Tag Archives: FBI

How on Earth does this POTUS do the right thing?

U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe’s decision to pull out of the director of national intelligence job puts Donald John Trump squarely in the middle of a quandary he seems to have no interest in solving.

Trump selected the toadie Ratcliffe — a Northeast Texas congressman — to succeed Dan Coats as DNI, only to face a storm of criticism over Ratcliffe’s partisan leanings and allegations that he embellished his resume. Trump blamed the media for doing their job in “vetting” this individual.

Ratcliffe is out. Coats will be gone Aug. 15. Who will fill the vital job as head of the nation’s intelligence network? How in the world does this president do the right thing and find someone who (a) is willing to work for Donald Trump and (b) would provide Trump with the critical analysis of the existential security threats to the nation.

More to the point, how does Trump resist the impulse to rely on those who tell him what he wants to hear and ignores what he needs to hear?

Coats and other intelligence chiefs said the same thing: Russia attacked our election in 2016. Trump has dismissed them. Indeed, just this week he said former special counsel Robert Mueller — who said yet again that the Russians posed a serious threat to our electoral system — didn’t know what he was talking about.

The heads of the CIA, FBI, National Security Agency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff all have said the same thing: The Russians attacked us.

Coats spoke “truth to power.” Ratcliffe spoke quite the opposite.

What in the world is Donald Trump going to do to fill this job? He needs critical thinking. He needs to hear the truth. He needs to be told where the threats exist and he needs to consider strategies to protect our system against further assaults from Russia and perhaps other hostile powers.

Who in the world is willing to provide what the president of the United States won’t accept?

‘Must-see TV’ on tap soon

A major broadcast television network used to hype its programming as “must-see TV.”

I believe Americans interested in the fate and future of our republic will be getting set for their own version of must-see TV. That will be when former special counsel Robert Mueller III swears next Wednesday to tell the truth before two U.S. House of Representatives committees.

He will make an opening statement and then he’ll be asked questions from members of the House Judiciary Committee and then the House Intelligence Committee.

The nation has waited for a long time to hear from the special counsel — who also used to run the FBI — about what he learned during his 22-month investigation into whether Donald Trump colluded with Russians who attacked our 2016 election. It also wants to know about whether the president of the United States obstructed justice, sought to block efforts to get to the truth of what happened.

This ought to be pretty compelling TV for those of us interested in such things. I happen to be one of them.

I want direct questions from the committee members. I do not want to hear speeches. They need to cede the floor to Mueller to the extent they can. They need to let this man tell us what he concluded and how he made those conclusions. Nor do I want Republican committee members to turn the proceeding into a sideshow, which they well could be inclined to do as they seek to discredit a man known to be a longtime public servant of impeccable personal and professional integrity.

I happen to be interested in a couple of areas of inquiry.

  • Did the special counsel’s statement that had there been no evidence of wrong doing he would have said so imply that there was wrong doing? To what extent was there wrong doing on anyone’s part, and that includes the president?
  •  If Donald Trump were not the president of the United States, would the special counsel have indicted him on charges that he obstructed justice?

Mueller has said his 448-page report should stand as his testimony. It could be an exercise in futility if he doesn’t offer much beyond what he has written.

I remain hopeful that we’re going to get a whole lot more light shed on this sordid and seedy endeavor.

Take it away, Mr. Special Counsel.

DNI Dan Coats on his way out? That, too, is a shame

Donald Trump reportedly is preparing to rid his administration of yet another seasoned political professional, someone with experience, knowledge and credibility in the job he is doing on our behalf.

That would be Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, one of the remaining adults working within the Trump administration.

I understand the president hasn’t gotten over the way Coats reacted to the surprise announcement that Trump was going to meet with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin in 2018. Coats was being interviewed by a network TV reporter when he got the news via Twitter that the president and Putin would meet.

“Isn’t that special?” Coats told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell.

Trump is seeking a DNI successor

Trump is supposedly conducting informal interviews with individuals who might succeed Coats as DNI, which I guess means that Trump has spilled the proverbial beans regarding Coats’ future.

I hate to see this happening. Dan Coats has done a credible and competent job as DNI, seeking to bring some semblance of order and discipline to the nation’s intelligence-gathering network. He has stood with other intelligence executives to declare, for instance, that the Russians indeed did attack our electoral system in 2016, a declaration that the president continues to dismiss.

The CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff all have said the same thing: The Russians did it! Trump’s response? He has sided with Putin, who told him he didn’t do it.

I don’t want Dan Coats to leave his post. He is a solid public servant with many years of service behind him. Donald Trump needs more — not fewer — men and women of Coats’ caliber around him.

Of course, none of that matters to the man with the self-described “big brain.”

Another shooting, another gunman taken out

My day proceeded quietly in Collin County. I was unaware of the mayhem that erupted this morning south of us along U.S. 75 in downtown Dallas.

A gunman was killed by federal officers after he opened fire at the Earle Cabell Federal Building. He was 22 years of age. He had dropped out of the Dallas Independent School District in 2012.

This loon was reportedly dressed in “tactical gear” and he opened fire with some sort of assault weapon on the building from outdoors. He engaged federal officers in a fire fight.

