Tag Archives: DOJ

Late-night wisdom on child-parent separation

Stephen Colbert is a comedian with a political point of view he delivers nightly from the Ed Sullivan Theater stage in New York City.

He was spot on in a diatribe against Donald J. Trump’s immigration policy that instructs border security agents to wrest children from their parents who enter this country illegally.

Perhaps the most poignant point that Colbert made is that the United States is the only country on Earth that has invoked such a heartless policy.

Yet the president contends that it’s a “Democrat bill” that congressional Democrats need to fix. One problem. There is no law on the books. This policy came from an executive branch instruction.

Listen to Colbert’s take on it. Yes, he’s a comic. He’s also a well-educated man who happens to be a husband and father who feels deeply about this issue.

IG report steers clear of ‘collusion’ probe

Donald John Trump’s fantasy land journey has taken him down yet another curious, bizarre path.

The U.S. Department of Justice inspector general issued a report this week that blasts the daylights out of former FBI director James Comey’s handling of the Hillary Rodham Clinton e-mail controversy. The IG calls Comey “insubordinate” in flouting DOJ protocol in his probe of Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail server while she was secretary of state.

The president’s response? It was weird in the extreme. He walked onto the White House driveway after the report became known and said the 500-page report absolves him of any “collusion” with Russians who meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

Except for this little detail: The IG report didn’t say a single word about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into collusion, obstruction of justice and whatever else might be connected in any way to that bizarre political episode.

What’s more, the Liar in Chief tossed out the “liar” epithet against Comey, whom Trump fired in May 2017 over “the Russia thing.” The inspector general’s report doesn’t challenge Comey’s credibility, only his judgment and his failure to follow DOJ policy.

Will the president’s diatribe do any damage to his standing among the Republican Party “base” that continues to hang on his every lie, prevarication and misstatement of fact?

Umm. Nope.

Clergyman is right: Policy is ‘immoral’

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions should put his Bible away and open it again on Sunday when he’s in church.

The Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border is not in keeping with biblical principles. It is, as Cardinal Daniel DiNardo called it, an “immoral” policy.

The administration has invoked this policy as a deterrent against illegal immigrants. Donald Trump doesn’t want illegal immigrants to enter this country. I join him in that regard. I want strict border enforcement as much as he does and as much as the attorney general wants it.

Do we really need to separate babies from their mothers and fathers? Do we really need to torture these parents by keeping their children away from them while immigration officials sort out how to handle these individuals’ undocumented entry into the United States?

Sessions invoked the Bible when he said Romans 13 compels governments to enforce the law apparently by whatever means they deem necessary. Sessions said in Fort Wayne, Ind., according to The Associated Press: “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order,” he said. “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.”

Did the Almighty compel the separation of children — some of them infants — from their parents? I think that’s open to serious discussion.

The administration has other responsibilities, too, according to Cardinal DiNardo, who said: “Our government has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma,” DiNardo said in a statement.

Reprehensible.

Is Trump issuing pardons on a whim?

My delight at the commutation of a life sentence for a non-violent drug crime is tempered somewhat by what I sense is the manner in which Donald J. Trump made his decision.

Alice Marie Johnson had served 21 years of a life sentence. Then the president intervened. He commuted her sentence. Johnson was able to go home to her family. She learned that “everyone has a phone” these days and plans to purchase a cellphone.

But … how did the president reach this decision?

He listened, apparently, to the pleas of a reality TV star, Kim Kardashian West. I guess she was appealing to Trump — reality TV celebrity to reality TV celebrity.

Did the president seek a legal analysis of the case from the Justice Department? Did he consult with legal counsel? Did he base his decision on a careful study of the merits of the case?

It doesn’t appear to be the case regarding any of it. That’s particularly true as it regards the DOJ, given that he has spent a lot of energy and Twitter rage of late savaging the “leadership” of the Justice Department and the attorney general, Jeff Sessions.

He is said to be considering pardons for two “Celebrity Apprentice” contestants who appeared on the TV show Trump hosted before running for president: businesswoman Martha Stewart and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Is this a perk he is deploying for his pals? His political allies? Those who speak well of him — and about him?

I understand the presidential power inherent in this pardoning process. However, I get this nagging sense that Trump is cheapening it by the seemingly capricious nature of the pardons he has issued to date.

