Tag Archives: collusion

Don’t fire deputy AG, Mr. President

Rod Rosenstein’s backside might be in a sling as I write this brief blog post.

The deputy U.S. attorney general who hired Robert Mueller as special counsel to look into Donald Trump’s possible Russia dealings is heading to the White House on Thursday to meet with the president.

Rosenstein reportedly said something about wearing a listening device while in the White House and also reportedly asked around about invoking the 25tha Amendment to the Constitution, the one that allows Cabinet officials and Congress to remove the president from office.

Rosenstein denied the reports … sort of. He called them “inaccurate,” which isn’t exactly a denial that he made those statements. Other reports indicate Rosenstein said those things “in jest,” which is how the White House has tried to explain some of the president’s own bizarre statements.

Rosenstein might face the music

If the president fires Rosenstein, then Mueller’s future is in serious question. Does the next deputy AG then fire Mueller, ending the painstaking probe that Mueller has conducted in the search for the truth behind allegations of “collusion” between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian goons who attacked our electoral system in 2016?

Rosenstein’s selection of Mueller was hailed in the moment as a brilliant move, a stroke of genius. The former FBI director, Mueller, was hailed as a man of impeccable integrity and character. Then he started indicting people close to Trump. Now — suddenly, like magic! — he is called everything but the son of Satan by many within the Trump inner circle. The president has labeled the Mueller investigation “illegal” and a “rigged witch hunt.”

I do not want Trump to fire Rosenstein. He perhaps can chew him out royally, which is within his purview. Then again, so is firing him.

Robert Mueller’s investigation needs to proceed and conclude under its own power. Rod Rosenstein needs to stay on the job until Mueller’s task is complete.

And the president of the United States needs to shut his trap and let this investigation reach its end. If there’s nothing there, as Trump insists, Robert Mueller will tell us. Correct?

The walls are closing in on the president

I am pretty sure we can toss aside the comment from the White House that Paul Manafort’s guilty plea will have no impact on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 presidential election.

We have come to expect such false bravado from Donald J. Trump’s team. It delivered the goods yet again when Manafort pleaded guilty to two felony charges and gave Mueller a promise to “cooperate” with his probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians who attacked our electoral system.

Manafort is the biggest fish that Mueller has reeled in. Manafort is the former campaign chairman for Trump. He left the campaign in mid-stride, handing over campaign management duties to Kellyanne Conway.

I, of course, have no way of knowing with any certainty about the mood within the White House. However, when I do the math, I find that two plus two still equals four.

Manafort’s guilty plea and pending cooperation cannot bode well for the president. That brings me to the question of the day: Will the president pardon Manafort and expose himself to accusations of obstruction of justice?

The threat is growing

Trump shouldn’t go there. Then again, he has shown a tendency to do things just because he can. The president has unquestioned power to pardon anyone he chooses. Is this president enough of a fool to do the most foolish thing imaginable at this point in the investigation? I am not putting a single thing past this guy.

Yes, the walls are closing in. However, I won’t predict the president’s downfall. I mean, he wasn’t supposed to win the 2016 election in the first place.

We all know what happened.

Sessions’s days as AG are counting down?

Donald J. Trump has just made the case for why U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had no choice but to recuse himself from the investigation into “The Russia Thing.”

Of course, he doesn’t see it that way, because he has no understanding of government ethics or, for that matter, government decency.

Sessions has fired back at another round of criticism from the president. He said, “While I am Attorney General, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations. I demand the highest standards, and where they are not met, I take action.” He added in a Fox News interview: “However, no nation has a more talented, more dedicated group of law enforcement investigators and prosecutors than the United States.”

Trump went yet another tear against Sessions, criticizing him for his recusal. What is his rationale? Get a load of this, as reported by The Hill: “Even my enemies say that, ‘Jeff Sessions should have told you he was going to recuse himself, and then you wouldn’t have put him in,’” Trump said in an interview that aired Thursday.

Trump also said that he only selected Sessions, previously a senator from Alabama, to be his top law enforcement officer because of his “loyalty” during the campaign.

“He was on the campaign. You know, the only reason I gave him the job was because I felt loyalty,” Trump said. “He was an original supporter.”

