Tag Archives: Robert Mueller

Preferring to wait for Mueller report

Let’s see, who should we believe?

U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., says “evidence is in plain sight” that the Donald Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russian government operatives who attacked our electoral system in 2016.

There’s that view.

Then we have U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., who says there is “no evidence” of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian goons.

Clear as mud, right?

I believe I am going to await the findings of the special counsel, Robert Mueller III — the former FBI director and a first-class lawyer — to finish his investigation into the Russia collusion matter.

I also intend to insist that he make his report public. Mueller has spent a several trainloads of public money on this investigation. Thus, the public is entitled to see how its investment has paid off, if it has paid off.

As for chairmen Schiff and Burr, they’re likely viewing this matter through their own partisan prisms. I want to hear from the man who has unique knowledge of what happened.

The nation awaits you, Mr. Special Counsel.

AG Barr now must make good on pledge

U.S. Attorney General William Barr has the potential to emerge as one of the few grownups to serve in the presidential administration of Donald J. Trump.

The Senate confirmed him this week with a 54-45 vote, which I thought was much closer and more partisan than I expected. However, he’s now the head guy at the Justice Department.

AG Barr’s task now is to make good on the pledges he made to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing.

Barr said he wouldn’t be bullied by the president of the United States; he said special counsel Robert Mueller will be allowed to finish his exhaustive probe into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian election attacks; he has expressed faith in Mueller’s integrity and professionalism.

I have faith that Barr will make good on his pledge. This isn’t his first DOJ rodeo. Barr served as attorney general from 1991 to 1992 during the George H.W. Bush administration. He is a top-notch lawyer. Yes, he’s a partisan, but we should expect that from any AG regardless of his or her party affiliation.

So, Mr. Attorney General, I implore you to be faithful to your sworn statements in front of the entire nation, if not the world.

How do you lie by accident?

This headline appeared on a National Public Radio story about Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman: “Manafort intentionally lied so special counsel, judge says.”

It made me crack open by trusty American Heritage Dictionary. I looked up the word “lie.” It says a lie is “a false statement deliberately presented as true.”

The key word here is “deliberately.” Which begs the question: How does someone lie by accident, or without intending to lie?

The judge has slammed Manafort hard, saying the president’s former campaign chairman lied to special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into “The Russia Thing.”

Read the NPR story here

Manafort lied. He did it on purpose. Which is precisely what a lie is defined as being.

I am wondering now about this notion that somehow it is news that Manafort “intentionally” lied to Mueller.

A false statement presented as true by accident is a “misstatement”; it’s a mistake, a verbal gaffe. Manafort has taken a page from his former boss. He lied.

Extra glad Whitaker is on his way out as AG

After watching a good bit of acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, I came away with this major conclusion: I am doubly glad he is on his way out as head of the Department of Justice.

Committee members asked him — and pressed him — to answer a simple question: Do you believe special counsel Robert Mueller is engaged in a “witch hunt” of Donald Trump?

FBI Director Christopher Wray has said “no.” So has the AG-designate, William Barr. Both of those men stand firmly behind Mueller’s integrity and professionalism.

Whitaker’s answer? He didn’t want to comment on “an ongoing investigation.” He said it was “inappropriate.”

Hah! It wasn’t “inappropriate” for Wray to comment. Or for Barr. Whitaker, though, is hiding behind some kind of phony, bogus and dubious pretext that he cannot comment on an ongoing probe into whether Donald Trump’s campaign “colluded” with Russian operatives who attacked our electoral system in the 2016 presidential election.

None of the committee members asked him to comment on specifics of the probe. No one wanted him to give away any secrets. They asked a simple, declarative question that required a simple, declarative “yes” or “no” answer.

I happen to believe William Barr is a fine choice as attorney general. I trust him to be professional who will be beholden to the Constitution and not the president of the United States. This ain’t his first DOJ rodeo, given that he served as AG during Bush 41’s administration.

As for Matthew Whitaker, please go far away — as soon as possible.

There’s still that ‘elephant in the room,’ Mr. President

Donald Trump’s second State of the Union speech reportedly went over well with most Americans, who told pollsters overnight they approved of what he had to say.

I was one of those Americans. The pollsters didn’t call me, but I’ll offer this unsolicited view: The president did hit a few good notes and I applaud him for hitting them.

  • Criminal justice reform is a big deal and I am glad to hear him insist on reforming federal laws that punish non-violent criminals too harshly. I was delighted that Gladys Johnson, whose life sentence in prison for a first-time drug conviction that Trump commuted, was there to receive bipartisan applause.
  • Infrastructure repair also is a big deal. We need to fix our crumbling roads, bridges and airports. How we pay for it is another matter, given that it’s going to cost well north of $1 trillion.

That’s about it in terms of supporting the president’s policies.

Trump called for an end to “partisan investigations.” Well, actually, I don’t consider special counsel Robert Mueller’s search for the truth behind allegations of “collusion” with Russians who attacked our electoral system to be a partisan exercise.

It’s an important one. Yes, the president is right to assert that we need unity at home if we’re going to assume our role as world leader. I’ll just offer this notion: Let the special counsel finish his work, allow him to reveal to the public what he found, let us discuss the findings openly and then we can decide what steps — if any — to take before we move on.

Some takeaways from SOTU speech

I won’t get into the body language chatter that has erupted on social media, such as the strange hand-clap given by Speaker Nancy Pelosi or the sitting on hands by congressional Democrats who now comprise a majority of the House membership.

