Tag Archives: Robert Mueller

Chaos continues at White House

Donald J. Trump keeps saying all is well at the White House.

Well, it isn’t. Not by a long shot.

The president was going to meet this past week with Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who reportedly said some things about the president’s fitness for his job as commander in chief.

Then the meeting was postponed. The Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee got in the way.

Now we hear that Trump might postpone the Rosenstein meeting yet again, waiting for the Kavanaugh matter to run its course.

Trump and Rosenstein have reportedly spoken by phone. That’s good. At least they’re talking to each other, although none of us knows what they might have said to each other.

I am just amazed one more time with the chaos that continues to grip the White House, the West Wing, the Oval Office, staffing at many levels. Even more amazing is the president’s continuing denials that chaos rules within the Trump administration.

I happen to hope that Trump leaves Rosenstein alone, keeps him on the job, allows him to supervise the investigation into the “Russia Thing” being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller.

You may choose to believe or disbelieve this, but I actually want this investigation to conclude.

Don’t fire deputy AG, Mr. President

Rod Rosenstein’s backside might be in a sling as I write this brief blog post.

The deputy U.S. attorney general who hired Robert Mueller as special counsel to look into Donald Trump’s possible Russia dealings is heading to the White House on Thursday to meet with the president.

Rosenstein reportedly said something about wearing a listening device while in the White House and also reportedly asked around about invoking the 25tha Amendment to the Constitution, the one that allows Cabinet officials and Congress to remove the president from office.

Rosenstein denied the reports … sort of. He called them “inaccurate,” which isn’t exactly a denial that he made those statements. Other reports indicate Rosenstein said those things “in jest,” which is how the White House has tried to explain some of the president’s own bizarre statements.

Rosenstein might face the music

If the president fires Rosenstein, then Mueller’s future is in serious question. Does the next deputy AG then fire Mueller, ending the painstaking probe that Mueller has conducted in the search for the truth behind allegations of “collusion” between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian goons who attacked our electoral system in 2016?

Rosenstein’s selection of Mueller was hailed in the moment as a brilliant move, a stroke of genius. The former FBI director, Mueller, was hailed as a man of impeccable integrity and character. Then he started indicting people close to Trump. Now — suddenly, like magic! — he is called everything but the son of Satan by many within the Trump inner circle. The president has labeled the Mueller investigation “illegal” and a “rigged witch hunt.”

I do not want Trump to fire Rosenstein. He perhaps can chew him out royally, which is within his purview. Then again, so is firing him.

Robert Mueller’s investigation needs to proceed and conclude under its own power. Rod Rosenstein needs to stay on the job until Mueller’s task is complete.

And the president of the United States needs to shut his trap and let this investigation reach its end. If there’s nothing there, as Trump insists, Robert Mueller will tell us. Correct?

GOP ‘heroes’ nowhere to be seen or heard

Carl Bernstein, the legendary journalist who helped uncover the Watergate scandal, recently said the real “heroes” who brought about the end of the Richard Nixon presidency were Republicans who told the president that his impeachment in the House of Representatives was a certainty.

And so was his conviction in a Senate trial.

Sen. Barry Goldwater led a GOP team of lawmakers to the White House to tell the president his Senate support had all but vanished and that Goldwater was not among those who would vote to acquit him.

Nixon resigned on Aug. 9. 1974.

I mention this because there appears to be no sign of any Republican “heroism” developing as the walls close in around Donald J. Trump, the current Republican who happens to be president of the United States. The GOP is holding firm in both the House and the Senate — with a few exception — in its support of Trump against the special counsel’s examination into what I like calling “The Russia Thing.”

Might there be some heroes emerge if the counsel, Robert Mueller, produces incontrovertible proof of, say, obstruction of justice, or of conspiracy to collude with Russians who attacked our electoral system, or of violations of the Emoluments Clause in the Constitution that bans presidents from accepting gifts from foreign kings and potentates?

I cannot predict the future any more than meteorologists can predict with absolute clarity what the weather will do the next day.

Why the absence of any GOP heroes? President Nixon never grabbed the party by the throat in the early 1970s. Sure, he won re-election in 1972 in a historic landslide. However, the party didn’t exactly belong to him. Fast-forward to the present day and we find that Donald Trump has managed — through an astonishing display of intimidation and innuendo — to capture the heart and soul of a party with which he had only a passing acquaintance prior to becoming a politician, which was when he announced his presidential candidacy.

Because I don’t predict these matters any longer, I am left just to wonder whether there might be a hero or three out there among the Republicans who serve in Congress. What might it take to shake them loose from the death grip that Donald Trump has on them?

Manafort holds one of the keys to Trump survival

Let’s concede Norm Eisen’s partisan leaning: He served as ethics chief for President Barack H. Obama.

