Tag Archives: Robert Mueller

Let the special counsel finish his job

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is getting antsy about the probe being done by special counsel Robert Mueller.

McConnell wants Mueller to finish it up. Call it good now. End it. Move on to the next thing.

I believe the majority leader needs to settle down and needs to let Mueller continue his job at his pace, gathering facts and evidence with all deliberate speed.

Mueller is examining whether Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency included some “collusion” with Russians who meddled in the election outcome in 2016. This is a complicated, tedious, meticulous investigation.

McConnell says it has gone on “forever.” Actually, Mr. Leader, it’s only a little more than a year in progress.

Whitewater? Do you remember that one? The probe that looked initially at a real estate deal involving Bill and Hillary Clinton plodded along a lot longer than the Mueller investigation has gone. Did the Kentucky Republican senator call for that investigation to end?

Let’s see. Oh, I don’t believe he did.

Donald Trump’s constant yammering about a “witch hunt” has gotten to McConnell. It has spooked him beyond reason. Yes, the majority leader says he supports the Mueller probe. I appreciate McConnell’s statements of support.

However, the former FBI director (Mueller) needs time to finish a complicated investigation into questions that deal fundamentally with the integrity of our nation’s electoral system.

This stuff needs time to sort out.

IG report steers clear of ‘collusion’ probe

Donald John Trump’s fantasy land journey has taken him down yet another curious, bizarre path.

The U.S. Department of Justice inspector general issued a report this week that blasts the daylights out of former FBI director James Comey’s handling of the Hillary Rodham Clinton e-mail controversy. The IG calls Comey “insubordinate” in flouting DOJ protocol in his probe of Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail server while she was secretary of state.

The president’s response? It was weird in the extreme. He walked onto the White House driveway after the report became known and said the 500-page report absolves him of any “collusion” with Russians who meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

Except for this little detail: The IG report didn’t say a single word about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into collusion, obstruction of justice and whatever else might be connected in any way to that bizarre political episode.

What’s more, the Liar in Chief tossed out the “liar” epithet against Comey, whom Trump fired in May 2017 over “the Russia thing.” The inspector general’s report doesn’t challenge Comey’s credibility, only his judgment and his failure to follow DOJ policy.

Will the president’s diatribe do any damage to his standing among the Republican Party “base” that continues to hang on his every lie, prevarication and misstatement of fact?

Umm. Nope.

Mueller’s ratings take a dive? Imagine that

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s negative ratings have spiked to an all-time high. What a revoltin’ development that is … even though it shouldn’t surprise anyone at all.

Mueller is now in his second year investigating whether Donald J. Trump’s campaign for president “colluded” with Russians seeking to influence the election outcome in 2016; he’s also looking into other matters relating to the Trump campaign.

Let me offer a brief suggestion as to why I believe Mueller’s standing has taken a header.

Trump has assailed Mueller from the get-go. Sure, he says “there is no collusion.” He keeps harping on his innocence, meanwhile labeling Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt” masterminded by the “13 Democrats” who are working on Mueller’s team of legal eagles.

The president’s criticism has been relentless, unending and persistent.

Politico has an extensive story on the poll results. Read it here.

Mueller’s response? He’s been quiet. You hear the term “crickets” when talking about political response. All we hear from Mueller are the proverbial “crickets.” Why is that? Because unlike the president, Mueller is careful and is dedicated to preserving the integrity of his probe.

Put another way: Mueller isn’t going to say a word in public until he is finished with his investigation. He is a former FBI director and lawyer known for meticulous evidence-gathering. He is not going to upset that effort by responding to every ridiculous assertion that comes from the Trump camp.

Trump is winning the shouting match so far but only because he and his minions are the only ones doing the shouting.

I’m waiting for the final report to come out.

As for the president’s constant yammering about witch hunts, “fake news” and bogus allegations, if there’s no “there” there, let Mueller’s probe reach that conclusion — without interference.

Something suggests to me — I cannot quite tell what it is — that Mueller is likely to reach a different conclusion.

Why the talk about POTUS’s self-pardon?

This discussion about whether Donald Trump can pardon himself has my head spinning.

I mean, hasn’t the president declared that he did nothing wrong? That there is “no collusion” with Russians who meddled in our 2016 presidential election? That his business dealings are on the up and up? That there’s no obstruction of justice? No crimes committed?

