Tag Archives: Robert Mueller

Hey, what about ‘the Russia thing’?

Pssst. I am about to let the cat out of the bag.

Much of the nation — maybe most of it — has been consumed by the tragic events of Charlottesville and the president’s response to it. I get it. Donald Trump first blamed “many sides” for the riot; then he singled out the white nationalists, neo-Nazis and the Klan; and after that he reverted back to his original response.

All ever-lovin’ hell has broken loose. The fecal matter has hit the fan.

But, but, but …

We have this other thing going on. It’s the “Russia thing.” Remember it? Of course you do!

Special counsel Robert Mueller has assembled a crack team of legal eagles who are examining the many aspects of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. There might be an obstruction of justice element; there might be collusion; there might be some financial matters to examine; hey, we might even get to see the president’s tax returns.

As the national media continue to scurry after this Charlottesville story — as they should — Mueller and his team are being left relatively alone to pore through the mountain of evidence and information that keeps piling up.

The last thing I heard — and it seems like eons ago now — was that Mueller wants to speak with former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus. There might be subpoenas coming from Mueller’s office.

I just thought it would be useful to remind everyone that as important as the Charlottesville story is — and the media must cover it — we’ve got this other matter lurking out there.

The “Russia thing” needs a resolution. Don’t look for it soon. Just be sure to keep one eye on the special counsel’s exhaustive search for the whole truth.

‘Hoax’ probe of Trump now is getting quite serious

This is a mere hunch.

When a special counsel orders an unannounced search of a home for evidence of possible crimes involving the president of the United States, then I believe we have a serious investigation under way.

Federal agents barged into the home of former Donald J. Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort. They collected information and evidence allegedly related to the probe being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller.

The president, let us remember, has said all along that Mueller’s probe is a “witch hunt,” that it is a “hoax,” that the whole “Russia thing” matter is a creation of Democrats who are still steamed at losing the 2016 presidential election.

The search conducted two weeks at Manafort’s home suggests something quite different. It represents a potentially stunning turn in the probe into whether Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 election were done in collusion with the Trump campaign.

Is there an obstruction of justice charge on its way? Might there be an actual violation of the law to be discovered?

Yes, this investigation is still in its infancy. Mueller is known as a meticulous lawyer. He has hired a crack legal team. He is a former FBI director who served under presidents of both major political parties: George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama.

Is this man capable of conducting a “hoax” investigation?

Hmmm. I, uh, don’t believe so.

Will POTUS serve out his term?

The question came to me today at lunch from a fellow I’ve known for more than two decades and who I consider to be one of the smartest men in Amarillo, Texas.

“Do you think Donald Trump is going to serve his entire term as president?” asked my friend, who’s been involved in local government for four decades.

My quick answer was “I think it’s 70-30 that he does but those odds are shrinking.” By that I mean the gap between survival and non-survival is going to become narrow as the special counsel assigned to investigate matters involving the president continues his probe.

I have not a single thing on which to base that percentage estimate, other than my gut and my proverbial trick knee.

I am watching along with millions of Americans the flailing of the president as he tries to achieve his objectives — whatever the hell they might be. The dysfunction is unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed in a presidential administration.

Special counsel Robert Mueller, meanwhile, is examining the Russia matter and his probe well might delve into other issues not related directly to whether the Russians meddled in our 2016 presidential election or whether the Trump campaign colluded with them.

Donald Trump is at the center of all this. He’s not used to this kind of scrutiny. Nor is he accustomed to being challenged at every turn by political foes or by the media.

I told my friend that every human being has his or her limits. We don’t yet know where those limits exist with Donald Trump. Does the president have a limitless capacity to suffer the indignities that governing in a complicated political system inflict on him? After all, this self-proclaimed business genius is new to this game of politics, government and public service.

My buddy is as aghast as I am, moreover, that this man even got elected in the first place. “What have we done?” he asked, obviously rhetorically.

We exchanged a few more thoughts on this totally unpleasant subject before heading back to our lives.

Bear in mind this, though, about the “prediction” I made. One is that I no longer predict seriously political outcomes. I never thought, for instance, that Hillary Clinton would run for the U.S. Senate in 2000 at the end of her husband’s two terms as president; she did.

Nor did I ever think Donald John Trump Sr. would be nominated by the Republican Party and then be elected president in 2016. He was.

Many Americans were wrong about the outcome of this past year’s election, which makes me quiver at the thought of predicting with any kind of certainty whether this clown will survive the ongoing onslaught that awaits.

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.

Kenneth Starr: The King of Irony

Leave it to Kenneth Starr to make one of the more ironic declarations about the unfolding investigation into Donald J. Trump’s alleged involvement with Russian election hackers.

Starr has cautioned special counsel Robert Mueller to avoid going onto a “fishing expedition” in his search for the truth behind whether Trump’s presidential campaign had any improper dealings with Russians seeking to meddle in our 2016 election.

Mueller needs to keep his mission focused, Starr said. He shouldn’t allow it to wander onto unplowed ground.

Well now. How does one respond to that?

