Tag Archives: Robert Mueller

How will the former America’s Mayor do this job?

I have no legal background. I spent a career writing news stories and offering commentary on issues of the day as a journalist.

There. That said, I am going to express some bafflement at Rudolf Giuliani’s decision to join Donald J. Trump’s legal team with the aim of finding a quick conclusion to a special counsel’s expansive and exhaustive examination of allegations of collusion involving the 2016 presidential election.

I stood behind the former New York mayor when he rose to the challenge of repairing his city that was shattered by the attack of 9/11.

Giuliani reportedly has plenty of shared history with Robert Mueller, the special counsel who’s been conducting the investigation. Indeed, Mueller became FBI director right before the 9/11 attack (see picture above).

But since that time, the former mayor has become a political pit bull. He is a fierce defender of Donald J. Trump, whose campaign is being examined by Mueller and his team of legal eagles.

I am having trouble understanding just how this man, Giuliani, intends to persuade Mueller to button up his examination quickly. The way I understand it, Mueller is a meticulous prosecutor, careful in the extreme to protect evidence gathered.

What’s more, Mueller already has indicted some individuals close to the president’s campaign. There appears to be much more ground to plow before he brings this probe to an end.

As Politico reports: Mueller likely still has much work to do. At a minimum, he must see through his case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who has pleaded not guilty to charges including bank and tax fraud and is set to face trial starting in July.

So, the question remains: How is the man once called “America’s Mayor” going to push Mueller to conclude at least portions of this investigation in a speedy fashion?

This layman out here in Flyover Country doesn’t see any way in the world that will happen. Robert Mueller will conclude this investigation at his own pace … if he’s given the chance to complete his work.

Chaos is Trump’s guiding light

Every single attempt to predict what Donald Trump will do seems to result in head-scratching, hair-pulling, forehead-slapping frustration.

With that, I have to suggest that reporting today that the president might be back away from threats to fire the special counsel and the deputy U.S. attorney general who appointed him is an exercise in futility.

The Hill is reporting that special counsel Robert Mueller and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein are safe … for the time being.

How does The Hill know this? Beats me, man.

The Hill noted that Trump said during a presser with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that Mueller and Rosenstein “are still here” despite months of conjecture that the president might fire one or both of them.

According to The Hill: That said, predicting Trump’s next move has long been a fool’s errand. Some people in his orbit insist that his underlying anger about the investigation is as strong as ever. 

There you have it. Trump cannot be pigeonholed. He operates in a sort of parallel political universe. The norms that guide conventional political behavior do not apply to this guy.

He seemingly has no one in what passes for his “orbit” who can tell him the truth. There’s no Bobby Kennedy figure, or James Baker consigliere who can tell the president that he’s acting foolishly.

This carnival barker listens only to one voice. His own. I keep circling back to the notion that his prior pre-presidential life was dedicated only to personal enrichment.

The president of the United States does not understand the intricacies of the profession to which he was elected.

None of it!

What will he do with regard to Mueller? Or Rosenstein? Any effort to try to stay ahead of this guy only produces extreme madness.

But … he likes it that way. Right?

Does ‘innocence’ require ‘flip’ preparation?

This is confusing to me.

Donald J. Trump keeps denying he had a tryst with Stormy Daniels, the porn queen. The president’s personal lawyer and so-called “fixer,” Michael Cohen, has acknowledged paying Daniels $130,000 in hush money to keep quiet about the tumble she took with Trump in 2006.

But …

Now we get word that the Trump legal team — or what’s left of it — is preparing to respond if Cohen “flips” and cooperates with special counsel Robert Mueller who might be looking at whether there are some other issues to examine relating to the alleged dozen-year-old sexual encounter.

Does someone who didn’t do what has been alleged have reason to “prepare” for someone to cooperate with investigators?

I keep wondering what the “flip prep” entails and whether the Trump team is going to challenge Cohen’s credibility, call him a liar, impugn his integrity, you know … do the kind of thing Trump has done with others who have accused him doing something improper.

I can’t stop believing that Trump and Cohen have something for which to prepare — and it’s not good for either of them.

Whether to protect Mueller … or not

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wields plenty of political clout, but he cannot dictate to all key Senate committee chairs how to run their affairs.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is one who is bristling at McConnell’s reluctance to allow consideration of a bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller.

I’m with Chairman Grassley on this one.

McConnell said he sees “no indication” that Donald Trump is going to fire Mueller, appointed by the Justice Department to lead a probe into alleged collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russians who meddled in our 2016 election.

No indication? How does he know what the president will do? Trump’s own staff doesn’t know what he thinks from one hour to the next, let alone from day to day, or week to week.

Grassley, meanwhile, wants his committee to vote on a bill to protect Mueller from any whims that might cross the president’s mind to fire him. According to The Hill:

“That’s not necessary. There’s no indication that Mueller’s going to be fired. I don’t think the president’s going to do that, and just as a practical matter even if we passed it, why would he sign it,” McConnell told Fox News. 

