Tag Archives: 2016 election

‘Hoax’ becomes fodder for blame-shifting?

I need to follow this stuff more carefully, I reckon.

Donald John Trump had been telling us that the Russian-meddling story was a “hoax,” a product of “fake news,” a figment of progressives’ and Democrats’ overactive imagination.

The president has yet to condemn the Russians for doing what intelligence agencies have concluded, which is that they sought to influence the 2016 presidential election through use of cyber activity.

Oh, but then comes this. He now blames the Obama administration for failing to stop the Russians in their tracks when President Obama was in office.

Which is it, Mr. President? Is the Russia story a made-up tale of intrigue meant to discredit your election as commander in chief? Or is it the real thing, something that now enables you to shift responsibility for ending it to your immediate predecessor as president of the United States?

Good grief, Mr. President? Keep it straight for us.

Trump blames Obama for the ‘Russia thing’ … imagine that

Leave it to Kellyanne “Alternative Facts” Conway to set the record (sort of) straight on the Russian interference controversy.

It’s the fault of the Obama administration, said the president’s senior counselor/policy adviser, echoing the sentiments of her boss. Donald John Trump.

President Obama could have stopped any effort by Russian government goons to interfere with the 2016 election, but he choked, she said.

Imagine that, will ya? Blame the predecessor. Who’da thunk that would happen, ever?

That all said, I just slogged through the epic Washington Post story detailing how the terrible options the Obama administration faced when it learned — through credible intelligence — about the efforts by Russian government officials to meddle in our election. The Post called it an “assault on our democracy,” which it was.

Here’s the Post story.

Indeed, the former president and his senior staff look back now and regret not taking more forceful action than it did. Obama eventually kicked out some Russian diplomats and closed two Russian compounds as punishment for the Russians’ meddlesome ways.

He also unloaded verbally on Russian strongman/president Vladimir Putin and the country he governs, calling Russia a “weaker” country than ours and a place with nothing to sell around the world than “oil and gas and arms.” The president said Russia was unable to intimidate the United States because of the two nations’ relative strength.

Conway went on TV this morning to say: “It’s the Obama administration that was responsible for doing absolutely nothing from August to January with the knowledge that Russia was hacking into our election. They did absolutely nothing. They’re responsible for this.”

Absolutely nothing? Is that right, young lady? Not really. The Obama administration sought to weigh its options carefully, given the enormous political consequences at stake. The nation was involved in a heated, and increasingly vitriolic presidential campaign. Trump was ratcheting up the pressure on Hillary Rodham Clinton over e-mails, Benghazi and a host of other issues.

The Obama team believed — as did virtually every political analyst on Planet Earth — that Clinton was going to win the election.

Then she lost.

How should the administration have reacted to circumstances it didn’t see coming? Were they alone in their ignorance? Hardly.

I keep coming back to this point: The president and his administration have yet to issue a full-throated condemnation of what every intelligence expert has said, which is that Russia meddled in our electoral process.

The blame game won’t get to solving the problem … and oh, brother, we have a problem!

When does the clock start on ISIS destruction?

Is it fair to wonder if the time is approaching to start holding Donald Trump accountable for his boasts about getting rid of the Islamic State?

The president told us during the 2016 campaign that he knows “more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.” He vowed to destroy the hideous terrorist organization. He has declared the end of an era in which the United States is “losing” in the fight against its worldwide enemies.

So I’m wondering when we might start some sort of countdown clock. When does the president become fully responsible for any failure to make good on the bold boasts he made while seeking the office he now occupies?

If we are not going to formulate a countdown clock, then it well might be time to start pressing the commander in chief about whether he intends to make good on his campaign promise.

I was struck during the campaign by the ease with which these boasts poured forth. He made it sound as if all he had to do to rid the world of the Islamic State was to bomb the terrorists into oblivion. Didn’t he once say he’d “bomb the s***” out of them? Hey, we’ve got the ordnance. Let’s use it, he said.

They’re still out there, Mr. President. ISIS is still fomenting terror. It’s still taking responsibility for terrorist activities. It’s still causing American service personnel considerable grief.

It’s time to get busy, Mr. President.

Where is the outrage?

Back in 1996, when he was running for president of the United States, Republican nominee Bob Dole shouted at campaign rallies “Where’s the outrage!” over alleged indiscretions about President Clinton.

He would go on to lose the election bigly, but the question persists to this day.

