Tag Archives: Robert Mueller

Comey sets the table

James Comey’s testimony before a U.S. Senate committee is going to send even more shockwaves through the nation’s capital.

The former FBI director is going to tell the Intelligence Committee that Donald J. Trump pressured him repeatedly to back off an investigation into whether Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, had done something wrong while conferring with Russian government officials.

Oh, but wait. Now comes the president’s lawyer who says Trump feels “vindicated” because Comey supposedly told the president he wasn’t under “investigation” personally.

Is that vindication? We’ll have to await the Q&A from senators.

http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/336848-comeys-dramatic-account-rocks-washington

Americans are going to hear Comey say he was “concerned” about the president’s repeated pressure. Will we hear the ex-FBI boss declare that he believes there was an attempt to obstruct justice? Don’t hold your breath. My hunch is that such a determination will have to come from special counsel Robert Mueller — Comey’s old friend and former colleague. Mueller has taken the lead on investigation this Russia matter and whether there was “collusion” between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian hackers who were seeking to influence the 2016 presidential election outcome.

I do not believe that Comey’s testimony will “vindicate” the president. Nor will it convict him. It is likely to keep the post at full boil while the special counsel and his team do their work to uncover the truth.

Good news, bad news for Comey hearing

Donald J. Trump delivered a one-two punch of good news and, well, not so good news regarding the upcoming testimony of former FBI director James Comey.

The good news: The president said he wouldn’t invoke any executive privilege to silence Comey, who will testify to the Senate Intelligence Committee about conversations he had with Trump regarding the FBI investigation into “the Russia thing.”

The president decided against acting on his stranger impulses by deciding to let Comey have his say. Comey did talk to special counsel Robert Mueller — a longtime friend and colleague — who reportedly “cleared Comey for takeoff,” according to Comey associates.

The, um, bad news: Trump will be tweeting while Comey is testifying.

Allow me an “ugh,” and a “sheesh” on that one.

This president is just about the most insufferable human being ever to occupy this once-exalted office.

Does this clown really have to do this?

Consider as well — for just a moment — that Trump reportedly referred to Comey in conversations with Russian dignitaries at the White House as a “showboat.”

Welcome home, Mr. President; about those changes

Donald Trump and his presidential entourage have returned home from a nine-day journey abroad. It won’t be the warmest welcome he’s ever had.

The president reportedly is pondering some big White House staff changes.

I believe I’ll take the liberty — as a taxpaying, red-blooded American patriot — to offer one suggestion for the president to ponder.

Tell your son-in-law to clear out his West Wing office and stay away while he’s under investigation by the FBI.

Jared Kushner has emerged as a principal subject as the FBI and the special counsel, Robert Mueller, pursue the “Russia thing.” The young man hasn’t been accused officially of doing anything wrong. I get that. I also get that as a “person of interest,” he is being examined likely for what he knows about alleged Russian involvement in U.S. governmental matters. He’s also entitled to the presumption of innocence.

But the young man has zero government experience. He has zero public service experience. He married well, though. His wife’s father is a zillionaire real estate mogul who now happens to be the president of the United States.

Until we get to the bottom of what Kushner knows, when he knew it, what he allegedly did and whether the reporting from the Washington Post, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, NBC and CNN is bogus or if it’s for real, then he ought to step away from his myriad responsibilities.

The media have reported some extremely troublesome matters regarding Kushner. The most troubling appears to be reports that he sought to set up back-channel communications between the Russian embassy in the United States and the Kremlin, using Russian communications equipment to boot!

Holy mackerel, man!

Kushner has this strange portfolio of duties: Middle East negotiator, troubleshooter, political adviser to the president. He has no experience at any of it. I truly question what value he actually brings to the White House inner circle.

So, Mr. President, start there. Jared Kushner can find something to do that has nothing to do with running the country. That’s a job better left to those who know what they’re doing.

Russians able to declare victory?

If you assume — as I do — that Russian spooks intended to disrupt the American political system by their hacking and disseminating “fake news,” then isn’t it fair to presume that they can declare victory?

Or, to put it another way: Mission accomplished.

I mean, think of it.

The Russians interfered in our electoral system. U.S. intelligence agencies have determined that to be a fact. All of them concur that Russia sought to disrupt our electoral process.

It’s not yet clear just how they intended to swing the election to Donald J. Trump’s favor. Trump won. He hasn’t spoken angrily about Russia. Or about Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, congressional investigators are turning themselves inside out trying to find out about the “Russia thing.” The Department of Justice has appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to lead the FBI investigation. Our attorney general has had to recuse himself from anything to do with Russia.

