Feinstein’s Unauthorized Transcript Release Called Legal but ‘Bizarre’
Guests on 'The Ingraham Angle' question why top Democratic senator pulled end run around Judiciary Committee chairman
A former prosecutor on Wednesday said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) probably did not break the law by releasing closed-door testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee — but a prominent journalist called it “bizarre.”
Feinstein released a transcript of testimony by the head of Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that hired the ex-British spy who produced the infamous dossier on President Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The senator apologized for not having consulted the committee’s chairman, Sen Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), who blasted the maneuver. The California Democrat is the panel’s ranking minority member and former committee chairman. Feinstein said she had a “cold” and suggested that affected her “faculties.”
Solomon Wisenberg, who served on the independent counsel team that investigated then-President Bill Clinton during the Whitewater scandal, said on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” that Feinstein is “safe,” despite suggestions by some that her action may have violated the law.
“I can’t think of a law that it violates,” he said. “It was an unclassified session, from what I understand … I mean, he’s a private citizen.”
Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist, said that legal or not, it was a strange thing to do.
“I don’t think that it was illegal, but it was very bizarre that she kind of blew up her committee; that’s normally a very collegial committee,” she said. “And that was a very weird thing for her to do.”
“I think what’s happening is that everyone’s kind of coming to the realization that collusion isn’t happening, and they’re just panicking and they’re just throwing everything out there,” she said.
“I don’t think that it was illegal, but it was very bizarre that she kind of blew up her committee; that’s normally a very collegial committee. And that was a very weird thing for her to do.”
That is not to say that Trump is in the clear from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Wisenberg said. He pointed out that Mueller can put Trump in a bind by insisting on an interview by the president’s investigators.
Wisenberg said he would advise a normal white-collar client to decline such an interview request and to invoke the Fifth Amendment if the prosecutor obtained a subpoena.
“But again, because he’s the president, he’s not a normal client,” he said.
Wisenberg said Trump could turn Mueller down. But he added that would not be the end of it.
“Well, Mueller’s got all the leverage here. Yes, he can rebuff it, just like Clinton rebuffed our five or six interview requests,” he said. “And then Mueller can issue a grand jury subpoena. And then what’s the president going to do? Is he going to invoke the Fifth Amendment? I think that’ll be hard to keep secret, and I think that’ll be very tough.”
Wisenberg said Trump’s best option would be to ask for an informal interview with the president’s attorney present. The alternative would for Trump to go into a grand jury room alone. And that is risky for any witness.