Tag Archives: FBI probe

Now it’s the grand jury system under attack

Grand juries do an important task within the criminal justice system.

They hear evidence from prosecutors and then decide whether a criminal complaint merits an indictment, which is a formal accusation of a crime that needs to be decided by the courts.

Now, though, the grand jury “system” has come under attack as it relates to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the Donald Trump campaigned had an improper relationship with Russian government hackers seeking to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

Who are the attackers? I’ve heard it come from right-wing talking heads on conservative media outlets. For example, Sean Hannity of Fox News said the grand jury that Mueller has impaneled is inherently biased against Trump. Hannity echoes the president’s description of Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt.”

Fascinating, yes? Sure it is. These are the same fools who called for grand jury investigations into Hillary Rodham Clinton’s missing e-mails. This is the “lock her up!” crowd that didn’t give a damn about any presumption of innocence and wanted a grand jury to find a reason to imprison the former U.S. senator, secretary of state and 2016 Democratic Party presidential nominee.

These individuals make me want to puke.

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I now want to say a few words about the grand jury system.

It’s not perfect, but it works. Indeed, I have some intimate knowledge of the Texas grand jury system. I served on a grand jury for three months here in Randall County. I was asked to serve by a jury commissioner who was picked by 181st District Judge John Board; the jury commissioner, a friend of mine, was tasked with finding qualified individuals to serve on a grand jury.

I eventually was seated on the grand jury and we met in Canyon each week. We heard complaints brought to us by law enforcement. It was an educational process to be sure. Did we indict every criminal suspect named in a complaint? Hardly.

We would hear from prosecutors who would explain the circumstances surrounding the complaint. We would ask questions of them, talk among ourselves and then decide whether to issue an indictment. It was clean, simple and most importantly, it was done honestly and in good faith.

Granted, the stakes involved in our list of hearings fall far, far, far short of what awaits the grand jury that will consider the assorted Donald J. Trump matters that Robert Mueller will bring forward.

It angers me in the extreme, though, to hear partisan, talking-head hacks disparage for political purposes a segment of our criminal justice system that can — and does — bring great value to the delivering of justice.

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.

Obstruction of justice, anyone? Anyone?

James Comey believes that Donald J. Trump has obstructed justice.

That is the conclusion of a legal analyst who’s been following “the Russia thing” as closely as anyone in the United States of America.

Comey is the former FBI director whom the president fired because, according to Jeffrey Toobin, Comey declined to pledge complete loyalty to the president. Comey’s agency was conducting an investigation into whether Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russian government officials who are believed to have hacked into our nation’s electoral process.

Toobin’s article appeared in The New Yorker. He lays out what Comey would tell the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Here’s The New Yorker article.

I encourage you to read it.

So many questions to be asked. So many answers yet to be found.

Something tells me the roughest part of the ride awaits the president and his embattled team.

New House chairman says ‘no’ to Russia probe

U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy isn’t going to join the hunt for the truth into the “Russia thing.”

You might not believe this, but this news doesn’t upset me.

Why, you ask? Well, Gowdy — the new chairman of the panel — says he is going to let special counsel Robert Mueller lead the probe. What’s more, Gowdy’s committee is only one of several congressional panels charged with looking at this matter. The others are the Senate Intelligence and House Intelligence committees, and Senate and House Judiciary committees. They appear to be on the hunt.

So, it’s fair to suggest: Who needs the House Oversight and Government Reform panel to do the same job?

The “Russia thing” deals with the Trump presidential campaign’s alleged relationship with the Russian government. Russian goons hacked into the 2016 presidential election and they have generated considerable congressional interest.

Gowdy will have a role to play anyway. He serves on the House Intelligence and Judiciary panels. He won’t remain silent.

Still, his decision to forgo any hearings is at odds with what his predecessor as chairman, former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, wanted to do. Chaffetz wanted the panel to be more active in the probe.

I am not discouraged that we’re going to root out the issues related to this matter.

You go, special counsel Robert Mueller!

No tapes, just intimidation?

What are we to surmise from Donald John Trump’s admission that he didn’t record conversations with former FBI Director James Comey?

Here is what I want to draw from it.

It is that the president tried to bully and intimidate the former FBI boss who he fired over the “Russia thing,” meaning the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged connection with Russian government hackers.

The bigger question is whether the intimidation constitutes an obstruction of justice by the president of the United States. Special counsel .Robert Mueller is looking into it; he’s hiring a team of lawyers to assist him in this probe.

Trump’s initial tweet about whether Comey should “hope” no tapes exist tells us plenty about the president’s state of, um, mind. The tweet certainly implied there might be some recording. Now the president has admitted that he didn’t do it, but left open the possibility that a third party recorded the conversation.

Oh … please!

The president is a bully, a phony, a bluffer and a serial liar.

None of it constitutes grounds for removal from office by itself. It does make me wonder, yet again, how this guy got elected president in the first place.

No WH tapes? Well, who knew?