I simply find the president’s pleas to be utterly lacking in sincerity. He says the right words, but I cannot get past the belief that he doesn’t actually believe what he says. Therefore, how can he expect the rest of us to buy into whatever message he seeks to deliver.

Mueller probe causing some heartburn

Robert S. Mueller III is giving me a case of heartburn.

The length of this probe is giving me the willies about its future.

Mueller’s probe into The Russia Thing needs to conclude. I hope it happens soon. My fear is that the longer it goes the greater the chance that Donald J. Trump will do something so profoundly stupid that he will hurl the nation into the mother of constitutional crises.

What would the president do? He might order the Department of Justice to fire Mueller. Sure, he keeps pledging — sort of — to let Mueller finish his job. However, I trust the president only as far as I can throw a 239-pound individual.

My heartburn worsens when I consider that I also want Mueller to be as thorough as humanly possible before he wraps it up. He has obtained 37 indictments and guilty pleas already. Some of those indictments include the president’s closest campaign aides and key White House staffers. The latest indictment of Trump confidant Roger Stone is providing an sideshow that would make P.T. Barnum proud.

Yes, I want Mueller to pick through the evidence he has collected already into alleged “collusion” with Russians who attacked our electoral system. I want him to pore over every single bit of it.

Time, though, is not Mueller’s ally. A new attorney general, William Barr, is likely to be approved by the U.S. Senate. I hope that confirmation comes soon so that Barr — a former AG during the Bush 41 administration — can take command; he then can push the Trump sycophant, acting AG Matthew Whitaker, out of the way.

But on another level, I want this probe to end so we can move on to the next thing, which is to digest its findings, or at least those findings that Mueller deigns to release to the public. My strongest hope is that Mueller releases virtually all of it, keeping only that information that contains national security information away from public view.

I want it concluded. But not in a hurry-up fashion. I also want the president to keep his hands off of Mueller’s work and I also want Mueller to finish every little detail of this exhaustive work.

Pass the Pepto . . .

Pipe down, Rep. Waters . . . will ya?

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters is dead set on impeaching Donald John Trump.¬†She is so anxious to boot the president out of office she says it is “past time” to file articles of impeachment against him.

Well . . .

Allow me this brief rejoinder to the California Democrat: No, ma’am. It isn’t “past time.” Impeachment needs to wait for some work to be finished.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is up to his armpits in evidence that he is preparing for a final report on “The Russia Thing.”

Trump’s denigrating of our nation’s intelligence chiefs’ assessment of threats against the country got Waters’ temperature up. She’s been an ardent and vocal critic of the president. She needs little to get fired up over her desire to impeach him.

I oppose the president at almost every level, too. However, I am going to use this forum — my blog — to assert that we must wait for Mueller to finish his work before we decide whether to proceed with impeachment.

With that, Rep. Waters, I urge you to settle down and let the special counsel finish his important task.

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.

‘Biggest witch hunt in history?’ Not even close

Donald J. Trump, as is his habit, fired off a tweet today after the indictment of confidant Roger Stone that provided another example of egregious exaggeration.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has indicted Stone on charges of lying about “the Russia thing.” Trump unloaded with a Twitter message that bellowed “NO COLLUSION!” and said Mueller is embarking on the “biggest witch hunt” in U.S. history.

Oops! No, Mr. President. It’s not a witch hunt. Even if it was a witch hunt, it would be far from the “biggest” in American history.

You see, there was a time before the nation was actually founded when they went after women in Salem, Mass., looking for actual witches. They killed these women, Mr. President. In case anyone has forgotten, no one has died in the Mueller probe into whether the president’s campaign conspired with Russians who attacked our electoral system.

So, Mr. President . . . knock off the hyperbole!

William Barr: Trump’s newest ‘grownup’

William Pelham Barr has emerged — in my mind, at least — as Donald Trump’s latest “only grownup” in his administration.

Now that former Defense Secretary James Mattis has exited the Trump administration, it now falls on the attorney general-designate to assume the role of grownup.

Based on what I have heard during two days of testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr might be ready to step into that key role.

Barr would take over a Justice Department that supervises the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller, who is examining whether Donald Trump’s presidential campaign “colluded” with Russians who interfered in our 2016 election.

Barr has hit several pitches out of the park. He vows to let Mueller complete his probe without interference; he pledges that he would not follow an unlawful order from the president; he stands by Mueller — with whom he has been friends for 30 years — as man of impeccable integrity; he says Mueller is not engaged in a “witch hunt”; he says he won’t be “bullied” by the president of the United States.

OK, with all that said, Barr did whiff on at least one pitch from the Senate Judiciary Committee. He won’t mess with laws governing whether a president can be indicted. Nor did he promise to make the Mueller report public, which I believe is imperative, given the public expense of the investigation.

In the grand scheme, I believe Barr should be recommended for confirmation by the Judiciary panel and the full Senate should confirm him. He won’t get the unanimous confirmation he got when he served as AG during the George H.W. Bush administration from 1991 to 1993. It’s a different era now. A different type of president has taken office and he has upset almost every single element of what we used to call “normal” in American politics.

Trump fired Jeff Sessions as AG only because Sessions recused himself from the Russia matter. Sessions did what he had to do under DOJ rules of ethics. There could no way for him to lead an investigation into a presidential campaign in which he played a key role as a national security adviser. So he backed out, enraging Trump.

Barr promises he won’t be bullied by the president. I hope he stands firm on that. He no doubt knows what he is getting into by accepting this job as attorney general.

Which to my mind makes him a serious grownup in an administration that is sorely lacking in them.