Tag Archives: Robert Mueller

No need to lock him up . . . at least not yet?

Michael Flynn went before the judge today and got a snootful from the jurist who holds the man’s future in his hands.

The former Donald Trump national security adviser, though, was spared a prison sentence from U.S. District Judge Emmitt Sullivan until after Flynn is finished cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the alleged Russia collusion matter during the 2016 presidential election.

To be totally candid, I don’t really care whether Flynn serves time in prison for the felony crimes to which he has pleaded guilty. Mueller is asking the judge to spare Flynn prison time because of the extensive cooperation he has given the probe into allegations of collusion, conspiracy and perhaps other matters relating to the Trump campaign — if not the presidency itself.

Sullivan reminded Flynn this morning that he is under no obligation to follow Mueller’s recommendation and scolded the retired Army lieutenant general for being an “unregistered agent” for a foreign power while serving as national security adviser. Sullivan told Flynn that “arguably you sold your country out.” The hearing reportedly was contentious as Sullivan — who was appointed to the federal bench by President Clinton — gave Flynn the holy what-for in connection to his admitted involvement with the Russian government.

Mueller is going to get more information from Flynn as he seeks to conclude his investigation. I hope the end arrives sooner rather than later.

As for Flynn — who once led Republican National Convention cheers to “lock up!” Hillary Clinton for using her personal email server while she was secretary of state — all I want from him at this point is full cooperation with Mueller and his team of legal eagles.

Something tells me Flynn has more beans to spill regarding Trump’s campaign and whether the president himself committed illegal acts on his way to being elected to the nation’s highest office.

Trump’s hysteria continues to mount

My astonishment at the presidential hysteria mounting over the Russia probe and related matters is continuing to build.

It presents itself in stark contrast to the stone-cold silence coming from the office of the special counsel that Donald Trump is attacking multiple times daily.

Robert Mueller continues to insist on a veil of silence. He has instructed his team to keep its collective trap shut. No leaks are coming from the special counsel who is examining that “Russia thing” that prompted Trump to fire FBI director James Comey in May 2017.

Yet the president continues his frontal assault on Mueller’s reputation, on the reputation of his former friend Michael Cohen, on Comey, on the Department of Justice, on the FBI. His assault is inflicting some collateral damage, too, such as on the rule of law and on the notion that the U.S. Constitution stands as a bulwark against any abuses of power that might arise from any of the three branches of government.

It is my fervent hope that Mueller concludes his investigation sooner rather than later. I am growing weary of the Twitter tirades coming from the White House. I am tiring of the insistence from the president that Mueller has “no evidence of collusion”; in fact, we don’t know what Mueller has or doesn’t have, which is why I want the probe to reach its finish line.

As for the president, every time he yaps about “no collusion” or “no laws being broken,” he sounds all the more to me as if he’s trying to hide something from public purview. I refer to those tax returns that he has refused to release; or the mountain of documented evidence that Mueller has compiled that is bound to answer a lot of questions.

Donald Trump’s hysteria plays well with the base that is hanging with him to the end. Fine. It isn’t playing well with the rest of the country, the 60-some percent of us who disapprove of the manner that Trump seeks to lead the country.

Please, Mr. Special Counsel, wrap this thing up as soon as possible to spare us the frothing madness that pours out of the White House.

Oh, wait! It just occurs to me that the end of the Russia probe — no matter how it concludes — is going to produce another endless barrage from the president of the United States.

Dang it, man! We can’t win!

The Trump Story has turned into a stampede

I have sought to refrain myself from getting swept away by all the developments associated with the Donald Trump Story. It’s true but I won’t beg you to believe it.

The more I see and hear, the more I read and the more I try to understand it all, I am now of the opinion that this story has turned into a stampede that well could trample the president and those closest to him.

Three former top aides and friends — Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort — are facing prison time. They’re convicted felons. They are working, or have worked, in conjunction with the special counsel, Robert Mueller, who is investigating that Russian collusion matter.

Mueller is acquiring a mountain of evidence from all two of those men; the third, Manafort, has been caught lying to Mueller’s team.

Then we’re hearing reports of a leading tabloid newspaper burying stories about Trump’s relationships with at least two women to help him win the 2016 president election. We are hearing of allegedly illegal payments to those women. There might be campaign finance violations.

Meanwhile, the president cannot find a new White House chief of staff. He cannot fill key secondary positions within his staff. There are reports about his alleged “concern” about impeachment by the House of Representatives that in January flips from GOP to Democratic control.

I had hoped this story could wind down. That Mueller would finish his probe, tie a bow around it and present it to the public for our review, our analysis and our judgment.

Jiminy crickets, man. It’s getting more complicated, more complex, more controversial by the hour.

Donald John Trump is in trouble.

Tax returns: the gift that keeps on giving

Tax returns have, um, returned to the top of our awareness.

Not my tax returns. Or yours. I refer to the president of the United States.