Oh, wait!

The president’s kicked into overdrive his effort to discredit, disparage and dismiss the special counsel’s investigation into all of these questions. Robert Mueller is no hatchet man. He’s a longstanding Republican, a former FBI director, a meticulous lawyer. He’s a pro. He’s a former Marine who saw combat during the Vietnam War. His character is — if you’ll excuse the reference here — unimpeachable.

Back to my point.

This chatter about whether the president can pardon himself only heightens the possibility that Trump is indeed stupid enough to even raise the issue. He has done that and has opened up an entirely hideous line of discussion.

A pardon presumes wrongdoing. If the president is clean, why are we even having this discussion?

Or is he … actually clean?

Yes, POTUS can ‘obstruct justice’

I am not a lawyer, but you know that already.

However, I know enough about history to understand this basic truth: Presidents of the United States can “obstruct justice.” Indeed, two of them — Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon — were accused of obstructing justice. One of them got impeached partly on that accusation; the other came within a whisker of being impeached before he resigned the presidency.

Thus, I am baffled in the extreme by lawyers serving the current president who says he cannot obstruct justice because, well, he’s the president. They are saying in effect that Donald J. Trump is above the law.

I beg to differ. I offer a strenuous objection to the notion that the special counsel, Robert Mueller, cannot determine that Trump obstructed justice in the hunt for the truth behind “the Russia thing.”

I don’t quite understand the logic being offered by Trump’s legal team that suggests Mueller cannot accuse the president of obstructing justice. Trump himself has acknowledged on network television that he fired FBI Director James Comey because of “the Russia thing”; then he told Russian visitors to the Oval Office that his dismissal of Comey had relieved him of pressure from the Russia probe and whether the Russian government meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

To my way of thinking, that constitutes at the very least circumstantial evidence of obstruction, but I know that Mueller’s team doesn’t operate on circumstance; it needs hard evidence. Whether it comes up with anything actionable remains to be seen.

As the nation watches this investigation lurch toward some conclusion, many of us are conflicted about the argument being offered that the president can do anything he wants — because he is the president.

Richard Nixon famously told David Frost that very thing, that the president cannot break the law simply by virtue of his office. The U.S. House Judiciary Committee eventually saw it quite differently when it approved articles of impeachment against the president.

I am pretty sure the law hasn’t changed since the 1970s. The current president took the same oath to follow the law that all of his predecessors took. The law in my view allows for presidents to be accused of obstructing justice.

How do you defend the indefensible?

Maybe it’s just me, but has anyone else noticed something odd about the tone that Donald John Trump’s “defenders” use when they respond to criticism of the president?

When someone accuses Trump of being a pathological liar, do they rush to defend his veracity, integrity, his honesty?

When someone speaks critically of Trump’s behavior, his crass and foul language, do his allies defend his decency and compassion for others?

No on both counts. What we get from presidential “defenders” are epithets against the accusers. They’ll say that others lie, too. They give him a pass on so-called “locker room talk” and say that critics should stop being “snowflakes,” that they need to toughen up.

The Trumpkins around the country go on the attack. They’re attacking the credibility of the special counsel, Robert Mueller. They say his legal team comprises too many Democrats, many of whom worked for “Crooked Hillary” Clinton. They use terms like “witch hunt,” “hoax” and “fake news” to degrade, denigrate, disparage and dismiss criticism of the president.

I just find it odd and curious that their attempts to defend the indefensible end up raising more questions about the man at the center of this storm.

AG might seek a new job

If I were U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions — and I am so glad I am not — I would be looking for a new job.

As in right now. Immediately if not sooner. But I am not altogether certain a new attorney general would serve the public interest as it regards an ongoing investigation into the president’s 2016 campaign.

The president of the United States, Donald John Trump, has tweeted once again that he regrets picking the former Republican senator from Alabama to be the nation’s top law enforcement officer.

Why is that? Oh, it’s just Sessions decided to do the right thing by recusing himself from any Justice Department investigation into the Russia matter and the Russians’ meddling in our 2016 presidential election.

I am no fan of the AG, but on this matter he made precisely the correct decision. He had served on Trump’s political team; he was central to the president-elect’s transition to the presidency. Had he remained involved in the Russia matter, he would have been in charge of investigating himself. How does the attorney general do such a thing without compromising¬† a sensitive and complex investigation? He cannot. That’s why he bailed on the Russia probe and turned it over to his deputy AG, Rod Rosenstein.

