Tag Archives: Russia probe

McCabe gets the nation’s attention

I wanted to watch the “60 Minutes” interview with former acting¬† FBI director Andrew McCabe partly because the teasers preceding it made it almost an irresistible bit of broadcast journalism.

The interview didn’t disappoint me.

Of all the assertions McCabe made during his interview with CBS correspondent Scott Pelley, the one that got my attention referred to a conversation McCabe had with Donald Trump regarding North Korea’s nuclear ambition.

Trump said he had received assurances from Russian strongman Vladimir Putin that the North Koreans were not developing first-strike nuclear capability. McCabe said he told the president that the U.S. intelligence analysis said precisely the opposite.

Then McCabe asserted that Trump said: “I don’t care. I believe Putin.”

My jaw dropped!

Let me stipulate that I am not going to jump on the treason/traitor haywagon that’s been seen circling around the White House. Some national security gurus and honchos are suggesting some serious crimes have been committed by the president.

Trump backs Putin

I’ll stick with what we’ve all witnessed in real time. Such as that Helsinki joint appearance with Trump and Putin in which the president bought into Putin’s denial about Russian interference in our 2016 election while disparaging U.S. intelligence analysis that said — yep! — the Russians did it.

McCabe’s statement to Pelley only confirms what we have seen and heard. What we don’t yet know is why in the world the president of the United States would believe the assertions of a killer over the very men and women who work to protect us from people like Putin.

Nothing ‘illegal’ about 25th Amendment

Former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe has gotten the nation’s attention.

“60 Minutes” interviewed McCabe; the program aired Sunday night. McCabe revealed that immediately after Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey, a senior Justice Department official — Rod Rosenstein — tossed out the notion of invoking the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This is the one that allows for the removal of a president if a majority of the Cabinet deems him unable to perform the duties of his office.

What was Donald Trump’s response to McCabe’s allegation? He called it “illegal”; he said McCabe was “treasonous’; he called McCabe a “disgrace” to the FBI and to the country.

Sheesh, already!

Let’s back up for just a moment.

Trump fired Comey over “the Russia thing”; Trump said so himself in a 2017 interview on NBC. The “Russia thing” is the investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russians who interfered in our 2016 election.

He later said Comey’s firing was greeted with praise from within the FBI ranks. McCabe said Sunday that is false. He said Comey was highly respected by his staff, by field agents and everyone who knew him at the FBI.

As for the “illegality” of what McCabe said was discussed, there is nothing illegal about invoking an amendment to the nation’s governing document. A majority of Congress sent the amendment to the states; it was ratified in February 1967. It’s all legal!

There is some dispute over whether deputy AG Rosenstein actually proposed such a move.

However, the president is popping off with utter ignorance once again about the legality of an actual constitutional amendment.

Preferring to wait for Mueller report

Let’s see, who should we believe?

U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., says “evidence is in plain sight” that the Donald Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russian government operatives who attacked our electoral system in 2016.

There’s that view.

Then we have U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., who says there is “no evidence” of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian goons.

Clear as mud, right?

I believe I am going to await the findings of the special counsel, Robert Mueller III — the former FBI director and a first-class lawyer — to finish his investigation into the Russia collusion matter.

I also intend to insist that he make his report public. Mueller has spent a several trainloads of public money on this investigation. Thus, the public is entitled to see how its investment has paid off, if it has paid off.

As for chairmen Schiff and Burr, they’re likely viewing this matter through their own partisan prisms. I want to hear from the man who has unique knowledge of what happened.

The nation awaits you, Mr. Special Counsel.

AG Barr now must make good on pledge

U.S. Attorney General William Barr has the potential to emerge as one of the few grownups to serve in the presidential administration of Donald J. Trump.

The Senate confirmed him this week with a 54-45 vote, which I thought was much closer and more partisan than I expected. However, he’s now the head guy at the Justice Department.

AG Barr’s task now is to make good on the pledges he made to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing.

Barr said he wouldn’t be bullied by the president of the United States; he said special counsel Robert Mueller will be allowed to finish his exhaustive probe into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian election attacks; he has expressed faith in Mueller’s integrity and professionalism.

I have faith that Barr will make good on his pledge. This isn’t his first DOJ rodeo. Barr served as attorney general from 1991 to 1992 during the George H.W. Bush administration. He is a top-notch lawyer. Yes, he’s a partisan, but we should expect that from any AG regardless of his or her party affiliation.

So, Mr. Attorney General, I implore you to be faithful to your sworn statements in front of the entire nation, if not the world.

How do you lie by accident?

This headline appeared on a National Public Radio story about Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman: “Manafort intentionally lied so special counsel, judge says.”

It made me crack open by trusty American Heritage Dictionary. I looked up the word “lie.” It says a lie is “a false statement deliberately presented as true.”

The key word here is “deliberately.” Which begs the question: How does someone lie by accident, or without intending to lie?

The judge has slammed Manafort hard, saying the president’s former campaign chairman lied to special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into “The Russia Thing.”

Read the NPR story here

Manafort lied. He did it on purpose. Which is precisely what a lie is defined as being.

I am wondering now about this notion that somehow it is news that Manafort “intentionally” lied to Mueller.

A false statement presented as true by accident is a “misstatement”; it’s a mistake, a verbal gaffe. Manafort has taken a page from his former boss. He lied.

Extra glad Whitaker is on his way out as AG

After watching a good bit of acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, I came away with this major conclusion: I am doubly glad he is on his way out as head of the Department of Justice.

Committee members asked him — and pressed him — to answer a simple question: Do you believe special counsel Robert Mueller is engaged in a “witch hunt” of Donald Trump?