Congressional Democrats are talking now openly about impeaching the president. The FBI is looking at whether the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russian government operatives.

And the president’s legislative agenda — health care overhaul, tax reform, building that damn wall — is stalled completely. None of it is likely to get advanced.

Do you get my drift? The Russians have succeeded, actually, in accomplishing what they intended when they got involved in our electoral process in the first place.

Now, let’s all wait for the president to possibly, potentially lessen those sanctions we leveled against the Russians for their aggression in Ukraine.

Is that a crazy notion? Not even …

What? A back-channel phone line with Kremlin?

I know Donald Trump’s son-in-law is entitled to an innocence presumption.

Jared Kushner has now been shoved to the front row of a growing investigation into what the Trump presidential campaign may have done in connection with the Russian government.

The latest live grenade to explode deals with a report that Kushner and the Russians sought to set up a secret line through which the Trump team could communicate with the Kremlin, the seat of the Russian government in the heart of Moscow.

If it’s true — and I’ll presume that special counsel Robert Mueller will make that determination in due course — then it’s fair to ask: What would Kushner seek to keep secret from normal communications channels?

Some analysts are suggesting that this latest report might be a “game change” in the growing controversy. (I am going to refrain from calling it a “scandal” until we know a whole lot more.)

The Mueller investigation is going to determine whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians seeking to influence the 2016 presidential election. Trump says “no.” His buddy, Russian President Vladimir Putin, says “nyet.”

If this latest revelation is a game-changer, then I’m believing that Donald J. Trump’s tenure as president is about to enter some seriously tenuous territory.

It keeps getting deeper and darker for POTUS

The hits just keep on piling up on Donald John Trump.

The latest batch of them involves more media reporting that the president asked intelligence officials to push back on the FBI investigation into that “Russia thing.” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers said, um, “No can do.”

The FBI is looking into allegations that the Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russians who were hacking into our electoral system, seeking to influence the 2016 presidential election outcome — in Trump’s favor!

Trump keeps denying any collusion. Yet these reports keep piling up suggesting something quite different.

The Washington Post has reported this latest live grenade to blow up in the president’s face as he travels through the Middle East and Europe on his first overseas venture as leader of the free world.

A special counsel, Robert Mueller, already is on the job. Senate and House intelligence committees are at work as well in the hunt for the truth.

And, yes, so are the media — the scorned “enemy of the American people” and purveyors of “fake news.”

I am not going to predict with — as the late PBS talking head John McLaughlin would say — any “metaphysical certitude” that the president is heading straight for impeachment. But certain elements of the progression of events keep suggesting something such as that might occur.

Michael Flynn is going to invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination as the FBI looks into the former national security adviser’s Russia involvement; former FBI director James Comey is going to talk publicly with congressional committees about memos he wrote chronicling some alleged attempts by Trump to obstruct justice; and Mueller is going to talk to a current senior White House aide who has been deemed a “person of interest” in this ongoing investigation.

Just think: Donald Trump’s time in the only political office he ever sought is just beginning.

Comey set to return to center stage

I understand James Comey is a good lawyer.

He knows the consequences of committing perjury. He understands that when he takes an oath he is bound to tell the whole truth.

The former FBI director, whom Donald J. Trump fired just the other day, is heading to Capitol Hill in a few days to talk to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Reports now are surfacing that Comey is going to tell senators that the president sought to meddle in an investigation Comey was leading. Trump is the focus of the investigation, which now has been taken over by special counsel Robert Mueller. Comey said the FBI was examining whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians seeking to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Trump denies collusion. He has told TV networks and other media that he fired Comey because of the “Russia thing” and Comey’s investigation into the actions of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. He also reportedly blabbed as much to Russian dignitaries who were visiting him in the Oval Office; the Russians have denied that Trump said discussed Comey.

Hmmm.

Comey on the stand

Now we’ll get to hear from the former FBI director himself. I’m quite certain that senators — particularly those on the Democratic side of the dais — are going to get right to the heart of the Big Question.

Did the president of the United States — in your opinion — obstruct justice by asking the FBI director to shut down his probe of Flynn and the campaign’s Russia connection?

Be sure you tell us the whole truth, Mr. Comey.

Does an ‘innocent man’ welcome or resist scrutiny?

The thought keeps popping into my noggin: If Donald John Trump is innocent of what is being alleged against him, why is he resisting so fiercely the effort to find out the truth about those allegations?

