Tag Archives: FBI

Let the special counsel finish his job

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is getting antsy about the probe being done by special counsel Robert Mueller.

McConnell wants Mueller to finish it up. Call it good now. End it. Move on to the next thing.

I believe the majority leader needs to settle down and needs to let Mueller continue his job at his pace, gathering facts and evidence with all deliberate speed.

Mueller is examining whether Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency included some “collusion” with Russians who meddled in the election outcome in 2016. This is a complicated, tedious, meticulous investigation.

McConnell says it has gone on “forever.” Actually, Mr. Leader, it’s only a little more than a year in progress.

Whitewater? Do you remember that one? The probe that looked initially at a real estate deal involving Bill and Hillary Clinton plodded along a lot longer than the Mueller investigation has gone. Did the Kentucky Republican senator call for that investigation to end?

Let’s see. Oh, I don’t believe he did.

Donald Trump’s constant yammering about a “witch hunt” has gotten to McConnell. It has spooked him beyond reason. Yes, the majority leader says he supports the Mueller probe. I appreciate McConnell’s statements of support.

However, the former FBI director (Mueller) needs time to finish a complicated investigation into questions that deal fundamentally with the integrity of our nation’s electoral system.

This stuff needs time to sort out.

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.

Why the talk about POTUS’s self-pardon?

This discussion about whether Donald Trump can pardon himself has my head spinning.

I mean, hasn’t the president declared that he did nothing wrong? That there is “no collusion” with Russians who meddled in our 2016 presidential election? That his business dealings are on the up and up? That there’s no obstruction of justice? No crimes committed?

Oh, wait!

The president’s kicked into overdrive his effort to discredit, disparage and dismiss the special counsel’s investigation into all of these questions. Robert Mueller is no hatchet man. He’s a longstanding Republican, a former FBI director, a meticulous lawyer. He’s a pro. He’s a former Marine who saw combat during the Vietnam War. His character is — if you’ll excuse the reference here — unimpeachable.

Back to my point.

This chatter about whether the president can pardon himself only heightens the possibility that Trump is indeed stupid enough to even raise the issue. He has done that and has opened up an entirely hideous line of discussion.

A pardon presumes wrongdoing. If the president is clean, why are we even having this discussion?

Or is he … actually clean?

Yes, POTUS can ‘obstruct justice’

I am not a lawyer, but you know that already.

However, I know enough about history to understand this basic truth: Presidents of the United States can “obstruct justice.” Indeed, two of them — Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon — were accused of obstructing justice. One of them got impeached partly on that accusation; the other came within a whisker of being impeached before he resigned the presidency.

Thus, I am baffled in the extreme by lawyers serving the current president who says he cannot obstruct justice because, well, he’s the president. They are saying in effect that Donald J. Trump is above the law.

I beg to differ. I offer a strenuous objection to the notion that the special counsel, Robert Mueller, cannot determine that Trump obstructed justice in the hunt for the truth behind “the Russia thing.”

I don’t quite understand the logic being offered by Trump’s legal team that suggests Mueller cannot accuse the president of obstructing justice. Trump himself has acknowledged on network television that he fired FBI Director James Comey because of “the Russia thing”; then he told Russian visitors to the Oval Office that his dismissal of Comey had relieved him of pressure from the Russia probe and whether the Russian government meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

To my way of thinking, that constitutes at the very least circumstantial evidence of obstruction, but I know that Mueller’s team doesn’t operate on circumstance; it needs hard evidence. Whether it comes up with anything actionable remains to be seen.

As the nation watches this investigation lurch toward some conclusion, many of us are conflicted about the argument being offered that the president can do anything he wants — because he is the president.

Richard Nixon famously told David Frost that very thing, that the president cannot break the law simply by virtue of his office. The U.S. House Judiciary Committee eventually saw it quite differently when it approved articles of impeachment against the president.

