Dotard Campaign Emails Obtained By Mueller
It has been reported that Robert Mueller has obtained tens of thousands of the Dotard’s campaign emails from the General Services Administration. Trump’s team was unaware that Mueller possessed the emails and were surprised when Mueller’s team asked questions based on the emails.
Now Trump’s team has written a letter to Congress, complaining that some of the materials were “susceptible to privilege claims.” So what does this mean? Former federal prosecutor and current Illinois Attorney General candidate Renato Mariotti helps us sort it out.
But His Campaign Emails
It’s not unusual at all for prosecutors to obtain emails from other parties. That’s extremely common in white collar criminal investigations and is not improper. What is unusual here is that Mueller obtained emails from GSA even though he could have obtained (many of) the same emails from lawyers for the Dotard’s Transition.
Typically, in a white collar case, prosecutors obtain as many emails and documents as possible from defense attorneys instead of from another source. That’s because the defense team would review the emails, take out the ones that are not relevant, sort the emails, and put them in a format could be useable by Mueller.
When a prosecutor obtains emails from a third party, usually irrelevant emails aren’t sorted out. So why would Mueller get the emails from GSA instead?
Why Trust The Dotard?
Mueller could have been concerned that he wouldn’t receive all of the emails if he obtained them from the Trump team. That’s surprising and suggests that he has reason to distrust Trump’s team.
It appears that obtaining the documents from GSA also allowed Mueller to surprise witnesses who were not prepared to talk about emails that they didn’t think he had.
Any good lawyer would have reviewed the emails with their client anyway prior to an interview. Either the defense lawyers are incompetent or they aren’t as surprised as they’re letting on.
Are Campaign Emails Privileged?
Typically prosecutors cannot obtain emails from a third party without using a search warrant, not a subpoena. If that happened here, it would mean a federal judge found that there was good reason to believe that a crime was committed and the emails contained evidence of a crime.
When a prosecutor obtains emails from a third party, privileged documents are not removed. Typically prosecutors use “taint teams” to remove privileged documents before the prosecution team reviews them.
If Mueller obtained a privileged email, the defense would be able to exclude it as evidence at trial. Typically all that happens is that the defense raises the issue with the prosecutor, and if the prosecutor agrees it is privileged, they return the privileged document.
Disputes over privilege are common when prosecutors obtain emails and documents from third parties. What’s uncommon is what the Trump lawyers did here.
The Real Nothingburger
Instead of sending a letter to Mueller, the attorneys sent a letter to Congress. Why? Probably to try to feed the growing effort to fire Mueller and/or try to discredit him to Congressional Republicans.
It’s notable that the Dotard’s lawyers don’t say that the emails are privileged. They merely claim that some of the emails are “susceptible to privilege claims.” That’s weak language that suggests they’re not confident they have a strong claim that some of the emails are privileged.
The biggest conclusion to be drawn from the Dotard’s lawyers’ letter is that they’re concerned about Mueller’s investigation and are doing whatever they can to discredit it. Their claims themselves are weak and are meant to persuade people who know nothing about criminal investigations.