Tag Archives: DOJ

Here is how to respond to violence

There’s been no shortage of outrage being expressed today over the violence that erupted in Charlottesville, Va.

It has come from across the partisan divide. Republicans and Democrats alike have spoken eloquently about their outrage at the violence perpetrated by the white supremacists who gathered there to make whatever statements they want to make. They have spoken as one.

I want to share a statement that came from U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican who’s been a target of this blog on many occasions over the years. Today, though, I want to applaud Sen. Cruz for speaking eloquently and passionately about an incident that has consumed the nation.

It’s tragic and heartbreaking to see hatred and racism once again mar our great Nation with bloodshed. Heidi’s and my prayers are with the loved ones of those killed and injured in the ongoing violence in Charlottesville. The First Amendment protects the rights of all Americans to speak their minds peaceably, but violence, brutality, and murder have no place in a civilized society.

The Nazis, the KKK, and white supremacists are repulsive and evil, and all of us have a moral obligation to speak out against the lies, bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred that they propagate. Having watched the horrifying video of the car deliberately crashing into a crowd of protesters, I urge the Department of Justice to immediately investigate and prosecute this grotesque act of domestic terrorism.

These bigots want to tear our country apart, but they will fail. America is far better than this. Our Nation was built on fundamental truths, none more central than the proposition “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”.

Well said, sir. Thank you.

Now it’s Sen. Blumenthal in the crosshairs

Donald J. Trump Sr. has pressed his foot hard on the presidential petulance pedal.

He fired off a series of tweets today attacking Democratic U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal after Blumenthal appeared on TV over the weekend to criticize the Justice Department’s emphasis on rooting out leakers.

Did the president call into question the specifics of Blumenthal’s criticism? Oh, no. He attacked Blumenthal for a lie he told about serving “in Vietnam” when in fact the senator — a Marine Corps reservist — didn’t set foot in the country during the Vietnam War.

Let’s see. That story came out during the 2010 campaign for the Connecticut U.S. Senate seat that Blumenthal was contesting. He apologized for his mischaracterization. As one who actually did set foot in Vietnam during the war, I was appalled at the time that Blumenthal would say such a thing. I chastised him heavily for it.

But that was then. It’s over.

Here is what I wrote about it at the time:

Scandal crosses partisan divide

However, since Trump did bring it up, I guess it’s OK to remind readers of this blog that young Donnie Trump didn’t exactly distinguish himself either during that period in our nation’s history.

He got a boatload of student and medical deferments to keep him away from the war. Trump did suggest during the 2016 campaign that his attendance at a military high school in New York was essentially the same thing as serving in the military. Umm. No. It’s not. Honest.

Check out Trump’s tweets here.

I read somewhere in the past few days that new White House chief of staff John Kelly might be able to bind up the president’s Twitter finger. I guess that hasn’t happened, at least not yet.

In the meantime, Donald Trump continues to demonstrate with startling effectiveness that he possesses the temperament of a child. To think this individual also has control of nuclear launch codes that could destroy the world.

POTUS turns AG into sympathetic character

Donald John Trump has done the seemingly impossible: He has managed to turn U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions into a sympathetic character.

The president has launched into another disgraceful Twitter tirade against the AG, chastising him for refusing to prosecute Hillary Rodham Clinton and for recusing himself from “the Russia thing” that hangs like a summer storm cloud over the Trump administration.

Trump continues to bash Sessions, apparently seeking his resignation so he can appoint someone to his bidding, which apparently includes sweeping the Russia probe away and prosecuting the candidate he defeated in the 2016 presidential election.

Sessions couldn’t possibly lead an unbiased investigation into the Russia matter, which involves questions into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian government goons in seeking to meddle in our electoral process. Sessions — Trump’s first declared supporter in the U.S. Senate — was a key player in the president’s campaign and his transition. Moreover, there remain questions about Sessions’s own Russia involvement.

Sessions is — or was — too close to the president.

As for prosecuting Hillary Clinton, the FBI found nothing on which to mount a “credible” prosecution; nor did congressional investigative committees; and nor did the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and former campaign chief Paul Manafort on the promise she had dirt on Hillary.