Let’s try this.

Kenneth Starr became a master judicial fisherman in the 1990s when he was selected as special counsel to investigate a real estate deal called Whitewater involving President and Mrs. Clinton. He came up with nothing there. Then he sauntered off into a sexual harassment charge leveled against the president by Paula Jones. Then he found something else, which was a relationship the president was having with a White House intern.

Real estate deal leads to sexual harassment, which then leads to a sexual relationship. Impeachment followed all of that.

Is the current special counsel headed down the same path? I haven’t a clue.

Kenneth Starr, though, proved to us all that these investigations can hit pay dirt even as they wander hither and yon.

The comic aspect of this whole discussion is that someone such as Starr would issue a word of caution for one of his legal descendants about a “fishing expedition.”

Now it’s the grand jury system under attack

Grand juries do an important task within the criminal justice system.

They hear evidence from prosecutors and then decide whether a criminal complaint merits an indictment, which is a formal accusation of a crime that needs to be decided by the courts.

Now, though, the grand jury “system” has come under attack as it relates to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the Donald Trump campaigned had an improper relationship with Russian government hackers seeking to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

Who are the attackers? I’ve heard it come from right-wing talking heads on conservative media outlets. For example, Sean Hannity of Fox News said the grand jury that Mueller has impaneled is inherently biased against Trump. Hannity echoes the president’s description of Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt.”

Fascinating, yes? Sure it is. These are the same fools who called for grand jury investigations into Hillary Rodham Clinton’s missing e-mails. This is the “lock her up!” crowd that didn’t give a damn about any presumption of innocence and wanted a grand jury to find a reason to imprison the former U.S. senator, secretary of state and 2016 Democratic Party presidential nominee.

These individuals make me want to puke.

***

I now want to say a few words about the grand jury system.

It’s not perfect, but it works. Indeed, I have some intimate knowledge of the Texas grand jury system. I served on a grand jury for three months here in Randall County. I was asked to serve by a jury commissioner who was picked by 181st District Judge John Board; the jury commissioner, a friend of mine, was tasked with finding qualified individuals to serve on a grand jury.

I eventually was seated on the grand jury and we met in Canyon each week. We heard complaints brought to us by law enforcement. It was an educational process to be sure. Did we indict every criminal suspect named in a complaint? Hardly.

We would hear from prosecutors who would explain the circumstances surrounding the complaint. We would ask questions of them, talk among ourselves and then decide whether to issue an indictment. It was clean, simple and most importantly, it was done honestly and in good faith.

Granted, the stakes involved in our list of hearings fall far, far, far short of what awaits the grand jury that will consider the assorted Donald J. Trump matters that Robert Mueller will bring forward.

It angers me in the extreme, though, to hear partisan, talking-head hacks disparage for political purposes a segment of our criminal justice system that can — and does — bring great value to the delivering of justice.

Stand tall, proceed Special Counsel Mueller

Robert Mueller doesn’t need an encouraging word from little ol’ me out here in Flyover Country, far from the halls of power in Washington, D.C.

I’ll give him a few of them anyway.

Mueller is up to his eyeballs in probing “the Russia thing” that cost James Comey his job as FBI director … when Donald John Trump Sr. fired him. Mueller now owns the title of special counsel and he has assembled a team of crack lawyers to probe whether Trump’s campaign worked in cahoots with Russian hackers seeking to meddle in our nation’s electoral process.

Trump, of course, is calling it all a “hoax,” a “witch hunt,” an “excuse” for Democrats who are angry about losing the 2016 election to Trump.

It is none of the above, largely because of Mueller.

The special counsel once ran the FBI himself. President George W. Bush appointed him to the FBI post in 2001– one week before 9/11! He served his 10-year term and then was asked by President Bush’s successor, President Barack Obama, to stay on for additional two years. Think about that. He gets selected by a Republican president and then is asked to stay on by a Democrat.

He left office and then went into private practice. Then came a new presidential administration. The new attorney general, Jeff Sessions, decided to recuse himself from anything having to do with Russia. A deputy AG, Rod Rosenstein, then appointed Mueller to be the special counsel, to take charge of this investigation.

His appointment was hailed by Republicans and Democrats alike, who all sang in perfect unison about Mueller’s integrity, his knowledge of the law, his professionalism and his honesty.

Congressional Democrats and Republicans now are lining up against any attempt Trump might mount to remove Mueller. They want him on the job. They want him to ferret out the truth. They want this guy to finish the task he has been given.

The only people who are disparaging Mueller happen to be the president of the United States and his closest White House advisers — some of whom happen to be members of the president’s family.

I’ve said before that if the president believes Mueller is marching down a blind alley, that he shouldn’t have a thing to worry about. Let the investigation proceed and then breathe a heavy sigh if it produces zero criminality. Might that be a reasonable posture for the president and his team to take?

Instead, they are seeking to undermine the man’s work and his reputation. Accordingly, Donald Trump disgraces himself and his high office every time he opens his trap.

Robert Mueller needs to complete his investigation. This American patriot — yours truly — has complete faith in his ability to do the job he has been assigned.

