Tag Archives: Mike Pence

Trump keeps stepping in it

Donald Trump now says he fired Michael Flynn because the former national security adviser lied to the FBI and to Vice President Mike Pence about what he said to Russian government officials.

He fired off — that’s right — another series of tweets about this matter. Previously, he had said he canned Flynn because of lies he allegedly told Pence; the FBI was not part of the narrative Trump was pushing when Flynn was let go.

Now it is. Go figure, eh?

I keep wondering when the president is going to inflict a mortal political wound with these careless Twitter tirades.

According to The Hill: “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies,” Trump tweeted while traveling in New York City for fundraising events.

Trump also stressed “there was nothing to hide!”

“It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!” he added.

Here is the story from The Hill

Here’s my question: When in the world has a president of the United States ever gotten so entangled and entwined in an ongoing criminal investigation?

What in the name of “acting presidential” is Trump going to listen to anyone who might be advising him to keep his trap shut when it regards this matter?

Then again, the more he yaps and yammers about it, the deeper he keeps digging the proverbial hole.

Still struggling with how to refer to the president

The struggle is continuing.

A critic or two of High Plains Blogger has wondered aloud why I keep resisting the urge to refer to Donald Trump as president. You know, put the words “President” and “Trump” together consecutively.

It’s personal, man. Really, that’s all it is.

If you’ve read this blog with any degree of care, you will have noticed that I have no difficulty writing the words “Vice President Pence,” or “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson,” or “Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis.” Do you get my drift? Of course you do.

The president is another matter altogether.

All of those individuals I’ve just cited, plus the rest of the entire Trump team — except, perhaps, for his son-in-law and daughter — comport themselves with at the very minimum a semblance of dignity as they go about their jobs representing the United States of America. Ivanka and Jared are in their high-powered jobs only because the president loves his daughter and (I presume) son-in-law.

The president hasn’t made the grade. At least not yet.

Whether he ever gets there remains to be seen. This constant baloney about how smart he is, his recent repeated references to the “standing ovation” he got while meeting with his team, his continual insults and his ridiculous tweets regarding matters that shouldn’t even concern him all cheapen the office he occupies.

And then there are those petulant disputes with Gold Star families. And the clumsiness with which he handles virtually every matter that comes across his desk.

The words “President” and “Trump” don’t yet resonate with me. A part of me — admittedly a still-small part — wants it to change. Until it does, this blog will not go where it should.

Yes, Donald Trump is the president of the United States. I know it and get it fully.

However, he’s got to start acting and sounding like one.

That’s what it was, Mr. VPOTUS: a political stunt

Vice President Mike Pence certainly knew what would take place when he went to a pro football game today.

He knew some of the players would “take a knee” while they struck up “Star Spangled Banner.” He knew some of the San Francisco 49ers would protest, along with some of the Indianapolis Colts.

He knew that would happen. But he showed up anyway at the game in Indianapolis — only to walk out because, as he said, he wouldn’t “dignify” a disrespecting of the flag, our country, our men and women in uniform, our Constitution.

Good grief! What we saw today was an act of political grandstanding.

An Indianapolis Star sports columnist also was right to question why Pence showed up in the first place and why he decided to expend a good bit of taxpayer money — with the requisite security and other things associated with the vice president’s traveling contingent.

Using high office to score political points

It’s not as though presidents and vice presidents don’t occasionally use their high office for political gain. I get that it’s happened before.

But this stunt that Pence pulled today was so transparently phony it boggles the mind. He wanted to make a statement that the players who are protesting are somehow “disrespecting” the nation that allows them to do the very thing they are doing.

Lest we forget, the protest — which began this pas season when then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the National Anthem — is intended to protest police treatment of African-American citizens. I’ll stipulate that I am not pleased with the form of protest mounted. I wish the players would find another way to make their point.

However, their demonstration is not meant to dishonor the flag, or the country, or our brave fighting men and women. To suggest it does all of that is to cheapen a legitimate form of political protest.

For the vice president of the United States to make a big show of it in the first place only heightens the phoniness of his own declaration of disgust.

Why such anger, Mr. Vice President?

Why, oh why is Vice President Mike Pence so darn angry at The New York Times?

The allegedly “failing” newspaper has published a story revealing that Pence’s political team is working behind the scenes to mount a presidential campaign in 2020. Pence is simply outraged, I tell you. Outraged that the Times would report such a thing.

Pence is like all the other men who have preceded him in the second-highest office in the land. They all want to be the Top Dog, the Big Man, Numero Uno. Is Pence so different? I doubt it. Seriously.

To be sure, the NY Times said Pence is planning a primary campaign against Donald J. Trump Sr. His plans presume that the president won’t seek re-election, or that he will be otherwise, um, unavailable to run for a second term.

