Tag Archives: Attorney General

FBI doesn’t deserve bashing from POTUS

Maybe my memory is failing me. Or maybe it isn’t.

I’m having trouble remembering the last president of the United States to disparage the nation’s foremost law enforcement agency, the FBI.

Therein is where Donald J. Trump is doing things so very differently from his predecessors. He’s calling the FBI a lot of names. He alleges that morale is in the crapper; he says its leadership is in shambles; he is saying the FBI needs to be rebuilt.

Oh, and he’s calling the FBI’s role in the examination of Russian interference in our 2016 presidential election a “sham” and a “Democratic hoax.”

I’m trying to put myself in the shoes of an FBI agent. How would I like working for a government being run by a head of state and government who is so distrustful of my agency?

Trump keeps savaging FBI

If the president is going to contend that morale is so lousy, perhaps he is playing a major role in flushing it down a sewer hole.

He’s also been disparaging the attorney general, whose agency — the Justice Department — controls the FBI. Trump dislikes that AG Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia-election meddling probe, as he should have done. The president’s reaction has been to send signals that Sessions’s time as AG might be dwindling.

Of course, there’s also the issue of Trump questioning the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia did meddle in the election and that Vladimir Putin issued the order to do it. Putin told the president he didn’t meddle — and that denial from the former head of the Soviet spy agency is good enough for Donald Trump.

Strange. Very strange.

They’re stepping into the arena

I once wrote a blog post about a bumper sticker I spotted in Amarillo that told of someone being afraid of “the government.”

This individual seemed to imply that his government represents someone other than himself … or herself. That’s not true, of course. Our government belongs to us.

I encouraged this individual to seek public office at the earliest possible moment.

Here’s what I wrote in 2009:

I have seen the ‘enemy …’

I’m happy to report that two friends of mine have done precisely that. I’ve written about one of them already: Greg Sagan is going to run as a Democrat for the 13th Congressional District right here in the Texas Panhandle against Republican incumbent Mac Thornberry.

Today, I want to offer a brief word of praise for another friend. He’s also a Democrat who once taught journalism at West Texas A&M University. He moved about a year ago back to his native Alabama.

Butler Cain is another Democrat who now is going to run for the 5th Congressional District in Alabama, where the incumbent is Republican Mo Brooks, who is rumored to be considering a campaign for the U.S. Senate seat that was vacated when Jeff Sessions became attorney general in the Donald J. Trump administration.

Cain’s rationale for seeking this House seat follows the advice I gave to that unknown bumper sticker owner. He said on social media that he had grown tired of bitching about government, so he has decided to climb into the ring and start tossing — and receiving — those rhetorical haymakers.

He took a job as a journalism department head at the University of North Alabama. I’m not altogether clear what his political campaign will do to his standing at the school. My hope for Cain is that he’ll get to continue influencing young journalists in the making.

We have folks who continually gripe about this and/or that public policy decision. I guess I’m one of them.

Then you have those who decide that the time for bitching about it is over. They decide to make a tangible difference in the political system that angers many millions of us.

I salute them.

Hey, didn’t the AG recuse himself from Russia probe?

Al Franken knows a lie when he hears it. He wrote a book about “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them.”

The U.S. senator from Minnesota stood on the Senate floor and offered a point-by-point rebuttal of an apparent lie that Donald J. Trump likely told about a recommendation he got to fire FBI Director James Comey.

Then again, perhaps the lie came from the mouth of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who announced this year he would “recuse” himself from any dealings at any level with the probe into whether Russian government officials sought to influence the 2016 presidential election in the president’s favor.

You see, the president said he got a recommendation to fire Comey from — drum roll! — AG Sessions, the fellow who said he would recuse himself from this matter.

Oh yeah! Then there’s that matter of Comey leading the FBI probe into allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russian hackers to sway the election.

Sen. Franken’s statement zeroes in quite cleanly on Sessions’ recusal and he casts doubt (a) on whether the president really got a recommendation from Sessions to fire Comey or (b) on whether Sessions has actually recused himself as he pledged to do.

Man, this Comey firing matter is beginning to get stinkier by the day.

