Tag Archives: Jeff Sessions

Go ahead, make our day, Mr. President

Donald Trump reportedly “believes” he has the legal authority to fire special counsel Robert Mueller.

A part of me wants to caution the president against doing something so patently stupid and political suicidal. Another part of me wants him to cut his own throat politically by firing the man hired by the Department of Justice to probe “the Russia thing.”

Indeed, several key Republican lawmakers are arguing against doing it. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas says it would be “a mistake”; Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa called it “suicide”; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Mueller “should be allowed to finish his job.”

Will the president heed those words of wisdom? Does he ever listen to anyone with a semblance of common sense?

He might have the “legal authority” to act with profound stupidity. That doesn’t make it the right thing — or the smart thing — to do.

Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein because AG Jeff Sessions had recused himself over his connection to Trump’s campaign and his transition into the presidency. Mueller is supposed to determine whether the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russians who meddled in our 2016 election.

Trump calls the Mueller probe a “witch hunt.” He calls allegations “phony” and a product of “fake news.”

Good grief, Mr. President! If it’s phony, if there’s no “there” there, then let Mueller finish his job and issue a report that declares there’s nothing more to do.

Trump, though, insists on acting as if he’s got something to hide. A summary dismissal of Mueller — a former FBI director and a first-rate, meticulous lawyer — would send a signal all around the world that, yep, we’ve got a smoking gun out there … somewhere!

Wouldn’t it just stink of, oh, obstruction of justice?

As President Ronald Reagan once said — quoting another well-known Republican, Clint Eastwood — “Go ahead. Make my day.”

Is Sessions seeking to get canned?

I have to pose the question out loud: Is the attorney general of the United States trying to get himself fired by the president?

It wouldn’t seem to make sense. AG Jeff Sessions could have provoked Donald J. Trump to fire him by refusing to fire Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe just before he was to retire from the government; he fired McCabe anyway.

Then again, Sessions did recuse himself from anything to do with the Russia probe, given his previous work on the Trump presidential campaign and on its transition after the 2016 election.

Sessions’s recusal enraged the president, who has mocked, threatened and disparaged him ever since. Indeed, Sessions acted properly by recusing himself, which I consider to be a highly principled decision — something that is quite foreign to the president.

Now comes the latest move to poke Trump in the eye. Sessions has selected a Utah prosecutor to assist in the probe of allegations of abuse at the Justice Department. Political conservatives wanted him to appoint a special counsel, which is what Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein did when he selected Robert Mueller to lead the investigation into whether Russia meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

Trump is quite likely angry about Sessions’s refusal to pick a special counsel, which begs the question: What is the president going to do about it? More to the point: What would he dare do about it?

Given that Trump has virtually zero self-awareness, or sense of irony, or virtually any principles on which he relies (other than what works to his political advantage), I would put nothing past Trump.

He could fire Sessions on Easter. He could do it via Twitter, which is the way the “stable genius” handles these sensitive personnel matters.

The president and the AG have what has been called charitably a “complicated relationship.” It appears to be getting more complicated each day, or whenever the attorney general does something that suggests he works for the public — and not just for the man who appointed him.

Trump lawyer pours gas on the flame

John Dowd is not serving his client well.

Dowd, a lawyer, represents Donald John Trump. Dowd now is calling for an end to an investigation led by another lawyer, special counsel Robert Mueller, who’s looking deeply into issues involving Trump, his campaign, his transition to the presidency and the presidency itself.

Now that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has fired deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a key player in Mueller’s probe, Dowd says it’s time for Mueller to wrap up this investigation.

If I were to put myself in Mueller’s shoes I might be asking: What in the world is Dowd trying to hide? Why does he want me to end an investigation that is growing more complicated by the day, if not the hour?

Thus, in my view Dowd has done his client a disservice. Oh, but then there is this: Donald Trump wants the investigation to end as well. He’s called it a “witch hunt,” which it isn’t. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who selected Mueller after Sessions recused himself, said Mueller has done nothing wrong and that his probe should continue.

At issue, of course, is the “Russia thing,” and whether the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russians seeking to meddle in our 2016 presidential election.

The U.S. House Intelligence Committee’s Republican leadership has said there is “no collusion,” which prompted Trump to declare that “Congress” has found nothing wrong. Oops! He didn’t say that the GOP leaders on the committee have drawn that conclusion.

Oh, but the Mueller probe has many more trails to explore, many more leads to follow.

He’s a long way from finishing his work.

John Dowd needs to pipe down and let the special counsel do his job, get to the finish line and if he finds nothing there — as Trump keeps insisting — he needs to tell us all himself.

