Tag Archives: Jeff Sessions

Mueller is a pro and he is doing his job well

Robert S. Mueller III doesn’t need a chump blogger such as me out here in the middle of Donald Trump Country to defend him.

I will do so anyway.

The president of the United States and his allies have squawked themselves hoarse — in a manner of speaking — while denigrating the work that Mueller has done in pursuing the truth related to “The Russia Thing.”

Trump calls Mueller’s probe a “witch hunt,” he calls it “rigged,” and asserts that Mueller has found zero evidence of “collusion” between the Trump 2016 presidential campaign and Russian operatives who attacked our electoral system.

I am forced to wonder aloud: How does someone pile up 37 indictments and guilty pleas while conducting a “witch hunt”?

Back when then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe, deputy AG Rod Rosenstein selected Mueller — a former FBI director and a crack prosecutor — to lead the investigation. Mueller’s appointment was greeted in the moment by partisans on both sides of the aisle with universal acclaim. Politicians called it an inspired choice and were delighted that Mueller accepted the challenge of getting to the root of the Russia matter.

Then he began sniffing out Donald Trump’s closest aides and campaign advisers. Suddenly Mueller’s name became mud in the eyes of Republicans. Donald Trump has been relentless in his haranguing of Mueller via Twitter.

I continue to believe that this decorated Vietnam War combat veteran, a former U.S. Marine, is the man who partisans hailed when the Justice Department named him special prosecutor.

Having said that, do I want this probe to end soon? Yes! I do! I want Mueller to wrap it up. However, I want him to finish his task without interference from the DOJ, or from William Barr, who’s been nominated by Trump to be the next AG to succeed Jeff Sessions. I have faith that Barr will honor his pledge to let Mueller finish his task under his own power and on his own terms.

I’ll just make one request — yet again — of the special counsel: Release as much as he possibly can of what he finds to the public. We are spending a lot of public money on this probe and the public deserves the chance to see if this money is worth the investment we have made in the pursuit of the truth.

Barr faces different Congress in a different era

William Pelham Barr surely knows that he is stepping onto political terrain that is a universe apart from where he once ventured.

President George H.W. Bush nominated him to be attorney general in 1991 and he sailed through confirmation, being approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee and by the full Senate.

Another president, named Donald Trump, has selected him for the top justice job once again. Will he sail effortlessly to confirmation? Nope. It won’t happen.

This is a different time. We have a different type of man in the Oval Office. The climate in Washington is far more toxic than it was when the AG-designate strode upon the national scene back in the old days.

The government is partially shut down. Questions are swirling all around the president. The previous attorney general, Jeff Sessions, got fired because he acted ethically by recusing himself from an investigation into a circumstance in which he was a principal player; he then incurred the president’s wrath for standing up for the rule of law and for DOJ ethics policies.

William Barr is facing tough questioning from Senate committee Democrats. He is handling himself well and I happen to believe he should be confirmed as attorney general, largely because he is now on record as committing himself to ensuring that a key investigation into Trump’s campaign is completed fully and without political pressure or interference.

Yes, there is plenty to concern Americans. I would prefer that Barr commit to letting the public view special counsel Robert Mueller’s report when he issues it. However, he has stated that Mueller — whom he has known for 30 years — is not engaging in a “witch hunt” and has expressed confidence in the integrity of his probe.

And . . . he has told senators that he won’t allow the president to bully him the way he did Jeff Sessions.

This confirmation process is going to be a lot tougher for William Barr than it was the first time. It’s merely a symptom of the era into which we entered upon the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States.

Hoping new AG lets Mueller finish his task

I have hope that U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham has some deep inside knowledge that he’s now sharing with us.

The South Carolina Republican says that Attorney General-designate William Barr is going to let special counsel Robert Mueller finish the job he began more than a year ago. His task is to determine whether the allegations of “collusion” between the Donald Trump presidential campaign and Russian operatives who attacked our electoral system are true; he also is examining allegations of obstruction of justice, of conspiracy and perhaps all kinds of matters related to the 2016 election and beyond.

Trump selected Barr to succeed Jeff Sessions as AG, whom the president fired because he had the gall to recuse himself from the Russia probe. Sessions had the good sense to recognize potential conflicts of interest, given his role in the campaign and in the transition. He couldn’t investigate himself, so he handed it off to Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, who then appointed Mueller as special counsel.

Mueller is getting down to brass tacks, or so we are being led to believe. He has extended the term of a grand jury another six months. Mueller reportedly will finish his probe in late February or in March.

He needs to conclude this investigation on his own terms, under his own power and without interference from the new AG, or the White House or the president himself.

Rosenstein reportedly is going to leave DOJ after Barr gets confirmed. Barr will testify next week before the Senate Judiciary Committee. I am quite sure senators will ask him directly whether he intends to let Mueller do his job. Sen. Graham says he will.

Don’t tease us, Sen. Graham.

William Barr next as AG? Here’s the big question . . .

William Barr, who served as U.S. attorney general during the final two years of the George H.W. Bush administration, is returning to lead the Justice Department. Donald J. Trump has said he will nominate Barr to succeed Matthew Whitaker, the acting AG.

