Tag Archives: Department of Justice

What has become of Hillary the Invincible?


There once was a time — not that long ago — when Hillary Rodham Clinton was considered a shoo-in not just for her party’s presidential nomination, but for the office itself.

She was Hillary the Invincible. The 2016 Democratic presidential nomination was, to borrow that cliché, “hers to lose” — although I’ve never quite understood what phrase actually means.

Then came some nasty stuff.

The Benghazi matter doesn’t count. I do not consider the Benghazi tragedy to be a “scandal,” as some media blowhards on the right have called it.

Here’s what is more troubling in my view: the e-mail matter.

The former secretary of state revealed some months ago that she used her personal e-mail server to communicate with others about, um, State Department business. That disclosure troubled me when I heard and I troubles me even more now. Why? Because of reports that — as some have feared — messages sent out into the public domain contained classified information.

The Justice Department has now ordered Clinton to turn over her personal e-mail server to the spooks at DOJ, who’ll look over all the material that went out on it. But as the Washington Post’s Chis Cillizza notes:  “It’s impossible to see this as anything but a bad thing for her presidential prospects.”

The trustworthiness issue is beginning now to dog the former first lady/U.S. senator/secretary of state. Is she for real? Is she authentic? Can she be trusted to tell us the truth all the time?

Yes, I am having doubts about all of that, right along with a lot of other Americans.

The Democratic field already has three other candidates seeking the party’s presidential nomination. I’m waiting to hear whether a fourth non-Clinton will jump in … that would be Vice President Joe Biden, about whom much has been written during his lengthy career in government.

He’s become the target of late-night comedians’ jokes because of his occasional gaffes. No one, though, doubts his authenticity or his motives for seeking a career in public service.

Whether he runs, though, likely might depend on how much damage gets done to Hillary Clinton’s once-seemingly invincible image.


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.


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.


Ferguson shooting suspect in custody

That didn’t take long.

Just a few days after two Ferguson, Mo., police officers were ambushed, authorities have arrested a suspect in connection with the crime.

He is 20-year-old Jeffrey Williams.


Let’s allow the system now to do its work.

Williams is accused of wounding the two officers who were watching a demonstration involving much of the recent racial tension that has gripped the St. Louis suburban community. This is where a young black man was shot to death by a white police officer; a grand jury declined to indict the officer for the young man’s death; violent protests erupted; the officer quit the police force; and the Justice Department has decided against pursuing federal civil rights charges against the officer.

Against that backdrop, someone shot the officers.

Williams told authorities he was shooting at someone else with whom he was having a disagreement. St. Louis County officials aren’t buying the story.

Whatever, this case has taken another bizarre turn.

I’m just hoping we can determine the guilt or innocence of a young man accused of a terrible crime.

As U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said, whoever did this is nothing more than a “punk.”

Well, even punks deserve fair justice.


Lynch nomination a cliffhanger? Why?

Sometimes I can be a bit slow on the uptake. I get that. I concede it’s a weakness.

But for the life of me, I do not understand why Loretta Lynch’s nomination to become the next U.S. attorney general is hanging by a thread. Someone will have to explain this one to me.


Lynch is supposed to replace Eric Holder as AG. She was thought to be set for a relatively easy confirmation. Then the man who appointed her, President Obama, decided to issue an executive order that delayed deportation of some 5 million illegal immigrants; the order allows them to seek work permits while they stay in the United States.

The order enraged Senate Republicans. So what did they do? They began questioning Lynch about whether she supported the president’s executive decision.

What on God’s Earth did they expect her to say?

“Well, senator, since you asked, I think that’s the dumbest damn idea I’ve ever heard. It’s illegal. It violates the Constitution. The president has rocks in his head and he should be impeached just for being stupid enough to issue the order.”

Is that what they want her to say? I’m beginning to think that’s the case.

Instead, she has declared her support of the president’s decision. As if that’s some big surprise to the senators, some of whom said they’d support her initially, but then changed their mind because — gasp! — she’s endorsing a key policy of the man who wants her to become the next attorney general.

Who’da thunk such a thing?

Loretta Lynch is eminently qualified to assume this important post. Republicans have made no secret of their intense dislike of Holder, who said he’d stay on the job until the next AG is confirmed.

I believe Holder has done just fine as attorney general, but he wants to move on, spend time with his family, pursue other interests … all those clichés. So, let him do it.

First, though, confirm Loretta Lynch.

DOJ to go after Democratic senator

Lets hand it to the U.S. Department of Justice.

It’s an equal-opportunity pursuer of corruption in government.

DOJ’s target is a Democratic senator from New Jersey, Bob Menendez, who’s been accuse of using his public office to enrich private donors.

Ouch … and double ouch!


The DOJ has been accused of being too partisan, whether it’s run by a Democrat or a Republican. The current Justice Department is under the purview of a Democratic administration, so it stands to reason that it would let allegations of misdeeds against a fellow Democrat to pass, right? Wrong!

