Tag Archives: FBI

Hoping these Bannon reports are true

Oh, how I hope reports that have surfaced about Stephen Bannon are true, that he’ll be shown the door at the White House, the one leading away from the “real dump” where the president now lives and works.

A Bannon exit actually would verify that White House chief of staff John Kelly is the kick-a** Marine everyone says he is and that he cannot work with someone who (a) holds extreme right-wing views, (b) has the ear of the president of the United States and (c) is wholly unqualified to be the “senior strategist” for Donald John Trump Sr.

I have made no secret of my loathing of Bannon, the former Breitbart News executive whose publication has — and continues to do — published blatantly racist and anti-Semitic commentary on public policy. Bannon is the darling of the “nationalist wing” of the base that continues to cling, albeit in declining numbers, to its support of the president.

Bannon reportedly also has been feuding with another Trump grownup, national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who happens to be an active-duty Army lieutenant general; he, too, has been known to kick some back sides in his day.

The president is on vacation in New Jersey. He’ll be returning soon to the place he calls “a real dump.”

The changes that might await him are substantial, thanks to the work of Kelly, the retired Marine general. The potential changes likely won’t erase the immediate past — the “Russia thing” and questions about whether the president sought to obstruct justice in that ongoing FBI and special counsel investigation.

If only Gen. Kelly can control the president’s Twitter fingers. We’ll still have to see how that plays out.

Trump unites Congress, if not the nation

Donald John Trump has promised all along that he would be a unifier, that his election as president would bring the country together “bigly.”

I want to underscore some of the limited success that Trump has achieved in keeping that promise. He has managed to unite members of Congress, who represent 330 million Americans.

They are united against the president’s boorish and bristling behavior. Members of Congress — senators and members of the House of Representatives — have united against the president as he rails against two key public officials: the attorney general and the special counsel assigned the task of examining “the Russia thing.”

It fascinates me greatly that we hear Republicans and Democrats on the same side as Trump chastises AG Jeff Sessions for being “weak” and for recusing himself from the Russia investigation. Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has predicted that “there will be hell to pay” if the president fires Sessions from his job. And, yes, even some Democrats who voted against Sessions’s confirmation are arguing that the AG did the right thing in recusing himself from the Russia probe.

How else have lawmakers locked arms?

They don’t want the president to get rid of special counsel Robert Mueller, a man of impeccable integrity and honesty.

Mueller has assembled a crack team of legal eagles to pursue questions about whether the Trump campaign had an improper relationship with Russian government hackers who meddled in our electoral process. He’s now getting ready to put a grand jury to work to hear evidence about potential collusion and covering up by the president and/or his campaign team.

Trump has called it all a “hoax” and a “witch hunt.” Democrats and Republicans alike on Capitol Hill say Mueller’s mission is neither of those things. They are demanding that Trump stop rattling Mueller’s cage with implied threats of dismissal.

Indeed, the Sessions and Mueller stories are intertwined. If the president were to move Sessions out of his job at Justice, he could find another AG who would replace Mueller.

Were that to happen, I feel safe in predicting that the crap will hit the fan.

Ah yes, such unity is a sight to behold.

Grand jury portends intensifying of probe?

Am I able to make a presumption without sounding presumptuous?

I’ll give it a shot.

Robert Mueller, the special counsel assigned to examine Russian meddling in our 2016 election, reportedly has just impaneled a grand jury to begin hearing evidence and, more than likely, call witnesses to tell the panel what they know about this matter.

Here’s my presumption: I am going to presume that Mueller’s investigation is gaining some speed and that the former FBI director just might be smelling some blood in the water around Donald J. Trump and his presidential campaign team.

Recall for a moment another grand jury that a special counsel impaneled. I refer to the panel called into duty at the behest of Kenneth Starr, who was ostensibly examining a real estate transaction involving Bill and Hillary Clinton. Then he stumbled onto something quite unexpected: a relationship that President Clinton was having with a young White House intern. He summoned the president to testify before the grand jury, which asked him about that relationship. The president didn’t tell the truth.

Bingo! Impeachment followed.

Is the past going to be a prologue for what might await the current president?

As the Wall Street Journal reports: “Grand juries are powerful investigative tools that allow prosecutors to subpoena documents, put witnesses under oath and seek indictments, if there is evidence of a crime. Legal experts said that the decision by Mr. Mueller to impanel a grand jury suggests he believes he will need to subpoena records and take testimony from witnesses.”