Where is the outrage — from the current president of the United States — over allegations that Russian government officials sought to interfere in the 2016 presidential election?

Donald John Trump has said nary a disparaging word about Russia’s efforts to cast Hillary Rodham Clinton in a negative light and whether those efforts played a role in the election outcome.

Oh, no. The president has instead lashed out at special counsel Robert Mueller, calling his investigation the “biggest political witch hunt” in American political history. He has ripped into what he calls “fake news” media outlets. He has dismissed openly the analysis of several U.S. intelligence agencies’ view that, yes, the Russians did hack into our electoral system.

Rather than expressing anger, fear and outrage that the Russians meddled in our electoral system, the president instead has questioned the need to determine the truth and the motives of those who are seeking to find it.

He’s hired a team of lawyers to represent him, which is a tacit acknowledgment that he is under investigation by Mueller over his campaign’s possible role in that election-meddling. Then one of them goes on television over the weekend and says — in the same interview — that Trump is being investigated by Mueller and that he is not being investigated.

All the while, the president remains stone-cold silent about Russian hanky-panky.

Where is the outrage, Mr. President?

Don’t even consider it, Mr. President

A back-bench congressional Democrat has issued a warning to the president of the United States.

Rep. Ted Lieu says Congress will start impeachment proceedings if Donald J. Trump fired special counsel Robert Mueller and the fellow who picked him for the job, Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Message to the president? Don’t even think about it.

I’m not yet sure how Rep. Lieu knows what the House leadership would do. It’s run by members of the other party. Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan would be the key member to set impeachment proceedings into motion. I am not yet convinced Ryan has the fortitude to do the right thing if Trump were to commit what could be considered an impeachable offense.

I also have mixed feelings about an impeachment in the first place.

It’s clear to you, I am sure, that I don’t believe Trump is fit for the office to which he was elected. What would we get if Trump were impeached and then convicted in a Senate trial? Vice President Mike Pence is more of a “true conservative” than Trump. He seems competent enough, whereas Trump can’t find his backside with both hands when it comes to understanding the complexities of government.

OK, I didn’t support the Republican ticket in November 2016. I do take some solace, though, in realizing that I am a member of a majority of voters who endorsed the other major-party candidates.

But … back to my point about impeachment.

We’re a long way from even thinking about that — unless the president does something seriously foolish by firing Mueller and Rosenstein.

Let’s get to the heart of this hacking matter

As a frequent critic of Donald J. Trump, I want to set the record straight on a key issue that’s threatening the man’s presidency.

I do not give a rat’s rear end about whether alleged attempts by Russian agents to influence the 2016 presidential election actually created a Trump victory. I accept the notion that Trump would have won the election anyway.

What is troubling me is the question of what role — if any — the Trump campaign had in assisting the Russians.

Former FBI Director James Comey told U.S. Senate committee members today that he is certain of Russian meddling in our election. I accept the FBI director’s opinion on that, too.

I keep circling back to the question of whether Trump’s team actively aided the Russian hackers. If they didn’t aid them, did they know about any attempts to influence the election? If they knew and did nothing, that to me is tantamount to collusion — even if it doesn’t fit the legal definition of the word.

We keep hearing reports of key Trump campaign advisers meeting with Russians during the campaign and then during the transition. It all gets back to the Watergate-era question posed by then-Sen. Howard Baker: What did the president know — and when did he know it?

As for the whether the hacking/meddling actually proved decisive, that they changed enough votes to swing the results in favor of Trump and away from Hillary Rodham Clinton, it doesn’t matter to me. What does matter is that they have done what all those intelligence agencies have said they did. The former director of the FBI has confirmed it to my satisfaction.

If the Trump campaign colluded, dear reader, we are looking at a charge of treason.

Let’s end the debate over whether Russians hacked us

Here’s a thought to ponder going ahead: Let’s all just stop arguing over whether the Russians — government agents or “patriots” — hacked into the U.S. electoral system while seeking to influence the 2016 election outcome.

Let us now settle on the fundamental question: Did the Donald John Trump presidential campaign commit treason by colluding with the Russians?

Former FBI Director James Comey had much of the nation enthralled for two hours today as he testified before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee. He confirmed what 17 intelligence agencies have determined already: The Russians sought to influence the election. Russian President Vladimir Putin — one of the more untrustworthy individuals on the planet — said that Russian “patriots” might have been responsible for the deed.

