Tag Archives: Robert Mueller

William Barr: a profound disappointment

It is time for some disclosure on my part.

Jeff Sessions’ departure as U.S. attorney general was maddening in one respect: Even though I didn’t approve of his selection in the beginning, he did follow the law by recusing himself from the Russia investigation into Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign; when Trump fired him, he did so only because Sessions did the right thing and it spoke volumes about the corrupt intent within Trump.

Then came the appointment of William Barr. I was glad to see Barr get nominated. Why? He served as AG during President George H.W. Bush’s term in office and acquitted himself well in the early 1990s. I had hoped that Trump had found another grownup to join the Cabinet.

It didn’t take long for Barr to prove to me that he swilled the Trump Kool-Aid and would become a shill for the Carnival Barker in Chief rather than representing the best interests of the nation he took an oath to protect. How about that sham summary he provided after Robert Mueller issued his findings on collusion with the Russians during the 2016 campaign. You get my drift, right?

The firing this past week of the Southern District of New York U.S. attorney, Geoffrey Berman, sealed the deal for me. Berman was canned because he was investigating Trump’s business affairs. You can’t have that going on, Barr seemed to suggest. He fired Berman, who had refused to resign. Or maybe Trump told Barr to do it. Whatever, it doesn’t matter. The clumsy and ridiculous display of obvious political a**-covering exposed Barr once again as a toadie for Donald Trump.

My understanding of U.S. attorney appointments is that they are recommended by U.S. senators or House members to the Justice Department, which then passes the nomination on to the Senate, which confirms the appointment. The firing of Berman was done far outside the lines of propriety.

So, the drama continues and it will continue to unfold for as long as Donald Trump pretends to be president of the United States.

We need to get him out of the Oval Office … and be sure he takes William Barr with him.

Trump bashes Sessions … who bashes right back!

I love watching this Twitter tango taking place between Donald John Trump and the former attorney general who Trump selected, Jeff Sessions.

I can’t believe I am saying this, but I actually am in Sessions’ corner as he fights back against the idiocy that comes from Trump.

Sessions is running in the Republican primary in Alabama for the U.S. Senate. Sessions was a senator from ‘Bama before Trump selected him to be AG.

Sessions was a big man in the Trump presidential campaign. He had connections with, um, Russians who then attacked our electoral system in 2016. Then came questions about whether the Trump team “colluded” with the Russians. There was no way Sessions could investigate his own role in connection with those allegations, so he backed away. The Justice Department appointed Robert Mueller to lead the probe … and that ticked Trump off royally.

Trump has been accusing Sessions of destroying people’s lives by recusing himself and allowing Mueller to conduct the probe. Sessions, though, responded that Trump should be “grateful” he followed the law.

Trump is having none of it.

Still, Sessions is on the right side of this dispute. He did what DOJ policy required of him. He followed the law!

Of course, following the law is a sign of betrayal according to Donald Trump, who has only a passing interest in doing the right thing.

Don’t misunderstand me on this point: Jeff Sessions is not my preferred pick to sit in the U.S. Senate; I didn’t support his selection as AG. However, he took the correct course in recusing himself from the Russia collusion investigation. For him to be pilloried by Donald Trump because he “followed the law” is reprehensible on its face.

Thus, I am glad to see Sessions fighting back.

Election security becomes a highly critical ‘back story’

An essential element of the impeachment and Senate trial of Donald John Trump, the current president of the United States, is being pushed toward the back of the proverbial shelf.

I refer to election security. Specifically, the security of our sacred rite of citizenship against foreign interference.

You know the story. Russia attacked our electoral system in 2016, the same day that Donald Trump invited the Russians to look for the “missing emails” produced by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was Trump’s presidential campaign foe that year.

Then the president, immediately after Robert Mueller III released his findings into a two-year-long investigation into the Russia hack and interference, placed a phone call to Ukrainian President Volodyrmyr Zellenskiy. He asked Zellenskiy for a “favor,” which was to launch an investigation into Joe Biden, a potential foe for Trump in 2020. Yes, the president asked a foreign government for political help. He wants to “cheat” his way to re-election.

How in the name of cybersecurity can we stand by and let this happen?

I am acutely aware that government cyber geeks are hard at work trying to provide fool-proof locks against this kind of intrusion. What troubles me in the extreme is that the individuals at the highest levels of our government are stone-cold silent on this matter.

