyond confirming what was already in his report.

He declined to discuss why some people linked to the Russian probe were charged with criminal offenses and others were not. Nor would he venture into discussing any differences he had with Attorney General William Barr over Barr’s highly positive characterization of the report before it was released to the public.

And he wouldn’t be drawn into a discussion of his report as it might relate to impeachment of the president.

The 2016 campaign

But Mueller occasionally disparaged Trump’s conduct during the 2016 campaign, including when at political rallies he talked about WikiLeaks’ disclosure of Democratic officials’ emails stolen by Russian operatives that were damaging to Clinton.

Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley read several Trump quotes about the emails, including, “This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove” and “Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks.”

Asked what he thought of then candidate Trump’s remarks, Mueller said, “Problematic is an understatement in terms of what it displays...”

Republicans insisted Mueller’s report had cleared the president and that the investigation was based on questionable intelligence before Mueller became the special counsel. The Republicans cited a report paid for by Democrats containing largely unsubstantiated and salacious claims by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele about Trump’s time in Moscow before he entered politics.

Nadler and the other Democrats took pains to praise Mueller, a decorated Vietnam war veteran and former FBI chief, and to highlight the most damning evidence against the president cited in the report.

The hearings were equally critical in importance for the 235 opposition Democrats in the House of Representatives, more than a third of whom have called for Trump’s impeachment or the start of an impeachment inquiry. These critics allege that the president committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” — the standard for impeachment — by trying to halt Mueller’s 22-month probe.

The Mueller report said the president directed then-White House counsel Donald McGahn to try to oust Mueller and then publicly lie that Trump had not told him to seek Mueller’s dismissal. Mueller alleged that Trump directed his one-time campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to try to get then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to limit the Mueller investigation. The report also alleged that the president possibly engaged in witness tampering to discourage two key aides convicted by Mueller’s team, Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, from cooperating with investigators.

Even with vocal Democratic opposition to Trump, there appears to be no chance the Republican-controlled Senate would vote to convict Trump and remove him from office even if the House were to impeach him. National polls indicate Americans are opposed to impeaching Trump, either because they do not believe the allegations against him are serious enough to force his removal or prefer to cast an up-or-down vote on his presidency in the November 2020 election.

Washington, D.C.—Today, the House passed the Family Farmer Relief Act unanimously. Congressmen Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) and Antonio Delgado (NY-19) sponsored this legislation, which would update the bankruptcy code to account for modern challenges in the agricultural industry. Congressman Sensenbrenner delivered the following remarks on the House floor:

"The “Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019” brings urgently needed help to a critical link in America’s economy and a vital part of American community life – the family farmer. 

In 2005, Congress permanently enacted chapter 12 of the Bankruptcy Code. Chapter 12 is specially designed to help family farmers reorganize their debts in time of need and keep their farms going. In the years since, chapter 12 and its streamlined procedures have worked well. 

There has, however, been one problem. As time has passed, and the costs of running a family farm have rapidly increased, the ceiling in chapter 12 on how much debt a family farm can reorganize has lagged behind. Especially with the advent of modern, high-tech farming equipment, the chapter-12 ceiling is no longer high enough to let many farms with typical amounts of debt into chapter 12. 

The Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019 fixes this problem. It raises the ceiling from the old, roughly four-and-one-half million dollar limit to a more reasonable $10 million. This means that more family farmers will be able successfully to reorganize when they need to—to the benefit of the economy and local communities across this land. 

I am proud to be an original cosponsor of the bill. I encourage all my colleagues to support the bill and reserve the balance of my time."

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressmen Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05), Doug Collins (GA-09), and Kelly Armstrong (ND-AL) introduced the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act (REINS Act). This legislation would require that Congress has the opportunity to take an up or down vote on any executive branch agency rule that would have an annual economic impact of $100 million or more.

“It is time for Congress to reclaim its Article I authority by restoring the constitutional balance of power. The American people deserve a more direct say in regulations that could impact their everyday lives. The REINS Act would place a desperately needed check on unelected bureaucrats, saving taxpayers money,” said Sensenbrenner. “We’ve made great strides in growing the economy and increasing people’s take-home pay through historic tax cuts and regulatory reform. Now, Congress must take action to rein in the growth of bureaucratic red tape permanently. I’m proud to sponsor this important bill and thank Congressmen Collins and Armstrong for lending their support to this effort.”

“Article I of the Constitution, in its very first words, gives Congress the federal government’s legislative power, yet federal agencies routinely try to impose burdensome financial consequences without congressional input. That’s not right,” said Collins. “The REINS Act targets substantial regulatory abuses by the executive branch, and it would prevent agencies from enacting rules that have a major economic impact without congressional and presidential approval. I appreciate the leadership of Congressmen Sensenbrenner and Armstrong in introducing this critical legislation, and I encourage Chairman Nadler to take up this commonsense bill.” 

“This bill reasserts Congress’s role in writing laws and increases accountability to the American people by requiring congressional approval of regulations that would cost the economy over $100 million, drastically increase costs for consumers, or otherwise harm the economy,” said Armstrong. “Reining in the unelected bureaucracy will save taxpayer dollars and keep the economy growing.”

You can read a copy of the bill here.