Tag Archives: Robert Mueller

Network does well to police itself

I am quite certain Donald John “Fake News Maven” Trump is going to crow like a rooster over this bit of news.

Let’s try to put this into a bit of perspective.

ABC News has suspended veteran correspondent Brian Ross for four weeks without pay for reporting erroneously on the Michael Flynn guilty plea in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian collusion with the Trump transition team.

It might be that Ross will be canned soon. You see, this isn’t the first time Ross has stepped in it on the air. In 2012, he reported that a suspect in the Aurora, Colo., massacre was a member of the Colorado TEA Party; he wasn’t.

ABC takes care of problem

But here’s my point: ABC is doing its due diligence in policing its personnel. It’s what responsible media companies do, despite the howls we’re going to hear from those on the far right about “fake news.”

Ross went on the air to report falsely that “candidate” Donald Trump had instructed Flynn to make contact with Russian government officials. Actually, that instruction came after Trump had been elected president; thus it came from the president-elect, which is a significant difference from it coming from a mere presidential candidate.

ABC said its reporter had failed to check his sources adequately and that he “fell far short” of the standards the network has set for its reporting staff.

I accept that mea culpa as sufficient evidence that the network has taken ownership of its mistake.

As for Ross, who carries the title of “chief investigative reporter” for ABC News, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised — or disappointed — if he is shown the door at the network.

This kind of mistake — and the sanction that has followed it — are going to tar Ross’s work for as long as he continues to pursue what many of us still consider to be an honorable craft.

Dare we say, ‘Lock him up’?

It’s difficult to feel much sympathy for retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.

He has pleaded guilty to lying under oath to the FBI about when and with whom he met with the Russian government. He faces a possible prison sentence — once he finishes cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into that “Russia thing.”

I doubt he’ll serve prison time. But that’s just me. Whether he remains free or in behind bars might depend on the quality of the goods he delivers to Mueller’s team of legal eagles.

However, Flynn now is being cast in a curious role in this probe. He stands to become the star witness for the special counsel’s office in its search for answers into whether the Donald J. Trump presidential campaign colluded with the Russian government that hacked into our 2016 presidential election process.

Here’s the juxtaposition that cannot be ignored:

Flynn stood at the podium in the summer of 2016 during the Republican National Convention and led the GOP faithful into that ghastly chant “Lock her up!” — the reference being aimed at Hillary Rodham Clinton and her use of her personal e-mail service while she was serving as secretary of state during President Obama’s first term.

I use the term “ghastly” because such conduct was totally unbecoming of a man with a distinguished military career who morphed into a leading politician’s national security adviser. Flynn, though, took the low road in that preposterous display.

Will this guy be locked up? Will he get the kind of punishment he urged for a political foe?

It’s tempting to shout “Lock him up!” I won’t do it, though.

Oh, wait! Maybe I just did.

Is the vise tightening around White House?

Robert Mueller has just landed another big fish in his search for the truth.

The special counsel appointed by the Justice Department to look into the “Russia thing” appears now to have reeled in a three-star witness to help learn a great deal about Donald John Trump’s relationship with the Russian government.

He is retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the one-time national security adviser to the president. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russian officials. In exchange he has agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s legal team as it pores through a growing pile of evidence.

Mueller already has secured an indictment of former campaign chief Paul Manafort and a chief deputy; former campaign aide George Papadopoulos has copped a guilty plea as well.

Now it’s Flynn’s turn to sing.

As the Washington Post reports: With the guilty plea Friday by former national security adviser Michael Flynn — one of Trump’s closest and most valued aides — the investigation has swept up an array of figures with intimate knowledge of the campaign, the transition and the White House.

It appears to have swiftly expanded beyond Russia’s interference in the campaign to encompass a range of activities, including contacts with Russian officials during the transition and alleged money laundering that took place long before Trump ran for office.

Where does Mueller go from here?

I, of course, am in no position to predict what will happen next, or beyond the next step. My gut — along with my trick knee — are telling me that Mueller’s investigation well might be getting close to pay dirt.

Here’s hoping the president has the good sense to let him stay on the hunt. I mean, Donald Trump keeps saying there’s nothing to any of it … right?

What? Flynn is turning on Trump? Who knew?

While many of us were eating turkey and getting prepped for today’s shopping mayhem, a bit of news came to light back east.

