Tag Archives: 2016 election

Now it’s Trump vs. McMaster … imagine that!

So much buzz, so little time to process it all.

Donald Trump fired off a tweet over the weekend that took aim at a remarkable target: the man who provides him national security advice.

H.R. McMaster said at an international conference that special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of several Russians on charges of 2016 election meddling provides “incontrovertible” proof that the Russians launched an attack on our electoral system.

Trump’s response was to say that McMaster “forgot” to say that the indictments didn’t accuse the Trump campaign of “collusion,” that it didn’t help the Russians hack into our system; nor did McMaster say that the meddling actually influenced the outcome, according to the president.

So, the battle is joined. As Politico notes, the two men have been at odds ever since McMaster replaced the disgraced Michael Flynn as national security adviser.

Here is the Politico story

Who knew? I mean, McMaster is a highly decorated U.S. Army three-star general, a man with tremendous attention to detail. He is a national security scholar who now works for a man who doesn’t have the interest or inclination to study anything. The president flies by the seat of his pants and reacts viscerally to crises.

Is there any wonder that Gen. McMaster and the president would be at odds?

Hardly.

We are left to wonder how this White House, the president and his top aides ever are able to concur on anything. Who in the world gives this president advice he actually heeds?

The answer is no one.

Now this: Mueller indicts Russians for meddling

Let’s see. If we’re keeping score, the tab is piling up against Donald Trump’s claim that the Russians didn’t interfere in our 2016 presidential election.

The nation’s top spooks, the folks who run our intelligence agencies, say in unison that the Russians meddled in our election.

Now, today, we get word that special counsel Robert Mueller has indicted 13 Russians and three Russian companies for — drum roll! — interfering in our election.

But … the president of the United States is willing to take the word of a former KGB boss, Vladimir Putin, that he didn’t do what our intelligence experts say he did. Donald Trump is the lone denier in all of this.

To be clear, the indictments don’t suggest any collusion from the Trump campaign. The president might take some solace in that knowledge, although there’s still more to be determined by Mueller’s legal team as it pores through all the material that has piled up.

Nor do the indictments say that the Russian hackers’ activity actually affected the outcome. They did not determine the outcome. I get that, too.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who announced the indictments, said the Russians did accomplish their mission in their meddling, which was to cause “discord” and to throw doubt over our nation’s electoral process.

When will the president ever acknowledge what is now widely known? My hunch: He’ll take his denial with him to the grave.

Weird.

Hoping for a ‘Sen. Romney’

I cannot believe I am about to write this blog post.

No kidding, I am excited about Mitt Romney’s candidacy for the U.S. Senate from Utah.

The 2012 Republican Party’s presidential nominee didn’t get my vote when he ran against President Barack H. Obama. That was then. Six years later, he now stands as a possible deterrent to another Republican, the current president of the United States, Donald John “Stable Genius” Trump.

Romney wants to succeed Orrin Hatch in the U.S. Senate. He has some Utah connection, although he will face the “carpetbagger” charge from those who might oppose his candidacy. Romney ran for the Senate in Massachusetts, losing in 1994 to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. He then was elected governor of the Bay State. Mitt has lived most recently in southern California.

But in 2002, he did step in to rescue the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Plus, he has strong ties to the Mormon Church — which is headquartered in Utah — and is arguably the nation’s most well-known Mormon.

A Sen. Romney would take office as a leading lawmaker. There will be no “getting acquainted” with this guy. He’s a known quantity, a national political figure of considerable renown.

He also has had his run-ins with Donald Trump. Romney famously called Trump a “fraud” and a “phony” during the  2016 presidential campaign. Thus, Romney potentially could serve as a check on the president’s sometimes-weird instincts.

Yes, I realize he auditioned for a secretary of state appointment in the Trump administration. I also know he likely groveled a bit to get the nod. I don’t hold it against him.

To be honest, I think I would like Mitt Romney if I ever got the chance to meet him. For starters, a Republican who would challenge Trump’s legitimacy as a serious politician is OK in my book.

Mitt Romney becomes the prohibitive favorite to succeed Sen. Hatch. I now will hope he can win this seat — and turn up the heat under the president.

Spooks say it again: Russia meddled in 2016!

The nation’s leading intelligence agency heads all sat in a row in front of a congressional committee.

Then they all said the same thing: Russia interfered in our 2016 presidential election and they intend to do the same thing during our 2018 midterm election.

There you have it.

Except that the men’s boss, the president of the United States, isn’t buying it. Donald John Trump continues to insist that it’s not yet proven that Russia meddled. The president, moreover, says that Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, told him he had no hand in the meddling. Trump apparently has bought into Putin’s denial … as if the Russian strongman is going to say a single thing different.

The Hill reports: “There should be no doubt that Russia perceived its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said during his opening remarks at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.

He also warned lawmakers that Moscow is “likely to pursue even more aggressive cyberattacks” against future elections in an effort to undermine U.S. democracy.

I don’t need to remind anyone — but I guess I will anyhow — that Coats is no squishy Democratic liberal. He’s a former Republican senator from Indiana, whom Trump appointed to lead the national intelligence team.

I think I’ll accept Coats’ version of what he and the others — including the director of the FBI and the CIA — are saying about Russia’s acknowledged effort to subvert the U.S. electoral process.

If only the president himself would admit the obvious.

If only …

Due process, Mr. President?

Donald Trump has had an epiphany. Maybe?

I’m trying to understand how this guy, the president, can call for “due process” when he’s demonstrated a remarkable and shameful tendency to forgo it when it involves his political foes.

Now he says that Rob Porter, the former White House staff secretary who’s accused by former wives and a former girlfriend of spousal abuse is entitled to “due process.” He and a former speechwriter, who also quit this week, are being railroaded out of their jobs by mere allegations, according to the president.

Wow! Can you believe it? The president insists on “due process” to determine their guilt or innocence.

Back when he just a mere hotel/real estate mogul, Trump called for punishing five young men who had been exonerated of raping a woman in Central Park. They were the Central Park Five. Trump didn’t think for a second about due process for those individuals.

How about when he was running for president and he declared his belief that U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s father was somehow implicated in the assassination of President Kennedy? Oh, his evidence was a photograph he saw in, um, the National Enquirer, of Rafael Cruz and Lee Harvey Oswald. I must mention that Cruz was running against Trump for the Republican presidential nomination. Due process? Hah!

Let’s not forget the “Lock her up!” chants regarding Hillary Rodham Clinton, Trump’s opponent in the 2016 general election. Trump campaign crowds would launch into the chant and, oh yes, Trump would egg them on. Did the former secretary of state and U.S. senator deserve “due process”? Or was she fair game just because she was a politician running for the same office as the guy who beat her?

If only the president would have shown as much concern for “due process” in the not-too-distant past. His previous carelessness only heightens the skepticism when he shoots off his mouth about this current spate of White House chaos.

Putin can declare: Mission Accomplished

I don’t know to say “Mission Accomplished” in Russian.

However, I am certain that somewhere in the Kremlin or wherever he hangs out these days, Russian strongman Vladimir Putin is able to declare victory in his effort to disrupt the U.S. electoral system.

I don’t know if the Russian goons who hacked into our election system actually affected the outcome of the 2016 presidential contest. To be honest, I doubt that the interference had a tangible, demonstrable impact. I doubt that the Russian meddling by itself elected Donald John Trump as our president.

Putin, though, shouldn’t concern himself with that precisely. He should be happy as the dickens at what he has been able to accomplish.

He has sown doubt in our electoral process. He has shrouded our system under a cloud of doubt. He has thrown the U.S. Congress into a tizzy as it does battle within itself over how to deal with the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and his investigation into this very disturbing matter.

Putin has wrenched the White House, indeed the president himself, into spasms of apoplexy. Trump has lashed out at the FBI, the Department of Justice, the attorney general, his deputy AG, the nation’s intelligence community, at congressional Democrats and even a few congressional Republicans.

The president says he’ll talk to Mueller “under oath.” His lawyers are advising him not to do it.

If you’re Vladimir Putin, you must be laughing with your fellow spies and former spies at what you have accomplished.

Putin has done what should have been impossible. He has infected our electoral system with with doubt over what we have considered to be a sacred trust.

And the more the president continues to deny Russian involvement in this meddling the more he does — in the words of U.S. Sen. John McCain — “Putin’s work for him.”

Just remember that Vladimir Putin once was the chief spook within the Soviet Union’s own massive spy network. He hasn’t forgotten the tricks of his trade.

POTUS has much for which he must answer

The farther along we stagger forward into the presidency of Donald Trump, the deeper the hole he digs for himself.

I refer to the many statements he has made — as candidate and then as president — that have yet to be substantiated.

A few of them come to mind.

  • He has asserted that climate change is a “hoax,” a fantasy created by China to discredit our fossil fuel industry.
  • Trump has accused “millions of illegal immigrants” of voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016, giving her the nearly 3 million popular vote margin she rolled up over the president.
  • The president has fanned the flames of the phony and slanderous birther movement once again by challenging whether Barack Obama was actually born in the United States of America; he once said that the president is a U.S. citizen, but has all but walked that one back.
  • Candidate Donald Trump said he would release his tax returns once the Internal Revenue Service completed its audit. That was more than two years ago. The tax returns remain a secret. The IRS cannot possibly be conducting that audit to this day.
  • Trump said he wouldn’t have time for golf, that he’d be too busy making America “great again.” He, um, has broken that pledge, too.

