Tag Archives: Robert Mueller

‘We’ll negotiate’ … what?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

There he was, standing before a crowd of worshipers ranting in a riff about a “rigged” election and making what I consider to be a rather startling declaration if — heaven forbid — he actually wins re-election.

Donald Trump said “We’ll negotiate” a way to stay in office past a second presidential term.

I damn near shook the glasses off my face at that one.

Trump keeps yapping about how badly he was treated during much of his current term in office. About the Robert Mueller investigation into alleged “collusion” with Russians seeking to interfere in our election. About the House of Representatives impeaching of Trump over abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. About the ongoing findings by intelligence officials that Mueller was right, that the Russians did interfere.

So what does Trump propose to do at the end of a — gulp! — second term? He wants to see how he circumvent the U.S. Constitution to finagle a third term in office.

The Trumpkins arrayed before him at the Nevada political rally cheered Trump’s ridiculous call to “negotiate.” They likely don’t believe that what he said is practically impossible. That he is likely just saying such a thing to rile up the “base.” That it’s just campaign-trail grist.

The 22nd Amendment that limits presidents to two elected terms is rock solid. It won’t be tinkered with by a goofball who thinks he is above the law, which I should add got him in trouble with the House that impeached him.

I just have to circle back to the most fundamental question of the moment: How can we allow a president who makes these kinds of ridiculous assertions to stay anywhere near the White House?

Get him outta there!

Final report is in: Russia attacked us!

I guess you can file this in the “Better Late Than Never” category of official government findings.

The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, the panel run by a Republican Party majority, has concluded what many of us knew already: Russia attacked our electoral system in 2016 seeking to aid in the election of Donald J. Trump.

It is a bipartisan finding. It lends credence to the assertions delivered by special counsel Robert Mueller III, who told us in 2019 that Russia attacked us and that they will do so again this year. The report confirms all of that.

It also puts to rest any phony denial — supported by Trump — that Russia didn’t do what has been alleged all along.

Recall that Trump stood next to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and openly dismissed reports from our intelligence experts that Russia had interfered in our 2016 presidential election. He sided with his pal, Vlad, standing before the entire world.

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report now has put to rest any notion that Trump might try to foist on us that the Russia probe was a “hoax,” a “witch hunt,” or a fishing expedition.

It was none of any of those things. Indeed, the Senate findings also suggest that there was, indeed, “collusion” between the Trump campaign and the Russian goons who hacked into our electoral system. Does that sound like “exoneration”? Not to me!

CNN reports: The report is all the more remarkable because it was led by then-Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, and Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia. The report provides an exhaustive, bipartisan confirmation of the contacts between Russians and Trump associates in 2016 — and it was the only congressional committee that managed to avoid the partisan infighting that plagued the other congressional investigations into Russian election meddling.

What do we do with this report? It will remind me — just a chump voter and blogger who happens to be an American patriot — of the corrupt nature of Donald Trump’s political team … then and now.

Russians are at it again … imagine that!

(Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Russia has its favorite American political candidate. His name is Donald J. Trump. Russia is doing precisely what Robert Mueller, the former special counsel, said it would do: attack our electoral system just as it did in 2016.

Is Donald Trump going to express any outrage over it? Is he going to meet with Republicans and Democrats in Congress seeking to find meaningful sanctions to levy against Russia?

No and no.

What in the name of electoral sanctity does it take for the Trumpkin Corps to wake up to the reality that their guy poses an existential threat to our democratic way of life?

He invited the Russians to find Hillary Clinton’s emails during the 2016 campaign; the Russians obliged. Trump stood with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin in Helsinki and openly denigrated U.S. intelligence conclusions that Russia interfered in 2016; he sided with Putin. Robert Mueller got the task of investigating all of that and determined that Russia had attacked our election and said it would do so again. He was right. Trump’s response has been to disparage Mueller’s findings.

Trump hasn’t yet said a single critical word about Putin’s chicanery. He spoke on the phone with the Russian strongman, but didn’t bring up the issue of Russian electoral interference … or the issue of Russian goons placing bounties on the lives of American service personnel killed in battle against the Taliban.