We are left now with the spectacle of the president of the United States shaming his AG and seeking to punish his former political opponent.

Which president has done such a thing? I can think of one: the current occupant of the nation’s highest office … the guy who continues to disgrace that office every single day.

Giuliani is right: AG Sessions made the correct call

Hell must have frozen over … even in this oppressive heat!

How else does one explain that Rudolph Giuliani has spoken words of wisdom about U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions?

Giuliani said Sessions made the correct call when he decided to recuse himself from anything to do with the Russia controversy surrounding the Trump administration. I happen to agree that, yes, the AG did the right thing. He is too close to the president and could not possibly be considered an unbiased investigator into this matter of whether the Russians sought to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

It’s entirely possible that Sessions is on his way out. Donald J. Trump might replace him. Giuliani sought to tamp down reports that he would succeed Sessions at Justice by endorsing his decision to recuse himself.

The president has done a masterful job of undercutting his top cop. It’s not that I consider Sessions all that trustworthy. It’s merely that Trump has yet again trampled all over one of his top Cabinet officials. He tweeted over the weekend that the “beleaguered” Sessions should be investigating Hillary Rodham Clinton. Good grief! Sessions is beleaguered because of the president himself! Trump told the New York Times he wouldn’t have selected Sessions if he knew that the AG would recuse himself from “the Russia thing.”

Trump goes after AG

As for the man formerly known as America’s Mayor, Giuliani, he wouldn’t be any better, other than he’s now on record as endorsing Sessions’s decision to bow out of the Russia matter.

And, yes, the chaos continues. Let’s all stay tuned.

Time for you to quit, Mr. Attorney General

If I read Donald Trump’s comments about Attorney General Jeff Sessions correctly, it appears the president is pretty damn angry at the man he picked to lead the Department of Justice.

It also looks as though Trump’s confidence in his AG has vanished, which suggests to me that it’s time for the attorney general to hit the road.

The president has broken sharply with one of his earliest U.S. Senate supporters, saying he never would have picked Sessions if the attorney general would recuse himself from a deepening investigation into Trump’s connections with Russian government officials. Actually, Sessions’s recusal was one of the more noble aspects of his time as AG, given that he couldn’t possibly be trusted to be impartial and unbiased as he was a key player in Trump’s transition team after the 2016 election.

Trump is showing signs of extreme anxiety as the special counsel’s investigation picks up momentum. Indeed, the president also said in an interview with the New York Times that the counsel, Robert Mueller, must stay away from the Trump family financial issues as he pursues the facts behind the so-called “Russia thing.”

As for Sessions, he can’t do his job as the nation’s top legal eagle. The man who appointed now appears to have lost faith in him because he decided to do the right thing by recusing himself. Beyond all of that, his own testimony before Senate committee members has been rife with holes and has produced seemingly more questions than answers about his own role in the Russia matter.

And so … the mystery deepens and the crisis continues.

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.

Top lawyer ‘lawyers up’; more to come, maybe?

If you’re keeping score, it’s good to know how many of Donald J. Trump’s key administration staffers have hired lawyers to represent them.

You have the president’s son-in-law and senior public policy adviser, Jared Kushner seeking outside counsel; Vice President Mike Pence has hired a lawyer to represent him and might be able to use campaign funds to pay for the counselor’s advice; today we got word that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has joined the lawyering-up club.

And oh yes, the president himself has hired a team of lawyers.

Why all this legal eagle activity? You know the reason, but I’ll mention it anyway. Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether the Trump campaign worked in cahoots with Russian hackers, who tried to influence the 2016 election outcome.

Of all the people mentioned here, I find Sessions’ decision to be most interesting. He’s the nation’s top lawyer. He runs the Department of Justice. He also has recused himself from anything to do with the Russia investigation.

Throughout all of this Russia investigation, we hear the president toss out terms like “witch hunt” and “fake news.” He doesn’t condemn the notion that Russian government goons might have sought to influence the election.

The special counsel has a lot of information to sift through. The former FBI director, James Comey, told Senate committee members that the president pressured him to back off a probe into the Russia matter. The president launches into those tweet tirades that seem to undermine his own message, not to mention his legal defense against whatever might be tossed at him.