Donald Trump, the intended beneficiary of the 2016 Russian election attack, continues to dismiss the interference. He disparages intelligence analyses that says, “Yes, the Russians did it!” He calls that phone call to Zellenskiy “perfect.”

It was “perfect” only insofar as he delivered a clearly defined message to a foreign head of state. He wanted a “favor” and asked that government to attack our electoral system — again! 

What measures are we taking to protect our election system throughout its massive network?

Democrats seek to keep it simple in its impeachment strategy

U.S. House of Representatives Democrats have ripped a page out of the book that contains the saying, “Keep it simple, stupid.”

They went for just two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump. They want to impeach the president on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress accusations.

There will be no reference to the Robert Mueller III investigation into the Russia collusion/obstruction of justice matter. House Democrats chose to center on what Trump has done to merit — in their view — impeachment with regard to Ukraine.

So the House will impeach the president on accusations that he solicited a political favor from a foreign government and then stood in the way of Congress doing its constitutionally mandated duty by ordering key witnesses to ignore congressional subpoenas.

To my way of thinking those are clear and obvious grounds to impeach this president.

The House Intelligence and Judiciary committees don’t want to muddy matters up by bringing in Mueller’s report.

That’s a good call. Will it persuade Republicans in the House and Senate to see the light and do their duty to uphold the Constitution, which Trump has flouted through his impeachable offenses? Hardly.

Still, I applaud them for keeping it simple.

Did the POTUS lie to Mueller, too?

Oh, my! The hits just keep on comin’ with regard to Donald J. Trump.

The House of Representatives, which is up to its collective eyeballs in an impeachment inquiry into the president of the United States, is now looking into whether Trump lied in his written responses to Robert Mueller III, the former special counsel hired by the Justice Department to look into The Russia Thing.

Let me ponder this for a moment.

So, do you think the serial liar in chief, the man who cannot tell the truth under any circumstances, might have deceived Mueller, who sought answers into allegations that the Trump 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russians who attacked our electoral system?

That doesn’t require much rumination, at least for me. I believe it is entirely possible that Trump lied to Mueller.

What is unclear to me, though, is whether Mueller received some sort of pledge from Trump — or made him take an oath — to be truthful when he answered questions in writing.

If he did, and then the president lied to him, well … I believe they call that “perjury.” I also recall that Republicans in Congress used perjury as their justification for indicting President Bill Clinton in 1998, who lied to a grand jury about whether he had “sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.” 

We all know how the House is likely to react if it finds evidence of lying to Mueller. What we don’t know is whether the House will be equally vocal if it determines that Trump told Mueller the “truth and whole truth” when he responded to the special counsel’s questions. Fairness would require the House to declare that Trump told the truth if that’s what it learns.

But seriously … Trump’s record of lying makes it extremely difficult to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Trump’s hypocrisy on full display … imagine it!

Donald Trump now is insisting that “the whistleblower” whose comments have helped trigger the move toward presidential impeachment must testify in public. He or she must sit in front of Congress and answer questions out loud.

Written testimony “is not acceptable,” according to the latest version of Trump’s doctrine.

Really? He said that?

Why do you suppose he refused to answer questions posed to him directly by former special counsel Robert Mueller III during the investigation into alleged Russian collusion during the 2016 presidential campaign? Why, the president only responded in writing to Mueller’s team of investigators.

Hypocrisy, anyone?

POTUS works overtime to hide ‘nothing’

Donald J. Trump keeps insisting he has done nothing wrong. He calls the Democratic effort to impeach him the “greatest witch hunt in our history.” The president calls it a hoax. He calls the Emoluments Clause in the Constitution a “phony” proviso.

All that said, why in the name of presumed innocence does he keep acting like someone who’s trying to hide things from congressional inquisitors?

The House is getting ready to impeach the president. They have a trove of issues on which to decide. They include obstruction of justice, abuse of power, violating his oath of office, possible bribery.

However, the president says he has done nothing wrong. That July 25 phone conversation with the Ukrainian president in which he sought a “favor, though” in exchange for weapons was “perfect,” as Trump has described it.

His newly installed press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, said Trump “has nothing to hide.”

C’mon, gang! With nothing to hide, with there being no “there” there,” why does Trump keep acting like someone who’s trying to keep the goods out of Congress’s hands?

