Tag Archives: Jeff Sessions

Barr has become a big disappointment … dang it!

William Barr came into office as U.S. attorney general bringing a glimmer of hope — even among some of the nation’s most vigorous foes of Donald Trump, the man who nominated him to be the AG.

I was one of those who had hope that Barr would be a grownup, that he would conduct himself with professional impartiality, taking seriously the oath to which he swore to be our attorney general, not be an a**-coverer for the president of the United States.

The AG has let me down.

Hard, man!

His testimony this week before the Senate Judiciary Committee was an exercise in obfuscation and evasion. Then he did something even worse: He refused to appear before the House Judiciary Committee and answer questions from that panel’s team of legal eagles.

I don’t know what I was thinking, now that I look back on what happened prior to Barr’s nomination.

Trump fired Jeff Sessions as AG because Sessions refused to act as a Trump sycophant; that’s why he recused himself from the Russia investigation. He couldn’t under Justice Department rules take part in an investigation into an activity in which he was a principal player. Sessions served on Trump’s campaign team, then on his transition team, which the DOJ was probing with regard to allegations of collusion and other potential misdeeds.

So he walked away, handed the matter over to his No. 2 at DOJ, Rod Rosenstein, who then appointed Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel. All of that enraged Trump, as we have since learned.

Now he has installed his “boy” at DOJ, William Barr.

Barr’s record as attorney general near the end of President George H.W. Bush’s term suggested to me that he would be the right man for the country, not necessarily for the president.

Silly me. It turns out he is the right man for Trump and he is wrong for the country.

I wanted to feel good about Barr. Sadly, he has let me down.

Dammit, anyway!

No. 2 at DOJ calls it quits

Rod Rosenstein had me. Then he lost me.

He submitted his resignation today from the U.S. Justice Department. Rosenstein’s last day will be May 11.

The deputy U.S. attorney general made what many millions of Americans thought was a stellar choice in naming Robert Mueller the special counsel in determining whether Donald Trump’s campaign “colluded” with Russians during the 2016 presidential election.

Rosenstein was called into action after then-AG Jeff Sessions recused himself from anything having to do with Russia.

So, he answered the call. He acted wisely.

But then . . .

Most recently it was revealed that he fought for his job near the end of Mueller’s exhaustive probe and told Trump that he — the president — was not a target of the special counsel.

Huh? What’s up with that? Deputy attorneys general aren’t supposed to spill the beans about ongoing investigations. Are they?

He had me at first. Then he lost me at the end.

Still, I want to give him high marks for selecting Mueller to do a thorough job looking into these terrible questions regarding the president’s campaign and its alleged relationship with Russians who dug up dirt on Hillary Clinton and sought to pass it on to the Trump political team.

Rosenstein’s conduct near the end of his time at DOJ doesn’t negate completely the good he accomplished by picking Mueller.

However, it does give me pause.

I trust that congressional investigators will have plenty to ask him once he clears out his desk at Justice.

Wishing that AG Barr rises to occasion

You may choose to believe this . . . or you might choose to disbelieve it. I don’t care. I’ll offer this anyway.

I really want to believe that Attorney General William Barr takes seriously the oath to which he swore when he vowed to uphold the rule of law and to defend the U.S. Constitution.

My hope is being strained almost to the point of snapping.

The report from The New York Times from part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s legal team that Barr might have shaded the team’s work is most disturbing.

The Times reports that some of Mueller’s team have complained that Barr’s four-page summary of the 22-month investigation into whether Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russians doesn’t adequately express the team’s view of what it found. They are saying that Barr is soft-pedaling some of the more troubling aspects the conclusions drawn.

This does force me to join others in wondering whether Barr is more loyal to the president than he is to the law. The oath he took was not to pledge loyalty to Donald Trump. He put his hand on a Bible and swore in the name of God Almighty that he would be faithful to the law. Isn’t that what all our federal officials pledge?

My hope when the president nominated Barr to be AG after he fired Jeff Sessions only because Sessions did what was proper — which was to recuse himself from the Russia probe — was that Barr would emerge as a grownup, as a serious public servant.

I still want to believe that’s the case. He served as AG under a previous Republican president, George H.W. Bush. He is a known quantity. Barr possesses a first-rate legal mind.

Did he, though, “audition” for the AG’s job with that memo declaring that the president couldn’t be prosecuted for any crime because he is the president? 

I do not want to believe that.

The NY Times, though, has cast serious doubt on all of that with the report from members of Mueller’s team that the AG has, um, shaded their findings to protect the president.

Say it ain’t so, Bill. More than that, prove it ain’t so. Release the full report to the public.

Glad that deputy AG is staying put for now

I am glad to hear the news that Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is staying at his post for a while longer.

I’ve heard the term “heat shield” applied to Rosenstein’s presence near the top of the Justice Department chain of command. It’s an apt term.

Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller to the post of special counsel to look into allegations of collusion between the Donald Trump presidential campaign and Russian operatives who interfered with our election in 2016.

Then-AG Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia matter. Why? Because he worked on the Trump campaign and he knew he could not investigate himself. He followed DOJ rules and regs and infuriated Trump in the process. Trump then fired Sessions.