What might prevent Trump from running in 2020? Let’s see:

* He could be impeached and tossed out of office over allegations that he obstructed justice in the Russia investigation or that his campaign colluded with the Russians. There might be some financial issues that arise from special counsel Robert Mueller’s expanding investigation. Will it happen? I ain’t projecting such a thing. Or … the president might resign.

* The incessant armchair psychoanalysis might determine that the president suffers from some sort of serious personality disorder that compels him to tweet so often and with so much damaging effectiveness. I won’t join that debate, either.

* Trump might figure he cannot stand the incessant failure to get anything done. He’s not used to working with those who resist him at every turn. Trump’s business background has placed him at the top of the ladder. He’s got to share that standing now with Congress and the courts.

* Or, maybe the president can just declare victory — say “mission accomplished” — and pack it all up and head back to Mar-a-Lago, Bedminster or some other posh digs that will remove him and his family from that “real dump” where they live part time in Washington, D.C.

Is it so wrong to believe the vice president is getting ready for any eventuality? Is it wrong to presume that the No. 2 guy wants to ascend to the No. 1 spot?

The media have done a great job of keeping the public informed about the goings-on related to the Trump administration. The New York Times has just racked up another scoop.

Pipe down, Mr. Vice President.

Texas playing ball with vote fraud panel … sort of

I was hoping the Texas secretary of state would follow the lead of his fellow Republican colleague in Mississippi and tell the feds to go “jump in the Gulf of Mexico.”

He didn’t. Instead, the state is going to hand over some voter records to that idiotic voter fraud commission named by Donald J. Trump to root out the hordes of illegal votes — he says — that were cast in the 2016 presidential election.

Good luck with that.

The panel led by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is called the Election Integrity Commission. The president has asserted — with zero evidence at hand — that “millions of illegal immigrants” voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, giving her the popular vote margin over Trump.

So he cobbled together this group to find a problem in search of a solution.

The Texas secretary of state is the state’s top elections officer. According to the Texas Tribune: “Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos said he plans to respond to the request, but it’s not entirely clear how much data he’ll be handing over. Pablos said his agency would treat Kobach’s letter like any other public information request, and would only hand over information that’s considered public under Texas law.

“’The Secretary of State’s office will provide the Election Integrity Commission with public information and will protect the private information of Texas citizens while working to maintain the security and integrity of our state’s elections system,’ Pablos said in a statement. ‘As always, my office will continue to exercise the utmost care whenever sensitive voter information is required to be released by state or federal law.’”

Social Security numbers are private and as I understand it, that’s about the extentof the information Pablos’s office will withhold from this commission.

Check out the Texas Tribune explanation here.

The voter fraud panel’s request has been met with considerable resistance around the country. Officials in states that voted for Trump have said “no” to requests, as have those in states that voted for Clinton.

Honestly, this semi-acquiescence from Rolando Pablos makes me a bit nervous … and I’m a U.S. citizen.

I also wonder about something. Why is the president so damn intent on looking for widespread voter fraud that few local officials believe exist while he continues to ignore the assertion by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in our electoral process?

Voter fraud probe runs into trouble … good deal!

States across the nation aren’t playing ball with a task force created to find a problem that likely doesn’t exist.

To which I say, “Good for them.”

Donald J. Trump alleged — without foundation — that voter fraud was rampant across the land during the 2016 presidential election. You’ll recall that he said “millions of illegal immigrants” voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton, thus giving her a substantial popular vote margin over the president. This has been one of the countless lies that the president has told since he launched his political career in the summer of 2015.

So, he sought the formation of a task force to get to the root of the problem. States, though, aren’t giving in to this — if you’ll allow me to use this term — witch hunt in search of problem.

The White House commission led by Vice President Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach have asked all the states and the District of Columbia to turn over records of voters, including birth dates, the last four Social Security digits and party affiliation. Roughly half the states have said “no.” Even Texas, as friendly toward Trump as any state, has agreed only to turn over certain publicly held information; Social Security information and dates of birth won’t be turned over.

A good number of states refusing to comply, incidentally, happen to states that Trump won. So this isn’t a strictly partisan boycott of this ridiculous notion. As The Hill reported: “In the event I were to receive correspondence from the Commission … My reply would be: They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great state to launch from,” Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, said in a Friday statement.

The voter fraud commission is trying to reel in a red herring. Indeed, Kris Kobach is known to be something of a conspiracy theorist who believes voter fraud has reached epidemic proportions in his state and across the land.

Independent studies have revealed only minuscule numbers of people voting illegally, certainly not in numbers sufficient to decide electoral outcomes nationally.

