Tag Archives: Jeff Sessions

Suddenly, Mueller seems a bit more vulnerable

If I were Robert Mueller, I might be sleeping a bit fitfully for an undetermined period of time.

Mueller, the special counsel appointed to examine allegations of collusion by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign with Russians seeking to influence the 2016 election, now suddenly seems a bit more vulnerable to White House trickery.

Rachel Brand, the No. 3 in command at the Department of Justice, has quit to become general counsel for Walmart. Brand had held her job at DOJ for less than a year.

This is a real big deal. Here’s why.

The president can’t stand Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from anything dealing with Russia. Sessions had worked on the Trump campaign foreign policy team and on its transition to the presidency. He was too close to the Russia matter to be an independent investigator. So, he stepped aside. It angered the president so much that he has said that had he known Sessions would recuse himself, he would have nominated someone else to become AG.

There’s that.

Now we have Rod Rosenstein, the No. 2 at DOJ. Rosenstein selected Mueller — a former FBI director and a crack lawyer himself — to be the special counsel. Mueller has assembled a first-rate team of legal eagles to investigate the “Russia thing” that caused Trump to fire James Comey as FBI director. Rosenstein has the authority to fire Mueller if directed by the president, but he has said he won’t do so “without cause.” Trump hasn’t exactly issued a vote of confidence for the job Rosenstein is doing as the second banana at Justice.

OK, now for the punch line.

Trump can select whoever he wants to succeed Brand. The new No. 3 must go through a Senate confirmation process. If the president were to dismiss Rosenstein, that means the next in command would be available to dismiss Mueller if the president issues the order.

My operative question, thus, goes like this: Is the president going to ask Rachel Brand’s potential successor if he or she is willing to fire Mueller if the order comes from the White House?

Sessions is now out of the game, more or less. Rosenstein says he won’t fire Mueller simply because the president wants him gone. That means, the way I see it, that Sessions and Rosenstein now are vulnerable to the Machiavellian whims of the guy who sits behind that big desk in the Oval Office.

Trump could axe both the AG and his chief deputy, leaving the next in line — the third in command — to do the dirty work of getting rid of Robert Mueller, which then could derail the special counsel’s work of finding the whole truth behind the collusion matter.

I believe that would smell like, oh, obstruction of justice.

POTUS takes aim at FBI, DOJ

Donald John Trump has unloaded on the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Christopher Wray runs the FBI; Jeff Sessions is attorney general of the United States.

What do these men have in common? They were nominated by the president, the same Donald John Trump who’s now disparaging their leadership of these critical law enforcement agencies.

Someone will have to explain to me how this engenders confidence in the agencies’ ability to do their job and the president’s ability to find “the best people” to run them.

Trump is likely to release a memo that condemns the FBI’s handling of the investigation into Russian meddling in our 2016 presidential election. Wray doesn’t want the memo released; he says it is incomplete and it paints an inaccurate picture of what the FBI has done to get to the truth about alleged “collusion” between the Russians and the Trump presidential campaign.

The president’s latest tweeet storm has called into the question the leadership of these agencies, while at the same time praising the “rank and file” employees.

He wrote this today: “The top Leadership and Investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department have politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans – something which would have been unthinkable just a short time ago,” the president tweeted. “Rank & File are great people!”

He’s already trashed AG Sessions for his decision to recuse himself from anything dealing with Russia. If he had known Sessions would take himself out of the probe, Trump has said, he would have picked someone else.

So help me, I cannot remember a time when the president has disrespected his own appointees in the manner that we’re witnessing at this moment.

Bizarre.

Oh, and about the special counsel …

Robert Mueller is back in the news.

While our attention was yanked away while we watched Congress and the president writhe and wriggle over immigration and funding the government, the special counsel’s office was busy interviewing players in Donald John Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

We now have learned that Mueller interviewed fired FBI director James Comey sometime this past year. Mueller’s legal team has talked to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

What’s on the special counsel’s mind? He is looking for answers to the Big Question: Did the Trump campaign collude with Russians seeking to influence the 2016 presidential election outcome?

Sessions was a key campaign adviser while serving in the U.S. Senate. Comey — as you no doubt recall — led the FBI while it looked into the e-mail use matter involving Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton; then he turned his sights on the “Russia thing,” before he was fired in May 2017 by the president.

Mueller is trying to ascertain, reportedly, whether Comey’s firing, along with the dismissal of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, was meant to obstruct justice, impede the Russia meddling probe.

Gosh, who could be next on Mueller’s call list? Oh, I know! How about the president himself?

Trump says the investigation into collusion is a big fat nothing. He calls it a witch hunt. He blames it all on Democrats, the “fake media” and other critics of him and his administration.

Here’s a thought: If the president’s phone rings and it’s Robert Mueller on the other end of the call, the president ought to agree on the spot to meet with him — if what he says about the veracity of the probe is true.

If not, well … then we have a problem. Isn’t that right, Mr. President?

Follow Canadian model on immigration? C’mon, Mr. AG!

I cannot believe the attorney general of the United States said it.

Actually, I can.