I believe it also suggests that Mueller might expand his probe into areas other than precisely the Russian meddling and the allegations of collusion between the Russians and the Trump presidential campaign. There might be a subpoena or two coming that deals with, say, Trump’s tax returns and assorted business connections involving Trump’s business interests and Russian government officials.

Here’s another presumption: This story is still building.

Trump going to war with his ‘friends’

Donald J. Trump’s latest Twitter tirade takes aim at a most fascinating target: his fellow Republicans.

The president is now threatening reprisals against GOP members of Congress who fail to rise to his defense against growing questions about whether he broke the law while winning the presidency.

I guess I’m slow on the uptake. I am having difficulty imagining what in the world Trump hopes to accomplish by issuing these threats.

Some of his fellow Republicans are questioning the circumstances surrounding the president’s relationships with Russians who — according to U.S. intelligence experts — sought to meddle in our 2016 election.

“It’s very sad that Republicans, even some that were carried over the line on my back, do very little to protect their President,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The president is going to need these folks. All of them, it seems. Yet he keeps pounding away at those upon he must depend.

Congressional Democrats are long gone. They aren’t going to stand up for a single Trump initiative, nor will they give him a break on the Russia investigation taking shape within the special counsel’s office and on congressional committees.

Trump also wrote: “As the phony Russian Witch Hunt continues, two groups are laughing at this excuse for a lost election taking hold, Democrats and Russians!”

This message has a ring of truth to it. Yes, Democrats are laughing as Trump and the Republicans keep tripping over themselves and each other while trying to fend off the criticism.

And what about the Russians? You’re damn right they’re laughing. They have accomplished their prime objectives, according to U.S. intelligence analysts: Their preferred candidate won the 2016 election and they also have managed to cast serious doubt on the integrity of the U.S. electoral system.

POTUS doth protest too much?

Donald J. Trump has declared war on Robert Mueller.

Why? To what end? The president is seeking to discredit the special counsel’s credibility as he continues an investigation into whether Trump’s presidential campaign had any inappropriate dealings with Russian government officials.

The president himself called it “the Russia thing.” He fired FBI Director James Comey because of the FBI’s probe into Russian hacking of the 2016 presidential election.

Then came the Justice Department’s hiring of Mueller — also a former FBI director — as special counsel.

Trump is having none of it.

Here’s my fundamental question: If the president has nothing to hide, then why doesn’t he just step aside and let the special counsel look far and wide … only to come up empty?

But, no-o-o-o-o. Donald Trump is turning the hounds loose to look for conflicts of interest. He’s seeking to discredit Mueller — who’s reputation as a proverbial Boy Scout is impeccable.

The way I am viewing this, the more Trump objects to Mueller continuing his probe the more he acts like something who wants to keep something out of the special counsel’s hands.

What do you suppose that might be?

Keep Mueller on the job.

In hindsight, Don Jr., try this approach

Hindsight provides such clarity.

What we cannot foresee looking ahead appears like magic in our rearview mirror. Isn’t that right, Donald J. Trump Jr.?

Don Jr. told Sean Hannity that if he could do things differently when he got that email from a Russian lawyer he likely would take a different path.

He got the email from a lawyer saying that the Russian government had some dirt on Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was running for president of the United States against Donald J. Trump Sr. Don’s brother in law, Jared Kushner and Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort got the email, too. The subject line mentioned “Clinton-Russia: personal and confidential.”

Alarm bells anyone? Apparently not.

Trump got the email, then went to the meeting. He responded “I love it” when he learned that the Russians might have some bad stuff on Clinton.

How might he have handled it? Here’s a suggestion for Don Jr.

He should have called the FBI immediately to inform the agency that a hostile foreign government was offering to help his father win a presidential election. Yeah, he should have ratted out the Russians, who were trying to meddle in our electoral process; they had attacked our sovereignty.

He didn’t do that. Don Jr. has acknowledged that he accepted the invitation with the hope it would prove productive, that it would provide damning information on Hillary Clinton courtesy of the Russian government.

Is it a rookie mistake committed by someone with zero public service experience? Probably yes, but oh, man, it has some serious consequences.

If only he had seen as clearly then as he says he is seeing in hindsight.

Now for the big question, young Donald Jr.: Did you tell your equally inexperienced Dad about this meeting prior to its occurrence?

Moment of ‘truth’ on alleged WH tapes on tap

Donald J. Trump could have prevented a lot of the hubbub surrounding his presidency. He chose to keep it roiling.

