Tag Archives: Russia probe

Why all the fuss over Comey memos?

I just read the memos that James Comey wrote after meeting with Donald Trump shortly after the president took office.

I’ll attach the link from which I read them to this post, so you can see the memos for yourself.

Here it is.

Maybe someone else can find it, but for the life of me I cannot detect a single overtly hostile passage in any of it. Comey, of course, is the former FBI director whom the president fired over “the Russia thing.” As one might expect, Trump has since backed off that stated reason for firing Comey, although he hasn’t yet denied he told Russian visitors to the Oval Office that he called Comey a “nut job.”

But throughout the memos, there are references to the compliments that the president laid on Comey, how he thought the FBI director was doing a good job, how the president had heard good things about Comey, how he wished him well.

Yes, there is the reference to the president saying how he demanded “loyalty” among those who work for him. Comey chronicles in that memo that he didn’t respond to the president’s assertion; but again, he doesn’t offer any commentary about the nature of the statement. He merely said he didn’t respond.

Trump, quite expectedly, has denounced the memos. He calls them lies. He accuses Comey of being a serial liar — or words to that effect.

But as I perused the Comey memos I am struck by their tone.

Comey comes off according to my reading of his comments — which I understand were written “contemporaneously” — as a squeaky clean professional.

Maybe that’s why — now that I think about it — the president is so damn angry at the man he fired. James Comey is the kind of man that Donald Trump is not.

How will the former America’s Mayor do this job?

I have no legal background. I spent a career writing news stories and offering commentary on issues of the day as a journalist.

There. That said, I am going to express some bafflement at Rudolf Giuliani’s decision to join Donald J. Trump’s legal team with the aim of finding a quick conclusion to a special counsel’s expansive and exhaustive examination of allegations of collusion involving the 2016 presidential election.

I stood behind the former New York mayor when he rose to the challenge of repairing his city that was shattered by the attack of 9/11.

Giuliani reportedly has plenty of shared history with Robert Mueller, the special counsel who’s been conducting the investigation. Indeed, Mueller became FBI director right before the 9/11 attack (see picture above).

But since that time, the former mayor has become a political pit bull. He is a fierce defender of Donald J. Trump, whose campaign is being examined by Mueller and his team of legal eagles.

I am having trouble understanding just how this man, Giuliani, intends to persuade Mueller to button up his examination quickly. The way I understand it, Mueller is a meticulous prosecutor, careful in the extreme to protect evidence gathered.

What’s more, Mueller already has indicted some individuals close to the president’s campaign. There appears to be much more ground to plow before he brings this probe to an end.

As Politico reports: Mueller likely still has much work to do. At a minimum, he must see through his case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who has pleaded not guilty to charges including bank and tax fraud and is set to face trial starting in July.

So, the question remains: How is the man once called “America’s Mayor” going to push Mueller to conclude at least portions of this investigation in a speedy fashion?

This layman out here in Flyover Country doesn’t see any way in the world that will happen. Robert Mueller will conclude this investigation at his own pace … if he’s given the chance to complete his work.

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?

Tell the whole story about ‘collusion,’ Mr. President

That silly Donald Trump just cannot tell the truth about anything.

For instance, he declared this week in the presence of the media and the Japanese prime minister that the U.S. House Intelligence Committee has absolved the president of any “collusion” with Russians who meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

Wrong! Double wrong! Triple wrong!

The committee did nothing of the sort. The panel’s Republican majority issued a partisan statement ending the committee’s investigation. Intelligence Committee Democrats had no part in the statement. The panel’s GOP members decided to protect the president’s backside by issuing a statement that has no basis in fact.

The collusion issue hasn’t yet been determined finally by anyone. Special counsel Robert Mueller continues to look into it. The Senate Intelligence Committee also is continuing its work on this complicated matter.

Yet the president continues to insist repeatedly that there was “no collusion” between his campaign or himself personally and the Russian goons who hacked into our electoral system.

They launched an attack on our political process. They presented a clear and present danger to the integrity of our system of government. The president still won’t say it out loud. He still keeps giving Russian President Vladimir Putin political cover on that issue.

So, Mr. President, knock off the lying. I know I’m making an impossible request of the Liar in Chief, but I have to make it anyway.

POTUS’s memory fails him?

Donald J. Trump boasts among other things about his steel-trap memory. It’s the “best,” isn’t that right, Mr. President?