I am pretty sure the law hasn’t changed since the 1970s. The current president took the same oath to follow the law that all of his predecessors took. The law in my view allows for presidents to be accused of obstructing justice.

Another Trump allegation proving false?

I am not a betting man, but if I were I might be willing to wager some real American money that Donald John Trump’s allegation of spying within his 2016 presidential campaign is going to go the way of earlier allegations that flew out of his guy’s mouth.

You know … that Barack Obama wiretapped his office; that millions of undocumented immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton; that thousands of Muslims cheered the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11; that Sen. Ted Cruz’s father might have been complicit in President Kennedy’s murder; that Obama was born in Africa and not in Hawaii and, thus, was ineligible to run for president in 2008.

It’s all crap. Now the latest.

He accuses the FBI of planting a “spy” in his campaign. He says the deed was done for “political purposes.” He has produced as much actual evidence of this latest assertion as he did for all the others.

None. Zilch.

Even some congressional Republicans are backing the FBI in the face of these allegations from Trump.

The president is reaching deep into his bag of tricks to discredit the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller, who the Justice Department appointed in 2017 to look into the “Russia thing,” meaning whether Trump might have worked with Russians who meddled in our election.

The FBI has become one of Trump’s preferred bogeymen. He fired the former FBI director, James Comey, because of the Russia investigation. He is calling Comey a liar; he is disparaging the reputation of former CIA boss John Brennan, former director of national intelligence James Clapper and, yes, also Robert Mueller.

Where, though, is the evidence to back up the allegation of “spying” within his campaign? No one has seen it.

If I were inclined to place a bet on this one, my hunch is that there is no evidence to be found. Why? Because it didn’t happen.

Which brings me to the question: How in the name of political sanity does this guy, the president, get away with lying at this level?

‘Probably’ shouldn’t say Spygate? C’mon, Sen. Graham

Lindsey Graham can do better than this.

The South Carolina Republican U.S. senator says that Donald Trump “probably shouldn’t” use the term “Spygate” to level an accusation that the FBI planted someone inside his presidential campaign for political purposes.

Actually, Trump is defaming the FBI yet again by making an assertion without the hint of evidence that what he is saying is true.

Trump most clearly shouldn’t use such language to describe what the FBI might have done, which is to probe questions that arose during the 2016 campaign that Russians were meddling in our election and trying to turn the tables in Trump’s favor.

Rather than welcome an FBI investigation into that allegation, Trump has decided to declare political war against the law enforcement agency and leaders at the top of the Department of Justice.

He is seeking to discredit the special counsel’s probe. He has launched a scorched-Earth campaign against the FBI. He has introduced the term “spy” to describe the FBI’s effort to get to the bottom of the Russia meddling caper.

Graham offered radio host Hugh Hewitt a milquetoast response to the question about the Trump’s reckless language: “I don’t know. Probably not, but I don’t know,” he said. “I didn’t go to the meeting. I don’t think it’s — I don’t think he’s a spy. And I don’t know who this person was.”

Trump’s continuing campaign against the FBI is a disgrace.

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.

Why, indeed, did POTUS fire Comey?

Matthew Yglesias asks a perfectly legitimate question in his article posted online by Vox.com: Why did Donald J. Trump fire James Comey as head of the FBI?

We haven’t heard anything specific about why in May 2017 the president tweeted his decision to fire Comey, which the FBI boss heard about as he was preparing to deliver remarks in California to a group of federal agents.

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has said that Trump is under no obligation to explain himself, that he can fire anyone he wants whenever he wants for whatever reason he wants.

But as Yglesias points out in his article, Trump is no longer just a CEO of a business empire, he’s an “elected president of the United States” who is answerable — according to the U.S. Constitution he took an oath to uphold — to the people of this country.

Trump indeed is obligated to explain his actions with regard to Comey.

The Vox article points out that in its 80-plus years of existence, the FBI has had eight directors. Only one other director, William Sessions, was fired. Sessions got canned after a thorough ethics investigation into allegations of spending irregularities; he had been appointed by President George H.W. Bush, but President Clinton gave Sessions the boot when he took office in 1993. The president was clear at the time, in the moment, about why he let Sessions go.

