Tag Archives: Rod Rosenstein

‘In this indictment’ becomes key phrase

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein delivered a bombshell of an announcement this week: the indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence officers, charging them with conspiring to hack into our U.S. election system.

Some who are friendly to Donald J. Trump are likely to attach themselves to a statement within Rosenstein’s announcement. It is that “no Americans have been charged in this indictment” with criminal activity.

Yes, the indictment takes dead aim at a dozen Russians. The president is meeting next week with Russia’s president. Trump vows to take the issue with Vladimir Putin. The Russian strongman will deny any involvement. The U.S. president can respond in any one of a number of ways. Many of us are concerned that he’s going to accept Putin’s lie and move on.

But … here’s the problem as I see it with Rosenstein’s announcement: “In this indictment” offers a specific reference to a singular criminal investigation.

Does the deputy AG suggest that with his statement about a lack of criminality by Americans — in this particular criminal complain — that there will be none coming as special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation slogs toward its conclusion?

Let’s just wait this out, shall we?

It’s the timing, man!

What are we to make of the timing of two key events in the 2016 presidential campaign?

Donald J. Trump in July of that year invited the Russian government to find the missing 30,000 e-mails that Hillary Rodham Clinton deleted from her file at the U.S. State Department.

Here is the GOP nominee making that invitation:

Then … according to an indictment handed down against 12 Russian military intelligence officers, on that very day they began hacking into the Democratic nominee’s files.

Coincidence? I think not. Neither does the legal team headed by special counsel Robert Mueller or the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller to the special counsel post.

I have believed since the beginning of this probe that Mueller’s so-called “witch hunt” is nothing of the sort.

To what end will this investigation lead?

I’ve spent a good part of my day sitting in my study. My TV has been tuned to a cable news channel, which has been broadcasting a congressional hearing with a single witness: FBI agent Peter Strzok.

My question is this: For what purpose are they conducting this all-day marathon?

Strzok used to serve on Robert Mueller’s team that is looking at Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Then he and another agent, Lisa Page, were fired. Mueller canned them when it became known that they had exchanged anti-Trump messages via e-mail. Congressional Republicans allege a deep bias against the president. They are contending that the alleged bias taints the Mueller probe. They are seeking to undermine Mueller’s probe.

So, where is this investigation going? The U.S. House Oversight Committee is going to issue some kind of report. Then what? Suppose the report determines Mueller’s team has been biased and has conducted a corrupt investigation into whether the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russians who meddled in our 2016 election. Are they going to recommend an end to the probe?

Strzok has defended himself fiercely. He said he and the FBI did everything “by the book.”

I keep circling back to the man at the top of the investigation, Robert Mueller.

I remain quite convinced that Mueller’s integrity is intact. He is a former FBI director. He is known to be a meticulous lawyer. Mueller has assembled a top-tier legal team to probe deeply into the myriad issues surrounding the Trump campaign.

As for the president’s assertion — backed up by his GOP allies in Congress — that the Russia probe is being dominated by “13 Democrats,” this flies in the face of the fact that Mueller is a life-long Republican; so is the man who appointed him, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein; and … so is the man Trump fired as FBI director, James Comey.

Trump accuses Mueller of launching a “witch hunt” against him. I strongly suspect another type of “witch hunt” is under way. It ‘s occurring in Congress and the target is Mueller, who the GOP is targeting because he is inching closer to the White House in his probe into what happened during the 2016 presidential campaign.

House Oversight Committee Republicans have one of Mueller’s former team members — Peter Strzok — in their sights.

Where in the world is this congressional probe heading? I think it will end up in the ditch, right along with the Benghazi probe.

DOJ starts journey down a slippery slope

Donald J. Trump has leveled an extraordinarily serious allegation against the FBI: that the law enforcement agency spied on his presidential campaign for “political purposes.”

An investigation into that charge has commenced. The Department of Justice’s inspector general is taking the lead.

I am heartened to some degree that the IG is conducting this probe. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from anything related to the Russia matter, given his own bias as a campaign operative and the role he played in helping formulate the future president’s foreign policy.

The decision to bring in the IG fell to Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, who appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to lead the probe into the Russia matter.

This battle between the president and the FBI has been unprecedented at many levels already. That the president of the United States would condemn the FBI in such harsh terms, let alone doing the same thing to the Justice Department, is unheard of. Some observers have suggested the president’s strategy to discredit the FBI, DOJ and Mueller may be paying dividends for him in the eyes of the public.

I, as one American voter, find Trump’s strategy to be offensive in the extreme. That’s just me, though. You already know how I feel about Trump and his unfitness for the job to which he was elected.