We’re a long way from knowing the truth behind all of this.

The high-priced legal community is riding a serious gravy train, thanks to the concerns being expressed by the president of the United States and some among his senior team members.

Trump doth protest too much?

You’ve heard it said, no doubt, that someone with something to hide “doth protest too much” at the hint of questions about whatever it is he or she might be hiding.

It’s a Shakespearean statement, coming from “Hamlet.”

So it could be with Donald John Trump, who’s forgoing his “unity” pledge with another series of tweet tirades against special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian operatives to influence the 2016 presidential election.

The president detests Mueller. He wants him out, or so many have speculated. Trump just might do something seriously foolish by asking deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to remove Mueller. Or, he could do something even more foolish than that by removing Rosenstein and Mueller in one fell swoop.

Here’s my Trump question of the day: If the president is innocent of any of the allegations leveled against him, why not let Mueller do his job — after releasing every single shred of information he would ask of the president, his campaign team and his White House organization?

If he’s clean, the record will show it. Isn’t that how it works?

Don’t even consider it, Mr. President

A back-bench congressional Democrat has issued a warning to the president of the United States.

Rep. Ted Lieu says Congress will start impeachment proceedings if Donald J. Trump fired special counsel Robert Mueller and the fellow who picked him for the job, Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Message to the president? Don’t even think about it.

I’m not yet sure how Rep. Lieu knows what the House leadership would do. It’s run by members of the other party. Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan would be the key member to set impeachment proceedings into motion. I am not yet convinced Ryan has the fortitude to do the right thing if Trump were to commit what could be considered an impeachable offense.

I also have mixed feelings about an impeachment in the first place.

It’s clear to you, I am sure, that I don’t believe Trump is fit for the office to which he was elected. What would we get if Trump were impeached and then convicted in a Senate trial? Vice President Mike Pence is more of a “true conservative” than Trump. He seems competent enough, whereas Trump can’t find his backside with both hands when it comes to understanding the complexities of government.

OK, I didn’t support the Republican ticket in November 2016. I do take some solace, though, in realizing that I am a member of a majority of voters who endorsed the other major-party candidates.

But … back to my point about impeachment.

We’re a long way from even thinking about that — unless the president does something seriously foolish by firing Mueller and Rosenstein.

Turn the special counsel loose

If history is any guide, a special counsel investigation aimed at rooting out issues relating to the president of the United States and his alleged ties to Russia well could develop a life of its own.

Robert Mueller has been given the task of finding out whether Donald John Trump’s presidential campaign was complicit in Russian government efforts to swing the 2016 presidential election. He’s also going to examine possible links between a former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, to the Russians. Moreover, he has latitude to look into whether the president obstructed justice by “asking” former FBI Director James Comey to shut down a probe of Flynn’s ties to Russia.

Could there be even more to learn, beyond the official tasks given to Mueller — himself a former FBI director?

Mueller’s the man

We have some historical precedent to ponder.

Kenneth Starr once held the title of “independent prosecutor.” His duty in the 1990s was to look at a real estate venture involving President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Republican critics in Congress thought there were some shady circumstances that needed to be examined. Starr began poking around and discovered some evidence of a relationship between President Clinton and a young 20-something White House intern.

A federal grand jury summoned the president to testify. The president took an oath to tell the whole truth to the grand jury — and then he lied about his relationship.

Ah-hah! GOP House members then cobbled together an impeachment proceeding that charged the president with perjury and obstruction of justice. The House impeached the president. The Senate held its trial and he was acquitted.

Will history repeat itself? I have no clue. My guess is that special counsel Mueller doesn’t yet know where his probe will lead.

These matters do have a way of growing legs. The statute gives Mueller considerable leeway in his pursuit of the truth. The president cannot fire him; he can, though, order the Justice Department to do so. Let’s hope that Donald Trump resists that impulse. I know that’s a tall order, given the self-proclaimed joy he gets when he fires people.

But the Justice Department’s deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, has picked a serious legal heavyweight to do some seriously heavy lifting.

It’s time now for Robert Mueller to get busy. Rapidly.