You’ll recall when Donald Trump stiffed 40 years of political tradition by refusing to release his returns for public scrutiny. He said dubiously that he was under audit by the Internal Revenue Service. That was more than two years ago! He still hasn’t released them. He is showing not a single indication that he’ll do so voluntarily.

Presidential candidates of both parties since 1976 have released their tax returns in the spirit of full transparency. Trump talks about being transparent, then hides his returns.

They’re increasing in relevance to what has developed. The special counsel, Robert Mueller, likely knows what is in those returns. He likely knows about whether the president has invested in “Russia matters.” He likely knows whether the president has benefited materially from his office, which could be in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, the part that says presidents cannot accept money from foreign governments.

We’ll know in due course whether Mueller has those returns. We’ll know also in due course whether the special counsel has anything incriminating regarding those returns.

The idea that Trump has refused to release those returns because of an IRS audit falls apart on two levels. First, he’s never produced any evidence that the IRS is even auditing his tax returns. Second, the IRS — which doesn’t comment on individual audits — has made it clear that an audit does not preclude any public figure from making those returns public.

My direct plea to the special counsel is this: Make those returns available to those of us who want to know the truth behind our president’s financial dealings.

Pearl Harbor, Mr. POTUS?

Oh, man. I just had to share this hilarious social media post . . . with a brief comment.

It reminds us that Donald J. Trump, no matter what he says about his love, affection and respect for the men and women who serve in our armed forces, just didn’t have time on Pearl Harbor Day to commemorate the sacrifice made by roughly 2,500 Americans on Dec. 7, 1941.

Oh, no. Instead, he chose to launch into a Twitter tirade about Robert Mueller’s probe into the Russia matter.

Mr. President, don’t ever proclaim your phony respect for those of us who have worn the uniform in defense of our country. Those proclamations are as phony as your commitment to making America great again.

Fair to ask: Is POTUS now in serious jeopardy?

For the nearly two years that Donald Trump has served as president of the United States, I have sought to refrain from saying out loud what others have opined.

It is this: Donald Trump might not finish his term as president?

I haven’t gone there. Until now.

For the first time in Donald Trump’s time as president, I am feeling some pangs of uncertainty about his political future. I am believing that there is a chance he won’t finish his term.

How might that occur? It won’t be through impeachment. I believe as others do that although the House of Representatives can impeach the president for still-unspecified reasons and/or charges, the Senate remains an extremely high hurdle to clear. If the president stands trial, the Senate would need to find 67 votes to convict him of any of the charges for which he would be impeached.

Trump might resign, a la President Nixon. The 37th president quit after the House Judiciary Committee approved articles of impeachment; Senate Republicans trooped to the White House to inform the president that he didn’t have the support in the Senate to acquit him in a trial. Then he resigned.

Why would Trump quit? It might occur if it becomes obvious — even to the president — that he has no path toward governing. The Senate that now has 53 GOP members could be in jeopardy of falling to the Democrats in 2020, following the House that flipped from GOP control to Democratic control in the 2018 midterm election.

There could actually be an indictment handed down by a legal authority once the special counsel completes his work. No one can predict what Robert Mueller will conclude when his painstaking investigation wraps up. Trump keeps yammering about “no collusion!” but not even he knows what Mueller has uncovered — if anything. I get the sense that he’s got some goods . . . if not the goods on Donald Trump.

Mueller’s recent sentencing memos regarding former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former Trump lawyer/friend Michael Cohen and former national security adviser Michael Flynn all suggest clearly that he has compiled a mountain of information and evidence that something has gone terribly wrong with the presidency of Donald Trump.

We are entering the murkiest of pathways into the president’s world. I am not sure how this all ends. That gives me reason at this moment to wonder whether the president is going to finish his term.

Trump sounding more guilty by the hour

I long ago quit imploring Donald J. Trump to stop using Twitter the way he does. It’s now an accepted — in some circles — method the president uses to communicate with us more normal Americans.

I now am looking at those tweet tirades in another light.

The more furious they become, the angrier, the more outlandish the outbursts, the more it looks to me as though the president’s nervousness is on display.

To be honest, Trump’s seeming anxiety over the progress of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the “Russia thing” is making me nervous. It’s beginning to frighten me at some level.

I don’t want the president to do something foolish, such as, oh, throwing out pardons left and right; or ordering the acting attorney general to fire Robert Mueller; or, God forbid, send our troops into battle in a “wag the dog” scenario that would divert/deflect attention from his political trouble.

My view of the president’s unfitness for the office he holds only has strengthened as the nation and the world have watched him writhe in anger at the so-called “witch hunt” I hope is drawing to a close.

Despite all the comparisons we made over the past week between Trump and the late George H.W. Bush, I am more concerned about the comparison between Trump and Mueller.

