Tag Archives: 2016 election

Cruz was right about Trump the first time

A longtime friend of mine has dug up an interesting body of remarks from one Republican U.S. senator about a man, a fellow Republican, who was running for the presidency.

The senator is Ted Cruz of Texas; the presidential candidate is Donald J. Trump.

My friend, Beaumont Enterprise editorial page editor Tom Taschinger, took note of how Cruz’s tone toward Trump has changed since he ran against the president for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Here is what Cruz said two years about the guy who defeated a large GOP field to win the nomination and ultimately the presidency; I encourage you to read it carefully:

“This man is a pathological liar. … He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth. And in a pattern that I think is straight out of a psychology textbook, his response is to accuse everyone else of lying. … The man cannot tell the truth, but he combines it with being a narcissist. A narcissist at a level I don’t think this country has ever seen. Donald Trump is such a narcissist that Barack Obama looks at him and goes, ‘Dude, what’s your problem?’ … If you hooked him up to a lie detector test, he could say one thing in the morning, one thing at noon and one thing in the evening, all contradictory, and he’d pass the lie detector test each time. Whatever lie he’s telling, at that minute he believes it. … He is proud of being a serial philanderer. … He describes his own battles with venereal diseases as his own personal Vietnam.”

Wow, eh? Sure thing.

Has the president changed fundamentally since then? Heavens no! A 70-something-year-old man doesn’t turn miraculously from what the Cruz Missile described above into a paragon of virtue.

I get that Cruz was running for the same office that Trump eventually won when he offered the blistering critique. Still, Sen. Cruz was right the first time. To think this guy — Trump — got elected president of the United States of America.

Ugghh!

Pompeo to become diplomat with thin backing

Mike Pompeo is likely to be confirmed as the nation’s next secretary of state, but he’ll take strange route on his way to leading the nation’s diplomatic corps.

Pompeo is the CIA director whom Donald Trump selected to succeed Rex Tillerson at the State Department. He has run into trouble on his way to confirmation: Pompeo won’t have the blessing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which conducted confirmation hearings on Pompeo’s nomination.

A Republican committee member, Rand Paul of Kentucky, is going to vote against Pompeo’s nomination. That will result more than likely in a vote of no confidence from the panel.

That won’t derail his confirmation. The full Senate will get to vote on it, but Pompeo will gain the support of Senate Democrats who might be in trouble in states that Trump carried in the 2016 presidential election. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe¬† Manchin of West Virginia come to mind; let’s toss in Bill Nelson of Florida while we’re at it. They’re all running for re-election, which seems to give Pompeo a leg up in this strange journey toward confirmation.

Actually, I hope Pompeo does get confirmed. The State Department needs a steady hand and I think Pompeo can provide it … if only the president will allow him to lead the agency.

Tillerson had to fight the occasional battle against being undercut by the president. Tillerson would make a pronouncement and then Trump would countermand him. I don’t want that to happen with the new secretary of state, who’s got a big job awaiting him immediately — which happens to be the preparation for the planned summit between Donald Trump and North Korean despot Kim Jong Un.

What’s more, as head of the CIA, Pompeo has joined other U.S. intelligence officials in confirming the obvious: that the Russians meddled in our 2016 election.

This man needs to be our secretary of state.

How will the former America’s Mayor do this job?

I have no legal background. I spent a career writing news stories and offering commentary on issues of the day as a journalist.

There. That said, I am going to express some bafflement at Rudolf Giuliani’s decision to join Donald J. Trump’s legal team with the aim of finding a quick conclusion to a special counsel’s expansive and exhaustive examination of allegations of collusion involving the 2016 presidential election.

I stood behind the former New York mayor when he rose to the challenge of repairing his city that was shattered by the attack of 9/11.

Giuliani reportedly has plenty of shared history with Robert Mueller, the special counsel who’s been conducting the investigation. Indeed, Mueller became FBI director right before the 9/11 attack (see picture above).

But since that time, the former mayor has become a political pit bull. He is a fierce defender of Donald J. Trump, whose campaign is being examined by Mueller and his team of legal eagles.

I am having trouble understanding just how this man, Giuliani, intends to persuade Mueller to button up his examination quickly. The way I understand it, Mueller is a meticulous prosecutor, careful in the extreme to protect evidence gathered.

What’s more, Mueller already has indicted some individuals close to the president’s campaign. There appears to be much more ground to plow before he brings this probe to an end.

As Politico reports: Mueller likely still has much work to do. At a minimum, he must see through his case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who has pleaded not guilty to charges including bank and tax fraud and is set to face trial starting in July.