The president is now under investigation by a special counsel, Robert Mueller, over questions surrounding whether his campaign had any improper contact with Russian government officials. Mueller also is looking at whether Trump asked former FBI Director James Comey to pull the plug on an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s relationship with foreign governments.

His reaction? He went quiet for about two days. Then he returned to Twitter to accuse his enemies of conducting a “witch hunt”; he opposed the appointment of a special counsel by the Justice Department; he told Coast Guard Academy graduates that he is the most persecuted politician in history.

He keeps insisting the Russian government didn’t seek to influence the 2016 election, despite what multiple U.S. intelligence agencies have said to the contrary. He also insists that “there was no collusion” between his campaign and Russian hackers.

POTUS keeps blabbing about Russia

I’m just wondering whether someone who’s clean would feel the need to fight back so strongly. Why wouldn’t the president welcome the probe, endorse Mueller’s credentials as a pro, then let the man reach a conclusion that verifies what the president has been saying?

Trump’s overheated reaction just doesn’t sound to me like something that an innocent man would do. Maybe it’s just me. I don’t think I’m alone in wondering about the conduct of a politician who keeps insisting he did nothing wrong.

Turn the special counsel loose

If history is any guide, a special counsel investigation aimed at rooting out issues relating to the president of the United States and his alleged ties to Russia well could develop a life of its own.

Robert Mueller has been given the task of finding out whether Donald John Trump’s presidential campaign was complicit in Russian government efforts to swing the 2016 presidential election. He’s also going to examine possible links between a former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, to the Russians. Moreover, he has latitude to look into whether the president obstructed justice by “asking” former FBI Director James Comey to shut down a probe of Flynn’s ties to Russia.

Could there be even more to learn, beyond the official tasks given to Mueller — himself a former FBI director?

Mueller’s the man

We have some historical precedent to ponder.

Kenneth Starr once held the title of “independent prosecutor.” His duty in the 1990s was to look at a real estate venture involving President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Republican critics in Congress thought there were some shady circumstances that needed to be examined. Starr began poking around and discovered some evidence of a relationship between President Clinton and a young 20-something White House intern.

A federal grand jury summoned the president to testify. The president took an oath to tell the whole truth to the grand jury — and then he lied about his relationship.

Ah-hah! GOP House members then cobbled together an impeachment proceeding that charged the president with perjury and obstruction of justice. The House impeached the president. The Senate held its trial and he was acquitted.

Will history repeat itself? I have no clue. My guess is that special counsel Mueller doesn’t yet know where his probe will lead.

These matters do have a way of growing legs. The statute gives Mueller considerable leeway in his pursuit of the truth. The president cannot fire him; he can, though, order the Justice Department to do so. Let’s hope that Donald Trump resists that impulse. I know that’s a tall order, given the self-proclaimed joy he gets when he fires people.

But the Justice Department’s deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, has picked a serious legal heavyweight to do some seriously heavy lifting.

It’s time now for Robert Mueller to get busy. Rapidly.

Mueller pick enables Congress, POTUS to get back to work

One of my first takeaways from today’s blockbuster news about the appointment of a special counsel to probe the “Russia thing” suggests that Congress and the president can get back to actual work.

You know … governing!

Robert Mueller is going to lead the investigation into whether Russia colluded with the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 election; he’ll look at whether Donald Trump asked former FBI director James Comey to shut down a probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s Russia connection; he might even find some other things we haven’t even thought of … yet.

You’ll recall that a former special counsel, Kenneth Starr, was tasked initially with examining a real estate deal involving Bill and Hillary Clinton and discovered that the president was having an “inappropriate” relationship with a young White House intern. The rest became history.

Mueller, himself a former FBI director, is an excellent choice to lead this probe. I give Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein high praise for making this choice.

Senators, House members and the president now can get back to arguing over some other things: health care, tax reform, infrastructure, immigration matters, North Korea, Syria, NATO.

We can argue ourselves hoarse over the merits of what Donald Trump wants to do. I don’t mind that debate continuing at full throttle.

This Russia matter and all its tendrils have strangled the government. For his part, Trump has made a mess of just about everything he has touched. Congressional leadership hasn’t acquitted itself much better, either.

Yes, House and Senate committees will continue to examine the “Russia thing” along with whatever Mueller uncovers. Let them pursue their charter as prescribed by congressional rules.

The rest of the House and the Senate — along with the guy who is president of the United States — ought to concentrate more fully on what they were sent to Washington, D.C., to do.

That is to govern.