They killed him.

One person was injured in the brief shooting. I understand the victim’s injuries are superficial.

What do we make of this? Well, I’ll start simply by saluting the federal officers who responded as the trained professionals they are. They are dedicated to protecting the public and, boy howdy, they did it today!

I’m sure there will be much more to report on the lunatic shooter.

The FBI special agent in charge, Matthew DeSarno, said the shooter had five 40-round magazines on him when he opened fire. I’ll wait for the confusion to give way to some rational discussion.

For now, though, I just want to salute the dedication of the feds who answered the call to duty. Thank you.

Stand firm, FBI director Wray

I want to declare right here and right now my strong desire for FBI director Christopher Wray to stay where he is, in charge of the world’s premier law enforcement/investigative agency.

You see, Wray has just been undermined by the man who appointed him to his office, the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.

Trump told ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos that he would accept information about a political foe presented to him by a foreign power, even a hostile foreign power, such as, oh, Russia.

Director Wray, though, has said specifically and categorically that any political candidate whose campaign receives such information must turn it over the FBI.

Trump said when reminded of Wray’s view by Stephanopoulos that “The FBI director is wrong.”

There you have it. The president once again is refusing directly to back the wisdom cited by the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Do not go anywhere, Christopher Wray.

Yes, it likely will be a trying time for Wray as the 2020 presidential election gets into full swing. The Russians attacked our electoral system in 2016. Wray’s predecessor as FBI director, James Comey, began looking deeply into “The Russia Thing” and got fired by the president.

The FBI needs a strong leader. Christopher Wray appears to be a grownup and a law enforcement and legal pro. I realize that an ethical professional would find it trying, indeed, to work in a government administration led by someone without an scintilla of ethical understanding.

I just want to beseech Christopher Wray. The nation needs this man. Badly.

AG proving to be a major disappointment

Oh, how I wanted William Barr to be the right remedy for a Justice Department under siege from the president of the United States.

The attorney general took office after a contentious confirmation hearing. It is the AG’s second tour of duty at DOJ. He’s an experienced hand and reportedly a fine lawyer with a steel-trap legal mind.

He has been a disappointment to me. Yes, I am a fervent critic of the guy who nominated William Barr to lead the Justice Department. Donald Trump had savaged Barr’s predecessor as attorney general. Why? Because Jeff Sessions did the right thing by recusing himself from the Russia probe.

Barr stepped in and has — according to his critics — acted more like Trump’s lawyer than the nation’s top law enforcement official.

Now we hear from former FBI director James Comey, another damn good lawyer, who has weighed in with scorching criticism of Barr.

Comey said Barr is “echoing conspiracy theories” about the origins of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s exhaustive investigation into alleged collusion with the Russians. Barr, according to Comey, needs to present facts along with his assertions. “This is what Justice is about,” Comey said via Twitter.

Barr also has been critical of Mueller for declining to conclude whether Donald Trump obstructed justice. But … why? Mueller reiterated this week what he wrote in his lengthy report that he couldn’t indict Trump because of Justice Department policy that prohibits charging a president with a crime. So, he said his team couldn’t exonerate Trump, which to my way of thinking is the same thing as saying that the president committed a crime. That sounds as though Mueller drew a conclusion.

I truly wanted William Barr to step up, to steady the DOJ ship and guide the Justice Department into carrying its role as an impartial administrator of justice.

That doesn’t appear to be happening. Thus, the chaos continues in a federal agency that demands calm, firm and steady leadership.

Stand tall, Christopher Wray

FBI director Christopher Wray now finds himself in Donald Trump’s sights.

This is the fellow the president appointed to lead the FBI after firing his immediate predecessor, James Comey. Now it’s Director Wray who is receiving criticism from the president of the United States.

Why is that? Oh, let’s see. He declines to use the word “spying” when describing how the FBI conducts “intelligence-gathering” operations. Trump likes to use the words “spy” and “spying” when describing what he alleges occurred during the final months of the Obama administration, which he said involved illegal “spying” on the Trump presidential campaign.

Wray also has declined to endorse the idiocy promoted by Trump that suggests that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged “collusion” and “obstruction of justice” was an attempted “coup” by the FBI to “overthrow the president.”

No one has sought to launch a “coup” against Donald Trump. No one has sought to “overthrow” the president. That’s never happened. It won’t ever happen. We have this document called the U.S. Constitution that serves as a bulwark for this representative democracy that governs us.

Wray also has declared that Russia continues to interfere in our electoral process, just as it did during the 2016 presidential campaign. He smacks Trump squarely in the proverbial puss when he says what Trump continues to deny has occurred: that the Russians are supremely bad actors intent on sowing discord within this nation.

Christopher Wray is a seasoned professional. He runs the nation’s top law enforcement agency. He — just like Comey and Mueller, two former FBI directors — also possesses a first-class legal mind.

Donald Trump once again is attacking the agency led by someone he selected. He said over the weekend in yet another Twitter tidal wave that the FBI “has no leadership.”