So, the question remains: How is the man once called “America’s Mayor” going to push Mueller to conclude at least portions of this investigation in a speedy fashion?

This layman out here in Flyover Country doesn’t see any way in the world that will happen. Robert Mueller will conclude this investigation at his own pace … if he’s given the chance to complete his work.

POTUS’s memory fails him?

Donald J. Trump boasts among other things about his steel-trap memory. It’s the “best,” isn’t that right, Mr. President?

Well, the president put out a tweet today saying that — despite what he said on national TV a year ago — he didn’t fire FBI Director James Comey over the “Russia thing.”

Ohhh, no! His firing of Comey had to do with the Hillary Clinton email matter and the way the FBI was handling it — or so he says at this moment.

Hold on! He told NBC News’s Lester Holt a year ago that he canned Comey because of the investigation he was leading into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians who meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

And don’t you remember what Trump told Russian government visitors to the White House? He said he fired Comey because he is a “nut job” and because he wanted to take pressure off from the Russia probe.

In some circles that could be construed as an obstruction of justice. Hmm. Who knows? Maybe the special counsel appointed to examine the “Russia thing” will make that determination. Or … maybe not!

But the president’s penchant for tweeting these issues gives many of us pause to wonder: Does he know what he’s talking about?

And is the president’s memory all that he cracks it up to be?

Comey: friend turns to foe

James Comey continues to make the turn. Hey, he might make a full circle before this drama is finishing playing out.

The former FBI director once was hailed by Donald Trump when Comey revealed he had more information to explore regarding Hillary Rodham Clinton’s use — or misuse — of her personal email account while she was secretary of state.

Eleven days before the 2016 presidential election, Comey tossed the outcome into serious confusion mode with the revelation about the so-called new evidence.

Trump was ecstatic. The GOP nominee bellowed that Comey had done his job well.

Then came the news that Comey said there was nothing more to investigate. Case closed. But the damage well might have been done to Clinton’s campaign.

Then the new president took office. He allegedly sought some assurances and a reported pledge of loyalty from Comey. He didn’t get them.

Then the president fired Comey from his FBI job. Ever since, Comey has been called everything but the Son of Satan.

Ahh, the fortunes do turn dramatically.

Now the ex-FBI boss has written a new book. He told ABC News that Trump “might have” obstructed justice. He called the president “morally unfit” to serve.

And then the Twitter tirade came from the president, who responded with “worst FBI director in history … by far!”, “slime ball,” and “serial liar.”

I don’t know about you, but I intend to hold with both hands for the foreseeable future as this dispute plays out. If it ever does!

‘An attack on our country’?

Let me try to sort this out for a moment. That’s all it will take.

Donald J. Trump calls an FBI “raid” on a lawyer’s office, which it executed legally through court-ordered search warrants, an “attack on our country.” He calls it a “disgrace.” He condemns the FBI in the strongest terms possible.

Meanwhile, what does he say about Russian efforts to manipulate the 2016 election? What condemnation does he level at Russians who hacked into our electoral process and disseminated information intended to influence that election in Trump’s favor? Nothing, man!

OK. So, which is the greater “attack on our country”? The FBI sought records from Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to tie up some loose ends in connection with a relationship the future president of the United States had with a porn actress. The FBI is trying to determine the source of a $130,000 payment that Cohen made to Stormy Daniels to buy her silence related to the alleged relationship.

That is the “attack on our country” but the actual attack, by the Russians during our 2016 presidential election, is not?

What in the name of election collusion am I missing here?

Go ahead, make our day, Mr. President

Donald Trump reportedly “believes” he has the legal authority to fire special counsel Robert Mueller.

A part of me wants to caution the president against doing something so patently stupid and political suicidal. Another part of me wants him to cut his own throat politically by firing the man hired by the Department of Justice to probe “the Russia thing.”

Indeed, several key Republican lawmakers are arguing against doing it. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas says it would be “a mistake”; Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa called it “suicide”; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Mueller “should be allowed to finish his job.”

Will the president heed those words of wisdom? Does he ever listen to anyone with a semblance of common sense?

He might have the “legal authority” to act with profound stupidity. That doesn’t make it the right thing — or the smart thing — to do.

Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein because AG Jeff Sessions had recused himself over his connection to Trump’s campaign and his transition into the presidency. Mueller is supposed to determine whether the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russians who meddled in our 2016 election.

Trump calls the Mueller probe a “witch hunt.” He calls allegations “phony” and a product of “fake news.”

