Thursday, November 1, 2018

At Your Service

Politico puts together the pieces of evidence to speculate that the Mueller investigation has subpoenaed Trump.

These months before the midterm elections are tough ones for all of us Mueller-watchers. As we expected, he has gone quiet in deference to longstanding Justice Department policy that prosecutors should not take actions that might affect pending elections. Whatever he is doing, he is doing quietly and even further from the public eye than usual.

But thanks to some careful reporting by Politico, which I have analyzed from my perspective as a former prosecutor, we might have stumbled upon How Robert Mueller Is Spending His Midterms: secretly litigating against President Donald Trump for the right to throw him in the grand jury.

Paul Campos at LGM puts together the timeline.

(1) Somebody initiated a sealed grand jury case in the DC circuit on August 16th.

(2) The judge (Beryl Howell) issued a ruling on September 19th, and one of the parties filed an appeal on the 24th.

(3) A POLITICO reporter “overheard a conversation in the clerk’s office” (I wouldn’t be shocked if this is a cover story for some sort of leak, perhaps from a judicial clerk, since Mueller’s team is extraordinarily tight-lipped) that indicated the special counsel’s office is involved.

Then things get really interesting.

(4) The litigation has since been moving at remarkable speed. Procedures that normally take weeks or months are happening in a matter of days. Obviously this is no ordinary case.

(5) Most tellingly, the party that lost at the lower level immediately petitioned for an en banc hearing — that is, a hearing involving all the judges on the circuit court. That itself is significant, but what is most significant is that, in the order disposing of that petition, Gregory Katsas recused himself. Katsas is Trump’s only appointment to the DC circuit, and was previously Trump’s deputy White House counsel. If the appealing party was Trump, Katsas would certainly recuse himself.

Briefs in the case are due soon, and oral argument has been set for December 14th.

Get the popcorn.