So, when he predicts that Donald J. Trump “won’t survive” whatever his former campaign chairman tells special counsel Robert Mueller, it is good to take it with a bit of a grain of salt.

However … the man might know something the rest of us don’t know.

Will the president survive?

Manafort has agreed to cooperate with Mueller after pleading guilty to two felony counts; he’s already been convicted of eight felony charges and faces a lengthy prison term.

Manafort is near the top of the Trump campaign’s chain of command. There ain’t much room between him and the very top 00 which would be Donald Trump.

Manafort is reportedly planning to talk — if he hasn’t already — to Mueller’s legal eagles who are trying to determine whether the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russians who attacked our electoral system in 2016.

Mueller’s probe is a wide-ranging — but totally legal and appropriate — examination of this troublesome issue.

He’s already reeled in some big fish. He’s gotten guilty pleas and has persuaded some big campaign hitters to cooperate with his probe.

Manafort clearly is the biggest fish to date.

Sure, the White House says it has “nothing to fear” from a Manafort guilty plea. You expect that kind of thing from the White House and from those associated with the president. They, too, are partisans.

Given my own bias, though, I’m going to go with Norm Eisen’s view that Trump might not “survive” whatever Manafort spills to Robert Mueller.

The walls are closing in on the president

I am pretty sure we can toss aside the comment from the White House that Paul Manafort’s guilty plea will have no impact on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 presidential election.

We have come to expect such false bravado from Donald J. Trump’s team. It delivered the goods yet again when Manafort pleaded guilty to two felony charges and gave Mueller a promise to “cooperate” with his probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians who attacked our electoral system.

Manafort is the biggest fish that Mueller has reeled in. Manafort is the former campaign chairman for Trump. He left the campaign in mid-stride, handing over campaign management duties to Kellyanne Conway.

I, of course, have no way of knowing with any certainty about the mood within the White House. However, when I do the math, I find that two plus two still equals four.

Manafort’s guilty plea and pending cooperation cannot bode well for the president. That brings me to the question of the day: Will the president pardon Manafort and expose himself to accusations of obstruction of justice?

The threat is growing

Trump shouldn’t go there. Then again, he has shown a tendency to do things just because he can. The president has unquestioned power to pardon anyone he chooses. Is this president enough of a fool to do the most foolish thing imaginable at this point in the investigation? I am not putting a single thing past this guy.

Yes, the walls are closing in. However, I won’t predict the president’s downfall. I mean, he wasn’t supposed to win the 2016 election in the first place.

We all know what happened.

‘Witch hunt’ produces another guilty plea

Robert Mueller’s “rigged witch hunt” has reeled in another Big One.

Paul Manafort, the former Donald Trump 2016 presidential campaign chairman — who’s already facing a lengthy prison term because of a prior felony conviction — is going to plead guilty to another felony charge … reportedly.

Mueller, the special counsel assigned to examine the “Russia thing,” has reportedly worked out a deal with Manafort, who’ll plead guilty to avoid another costly trial. The Russia thing, of course, centers on allegations that the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russians who attacked our electoral system in 2016.

Is there going to be a flip?

Here’s the big question that is slated to get answered sometime Friday: Is the former Trump campaign boss going to cooperate with Mueller? Hmm. I don’t know what he’ll do. Mueller ain’t talking, which is his M.O., unlike the president, who likes to blab his brains out via Twitter at every opportunity.

Trump no doubt will fire off yet another “witch hunt” allegation, which of course is nonsense. It would be laughable if the stakes weren’t so high.

The president’s political future keeps looking a bit murkier with every guilty plea, every former aide who rolls over. However murky the future appears to be getting, it doesn’t yet have much form.

Even with the news that Paul Manafort is getting ready to plead guilty, we cannot yet know the impact it will have on the future of the 45th president of the United States.

This much I feel confident in saying: Robert Mueller’s investigation is the farthest thing possible from a “rigged witch hunt.”

As for the next big development, I’ll await the news after the sun comes up in the morning.

Get ready for a serious ‘witch hunt’

Donald John Trump has been calling a detailed investigation into possible collusion with Russian operatives seeking to influence the 2016 presidential election a “rigged witch hunt.”

Of course … special counsel Robert Mueller’s exhaustive and meticulous investigation is no such thing.

However, we might be getting ready to watch the real thing unfold. A serious witch hunt emanating from within the White House as an enraged president seeks to find the identity of the “senior White House official” who wrote an op-ed column published today in The New York Times.

Of course, I have no way of knowing this, but I strongly suspect that Trump has released the proverbial hounds to find the source of the essay. He or White House chief of staff John Kelly will confront everyone they can imagine who might have written such a thing; my money is on Kelly doing the heavy lift, given the president’s inability/unwillingness to confront someone directly.