My “favorite” pardon involved former Maricopa County (Ariz.) Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who had been sentenced to a prison term for disobeying a court order to stop profiling Hispanics he suspected of being illegal immigrants. That was nothing more than a disgraceful payback for the political support Arpaio threw at Trump when he was running for president.

Trump looks to be abusing the authority the Constitution grants him.

The president decided correctly regarding Alice Johnson. My concern is that he reached that decision out of favoritism rather than the law.

Bannon offers spot-on comment on Sessions’s recusal

As a general rule I am not inclined to offer praise for a former Donald Trump policy adviser who has been portrayed as the Grim Reaper on “Saturday Night Live.”

However, Stephen Bannon has offered a spot-on analysis of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from anything relating to the Russia meddling matter in the 2016 presidential election.

Bannon said Sessions made precisely the correct call in backing out. He added that former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani also would have made the same decision had they been put in that position.

Why? They all had direct involvement in the president’s campaign and, thus, could not possibly be trusted to conduct a thorough, fair and unbiased investigation into Russian meddling in the campaign. The question of the moment is whether the president obstructed justice by firing FBI Director James Comey and whether his campaign “colluded” with Russian operatives who had dug up dirt on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Yet, Trump has been trashing Sessions for making that decision. He has said repeatedly he regrets selecting him as attorney general. Trump has disparaged the leadership at the Justice Department and the FBI.

The president doesn’t understand the complexities of conflict of interest. Sessions got it when he backed out of the Russia matter. Accordingly, Bannon — someone who hasn’t generally served the nation well — happens to be totally correct in his assessment that Trump is wrong to condemn the AG for acting properly.

I do have to chuckle when Bannon keeps insisting that he still admires and respects the president, saying he cherishes his relationship with him. He offers that caveat while reminding him publicly that he doesn’t understand why he is so damn wrong when he ridicules the attorney general.

AG might seek a new job

If I were U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions — and I am so glad I am not — I would be looking for a new job.

As in right now. Immediately if not sooner. But I am not altogether certain a new attorney general would serve the public interest as it regards an ongoing investigation into the president’s 2016 campaign.

The president of the United States, Donald John Trump, has tweeted once again that he regrets picking the former Republican senator from Alabama to be the nation’s top law enforcement officer.

Why is that? Oh, it’s just Sessions decided to do the right thing by recusing himself from any Justice Department investigation into the Russia matter and the Russians’ meddling in our 2016 presidential election.

I am no fan of the AG, but on this matter he made precisely the correct decision. He had served on Trump’s political team; he was central to the president-elect’s transition to the presidency. Had he remained involved in the Russia matter, he would have been in charge of investigating himself. How does the attorney general do such a thing without compromising¬† a sensitive and complex investigation? He cannot. That’s why he bailed on the Russia probe and turned it over to his deputy AG, Rod Rosenstein.

Donald Trump, though, keeps yapping that he should have picked someone else to lead the DOJ, had he known Sessions was going to recuse himself.

Sessions might be inclined to want out. But there’s this thing involving the integrity of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Would a new AG be as faithful to the appearance of conflict of interest that Sessions was when he recused himself?

Hey, maybe Jeff Sessions ought to wait for Trump to fire him.

Then he can watch along with the rest of us as the crap hits the fan.

Where’s the outrage from the right?

Let’s flash back for just a moment.

In 2016, former President Bill Clinton encountered Attorney General Loretta Lynch on an airport tarmac. Clinton boarded Lynch’s airplane and supposedly talked about this and that, grandkids and assorted family matters. Clinton said they didn’t discuss anything pertaining to the e-mail matter; Lynch confirmed Clinton’s account of the encounter.

The Justice Department at the time was investigating the ex-president’s wife and her use of a personal e-mail server while she was secretary of state. Oh, yes! Hillary Rodham Clinton also was running for president.

The right wing became unglued. Clinton sought to influence an on-going investigation, Republican operatives howled.

Should the ex-president have boarded the AG’s plane? No. The optics of it looked bad and President Clinton should have known better.

But then …

Just this week, a Republican politician, Donald J. Trump, “demanded” that DOJ investigate and investigation into Russian meddling in our 2016 election. He has leveled an accusation that the FBI spied on his campaign for “political purposes.”