Here, though, is the question I would ask him if I had the authority to ask it of the AG-designate: Will you commit to allowing special counsel Robert Mueller complete his investigation into whether the president’s campaign team colluded with Russians who attacked our electoral system in 2016?

The president has said repeatedly that former Attorney General Jeff Sessions should never have recused himself from the Russia probe, that he should have revealed he would do so before Trump nominated him. Trump saw Sessions’ recusal as a “betrayal” of the president, not understanding that the attorney general swears to uphold the law and does not swear to be loyal to the president. Sessions’ recusal was the deal breaker for Trump.

Meanwhile, Mueller has proceeded at full throttle. He has scored indictments, guilty pleas and is zeroing in on other key players in this investigation.

Barr needs to commit to allowing Mueller to conclude his investigation, which now has gone on for well more than a year.

Mueller is not the partisan hack that Trump accuses him of being. He is a former FBI director and a man of impeccable integrity. He needs to finish the job he has begun.

The next AG, and I’ll assume it will be William Barr, needs to let the special counsel complete his work, file his final report and then let the future take its course.

It is my fervent hope that Republican and Democratic senators who will question the AG nominee are on the same page as well.

Senate GOP to Trump: Find a new AG … quickly!

It seems that the Senate Republican caucus — which heretofore in the era of Donald Trump had been a routinely spineless group — apparently has stiffened its backbone a bit.

This is good news … if the stiffening continues.

GOP senators are urging the president to find a permanent attorney general nominee in short order. They apparently are unhappy with the controversy that has erupted over the president’s choice of Matthew Whitaker to be acting AG after Jeff Sessions got fired a week ago.

Whitaker was elevated from the No. 3 post at the Justice Department, hurdling over the No. 2 man, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, who’s heading special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government operatives.

There’s a problem, however. Whitaker hasn’t been approved by the Senate; what’s more, he’s been openly critical of the Mueller probe, calling it a “witch hunt” and a “fishing expedition.”

Senators seem intent on ensuring that Mueller is allowed to complete his task. They don’t place much stock in Whitaker’s promise to ensure the completion of the Russia investigation by Mueller.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, is among the leaders pushing for a quick AG nomination. He doesn’t believe Whitaker should be the acting attorney general for very long.

I happen to concur with all of that. I also am heartened by the seeming newfound courage being exhibited by a few Senate Republicans. Granted, they aren’t likely to lock arms with their Democratic “friends” and colleagues in the Senate, but they just might be moving closer to their friends across the aisle than they were before.

Matthew Whitaker shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the Mueller investigation. If he had any sense of propriety, he would recuse himself from the Mueller matter … even if it angers the president, just as Sessions did when he bowed out of the Russia probe.

Graham: New AG ‘comfortable’ with Russia probe

Lindsey “The Lap Dog” Graham, a South Carolina Republican U.S. senator who once dared to challenge Donald Trump’s competence and moral standing, now says the president’s new attorney general is comfortable with an investigation under way into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian operatives in 2016.

OK, then. How in the world are we supposed to believe that.

Acting AG Matthew Whitaker is on record calling special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation a “witch hunt” and a “fraud.” Trump appointed him as acting attorney general after firing Jeff Sessions solely because Sessions recused himself from the Russia matter.

Now the senator wants us to believe (a) that Whitaker is OK with Mueller’s probe and (b) the president won’t order Whitaker to give Mueller the axe.

I don’t believe the first thing. The second matter, whether Trump will commit a supremely foolish act, is anyone’s guess. No one can predict what the president will do, not even Sen. Graham.

Whitaker’s appointment to lead the Justice Department fills me with dread. I fear the president will move to coerce Whitaker into forcing Mueller out. I also fear that Whitaker will do the president’s bidding. The result of all this will produce the mother of constitutional crises; believe me when I say that I do not want that to happen.

Moreover, given Sen. Graham’s dramatic change of heart regarding the president, I am disinclined to believe anything he says as well. Back when he was running against Trump for the GOP presidential nomination, he spoke candidly about Trump’s credentials for the nation’s top job — or, more to the point, the absence of credentials.

Then Trump vanquished him. He got elected president. Now the senator has been slobbering all over Trump’s shoes, seeking to please him, possibly because he wants to become attorney general.

Is the senator to be believed now? I don’t think so.

Meanwhile, the Russia drama continues to play out.

I’ll just implore the powers that be — one more time! — to let Robert Mueller do his job. Let him finish his work.

Just why did POTUS fire the AG?

It’s fair to ask this question regarding former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions: Was he doing a bad enough job as the nation’s top lawyer to be fired for cause?

I keep coming back to this answer: No.

Donald Trump fired Sessions for one reason only. He fired him because the AG recused himself from the Russia investigation. The attorney general had no choice but to step away. He could not possibly ever in a million years take charge of an investigation in which he was a key participant in the matter being investigated.

