WASHINGTON, D.C. – Preet Bharara, a constant Trump critic ever since the president fired him from the position as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, may turn out to be an unanticipated liability for Special Counselor Robert Mueller.
Now that Mueller has added Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Goldstein, one of Bharara’s former top prosecutors, to his Special Prosecutor staff, Mueller may have to explain a pattern of illegal leaking of secret grand jury information that has plagued a Bharara high visibility prosecution since 2014.
Specifically, Mueller may have to explain why his pattern of leaking to the press differs from the illegal leaking of grand jury information to the New York Times and Washington Post that Bharara had to admit happened in his prosecution of William T. Walters, a prominent businessman, investor, sports gambler, and philanthropist that Bharara convicted of insider trading in a U.S. District Court criminal trial that ended last July.
Mueller’s most recent leak was evident in a New York Times story published on Sept. 18, 2017, entitled “With a Picked Lock and a Threatened Indictment, Mueller’s Inquiry Sets a Tone.”
In the article, reporters Sharon LaFraniere, Matt Apuzzo, and Adam Goldman made public that Mueller intended to follow his pre-dawn Gestapo-like break-in raid into Manafort’s Alexandria, Virginia, apartment home, while he and his wife were sleeping, will be followed by a indictment, according to information the newspaper reported learning from typically anonymous sources identified only as “two people close to the investigation.”
In July, President Trump issued a volley of angry tweets after the Washington Post reported, again based on unnamed anonymous sources, that Trump had asked his attorneys and advisors about his ability to pardon aides, family, members, and possibly even himself as a means of “limiting or undercutting” Mueller’s Russia investigation.
In response to the Washington Post story, Trump tweeted, “While we all agree the U.S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that twhen the only crime so far is LEAKS against us. FAKE NEWS.”
Infowars.com reported Monday that U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton’s decision last week in the case of former Sheriff Arpaio that she had no choice but to accept President Trump’s pardon as valid was a setback to Mueller, especially after Bolton had allowed some 30 Democratic members of Congress to file an amici curiae brief arguing Trump’s pardon exceeded his constitutional authority.
Now, Mueller will have to deal with an unsealed and not-redacted admission Bharara was forced to file with U.S. District Court Judge P. Kevin Castel in the case United States v. Walters, a letter dated Dec. 16, 2016, in which then U.S. Attorney Bharara was forced to admit that FBI Special Agent David Chaves had been illegally leaking secret grand jury information to reporters at the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal for at least two years, beginning in 2014 – two years before the Department of Justice indicted Walters.
What Mueller will have to explain now, should he be allowed to continue his investigation, is why a systematic pattern of leaks in the Russia probe does not constitute a pattern of government impropriety that should disqualify the investigation from being allowed to continue.
In the defendant’s appeal in the U.S v. Walters case, former U.S. Attorney Baharara will certainly be given by the U.S. Court of Appeals an opportunity to explain why his office was not engaged in an conspiratorial effort engineered with the FBI to prejudice the defense by leaks, prejudicing the case by conducting a “trial by newspaper,”
In Mueller’s case, the leaks have made abundantly clear the Special Prosecutor is targeting the occupant of the highest office in the land – a case in which all information developed by the Special Prosecutor should have been treated as sacrosanct – at least until presented lawfully before a magistrate in a duly constituted judicial proceeding.
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