alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.

Former U.S. Assistant Attorney Explains Why Trump's 'Frivolous' Attack on Mueller Would Get Him Laughed Out of Court

A recent Wall Street Journal op-ed makes crystal clear the hypocritical and ridiculous plan by President Donald Trump's allies to end the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller. The argument is that his investigation is "fruit of the poisonous tree."


Randall Eliason, former assistant United States attorney for the District of Columbia, explains that this "frivolous" argument would get Trump laughed out of court.

The fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine is "a rule that excludes evidence resulting from an investigator’s unlawful act, such as an unconstitutional search or arrest." The "doctrine doesn't apply" to evidence that would have been discovered without said action.

Conservatives claim text messages between an assistant FBI director and his lover prove bias in the investigation from the start — a poisoned tree.

Eliason writes in the Washington Post:

[T]he inspector general found no unlawful investigative acts here; you can’t have tainted fruit if there’s no poisonous tree in the first place. And the authors of the Journal op-ed are arguing not to keep out particular items of evidence but to torpedo an entire investigation, despite nearly two years of intervening events and independent actions by other investigators. That’s not discarding particular pieces of fruit. That’s uprooting the entire orchard.

While conservatives' argument may excite an underinformed echo chamber, the "notion that a single agent could bend the entire Justice Department investigative leviathan to his will — particularly in such a significant case — is ludicrous."

With the midterms rapidly approaching, Trump's allies are running out of viable options to stymie Mueller's investigation and prevent a damning conclusion that could spark a blue wave.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close