Didn’t they impeach a president for doing this?

President Bill Clinton took an oath to obey all the laws of the land. He then became entangled in an investigation that turned up an inappropriate relationship with a White House intern. He was summoned to testify to a federal grand jury about that relationship, he swore to tell the truth and then, um, fibbed about it.

House Republicans were so outraged they impeached him for it, put him on trial in the Senate, where he eventually was acquitted.

All of that over a sex scandal. Sheesh!

Now a sitting U.S. attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has allegedly been caught in a much more serious lie of his own.

He took an oath to tell the truth to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearings. He told senators he never had any conversations with Russian government officials during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Now comes reporting from “enemy of the people” media outlets that, yep, the AG did talk to the Russians.

Should he stay or should he go? Congressional Democrats want Sessions to quit. I won’t go that far just yet.

I do, though, believe the questions surrounding Sessions’s relationship with Donald J. Trump — they’re close friends and even closer political allies — disqualifies him from the get-go from pursuing any kind of unbiased, impartial and thorough investigation into the president’s relationship with Russia.

Some top Democrats want him out. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. What’s interesting to me and others is that a number of key Republicans have joined their Democratic “friends” in seeking Sessions’s recusal from any potential investigation.

The president, quite naturally, is going to label the reporting of Sessions’s contacts with the Russians as “fake news.” He’ll debunk reporters for the Washington Post and New York Times — who have been leading the media probe — as “dishonest” purveyors of fiction.

As one who once toiled the craft of journalism, although surely not at this level, I take great personal offense to Trump’s penchant for counterattack. Rather than reacting seriously and with measured calm, the nation’s head of state goes off on these rants about the media’s so-called status at the people’s “enemy.”

The attorney general has no business investigating whether the president had any kind of improper relationship with Russian government officials prior to his taking office. Whether he should remain on the job, well, that will have to be determined quickly.

I know that the law is designed to presume someone’s innocence. The world of politics, though, is a different animal altogether. In that world, the presumption often infers guilt and the accused must prove his or her innocence.

It might not always be fair. It’s just the way it is.

Yes, Sen. Cruz, but the Democrats have evolved

Oh, how I hate it when someone I detest is correct … even if he doesn’t tell the whole story.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas delivered a historical truth this week while talking to the Fox News Channel. The Republican said that the Democratic Party is the party of the Ku Klux Klan. He said Democrats — not Republicans — have a history of racism and scorn of minority Americans.

Sure, Ted. I get that. Southern Democrats resisted the enactment of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts of the 1960s; prior to that, some Democrats bolted their mainstream party to form something called the “Dixiecrat Party,” and then ran the late Sen. Strom Thurmond for president in 1948; Thurmond would later leave the Democratic Party to become a Republican. What’s more, Democratic history of racial intolerance goes many years before that.

Indeed, President Lyndon Johnson faced fierce opposition from within his Democratic Party to enact the civil rights legislation. He enlisted political help from his Senate Republican friends to push them through to his signature.

But times and policies can change. They did with the Democratic Party. Democrats “evolved” over time.

It’s one thing to talk about historical perspective. It’s quite another to relate politics and policy in real time.

Cruz’s comments came after Senate Republicans shut down a speech by Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who was reading a letter by the late Coretta Scott King; Warren used the letter to state her opposition to Jeff Sessions becoming the next U.S. attorney general.

Sen. Cruz spoke correctly about Democrats’ sordid history. It’s understandable, too, that he would ignore how the Democratic Party has evolved into a more inclusive organization.

It’s also understandable that he would ignore how his own Grand Old Party has become, well, a bit less inclusive.

I think it’s fair to wonder what President Abraham Lincoln would think today of the political party that carries his name.

Sessions pick for AG is the most galling of all

sessions-trump

Jeff Sessions is likely to be confirmed as the nation’s next attorney general.

It’s been said that “to the victors go the spoils.” In Sessions’ case, the victor happens to be a U.S. senator who was among Donald J. Trump’s earliest and most vocal supporters in his winning bid for the presidency.

