Jack Crowe on December 17, 2017
President Donald Trump’s lawyer accused Special Counsel Robert Mueller of violating attorney client privilege in obtaining emails sent by Trump’s transition team in a letter sent to Congress Saturday.
Counsel to the transition team known as Trump For America, Kory Langhofer claims the General Services Administration, the government agency that possessed the transition team emails, turned them over to Mueller’s team before Trump’s lawyers were given the opportunity to review them and assert they should be protected under attorney client privilege.
“The materials produced by the G.S.A. to the special counsel’s office therefore included materials protected by the attorney-client privilege, the deliberative process privilege, and the presidential communications privilege,” Langhofer, Counsel to Trump For America, wrote in the letter, obtained by Politico.
Mueller’s office refuted the allegation, insisting they obtained the emails and other documents through the requisite legal channels.
“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,” Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel’s office, said in a statement.
Mueller’s team reportedly used the roughly 7,000 transition emails as a basis for questioning witnesses and confirming leads, according to Axios, which first reported Mueller had obtained the communications.
The letter accuses GSA Deputy Counsel Lenny Loewentritt of unlawfully furnishing the emails for Mueller’s team after then-GSA general counsel Richard Beckler “acknowledged unequivocally” to the Trump campaign on June 15 that the emails were their legal property and as such “any requests for the production of PTT [Presidential Transition Team] records would therefore be routed to legal counsel for [the Trump campaign].”
Lowentritt denied that Beckler, who has since passed away, made any such commitment in a statement to Buzzfeed News.
The allegations of impropriety come days after the Department of Justice (DOJ) released over 300 politically charged text messages exchanged by Peter Strzok — the FBI agent who was dismissed from Mueller’s team for anti Trump bias — and a senior FBI attorney Lisa Page. The texts, which were turned over to the House Intelligence Committee and obtained by multiple news outlets Tuesday, bolstered the Republican effort to cast Mueller’s probe as compromised by political bias.