Tag Archives: DOJ

Now this: Mueller indicts Russians for meddling

Let’s see. If we’re keeping score, the tab is piling up against Donald Trump’s claim that the Russians didn’t interfere in our 2016 presidential election.

The nation’s top spooks, the folks who run our intelligence agencies, say in unison that the Russians meddled in our election.

Now, today, we get word that special counsel Robert Mueller has indicted 13 Russians and three Russian companies for — drum roll! — interfering in our election.

But … the president of the United States is willing to take the word of a former KGB boss, Vladimir Putin, that he didn’t do what our intelligence experts say he did. Donald Trump is the lone denier in all of this.

To be clear, the indictments don’t suggest any collusion from the Trump campaign. The president might take some solace in that knowledge, although there’s still more to be determined by Mueller’s legal team as it pores through all the material that has piled up.

Nor do the indictments say that the Russian hackers’ activity actually affected the outcome. They did not determine the outcome. I get that, too.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who announced the indictments, said the Russians did accomplish their mission in their meddling, which was to cause “discord” and to throw doubt over our nation’s electoral process.

When will the president ever acknowledge what is now widely known? My hunch: He’ll take his denial with him to the grave.

Weird.

Suddenly, Mueller seems a bit more vulnerable

If I were Robert Mueller, I might be sleeping a bit fitfully for an undetermined period of time.

Mueller, the special counsel appointed to examine allegations of collusion by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign with Russians seeking to influence the 2016 election, now suddenly seems a bit more vulnerable to White House trickery.

Rachel Brand, the No. 3 in command at the Department of Justice, has quit to become general counsel for Walmart. Brand had held her job at DOJ for less than a year.

This is a real big deal. Here’s why.

The president can’t stand Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from anything dealing with Russia. Sessions had worked on the Trump campaign foreign policy team and on its transition to the presidency. He was too close to the Russia matter to be an independent investigator. So, he stepped aside. It angered the president so much that he has said that had he known Sessions would recuse himself, he would have nominated someone else to become AG.

There’s that.

Now we have Rod Rosenstein, the No. 2 at DOJ. Rosenstein selected Mueller — a former FBI director and a crack lawyer himself — to be the special counsel. Mueller has assembled a first-rate team of legal eagles to investigate the “Russia thing” that caused Trump to fire James Comey as FBI director. Rosenstein has the authority to fire Mueller if directed by the president, but he has said he won’t do so “without cause.” Trump hasn’t exactly issued a vote of confidence for the job Rosenstein is doing as the second banana at Justice.

OK, now for the punch line.

Trump can select whoever he wants to succeed Brand. The new No. 3 must go through a Senate confirmation process. If the president were to dismiss Rosenstein, that means the next in command would be available to dismiss Mueller if the president issues the order.

My operative question, thus, goes like this: Is the president going to ask Rachel Brand’s potential successor if he or she is willing to fire Mueller if the order comes from the White House?

Sessions is now out of the game, more or less. Rosenstein says he won’t fire Mueller simply because the president wants him gone. That means, the way I see it, that Sessions and Rosenstein now are vulnerable to the Machiavellian whims of the guy who sits behind that big desk in the Oval Office.

Trump could axe both the AG and his chief deputy, leaving the next in line — the third in command — to do the dirty work of getting rid of Robert Mueller, which then could derail the special counsel’s work of finding the whole truth behind the collusion matter.

I believe that would smell like, oh, obstruction of justice.

Blast the leadership, you blast ‘rank and file,’ too

Donald Trump seeks to cherry pick his targets of scorn.

Such as the FBI and the Department of Justice. The president has been blasting the smithereens out of the “leadership” at the FBI and and at DOJ. But, oh, he says the “rank and file” are great.

His Twitter tirades make me yawn most of the time. However, I often cannot get past the idiocy of some of his messages.

We are witnessing a virtually unprecedented skirmish between the president and the nation’s elite law enforcement community. When the president assails the leadership of the FBI and the DOJ he infers — perhaps unwittingly — that the rank and file are carrying out the policies established by incompetent/crooked/biased leadership.

We are witnessing an intolerable slandering of professional law enforcement officials who do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

It’s not the first time Trump has trashed the troops on the front line of their professions.

He did the same thing to local election officials when he alleged without a scintilla of proof that “millions of illegal immigrants” voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2016, giving her the nearly 3 million popular vote margin she scored over the president. Before he actually won the election, the GOP presidential candidate suggested that a Clinton victory would be the result of a “rigged election.” Again, he managed to defame the hardworking local election officials who perform their duties with diligence, dignity and distinction.

Trump has slandered the media, too, in the same way. When he embarks on his “fake news” mantra, singling out individuals and specific news outlets, he scars all the rest of the media. He then tells us the only media outlets he trusts are those that decline to report news that he deems to be “negative.” In Trump World, “negative” equals “fake.” If the news isn’t positive, it’s untrue — as Trump views it through his bizarre prism.

Here we are now, with the president of the United States denigrating, disparaging and disrespecting the finest law enforcement establishment on Earth.

