Special Counsel Robert Mueller just obtained a major court ruling that destroyed any chance Donald Trump ever had of getting his case thrown out.
Many people in Trump’s camp have argued that Mueller doesn’t have the legal authority under the U.S. Constitution to go after the president. That argument has now gone down in flames.
Federal Chief Judge Beryl Howell just issued a long 92 page ruling spelling out Mueller’s legal authority in detail which essentially means that nobody else is going to be able to challenge that authority. She’s a Chief Judge, so this sets a strong legal precedent that will be followed in subsequent cases.
The specific case in question concerned the grand jury testimony of Roger Stone associate Andrew Miller, and whether he could be forced to testify.
Over the course of her 92 page analysis Howell strongly rejected an attempt by Miller to quash a subpoena to testify before the grand jury. This may hurt Stone and Trump, but more importantly it sets forth the detailed legal explanation for why the “scope of the Special Counsel’s power falls well within the boundaries the Constitution permits.”
In other words: Mueller’s power is valid under the U.S. Constitution, so don’t try to challenge it.
Miller’s lawyers had argued that Mueller is a “principal officer” who was unconstitutionally appointed since he was not nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate.
Chief Judge Howell found Miller’s claim without merit because of the Supreme Court’s decision in Morrison v. Olson, which upheld the constitutionality of provisions of a federal statute creating an independent counsel. There also are subsequent court decisions saying the same thing.
Howell’s ruling holds that Mueller is legally considered to be an “inferior officer” under the supervision of deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, and thus did not need to be nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate.
“Mr. Mueller’s appointment, without presidential appointment and senatorial confirmation, did not violate the Appointments Clause,” Howell wrote in her opinion.
The importance of this ruling cannot be overstated. It takes away the last vestiges of hope that Manafort, Stone, Trump or anyone else who may be charged by the special counsel had that their cases might be thrown out.
Mueller has huge amounts of evidence to support his indictments so the only real legal defense the defendants have ever had is to get their cases thrown out on the grounds that the special counsel’s probe was not legitimate.
Manafort tried this several times and all of his motions were rejected, which means he’s very likely to be convicted.
By forcing Andrew Miller to testify before the grand jury Mueller has made his legal position rock solid, and he has weakened the legal positions of Donald Trump, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and all of their underlings.
Mueller just scored a huge legal victory during a grand jury proceeding but it has a much bigger impact. This ruling will help him ultimately take Trump down because Donald Trump and his lawyers are going to try to use the same defense strategy that Manafort and Miller did.
When it’s Trump’s time to be charged his lawyers will certainly try to argue against Robert Mueller’s legal authority and try to get the case thrown out. But, after a Chief Judge solidified and clarified Mueller’s legal authority in a ninety-two page ruling, they have no chance of being successful.
This may have seemed like a minor ruling but in fact it is the type of ruling that could ultimately bring Donald Trump down.