Sessions was a key adviser to the Trump presidential campaign. He made contact with Russians who were, um, interested in the outcome of the election. The law required him to hand the probe over to someone else. That’s what Sessions did.

The AG’s recusal enraged the president. Sessions doomed his tenure at the Justice Department the moment he stepped away.

Trump wanted Sessions to plow straight ahead and seemingly wanted him to push aside the questions that arose from the Trump presidential campaign’s dealings with Russian operatives who attacked our electoral system in 2016. That the attorney general couldn’t — or wouldn’t — do the president’s bidding simply was more than the president could tolerate.

The only public criticism Trump leveled against Sessions dealt with his recusal and his failure to tell the president he could not deal specifically with the Russia matter.

It’s interesting in the extreme that the president didn’t criticize DOJ’s performance under Sessions’s command. He didn’t lament any perceived disobeying of public policy. Sessions, you’ll recall, announced to the country that the Trump administration was implementing a policy that took children from their parents as they crossed the border into our country illegally. And didn’t he cite Scripture as his basis for doing so?

There will be plenty to say about the appointment of Matthew Whitaker, Trump’s choice to become acting AG.

But for now I am left to wonder out loud what others have asked already: How in the world does the president justify his firing of Jeff Sessions other than to express anger that the ex-AG was being true to the law?

That is no basis for terminating a U.S. attorney general.

Goodbye, AG Sessions … and, yes, good riddance

I feel the need to set the record straight about former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

I have spent some time commenting positively about on this blog for his decision to recuse himself from the Russia probe into the Donald Trump presidential campaign. He faced a clear conflict of interest when he took the job as AG because of his campaign role as a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump.

He was involved at some level with the Russians who made contact with the campaign. There were questions about an investigation. Sessions had to recuse himself because of the conflict of interest.

I applauded him for that singular act.

However, he shouldn’t have been selected AG in the first place. The man “earned” the nomination because he was the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump’s candidacy.

Prior to his becoming a senator, though, Sessions took on a serious blot on his public service record.

He served as a U.S. attorney in Alabama. President Reagan nominated him in 1986 to a federal judgeship. Then questions surfaced about Sessions’s comments regarding the Ku Klux Klan. Witnesses testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Sessions reportedly had given KKK members a pass until he learned that they “smoked pot.” Four Justice Department lawyers testified they heard Sessions make racist remarks.

The committee eventually voted 10-8 against his nomination. It went to the full Senate for a vote and senators rejected Sessions for the federal bench.

What did he do then? He ran for the Senate in 1996 — and won! He served in the Senate for 20 years until Trump tapped him to lead the Justice Department. He didn’t stand out during his Senate years. Sessions, though, did manage to get embraced by Trump.

Am I glad he’s gone from the Justice Department? Yes and no. I am unhappy that his resignation now clears the decks for Trump to nominate someone who endorses his view about Mueller’s investigation.

Overall, though, I won’t shed a tear that he’s gone. His pre-Senate history was a deal breaker from the get-go.

Trump doesn’t ‘know’ the guy who’ll lead DOJ?

Let me see if I have this straight.

Donald John Trump fired the attorney general, Jeff Sessions. He had a No. 2 guy at the Justice Department who under normal circumstances would be elevated into the top job on an interim basis.

But the president went to the No. 3 guy, Matthew Whitaker.

Then the president tells the nation that he doesn’t “know Matt Whitaker.” That’s right. The president of the United States, who has the authority to name the nation’s top law enforcement officer — our top legal eagle — doesn’t “know” the individual who’ll get the job?

He expects us to believe that? He wants to believe the idiotic lie that the president doesn’t know the individual who’ll call the shots at the Justice Department?

I’ll back up for just a moment. The No. 2 legal eagle at Justice happens to be Rod Rosenstein, who selected special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate the Trump campaign’s allegedly improper dealings with Russian agents who attacked our electoral process in 2016. Trump clearly felt he couldn’t pick the deputy AG because, well, he would allow Mueller’s probe to continue without interference.

So that’s why he went with Whitaker, the guy the president now declares he doesn’t “know,” which is a direct contradiction of what he said earlier about his relationship with the new acting attorney general.

Who in the world does Trump think he’s talking to? We aren’t a nation of rubes who cannot connect the dots. Believe me, there ain’t many dots to connect here as it regards the president and the man he wants to lead the Department of Justice.

I am left to wonder once again, with emphasis and more than a hint of hostility: How does this man continue to win the support of his craven followers?

The president is a pathological liar.

He said, he said … to himself

Donald J. Trump is on record telling “Fox & Friends” that he knows Matthew Whitaker, the nation’s newest acting attorney general.

Then the president contradicted himself by telling us he doesn’t know Whitaker. He made the latter statement after appointing him acting AG upon the president’s firing of Jeff Sessions as the nation’s top lawyer.

So, which is it? Does he know Whitaker or doesn’t he?

I’ll take a guess.

Trump knows Whitaker. He knows that the acting AG is no fan of Robert Mueller’s probe into “the Russia thing.”

Thus, the president lied to Americans about not knowing the acting attorney general.

Imagine that.