When Fox News’s Neil Cavuto noted that some Republicans “fear” that Trump will ax Mueller, the GOP leader fired back: “I’m the one who decides what we take to the floor, that’s my responsibility as the majority leader, and we will not be having this on the floor of the Senate.”

Grassley responded: “Obviously the views of the majority leader are important to consider, but they do not govern what happens here in the Judiciary Committee. … If consideration on the floor was a standard for approving a bill, we wouldn’t be moving any bills out of this committee.”

Mueller is doing the people’s work in seeking to learn the truth behind whatever, if any, relationship the president had with Russian government oligarchs or others who wanted to interfere in our electoral process.

There can be little doubt about the explosion that would occur if Trump were to do something so foolish as firing Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who selected the special counsel.

So, perhaps Trump ought to consider a bill protecting Mueller a bit of a gift. Thus, he might want to tell the Senate majority leader to let this bill reach the floor and allow senators to approve it.

If there’s nothing to the allegation of collusion — as Trump keeps telling us — let Mueller make that determination all by himself without concern that the president will fire him.

Being ‘not aware of plan’ is no reason for comfort

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says she is “not aware” of any plans for Donald Trump to fire special counsel Robert Mueller and/or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

I have to ask: Are we supposed to take that to the bank?

The president operates on a sort of chaotic system of strategy and tactics. He doesn’t tell those ostensibly closest to him anything in advance, or so it appears.

For Sanders to say she is “not aware” of the president’s plans gives me zero assurance that the man for whom she works is going to avoid doing something profoundly stupid.

Firing the special counsel would send Congress into pure apoplexy. Republicans and Democrats alike are urging Trump to let Mueller do his job, which is to get to the bottom of the Russia collusion issue that has dogged Trump since Day One of his presidency.

Trump reportedly has let it be known that he believes he has the authority to fire Mueller, even though he was appointed by Rosenstein.

Which brings me to the other point, which is that firing Rosenstein would be equally apoplectic for members of Congress.

I guess it’s good to remind y’all that Mueller is a Republican; Rosenstein is, too. And, oh yes, Donald Trump was elected as a Republican.

Yet the president keeps yapping “all those Democrats” who insist on the Mueller investigation continuing.

So, will the president let the special counsel and the deputy AG do their jobs? Will wisdom overcome this impetuous individual who seems incapable of listening to wise men and women who know more about government than he ever thought of knowing?

As for the press secretary telling the nation that she is “not aware” of any foolish actions coming up … well, stay tuned, Sarah. You’ll likely find out right along with the rest of us.

GOP appointees turn on their benefactor

The president of the United States is steamed that the FBI raided his private attorney’s office in a hunt for evidence related to the president’s fling with porn queen Stormy Daniels.

He calls it a “disgrace” and an assault on “everything we stand for.”

Interesting, isn’t it?

But let’s remember something: The three men who signed off on this raid all are Donald J. Trump appointees. That would be Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Southern District U.S. Attorney Gregory Berman and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

What is the president going to do? Is he going to fire them? All of them? Will he terminate them as a precursor to firing special counsel Robert Mueller?

The raid is intended to bring to light what transpired when Trump lawyer Michael Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 to keep her quiet about the alleged 2006 liaison with the man who would become president a decade later. Oh, but Trump keeps saying he didn’t have a fling with the porn start. He said he didn’t know about the payment of 130 grand in hush money.

I’m left to wonder: If Trump and Daniels didn’t take a tumble, what in the world is the hush money is all about? And are we supposed to believe that Trump’s lawyer would do something so foolish and stupid as pay someone off without telling his client?

Bizarre. Yes?

Go ahead, make our day, Mr. President

Donald Trump reportedly “believes” he has the legal authority to fire special counsel Robert Mueller.

A part of me wants to caution the president against doing something so patently stupid and political suicidal. Another part of me wants him to cut his own throat politically by firing the man hired by the Department of Justice to probe “the Russia thing.”

Indeed, several key Republican lawmakers are arguing against doing it. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas says it would be “a mistake”; Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa called it “suicide”; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Mueller “should be allowed to finish his job.”

Will the president heed those words of wisdom? Does he ever listen to anyone with a semblance of common sense?

He might have the “legal authority” to act with profound stupidity. That doesn’t make it the right thing — or the smart thing — to do.

Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein because AG Jeff Sessions had recused himself over his connection to Trump’s campaign and his transition into the presidency. Mueller is supposed to determine whether the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russians who meddled in our 2016 election.

Trump calls the Mueller probe a “witch hunt.” He calls allegations “phony” and a product of “fake news.”

Good grief, Mr. President! If it’s phony, if there’s no “there” there, then let Mueller finish his job and issue a report that declares there’s nothing more to do.