McCabe gets canned and AG shows his heartlessness

I totally understand that this analogy might be a stretch, but I’ll toss it out there anyway. Andrew McCabe’s firing today by Attorney General Jeff Sessions — just two days before he was to retire from the FBI — reminds me a vaguely of the convict who gets a stay of execution as he is being led into the death chamber.

Sessions canned McCabe on the recommendation of an inspector general report that said he should be terminated because of alleged lack of candor while allowing FBI officials to talk to the media.

The firing now deprives McCabe of the retirement he had earned through two decades working for the FBI.

Think of this for a moment. The former deputy FBI director likely deserved some punishment for his indiscretion. Did he deserve to fired at the 11th hour just prior to his pending retirement? Let me think. I don’t believe he did.

Donald Trump wanted McCabe fired. McCabe has been a key player in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russian meddling in our 2016 presidential election. McCabe now says his firing is meant to undermine Mueller’s probe. He is understandably furious with the attorney general.

“Here is the reality: I am being singled out and treated this way because of the role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of James Comey,” McCabe wrote in a lengthy statement commenting on his firing.

I had hoped Sessions would let McCabe retire. I also had hoped Sessions would demonstrate his desire to depart the Trump administration by bucking the president’s desire to see McCabe get the boot.

I was wrong all around. I also am having difficulty trying to understand why he would be canned and, thus, denied the pension he had earned while serving the public.

And the timing of the firing … well, it speaks loudly and so very clearly about the character of the people at the top of this presidential administration.

AG cans deputy FBI director … damn!

This blog post has been updated

Well, silly me. I thought Jeff Sessions might have a shred of decency and courage to do the right thing.

It’s being reported just now that the attorney general has fired deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, which deprives him of the pension to which he had been entitled as a career public servant.

I guess the AG is more afraid of the president than I thought.

Shameful.

***

Andrew McCabe is just a couple days away from retirement from the FBI. Or … he might get fired because he was less than fully truthful in dealing with federal investigators.

Firing this career public servant would deprive him of his retirement and possibly his health care. The ball is now in the lap of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

I hope the AG doesn’t fire McCabe, who has been a frequent critic of none other than Donald John Trump Sr., the president of the United States and the man with the thinnest skin of any world leader in history.

Here’s why I have this feeling in my gut that Sessions will let McCabe retire.

Sessions might want to p** the president off so much that he gets fired by Trump, thus relieving him of the turmoil, tempest and constant disabuse that the president himself levels at the attorney general.

Trump wants McCabe to be canned. It’s up to Sessions to do the president’s bidding, or to do what I consider the right thing by merely letting the deputy FBI boss retire and ride off into the sunset.

Firing him now, with so little time before he retires, would be the epitome of heartlessness. That is Trump’s style. I have no clue if that is Sessions’s style as well. McCabe has made some mistakes and perhaps he deserves some punishment. He also happens to have immense support within the FBI and his firing could result in an eruption among the field agents and administrators who work inside the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building in Washington.

My trick knee tells me that the attorney general just might have had his fill of working within the chaos and confusion that continues to define the Donald Trump administration — which might portend a decision to defy the president.

AG defends his decision to recuse himself

Hell has this habit of freezing over, enabling me to say something positive about one of Donald Trump’s key Cabinet officers.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions fielded a direct question the other day that required him to provide a direct answer. He answered it correctly, to his great credit.

The questioner asked him whether he regretted recusing himself from the investigation into whether the Trump 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russians who meddled in our electoral  process.

Sessions was unequivocal in his answer. Sessions had to pull out of the investigation, he said, because of his key role in the Trump presidential campaign and then the transition into the Trump presidency.

There could be no way for the AG to conduct an impartial investigation into alleged collusion with the Russians, Sessions said, because he was far too close to the situation. He would be investigating potentially himself.

So, he withdrew from the Russia probe. He handed the matter over to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who then selected Robert Mueller to serve as special counsel in this ongoing probe.

I have praised Sessions’s decision from the get-go. It demonstrated an understanding of the ethics of the law and the AG’s appreciation of the appearance of conflict of interest.

The AG’s decision, not surprisingly, has angered the president, who has said that had he known Sessions would back out of the “Russia thing,” he would have nominated someone else to the post. Trump and Sessions, by many accounts, have at best a frosty relationship to this day.

The way I see it, it’s because Sessions made the correct decision to back away from an investigation that is being handled by one of the most meticulous lawyers anyone can find.

As much as I disapprove of Sessions as attorney general in the first place, I merely think it’s appropriate to offer a good word when he makes the right decision and then stands foursquare behind it.

AG Jeff Sessions deserves some support

So help me, I cannot quite explain why I am about to write these next few words. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has become a sympathetic character in a presidential administration that appears to be unraveling before our eyes.

