Q&A: AP Explains Trump Transition Email Dispute With Mueller


Publish Date:
December 18, 2017
  • Day, Chad,
  • Tucker, Eric
ABC News (AP)
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President Donald Trump’s transition organization is arguing that a government agency improperly turned over a cache of emails to special counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into contacts between Trump associates and Russia.

The complaint by the transition team is the latest attempt to undermine Mueller’s investigation in the public sphere. It also raises a number of complicated questions about who owns presidential transition records and whether there are any legal bars for federal prosecutors to obtain documents maintained by another government agency — in this case, the General Services Administration.

Q: Has Mueller done anything wrong by asking GSA for these records?

A: The short answer is no, said Stanford law professor David Sklansky.

“In general, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with prosecutors and FBI agents asking agencies to give them information that they can use in an investigation, and this letter, as I read it, doesn’t suggest that there was anything wrong in Mueller making that request,” he said.

The transition is arguing that Mueller has accessed records that are covered by three privileges: attorney-client, deliberative process and executive. Sklansky said it’s possible that some material could be covered by attorney-client privilege, but he’s skeptical of the other arguments.

The transition appears to be trying to have it both ways, he said, saying on one hand that the records are private and not government records, while on the other hand saying that the records are protected by two privileges —deliberative process and executive — that only apply to government records.

“I think the suggestion that there’s a privilege claim here is a stretch,” he said.

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