Trump has rewarded the Alabama Republican with a nomination to become the nation’s top lawyer, its top law enforcement officer, its primary legal eagle.

The irony — not to mention the potential consequence — of this appointment is too rich to overlook.

Sessions has served in the Senate since 1997. For nearly a decade he’s been a member of the very “club” that once rejected an earlier nomination for Sessions to become a federal judge.

President Reagan nominated Sessions to the federal bench in 1986. Sessions, though, seemed to have this thing about African-Americans. He allegedly made some racist comments while serving as a federal prosecutor. He once said something akin to endorsing the Ku Klux Klan until he learned that some KKKers “smoked pot.” Sessions declared that to be a “joke,” that he was just kiddin’ around.

Well, the Senate rejected his judicial nomination. Sessions, though, decided to join the club. He was elected in 1996 and since then has been passing judgment on other judicial nominees who’ve come before the Judiciary Committee, where he serves.

Thus, the irony.

Sessions will be confirmed eventually, but only because senators are deeply resistant to rejecting one of their own, no matter how repulsive he may be.

The Justice Department has made great strides in recent years — under Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch — in ensuring equal protection under the law for all Americans. Does one really expect an Attorney General Jeff Sessions to continue that trend?

I fear that the attorney general’s office is going to take a decidedly less-aggressive posture in enforcing civil rights violations when they occur. I also am wary of anything Jeff Sessions says about his commitment to ensuring equal justice for all Americans.

His buddies in the Senate will confirm this nomination. I am hoping, though, for a thorough going-over regarding his record as a prosecutor and that silly rejection to the federal judgeship over things he said about many of our fellow citizens.

Perhaps one of his inquisitors will ask: “Sen. Sessions, if the Senate deemed you unfit to be a federal judge, why should it confirm you now as attorney general?”

Stop and frisk: let’s hold on

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Donald J. Trump wants American police officers to institute the “stop-and-frisk” policies that a judge has ruled to be unconstitutional.

That doesn’t matter to the Republican presidential nominee.

He’s the “law and order candidate” for president … he says.

We’ve entered another difficult time. Police shot an unarmed man to death in Tulsa, Okla. Charlotte, N.C., residents are protesting tonight in the wake of another fatal incident involving police officers. And yes, the shooting victims were black; the officers are white.

We’re on edge once again.

Trump’s response is to double down on that “stop-and-frisk” idea.

A judge in New York said the practice appears to discriminate against Americans based on the color of their skin. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch weighed in, contending that the practice wasn’t an effective law enforcement tool.

http://www.politico.com/blogs/under-the-radar/2016/09/loretta-lynch-trump-stop-and-frisk-228533

Yes, some communities are experiencing terrible spikes in violent crime. GOP partisans not surprisingly are blaming Democratic municipal administrations for incompetence and for adhering to policies that create such an environment.

C’mon, folks. Let’s be rational and reasonable.

As Politico reports: “Lynch, who spent two stints as chief federal prosecutor in Brooklyn before being nominated as attorney general, said she wasn’t opposed to stop-and-frisk techniques under certain circumstances.

“‘As with every police procedure we want to empower law enforcement to be responsive to community needs. We want to empower them to protect the community. We want to give them the training they need in order to do it in a way that is constitutional, safe and effective and promotes trust,’ Lynch said. ‘It’s not really a yes or no answer.'”

The concern about stop and frisk is its widespread use. Trump, as is his tendency, wants to bring the policy to bear across the board.

I’m going to stick with the AG’s more reasonable and rational approach.

Absence same as 'no' vote? No … it isn't

I really do like having Ted Cruz in the U.S. Senate.

He offers so much grist for folks like me on which to comment.

The freshman Republican senator said this the other day about his absence on a vote that confirmed Loretta Lynch as the latest U.S. attorney general: “Absence is the equivalent of a ‘no’ vote.”

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/04/ted-cruz-loretta-lynch-no-vote-explanation-117528.html?hp=l2_4

There you have it. He missed the vote because he had a prior commitment to attend a fundraiser back home in Texas. Cruz had voted earlier on a motion to end a filibuster on Lynch’s nomination; he voted to keep the filibuster going.