Donald J. Trump is getting pinched by a special counsel who was appointed by the Justice Department because the AG did the right thing by recusing himself from what Trump has called the “Russia thing.” Why did he do that? Because the attorney general was a key Trump campaign adviser and then moved directly into the Trump presidential transition team that has been ensnared by allegations of “collusion” with Russians seeking to interfere in our 2016 presidential election.

Sessions’s recusal has enraged the president, who’s now taking to disparaging him publicly via Twitter. The men have a frosty relationship, even though Sessions was among Trump’s earliest supporters in the U.S. Senate, where Sessions served before being picked to run the Justice Department.

What can the president do? Does he fire Sessions? Yeah, good luck with that — and with finding someone the Senate can confirm. The word is out about the president: No one worth a damn wants to work for this guy. He’s making a mess of everything he touches. He cannot govern. He cannot administer a political organization such as the White House.

That shouldn’t surprise a single American. Trump had no government experience. He had no political credibility. He cannot keep key White House advisers. I mean, he has just received the resignation from the fourth White House communications director in a little more than a year.

Sessions now stands as a man with a semblance of ethical conduct — and for that he is being punished by the president of the United States, who calls a decision to hire inspector general lawyers to conduct a probe “disgraceful.”

Trump also has said that had he known Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia probe he would have nominated someone with more “loyalty” to the president. Hey, that’s not why these people serve. They serve to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution, just like the president.

From my vantage point, the president is doing a pi**-poor job of fulfilling the oath he took.

As for Sessions, as much as I opposed his appointment in the first place, I am fearful of the bloodbath that will occur if he calls it quits and the president tries to pick someone to do his bidding.

Good luck with that, Mr. President.

POTUS has yet another bad week; see ‘Jared Kushner’

How can we count the ways that the president of the United States can experience truly bad weeks?

This one has been a serious downer.

His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, gets his security clearance downgraded because he doesn’t have the top-secret designation he needed to handle sensitive documents; Kushner is a high-end senior adviser in the Donald Trump administration.

There’s more.

White House communications director Hope Hicks resigned this week after telling U.S. senators that part of her job was to tell “little white lies” on behalf of her boss, the president. She said her testimony had nothing to do with her resignation. Sure thing, young lady. The president backed her up. But, hey, the timing looks so suspicious.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions got taken down by the president because the AG is using lawyers from outside his department to examine alleged bias in granting security clearances. Trump tweeted that Sessions’s actions are “disgraceful.”

Then, as a capper, Trump tweeted some gnarly remarks about actor/comedian Alec Baldwin’s impersonation of him on “Saturday Night Live.” So very “presidential,” yes, Mr. President?

All the while, it looks as though special counsel Robert Mueller is zeroing in on Trump’s potential collusion with Russian agents seeking to interfere in our election process, which Trump keeps denying.

Analyses keep suggesting that Trump has yet to get a handle on the mechanics of governing, the task of administering the executive branch of government, let alone hiring competent staff who can withstand the intense public scrutiny that goes with the job in Washington, D.C.

Has the president lost control of the “fine-tuned machine” he boasted about a month after his inauguration? It looks like it to me.

Chaos and confusion, folks? It’s all there. On full display. For all the world to see.

This is how you “make America great again”? Umm. I don’t think so.

Trump savages AG; ‘disgraceful’

Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!

The above is a tweet that Donald John “Smart Person” Trump Sr. fired off this morning.

He continues to do the seemingly impossible. The president is making patently unsympathetic characters, um, sympathetic.

Trump is undermining the attorney general. He seems to want the AG to quit. My guess — along with many others — is that the president cannot get past Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the “Russia thing,” because he couldn’t be an impartial investigator into whether the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russians who meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

For the record, while I am no fan of the attorney general, he did precisely the right thing in recusing himself. He was a key campaign adviser and served in a senior position in the Trump transition to the presidency. He had no business investigating the Russia meddling issue and he acted properly in backing away.

At issue is Sessions’s decision to use inspector general lawyers to probe allegations of bias in the use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to examine the Trump campaign.

According to The Hill: The president said the Justice Department’s inspector general is ill-equipped to probe allegations that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was improperly used to monitor members of his transition team.

Trump wants AG lawyers to look into it and is blasting the attorney general for using the IG legal team.

And, of course, he has to mention that the IG is an appointee of former President Barack Obama, continuing the current president’s fixation with leveling criticism of All Things Obama.

The disgrace doesn’t involve the attorney general’s decision to use the inspector general’s team. The disgrace continues to be the president’s unheard of undermining of the AG.

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.