Tag Archives: Robert Mueller

Trump mounting strange defense

Donald Trump’s reaction to the looming impeachment decision in the U.S. House of Representatives reminds me of the tactic he employed when special counsel Robert Mueller was examining The Russia Thing.

The president then chose to denigrate, disparage and all but defame Mueller’s probe, all the while proclaiming he did nothing wrong during the 2016 campaign.

My thought then was: If he is innocent of wrongdoing, why not just turn everything over and let the proverbial chips fall? He didn’t. Mueller finished his work, essentially absolving Trump of colluding with Russians who attacked our electoral system, but leaving the door open for Congress to decide the obstruction matter.

Now the House is marching toward impeaching the president. He calls the House action “unconstitutional,” which of course it isn’t. He has declared he won’t cooperate in any way, then changed his mind and said he would cooperate if the House treats him “fairly,” whatever that means.

My question today is similar to what it was then: If he did nothing wrong, is he hiding something he doesn’t want anyone to see?

Just cooperate, Mr. President, and let the House do the job that the U.S. Constitution empowers it to do.

Ukraine story taking on more lives

This is how controversies evolve into full-blown scandals.

Something happens that raises eyebrows. Then we hear about more matters related — perhaps only tangentially — to the original event. Then more matters are heaped on all of that. Our attention gets stretched far beyond the original “sin.”

So it is happening now with the Ukrainian matter, the July 25 phone call that Donald Trump had the Ukrainian president and who else might have heard the two men talked about in that fateful conversation.

Trump is now known to have asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zellenskiy for help in his re-election effort, including getting dirt on Joe Biden, a potential 2020 campaign opponent.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he didn’t know anything about the phone call; then we hear from a State Department official, talking to the Wall Street Journal, that Pompeo listened to the phone call in real time.

Then the president decides to throw Vice President Mike Pence’s name out there, suggesting that the VP might be involved in some manner.

Oh, and now comes news that Trump sought help from Australia’s prime minister for help in undermining former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into The Russia Thing.

What in the name of scandalous behavior is happening here?

Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, the formerly highly esteemed New York City mayor, has become unhinged. He rambles incoherently on national TV, accusing former Vice President Joe Biden of crimes that other prosecutors say are unfounded.

The House is force-marching its way toward impeaching the president on charges that he violated his oath of office by soliciting a foreign government for political assistance. Whether it results in conviction in the Senate, of course, remains a highly open question.

However, what could have been blown off as a mere “controversy” is becoming rapidly a full-blown “scandal” that will result in an impeached president running for re-election.

We are racing down heretofore untraveled roads.

Wow!

Watching the name-calling … oh, my

I am having another one of those blogger’s out-of-body experiences.

I posted an item about Robert Mueller, Donald Trump and the report the former special counsel filed about his lengthy probe into alleged “collusion” with Russians who attacked our election in 2016.

Two readers of the blog responded. They are lefties. A rightie responded to one of them. One of the lefties responded to the rightie.

One of the respondents started bastardizing one of other’s names. Then came the profanities. They started using foul language in describing each others’ intelligence.

Me? I’m staying out of it. Not my fight.

The arguments stayed (more or less) on topic, although not entirely.

I guess this is my way of wishing these respondents would cease the personal attacks on each other. None of that furthers anyone’s argument. They end up talking past each other.

I might be spitting into the wind on this one.

A lot of folks take rebuttals quite personally. In the exchange that has been occurring over the past couple of days, I totally understand how either side can take offense at what the other guy is telling them.

Witnessing all of this as if I’m sitting in the peanut gallery just fills me with resolve to try like the dickens to stay civil with those who criticize my musings.

So … the beat goes on.

Mueller said it … in so many words: Trump obstructed justice

Let me be crystal clear: Robert S. Mueller III told congressional questioners that Donald J. Trump, the nation’s president, obstructed justice.

No, he didn’t say the words: “Donald Trump obstructed justice.”

But he made a couple of key points that need to be reaffirmed. So I will do so.

He said in May that if there were grounds to “exonerate” the president of obstruction of justice in the Russia investigation, “we would have said so.” He didn’t.

Then this past month, in testimony before the U.S. House Judiciary and Intelligence committees, Mueller was asked whether he would indict Trump were he not president. He said “yes” both times.

So, the way I interpret the former special counsel’s findings is that he believes the president obstructed — or sought to obstruct — justice while he was looking for nearly two years into whether the Trump presidential campaign conspired to collude with Russian goons who attacked our electoral system in 2016. He couldn’t prove conspiracy. I accept that finding.

Mueller left the obstruction of justice matter up to Congress.

Therefore … he concluded that Trump obstructed justice.

Is any of this impeachable? It is likely that there are grounds for impeachment somewhere in this mess.