It seems that former national security adviser Michael Flynn might be turning “state’s witness” in the ongoing probe into whether Donald John Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian hackers who sought to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

Flynn held his national security job for 24 whole days at the start of the Trump administration. Then he got canned because he didn’t tell the truth about what he said to whom about meeting with Russian government officials during the campaign.

The New York Times is reporting that Flynn — a retired U.S. Army three-star general — is no longer talking with the Trump legal team and well might be starting to cooperate with the legal eagles working with special counsel Robert Mueller.

Read the Times story here.

The Flynn story sickens me at a couple of levels. First of all, I didn’t like that he had been appointed national security adviser in the first place. He assumed a highly political role during the Trump campaign. In my mind, he sullied and soiled a brilliant military career by standing in front the GOP convention two summers ago leading the “Lock her up!” chants against Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The man clearly knows plenty about what the Trump campaign did in regard to the Russian hackers. Mueller is pursuing the truth methodically and meticulously. Will the former national security boss provide him with the silver bullet that pierces the armor surrounding the president and his inner circle?

I don’t expect this investigation to accelerate in speed. Mueller’s reputation as a patient prosecutor likely will preclude any rush to judgment.

However, it’s hard — for me — to disbelieve the notion that if Gen. Flynn is working with Mueller’s team that a major development in this probe is likely to explode.

Indictments ratchet up weirdness factor

Paul Manafort is under house arrest after being indicted for money laundering and conspiracy in connection with Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign.

The former Trump campaign chairman, though, reportedly has engaged in some seriously weird travel behavior.

Court filings have revealed that Manafort has three U.S. passports, all under different names. He reportedly traveled abroad under aliases.

It makes me wonder: Who in the world does that?

I get that Manafort is a wealthy man, as Rick Gates, a campaign deputy who also has been indicted by the grand jury impaneled by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating that so-called “Russia thing.” I also get that rich people do things with which I am unfamiliar.

For instance, I possess just one passport. It has my actual name, my actual date of birth and my actual statement that I am an American citizen. I present it when I travel abroad. Passport officials look at it, stamp it and send me on my way.

Financial holdings also questioned

CNN reports as well that Manafort revealed differing estimates of his net worth, as did Gates.

Both men have pleaded not guilty to the assorted money laundering and conspiracy charges. They now are entitled to mount vigorous defenses to uphold their not-guilty pleas.

I have to wonder, however: What in the world gives with the multiple passports and fake names?

Impeachment talk heats up prematurely

I’ve made no secret of my loathing of Donald John Trump Sr.

I still believe he is unfit for the office of president of the United States. Furthermore, I believe he has disgraced his high office and has embarrassed the nation he was elected to govern.

Do I believe he should be removed from that office? Yes, either by election or by some other extraordinary means, such as impeachment.

However, the talk of impeachment that reportedly is getting hotter by the week — if not by the day — is a good bit premature.

Some congressional Democrats aren’t waiting for the special counsel, Robert Mueller, to finish his job. They want Trump’s scalp now. One Democrat, Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee, believes that Trump’s reaction to the Charlottesville, Va., riot in which the president equated white supremacists with those who protested against them is enough of a reason to impeach the president.

Hey, folks. Impeaching the president is the most politically dangerous thing the House of Representatives can do. I get that the House doesn’t need any official findings to launch an impeachment. President Clinton was impeached because he messed around with a young female White House intern; House Republicans said the real reason was that he lied under oath to a grand jury about it.

I maintain — as I have all along — that House members need to wait for Mueller’s investigation into the “Russia thing” runs its course, even if it lasts well into the 2018 congressional election season. Mueller already has indicted three members of Trump’s campaign team, including its former chairman Paul Manafort. There appears to be much more to follow.

So, with that, let’s cool the impeachment talk while the special counsel goes about his arduous task of cobbling together a highly complicated finding of fact.

As The Hill reported: It is not, obviously, off the table at some time in the future, but is premature at this point in time,” Rep. Steny Hoyer, the House minority whip, told reporters last month.

If something emerges that rises to the level of an “impeachable offense,” I happen to believe Robert Mueller and his crack legal team will hand it to Congress.

Let the Mueller probe proceed

Good news — if you want to call it that — is coming from U.S. Senate Republicans.

Senior GOP lawmakers are pledging to allow special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into that “Russia thing” proceed to its conclusion. I’ll presume they intend to let it go wherever it leads.

Mueller delivered three indictments this week. They likely are the first of more to follow. The big fish Mueller reeled in is Paul Manafort, Donald J. Trump’s one-time presidential campaign chairman, who stands accused of money laundering and “conspiracy against the United States.”