Actually, the FBI does have competent leaders at the top of its chain of command. The lack of “leadership” exists inside the White House.

Russia, not the media, is the ‘enemy of people’

I already have stated my regret at dismissing Mitt Romney’s assertion in 2012 that Russia was this nation’s “No. 1 geopolitical foe.” He was right; those of us who criticized him were wrong.

Moreover, I also have stated — and restated countless times — my belief that Donald Trump should accept that reality and start treating the Russian government as the “enemy” it is.

I’m going to do so yet again. It likely won’t be the final time, either.

FBI Director Christopher Wray, in a talk before the Council on Foreign Relations this past week, said the Russians are working 24/7/365 at trying to undermine our electoral system. They did it in 2016, he said, and again in 2018. They are hard at work setting the table for what he called “the big show,” which would be the 2020 presidential election.

Where is the president on all of this? He’s nowhere, man.

Instead, he is attacking the media, Democrats, special counsel Robert Mueller, climate change advocates, abortion-rights activists. Political foes are fair game.

Russian President Vladimir Putin remains somehow protected from the same level of outrage that Trump levels at his domestic opponents. Why in the world is that the case?

Perhaps that is the question that the 2020 campaign will flesh out over time.

Trump stood before the media in Helsinki and trashed his intelligence and counterterrorism experts and accepted Putin’s denial that the Russians interfered in our election. He has continued to denigrate the intelligence community and continued to go soft on Putin, who — I hasten to add — is a former Soviet spy master.

Donald Trump is unloading his barrages on the wrong targets. The media aren’t the “enemy of the people.” Nor are Democrats. The FBI comprises professional law enforcement and legal professionals dedicated to protecting this nation from its enemies.

One of those enemies happens to function inside the Kremlin. That enemy is seeking to continue the work it started upon the 2016 Republican presidential candidate’s invitation to look for Hillary Clinton’s “missing e-mails.” That candidate, of course, was Donald John Trump.

The candidate-turned-president must cease his attacks on the media and focus them instead on the real No. 1 enemy of this nation and its citizens.

Russia still poses existential threat

Even though Donald Trump and his grifter son-in-law, Jared Kushner, continue to downplay the threat Russia poses to our electoral system, FBI director Christopher Wray is telling us something profoundly different.

I choose to heed the words of Christopher Wray.

Wray calls the Russian threat a “365-days-a-year threat. And that has absolutely continued.”

Yes, the Russians hacked into our electoral system in 2016. They sowed discord among American voters. They spread “opposition research” material designed to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy.

The Russians are the baddest of a whole cast of bad actors.

Donald Trump just can’t bring himself to say it out loud. Neither can Kushner, who recently said that Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged “collusion” posed a greater threat to our democratic system than “a couple of Facebook ads.”

Memo to Kushner: Shut your mouth. And to Trump? Start defending our Constitution, which you pledged to do when you took the presidential oath.

The FBI director is among the cadre of national intelligence and counterterrorism experts who have confirmed what all of us know: The Russians are chiefly responsible for the cyber attack on our system. Mueller said so, too, in his voluminous report on collusion and obstruction of justice.

It simply amazes me that Donald Trump could appoint such a serious grownup to be FBI boss after firing another adult, James Comey. I’m glad he did give Christopher Wray this platform. What’s more, I am delighted to hear the FBI boss use that platform to speak the truth about what he believes happened in the 2016 presidential election, the 2018 midterm election and what likely will occur when we go to the polls again in 2020.

If only the commander in chief would pay attention.

‘No obstruction’? Not true, Mr. President

Robert Mueller’s report on “collusion” and “obstruction of justice” says the following: ” . . . if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment.”

Donald Trump has declared, therefore, that the special counsel has determined “there was no collusion, no obstruction” of justice.

Yep. He said that. He also is mistaken.

Attorney General William Barr, though, agrees with the president, which I suppose isn’t surprising, given that Trump nominated him to the post.

The obstruction of justice door remains wide open, based on what I understand Mueller has determined.

It is true — and I accept his findings — that he didn’t have enough evidence to proceed with a complaint against the president or his 2016 campaign team.

Although . . .

Mueller does chronicle several instances where Trump sought to remove key individuals from investigative posts. One of them happened to Mueller himself. Go figure.

Trump fired FBI director James Comey because of “the Russia thing.” Then he bragged about getting rid of him during that infamous Oval Office meeting with Russian officials. He sought to get Justice Department officials to fire Mueller; they wouldn’t do it. Then-White House counsel Don McGahn also declined to carry out the order.

So there isn’t a case that can be prosecuted under the law, Mueller states. He doesn’t exonerate the president. He doesn’t clear him of obstruction. My reading of what he concluded simply is that he didn’t have enough solid evidence to file a formal complaint.

Ahh, but he does leave the door open for Congress to act as it sees fit.

I’m going to let the president crow about the “no collusion” matter. He won that fight. Mueller and his team have concluded that Trump and his campaign did not knowingly cooperate with Russians who hacked into our electoral system and dug up dirt on Hillary Rodham Clinton.

However, the obstruction matter is alive and kicking.

It ain’t over, Mr. President. Not by a long shot!