Never mind his thinly veiled equivocation that the “rank and file are great,” but that he’s targeting only the leadership.

He is denigrating all the professionals at every level with his dangerous tweets and other public pronouncements.

This man is a menace.

When will POTUS ever recognize the Russia threat?

I guess there’s not a single thing I do can do except keep yapping out loud about it. So, therefore, I will.

When is the president of the United States going to acknowledge publicly what many of his fellow Americans already know: Russia threatens our sacred political process.

Instead, Donald John Trump Sr. continues to disparage our law enforcement agencies, our counterintelligence organizations, our criminal justice system, our key protectors.

Trump ratcheted up that criticism of our law enforcement agencies today by allowing the release of a Republican-authored memo that accuses the FBI of bias in its investigation into Russian hacking of our electoral process.

The president attacked the leadership of the FBI and the Justice Department. Oh, sure, he managed to say a good word about the “rank and file” within the FBI. The men and women on the front line, though, work for the very leadership that Trump has continued to criticize, undermine and — some might argue — defame.

I won’t accuse the president of defaming the FBI and DOJ leadership, but I keep returning to a fundamental question: When is the president going to admit in the open that Russia is a bad actor?

Russian President/strongman Vladimir Putin is no “friend” of the United States. I don’t know this as fact, but I cannot believe for an instant that the former KGB boss thinks as highly of Trump as the president says he does. A large part of me believes Putin is laughing his backside off at the confusion, chaos and controversy he has delivered to the United States as a result of the Russian meddling in our 2016 presidential election.

Putin committed an act of aggression against this country and for the life of me, I cannot accept why the president of the United States refuses to call that aggression what it is.

I have my share of theories as to why he remains quiet on Russia. I maintain my belief that Americans deserve to see the president’s full tax returns and financial disclosure. They very well could tell us plenty about the president’s reluctance to call the Russians out.

Donald Trump’s silence is deafening in the extreme.

There goes the quest for national unity

The all-too-brief search for national unity has ended.

Donald J. Trump said his State of the Union speech would be a unifying message. The president delivered it Tuesday night and then went on another Twitter tirade that blamed Democrats for the failure to reach an agreement on immigration reform.

Then the president officially called off the unity quest this morning. He agreed with the release of a memo written by Republican House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes that accuses the FBI of bias in its investigation of the Russian meddling allegation.

The memo release has launched yet another partisan battle. Democrats opposed its release; Republicans favored it. The FBI opposed it, too. Its release just might trigger the resignation of FBI director Christopher Wray, whom Trump selected to lead the agency. Who knows, too, whether the release is the last straw for the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who has drawn plenty of presidential pique himself because he decided to recuse himself from the Russia probe.

I am no Sessions fan, but he made what I consider to be the right decision by recognizing his own bias in the Russia investigation, given his former role as a key member of Trump’s presidential transition team.

So, the president has now pitted the parties against each other; he also has squared off against the Department of Justice and the FBI. It’s now Trump vs. the DOJ/FBI.

Unity? Are you kidding me?

The president isn’t wired to unify anyone. He thrives on confrontation. He basks in conflict. He glories in calling attention to himself.

Oh, and have I mentioned that Donald Trump is unfit to lead the greatest nation on Earth? Hey! I just did!

POTUS takes aim at FBI, DOJ

Donald John Trump has unloaded on the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Christopher Wray runs the FBI; Jeff Sessions is attorney general of the United States.

What do these men have in common? They were nominated by the president, the same Donald John Trump who’s now disparaging their leadership of these critical law enforcement agencies.

Someone will have to explain to me how this engenders confidence in the agencies’ ability to do their job and the president’s ability to find “the best people” to run them.

Trump is likely to release a memo that condemns the FBI’s handling of the investigation into Russian meddling in our 2016 presidential election. Wray doesn’t want the memo released; he says it is incomplete and it paints an inaccurate picture of what the FBI has done to get to the truth about alleged “collusion” between the Russians and the Trump presidential campaign.

The president’s latest tweeet storm has called into the question the leadership of these agencies, while at the same time praising the “rank and file” employees.

He wrote this today: “The top Leadership and Investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department have politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans – something which would have been unthinkable just a short time ago,” the president tweeted. “Rank & File are great people!”

He’s already trashed AG Sessions for his decision to recuse himself from anything dealing with Russia. If he had known Sessions would take himself out of the probe, Trump has said, he would have picked someone else.

So help me, I cannot remember a time when the president has disrespected his own appointees in the manner that we’re witnessing at this moment.

Bizarre.

Oh, and about the special counsel …

Robert Mueller is back in the news.

While our attention was yanked away while we watched Congress and the president writhe and wriggle over immigration and funding the government, the special counsel’s office was busy interviewing players in Donald John Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

We now have learned that Mueller interviewed fired FBI director James Comey sometime this past year. Mueller’s legal team has talked to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

What’s on the special counsel’s mind? He is looking for answers to the Big Question: Did the Trump campaign collude with Russians seeking to influence the 2016 presidential election outcome?

