Trump lawyer: Robert Mueller violated law to obtain transition team emails

December 17, 2017

Trump lawyer: Robert Mueller violated law to obtain transition team emails Image Source: Screenshot

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the Donald Trump transition team’s alleged ties with Russia has been going down in flames in recent weeks, as details of corruption and bias plague the investigation. Now, a claim from one of Trump’s lawyers is adding fuel to that fire.

A Trump transition team lawyer has accused Special Counsel Robert Mueller of illegally acquiring “tens of thousands” of private email communications and electronic devices from the transition team.

These “unauthorized disclosures,” included “confidential attorney-client communications, privileged communications, and thousands of emails,” according to Fox News.

Unlawful Conduct

The emails and property seized by Mueller’s team belonged to Trump for America, a nonprofit organization that facilitated the transition from former President Barack Obama to current President Donald Trump.

The Mueller team did not seek permission from the president’s transition team to obtain the materials, and instead compelled the General Services Agency (GSA) — a government agency whose limited role was to provide the transition team with office space and host its email servers until Trump’s team could move into the White House — to hand over emails, computers, cell phones, and an iPad owned by Trump’s staff, according to the report.

After requests from Mueller in August, GSA staff prepared a flash drive with the Trump team’s emails for the special counsel to review; Trump was long gone from GSA-owned offices when the agency sifted through archives to find and consolidate the dated material, some of which includes legally protected attorney-client correspondences.

Kory Langhofer, who served as an attorney for president-elect Trump, sent a letter to House and Senate committees on Saturday alleging “unlawful conduct” from GSA staff for volunteering these emails and electronic devices to the Mueller investigation.

Langhofer argued that Mueller’s back-door acquisition of the materials constituted an illegal search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment; Mueller’s agents failed to produce a warrant or subpoenas in their requests for the evidence, instead relying upon a non-binding written request to convince or even coerce the GSA into cooperation.

Counsel Responds

Langhofer also argued in his letter to Congress that the privacy breach represents a concern for all future presidents-elect and their transition team that work within GSA property. He said lawmakers should “act immediately to protect future presidential transitions from having their private records misappropriated by government agencies, particularly in the context of sensitive investigations intersecting with political motives.”

A spokesman for Mueller’s team, Peter Carr, denied any wrongdoing from investigators, however.

“When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner’s consent or appropriate criminal process,” Carr said.

GSA Deputy Counsel Lenny Loewentritt also denied a claim made by Langhofer that the GSA promised to forward any legal requests for records to the Trump attorneys.

Loewentritt insisted that his predecessor “never made that commitment” with the transition team.

Anti-Trump hit squad

To make matters worse, Trump’s lawyers are also arguing that the confiscated emails were used as evidence to bring charges against some of the president’s staff who were recently indicted by the special counsel.

“We understand that the Special Counsel’s office has subsequently made extensive use of the materials it obtained from the GSA, including materials that are susceptible to privilege claims,” Langhofer wrote.

As if it weren’t already sufficiently negligent of Mueller to form what is effectively a political hit-squad against Trump for increasingly improbable ties to Russia, the former FBI director demonstrated that he won’t obey the law in his pursuit of guilt.

Trump supporters who have been worried that the Mueller investigation could extend beyond its original mandate of investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election should be alarmed — but it’s not the scope of the investigation that should be the primary concern. Now, Americans have to ask if Mueller’s investigation is even being conducted legally.

What a shame.

Benjamin Baird

Benjamin Baird is a senior staff writer for the Conservative Institute. He is a veteran infantryman of Iraq and Afghanistan with over 1000 days in combat and holds a degree in Middle Eastern studies from the American Military University. Ben is a regular contributor at the Middle East Forum and has written for dozens of conservative publications, including The Daily Caller, American Spectator, American Thinker, New English Review and Yahoo News.