William Barr is the new attorney general. Mueller is finishing his investigation.

Rosenstein needs to stay on his watch to help ensure that Mueller is allowed to finish his task under his own power.

I trust AG Barr to allow Mueller to do his work. However, the special counsel — who has impeccable credentials — cannot have too many eyes keeping tabs to ensure it’s all done correctly, ethically and transparently.

How does the Christian ‘base’ like POTUS’s potty mouth?

I’m scratching my head — and not because it itches.

I am wondering something about Donald Trump’s two-hour tirade today at the Conservative Political Action Conference meeting.

He stood before the faithful and laid out a profanity-laced harangue against the media, Democrats, special counsel Robert Mueller, socialists.

The word “sh**” and certain variations of it were on full display today.

My wonderment? A big part of the president’s “base” includes the evangelical Christian movement. They like Trump’s judicial appointments; they support his statements about prayer in school; they adhere to his newly found pro-life stance on abortion. They don’t mind that he mocks individuals’ speech, such as what he did today in mimicking former AG Jeff Sessions’ Southern drawl.

They give him a pass on his serial philandering on all three of his wives. They say every person is entitled to God’s grace.

But wait. Do they really like a president who spews filthy language in public? Is that the tone and tenor of a Godly man?

Trump goes wild at CPAC

Please don’t remind me that other presidents have salted their language. Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, John F. Kennedy, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all were known to utter profanity in private. Heck, “W” did so in my presence, to me, about five years before he was elected president.

But I don’t ever remember any of those men lacing their language with the profanity that flies out of Trump’s pie hole during public speeches, such as what he did today.

I don’t get it.

Is that how he “tells it like it is”?

POTUS disgraces himself — yet again! –with CPAC tirade

Mr. President, you keep outdoing yourself.

You stand before crowds of fervent supporters and fly off the rails. There you were again today in front of the Conservative Political Action Conference firing off an expletive-laden tirade against your foes.

You’re not sounding very “presidential,” Mr. President — and your performance today makes me wonder if I should even refer to you with that courtesy title. You haven’t earned it.

But I’ll do so out of respect for the office, even though I still cannot connect the words “President” and “Trump” consecutively.

How dare you mock the accent of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions! How dare you also refer to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff as “sh***y” Schiff.”

Get a grip, Mr. President

Mr. President, you don’t deserve the title you hold. I get that you were elected to it as prescribed by the U.S. Constitution. I so want to call you “my president.” Displays such as the one you put on today make it increasingly more difficult for me to bestow the respect to which your high office should entitle you.

You, sir, are a disgrace.

How does deputy AG define ‘right thing’?

Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has developed a finely tuned flair for cryptic comments.

Such as what he said about his new boss, Attorney General William Barr.

Rosenstein said Barr will “do the right thing” regarding the possible release of the Robert Mueller report, which the special counsel looking into the alleged “collusion” with Russian government operatives is going to send soon to the AG.

Hmm. The “right thing,” yes? How does the deputy DOJ official — the man who appointed Mueller to the job of special counsel — define the “right thing”? I hope it means that Barr will release as much of the report to the public as he can.

I believe strongly the Muller report needs to be placed before the public for our perusal and determination. He has spent a lot of taxpayers’ money examining whether the Donald Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russians who attacked our electoral system in 2016.

Rosenstein is leaving the Justice Department next month. Barr has just taken over a department wracked by controversy and chaos. The president has exacerbated it by his hectoring of former AG Jeff Sessions, who did the right thing by recusing himself from the Russia probe. Rosenstein then selected Mueller to lead the probe into alleged collusion. Meanwhile, the president — who proclaims his total innocence of any collusion — has called the investigation a witch hunt.

What is the “right thing” for Barr to do? Let the public see what is in it, what it lays out, what Mueller has learned.

Mueller report delayed? Fine, I can wait

Robert Mueller was supposed to have handed his final report on The Russia Thing to Attorney General William Barr sometime next week.

Now it appears the special counsel won’t be doing so just yet.

Am I worried? Not in the least. I trust the former FBI director to do right by whatever it is he was asked to do when he took the job as the lead investigator into alleged collusion between the Donald Trump presidential campaign and Russian government operatives.

Mueller has been at this for some time. More than a year in fact. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein selected him to lead the probe after then AG Jeff Sessions recused himself from anything to do with the Russia matter.

You’ll recall the bipartisan praise that accompanied Mueller’s appointment. Democrats hailed it. So did Republicans. They all thought Rosenstein made an inspired choice. He couldn’t find a more qualified, more honorable, more integrity-filled individual that Robert Mueller to get to the bottom of The Russia Thing.

The president, sadly, has changed his tune. He calls the Mueller probe a witch hunt. He fired Sessions as AG. He selected a toadie as acting AG. He then found a solid veteran of the Justice Department, Barr, to lead the agency.

You can count me as one who wants the Mueller investigation to reach its conclusion. I had hoped he would release his findings to Barr sooner rather than later.

However, I am not dismayed. I still trust that Mueller is going to wrap it up, hand it over and I hope insist to the attorney general that the findings are made public.

Americans have a lot invested in this probe. Its findings are ours to peruse, to digest and to make judgments on what they reveal.

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.