Now we get to the Main Event. The Seventh Game. The Bottom of the Ninth Inning.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has been handed a huge mound of information to digest from his former colleague, Comey.

The president had said Wednesday when word of Comey’s testimony leaked out that he felt “vindicated” by what he heard. After today, I’m betting real American money the president feels a whole lot less vindicated.

No one can know with any degree of certainty whether Mueller is going to produce evidence of criminality on the part of the campaign or the president himself.

Comey’s dismissal as FBI director, as he was investigating the Trump campaign-Russia allegations, was shocking all by itself. Then came the crap storm of motives, reversals, changes in story and contradictions — from the president himself.

And in the midst of all this, Donald J. Trump — of all people — called Comey a “grandstander” and a “showboat.”

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/06/08/james-comey-robert-mueller-trump-case-file-239319

Kettle, met pot.

I do not believe a grandstanding showboat appeared today before he Senate panel. I believe the nation saw a meticulous lawyer and administrator who defended the agency he led from unfounded attacks by the president of the United States.

James Comey, moreover, has handed Robert Mueller a full arsenal of ammunition to use as he continues his arduous task of determining whether there was collusion with an foreign adversary to undermine our nation’s electoral process.

And we’re supposed to believe Putin’s word?

Vladimir Putin denies the Russian government played any role in trying to influence the 2016 presidential election.

So that’s it? That’s the final answer? The Russian president — and former head of the KGB, the super secret Soviet spy agency — has declared once and for all that his government didn’t hack into our electoral process?

Pardon my deep and abiding skepticism, but I don’t believe him.

Putin appeared on NBC News tonight. He was Megyn Kelly’s first interview since joining the network. He said something about “Russian patriots” hacking into the U.S. electoral system. What the hell does that mean?

Frankly, he is about as believable as his buddy Donald J. Trump yammering about President Barack Obama ordering wiretaps of his campaign office.

I’ll go with how former national security adviser Susan Rice characterized Putin’s “denial.”

Rice said, simply and directly: He’s lying.

Russians able to declare victory?

If you assume — as I do — that Russian spooks intended to disrupt the American political system by their hacking and disseminating “fake news,” then isn’t it fair to presume that they can declare victory?

Or, to put it another way: Mission accomplished.

I mean, think of it.

The Russians interfered in our electoral system. U.S. intelligence agencies have determined that to be a fact. All of them concur that Russia sought to disrupt our electoral process.

It’s not yet clear just how they intended to swing the election to Donald J. Trump’s favor. Trump won. He hasn’t spoken angrily about Russia. Or about Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, congressional investigators are turning themselves inside out trying to find out about the “Russia thing.” The Department of Justice has appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to lead the FBI investigation. Our attorney general has had to recuse himself from anything to do with Russia.

Congressional Democrats are talking now openly about impeaching the president. The FBI is looking at whether the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russian government operatives.

And the president’s legislative agenda — health care overhaul, tax reform, building that damn wall — is stalled completely. None of it is likely to get advanced.

Do you get my drift? The Russians have succeeded, actually, in accomplishing what they intended when they got involved in our electoral process in the first place.

Now, let’s all wait for the president to possibly, potentially lessen those sanctions we leveled against the Russians for their aggression in Ukraine.

Is that a crazy notion? Not even …

What? A back-channel phone line with Kremlin?

I know Donald Trump’s son-in-law is entitled to an innocence presumption.

Jared Kushner has now been shoved to the front row of a growing investigation into what the Trump presidential campaign may have done in connection with the Russian government.

The latest live grenade to explode deals with a report that Kushner and the Russians sought to set up a secret line through which the Trump team could communicate with the Kremlin, the seat of the Russian government in the heart of Moscow.

If it’s true — and I’ll presume that special counsel Robert Mueller will make that determination in due course — then it’s fair to ask: What would Kushner seek to keep secret from normal communications channels?

Some analysts are suggesting that this latest report might be a “game change” in the growing controversy. (I am going to refrain from calling it a “scandal” until we know a whole lot more.)

The Mueller investigation is going to determine whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians seeking to influence the 2016 presidential election. Trump says “no.” His buddy, Russian President Vladimir Putin, says “nyet.”

If this latest revelation is a game-changer, then I’m believing that Donald J. Trump’s tenure as president is about to enter some seriously tenuous territory.