So, the question is this: Where is the outrage over a sitting president interfering in an active Department of Justice investigation?

Trump’s demand seeks to undermine the DOJ, the FBI and the probe being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in our electoral process.

No outrage? No calls for yet another probe?

Weird.

Trump makes an audacious ‘demand’

Presidents of the United States have plenty of power. The man who holds the office at the moment, Donald Trump, has wielded it yet again.

He “demanded” that the Department of Justice launch an investigation into whether the FBI planted a snitch inside the 2016 presidential campaign for “political purposes.”

What has gotten tongues wagging is that presidents don’t normally make such demands of DOJ officials who are in the midst of ongoing investigations. They might request it. They don’t demand anything.

I don’t think we should be all that surprised that the president has tossed yet another office tradition into the crapper. He told us he would be an unconventional president. Yep, he’s fulfilled that campaign “promise” … in spades.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the Russia investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller, responded the right way. He has assigned the inspector general to conduct the probe into whether the FBI did what Trump has alleged.

Again, to no one’s surprise, Trump has suggested that someone within the Obama administration told the FBI to infiltrate the GOP candidate’s presidential campaign.

This “demand” matter, though, continues to cause angst among those who worry about the integrity and the independence of the DOJ and the FBI from presidential politics.

The investigation that Trump has ordered will seek to ascertain the motive behind any directive that was issued by the FBI. Indeed, the law enforcement agency is empowered to solicit information from confidential sources. When the FBI gets word, therefore, of Russian interference in our presidential election, isn’t it proper for the agency to get to the bottom of it all?

The president has ordered an investigation into an investigation.

That isn’t normal by any stretch. Donald Trump has exercised the power he possesses legally. What’s legal, though, isn’t always right.

Why the lengthy delay on leveling this charge?

Maybe it’s just me, but a question has popped into my noggin that I want to ask out loud.

If Donald J. Trump suspected in real time that the Barack Obama administration was spying on his 2016 presidential campaign, why didn’t he blow the whistle while he was campaigning for the presidency?

He didn’t. He waited until just the other day to allege that the FBI launched a surveillance on his campaign for “political purposes.”

Do I believe what the president has alleged? Umm. No. I don’t.

He has done this before. He has leveled accusations with zero evidence to back up what he has alleged.

He has said: President Obama ordered wiretaps on the Trump offices in New York; millions of illegal immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016; he had proof that Barack Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii, as he has said.

Fake news, anyone? Anyone?

Trump had better be able to produce the goods on this surveillance accusation. If not, well, then we have yet another serious problem pertaining to the president’s credibility that, to my estimation, is mortally wounded as it is.

DOJ starts journey down a slippery slope

Donald J. Trump has leveled an extraordinarily serious allegation against the FBI: that the law enforcement agency spied on his presidential campaign for “political purposes.”

An investigation into that charge has commenced. The Department of Justice’s inspector general is taking the lead.

I am heartened to some degree that the IG is conducting this probe. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from anything related to the Russia matter, given his own bias as a campaign operative and the role he played in helping formulate the future president’s foreign policy.

The decision to bring in the IG fell to Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, who appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to lead the probe into the Russia matter.

This battle between the president and the FBI has been unprecedented at many levels already. That the president of the United States would condemn the FBI in such harsh terms, let alone doing the same thing to the Justice Department, is unheard of. Some observers have suggested the president’s strategy to discredit the FBI, DOJ and Mueller may be paying dividends for him in the eyes of the public.

I, as one American voter, find Trump’s strategy to be offensive in the extreme. That’s just me, though. You already know how I feel about Trump and his unfitness for the job to which he was elected.

He’s called Mueller’s probe the “worst witch hunt” in U.S. history, apparently ignoring the fact that in the 17th century, women were actually killed because some colonists thought they were, um, witches.

With all the leaks that have permeated this investigation, it’s fascinating in the extreme that Mueller’s team of legal eagles has been hermetically sealed against such leakage. He has remained silent, preferring to go about the task to which he was assigned: to find the truth about Trump’s election-year relationship — if any existed — with Russian goons who meddled in our election.

I want the inspector general to conclude his own probe in fairly short order. My hope is that he he can root out all the facts and make a reasoned, dispassionate finding on what Trump has proclaimed so hysterically.

However, the slope is mighty slippery. Watch your step, Mr. Inspector General.