STREAMING NOW: Watch Now
CLOSINGS: View Closings

Mueller team denies accusations it 'unlawfully' obtained Trump transition emails

A spokesman for special counsel Robert Mueller has denied accusations by Trump transition lawyers that Mueller's team...

Posted: Dec 18, 2017 10:24 AM
Updated: Dec 18, 2017 10:24 AM

A spokesman for special counsel Robert Mueller has denied accusations by Trump transition lawyers that Mueller's team got unauthorized access to thousands of transition emails.

"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," the spokesman, Peter Carr, said early Sunday.

The transition maintains the documents were its property and should not have been handed over without its approval

The emails in question involve 13 transition officials, including four senior ones, according to the letter

Lawyers representing the transition wrote to members of Congress accusing Mueller's team of obtaining unauthorized access to tens of thousands of transition emails in the course of its Russia investigation, including what they claim to be documents protected by attorney-client privilege.

The transition maintains the emails, which were on a government domain, were its property and should not have been handed over without its approval. The emails in question involve 13 transition officials, including four senior ones, according to the letter.

The lawyer, Kory Langhofer, wrote to leaders of the Senate Homeland Security and House Oversight and Government Reform committees because he said the General Services Administration, which supports presidential transitions, "unlawfully produced" private materials of the transition although the GSA "did not own or control the records in question."

Langhofer wrote in the letter that the Special Counsel's Office "was actively using those materials without any notice" to transition officials.

The letter states there were two other occasions where the Special Counsel's Office did not notify transition officials that their records had been requested or received.

The transition's executive director, Ken Nahigian, asserts that the transition owns the emails under the agreement that set up the operation, despite the GSA's stance.

"Up until the very end that was our understanding. GSA would maintain, but you owned them," Nahigian said. "In no way they own the emails. ... We are the victim."

The emails have a ".gov" domain because GSA was in charge of their security, he said.

Nahigian also emphasized that his organization has no official connection to the White House.

"I don't talk to the White House," he said.

Nahigian also said he is objecting to the handing over of the emails because of the precedent it will set for future transitions. He said his organization is exploring options about how to respond and expects to make a decision possibly later Sunday, but he would not discuss possible courses of action.

"What we do beyond requesting a lawful process hasn't been determined," he said, adding that some of the documents contain privileged information.

GSA Deputy Counsel Lenny Loewentritt disputed a claim by Langhofer that the GSA's general counsel had agreed in June that any requests for transition records would go to the Trump campaign, BuzzFeed News reported Saturday night.

Loewentritt said transition officials were told that "in using our devices," materials "would not be held back in any law enforcement" requests. He added there was a series of agreements between the transition and GSA for using its goods and therefore there was no expectation of privacy.

Langhofer's letter also states that Special Counsel's Office had obtained transition laptops, cell phones and at least one iPad after the FBI requested them of career GSA staff without a subpoena.

The letter also says a representative of the Special Counsel's Office told transition officials it did not recover any documents from that hardware, but failed "to disclose the critical fact that ... the Special Counsel's office had simultaneously received from the GSA tens of thousands of emails."

"The materials produced by the GSA to the Special Counsel's Office therefore included materials protected by the attorney-client privilege, the deliberative process privilege, and the presidential communications privilege," the letter maintains.

Axios first reported the existence of the emails, and Fox News first reported the transition lawyer's letter.

The transition lawyer is asking the members of Congress to act to protect future presidential transitions from having "private records misappropriated by government agencies, particularly in the context of sensitive investigations intersecting with political motives." Specifically, the lawyer is asking if future transitions receive request or demand for documents it must provide notice to transition officials and an opportunity to respond.

A spokeswoman for House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, of South Carolina, said in a statement that the Trump transition email issues are "to be briefed by the parties (or others with cognizable legal claims and standing) and decided by the court - not Congress."

"The central issues raised are fact specific legal issues which involve issues of privilege, waiver (express, implied, actual and constructive), standing to assert claims of privacy, expectations of privacy and the reasonableness thereof, third party consent, statutory constructions, and inevitable discovery among other issues," she added in the statement.

But Committee ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings, of Maryland, says the panel does have jurisdiction over the matter.

"Our committee has direct jurisdiction over the Presidential Transition Act, and it simply does not support withholding transition team emails from criminal investigators," Cummings said in a statement. "The President's lawyers have said they want to fully comply with Special Counsel Mueller's investigation, so it is odd that they now suggest they would have withheld key documents from federal investigators."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 482902

Reported Deaths: 9425
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison33063488
Hinds31021589
DeSoto30610358
Jackson23687348
Rankin21340370
Lee14909220
Madison14166271
Jones13404227
Forrest13160240
Lauderdale11601305
Lowndes10443176
Lamar10214130
Pearl River9098221
Lafayette8241137
Hancock7514112
Washington7102150
Oktibbeha6964124
Monroe6514164
Neshoba6475201
Warren6464164
Pontotoc630393
Panola6250126
Marshall6126123
Bolivar6115144
Union574186
Pike5613136
Alcorn537290
Lincoln5303131
George471472
Scott459196
Leflore4476140
Prentiss446779
Tippah446480
Itawamba4444100
Adams4416116
Tate4394101
Simpson4335112
Wayne433066
Copiah431787
Yazoo423386
Covington415792
Sunflower4148104
Marion4099104
Leake397586
Coahoma3957100
Newton370875
Grenada3556104
Stone350860
Tishomingo336289
Attala325387
Jasper314162
Winston304691
Clay296473
Chickasaw287065
Clarke282190
Calhoun266141
Holmes262187
Smith250649
Yalobusha221047
Tallahatchie220450
Walthall211058
Greene209045
Lawrence206833
Perry199953
Amite198452
Webster196542
Noxubee178939
Montgomery172454
Jefferson Davis168342
Carroll162137
Tunica153334
Benton142535
Kemper138640
Choctaw127026
Claiborne126834
Humphreys126637
Franklin116728
Quitman103926
Wilkinson101936
Jefferson91333
Sharkey63020
Issaquena1926
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 789054

Reported Deaths: 14022
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1115991765
Mobile708511234
Madison49865633
Shelby36274315
Baldwin36242495
Tuscaloosa33931548
Montgomery33190678
Lee22680220
Calhoun21211410
Morgan19816335
Etowah19300462
Marshall17680274
Houston16823386
St. Clair15442305
Cullman14602258
Limestone14581188
Elmore14480264
Lauderdale13520281
Talladega12958236
DeKalb12199237
Walker10588330
Blount9720157
Autauga9667137
Jackson9385158
Coffee8882175
Dale8609173
Colbert8534184
Tallapoosa6673181
Escambia6591121
Covington6452167
Chilton6385144
Russell607255
Franklin5795101
Chambers5416134
Marion4800120
Dallas4705189
Clarke463279
Pike462397
Geneva4413117
Winston425895
Lawrence4117108
Bibb409381
Barbour347270
Marengo326285
Monroe320053
Butler318290
Randolph305956
Pickens305274
Henry301858
Hale292685
Cherokee289855
Fayette279673
Washington245448
Crenshaw238470
Cleburne235851
Clay228565
Macon220158
Lamar197743
Conecuh182046
Lowndes170758
Coosa170235
Wilcox159736
Bullock149243
Perry136537
Sumter124536
Greene121443
Choctaw73427
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 69°
Columbus
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 68°
Oxford
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 64°
Starkville
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 68°
Little bits and pieces of low pressure move back into our area over the next several days. This will bring back into our weather forecast some more chances for some isolated to scattered showers and thunderstorms.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather