Tag Archives: 2016 election

Yes, the blame for Russia hacking crosses party lines

It pains to me state this, but the release of Robert Mueller’s report on The Russia Thing and other matters has revealed a serious stain on the presidency of Barack Hussein Obama.

I am not for a single instant going to give Donald Trump a pass on his campaign’s involvement in the Russian hacking of our electoral system in 2016. You won’t see me offer up a “What about this?” excuse for what happened during the course of that campaign.

However, I am going to concede that all of the hacking, the interference, the blatant attack on our electoral system occurred during the final full year of President Obama’s administration.

The president and the Justice Department under his watch should have taken stern, immediate and decisive measures to stop it. They didn’t.

A CNN analysis notes that Obama was too wrapped up in the Iran nuclear arms deal he and Secretary of State John Kerry were brokering to risk angering Russian President Vladimir Putin. They wanted the Russians on our side. Yet they knew of the hacking, according to Mueller, while it was occurring in real time.

Yes, so did the Trump team. They, too, should have acted. The Trump campaign should have blown the whistle loudly on what was occurring in the moment. Donald Trump’s invitation to the Russians to look for Hillary Clinton’s “missing e-mails” tempted the Russians to the point of launching their attack on our system that very day.

But as they say, we only have one president on the job at a time. The president we had in 2016 failed to do what he should have — and could have — done to stop this attack on our sacred electoral system.

President Obama said he told Putin to “knock it off” at the time. It wasn’t nearly enough.

Mueller delivered the goods, just not enough of them

I believe it is clear: Special counsel Robert Mueller did not “clear” Donald Trump of obstruction of justice. There is no “total victory” for the president.

The long-awaited report from the special counsel came before us today. Yes, Mueller concluded that Trump did not “collude” with Russians who attacked our electoral system. I accept those findings, given that I believe Mueller is a man of high integrity.

But what about this obstruction matter?

Mueller’s 448-page report tells us that Trump gasped when the special counsel was picked, declaring that his presidency is doomed. “I’m fu****,” Trump said, according to Mueller’s report.

Why would the president say such a thing if he had done not a single thing wrong?

Well, Mueller said he would have cleared Trump of obstruction had the president deserved to be cleared. He didn’t. He said Congress has the authority to take measures to ensure that a president’s “corrupt” won’t be allowed.

I agree with those who contend that the redacted report is more damaging than Attorney General William Barr let on. Indeed, there appears to be a growing gap between Mueller and Barr over whether there was at minimum an attempt at obstructing justice.

Mueller cites the refusal by several key Trump aides to carry out presidential orders to fire the special counsel, saving the president from his own impulses. Barr disagrees, saying there is no obstruction. Who do you believe? I’ll go with Mueller.

I likely won’t read the entire report. I intend to read enough of it to try to draw some more cogent conclusions.

I’m going to stand with congressional Democrats on this point, too: Robert Mueller needs to talk to Congress openly and candidly about what he found and how he arrived at his conclusions.

More to come.

Hope battles fear as AG Barr preps to release report

A big day is on tap this week.

Thursday is when Attorney General William Barr is going to release what many of us hope is a healthy portion of what special counsel Robert Mueller has concluded about Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States.

It won’t be the full report. We aren’t going to see all of it. Barr is going to keep some of it secret.

I am facing a battle between my hope and my fear over what the AG is going to release.

Barr already has written that four-page summary of what Mueller concluded. The AG says Mueller found no “collusion” between Trump’s campaign and Russians who hacked into our electoral system; he also says Mueller reached no conclusion about obstruction of justice, but said Mueller didn’t have enough to file a criminal complaint.

Do you believe the AG’s version of what Mueller concluded?

I don’t either. Not entirely. That’s why I want to see the whole thing. It’s also why I believe we should demand to see all of it.

My hope would be that the AG would release as much of it as humanly possible, keeping national security secrets from public view. I get the reason to withhold that information.

Still, I believe it is imperative that the public — which paid for this 22-month-long investigation — would see the evidence that Mueller collected during that probe, that we would be allowed to determine for ourselves whether Mueller made the right call.

My fear presents another set of concerns. It revolves around how much Barr is going to redact, keep from our eyes. It also concerns me that Congress, particularly Democrats who control the House, are going to be so enraged that they will subpoena witnesses left and right to committee hearing rooms. My fear also nags me with the feeling that Barr is consciously withholding more than he should because he wants to shield the president from prying eyes, such as yours and mine.

Yep. Thursday is going to be a big day. I’m on pins and needles.

Waiting for the right candidate to challenge Trump

I do not yet have a favorite candidate I want to challenge Donald John Trump in the next presidential election. I am waiting for that candidate to present himself or herself.

I do know this: The president’s unfitness for the office he occupies is becoming more obvious damn near each day he sits behind that big desk in the Oval Office.

This latest gambit of considering whether to set illegal immigrants loose on the streets of “sanctuary cities” to punish congressional Democrats who oppose him on his desire to build The Wall along our southern border is just the latest example.

Donald Trump lies when he doesn’t need to lie. I watch clip after clip of his lying throughout the 2016 presidential campaign and I simply am aghast. I am appalled that he eked out an Electoral College win to become president. I am astonished that his lying didn’t disqualify him at one of countless points along the campaign trail. He lied about seeing and hearing “thousands of Muslims” cheering the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11; he lied about “helping” clear the rubble from Ground Zero after that tragic event; he lied about how he built his company from scratch.

This is the most untrustworthy man ever to hold the office of president.

His personal insults demean the office. He mocks individuals with physical disabilities. He insults individuals’ physical appearance.

Donald Trump foments hate against Muslims, against Latinos, against those seek to enter this country from “sh**hole countries.”

He denigrates others’ contributions to our national life. He infamously disparaged the heroic service during the Vietnam War of the late Sen. John McCain.

This won’t surprise anyone who reads this blog regularly, but my mind was made up about one aspect of the 2020 election the moment it became clear to all of us that Donald Trump would win the 2016 election. There could be no way in this entire galaxy I could support this individual’s re-election.

My task now is to await to see who arises from the thundering horde/herd of candidates seeking to get the nation’s attention.

My statement that my preference would be for someone to arise from the middle — or perhaps the back — of the crowd to establish himself or herself as a frontrunner. I just do not yet know who will step forward.

I want my 2020 presidential vote to be for someone who presents a positive vision for the future of this country. I want it to be in favor of someone who can correct the hideous course on which the Liar in Chief has taken us.

I truly would hate casting my vote only as a statement against the presidency of Donald Trump. I do not want to hold my schnoz while casting my ballot.

However, I am able to do so . . . if that’s what it takes.

How does Trump plan to make his re-election case?

Donald J. Trump is going to ask Americans to re-elect him to another term as president of the United States. I am baffled to the max over this question: How is he going to make the case that he has earned a second term?

Trump got elected in 2016 by demonizing his opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton and by stoking fear of enemies outside of our borders and of those within them. He promised to vanquish them all. He told us that “I, alone” can repair all that ailed the nation.

Well, he hasn’t.

He has been bedeviled by questions concerning his relationships — business, personal and political — with foreign governments. He claims today that he has been “exonerated.” He hasn’t been cleared of anything. That’s another story.

As he ramps up his re-election campaign, Donald Trump is facing a critical question. How is he going to sell himself for another four years in the White House?

I am reminded a bit of the late Texas Gov. Ann Richards, who ran for re-election as governor in 1994 against a political novice, a fellow named George W. Bush. Richards was thought of at the time to be highly popular. She had good — if not great — public approval ratings.

She made a critical error during her first term. She vetoed legislation that would have referred a concealed handgun carry bill to the voters for their endorsement. The veto enraged gun enthusiasts.

More than that, though, Richards hardly spoke of how she would govern during a second term. She spent a lot of public time blasting George W. Bush, calling him a lightweight and a “jerk.” Bush remained focused on his campaign themes.

Bush ended up winning. Richards was gone.

There ought to be a lesson for Trump here. Except that he won’t accept it. He won’t campaign on a second-term vision because, in my view, he doesn’t have one. Heck, he didn’t have a first-term vision, other than banning Muslims from traveling to this country, building The Wall along our southern border and eliminating the Affordable Care Act.

He stoked fear and loathing. He appealed to our darker instincts.

Is he going to brighten his vision for the future? Hah! Hardly! A 70-something-year-old man isn’t likely to change the strategy that won him election to the first public office he ever sought.

In my humble view, these basic tenets remain the same today as they were when Trump rode down the Trump Tower escalator to announce his presidential candidacy:

  • Donald Trump is unfit at every level imaginable to be president.
  • Trump will continue to be the fear monger in chief.
  • He will continue to lie incessantly.
  • Trump will demonize his opponents in the most venal, disgusting, disgraceful, personal terms.

Donald Trump doesn’t deserve re-election any more than he deserved election in the first place. I intend to do everything within my meager power — through this forum — to make that case.

Russia probe was a ‘disgrace’? What about the Russian attack?

Donald Trump has been mounting a full-throated, frontal assault on the investigation into The Russia Thing by special counsel Robert Mueller III.

Yes, the president is attacking the probe as a “witch hunt,” and a “disgrace to our country.” Mueller reportedly concluded that the Trump presidential campaign did not “collude” with Russian goons who attacked our electoral system. It’s an open question on the issue of obstruction of justice.

But Trump keeps declaring he received “total exoneration” while piling on and on and on over Mueller’s exhaustive investigation.

I am left to wonder: Why doesn’t the president declare the Russian interference in our electoral process to be a “disgrace” to the nation? Where is the president’s alarm that the Russians were able and willing — according to Mueller — hack into our election data bases and seek to distribute false information about Hillary Clinton? Isn’t that what one would call “fake news”?

Oh, and then the Russians actually did launch their attack on the same day that candidate Donald Trump invited them to look for those missing e-mails that the Clinton team reportedly trashed. Isn’t that at least as much of a national “disgrace” as the Russian attack in the first place?

Trump’s disgraceful misrepresentation of “disgraceful” conduct continues to demonstrate fully to me that the man is unfit for public office of any sort, let alone as the president of the United States.

He impugns the integrity of Mueller, a former FBI director, a decorated Vietnam War combat veteran and a man known for meticulous preparation in the performance of his legal duties.

The “national disgrace” occurred not with the probe. It occurred when the Russians interfered in our cherished electoral system.

Where is the condemnation of that, Mr. President?

Shameless POTUS continues to keep his tax returns secret

I cannot stop shaking my head.

Three Democratic candidates for president — U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee — have released their income tax return statements for public review. What’s more, they are daring the president of the United States, Donald Trump, to do the same.

Good luck, senators and Gov. Inslee. It won’t happen. He won’t be shamed into doing what he should have done when he declared his candidacy in June 2015. Why? Because this individual is utterly shameless. He is beyond redemption in the shame department.

He said after riding down the Trump Tower escalator on campaign announcement day that his tax returns were “under audit.” He then said he would release ’em when the audit was complete. He called it “routine.” So, how long does a “routine” audit take? I’m guessing it doesn’t take more than three years!

The plain truth is that Trump never has produced even a perfunctory letter from the Internal Revenue Service informing him of the audit.

Yes, I believe the president of the United States lied about the audit. My strong hunch is that he wasn’t being audited by the IRS and that he used the audit dodge as a pretext to keep his finances hidden from public view.

While I’m thinking about it, Sens. Gillibrand and Harris ought to inform their Senate colleague, Bernie Sanders — another candidate for POTUS — to do the same thing. Sanders’ excuse was equally lame when he declined to release his returns when he ran for president in 2016; he said something about how “boring” they would be. Really? Let us be the judge of that, Sen. Sanders.

We’re going to go through another election cycle with Donald Trump holding fast to his lie about an IRS audit. He won’t release his returns voluntarily. It’s quite possible Congress could force him to do what previous presidents and presidential candidates have done for decades, which is reveal to the public their income sources and how much they paid in taxes to the government they seek to oversee.

Nice try, senators and governor. If only Donald Trump had a sense of honor to do the right thing. He just doesn’t.

Hoping the end of probe would . . . be the end!

Silly me.

I had this naïve thought that Robert Mueller’s report to the attorney general into whether Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russians would be the end of the story.

The special counsel would wrap up his findings, hand them to AG William Barr, who then would tell the public what Mueller had found out. We’d all know — for better or for worse — what went down during the 2016 presidential election.

Then this happened: Mueller essentially cleared Trump and his team of conspiring to collude with Russians who interfered with our election; but then he remained silent on whether Trump obstructed justice by seeking to block any further examination into top aides.

What’s more, Barr issued a four-page “summary” of Mueller’s findings. Not everyone believes Barr’s assessment of what Mueller determined. They contend that Barr is a Trump toadie, handpicked by the president to run interference for him.

Now we’re waiting on the full report from Barr, who promises “transparency.” I am forced to ask: How much of it is he going to show us?

I tend to trust William Barr. I also tend to believe him when he says he will let Americans see as much of Mueller’s findings as he can under the law. I do not need to know the deepest national secrets. All any of us ought to see is the body of evidence that Mueller had collected and from which he drew his conclusions.

Of course, I do have questions now about why Mueller would remain silent on the obstruction of justice matter. Barr said Mueller determined that even though he lacked credible evidence of obstruction, he didn’t “exonerate” the president; Trump, quite expectedly, calls it all a “total exoneration,” which is yet another Trump lie.

I’m going to pose another question: If we presume the worst, that Barr withholds parts of Mueller’s report that might be damaging to the president, would the special counsel be willing to blow the whistle on what the AG is hiding from public view?

Oh, how I want to know the whole truth. My hope of knowing it upon the end of Robert Mueller’s probe has been quashed.

Oops! Or so it should go for Rep. Schiff

U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff needs to invoke a four-letter utterance made famous by a Trump Cabinet official who once ran for president of the United States.

Oops! That’s what Energy Secretary Rick Perry said when he couldn’t think of the third agency he would shut down were he elected president in 2012.

Well, Chairman Schiff is now eating his words in an “oops” moment.

Stand down, Mr. Chairman

He said that he knew of “more than circumstantial evidence” that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russians who attacked our electoral system in 2016.

Except that special counsel Robert Mueller disagreed with Schiff. He filed his report over the weekend and concluded that he didn’t have enough to charge the Trump team with collusion.

House and Senate Republicans are steamed at Schiff. They say he owes Trump and apology. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has demanded that his fellow Californian resign from his Intel Committee chairmanship, if not from the House altogether.

That is an overreach. Perhaps he could apologize whenever the president says he’s sorry for fomenting lies about Barack Obama’s birth, or for mocking the New York Times reporter’s disability, or for saying the late John McCain was a “war hero only because he was captured” during the Vietnam War.

Schiff is standing behind his belief that there’s more to learn about collusion, although he said he accepts Mueller’s judgment.

The Intelligence Committee chairman needs to stand down on this collusion matter. Robert Mueller looked high and low for criminal behavior. He didn’t find it. I get that Schiff is unhappy with the result; so are many millions of other Americans . . . me included.

But that’s what we got.

As for the obstruction of justice matter, Mueller was decidedly non-committal.

Perhaps, though, Chairman Schiff ought to just say “oops!” and go on to the next thing, whatever it is.

No collusion? OK, but let’s look a bit closer at obstruction

I get that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign did not collude — in the eyes of the special counsel — with Russians who attacked our electoral system in 2016.

The president is right to proclaim “complete exoneration” — on that point! I accept special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings.

Is it too much to ask, nonetheless, for a more thorough look at the issue of whether Trump or his team obstructed justice? I think it’s a fair request.

Congressional Democrats are clamoring for more information on the obstruction matter. Attorney General William Barr’s summary of Mueller’s findings takes note that Mueller did not “exonerate” the president on the obstruction of justice issue, even though Trump said he did. Well, Trump is known to, um, bend the truth a bit . . . you know?

Mueller reportedly found evidence on both sides of the fence. He learned there was evidence that the president did obstruct justice, but that it didn’t rise to the level of criminality. OK, let’s see what he found.

The attorney general hasn’t yet made that call. It is believed he’ll take his time deciding whether to release that portion of Mueller’s findings to Congress and to the public.

I am one of millions of Americans who wants to know what Mueller learned and on what basis he determined that he could not prosecute Donald Trump for obstructing the search for the truth regarding the Russian attack on our electoral system.