Good grief, Mr. President! If it’s phony, if there’s no “there” there, then let Mueller finish his job and issue a report that declares there’s nothing more to do.

Trump, though, insists on acting as if he’s got something to hide. A summary dismissal of Mueller — a former FBI director and a first-rate, meticulous lawyer — would send a signal all around the world that, yep, we’ve got a smoking gun out there … somewhere!

Wouldn’t it just stink of, oh, obstruction of justice?

As President Ronald Reagan once said — quoting another well-known Republican, Clint Eastwood — “Go ahead. Make my day.”

Keep speaking up, Hillary

Hillary Rodham Clinton has made an excellent point about how she is being treated differently from other candidates who lost their bids to become president of the United States.

Speaking at a Rutgers University event, Clinton was asked to respond to critics who have told her to keep quiet about current issues of the day.

Her response? No one ever told previous losing presidential candidates — all of whom were men — to cease speaking out.

As The Hill reports: “I’m really glad that, you know, Al Gore didn’t stop talking about climate change,” Clinton said to applause.

“And I’m really glad John Kerry went to the Senate and became an excellent secretary of state,” the former first lady continued. “And I’m really glad John McCain kept speaking out and standing up and saying what he had to say. And for heavens sakes, Mitt Romney is running for the Senate,” Clinton said.

What makes her different from those other presidential nominees who have kept their voices active and engaged in policy discussions? Clinton believes it’s her gender.

Hmm. Is there a reason to doubt that?

Yes, I’ve been critical of Clinton’s remarks recently about those who voted for her and who voted for Donald J. Trump in the 2016 election. I’ve never told her to keep quiet.

With that, keep speaking up, Hillary Clinton.

This is a ‘smooth’ legal team?

Chris Ruddy, a friend and political ally of Donald Trump, said the president considers his legal and political to be a “smooth running machine.”

Really? Yes, really. The president’s self-delusion and lack of self-awareness has presented itself again.

Get a load of this sequence.

He sought out the legal services of former federal prosecutor and Fox News TV “contributor” Joe diGenova and his wife, Victoria Toensing. Then his lead lawyer, the guy who’s representing him in the “Russia thing” probe — John Dowd — quits, claiming that Trump doesn’t listen to his legal advice.

This weekend, moreover, Trump decided that diGenova and Toensing wouldn’t be joining his team after all. It seems they had some “conflict of interest” issues that needed to be resolved.

Oh, but the president said — via Twitter, of course — that he has no shortage of brilliant legal minds begging to join the Trump legal team to defend him against the investigation into collusion with Russians who meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

Oh … really? Honestly, Mr. President?

Who in the name of juris prudence is this guy trying to kid?

He cannot hire a good lawyer to save his life, let alone his political¬† backside. Nor can the president retain a national security team. He cannot fill important posts within the State Department. Washington is bursting with rumors that if White House chief of staff John Kelly quits, that the president won’t hire a new person to run the executive branch “ship of state”; Trump will do it himself.

There you go. He told the nation at the Republican National Convention that “I, alone” can solve every problem under the sun.

It is beginning to look as though he’ll get a chance to deliver on that bold bit of boastfulness.

Good luck with that, Mr. President, as you handle the controls of your “smooth-running machine.”

Obama congratulated Putin, too? Hold on!

So, critics of the media on the right have become fond in recent days of defending Donald J. Trump’s congratulatory phone call to Vladimir Putin. They’re using an interesting — if nonsensical — argument.

Trump called Putin the other day against the advice of his national security team. He congratulated the Russian strongman on his re-election in what many have called a “sham election.” His soon-to-be-former national security adviser H.R. McMaster said that Trump shouldn’t congratulate Putin because of corollary issues that have clouded U.S.-Russia relations.

The president’s phone call has gotten plenty of criticism. I’ve joined the chorus of critics on this blog.

The push back was immediate. Trump defenders point out that Barack H. Obama congratulated Putin on his re-election in 2012.

Whoa! Hold on here! Let’s examine briefly the situation and how it compares with the here and now.

Vladimir Putin was a bad guy in 2012. I get that. He is worse now. Why? Oh, let’s see. He has meddled in our 2016 presidential election and is likely going to meddle in our midterm election this year, let alone in other countries’ elections; he used nerve gas on a former Soviet spy and his daughter.

President Obama did not have issues such as those on the table when he chatted with Putin in 2012. Donald Trump had a lot of them to toss at Putin when he called him just the other day.

There’s the difference.