Jeff Sessions could not be called upon to lead an investigation into a campaign in which he was an integral part. The Department of Justice has deeply rooted codes of conduct that preclude the AG from leading such a probe. Sessions — a man for whom I have little actual regard, mind you — recognized the blatant conflict of interest and pulled himself out of the investigation into whether there was “collusion” between Russian government agents and the Trump campaign.

For the president, moreover, to continue to malign the integrity of the professional team assembled at DOJ is reprehensible on its face.

The attorney general is right to praise the quality of the men and women who do the grunt work for the Department of Justice. The president is dead wrong to disrespect and disparage them.

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!

Avoid ‘perjury trap’? Sure, just tell the truth!

The president of the United States is highly unlikely to appear voluntarily before the special counsel who is examining whether the president’s 2016 campaign colluded with Russian hackers who interfered in our election.

I say that wishing Donald Trump would agree to meet with Robert Mueller.

Trump said last year that he was “100 percent” in favor of meeting with Mueller. Silly us, particularly those of us who took the president at his word in the moment. He lied to us then. He likely would lie to Mueller and his legal team.

Therein is the reason why the president won’t agree to meet voluntarily with Mueller. Trump’s legal team fears what they call a “perjury trap.” That is as phony a dodge as anything they have said regarding Trump and this investigation.

The most sure-fire way to avoid committing perjury is for the president to tell the truth. If the special counsel or one of his deputies were to ask him a direct question, he should answer it with equal directness — and with the “whole truth.”

If the president were wired to tell the truth instead of lie constantly, this “perjury trap” nonsense would be irrelevant. Except that this president is wired to prevaricate, to fabricate and to lie through is teeth.

That’s why he won’t meet with Robert Mueller. At least not of his own volition.

Collusion not a crime … but how about conspiracy?

Donald Trump’s defense is morphing into something rather strange.

The president who keeps insisting he didn’t “collude” with Russian hackers who attacked our electoral system now says “collusion” isn’t a crime.

Weird, yes? I think so.

The president and his lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, say there are no statutes on the books that cover collusion. Special counsel Robert Mueller is examining whether there was collusion associated with the attack on our system by Russians who reportedly presented some “dirt” on Hillary Clinton to the Trump campaign in 2016.

Rather than notify the FBI and rat out the hostile power with this information, the Trump team allegedly went forward with receiving the “dirt.” Did they then conspire with the Russians in their effort to interfere in our electoral system?

This investigation is slogging through difficult territory. There might be land mines aplenty through which Mueller’s team must navigate. Indeed, the Trump team appears to be planting them in some form of tactical retreat as Mueller proceeds methodically with his probe of the president and his campaign.

We now are left to ponder how, if collusion is not a crime, the president appears to be in so much trouble. We also now must consider why the president is working so hard to discredit the special counsel and his team of lawyers who have been given the task of finding the truth.

Trump unleashes new fusillade against Mueller

Put yourself in the shoes of the man investigating whether the president of the United States and his team “colluded” with Russians who attacked our electoral system in 2016.

The object of that probe, Donald J. Trump, continues to fire off Twitter messages accusing Robert Mueller of conducting a “rigged witch hunt.” He says the probe needs to look at Democrats. He questions whether Mueller has a “conflict of interest” because of his friendship with a fired FBI director.

The president accuses Mueller, himself a former FBI director, of being corrupt and biased.

CNN reports: The attacks are not simply a window into his own rage, they also represent a coherent hardball strategy to unite his ever loyal political base and other Republicans behind him. With 100 days to go until midterm elections, that could be tough for the GOP.

How might you react to all of this?

Me? I would be incensed. I would be outraged. I would be damn angry at the president. Here’s the good news: It’s not about me. It’s all about a man who was praised universally when he got the special counsel job.

Mueller is on task. He and his legal team have kept their mouths shut. They have said nothing publicly about the shaming the president keeps heaping on them. They are acting professionally and with decorum and dignity.

Trump is acting, um, like an ass.

The president’s continuing harangue reveals a serious in this individual’s state of mind. No, I am not suggesting some mental disorder. I am suggesting that Trump possesses a personality trait that suggests a certain emotional instability.

Does that disturb you? If not, it should. It damn sure bothers me.