Mueller’s probe seeks to determine — among other matters — whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian hackers seeking to influence the 2016 presidential election outcome.

According to The Washington Post: “My basic philosophy is, once you have an independent counsel, you ought to give him a chance to follow the facts,” said Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the chairman of the subcommittee that handles the Justice Department’s funding. “If somebody’s doing a job, you don’t want to cut it off.”

Senators issue warning

This might be where the legislative branch of government collides with the executive branch, notably if the president decides to curtail Mueller’s probe — one way or another.

My own hope is that Senate Republicans stand shoulder to shoulder with their Democratic colleagues in ensuring that this probe proceed.

I also hope the president does the same. My fear that Donald Trump will do something foolish and stupid, though, threatens to overpower my hope.

Trump facing serious trouble

This probe into the “Russia thing” has taken a stern turn for the worse … if you’re the president of the United States of America.

Robert Mueller, the meticulous special counsel, has indicted two key Donald J. Trump presidential campaign aides on money laundering charges. The indictment against former campaign chairman Paul Manafort includes a charge of conspiracy against the United States — which makes me say “whoa!”

Now that Mueller has struck, the talk has surfaced yet again about what the president might do. The Hill reports that GOP senators are resisting calls from Democrats to protect Mueller from a possible firing by the president.

Senate grapples over indictments

Will he pardon Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates? Will he pardon George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russia connection?

Ah, but will he actually fire Mueller?

I keep circling back to this notion that if the president is as innocent of colluding with Russian hackers as he insists he is, why would he do anything?

However, I am left to say “holy crap-ola!” If the president is going to do anything that smacks of obstruction — such as, oh, firing FBI director James Comey over that “Russia thing” — then he exposes himself to the full wrath of Congress.

You see, the president has developed universal loathing among Senate and House Democrats. His Republican alliance in both legislative chambers is showing serious cracks, too.

I am left, therefore — as an avid anti-Trumpster — with terribly mixed feelings about what I think the president should do. Does he take the foolish course and do something he will regret? Or does he just shut the hell up — for once in his adult life — and let the process run its course?

OK, here’s my preference.

Keep your big trap shut, Mr. President, and just let the special counsel — who was appointed by the Justice Department because you followed the voice of foolishness with the Comey firing — do what he’s been charged to do.

Trump ‘losing streak’ continues at full speed

Donald J. Trump’s boasting of being a “winner” has taken another punch in the gut.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has indicted the president’s former campaign boss, Paul Manafort, of money laundering in his probe of the “Russia thing” that caused Trump to fire former FBI director James Comey.

Hmm. Where does this go? I intend to wait with bated breath. How about you?

The indictment of Manafort, along with that of campaign official Rick Gates signals a new pace in this investigation, which began when the president gave Comey the boot.

The ultimate aim appears to be determining whether the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russian hackers in an attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election outcome. The president bellows “witch hunt” and “fake news” and all kinds of other things.

My understanding of Mueller, though, is that the special counsel is as serious, measured, thorough and meticulous a lawyer as they come. I don’t think he’s going to indict a proverbial “ham sandwich” just to score some points.

And so … the hunt continues.

This case is going to get even more curious as Mueller’s team continues its work.

As Politico describes it, Meuller’s task has turned into a sprawling probe.

Here come the indictments

Robert Mueller’s planned announcement of indictments relating to “The Russia Thing” has taken on the look of a film premiere.

I’m on pins and needles.

A federal grand jury reportedly is set to issue indictments based on special counsel Mueller’s intense investigation into whether the Donald J. Trump presidential campaign “colluded” with Russian hackers who sought to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

Who’s going to be indicted? Former national security adviser Michael Flynn? Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort? Might it be presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner?

Could it be all of the above?

Trump team gets ready

The Trump legal team reportedly is preparing some sort of reaction to the news that’s coming Monday from the grand jury.

Of course, the president continues to insist there’s nothing to hide. He says he didn’t collude with the Russians; yet he continues to bristle publicly that Mueller is continuing this investigation at all.

My take is as it’s been for months: If the president has nothing to hide, then he should just let Mueller and his team of legal eagles do their job. If he has done nothing wrong, then the Mueller team can say so publicly.

That’s not how this president rolls, though.

Which makes me wonder: Is this guy hiding something?

Hey, let’s all stay tuned. Pass the popcorn.