The president is now supposed to tell the nation Thursday whether he actually recorded conversations he had with former FBI director James Comey.

Few people close to the matter believe that Trump recorded them, yet he managed to tweet something right after he fired Comey that the former FBI boss had “better hope” there are no tapes.

Come clean, Mr. President.

The president once again has demonstrated the behavior of a juvenile delinquent. He and his White House staff have refused to answer the question: Did the president record conversations with Comey? Rather than answer the question, the president has played coy in a stupid and childish game of political chicken. So have his press spokespeople.

Suppose on Thursday that the president declares he was just kidding. He didn’t intend to threaten the release of tape recordings. He was trying to run a bluff on Comey and the media.

Will that end this discussion? Will it put to rest the idiotic notion that this guy disseminates public policy via social media? I doubt it seriously.

I suppose it’s fair to wonder whether the president’s penchant for social media petulance will ever enable him to win the trust of Americans and our nation’s allies. If he puts to rest the ridiculous report of audio recordings, then how can we believe anything that this guy says going forward?

Then again, if he has tapes stashed away, we’re talking about a serious game-changer.

I’m going to stick with the notion that Donald Trump will seek to wiggle away from that moronic tweet.

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?

Let’s end the debate over whether Russians hacked us

Here’s a thought to ponder going ahead: Let’s all just stop arguing over whether the Russians — government agents or “patriots” — hacked into the U.S. electoral system while seeking to influence the 2016 election outcome.

Let us now settle on the fundamental question: Did the Donald John Trump presidential campaign commit treason by colluding with the Russians?

Former FBI Director James Comey had much of the nation enthralled for two hours today as he testified before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee. He confirmed what 17 intelligence agencies have determined already: The Russians sought to influence the election. Russian President Vladimir Putin — one of the more untrustworthy individuals on the planet — said that Russian “patriots” might have been responsible for the deed.

Now we get to the Main Event. The Seventh Game. The Bottom of the Ninth Inning.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has been handed a huge mound of information to digest from his former colleague, Comey.

The president had said Wednesday when word of Comey’s testimony leaked out that he felt “vindicated” by what he heard. After today, I’m betting real American money the president feels a whole lot less vindicated.

No one can know with any degree of certainty whether Mueller is going to produce evidence of criminality on the part of the campaign or the president himself.

Comey’s dismissal as FBI director, as he was investigating the Trump campaign-Russia allegations, was shocking all by itself. Then came the crap storm of motives, reversals, changes in story and contradictions — from the president himself.

And in the midst of all this, Donald J. Trump — of all people — called Comey a “grandstander” and a “showboat.”

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/06/08/james-comey-robert-mueller-trump-case-file-239319

Kettle, met pot.

I do not believe a grandstanding showboat appeared today before he Senate panel. I believe the nation saw a meticulous lawyer and administrator who defended the agency he led from unfounded attacks by the president of the United States.

James Comey, moreover, has handed Robert Mueller a full arsenal of ammunition to use as he continues his arduous task of determining whether there was collusion with an foreign adversary to undermine our nation’s electoral process.

More chaos in looking for FBI boss? No-o-o-o!

What? Do you mean to say that Donald Trump’s search for a new FBI director has become an exercise in chaos and confusion?

Why, I simply cannot believe it.

Actually, of course I can. And I do believe it.

The president likely didn’t have a hiring plan ready to execute when he canned FBI Director James Comey a few weeks ago. Indeed, the director reportedly didn’t even know he was getting fired until he heard something on TV while he was preparing to meet with FBI agents in California. And then, he thought it was a prank, a joke. Well, it damn sure wasn’t a joke.

Now The Hill reports that Trump’s selection and vetting process is turning into another kind of joke.

http://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/336171-trump-fbi-director-interviews-chaotic-report

The Hill and other media have reported that several candidates have dropped out of the running to replace Comey. Meanwhile, the president’s team reportedly is scrambling to find someone to fill the post much in the manner it is fighting to fill so many other senior positions within the administration.

Indeed, it appears that jobs once thought to be career builders for aspiring public servants now have been seen as career enders.

It well might be that the post of FBI director has joined that dubious roster of government jobs that no one wants.

Indeed, given the chaos throughout the Trump administration we’ve seen to date, who can blame any top-notch law enforcement professional or legal eagle for their reluctance at stepping onto that political minefield?