Where I come from that is called “dereliction of duty.”

And yet, the Trump faithful continues to give him a pass. Whatever they might feel privately they keep strictly to themselves. The public outrage is nowhere to be seen or heard.

Donald Trump has become the most dangerous existential threat to the nation he was elected to govern. The Russians know it and, in my view, that is precisely the reason they are seeking to work on behalf of his re-election.

Sad for Sessions’ political demise? Hardly, however …

I would be saddened by Jeff Sessions’ loss this week in the race for the U.S. Senate were it not for the fact that I detest virtually his entire political record.

Then again, there’s an element to Sessions’ defeat in the Republican primary in Alabama that does make me a bit, um, chagrined.

Sessions once served in the Senate. He was the first senator to endorse Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. He is partly responsible for Trump’s election in 2016 to the presidency. Trump appointed him attorney general.

Then he did what Trump wanted him to do. He enforced the separation of children from their parents who tried to enter the nation illegally. He endorsed the president’s call to end protections for undocumented immigrants who came here as children. Indeed, this former senator’s record is replete with efforts to dial back civil rights reforms. He is a throwback to the stereotypical white Southern politician. Sessions was Trump’s guy at Justice.

Then the AG did the unthinkable in the Lawbreaker in Chief’s world: He followed the law by recusing himself from DOJ’s investigation into allegations that Russia attacked our electoral system. His recusal resulted in the hiring of Robert Mueller as special counsel.

Sessions then managed to incur the rage of the man who once hailed him as a legal champion. Donald Trump demanded the AG show him blind loyalty. Sessions said he can’t do that. The law required him to recuse himself, as he couldn’t investigate a campaign in which he was a key player.

Trump was having none of it. He sought to humiliate Sessions. He ranted and raged against him via Twitter. Trump has declared that hiring Sessions as AG was the biggest mistake he has made as president. He fired Sessions, who then ran for his former Senate seat. On Tuesday, Sessions lost the Republican Party runoff to former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, who Trump endorsed over Sessions.

It’s apparently over for Sessions. He won’t run for political office again. It’s not that I will miss this man’s contributions to public policy. However, I am chagrined that the single noble act he performed resulted in a form of political triumph for an imbecile — Donald Trump — who refuses to accept the reality that Jeff Sessions understood the boundaries he could not cross.

Yes, Stone is still a felon

I am going to presume that Robert Mueller III wishes he wouldn’t be dragged back into the news cycle, but he has been brought back into public discussion.

Donald Trump commuted the 40-month prison sentence that awaited Roger Stone, Trump’s longtime pal and dirty trickster.

Trump said, not surprisingly, that Stone had been treated “unfairly.” Mueller, in an essay published by the Washington Post, disputes that contention vigorously.

Here’s the deal, though. Suppose the president had pardoned Stone. It would have expunged the record of a felony. A pardon doesn’t expunge people’s memories, their knowledge of what brought about the pardon. Mueller writes in the Post: A jury later determined he lied repeatedly to members of Congress. He lied about the identity of his intermediary to WikiLeaks. He lied about the existence of written communications with his intermediary. He lied by denying he had communicated with the Trump campaign about the timing of WikiLeaks’ releases. He in fact updated senior campaign officials repeatedly about WikiLeaks. And he tampered with a witness, imploring him to stonewall Congress.

Had the president pardoned Stone, all of that would have remained part of the unofficial record. So, what Trump did merely was to keep his pal out of the slammer, which is the reward Stone got for being so loyal to Trump.

I really am not worried that Trump might actually pardon Stone before he leaves office. So what if he does? Trump already has saved Stone from the worst of his conviction, a prison sentence. A full pardon doesn’t wipe clean the memories of those of us who believed in the conviction that came down in the first place.

Indeed, the first sentence of Roger Stone’s obituary is going to include a prominent mention of the crimes for which a jury convicted him … no matter what!

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.