AG Jeff Sessions told Fox News’s Tucker Carlson that the United States should follow the Canadian model on immigration and restrict entry of those seeking to come here to those with demonstrable skills.

Why should the United States accept people who are “illiterate” in their own countries? Sessions asked.

Sessions has hit me where I live, so to speak.

I happen to be the product of immigrants who came here in the early 20th century from where Donald J. Trump might consider to be “sh**hole countries,” Greece and Turkey. My grandparents produced families comprising individuals who contributed a great deal to this country. My grandparents didn’t possess professional skills; they weren’t well-educated; they were humble folks whose only aim was to come to the United States of America and build a better future for themselves and the families they wanted to produce.

They were just like millions of other immigrants who built this country into the powerhouse it has become.

Thus, I resent terribly any assertion that the United States should somehow limit those who come here through some sort of “merit-based system” that allows only those with certain educational levels or can demonstrate professional skills.

Furthermore, what’s with this idea of patterning our immigration policy after another nation?

Didn’t the president campaign for office on a pledge to “put America first”? Didn’t he in effect tell the rest of the world he cared little — if anything — about how they conduct their internal policies?

The basic principle behind our immigration policy has established the greatest nation on Earth as the beacon for the rest of the world. People want to come here because of the opportunity the United States offers to those who choose to become Americans.

Get a grip, Mr. Attorney General.

A new AG is on his/her way?

Donald John Trump Sr.’ s “fine-tuned machine” has hit another pot hole.

It has opened up in the Department of Justice. The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is now getting skewered by foes on both sides of the political divide.

Democrats detest Sessions mostly for partisan reasons; now even some Republicans are turning on him. Some of them dislike his recusal from the Russian 2016 election meddling investigation, which led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller; others dislike him because he rescinded an Obama administration memo that allowed states to determine how to enforce laws governing the use of marijuana.

As The Hill reports: “When you have Republicans calling for you to step down and you’re in a Republican administration just entering your second year, that’s trouble. He’s really on borrowed time,” said Brian Darling, a Republican strategist and former Senate aide.

Donald Trump himself is angry at Sessions. Why? The recusal, that’s why. The president once said that if he’d known Sessions would have recused himself from the Russia probe he would have selected someone else.

Now we hear from the media that Trump sent White House counsel Don McGahn to the DOJ to try to talk Sessions out of recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

All of this is highly unusual. It borders on bizarre. It also speaks — yet again — the disarray that has become the hallmark of Donald Trump’s administration.

He called it a “fine-tuned machine.” It is nothing of the sort. It is a jalopy in need of a top-to-bottom overhaul.

States’ rights … or not?

While he was running for president of the United States, Donald J. Trump said that states should be left to determine the legality of smoking pot.

Now that he is the president of the United States, Trump seems to be saying something else. Or, at least he’s allowing the attorney general to say it for him. AG Jeff Sessions has repealed relaxation of federal prosecution of marijuana laws. He has sicced federal prosecutors loose on those who are accused of smoking pot illegally.

Now comes a question: Which is it, do states’ right prevail on this matter or is this a matter where federal policy overrides them?

California has just legalized the sale of “recreational marijuana,” joining several other states and the District of Columbia in this initiative.

The AG is having none of it.

But to whom does the attorney general answer? Let’s see. It’s the president. And this president is on record saying that states should be left to set marijuana-use rules and laws.

Didn’t he say that? Didn’t he mean it? Wasn’t he speaking from his gut, or his heart, or did he make it up as a throwaway line?

The order Sessions rescinded, of course, came from President Barack H. Obama’s Department of Justice. DOJ said in 2013 it wouldn’t concern itself with marijuana court fights in states where its use is legal. Sessions is taking another attitude altogether.

However, is he speaking for the department he runs or for the president of the United States — or both! If so, has the president changed his mind?

FBI doesn’t deserve bashing from POTUS

Maybe my memory is failing me. Or maybe it isn’t.

I’m having trouble remembering the last president of the United States to disparage the nation’s foremost law enforcement agency, the FBI.

Therein is where Donald J. Trump is doing things so very differently from his predecessors. He’s calling the FBI a lot of names. He alleges that morale is in the crapper; he says its leadership is in shambles; he is saying the FBI needs to be rebuilt.

Oh, and he’s calling the FBI’s role in the examination of Russian interference in our 2016 presidential election a “sham” and a “Democratic hoax.”

I’m trying to put myself in the shoes of an FBI agent. How would I like working for a government being run by a head of state and government who is so distrustful of my agency?

Trump keeps savaging FBI

If the president is going to contend that morale is so lousy, perhaps he is playing a major role in flushing it down a sewer hole.

He’s also been disparaging the attorney general, whose agency — the Justice Department — controls the FBI. Trump dislikes that AG Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia-election meddling probe, as he should have done. The president’s reaction has been to send signals that Sessions’s time as AG might be dwindling.

Of course, there’s also the issue of Trump questioning the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia did meddle in the election and that Vladimir Putin issued the order to do it. Putin told the president he didn’t meddle — and that denial from the former head of the Soviet spy agency is good enough for Donald Trump.

Strange. Very strange.

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.