Tag Archives: Attorney General

Where is Sen. Graham’s spine?

What in the name of political courage has become of U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican that I used to admire.

Graham at one time issued a stern warning to Donald J. Trump, saying the president would have “hell to pay” were he to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Well, Trump fired Sessions on Wednesday, the day after the midterm election. Graham’s message was, shall we say, decidedly less confrontational.

“I look forward to working with President Trump to find a confirmable, worthy successor so that we can start a new chapter at the Department of Justice … ” Graham said in one of the more milquetoast-y statements in recent memory.

He also once said that any effort to remove special counsel Robert Mueller, derailing his exhaustive investigation into the Russian attack on our electoral system in 2016 could “be the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency.”

Guess what, senator. Sessions’s firing and the elevation of Matthew Whittaker as acting AG just might bode poorly for the future of Mueller’s probe.

I should note that Graham was one of a horde of Republicans who ran against Trump for the GOP nomination in 2016. Back when they were foes, Graham spoke rough and tough about Trump, just as so many other foes did. Trump beat them and now they have become sycophants, yes men.

I am believing they are cowed by the president, who has hijacked a party with which he had zero affiliation before he ran for the nation’s highest office.

That includes Lindsey Graham.

I’ll just call it what it is: chickensh**!

‘Sad’ to watch POTUS trash the AG

Donald J. Trump continues to concoct reasons for why he believes Attorney General Jeff Sessions was a bad choice from the beginning.

He interviewed badly with the U.S. Senate; he couldn’t answer easy questions; he was “mixed up and confused.”

What absolute crap! The reason the president is miffed at the AG can be summed up in a single word: recusal.

Sessions recognized what Trump didn’t see coming: The AG’s role in Trump’s presidential campaign precluded him from being able to investigate matters involving the Russian government’s effort to influence the 2016 election outcome. He did what Justice Department policy and rules require: he recused himself from all things dealing with Russia.

And the president didn’t see that coming? He didn’t anticipate any kind of conflict of interest?

Because of his own ignorance of government ethics, Trump is now tell media outlets that he now doesn’t “have an attorney general.” He calls it “so sad.”

Go ahead, Mr. President. Fire the attorney general. Understand, though, that the AG — whether it’s Sessions or someone else — doesn’t work for the president. He works for the rest of us out here. He works also for those of us who didn’t support Trump’s effort to become president.

The attorney general shouldn’t do the president’s bidding because of some effort to protect the president’s political future.

If you’re looking for a “sad” circumstance regarding Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions, it is because the AG did something correct and proper and that action — all by itself — has aroused Donald Trump’s rage.

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.