Trump lawyer calls for inquiry on Mueller’s Russia probe

We want to see if we can have the investigation and special counsel declared illegal and unauthorized, says Rudy Giuliani. (Reuters)
Updated 17 June 2018

Trump lawyer calls for inquiry on Mueller’s Russia probe

  • We want the Mueller probe to be investigated the way the Trump administration has been investigated, says Giuliani
  • 20 people have been indicted and at least four are cooperating with Mueller’s investigators

WASHINGTON: Donald Trump’s personal lawyer on Sunday called for an investigation into special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, claiming it was tainted from the outset under former FBI director James Comey.
“We want the Mueller probe to be investigated the way the Trump administration has been investigated,” Rudy Giuliani said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Giuliani’s comments were the latest in a barrage of attacks on the probe by the president and his lawyers as Mueller appears to be nearing a conclusion to his investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Moscow.
“WITCH HUNT! There was no Russian Collusion. Oh, I see, there was no Russian Collusion, so now they look for obstruction on the no Russian Collusion. The phony Russian Collusion was a made up Hoax,” Trump tweeted on Sunday.
“Too bad they didn’t look at Crooked Hillary like this. Double Standard!” he added, referring to his 2016 Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton.
The Washington Post reported Sunday that Mueller is pressing to wrap up his findings by the end of summer and, in the words of former Republican leader Newt Gingrich, Trump and his allies were “prepared for war.”
“We want to see if we can have the investigation and special counsel declared illegal and unauthorized,” Giuliani, a former New York mayor and federal prosecutor, told the Post in an interview Friday.
Mueller has been investigating possible obstruction of justice as well as contacts between Trump campaign officials and a Russian effort to sway the 2016 presidential race in Trump’s favor.
So far, 20 people have been indicted and at least four are cooperating with Mueller’s investigators.
The Post reported Sunday that Roger Stone, a onetime Trump adviser, has acknowledged meeting a Russian national who was offering dirt on Clinton in May 2016, but said the man wanted money and nothing came of it.
In his appearance on CNN, Giuliani argued that the Mueller probe was tainted from the start, thanks to Comey.
“I believe that the Mueller investigation should be investigated not because necessarily of Mueller but because of its genesis in this very, very now completely almost illegal and unethical probe, this Russian probe,” he said.
“I’m saying what led up to the special counsel. I don’t think Mueller and his people need to be investigated, unless something comes out of that,” he said.
Trump fired Comey in May last year, later admitting that the Russia probe was on his mind when he did so, which in turn ramped up suspicions of obstruction of justice.
Giuliani argued, however, that the Mueller probe was based on Comey’s contemporaneous notes of his private meetings with Trump before his firing, which the lawyer claimed was “illegally leaked.”
“That usually leads the court to say the thing is tainted. They may come out with a lot of problems if they don’t get this resolved,” he said.
Giuliani also pointed to a Justice Department inspector general’s report as vindication of the president’s position.
That report criticized Comey’s decision-making investigation involving a probe into Clinton’s use of a private email server.
But while it found instances in which FBI investigators expressed bias against Trump in private emails, it concluded there was no evidence that the sentiments played into the investigation itself.
In a subsequent interview on Sunday with CBS’s “Face The Nation” show, Giuliani said the Mueller probe should face both an international government investigation by the Justice Department’s inspector general and a grand jury probe.


Expanded South Korean military drills around disputed island draw Japanese protest

Updated 25 August 2019

Expanded South Korean military drills around disputed island draw Japanese protest

  • Tokyo and Seoul have long been at loggerheads over the sovereignty of the group of islets
  • The Japanese foreign ministry called the drills unacceptable and said it had lodged a protest with South Korea

SEOUL: South Korean forces began two days of expanded drills on Sunday around an island also claimed by Japan, prompting a protest from Tokyo only days after Seoul said it would scrap an intelligence-sharing pact with its neighbor amid worsening relations.
Tokyo and Seoul have long been at loggerheads over the sovereignty of the group of islets called Takeshima in Japanese and Dokdo in Korean, which lie about halfway between the East Asian neighbors in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea.
The latest military drills began on Sunday and included naval, air, and army forces, as well as marines, a South Korean ministry of defense official said.
The Japanese foreign ministry called the drills unacceptable and said it had lodged a protest with South Korea calling for them to end.
The island is “obviously an inherent part of the territory of Japan,” Kenji Kanasugi, the director general at the ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, told the South Korean Embassy in Tokyo in a statement.
Ko Min-jung, a spokeswoman for South Korea’s presidential Blue House, said the drill was an annual exercise and not aimed at any specific country.
“It’s an exercise to guard our sovereignty and territory,” she told reporters in Seoul.
The exercise included significantly more South Korean forces than previously involved and spanned a wider area in the sea between South Korea and Japan, a South Korean navy official told Reuters.
For the first time the drills included an Aegis-equipped destroyer and army special forces, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Tensions in the region have spiked amid a worsening political and economic spat between South Korea and Japan, a string of missile launches by North Korea, and increasingly assertive military patrols by China and Russia.
South Korea announced the scrapping of an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan on Thursday, drawing a swift protest from Tokyo and deepening a decades-old dispute over wartime history that has hit trade and undercut security cooperation over North Korea.
Relations between South Korea and Japan began to deteriorate late last year following a diplomatic row over compensation for wartime forced laborers during Japan’s occupation of Korea.
They soured further when Japan tightened its curbs on exports of high-tech materials needed by South Korea’s chip industry, and again this month when Tokyo said it would remove South Korea’s fast-track export status.
The disputed islands have long been one of the most sensitive areas of contention between Japan and South Korea.
A detachment of South Korean guards has been stationed there since the 1950s and South Korea has conducted annual defense drills in the area.
The current exercises had been delayed as relations deteriorated, Yonhap news agency reported.
In July, South Korea and Japan responded to what they saw as a violation of their air space near the islands by a Russian military plane.
The South Korean navy said the drills were designed to underscore its commitment to defending the broader area.
“The military has changed the name of the drills to ‘East Sea Territorial Protection Exercise’ reflecting the scale and meaning of the drills to solidify the military’s resolve to protect the territory in the East Sea,” the South Korean navy said in a statement. Previous drills had been called the “Dokdo Defense Exercise.”