Donald Trump, though, keeps yapping that he should have picked someone else to lead the DOJ, had he known Sessions was going to recuse himself.

Sessions might be inclined to want out. But there’s this thing involving the integrity of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Would a new AG be as faithful to the appearance of conflict of interest that Sessions was when he recused himself?

Hey, maybe Jeff Sessions ought to wait for Trump to fire him.

Then he can watch along with the rest of us as the crap hits the fan.

Another Trump allegation proving false?

I am not a betting man, but if I were I might be willing to wager some real American money that Donald John Trump’s allegation of spying within his 2016 presidential campaign is going to go the way of earlier allegations that flew out of his guy’s mouth.

You know … that Barack Obama wiretapped his office; that millions of undocumented immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton; that thousands of Muslims cheered the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11; that Sen. Ted Cruz’s father might have been complicit in President Kennedy’s murder; that Obama was born in Africa and not in Hawaii and, thus, was ineligible to run for president in 2008.

It’s all crap. Now the latest.

He accuses the FBI of planting a “spy” in his campaign. He says the deed was done for “political purposes.” He has produced as much actual evidence of this latest assertion as he did for all the others.

None. Zilch.

Even some congressional Republicans are backing the FBI in the face of these allegations from Trump.

The president is reaching deep into his bag of tricks to discredit the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller, who the Justice Department appointed in 2017 to look into the “Russia thing,” meaning whether Trump might have worked with Russians who meddled in our election.

The FBI has become one of Trump’s preferred bogeymen. He fired the former FBI director, James Comey, because of the Russia investigation. He is calling Comey a liar; he is disparaging the reputation of former CIA boss John Brennan, former director of national intelligence James Clapper and, yes, also Robert Mueller.

Where, though, is the evidence to back up the allegation of “spying” within his campaign? No one has seen it.

If I were inclined to place a bet on this one, my hunch is that there is no evidence to be found. Why? Because it didn’t happen.

Which brings me to the question: How in the name of political sanity does this guy, the president, get away with lying at this level?

How about waiting on special counsel’s finished report?

I have an idea I’d like to share with those who are clamoring for Donald J. Trump’s impeachment.

How about waiting for special counsel Robert Mueller to finish his work, write his report, issue that report for public review before deciding whether the president should be impeached?

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., one of Trump’s most vociferous critics, thinks the time has arrived to impeach the president. She’s getting way ahead of the curve, way ahead of Mueller and way ahead of what might transpire when Mueller’s work is done.

Contrary to what the president keeps insisting, Mueller’s investigation is no “witch hunt,” nor is it a “hoax.” Mueller is a serious man, a former FBI director and a career prosecutor known for meticulous preparation, whose selection as special counsel was hailed widely by both Republicans and Democrats.

Mueller also is a registered Republican who has served both Republican and Democratic presidential administrations.

Since Mueller’s appointment, many Republicans — led by Trump — have sought to poison the probe that Mueller is conducting. They keep yapping about conspiracies, leaks and now, based on zero evidence, so-called “spying” on the Trump presidential campaign.

To my eyes and ears, Trump is protesting far too much if he has done nothing wrong.

So, let the Mueller probe reach its conclusion. He’ll finish his work in due course and likely will issue a detailed report on what, if anything, he has found that might be cause for punishment.

Only then should we talk about impeachment. Until then, let’s allow Robert Mueller to do his job.

Was there spying going on? Maybe, but not for politics

Donald J. Trump has accused someone in the FBI of “spying” on his 2016 presidential campaign for “political purposes.”

Now we hear from the former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, who all but confirms a portion of what Trump has alleged.

Except that Clapper says that if the FBI got wind of Russian meddling in our presidential election, then it was duty bound to find out if the reports had any veracity.

The FBI was doing its job, if that’s what occurred.

Trump has offered no evidence of politicking. No surprise there. The president has become the master of innuendo, diversion and destruction. He wants to subvert and dismantle special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russian meddling issue.

He calls it a “witch hunt” and says he didn’t do anything wrong. So, his strategy is to discredit the work of a highly respected career prosecutor who once led the FBI under two administrations, one Republican and one Democratic.

This is getting weird, man.