Trump’s hysteria stands in stark and telling contrast to the buttoned-up, tight-lipped, totally secret conduct of Mueller and his legal team. That the president would take to Twitter to blast Mueller as a partisan hack, a closet Democrat, a “friend” of fired FBI boss James Comey and, thus, intent on destroying his presidency is both laughable and disgraceful on its face. Mueller is a pro, he’s  Republican, he is a man of impeccable character and he’s trying to get to the truth behind all the allegations that have swirled around Donald Trump’s campaign and administration.

I only can conclude that the more Trump rants and roars at Mueller, the more culpable he appears to Americans who need to know the truth about their president.

Trump’s delusion is accelerating

Donald J. Trump either really doesn’t read anything or has become increasingly delusional.

I’ll go with, um, both possibilities.

The Southern District of New York U.S. attorney’s office has said former Trump friend/Mr. Fixer Michael Cohen should serve prison time for his pattern of lies to federal authorities. Cohen might get four to five years in the slammer for his greed-driven felonies.

Trump responded immediately via Twitter — of course: Totally clears the President. Thank you!

Hmm. Let me think about that. OK, Mr. President. It doesn’t clear you in the least.

Nothing has cleared the president, certainly not his hysterical yammering about there being “no collusion” between his campaign and the Russian operatives to interfered in our 2016 election.

Special counsel Robert Mueller issued a separate memo regarding Cohen, saying he has provided “substantial help” to the special counsel team that is investigating the allegations of collusion.

Does any of that imply — even tangentially — any “clearing” of the president? No. It doesn’t.

It tells me that Mueller is still at work, although I am among those Americans who hopes he is getting close to the conclusion of his exhaustive, meticulous and comprehensive investigation.

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has stated this week that Trump refuses to read anything, that he acts impulsively, that he sought to commit illegal acts. Tillerson said he sought to advise the president of the illegality of what he wanted done; that was when the men’s relationship turned frosty.

Tillerson’s assertion about the president’s refusal to read anything rings even more true today as he comments in the wake of the sentencing memo regarding Michael Cohen “totally clears the president.”

Pay attention, Mr. President. Your delusions are getting the better of you. You are in deepening trouble, sir.

William Barr next as AG? Here’s the big question . . .

William Barr, who served as U.S. attorney general during the final two years of the George H.W. Bush administration, is returning to lead the Justice Department. Donald J. Trump has said he will nominate Barr to succeed Matthew Whitaker, the acting AG.

Here, though, is the question I would ask him if I had the authority to ask it of the AG-designate: Will you commit to allowing special counsel Robert Mueller complete his investigation into whether the president’s campaign team colluded with Russians who attacked our electoral system in 2016?

The president has said repeatedly that former Attorney General Jeff Sessions should never have recused himself from the Russia probe, that he should have revealed he would do so before Trump nominated him. Trump saw Sessions’ recusal as a “betrayal” of the president, not understanding that the attorney general swears to uphold the law and does not swear to be loyal to the president. Sessions’ recusal was the deal breaker for Trump.

Meanwhile, Mueller has proceeded at full throttle. He has scored indictments, guilty pleas and is zeroing in on other key players in this investigation.

Barr needs to commit to allowing Mueller to conclude his investigation, which now has gone on for well more than a year.

Mueller is not the partisan hack that Trump accuses him of being. He is a former FBI director and a man of impeccable integrity. He needs to finish the job he has begun.

The next AG, and I’ll assume it will be William Barr, needs to let the special counsel complete his work, file his final report and then let the future take its course.

It is my fervent hope that Republican and Democratic senators who will question the AG nominee are on the same page as well.

Flynn gets the leniency he would have denied others

The Robert Mueller Drama has taken an astonishing turn.

The special counsel today recommended that former national security adviser Michael Flynn receive zero prison time as payback for the “substantial” contribution he has made in Mueller’s investigation into whether Donald Trump’s presidential colluded with Russians who attacked our electoral system.

What we don’t know is what Mueller gained precisely from Flynn, the key Trump aide who quit after 24 days as national security adviser. He had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about what he knew about the campaigns contacts with the Russians.

Mueller, though, apparently has received a treasure trove of information from Flynn. Hence, the no-prison recommendation from the special counsel.

Think of the irony for a moment.

It was the same Michael Flynn who stood before the Republican National Convention in 2016 and led a chorus of chants to “Lock her up!” in reference to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s problems associated with her use of a personal email server while she was secretary of state.

Flynn had no problem yelling right along with the GOP faithful to throw Clinton behind bars. Due process? Who needs it? Not the Republican faithful or the retired Army lieutenant general who led their chants in Cleveland.

Flynn’s downfall after a distinguished career as an Army officer was shocking, but deserved. He did plead guilty to committing a felony, which was lying to the FBI about a criminal investigation.

I would give damn near anything to know what’s under the redaction marks in the sentencing memo that Mueller released today. For now I’ll settle for presuming that Mueller is still working on the details of what he has assembled for his final report.

Something tells me it’s likely to make the president squirm.