I have declared repeatedly on this blog that Donald Trump is unfit for the office he holds. His constant barrage in the face of a serious — and so far productive — investigation simply reaffirms what many of us have been saying since Day One of this individual’s presence on the political stage.

Still wondering: Why the constant griping about Mueller?

You’ve heard it said of folks who likely are complicit in wrong doing that they “protest too much.”

Donald Trump continues to protest the existence of a special counsel, Robert Mueller. He keeps calling Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion with Russians during the 2016 election a “witch hunt,” which he’s elevated to a “rigged witch hunt.”

Is the president protesting too much? Is he seeking to discredit the investigator as a diversion from the evidence that well might be piling against him?

A politician who is as clean as Trump says he is might just want to keep his trap shut and let the investigation reach a favorable conclusion under its own power.

But that is not happening with this president. He keeps firing off Twitter message, he keeps ad-libbing at press events with statements that — at least to my ear — sound more like a guilty man than an innocent one.

Or … what if Mueller comes up empty?

My previous blog post wondered what Donald J. Trump’s reaction would be if Robert Mueller delivers the goods on collusion, obstruction of justice and anything else he might find wrong with the president and his 2016 campaign.

My conclusion: Trump will go bonkers, nuts, ’round the bend.

In fairness, what might the president do and/or say if the special counsel comes up empty?

My thoughts? I believe Trump is fully capable of climbing onto the White House roof, bullhorn in hand and bellowing “I told you so!” until his voice no longer functions.

OK, I’m kidding.

Sort of …

Trump is incapable, in my humble view, of accepting victory like a gentleman. He doesn’t have the gene that allows him to congratulate Mueller for a job well done, and thank him sincerely for the service he has performed for the country.

No sir. He won’t do that.

If Mueller ends up with nothing, Trump will find a way to make something out of it. Why, he might never shut his mouth for as long as serves in the highest office in the land.

As we’ve learned already, 18 or so months into his presidency, Donald Trump cannot stop boasting about the Electoral College victory he scored over Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Imagine, now, how the president well might react if Mueller and his team come up empty on The Russia Thing.

What if Robert Mueller … ?

The special counsel examining whether Donald Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russians who attacked our electoral process has many finish lines ahead of him.

I want to focus on just two of them.

What if he finds collusion and obstruction of justice? What if he determines that the president is right, that there was no wrongdoing?

Either way, it won’t satisfy at least half the nation.

If Robert Mueller’s legal team finds evidence of collusion and obstruction of justice — and maybe more — you can bet the farm, the ranch and your first-born child that Trumpkins across the land are going to howl loudly. Mueller might recommend bringing criminal charges. He simply might say that the president did something wrong and leave it at that. Rest assured, it will ignite a firestorm.

If, though, he comes up with nothing, you can make the same wager that those on the other side will howl just as loudly as the Trumpkins. Their angst will come from a deeply held belief that Trump is an agent of the Russians, that Vladimir Putin has the goods on him, that the president simply is unfit for the office to which he was elected.

Whatever the conclusion, Mueller’s final report will not end the intense national quarreling.

My reaction? I would hope to be more, um, magnanimous. Even if it goes against what I believe.

I have many thoughts about what Trump did. Or what he allowed to be done. I have said all along that I believe he is unfit for the presidency. But I haven’t seen the evidence. I haven’t studied the nitty-gritty of it. I haven’t talked to lawyers, national security experts or political operatives close to the situation.

I’m sitting here in the cheap seats, the peanut gallery, where opinions get all the respect they deserve.

I would therefore be forced to accept whatever Mueller decides, even if it rubs me raw, or inflames my political passion, or fills me with anger.

Back in 1995 when the jury acquitted O.J. Simpson of murdering his former wife and her friend, I shared the anger of millions of Americans who believed Simpson got away with a heinous crime. I couldn’t fathom how the jury could make the decision in four hours after sitting through months of testimony, theatrics and fire-breathing testimony.

But the jurors did. The judicial system worked, even if it didn’t satisfy all of us. I didn’t agree with the jurors, but I accepted it. Why? Because they heard all the evidence. I didn’t.

Thus, I believe I am capable of moving on even if Robert Mueller’s investigative journey staggers to a conclusion I won’t like.