The bigger question facing House members, though, is whether there are sufficient grounds to move congressional Republicans — namely those in the Senate — off their stubborn resistance to doing what they must, which is to impeach the president and then convict him of those deeds in a Senate trial.

If the answer is “no,” then there is no point to impeaching this con artist/clown/carnival barker.

Hoping the new DNI doesn’t reverse course on Russian attack

I will be waiting with bated breath for the new director of national intelligence to answer this critical question from U.S. senators who will debate whether to confirm him for the job of top spook in the Trump administration.

“Do you believe, as your predecessor Dan Coats believes, that Russian government goons attacked our electoral system in 2016 and are doing so now in advance of the next presidential election?”

OK, so maybe senators won’t call ’em “goons.” That’s my term, but you get the point.

Coats is “stepping down” as DNI. Donald Trump says he’ll appoint U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe to succeed Coats. Ratcliffe has been a staunch supporter of the Trump, even challenging the integrity of an American patriot, former special counsel Robert Mueller III, who examined whether Trump’s campaign was complicit in the 2016 Russian attack on our electoral system.

Coats got sideways with the president over this issue of the Russian attack. Coats says the Russians did it. So did other intelligence and counter-terrorism experts, including the FBI director, the CIA director, the head of the National Security Agency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and, of course, DNI Dan Coats.

The president’s view? He stands with Russian despot Vladimir Putin, who denies the Russians did anything wrong.

So my question of John Ratcliffe would be: Do you stand with Trump or the experts who say the Russians are guilty as hell?

Mueller said the Russians did it. He said they are attacking this nation at this very moment. Donald Trump — the self-proclaimed “stable genius” who knows the “best words” and hires the “best people” — has been shamefully silent on this issue.

Now it’s Rep. Ratcliffe who’s about the snuggle into the hot seat.

What say you, Mr. DNI-designate?

Trump projects his own ‘ineptitude’ on ex-special counsel

Donald Trump has resorted now to calling former special counsel Robert Mueller “inept.” The president is boasting about Mueller’s supposedly poor performance while testifying before two congressional committees.

What I find hilarious is that the Twitter master in chief would stoop to saying Mueller demonstrated “ineptitude” while explaining why he didn’t “exonerate” Trump of obstruction charges. Mueller also repeated his contention that the Russian hacking of our 2016 presidential election should concern “every American.”

Mueller’s performance, while it didn’t deliver the explosive moment some had hoped would occur, was far from how Trump has described it.

Indeed, for this presidential buffoon to criticize Mueller — a former FBI director, career prosecutor and decorated Vietnam War combat Marine — is laughable on its face.

Oh, well. I suppose Donald Trump can stand behind the notion that he is president, after all, and no one else holds the office.

So very sad.

In defense of Robert Mueller III

I feel the need to defend Robert S. Mueller III, although he doesn’t need little ol’ me to stand up for him against critics of his daylong testimony before two congressional committees.

Right-wing critics have said the former special counsel sounded lost, almost feeble, not in charge of the facts, he was hard of hearing.

Left-wing critics have expressed disappointment that Mueller didn’t provide them with the “aha moment” they were expecting.

Let’s get a grip here.

Mueller conducted that lengthy investigation into allegations that the Donald Trump presidential campaign conspired to collude with Russian election hackers. He didn’t find enough evidence of collusion. He also looked into whether Trump obstructed justice.

He said in his report and again on Wednesday that he didn’t clear Trump of obstruction. He said that the president committed crimes. He just couldn’t indict him because he happens to be the president of the United States.

I thought Mueller did precisely what he said he would do. He was a reluctant witness. He said in May that the report would stand as his “testimony” were he summoned to appear before Congress. His delivery this week kept faith with what he declared in May.

I thought the ex-special counsel/former FBI director/career prosecutor/decorated Vietnam War combat Marine behaved with decorum and dignity. I should point out that during the two years of his Russia probe he maintained his stone-cold silence in the face of constant harangues, harassment and hassling from Donald Trump and his sympathizers.

Robert Mueller remains, as one of Trump’s former lawyers once called him, “an American hero.”

So what if he didn’t deliver the impeachment goods? He told us weeks ago we should not expect such a thing.

I shall remind everyone, though, of a critical point that Mueller made. It is that the Russians attacked our electoral system in “sweeping and systematic” fashion and are doing so at this moment in advance of the next presidential election.

The villain here is the president who refuses to acknowledge what the rest of the nation already knows. To that end, I want to thank Robert Mueller for reminding us yet again of the danger that Donald Trump poses to this nation.

Impeachment without conviction: a non-starter

The idea of impeaching Donald John Trump with next to zero hope of obtaining a conviction is to my mind the classic recipe for a non-starter.