Trump, though, insists on acting as if he’s got something to hide. A summary dismissal of Mueller — a former FBI director and a first-rate, meticulous lawyer — would send a signal all around the world that, yep, we’ve got a smoking gun out there … somewhere!

Wouldn’t it just stink of, oh, obstruction of justice?

As President Ronald Reagan once said — quoting another well-known Republican, Clint Eastwood — “Go ahead. Make my day.”

FBI launches raid and the mystery deepens

FBI agents conducted a quick-hit raid on the office of Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

He’s the guy who shelled out that $130,000 hush-money payment to porn queen Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an affair that the president denies ever occurring.

Stay with me on this.

Cohen allegedly paid the money without his client’s knowledge. It supposedly came from a personal account. Trump has said he didn’t know about the payment. And surely we believe the liar in chief’s denial. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? I mean, he’s the president of the United States … after all.

I’m no expert on legal ethics, but this one just doesn’t pass the smell test. It stinks to high heaven.

So the FBI wants to take a look at the documents that Cohen had squirreled away in his office. They may — or may not — have anything to do with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation in the “Russia thing” that Trump calls a “witch hunt” and the product of “fake news” and Democrats who are still steamed over losing the 2016 presidential election.

As an American taxpayer with a keen interest in seeing this mystery play out, I welcome the FBI raid on Cohen’s office. It tells me that the nation’s premier law enforcement agency is on the hunt. It is seeking the truth behind — at a bare minimum (no pun intended) — this seedy, tawdry story involving our nation’s head of state.

There might be some element to this story and the payment of the hush money that hasn’t come out just yet.

So, the mystery deepens. Same for the intrigue.

Is Sessions seeking to get canned?

I have to pose the question out loud: Is the attorney general of the United States trying to get himself fired by the president?

It wouldn’t seem to make sense. AG Jeff Sessions could have provoked Donald J. Trump to fire him by refusing to fire Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe just before he was to retire from the government; he fired McCabe anyway.

Then again, Sessions did recuse himself from anything to do with the Russia probe, given his previous work on the Trump presidential campaign and on its transition after the 2016 election.

Sessions’s recusal enraged the president, who has mocked, threatened and disparaged him ever since. Indeed, Sessions acted properly by recusing himself, which I consider to be a highly principled decision — something that is quite foreign to the president.

Now comes the latest move to poke Trump in the eye. Sessions has selected a Utah prosecutor to assist in the probe of allegations of abuse at the Justice Department. Political conservatives wanted him to appoint a special counsel, which is what Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein did when he selected Robert Mueller to lead the investigation into whether Russia meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

Trump is quite likely angry about Sessions’s refusal to pick a special counsel, which begs the question: What is the president going to do about it? More to the point: What would he dare do about it?

Given that Trump has virtually zero self-awareness, or sense of irony, or virtually any principles on which he relies (other than what works to his political advantage), I would put nothing past Trump.

He could fire Sessions on Easter. He could do it via Twitter, which is the way the “stable genius” handles these sensitive personnel matters.

The president and the AG have what has been called charitably a “complicated relationship.” It appears to be getting more complicated each day, or whenever the attorney general does something that suggests he works for the public — and not just for the man who appointed him.

Rep. Gohmert shows why he sits on the GOP fringe

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert sits on the fringe of the Republican Party’s congressional caucus for a reason, as he has demonstrated once again.

The East Texas member of Congress thinks special counsel Robert Mueller should be fired. He doesn’t like that the former FBI director and a crack lawyer is investigating Donald J. Trump on several levels. He is concerned that the counsel might actually find some criminality in his probe into whether the Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russian goons who meddled in our 2016 election.

I need to point out here that the GOP leadership wants Mueller to continue. Even some of the back bench members of both the House and Senate GOP caucus know the consequences if the president gets Mueller removed.

Actually, Gohmert the Goober knows it, too. He said, “The only reason that he is not going and the president is not going to fire him and that I am not calling for him to be fired now is … because of all the establishment Republicans that think they would have to come after Trump if he were fired.”

Oh, really? The Republican congressional leadership would “come after” the president for, oh, obstructing justice or for abusing the power of his high office? Is that what he means?

If that’s the case, then the Republican leadership would be correct to sound the impeachment bugle and Rep. Gohmert is utterly wrong in calling for Mueller to be fired.

Mueller was given a broad mandate when Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed him special counsel; the task fell to Rosenstein after AG Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia matter after serving as a Trump campaign and presidential transition official with ties to Russians who had contacted the Trump political organization.

Rosenstein’s appointment of Mueller was hailed by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Gohmert, though, says he had trouble with Mueller’s selection from the get-go.

I’ll offer this bit of advice to Gohmert, which I’ve also offered to the president: If there is nothing to be found — which Trump insists is the case — then let Mueller reach that conclusion and announce it to the world himself.

Meanwhile, Louie Gohmert needs to settle down and let Mueller do his job.