Tag Archives: Attorney General

That was some non-endorsement, Mr. POTUS

Donald J. Trump says Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s job is safe … for now.

He said the AG will remain on the job “at least” until the midterm election. After that? Hmm. No guarantee. All bets are off.

The president told Bloomberg News that Sessions should have told him he would recuse himself from the “Russia thing” before he was nominated to be the nation’s top law enforcement officer.

Trump then disparaged yet again the professionals who work in the trenches in the FBI and Justice Department. He said he wants Sessions to do a good job. He doesn’t seem to expect Sessions to deliver the kind of work Trump expects.

And what does he expect?

Fealty. Blind loyalty. No adherence to the rule of law. No sense of duty to the country over loyalty to the president.

Don’t misunderstand me on this point: I am no fan of the attorney general. He was denied a federal judgeship by the Senate in the late 1980s over some racially insensitive remarks attributed to him. He then joined the Senate and had a mediocre legislative career before Trump nominated him to run the Justice Department.

Just maybe the then-brand-new president could have foreseen trouble down he pike by declining to nominate Sessions as AG in the first place. Oh, no. He decided instead to blame the AG for prolonging an investigation into alleged hanky panky between his campaign and a hostile foreign power.

How did he do that? By doing the right thing and recusing himself!

Jeff Sessions’s time as head of the DOJ is diminishing … rapidly.

Trump doing the impossible: gaining sympathy for AG

Donald John Trump is trying to execute an impossible stunt.

He is seeking to turn Attorney General Jeff Sessions into a sympathetic character in the drama that’s unfolding in Washington, D.C.

Trump fired off a tweet that said, among other things, that “Our A.G. is scared stiff and Missing in Action. It is all starting to be revealed – not pretty.”

Trump wants Sessions to be quicker to defend him against critics who suggest there’s something to the “Russia thing” that special counsel is investigating.

Now he says Sessions is MIA and a scaredy-cat to boot?

Let’s review for a brief moment.

Sessions had to recuse himself from the Russia collusion probe because of his ties to the Trump presidential campaign. That meant that the AG couldn’t investigate himself. So, he recused himself — as he should have done. It was the proper course to take.

Then he squandered much of that good will be revealing that hideous immigration policy that takes children away from their illegal immigrant parents.

Now the president has decided to hang the AG out to dry for at least the third or fourth time by declaring he is scared to act.

Good grief, Mr. President. Shut … up!

An ‘order’ or an ‘opinion’?

Let’s take another brief look at that tweet from Donald John Trump that’s gotten everyone’s attention.

He wrote: This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further. Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA!

I want to dissect a section of the Twitter message. Did the president issue an order to the attorney general or was he merely stating an opinion?

I keep reading it and I keep coming up with the former. It looks like an order to my eyes. It would sound like an order were he to say it to me directly.

The Hill reported: (Former Watergate special prosecutor Jill) Wine-Banks argued that Trump’s tweet on Wednesday calling for Sessions to immediately end the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election was sent with the intention that Sessions obey it and that Trump has “undermined” the probe from the beginning.

The so-called explanation offered by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders just doesn’t add up. She said Trump merely was offering his “opinion” about the nature of Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in our electoral system.

Thus, the president might have committed a bald-faced act of conspiring to commit obstruction of justice with that message to the AG. Did he issue an order to Sessions to end an investigation into what he — the president — might have done?

This is unprecedented. It’s also, dare I say it — to borrow a malapropism once offered by Trump himself — very “unpresidented.”

How to interpret the word ‘should’

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word “should” attached to a sentence that deals with whether to do something, then I take that word as a directive and not a mere suggestion.

Donald J. Trump has escalated his rhetorical war against special counsel Robert Mueller with a tweet that drags the U.S. attorney general squarely into the fray.

Trump said that AG Jeff Sessions “should” end Mueller’s probe into Russian hacking in our election system and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians who attacked our democratic process during the 2016 election.

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further,” Trump tweeted.

Pro-Trump forces say the president’s use of the word “should” is not a command, that he’s merely suggesting that the AG do it; plus, they say that the president has a First Amendment right to speak his mind.

Yeah. Sure thing. Except that he’s the president of the United States of America.

I worked for a number of editors and publishers during my career in journalism. Whenever any of them wanted me to write something or to report on something or someone, they almost invariably would say that I “should write an editorial” about this or that, or that I “should” turn in a story that reports an event occurring in our community.

I was a loyal soldier during my years in the reporting/editorializing business, so I did what I was told … most of the time. There was one instance when a publisher to whom I reported wanted me to write an editorial that at the time I thought was a ridiculous subject on which to comment. He likely said I “should” do so. I disagreed with him in the moment — and then ignored his directive. He never pressed the issue, but he well might have held my refusal to do his bidding against me. Whatever.

A presidential directive that comes in the form of a Twitter message that says the AG “should” terminate an investigation involving the president of the United States comes mighty close to obstructing justice.

AG joins the crazy chant? Are you kidding?

To think I actually once said something positive about U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. What in the world was I thinking?

He recused himself from the Russia investigation because of his key role as a Donald Trump presidential campaign adviser. He handed it over to his deputy AG, Rod Rosenstein, who selected Robert Mueller as special counsel. I applauded the AG for demonstrating an awareness of conflict of interest.

Then the attorney general does this: He stands before a group of teenagers and laughs at the “Lock her up!” chant that came from the audience. Oh, and then he repeats it along with them.

Rule of law, Mr. Attorney General? Due process, sir? Executive decorum? What in the world is going on here?

As CNN reported: “Lock her up,” Sessions said, chuckling at the brief interruption from the audience as the chant then grew louder.

“I heard that a long time over the last campaign,” he said before continuing with his prepared speech.

The chant became a part of the GOP mantra in 2016 as controversy swirled over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s e-mail controversy. Clinton, of course, ran for president as the Democratic Party nominee. The “Lock her up!” chant became the theme of the Republican National Convention.

For the attorney general to laugh it off now is both disgusting and disgraceful.

Therefore, I hereby take back my positive comments about the attorney general.

Trump savages AG; ‘disgraceful’

Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!

The above is a tweet that Donald John “Smart Person” Trump Sr. fired off this morning.

He continues to do the seemingly impossible. The president is making patently unsympathetic characters, um, sympathetic.

Trump is undermining the attorney general. He seems to want the AG to quit. My guess — along with many others — is that the president cannot get past Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the “Russia thing,” because he couldn’t be an impartial investigator into whether the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russians who meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

For the record, while I am no fan of the attorney general, he did precisely the right thing in recusing himself. He was a key campaign adviser and served in a senior position in the Trump transition to the presidency. He had no business investigating the Russia meddling issue and he acted properly in backing away.

At issue is Sessions’s decision to use inspector general lawyers to probe allegations of bias in the use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to examine the Trump campaign.

According to The Hill: The president said the Justice Department’s inspector general is ill-equipped to probe allegations that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was improperly used to monitor members of his transition team.

Trump wants AG lawyers to look into it and is blasting the attorney general for using the IG legal team.

And, of course, he has to mention that the IG is an appointee of former President Barack Obama, continuing the current president’s fixation with leveling criticism of All Things Obama.

The disgrace doesn’t involve the attorney general’s decision to use the inspector general’s team. The disgrace continues to be the president’s unheard of undermining of the AG.

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.