That appears to be the calculation that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made in her reluctance to launch impeachment proceedings against the president of the United States.

I happen to agree with the notion that an impeachment by itself will do nothing constructive for those who believe as many of us do: that they want Donald Trump removed from office. Impeachment is the easy part. Democrats need a simple majority to impeach the president. Conviction is different. Republicans control the Senate, which would need 67 votes to convict the president. Will that happen? Hardly.

The daylong testimony by former special counsel Robert Mueller this week was seen as the “aha” moment for congressional Democrats. It wasn’t. Mueller stuck to his script. He said he wouldn’t speak beyond what his lengthy report concluded about Trump and he was generally faithful to that pledge.

Mueller’s report concluded that his 22-month probe produced insufficient evidence to charge Trump with conspiring to collude with Russian election hackers; nor was he able to indict the president on obstruction of justice, following Office of Legal Counsel rules and guidelines.

Despite all that, Mueller laid it out there: Trump likely committed a crime. That has gotten Democrats slathering over the prospect of impeaching him.

Hold on! What is the point of impeaching the president if the Senate won’t convict him of high crimes and misdemeanors and thus, remove him from office?

I am now believing more strongly than ever — and it pains me to say this — that impeachment is off the table. The only path left is for Trump’s opponents to focus solely on the crimes he committed as a candidate for the office and as president and use the knowledge they have obtained to pound Trump senseless on the 2020 presidential campaign trail.

I wish there was a way to remove the president before the election. I don’t see it developing. The man sickens me at a deeply visceral level. I want him gone. I had hoped that Robert Mueller would have changed minds, that he could have gotten those obsequious Republicans to move off their fawning fealty for Donald Trump.

It ain’t gonna happen.

The time is coming for Democrats to prepare instead for a presidential campaign for the ages.

Whether to impeach or mount anti-Trump election effort

Today I feel one way about impeaching Donald Trump. Tomorrow I might feel differently.

Well, that’s how it goes for me. I cannot settle on a course of action regarding the president of the United States. I believe he is a criminal. I believe he is unfit for office. I believe has obstructed justice … which is an impeachable offense.

Does that mean the House of Representatives should launch an impeachment “inquiry,” let alone actual impeachment proceedings? No.

I now believe — at least that’s my belief today — that the only option now for getting rid of Donald Trump will occur at the next presidential election.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi along with the rest of the House Democratic caucus might have been waiting with bated breath for former special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony this week before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees. They wanted a “gotcha” moment to occur. It did not present itself. Mueller said what many millions of Americans know already, that Trump has obstructed justice.

Committee Republicans did their job. They sought to impugn Mueller’s integrity, his impartiality, his fairness. They didn’t persuade me, but I was not the one whose attention they sought; they sought to energize the Trump base of voters. Mission accomplished.

Congressional Republicans appear to be as dug in as ever against impeaching the president. Democrats appear to be a bit more demoralized today than they were the day before Mueller took his seat before the House panels.

But … an election is coming along. November 2020 will present Trump foes perhaps their final opportunity to rid the nation of the scourge of this president, the guy who doesn’t believe what Mueller — and other intelligence experts have — that the Russians attacked our electoral system in 2016.

Can they make the case? Can they deny Trump the Electoral College victory he covets to take office for a second term as president?

I believe at this moment that is the only viable course available for those of us who want Donald Trump removed from the presidency.

However, that could change. I mean, there’s always another day.

Russian attack should ‘concern … every American’

Robert Mueller III’s testimony today before two congressional committees was full of signature moments that have drawn analyses and commentary from individuals who are a lot smarter than I am.

Still, I want to offer this brief perspective on a statement that jumped out at me. It wasn’t an original thought that Mueller offered today, but was a repeat of his the final words of his nine-minute presentation this past May.

He said today as he said then that the Russian attack on our electoral system in 2016 should be of “concern for every American.”

Every American! That means you, too, Donald John Trump.

The attack, though, does not seem to “concern” the president of the United States. It certainly should concern him.

Mueller today told the nation — and the world! — that the Russian attack was “sweeping and systematic,” which, again, was what he said in his 448-page report. He told House Judiciary and Intelligence committees the same thing today.

How in the name of national security does one persuade the president that “every American” includes the man elected to lead that nation. He is the man who benefited directly from Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election outcome. He is the man who should be horrified at the prospect that our sacred electoral system is vulnerable to the kind of attack that the Russians launched — and are, in Mueller’s words, doing so “at this moment.”

Trump, though, is not acting like someone who shares the concern of Mueller, not to mention many millions of Americans.

How is it that Donald Trump and his political base of loyalists can justify their looking askance at what amounts — at some level — to an act of war against our political system?