Donald J. Trump campaigned for president claiming he wasn’t a “politician.” However, he’s developed the art of the standard politician’s dodge.

He implies something, then takes it back and then suggests someone else might be responsible for what he referred to in the first place.

The president today tweeted a statement that said he did not tape any conversations with former FBI Director James Comey just prior to firing him. That settles it, yes?

I guess so.

Except that now he suggests that a third party might have taped conversations he and Comey allegedly had about whether the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign over that infamous “Russia thing.”

This past month, Trump tweeted something that stated Comey “had better hope” no one had recorded the meetings. The implication seemed clear: Trump might have done so himself. Today he said he didn’t.

Then he added this morsel via Twitter: “With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are ‘tapes’ or recordings of my conversations with James Comey,” he tweeted.

Good ever-lovin’ grief, man. He is the president of the United States of America. He has at his disposal every possible resource to know with absolute certainty who could have done such a thing within the confines of the White House, if not the bleeping Oval Office itself.

This clown continues to play games with the system and, most of all, with the people he purports to represent as their president.

Read The Hill’s report of the president’s disclosure here.

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.

Yes, Newt … the president can ‘obstruct justice’

I am beginning to think Newt Gingrich no longer should be taken seriously.

He’s the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives; at one time he was second in line to be president, right behind the vice president.

Gingrich once voted to impeach President Bill Clinton for, among other things, obstruction of justice. So what does this clown say now? The president cannot commit such a crime because — are you ready? — he’s the president!

The current president, of course, is Donald J. Trump.

Gingrich is an ally of Trump. He has spoken favorably of the president. I get that. However, his remarks to the National Press Club make no sense. He didn’t cite a federal statute that prohibits a criminal indictment against the president. He said that the office protects its occupant from an obstruction of justice charge.

But … didn’t it protect President Clinton? Didn’t it do the same for President Nixon when the U.S. House Judiciary Committee approved articles of impeachment against him for, um, obstruction of justice?

Newt needs a reminder of history. Indeed, he was part of an event that involved a president who he once accused of obstructing justice. If he continues to ignore history and spout the nonsense he keeps spouting about Donald Trump, then he is talking himself out of any relevance to the current political discourse.

No ‘fishing expeditions’? Sure thing, Sen. Cruz

Ted Cruz doesn’t want special counsel Robert Mueller to go on a “fishing expedition” in his search for answers relating to Donald J. Trump’s relationship with Russian government officials.

I now shall remind the junior U.S. Republican senator from Texas about another fishing expedition that once suited GOP members of Congress just fine. It involved Kenneth Starr’s probe into an Arkansas real estate matter; they called it Whitewater.

Starr, the special counsel appointed to look into that deal, then went on a fishing expedition of his own. He wandered far afield and then discovered that President Bill Clinton was involved in a tawdry relationship with a young White House intern.

A federal grand jury summoned the president to talk about that relationship. The president didn’t tell the panel the truth.

Boom! Congressional Republicans then had their grounds for impeaching the president. The House did it. The Senate then acquitted him.

So, you see? Fishing expeditions can turn into something consequential.

Mueller is a pro and deserves latitude in his search for the truth.

I just find it laughable that Cruz would issue a warning against Mueller, a former FBI director and a man fairly universally respected as a thorough and meticulous investigator. Indeed, Cruz called Mueller a “good and honorable man.”

One can imagine if a Democratic president faced the kind of scrutiny that is being leveled against Donald Trump. What do you suppose the Cruz Missile would say then?

I get how political consideration — and leanings — are driving the analyses of the Mueller investigation.

My own take on Robert Mueller’s probe is that if he uncovers something that is, um, illegal, he is bound by his oath to pursue it to the very end.

POTUS under investigation for obstruction of justice, after all

If you doubted whether James Comey’s testimony in front of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee got anyone’s attention, a report in the Washington Post has provided your answer.

The Post has reported that Donald John Trump, the 45th president of the United States, is under investigation for “possible obstruction of justice.”

Who is doing the investigating? That would be special counsel Robert Mueller, appointed to his job by Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Why the deputy AG? Because the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, recused himself from anything to do with the Russia matter that is swirling all around the president.

This is getting a bit, um, testy … don’t you think?

Trump fired Comey because of what he called “the Russia thing,” and after Comey reportedly told Trump that the president wasn’t personally under investigation by the FBI. At issue, in case you don’t know, is whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian hackers who sought to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential campaign.

We will need to hold on with both hands as this probe continues.

Mueller has enormous authority to proceed with this probe. There will be many traps to run, many leads to pursue, many tips to ferret out.

Many of us are wondering: Did the president ask Comey to shut down his probe of former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s relationship with Russian officials? And did that request constitute an obstruction of justice?

I should note, too, that Mueller also is a former FBI director, so the man has some serious investigative chops.

In the midst of all this are reports circulating that Trump considered firing Mueller, but was talked out of it by senior White House staffers.

Oh … brother. Let’s all hang on.