After ‘Recklessly’ Seizing Trump Transition Emails, Did ‘Fruit of The Poisonous Tree’ Theory Just Doom Mueller’s Probe?
President Trump’s legal team is setting the stage for its biggest showdown yet against special counsel Robert Mueller since the Russia probe began. Ahead of a highly anticipated meeting between Trump lawyers and special counsel investigators, an attorney for the President is demanding Mueller return transition documents believed to be unlawfully obtained.
In a piece titled, “Mueller makes reckless move with seizure of Trump transition emails,” legal expert Jonathan Turley mused in The Hill Monday about whether or not the special counsel may have doomed the Trump-Russia investigation by way of “fruit of the poisonous tree” theory.
Turley writes for The Hill:
For those familiar with Mueller, the blunt-force approach taken toward the GSA is something of a signature of Mueller and his heavy-handed associates like Andrew Weissmann. As I have previously written, Mueller has a controversial record in attacking attorney-client privilege as well as harsh tactics against targets. […]
It is important to note that Mueller’s move takes his investigation into uncertain legal territory and may ultimately create some new law in his favor. Then again it might not. The question is why Mueller would take the risk. […]
This could ultimately fall into the category of being careful what you ask for. Once again, the Mueller team showed little hesitation or circumspection in plowing into this controversial area. It is the same attitude that led to the reversals of Weissmann at the cost of millions (and ruined lives) in failed prosecutions. If the evidence was improperly seized, it could contaminate later evidence derived from it in a “fruit of the poisonous tree” theory. Mueller would not be the first to face such a cascading problem of contamination. […]
However, if he proceeds to an indictment, he may have created a poison pill factor where indictments could be brought but prove unprosecutable.
According to Axios boss Mike Allen, special counsel Robert Mueller secretly got his hands on “many tens of thousands,” of emails exchanged by Trump transition officials. Trump lawyer Kory Langhofer penned a blistering response to the news, accusing Mueller of unlawfully obtaining transition documents.
Mueller obtained the emails through the General Services Administration (GSA) that were sent using Presidential Transition Team addresses ending in “ptt.gov.”
GSA “did not own or control the records in question,” Trump for America lawyer Kory Langhofer wrote to Mueller.
Langhofer noted the special counsel’s office has “extensively used the materials in question, including portions that are susceptible to claims of privilege.”
According to Allen, the special counsel’s office will use the emails to “generate new leads.”