He did the same thing when special counsel Robert Mueller III was trying to ascertain “collusion” with Russians who interfered with our 2016 election. Trump is continuing the same tactic now as House Democrats proceed with their impeachment inquiry.

Hey, I am sitting in the peanut gallery. I get that I am nowhere near the center of the action. Still, from my perch out here in Trump Country, Donald Trump is acting far more like someone with plenty to hide than the victim of a “witch hunt.”

DOJ embarks on, dare I say it, a ‘witch hunt’?

The Department of Justice is now launching what has been called a criminal inquiry into — get ready for it — the investigation into whether Russia interfered in our 2016 presidential election.

What DOJ expects to find is not clear. Attorney General William Barr has appointed a seasoned prosecutor, John Durham, to lead the probe. This one puzzles and concerns me greatly.

Don’t politicize DOJ

Every leading intelligence official within the Donald Trump administration has said the same thing: Russia interfered in our election and sought to elect Donald Trump as president in 2016. Trump, of course, has debunked that notion; he also has denigrated our intelligence agencies’ ability to reach the conclusion they all reached.

When former Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe, his deputy AG, Rod Rosenstein, appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller to be special counsel and lead the investigation into the Russia matter.

Trump has hurled some harsh language at Mueller’s investigation, which concluded in May with a partial exoneration of Trump of “colluding” with Russians; he left open the question of whether Trump obstructed justice in the pursuit of truth behind that interference.

Now we have DOJ entering the scene.

To what end will this probe conclude?

I just hope that John Durham, the experienced federal prosecutor who has drawn praise from partisans on both sides of the aisle, will be able to withstand political pressure that might emanate from the top of the Justice Department.

Still, I fear how this probe will proceed. I smell a “witch hunt” in the making.

Trump mounting strange defense

Donald Trump’s reaction to the looming impeachment decision in the U.S. House of Representatives reminds me of the tactic he employed when special counsel Robert Mueller was examining The Russia Thing.

The president then chose to denigrate, disparage and all but defame Mueller’s probe, all the while proclaiming he did nothing wrong during the 2016 campaign.

My thought then was: If he is innocent of wrongdoing, why not just turn everything over and let the proverbial chips fall? He didn’t. Mueller finished his work, essentially absolving Trump of colluding with Russians who attacked our electoral system, but leaving the door open for Congress to decide the obstruction matter.

Now the House is marching toward impeaching the president. He calls the House action “unconstitutional,” which of course it isn’t. He has declared he won’t cooperate in any way, then changed his mind and said he would cooperate if the House treats him “fairly,” whatever that means.

My question today is similar to what it was then: If he did nothing wrong, is he hiding something he doesn’t want anyone to see?

Just cooperate, Mr. President, and let the House do the job that the U.S. Constitution empowers it to do.

Ukraine story taking on more lives

This is how controversies evolve into full-blown scandals.

Something happens that raises eyebrows. Then we hear about more matters related — perhaps only tangentially — to the original event. Then more matters are heaped on all of that. Our attention gets stretched far beyond the original “sin.”

So it is happening now with the Ukrainian matter, the July 25 phone call that Donald Trump had the Ukrainian president and who else might have heard the two men talked about in that fateful conversation.

Trump is now known to have asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zellenskiy for help in his re-election effort, including getting dirt on Joe Biden, a potential 2020 campaign opponent.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he didn’t know anything about the phone call; then we hear from a State Department official, talking to the Wall Street Journal, that Pompeo listened to the phone call in real time.

Then the president decides to throw Vice President Mike Pence’s name out there, suggesting that the VP might be involved in some manner.

Oh, and now comes news that Trump sought help from Australia’s prime minister for help in undermining former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into The Russia Thing.

What in the name of scandalous behavior is happening here?

Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, the formerly highly esteemed New York City mayor, has become unhinged. He rambles incoherently on national TV, accusing former Vice President Joe Biden of crimes that other prosecutors say are unfounded.

The House is force-marching its way toward impeaching the president on charges that he violated his oath of office by soliciting a foreign government for political assistance. Whether it results in conviction in the Senate, of course, remains a highly open question.

However, what could have been blown off as a mere “controversy” is becoming rapidly a full-blown “scandal” that will result in an impeached president running for re-election.

We are racing down heretofore untraveled roads.