FBI Director Christopher Wray has said “no.” So has the AG-designate, William Barr. Both of those men stand firmly behind Mueller’s integrity and professionalism.

Whitaker’s answer? He didn’t want to comment on “an ongoing investigation.” He said it was “inappropriate.”

Hah! It wasn’t “inappropriate” for Wray to comment. Or for Barr. Whitaker, though, is hiding behind some kind of phony, bogus and dubious pretext that he cannot comment on an ongoing probe into whether Donald Trump’s campaign “colluded” with Russian operatives who attacked our electoral system in the 2016 presidential election.

None of the committee members asked him to comment on specifics of the probe. No one wanted him to give away any secrets. They asked a simple, declarative question that required a simple, declarative “yes” or “no” answer.

I happen to believe William Barr is a fine choice as attorney general. I trust him to be professional who will be beholden to the Constitution and not the president of the United States. This ain’t his first DOJ rodeo, given that he served as AG during Bush 41’s administration.

As for Matthew Whitaker, please go far away — as soon as possible.

There’s still that ‘elephant in the room,’ Mr. President

Donald Trump’s second State of the Union speech reportedly went over well with most Americans, who told pollsters overnight they approved of what he had to say.

I was one of those Americans. The pollsters didn’t call me, but I’ll offer this unsolicited view: The president did hit a few good notes and I applaud him for hitting them.

  • Criminal justice reform is a big deal and I am glad to hear him insist on reforming federal laws that punish non-violent criminals too harshly. I was delighted that Gladys Johnson, whose life sentence in prison for a first-time drug conviction that Trump commuted, was there to receive bipartisan applause.
  • Infrastructure repair also is a big deal. We need to fix our crumbling roads, bridges and airports. How we pay for it is another matter, given that it’s going to cost well north of $1 trillion.

That’s about it in terms of supporting the president’s policies.

Trump called for an end to “partisan investigations.” Well, actually, I don’t consider special counsel Robert Mueller’s search for the truth behind allegations of “collusion” with Russians who attacked our electoral system to be a partisan exercise.

It’s an important one. Yes, the president is right to assert that we need unity at home if we’re going to assume our role as world leader. I’ll just offer this notion: Let the special counsel finish his work, allow him to reveal to the public what he found, let us discuss the findings openly and then we can decide what steps — if any — to take before we move on.

Some takeaways from SOTU speech

I won’t get into the body language chatter that has erupted on social media, such as the strange hand-clap given by Speaker Nancy Pelosi or the sitting on hands by congressional Democrats who now comprise a majority of the House membership.

I simply find the president’s pleas to be utterly lacking in sincerity. He says the right words, but I cannot get past the belief that he doesn’t actually believe what he says. Therefore, how can he expect the rest of us to buy into whatever message he seeks to deliver.

Trump sought ‘unity’; he fell short

I will have more to say about Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech after I get some sleep tonight.

First reaction?

He pledged to speak to the ideals of unity, bipartisanship and compromise. Then he said there would be no progress while we’re going through “ridiculous” investigations.

Hmm. I think the president — dare I say it? — trumped his own call for compromise and unity.

Have a good night, y’all.

Mueller probe causing some heartburn

Robert S. Mueller III is giving me a case of heartburn.

The length of this probe is giving me the willies about its future.

Mueller’s probe into The Russia Thing needs to conclude. I hope it happens soon. My fear is that the longer it goes the greater the chance that Donald J. Trump will do something so profoundly stupid that he will hurl the nation into the mother of constitutional crises.

What would the president do? He might order the Department of Justice to fire Mueller. Sure, he keeps pledging — sort of — to let Mueller finish his job. However, I trust the president only as far as I can throw a 239-pound individual.

My heartburn worsens when I consider that I also want Mueller to be as thorough as humanly possible before he wraps it up. He has obtained 37 indictments and guilty pleas already. Some of those indictments include the president’s closest campaign aides and key White House staffers. The latest indictment of Trump confidant Roger Stone is providing an sideshow that would make P.T. Barnum proud.

Yes, I want Mueller to pick through the evidence he has collected already into alleged “collusion” with Russians who attacked our electoral system. I want him to pore over every single bit of it.

Time, though, is not Mueller’s ally. A new attorney general, William Barr, is likely to be approved by the U.S. Senate. I hope that confirmation comes soon so that Barr — a former AG during the Bush 41 administration — can take command; he then can push the Trump sycophant, acting AG Matthew Whitaker, out of the way.

But on another level, I want this probe to end so we can move on to the next thing, which is to digest its findings, or at least those findings that Mueller deigns to release to the public. My strongest hope is that Mueller releases virtually all of it, keeping only that information that contains national security information away from public view.

I want it concluded. But not in a hurry-up fashion. I also want the president to keep his hands off of Mueller’s work and I also want Mueller to finish every little detail of this exhaustive work.

Pass the Pepto . . .

Pipe down, Rep. Waters . . . will ya?

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters is dead set on impeaching Donald John Trump.¬†She is so anxious to boot the president out of office she says it is “past time” to file articles of impeachment against him.

Well . . .

Allow me this brief rejoinder to the California Democrat: No, ma’am. It isn’t “past time.” Impeachment needs to wait for some work to be finished.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is up to his armpits in evidence that he is preparing for a final report on “The Russia Thing.”

Trump’s denigrating of our nation’s intelligence chiefs’ assessment of threats against the country got Waters’ temperature up. She’s been an ardent and vocal critic of the president. She needs little to get fired up over her desire to impeach him.

I oppose the president at almost every level, too. However, I am going to use this forum — my blog — to assert that we must wait for Mueller to finish his work before we decide whether to proceed with impeachment.

With that, Rep. Waters, I urge you to settle down and let the special counsel finish his important task.