Therefore, the current president needs to explain to the people in a voice loud enough for special counsel Robert Mueller to hear him why he decided James Comey no longer was doing the job he signed on to do. Was it the “Russia thing,” or was it something else?

If it was based on the investigation into whether Russians meddled in our 2016 election, well, then we need to hear it. Yes? Yes!

If it’s something else, then tell us what spurred the sudden dismissal, Mr. President. Millions of your bosses out here want to know.

Talk to us. Now!

POTUS’s memory fails him?

Donald J. Trump boasts among other things about his steel-trap memory. It’s the “best,” isn’t that right, Mr. President?

Well, the president put out a tweet today saying that — despite what he said on national TV a year ago — he didn’t fire FBI Director James Comey over the “Russia thing.”

Ohhh, no! His firing of Comey had to do with the Hillary Clinton email matter and the way the FBI was handling it — or so he says at this moment.

Hold on! He told NBC News’s Lester Holt a year ago that he canned Comey because of the investigation he was leading into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians who meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

And don’t you remember what Trump told Russian government visitors to the White House? He said he fired Comey because he is a “nut job” and because he wanted to take pressure off from the Russia probe.

In some circles that could be construed as an obstruction of justice. Hmm. Who knows? Maybe the special counsel appointed to examine the “Russia thing” will make that determination. Or … maybe not!

But the president’s penchant for tweeting these issues gives many of us pause to wonder: Does he know what he’s talking about?

And is the president’s memory all that he cracks it up to be?

U.S. has set a new standard for morality

Call me old-fashioned. Maybe even a bit of a prude — when we’re talking about officials who hold high public office.

Thus, when I hear the former director of the FBI declare that the president of the United States is “morally unfit” to hold the office, I nod my head in agreement.

James Comey delivered a blistering attack on Donald Trump, saying that the president’s moral character doesn’t measure up to the office he won in the 2016 election.

Comey — whom Trump fired a year ago because of what he called “the Russia thing” — cited a couple of key examples: Trump’s willingness to place “moral equivalency” between KKK’men, Nazis and white supremacists and those who protested their march in Charlottesville, Va.; and the president’s history of treating women “like meat.”

To be honest, Comey is far from the first American to declare that Trump is “morally unfit” to be president. Many millions of others of us have been said that before he ever won the election.

And that brings me to the critical point: Americans have redefined morality and have exhibited a clear and present tolerance for the kind of behavior that would have disqualified a presidential candidate.

Let’s get real for a moment, OK?

Trump admitted on that “Access Hollywood” recording how he is able to grab women by their “pu***”; he has admitted publicly cheating on his first and second wives; Trump has stated out loud how he was able to walk into beauty pageant contestants’ dressing rooms while they were half-dressed.

We hear now that Trump’s lawyer paid $130,000 to a porn queen to keep her quiet about a sexual encounter she and Trump allegedly had a year after he married Wife No. 3. The president denies the tryst occurred, but … the lawyer paid the money!

Trump has lived an existence filled with excess and moral depravity.

And yet …

He won enough Electoral College votes in November 2016 to enable him to slip into the Oval Office and take the reins of government.

This is the height — or the nadir — of political confusion.

Trump’s base, which comprises a huge chunk of the evangelical Christian movement, gives this clown a pass on his litany of debauchery and infidelity. Why? Because he promises to appoint conservatives to the federal judiciary; and those judges will rule against issues that evangelicals find repugnant: gay marriage, abortion and the prohibition on preaching Scripture lessons in public schools.

James Comey is as correct as he can possibly be in assessing Donald Trump’s moral unfitness for the presidency.

Some of us out here in Voter Land still want officials elected to high public office to represent the best in us. Donald Trump represents damn near the very worst in us.

The man is a disgrace.