He’s called Mueller’s probe the “worst witch hunt” in U.S. history, apparently ignoring the fact that in the 17th century, women were actually killed because some colonists thought they were, um, witches.

With all the leaks that have permeated this investigation, it’s fascinating in the extreme that Mueller’s team of legal eagles has been hermetically sealed against such leakage. He has remained silent, preferring to go about the task to which he was assigned: to find the truth about Trump’s election-year relationship — if any existed — with Russian goons who meddled in our election.

I want the inspector general to conclude his own probe in fairly short order. My hope is that he he can root out all the facts and make a reasoned, dispassionate finding on what Trump has proclaimed so hysterically.

However, the slope is mighty slippery. Watch your step, Mr. Inspector General.

POTUS ratchets up war with Mueller

Here we go.

Donald Trump has accused the FBI of improper surveillance of his 2016 presidential campaign and has “demanded” that the Justice Department launch a probe into it.

DOJ has responded by asking its inspector general to conduct a thorough investigation into whether anything improper occurred with regard to the Russian meddling in our 2016 election.

“If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a statement.

OK, where do we stand?

It looks to me as though the president has pulled out all the stops in his strategy to discredit, disparage and disqualify the serious probe being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Mueller has been given the authority to determine to what extent if any the president’s campaign cooperated with Russians who meddled in our electoral process. What’s more, Mueller’s team is examining a whole range of related issues, such as potential obstruction of justice and possible Trump Organization business ties with Russians involved in the meddling.

Trump’s allegation, as he has done with other such accusations, comes with no evidence up front. The president just, um, said it.

Rosenstein’s decision is the right call. If what the president alleges proves true, then we have a serious problem on our hands. I am going to rely on the IG’s ability to conduct the kind of thorough investigation that doesn’t presume guilt, but instead examines what — if any — evidence exists to lend credence to what the president has alleged.

If the IG finds nothing, well, then we have a problem of an entirely different nature.

And it is just as serious as the first one.

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?

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.”

Dear Mr. POTUS: Let Mueller do his job

Dear Mr. President:

I won’t take long to make this point, sir.

You are getting a snootful from your fellow Republicans, the real Republicans who serve in Congress. They’re giving you some advice you need to heed and follow.

Do not do anything to force the ouster of special counsel Robert Mueller.

I say this hoping that you have a half a brain under that hideous comb-over on top of that noggin of yours. If you do you’ll understand that the crisis any such effort would launch. And from where I sit, it likely would not end well for you.

I am presuming you’ve heard from one of the leading Senate Republicans, John Cornyn of Texas, who told Politico that “the consequences would be so overwhelming” if you force Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to kick Mueller to the curb.

Hey, I’m not so sure Rosenstein would obey the order. He’s said already — and you’ve heard that, too — that he doesn’t anticipate firing Mueller unless there’s “cause.” Mueller, Rosenstein, said, is doing a fine job as special counsel.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also has said Mueller needs to finish the job. Same with many other leading Republicans.

Furthermore, if I were you, Mr. President, I wouldn’t take Sen. Ted Cruz’s silence on this matter as an endorsement of you or your conduct. Cruz says he doesn’t comment on tweets, which is likely a reasonable position to take. He said he won’t “focus on the political circus” that is unfolding in Washington.

Whatever. Others are willing to speak out. You ought to heed them.

I don’t expect you to act on what I have to say, or what other critics of you have to say. Democrats are p***ing into the wind.

You preach fealty to Republicans, Mr. President. Now is the time to heed your own advice.

Trump politicizing probe … except that he’s mistaken

Donald J. Trump’s latest rampage on Twitter is making yet another ridiculous assertion.

The president accuses special counsel Robert Mueller of stacking his legal team with Democrats who were loyal to whom he has referred to as “Crooked Hillary” Clinton.

It’s part of Trump’s effort to discredit, disparage and disrespect the team Mueller has assembled to examine some serious issues relating to the president’s campaign team’s alleged relationship with Russians who sought to meddle in our 2016 presidential election.

It is true that most of the lawyers working for Mueller are registered Democrats, as if that by itself is going to taint the investigation — which cannot be stated with any degree of certainty on its face.

Oh, but wait! What about Mueller? And what about the guy who appointed him special counsel, Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein?

This is where I can say that Mueller, a former FBI director, is a registered Republican. Rosenstein, who was appointed to his deputy AG post by Donald Trump himself, also is a registered Republican.

The two top dogs in the Russia investigation are Republicans, man! Does that matter? Does that tilt the investigation toward the Top Republican, Trump?

No. I am going to put my faith that Mueller will do his job in accordance with what the law and the U.S. Constitution allow. The special counsel knows a lot more about both than the man — Donald Trump — who keeps hectoring him.