Sessions was a key campaign adviser while serving in the U.S. Senate. Comey — as you no doubt recall — led the FBI while it looked into the e-mail use matter involving Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton; then he turned his sights on the “Russia thing,” before he was fired in May 2017 by the president.

Mueller is trying to ascertain, reportedly, whether Comey’s firing, along with the dismissal of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, was meant to obstruct justice, impede the Russia meddling probe.

Gosh, who could be next on Mueller’s call list? Oh, I know! How about the president himself?

Trump says the investigation into collusion is a big fat nothing. He calls it a witch hunt. He blames it all on Democrats, the “fake media” and other critics of him and his administration.

Here’s a thought: If the president’s phone rings and it’s Robert Mueller on the other end of the call, the president ought to agree on the spot to meet with him — if what he says about the veracity of the probe is true.

If not, well … then we have a problem. Isn’t that right, Mr. President?

Year No. 1 is coming to an end … now for the next chapter

I am not going to spend a lot of time looking back on the first year of Donald J. Trump’s time in the White House.

High Plains Blogger has devoted a seemingly infinite amount of space to this subject all year long — and then some!

Readers of this blog know how I feel about the president. I have no need to recap it here.

I will offer this bit of advice, though, if anyone is interested in looking back. Just click on the “Search” tab on the blog’s home page and type in “Trump.” You’ll see it all.

Take a look here

There has been a bit of positive commentary on this blog about the president. I pledged to offer it when such matters presented themselves. I think I’ve been faithful to that pledge. The problem has been that Trump hasn’t done enough to merit more positive comments from this corner.

***

Looking ahead briefly to Year No. 2, to be candid I don’t expect much to change with regard to this blog’s posture relating to the president.

We still have that “Russia thing” to resolve. The special counsel, Robert Mueller, remains hard at work trying to determine whether the Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russian hackers who sought to influence the 2016 election outcome.

Along the way, I expect the president will keep denigrating Mueller’s integrity, even though he was universally praised when the Justice Department appointed him. And … I’ll have plenty to say about that.

I’ll also comment on the lies he’ll continue to tell and the insults he’ll keep hurling at his political foes as well as the media.

I guess my hope for the second year of Trump’s term as president is that he is able to hone the White House into the “fine-tuned machine” he called it. He isn’t there yet.

My other hope would be for the president to keep tweeting.

He gives me — and other commentators — plenty of grist when he unleashes his Twitter thumbs.

Follow Canadian model on immigration? C’mon, Mr. AG!

I cannot believe the attorney general of the United States said it.

Actually, I can.

AG Jeff Sessions told Fox News’s Tucker Carlson that the United States should follow the Canadian model on immigration and restrict entry of those seeking to come here to those with demonstrable skills.

Why should the United States accept people who are “illiterate” in their own countries? Sessions asked.

Sessions has hit me where I live, so to speak.

I happen to be the product of immigrants who came here in the early 20th century from where Donald J. Trump might consider to be “sh**hole countries,” Greece and Turkey. My grandparents produced families comprising individuals who contributed a great deal to this country. My grandparents didn’t possess professional skills; they weren’t well-educated; they were humble folks whose only aim was to come to the United States of America and build a better future for themselves and the families they wanted to produce.

They were just like millions of other immigrants who built this country into the powerhouse it has become.

Thus, I resent terribly any assertion that the United States should somehow limit those who come here through some sort of “merit-based system” that allows only those with certain educational levels or can demonstrate professional skills.

Furthermore, what’s with this idea of patterning our immigration policy after another nation?

Didn’t the president campaign for office on a pledge to “put America first”? Didn’t he in effect tell the rest of the world he cared little — if anything — about how they conduct their internal policies?

The basic principle behind our immigration policy has established the greatest nation on Earth as the beacon for the rest of the world. People want to come here because of the opportunity the United States offers to those who choose to become Americans.

Get a grip, Mr. Attorney General.

A new AG is on his/her way?

Donald John Trump Sr.’ s “fine-tuned machine” has hit another pot hole.

It has opened up in the Department of Justice. The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is now getting skewered by foes on both sides of the political divide.

Democrats detest Sessions mostly for partisan reasons; now even some Republicans are turning on him. Some of them dislike his recusal from the Russian 2016 election meddling investigation, which led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller; others dislike him because he rescinded an Obama administration memo that allowed states to determine how to enforce laws governing the use of marijuana.

As The Hill reports: “When you have Republicans calling for you to step down and you’re in a Republican administration just entering your second year, that’s trouble. He’s really on borrowed time,” said Brian Darling, a Republican strategist and former Senate aide.

Donald Trump himself is angry at Sessions. Why? The recusal, that’s why. The president once said that if he’d known Sessions would have recused himself from the Russia probe he would have selected someone else.

Now we hear from the media that Trump sent White House counsel Don McGahn to the DOJ to try to talk Sessions out of recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

All of this is highly unusual. It borders on bizarre. It also speaks — yet again — the disarray that has become the hallmark of Donald Trump’s administration.

He called it a “fine-tuned machine.” It is nothing of the sort. It is a jalopy in need of a top-to-bottom overhaul.