Grand jury portends intensifying of probe?

Am I able to make a presumption without sounding presumptuous?

I’ll give it a shot.

Robert Mueller, the special counsel assigned to examine Russian meddling in our 2016 election, reportedly has just impaneled a grand jury to begin hearing evidence and, more than likely, call witnesses to tell the panel what they know about this matter.

Here’s my presumption: I am going to presume that Mueller’s investigation is gaining some speed and that the former FBI director just might be smelling some blood in the water around Donald J. Trump and his presidential campaign team.

Recall for a moment another grand jury that a special counsel impaneled. I refer to the panel called into duty at the behest of Kenneth Starr, who was ostensibly examining a real estate transaction involving Bill and Hillary Clinton. Then he stumbled onto something quite unexpected: a relationship that President Clinton was having with a young White House intern. He summoned the president to testify before the grand jury, which asked him about that relationship. The president didn’t tell the truth.

Bingo! Impeachment followed.

Is the past going to be a prologue for what might await the current president?

As the Wall Street Journal reports: “Grand juries are powerful investigative tools that allow prosecutors to subpoena documents, put witnesses under oath and seek indictments, if there is evidence of a crime. Legal experts said that the decision by Mr. Mueller to impanel a grand jury suggests he believes he will need to subpoena records and take testimony from witnesses.”

I believe it also suggests that Mueller might expand his probe into areas other than precisely the Russian meddling and the allegations of collusion between the Russians and the Trump presidential campaign. There might be a subpoena or two coming that deals with, say, Trump’s tax returns and assorted business connections involving Trump’s business interests and Russian government officials.

Here’s another presumption: This story is still building.

That’s it: Blame Congress now

Here, dear reader, is a tweet that came from the president of the United States. It is just another in an endless litany of shocking pronouncements from Donald John Trump Sr.

Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low. You can thank Congress, the same people that can’t even give us HCare!

There you have it. The president has blamed Congress for enacting a tough sanctions bill against Russia. He didn’t say a word in that tweet about his signing the bill into law. Lawmakers approved the bill with overwhelming majorities and they undoubtedly¬†would have overridden any presidential veto.

Indulge me for a moment.

The U.S.-Russia relationship has tanked because the Russians have been caught — and please pardon the somewhat dated description here — red-handed in their effort to attack the U.S. electoral process. The Russians sought to meddle in our 2016 presidential election. Intelligence analysts have concluded the Russians did it. Members of the Trump administration have drawn the same conclusion.

The only high-ranking U.S. official to equivocate is the highest-ranking of them all: the president.

Congress acted as it should have acted by imposing new sanctions on the Russians — and by assuring that Congress has the final say on any effort to lessen or eliminate them.

Yet the president continues to hold tightly to this notion that he can “negotiate” better deals with Russians than Congress.

I should add that Trump signed the sanctions bill without the usual fanfare associated with high-profile bill signings. No TV cameras were present; the president didn’t hand out pens to officials as he etched his signature to the document. The signing was carried in the proverbial dead of night. Why is that?

Now he’s going after Congress yet again for doing what it is entitled to do.

Just suppose for a moment that Donald Trump finds himself in grave political trouble down the road. Suppose special counsel Robert Mueller concludes that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian effort to sway the election; let’s also suggest that Mueller might find evidence of obstruction of justice stemming from Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.

All of this well might bring the president to the brink of impeachment by the House of Representatives. It is at that point that the president is going to need every friend he can find on Capitol Hill to save his backside.

Is this how he nourishes those relationships, by blaming Congress for the deterioration in U.S.-Russia relations?

Special counsel’s plate getting quite full

Robert Mueller keeps getting more information than he can digest at a single sitting.

Yep, the special counsel assigned to examine Russian government meddling into our electoral process and allegations that the Donald J. Trump campaign colluded with the Russians is getting a good bit more, um, complicated.

The Washington Post is reporting, for instance, that the president told Donald John Trump Jr. how he should describe a meeting Don Jr. had with a Russian lawyer who invited him to meet so he could receive some alleged dirt on Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The president’s lawyer denies the story outright. Other Trump defenders accuse the Post of conveying “fake news.”

But, oh, this is the stuff of serious political intrigue.

Don Jr. supposedly reported the meeting was to be about “Russian adoption policy.” That wasn’t the case, according to the Post, which reports that young Don got instructions from Dad the President on what to say.

I believe that might constitute a serious obstruction of justice matter … if it’s true. The Post, of course, stands by its story, while the White House denies all of it.

Don Jr. isn’t talking. Imagine that.

Recall that another special counsel, Kenneth Starr, started looking into a real estate deal involving President and Mrs. Clinton. Then more tidbits began flying over his transom. Eventually, Starr got wind of a relationship Bill Clinton was having with a young White House intern. Starr poked around a little more and, well, the rest is history.

Mueller has the same latitude as Starr as he pursues the Russia matter. Stories such as the one published by the Post give him even more grist to pore through as he continues his pursuit of the truth behind the Russia story.