I know I’ve missed a few. Maybe many. But I hope you get the point.

The president has made bold pledges. He hasn’t been held to account for them. His base continues to rally behind him. They give him a pass on all of it. They ignore his hideous personal behavior in a way they never would do if the president was a member of the opposing political party.

Others of us out here are seeking to hold this guy accountable for his lengthening list of untrue statements and promises he made.

I don’t expect the president to listen to his critics. He doesn’t care what we think. He cares only about the slobbering support he gets from those who relish the idiotic notion that Donald Trump simply is “telling it like it is.”

Treason: a serious four-letter word

One more comment on “treason,” and then I’m out … maybe, perhaps, hopefully.

When the president of the United States accuses fellow Americans of committing a treasonous act, he is accusing them of aiding and abetting enemies of the state. He is saying that those who commit such acts should be punished accordingly; the law allows traitors to be, um, executed.

Thus, when Donald John “Stable Genius” Trump tosses the t-word at congressional Democrats whose “crime against the state” is to sit on their hands during the president’s State of the Union speech, he’s being politically vulgar in the worst way possible.

Trump did that while speaking to an Ohio crowd this week. He called Democrats’ actions “un-American”; someone in the crowd yelled “treasonous,” which Trump heard and took it to the next step.

“Why not?” he asked about the word, getting guffaws and hoots from the adoring crowd.

Members of the loyal opposition often are impolite, or rude, or sometimes insulting during these speeches. However, hanging the ultimate four-letter word around them — calling their actions “treasonous” — betrays an utter ignorance of the very principle on which the Founding Fathers created the greatest nation on Earth.

Moreover, I am inclined to think that a more treasonous act would be to collude with a foreign power to corrupt our electoral process … if that happened, of course.

Sickening.

You aren’t ‘vindicated,’ Mr. President

Dear Mr. President,

Settle down, sir. You need to guzzle a couple more Diet Cokes and then take stock of what has just happened with regard to the “Russia thing” that has you tied up in knots.

The Republican chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee has released a memo that alleges the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and the FBI are “biased” against you. Yet you contend that the memo “totally vindicates ‘Trump'” in this investigation into whether your campaign colluded with Russians who tried to influence the 2016 election in your favor.

I’ll differ with you, sir. The memo doesn’t vindicate — or convict — anyone. It’s been revealed as a fraudulent document. It cherry picks circumstances with the aim of discrediting Mueller’s probe. I hear the Democrats are planning to release a counter memo to refute what Republicans have alleged.

Your continued tweet tirades against the so-called “witch hunt” do not help your assertion, Mr. President, that you are innocent of any wrongdoing. They merely cause many millions of Americans — folks like me — to wonder: Why is the president so damn worked up if there’s nothing to uncover?

Hey, at this point I don’t really care if you keep using Twitter to project your message. I guess it’s become the medium du jour for pols, entertainers and pundits to communicate. In fact, this blog post will be distributed via Twitter as well.

I do care about the messages you send out there, Mr. President.

You say the memo “vindicates ‘Trump'”? No, sir. It does nothing of the kind.

And please, stop referring to yourself in the third person. John Kanelis cannot stand it.

‘An American disgrace’? Not even close

Robert Mueller is looking for the truth behind an allegation that will dog the presidency of Donald Trump for as long as he holds the office.

Yet the president calls the search an “American disgrace.”

It is no such thing.

The disgrace is being generated from another source. The Oval Office has produced a disgraceful example either of extreme naivete or willful ignorance or — in the worst case — of deliberate deception.

I don’t know which it is. The president has signed on to the continuing disparagement of the FBI, the Department of Justice and other intelligence agencies that stand by their combined assertion that the Russian government intervened in our 2016 presidential election.

Trump won’t acknowledge publicly what he must: that the intelligence agencies’ assessment is accurate.

I want to stipulate that I do not know if the Russian interference determined the election outcome. I haven’t seen any evidence that votes were changed or that local local elections officials were compromised. Maybe none exists of actual impact on the outcome.

Whether it did or didn’t, the issue is that the Russians meddled. The operative question is whether the Trump campaign was complicit in that act of aggression against our electoral system.

Mueller was selected to find the truth. Republicans and Democrats sang together in praise of Mueller’s appointment, which came from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein after AG Jeff Sessions recused himself from anything dealing with the Russia probe.

The disgrace is occurring now as Republicans are seeking to discredit Mueller, whose integrity once was considered impeccable. If the president fires Mueller, or Rosenstein, or both of them, then the disgrace moves into another category altogether.

Then we’re talking about a certifiable constitutional crisis.

Trump’s definition of “disgrace” needs work. It’s not the search that disgraces the nation. It’s the attempt to derail it that gives millions of Americans serious cause for concern.