The filibuster was broken, the vote took place, Lynch had the votes to win confirmation. So, what was the point of Cruz being there to cast his expected “no” vote on Lynch?

Well shoot, senator. It mattered because you didn’t put it on the record. It’s not part of the Senate’s official voting record.

I’m still uncertain precisely why Cruz disapproves so strongly of Lynch’s ascending to the office of attorney general, other than her support of President Obama’s executive order granting temporary amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. I guess Cruz doesn’t much like the notion of an attorney general supporting the policies of the president who appoints her to the Cabinet, where everyone serves at the pleasure of the president of the United States.

That’s been the mantra of other senators who opposed Lynch, even those who said upon the announcement of her appointment that she is “highly qualified.” Some of those former supporters changed their mind when she declared her backing for the president’s action on immigration.

I think it’s strange. Then again, that’s just me.

What the heck. Sen. Cruz was entitled to attend the fundraiser. He’s running for president, after all. Let’s not assume, though, that this issue of non-voting on this confirmation — as well as other key votes he’s missed while campaigning for the White House — will disappear.

It’s the price a sitting member of Congress pays when he or she seeks the highest office in the land. Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton paid it when they ran in 2008. Sen. Cruz can expect the same thing in 2016.

 

 

Lynch finally confirmed as AG

The vote was 56-43.

The only reason the full U.S. Senate didn’t vote on this key appointment was that Republican Ted Cruz of Texas didn’t cast a vote. He didn’t like the nominee being considered for attorney general.

Welcome to the U.S. Justice Department, Loretta Lynch.

http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/239878-senate-votes-to-confirm-lynch-as-attorney-general

A number of Republicans voted to confirm Lynch, whose nomination should have been decided weeks ago. It was bogged down by the Senate Republican leadership’s insistence that it deal first with a bill that had nothing to do with Lynch’s nomination.

But she’s in. That’s good. She’s qualified and she deserved long ago to get a vote by senators on her nomination.

But here’s a curious element to the vote. One of the “no” votes came from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who said this:  “The question for me from the start has been whether Ms. Lynch will make a clean break from (President Obama’s) policies and take the department in a new direction.”

So, the chairman wants the new attorney general to break away from the policies of the president who appointed her. When has that ever happened? When has a Cabinet official ever promised to go against the individual who selected him or her?

The bogeyman for Grassley and other Republicans was Obama’s executive order on immigration that delays deportation for an estimated 5 million undocumented immigrants. He wanted her to say she opposed the order. Good luck with that one, Mr. Chairman.

But what the heck. She waited longer than any other recent Cabinet appointment to get confirmed.

Let’s hope her new job will have been worth the wait.

 

'Don't hire prostitutes'

It’s come down to this.

The attorney general of the United States of America has issued a memo to staff lawyers and law enforcement officials under the Department of Justice authority urging them against hiring hookers.

How bizarre is that?

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/04/eric-holder-prostitution-memo-116865.html?hp=c3_3

The memo comes from outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder after a report found widespread sexual abuse among several agencies within the DOJ purview. As Politico reported: “Holder wrote that, despite prostitution being legal in parts of Nevada and abroad, department employees are expected to refrain, ‘not simply because it invites extortion, blackmail, and leaks of sensitive or classified information, but also because it undermines the Department’s efforts to eradicate the scourge of human trafficking.’”

As if the department’s legal eagles and investigators didn’t know all that?

I’m not sure if this isn’t somehow Holder’s swan song memo to employees. Whatever it is, doesn’t seem to be understood that the individuals who work for the Department of Justice should know better than to hire hookers to give them, um, pleasure?

We’ve seen report of agents consorting with “businesswomen” in Colombia, of them fooling around while serving on advance teams sent in ahead of the president.

Maybe it’s just me, but I expect better from the individuals hired to do dangerous, sensitive and life-threatening work.

As for the DOJ effort to “eradicate the scourge of human trafficking,” it’s clear that the agency cannot be credible in that effort if its team is engaged in the very behavior that promotes such tragic endeavors.