Tag Archives: Russia probe

Bannon offers spot-on comment on Sessions’s recusal

As a general rule I am not inclined to offer praise for a former Donald Trump policy adviser who has been portrayed as the Grim Reaper on “Saturday Night Live.”

However, Stephen Bannon has offered a spot-on analysis of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from anything relating to the Russia meddling matter in the 2016 presidential election.

Bannon said Sessions made precisely the correct call in backing out. He added that former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani also would have made the same decision had they been put in that position.

Why? They all had direct involvement in the president’s campaign and, thus, could not possibly be trusted to conduct a thorough, fair and unbiased investigation into Russian meddling in the campaign. The question of the moment is whether the president obstructed justice by firing FBI Director James Comey and whether his campaign “colluded” with Russian operatives who had dug up dirt on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Yet, Trump has been trashing Sessions for making that decision. He has said repeatedly he regrets selecting him as attorney general. Trump has disparaged the leadership at the Justice Department and the FBI.

The president doesn’t understand the complexities of conflict of interest. Sessions got it when he backed out of the Russia matter. Accordingly, Bannon — someone who hasn’t generally served the nation well — happens to be totally correct in his assessment that Trump is wrong to condemn the AG for acting properly.

I do have to chuckle when Bannon keeps insisting that he still admires and respects the president, saying he cherishes his relationship with him. He offers that caveat while reminding him publicly that he doesn’t understand why he is so damn wrong when he ridicules the attorney general.

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.

Where’s the outrage from the right?

Let’s flash back for just a moment.

In 2016, former President Bill Clinton encountered Attorney General Loretta Lynch on an airport tarmac. Clinton boarded Lynch’s airplane and supposedly talked about this and that, grandkids and assorted family matters. Clinton said they didn’t discuss anything pertaining to the e-mail matter; Lynch confirmed Clinton’s account of the encounter.

The Justice Department at the time was investigating the ex-president’s wife and her use of a personal e-mail server while she was secretary of state. Oh, yes! Hillary Rodham Clinton also was running for president.

The right wing became unglued. Clinton sought to influence an on-going investigation, Republican operatives howled.

Should the ex-president have boarded the AG’s plane? No. The optics of it looked bad and President Clinton should have known better.

But then …

Just this week, a Republican politician, Donald J. Trump, “demanded” that DOJ investigate and investigation into Russian meddling in our 2016 election. He has leveled an accusation that the FBI spied on his campaign for “political purposes.”

So, the question is this: Where is the outrage over a sitting president interfering in an active Department of Justice investigation?

Trump’s demand seeks to undermine the DOJ, the FBI and the probe being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in our electoral process.

No outrage? No calls for yet another probe?

Weird.

‘Lying machine’? Really, Mr. POTUS?

A friend and former boss of mine used to be fond of ridiculing statements that come out of the mouths of public officials.

Thus, the comment that Donald John Trump tossed at former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper  brings my good friend to mind.

Trump calls Clapper a “lying machine.”

To quote my friend: To hear Donald Trump call anyone a “lying machine” is like hearing Xaviera “The Happy Hooker” Hollander accuse someone of being a whore.

This individual is totally, utterly and categorically without shame.

Trump makes an audacious ‘demand’

Presidents of the United States have plenty of power. The man who holds the office at the moment, Donald Trump, has wielded it yet again.

He “demanded” that the Department of Justice launch an investigation into whether the FBI planted a snitch inside the 2016 presidential campaign for “political purposes.”

What has gotten tongues wagging is that presidents don’t normally make such demands of DOJ officials who are in the midst of ongoing investigations. They might request it. They don’t demand anything.

I don’t think we should be all that surprised that the president has tossed yet another office tradition into the crapper. He told us he would be an unconventional president. Yep, he’s fulfilled that campaign “promise” … in spades.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the Russia investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller, responded the right way. He has assigned the inspector general to conduct the probe into whether the FBI did what Trump has alleged.

Again, to no one’s surprise, Trump has suggested that someone within the Obama administration told the FBI to infiltrate the GOP candidate’s presidential campaign.

This “demand” matter, though, continues to cause angst among those who worry about the integrity and the independence of the DOJ and the FBI from presidential politics.

The investigation that Trump has ordered will seek to ascertain the motive behind any directive that was issued by the FBI. Indeed, the law enforcement agency is empowered to solicit information from confidential sources. When the FBI gets word, therefore, of Russian interference in our presidential election, isn’t it proper for the agency to get to the bottom of it all?

The president has ordered an investigation into an investigation.

That isn’t normal by any stretch. Donald Trump has exercised the power he possesses legally. What’s legal, though, isn’t always right.

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.

What became of America’s Mayor?

Rudolph Giuliani used to be a revered public figure. He stood tall amid the rubble of Ground Zero in lower Manhattan and rallied a stricken city in the wake of the 9/11 terror attack on the World Trade Center.

Time magazine named him Person of the Year in 2001. It was richly deserved. Giuliani became America’s Mayor.

Then something happened to him. He decided to get involved in national politics. He dressed in drag to spoof something or someone. He ran for the Republican Party presidential nomination in 2008.

Rudy Giuliani has gotten a bit strange. If you saw his shtick at the 2016 Republican National Convention, then you understand my point. If you haven’t seen it, take a look:

His latest gig is as Donald J. Trump’s lawyer, representing the president as he does battle against what he calls the “witch hunt” being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Giuliani has managed to step all over Trump’s denial about hush money being paid to a porn star; he argues now that the president cannot be subpoenaed or indicted by the special counsel, even if Mueller produces evidence that Trump broke the law.

Giuliani has become a shill. He has behaved in a seriously unattractive manner as he defends the president against Mueller’s investigation in whether Trump obstructed justice or “colluded” with Russians who interfered in our 2016 presidential election.

Honestly, I much prefer the former Rudy Giuliani, the man who faced down terrorists while standing in the rubble.

The “new Rudy” is acting like a clown.