As Politico reported: “A federal grand jury in New Jersey has for months been investigating Menendez’s interactions with Salomon Melgen, a close friend and financial backer of the senator, prompting Menendez to rack up hundreds of thousands in legal bills as the probe intensified. A New Jersey newspaper reported this week that several Menendez aides declined to answer questions before the grand jury, citing a constitutional privilege that covers the New Jersey Democrat and other lawmakers and staff.”

I’ve got to hand it to the Justice Department, not that I think necessarily that Menendez is guilty of anything. Heck, I live way out here in Flyover Country and I haven’t been following the Menendez case carefully.

My salute is to DOJ for going ahead with an investigation it could have swept away, citing “insufficient evidence” as a reason not to pursue a criminal probe.

Make no mistake, justice departments of both parties have used that dodge with particular effectiveness.

Not this one. Not this time.

“Let me be very clear, very clear. I have always conducted myself appropriately and in accordance with the law,” Menendez said. “I am not going anywhere.”

We’ll see about that.

Holder builds solid legacy at Justice

Eric Holder might have been the poster child for partisanship.

He’ll stay on the job as U.S. attorney general until the Senate confirms his successor, but the time has come to say something about his time at the Justice Department and to wonder what lies ahead for what is certain to be a stormy confirmation process.


I’ll just say it up front: Holder has been a great attorney general.

That doesn’t mean his time at Justice has been free of mistakes. He’s made some.

Chief among the blunders is likely the Fast and Furious gun-tracking program that strangely put firearms in the hands of dangerous drug-runners, who then used the weapons to bring considerable misery to federal law enforcement authorities.

Congressional Republicans, of course, jumped all over the Fast and Furious program as a monumental failure. It was meant to allow gun merchants to sell firearms to drug dealers with the hope of tracking their movement. It didn’t work.

Congress sought to get him to testify about Fast and Furious and he just enraged the GOP more by refusing to cooperate fully.

So, that project has failed.

Another mistake was Holder’s decision not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act when it stood as federal law. Whether one agrees with the law that essentially prohibited same-sex marriage or not, the AG took an oath to defend the laws of the land, no matter what. He failed in that regard. DOMA, though, later was thrown out by the Supreme Court, which made the refusal to defend it more or less a moot point.

However, Holder has served as a civil rights champion. He has elevated the discussion of equal protection for all Americans to a level not heard since the days of the late Robert F. Kennedy, when he was AG from 1961 to 1964.

As the nation’s first African-American attorney general, Holder has standing on this issue that none of his predecessors enjoyed. Holder recommitted the federal government to civil rights when he went to Ferguson, Mo., in the wake of the shooting death of a young black man by a white police officer.

Politico reports: “Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont praised Holder for ‘restor[ing] the Civil Rights Division to its historical mission’ and declared that ‘his dedication to defending Americans’ voting rights, at a time when these constitutional rights are under attack, has been supremely important.’”

Holder is seen by his foes as a polarizing figure. Perhaps he is, but that’s more a function of the divisions in American society he revealed by his commitment to creating a more just society for all Americans.

So, what lies ahead? As with virtually everything involving the Obama administration, I’m guessing we’re going to see a brisk challenge to whomever the president nominates to succeed Holder.

I’m hoping the next attorney general will get the thorough vetting he or she deserves, but that the Senate will act quickly to get that individual on the job.

Try the Benghazi suspect quickly

Welcome to America, land of the infidels, the Great Satan, Ahmed Abu Khattala.

You’ll find this to be a none-too-hospitable place, given the reason you are here.

Khattala has arrived in Washington, D.C., to be arraigned for his role in the infamous terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, the one that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others on Sept. 11, 2012.


Khattala was captured less than two years after the event that’s become a favored political football for congressional critics of the Obama administration and those who want to deny then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a chance at becoming the nation’s first female president in a little more than two years.

The Benghazi suspect — captured by U.S. Army Delta Force commandos in Libya — is going to find out that the wheels of justice tend to turn slowly in this country.

How about changing that up a bit?

I would hope the government can put together its case quickly and put this individual on trial. Prosecutors haven’t yet decided to seek the death penalty as punishment for Khattala if he’s convicted. I’d bet some real American money they’ll go all the way and seek to execute this guy.

The very term “Benghazi” has become almost a sort of political code for congressional Republicans. It’s come to mean a lot of things to those on the right who are adamant in their hunt for dirt on those from the other side of the aisle.

I believe we have learned all we’re ever going to learn about what happened that night in Benghazi, Libya. Yet, Congress has established a select House committee to look further. We’ll see what, if anything, new that comes out of the hearing.

As for Khattala, he need not fester one moment longer than necessary in an American jail cell. By that I mean I hope he goes to trial; if he’s convicted that his lawyers will appeal soon thereafter; then the courts can determine the ultimate outcome of the verdict.

After that, carry out the sentence.

Just send this guy to wherever the Justice Department decides to send him — in this world or beyond.