I’m sensing a showdown is on the horizon. I’m going to pull for the states to stand their ground. As Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Grimes, a Democrat, has noted, the commission was formulated on a “sham premise.”

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.

POTUS keeps ’em hopping at White House

It’s tempting to feel a bit of sympathy for the White House media machine, and for the vice president, and for the senior West Wing advisers.

Why? They are working for someone who doesn’t have a clue on how to “control a message,” or even how to conduct the business of being president of the United States.

Donald J. Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. Mike Pence, the vice president, said he acted on the advice of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Assistant AG Rod Rosenstein. But wait! Trump then said he decided before consulting with Sessions and Rosenstein to fire Comey.

Pence also said that the FBI probe into the Russia hacking matter had “nothing to do” with Trump’s decision to fire Comey. Then, what do you know? The president contradicted the VP directly by saying, yep, Comey was spending too much time on the “Russia thing.”

White House press flack Sean Spicer has been keeping a low profile since the stuff hit the fan. Deputy flack Sarah Huckabee Sanders has been back-filling like crazy, trying to provide some semblance of sense to the chaos that has enveloped the Trump administration. She’s not succeeding, though.

In the midst of all this the president is tweeting himself silly with threats to Comey about possible recordings of conversations. He’s continued his attack on the media, threatening to suspend the daily press briefings.

And the media haven’t yet asked him directly about whether he committed a conflict of interest violation by asking Comey directly if the FBI was investigating the president. Trump had the power all along to fire the FBI boss and he shouldn’t have even thought about meddling directly in an ongoing investigation. Holy cow, man!

It’s tempting, yes, to feel sympathy for the president’s senior staff.

I’m managing to resist falling for it, though. They all ought to have known what they were getting into when they signed on.

Russia probe caused Comey to lose his job … period!

Donald J. Trump can insist all he wants that his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey had nothing to do with Russia.

Mike Pence can echo the president as well, that the Russia probe played no role in Comey’s sudden and shocking dismissal.

I do not believe either man. Not for a nanosecond.

Call it purely circumstantial, but the evidence seems to be mounting that Comey’s departure as FBI boss had everything to do with the Russia investigation he was leading and nothing to do with the FBI director’s handling of the 11th-hour dump on Hillary Clinton regarding some e-mail messages that turned up late in the 2016 presidential campaign.

As the New York Times editorialized: “The explanation for this shocking move — that Mr. Comey’s bungling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server violated longstanding Justice Department policy and profoundly damaged public trust in the agency — is impossible to take at face value.”

As the Times continued: Mr. Trump had nothing but praise for Mr. Comey when, in the final days of the presidential campaign, he informed Congress that the bureau was reopening the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s emails. ‘He brought back his reputation,’ Mr. Trump said at the time. ‘It took a lot of guts.’”

Here’s the complete editorial

The media are reporting that Comey asked just days earlier for more money and staff help to ratchet up his investigation into allegations that the Trump campaign cooperated with Russian government operatives seeking to interfere with the 2016 election.

Then he gets canned? Just like that? Trump and Pence want us to believe the Russia probe played no part in this matter?

They are insulting the intelligence of Americans.

I am picking up the whiff of a cover-up.

Where in the world is Sean Spicer?

This isn’t how it’s supposed to go.

The president of the United States makes — without question — the most controversial personnel decision of his administration and the White House press secretary is AWOL at the daily briefing for reporters. He’s supposed to “brief” the media on what’s happening in the White House.

Sean Spicer is nowhere to be seen or heard. Instead, he sends out his No. 2 press flack, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, to tell the media that it’s time to “move on” after Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. He acted without warning. The dismissal surprised the FBI staff and reportedly the White House staff, too!

Why did the president axe the FBI boss? “He wasn’t doing a good job,” said the president. Well, that explains everything, right? Wrong!

The firestorm has erupted in the White House. Spicer reportedly is off doing Navy Reserve duty. Oh, but wait! The Navy says he can reschedule these duties when, um, other duties call — in this case duties involving the commander in chief.

Spicer ought to get back in a hurry

Sean Spicer is getting paid the big bucks to talk to the media. And, no, I don’t mean lecture them about how they’re doing their job and whether they’re telling the president’s story the way he wants it told.

The Comey firing is all over the newspapers and all over TV these days. The former FBI head man was pursuing an investigation involving the Trump presidential campaign and allegations that it might have colluded with Russian government officials/goons to sway the 2016 presidential election.

Except that Vice President Pence says the president’s decision to can Comey had nothing at all to do with the FBI’s probe into Russia’s meddling in the U.S. election.

Do I believe that? Let me think. Umm. No!

The White House’s main press guy needs to speak to the media. He needs to be forthright. He needs to answer direct questions … well, directly.