Tag Archives: Robert Mueller

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?

If I were King of the World, I would …

… Go full throttle toward impeaching Donald Trump, 45th president of the United States.

But I’m not. Neither, of course, is Donald Trump, even though he said falsely this week that Article II of the U.S. Constitution allows him to do “anything” he wants.

I listened to a lot of Robert Mueller’s testimony today. Part of it was in my car tuned to National Public Radio. My wife and I drove this morning to Bonham for an appointment and on our way home stopped for a tour of the Sam Rayburn Library and Museum. I was struck by a passage I saw attributed to the late great speaker of the U.S. House, “Mr. Sam,” which was that one should tell the truth always because you never have to “remember what you said.”

Donald Trump hasn’t told the truth a single time since questions arose about the Russian hacking of our election in 2016. He has lied time and time and time again. His lies have piled up on top of each other.

Mueller today told the world that Trump obstructed justice and that Trump lied when he said that the 22-month-long investigation cleared him of obstruction.

Now, is that enough to impeach the president? Yes. Is it enough to convict him of high crimes and misdemeanors? Yes! Not just yes, but hell yes!

However, I don’t run things in Washington, D.C. I am just a chump blogger out here in Trump Country. I also recognize the political realities that are staring House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the face. They are serious, stark and foreboding.

She could call for an impeachment vote in the next 20 minutes and likely could get enough House Democrats to impeach the president. Then what? It goes to the Senate, where Trump would stand trial. Did you hear any Republican House committee members sound as if they would endorse conviction in the Senate? If you did, then you heard something that was lost on me.

I’ve heard enough to impeach Donald Trump. However, conviction is a far more difficult hurdle to clear.

If I were King of the World, I would order the Senate to convict this carnival barker/con man/fraud/presidential imposter.

If only I could.

Impeachment now seems more distant

I have one immediate response to the long-awaited testimony from former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

It is that I believe impeachment of Donald Trump has been moved farther away from Congress than it was before Mueller delivered his testimony.

Why do I say that? I didn’t see a single Republican hero step forward during the daylong grilling. I heard no Republican ask a single question that challenged Trump’s phony assertion that Mueller’s 22-month-long investigation absolved him of collusion and obstruction of justice.

Mueller made it clear. His lengthy report did not exonerate Trump. He said that this president could be indicted after he leaves office. Which means to me that the president committed a crime (allegedly!). Except that Mueller could not indict him because of Office of Legal Counsel policies prohibiting the indictment of a sitting president.

So … what does all this mean?

It means to me that we haven’t budged at all from where we were at the beginning of the day.

Democrats have dug in that they either want to impeach Trump now or want to wait until more information becomes public. Republicans have dug in as well, defending a president they have known for a long time has committed a criminal act while running for president and while serving as president; Trump has obstructed justice, according to Mueller.

I want to compare what we heard today briefly to what transpired during the Watergate hearings of 1973 and 1974. Today we heard Republicans to a person stand firmly behind the president, ignoring the evidence they have heard. The Watergate Republicans, though, were able to muster enough courage to ask probing questions of White House senior aides, officials and campaign staffers.

Let’s remember that GOP Sen. Howard Baker of Tennessee asked the signature question: What did the president know and when did he know it? Moreover, the Republican chief counsel, future Tennessee U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, asked the White House aide about the infamous tape recording system that President Nixon had installed in the Oval Office. After that it was game over!

We didn’t get that today.

Impeachment is now farther away than ever. This should not be the end, though, of Congress’s probe.

Wait for GOP to undermine Mueller while Dems seek the truth

First I will acknowledge my partisan bias. I tilt to the left; I tend to favor Democratic candidates over Republicans; I believe in good government, even if it requires expansive government.

Now, I want to offer a word of caution over what the nation is likely to hear Wednesday when former special counsel Robert Mueller III testifies before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees.

Congressional Democrats are going to seek to pull information out of Mueller that explains what he wrote in that 448-page report he filed about allegations of collusion and obstruction of justice regarding Russian election hackers in 2016.

They are going to get Mueller to answer serious questions about his probe into collusion with the Russians. They want him to purge the notion that his probe “exonerated” Donald Trump of collusion and obstruction of justice. Trump has been saying he was cleared. Mueller’s written report says quite the opposite. The nation needs to hear Mueller say it out loud and clearly, that he did not exonerate Trump of any wrongdoing.

What will be the GOP strategy? They’ll seek to undermine Mueller. Republican lawmakers will try to label Mueller as a Democratic partisan who hired Democratic partisans to join his legal team. They will undercut the former FBI director. They will seek to turn the spotlight away from Trump and turn directly onto Mueller. They will seek to declare that Mueller lacked “sufficient evidence” to level any formal charges, which if you think about it is an admission that he had evidence. Just not enough of it.

I will listen more intently to what the committee Democrats ask of Mueller. Sure, I’ll listen to Republican congressmen and women seek to undermine this man’s impeccable integrity.

I want to learn something and I hope that happens when Robert Mueller finishes talking to the congressional committees … and to the nation.

Waiting for Mueller to answer The Question

House Judiciary and Intelligence committee Democrats are preparing to quiz the former special counsel.

As are committee Republicans, although I am certain their questions will seek to take Robert Mueller III into an entirely different direction.

Mueller will sit before the panels for a good bit of the day tomorrow. He clearly is a reluctant witness. However, I am waiting for him to answer The Question, which well might determine whether the House of Representatives pulls the trigger on impeachment proceedings against Donald John Trump.

It goes something like this: Did the president of the United States commit crimes and would he have been indicted by Mueller’s legal team had he been just a private citizen?

To my mind, a “yes” to either or both of those questions would pave the way for the House to march forward.

Let me toss in another one for good measure: Did you “clear” the president of collusion with Russian hackers or of obstructing justice?

If the president committed a crime, then how in the name of juris prudence does he dodge impeachment and how does the president not be held accountable for his actions as a candidate for office and as the holder of the nation’s highest and most exalted public office?

Sounds simple, right? It ain’t. I get that.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has expressed reluctance about impeachment. She doesn’t want the House to essentially “indict” the president only to have the Senate acquit him in a trial.

That is where Robert Mueller steps up. This is where he is able to educate us all about what he found over the course of his 22-month investigation. Sure, he filed that 448-page report. I haven’t read it. It’s not my job. I have read enough of it, though, to understand what he concluded and why he drew those conclusions.

I do not want House Republicans to get away with tarring this good man’s reputation. Mueller took on this task amid high praise for the career of public service to which he dedicated himself. He is a former FBI director, a combat Marine, a Vietnam War hero, a man of privilege who entered public service.

I don’t know the man, but there is nothing in his background that suggests he is how many Republicans — including Donald Trump — have portrayed him.

Moreover, I want him to answer The Question forthrightly.

Then, depending on what he says, we’ll see the character of our elected representatives revealed fully.