However, I am quite sure we’re going to witness a serious “witch hunt” that seeks to reveal who has spoken a truth about the Trump administration that many of us have suspected all along.

Waiting to read this blockbuster book

I’ll admit it. I couldn’t wait until Christmas to get a copy of “Fear,” the latest book by esteemed journalist Bob Woodward.

My son and daughter-in-law had given me a Father’s Day gift card from Amazon, which I redeemed this morning. The book will be on its way to my house once it is released on Sept. 11.

There is so much to digest, so much to ponder, according to the excerpts that have been released for public review. Here’s one tidbit, as expressed in a Twitter message put out by U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.: Trump’s previous personal lawyer was convinced would commit perjury if he talked to Mueller. Let that sink in.

It is sinking in as I write this brief blog post. It gives me a much clearer understanding on why John Dowd, the aforementioned “previous personal lawyer,” turned in his resignation as Trump’s lawyer. He couldn’t represent a client who would be prone to lying, even under oath, where he swears to tell “the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

“Mueller,” of course, is Robert Mueller, the special counsel who at this moment remains up to his eyeballs in trying to determine whether the 2016 Trump campaign “colluded” with Russian goons who attacked our electoral system.

For the president’s former personal counsel to suggest he had no faith in his client’s ability to tell Mueller the truth is, um, shall we say, shocking in the extreme.

As it is frightening.

Woodward peels bark off Trump White House

I feel quite comfortable making this assertion, which is that Robert Woodward is not some schmuck seeking to make a name for himself.

Oh, no. Woodward is one of the country ‘s most renowned print journalists and he has just published a book that talks about life inside the Donald Trump administration. He made his name by reporting on an earlier presidential scandal, that thing called “Watergate,” which ended with the resignation of the nation’s 37th president, Richard M. Nixon.

Woodward’s latest volume is, um, shall we say an unflattering portrait.

The book, “Fear,” talks about how the president referred to Attorney General Jeff Sessions as “mentally retarded” and mocked the AG’s southern accent. It references a mock Q&A to prepare for a possible interview with special counsel Robert Mueller and how Trump exploded in anger, calling Mueller’s probe into alleged Russian collusion during the 2016 presidential campaign a “goddamn hoax.”

According to The Washington Post, where Woodward works as an associate editor: A central theme of the book is the stealthy machinations used by those in Trump’s inner sanctum to try to control his impulses and prevent disasters, both for the president personally and for the nation he was elected to lead.

Also, according to The Post: Again and again, Woodward recounts at length how Trump’s national security team was shaken by his lack of curiosity and knowledge about world affairs and his contempt for the mainstream perspectives of military and intelligence leaders.

To think Americans actually elected this guy president of the United States, commander in chief of history’s greatest military machine and the Leader of the Free World.

Oh, the humanity!

I think I now know what I want for Christmas.

Impeachment needs to stay on back shelf

Leon Panetta is a Democratic Party wise man and elder whose wisdom needs to be heeded.

The former U.S. representative, CIA director, defense secretary, White House chief of staff — I think that covers it — says Democrats need to cool it with the “impeachment” talk regarding Donald J. Trump.

The 2018 midterm election is shaping up as a good year for Democrats. They well might take control of the House of Representatives when the ballots are counted. I am not going to say it’s a done deal, though; I am out of the political predictin’ business, as you might remember.

Suppose the Democrats take the House. They’ll chair committees. They’ll have subpoena power. They’ll have the numbers to impeach the president if they’re so moved to take that action.

Panetta’s advice is for Democrats to keep a lid on impeachment talk as they campaign district by district for control of the lower chamber of Congress.

As Politico reported: “I think the most important thing that the Democrats could do is allow Bob Mueller to complete his work,” Panetta said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” referencing Mueller’s work as special counsel for the Justice Department and his role in the ongoing investigation into Russia’s part in the 2016 presidential election.

He is right. Impeachment seems a good bet to follow if Democrats manage to wrest control from their GOP “friends.”

However, impeachment is one thing; conviction and removal from office is quite another.

If the House impeaches Trump, the Senate will need a two-thirds vote to convict him of whatever “high crime and misdemeanor” the House chooses to level against the president. President Clinton got impeached in 1998, but the Senate never came close to the two-thirds threshold during the trial it conducted.

Republicans are likely to make impeachment a campaign issue as they fight to fend off the Democratic assault on GOP control of Congress. If I hear Leon Panetta correctly, Democrats need to turn away from any impeachment discussion until — or if — they win control of the House in the midterm election.

I think I’ll root for a House flip.