Tag Archives: Jeff Sessions

Sessions vs. Dowd over ‘obstruction of justice’?

Donald Trump’s lawyer, John Dowd, says the president “cannot obstruct justice” because the law exempts him from doing so.

Dowd said: The “president cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer … and has every right to express his view of any case.”

Are you clear on that? Me, neither.

Oh, but now we have this tidbit regarding the attorney general of the United States, Jeff Sessions. Nearly two decades ago, when President Bill Clinton was being tried in the U.S. Senate after the House impeached him, Sessions — then a Republican senator from Alabama — said this while making the case to remove the president from office:

“The facts are disturbing and compelling on the president’s intent to obstruct justice.”

There’s more.

“The chief law officer of the land, whose oath of office calls on him to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, crossed the line and failed to defend the law, and, in fact, attacked the law and the rights of a fellow citizen.”

Dadgum, man! Who’s right? The president’s personal lawyer or the attorney general?

Dowd is reaching way beyond his — and the president’s — grasp, in my view, in contending that Trump is immune from the obstruction of justice complaint, were it to come from the special counsel probing the Russian interference in our 2016 presidential election.

I disagree with what Sessions said in 1999 about President Clinton, but his statements on the record during that trial put him squarely at odds with what Trump’s personal lawyer is trying to peddle today. If an earlier president can be charged with obstruction of justice, then surely so can the current president face such a charge if one comes forward from the special counsel’s office.

This all begs the question from yours truly: What kind of legal mumbo jumbo is Trump’s lawyer trying to peddle?

Trump employs an endless array of weird political tactics

How many ways can Donald John Trump Sr. defy political convention? They seem to come from an endless array of opportunities.

The president ventured to Alabama today. He did something highly unusual. He has endorsed a Republican Party primary candidate who’s running against another Republican. Oh, let me mention that Trump, too, is a Republican. He’s taking sides in an intraparty primary fight for the U.S. Senate.

Right there is a weird example.

U.S. Sen. Luther Strange was appointed to the Senate seat when Jeff Sessions became attorney general. He’s running for election in a GOP runoff against Roy Moore, the former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice who was removed twice from the bench because of misconduct.

But guess what: Moore is favored to win over Strange, who won the endorsement of the president of the United States. The runoff is set for next Tuesday.

Moore favored to win.

Moore is a seriously strange piece of … um, work. He was scolded by Alabama judicial conduct officials for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from public property. Then he told county clerks it was all right to refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2015 that legalized gay marriage in all 50 states.

Moore also is a “birther,” who continues to promote the defamatory allegation that Barack Obama was born abroad and was not constitutionally qualified to serve as president.

But … this guy is likely to be elected to the U.S. Senate from Alabama!

Will it hurt Trump? Will the president suffer serious political wounds? Oh … probably not. You see, the guy is bullet-proof in the eyes of his political base. He says things that infuriate many others. Not the base! They continue to admire the guy. Trump, um, tells it like it is.

I am shaking my head. Not so much these days in disgust. Instead, it is in utter amazement.

OK, Congress, it’s your turn to fix DACA

So, now we’re left to hope that Congress — the outfit that couldn’t come up with a plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act — is supposed to find a legislative answer for undocumented immigrants who came here as children.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Differed Action for Children Arrivals is being rescinded in six months. Congress has a chance, then, to enact a law that gives DACA residents a fighting chance at avoiding deportation to countries they didn’t know. Why is that? Because they have lived their lives as Americans. They came here as children when their parents sneaked into the country.

Donald J. Trump now wants to punish those individuals for the sins of their parents.

Sessions said today that President Obama’s executive order establishing the DACA program is “unconstitutional.”

Read Sessions remarks here.

If that’s the case — and it’s debatable, of course — then Congress has the chance to make it right for those who have lived as de facto Americans. Their “home country” is the United States of America.

Will Congress deliver the goods in six months? Lawmakers’ track record pretty much stinks to high heaven. They had seven years to come up with a suitable replacement for the ACA. Trump got elected president as a Republican, giving the GOP complete control of the legislative and executive government branches. They choked, failed, sputtered, face-planted on ACA repeal and replacement.

Oh, and the president failed miserably, too. Let’s not forget that he’s the GOP’s leader now.

We have about 800,000 U.S. residents facing potential deportation to places they do not know. The president once again has played solely to his political base. The rest of us be damned!

Get to work, Congress.

DOJ shoots down another Trump lie

I cannot shake this feeling that Donald J. Trump is furious at the Department of Justice.

He selected the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, perhaps believing the AG and his team would pledge fealty to the president of the United States.

So, what does DOJ do? It files a court brief that says it can find no evidence that former President Barack Obama ordered a wiretap on Trump’s campaign office at Trump Tower in late 2016.

Do you know what that means? It means Trump’s defamatory lie was exposed for what it was — by members of the president’s own Justice Department team!

Man, the boss must be spittin’ mad, right?

Well, maybe not.

Trump keeps yapping about becoming more “presidential.” He’s going in the opposite direction. I do have one suggestion for the Man at the Top to ponder if he’s ever going to turn that “more presidential” corner: own up to your lying, prevaricating ways.

I’m not suggesting he needs to say “I’m a liar.” He can acknowledge in more fanciful language that he has been known to pop off without thinking, which is about the most charitable thing I can suggest about the wiretap lie.

It’s just that when the president’s handpicked attorney general’s Department of Justice has exposed this accusation as the lie most of us know it to be, then — to paraphrase former Vice President Joe Biden — that’s kind of a big … deal.

It requires an out-of-the-ordinary response … at least for this president it would be totally unexpected.

I will keep breathing normally, though, given we all know this president is incapable of admitting to doing a single thing wrong.

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.

POTUS turns AG into sympathetic character

Donald John Trump has done the seemingly impossible: He has managed to turn U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions into a sympathetic character.

The president has launched into another disgraceful Twitter tirade against the AG, chastising him for refusing to prosecute Hillary Rodham Clinton and for recusing himself from “the Russia thing” that hangs like a summer storm cloud over the Trump administration.

Trump continues to bash Sessions, apparently seeking his resignation so he can appoint someone to his bidding, which apparently includes sweeping the Russia probe away and prosecuting the candidate he defeated in the 2016 presidential election.

Sessions couldn’t possibly lead an unbiased investigation into the Russia matter, which involves questions into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian government goons in seeking to meddle in our electoral process. Sessions — Trump’s first declared supporter in the U.S. Senate — was a key player in the president’s campaign and his transition. Moreover, there remain questions about Sessions’s own Russia involvement.

Sessions is — or was — too close to the president.

As for prosecuting Hillary Clinton, the FBI found nothing on which to mount a “credible” prosecution; nor did congressional investigative committees; and nor did the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and former campaign chief Paul Manafort on the promise she had dirt on Hillary.

We are left now with the spectacle of the president of the United States shaming his AG and seeking to punish his former political opponent.

Which president has done such a thing? I can think of one: the current occupant of the nation’s highest office … the guy who continues to disgrace that office every single day.

Giuliani is right: AG Sessions made the correct call

Hell must have frozen over … even in this oppressive heat!

How else does one explain that Rudolph Giuliani has spoken words of wisdom about U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions?

Giuliani said Sessions made the correct call when he decided to recuse himself from anything to do with the Russia controversy surrounding the Trump administration. I happen to agree that, yes, the AG did the right thing. He is too close to the president and could not possibly be considered an unbiased investigator into this matter of whether the Russians sought to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

It’s entirely possible that Sessions is on his way out. Donald J. Trump might replace him. Giuliani sought to tamp down reports that he would succeed Sessions at Justice by endorsing his decision to recuse himself.

The president has done a masterful job of undercutting his top cop. It’s not that I consider Sessions all that trustworthy. It’s merely that Trump has yet again trampled all over one of his top Cabinet officials. He tweeted over the weekend that the “beleaguered” Sessions should be investigating Hillary Rodham Clinton. Good grief! Sessions is beleaguered because of the president himself! Trump told the New York Times he wouldn’t have selected Sessions if he knew that the AG would recuse himself from “the Russia thing.”

Trump goes after AG

As for the man formerly known as America’s Mayor, Giuliani, he wouldn’t be any better, other than he’s now on record as endorsing Sessions’s decision to bow out of the Russia matter.

And, yes, the chaos continues. Let’s all stay tuned.

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.

They’re stepping into the arena

I once wrote a blog post about a bumper sticker I spotted in Amarillo that told of someone being afraid of “the government.”

This individual seemed to imply that his government represents someone other than himself … or herself. That’s not true, of course. Our government belongs to us.

I encouraged this individual to seek public office at the earliest possible moment.

Here’s what I wrote in 2009:

I have seen the ‘enemy …’

I’m happy to report that two friends of mine have done precisely that. I’ve written about one of them already: Greg Sagan is going to run as a Democrat for the 13th Congressional District right here in the Texas Panhandle against Republican incumbent Mac Thornberry.

Today, I want to offer a brief word of praise for another friend. He’s also a Democrat who once taught journalism at West Texas A&M University. He moved about a year ago back to his native Alabama.

Butler Cain is another Democrat who now is going to run for the 5th Congressional District in Alabama, where the incumbent is Republican Mo Brooks, who is rumored to be considering a campaign for the U.S. Senate seat that was vacated when Jeff Sessions became attorney general in the Donald J. Trump administration.

Cain’s rationale for seeking this House seat follows the advice I gave to that unknown bumper sticker owner. He said on social media that he had grown tired of bitching about government, so he has decided to climb into the ring and start tossing — and receiving — those rhetorical haymakers.

He took a job as a journalism department head at the University of North Alabama. I’m not altogether clear what his political campaign will do to his standing at the school. My hope for Cain is that he’ll get to continue influencing young journalists in the making.

We have folks who continually gripe about this and/or that public policy decision. I guess I’m one of them.

Then you have those who decide that the time for bitching about it is over. They decide to make a tangible difference in the political system that angers many millions of us.

I salute them.

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.