Well, the president put out a tweet today saying that — despite what he said on national TV a year ago — he didn’t fire FBI Director James Comey over the “Russia thing.”

Ohhh, no! His firing of Comey had to do with the Hillary Clinton email matter and the way the FBI was handling it — or so he says at this moment.

Hold on! He told NBC News’s Lester Holt a year ago that he canned Comey because of the investigation he was leading into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians who meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

And don’t you remember what Trump told Russian government visitors to the White House? He said he fired Comey because he is a “nut job” and because he wanted to take pressure off from the Russia probe.

In some circles that could be construed as an obstruction of justice. Hmm. Who knows? Maybe the special counsel appointed to examine the “Russia thing” will make that determination. Or … maybe not!

But the president’s penchant for tweeting these issues gives many of us pause to wonder: Does he know what he’s talking about?

And is the president’s memory all that he cracks it up to be?

Comey: friend turns to foe

James Comey continues to make the turn. Hey, he might make a full circle before this drama is finishing playing out.

The former FBI director once was hailed by Donald Trump when Comey revealed he had more information to explore regarding Hillary Rodham Clinton’s use — or misuse — of her personal email account while she was secretary of state.

Eleven days before the 2016 presidential election, Comey tossed the outcome into serious confusion mode with the revelation about the so-called new evidence.

Trump was ecstatic. The GOP nominee bellowed that Comey had done his job well.

Then came the news that Comey said there was nothing more to investigate. Case closed. But the damage well might have been done to Clinton’s campaign.

Then the new president took office. He allegedly sought some assurances and a reported pledge of loyalty from Comey. He didn’t get them.

Then the president fired Comey from his FBI job. Ever since, Comey has been called everything but the Son of Satan.

Ahh, the fortunes do turn dramatically.

Now the ex-FBI boss has written a new book. He told ABC News that Trump “might have” obstructed justice. He called the president “morally unfit” to serve.

And then the Twitter tirade came from the president, who responded with “worst FBI director in history … by far!”, “slime ball,” and “serial liar.”

I don’t know about you, but I intend to hold with both hands for the foreseeable future as this dispute plays out. If it ever does!

Being ‘not aware of plan’ is no reason for comfort

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says she is “not aware” of any plans for Donald Trump to fire special counsel Robert Mueller and/or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

I have to ask: Are we supposed to take that to the bank?

The president operates on a sort of chaotic system of strategy and tactics. He doesn’t tell those ostensibly closest to him anything in advance, or so it appears.

For Sanders to say she is “not aware” of the president’s plans gives me zero assurance that the man for whom she works is going to avoid doing something profoundly stupid.

Firing the special counsel would send Congress into pure apoplexy. Republicans and Democrats alike are urging Trump to let Mueller do his job, which is to get to the bottom of the Russia collusion issue that has dogged Trump since Day One of his presidency.

Trump reportedly has let it be known that he believes he has the authority to fire Mueller, even though he was appointed by Rosenstein.

Which brings me to the other point, which is that firing Rosenstein would be equally apoplectic for members of Congress.

I guess it’s good to remind y’all that Mueller is a Republican; Rosenstein is, too. And, oh yes, Donald Trump was elected as a Republican.

Yet the president keeps yapping “all those Democrats” who insist on the Mueller investigation continuing.

So, will the president let the special counsel and the deputy AG do their jobs? Will wisdom overcome this impetuous individual who seems incapable of listening to wise men and women who know more about government than he ever thought of knowing?

As for the press secretary telling the nation that she is “not aware” of any foolish actions coming up … well, stay tuned, Sarah. You’ll likely find out right along with the rest of us.

Comey takes Trump feud to new level

James Comey should be better than this.

The former FBI director, whom Donald J. Trump fired this past year  because of “the Russia thing,” has fired a heavy salvo at the president that includes some strangely personal observations about the man who canned him.

For instance, he has written in his book that the white bags  under Trump’s eyes are the result of goggles he allegedly wears while lying on a tanning bed.

Did he really have to go there? Did the former FBI boss really have to offer that observation about Trump? I, um, don’t believe so.

As such, Comey seems to have climbed aboard the Trump clown wagon, providing the kind of critique of the president that we usually hear from Trump himself.

This disappoints me greatly.

There is so much to criticize about the president. His policy-making process; his tempestuousness; his lack of judgment; his caprice; his inability to acknowledge mistakes. I could go on forever. I won’t.

Comey has now opened the door for Trump to drag the men’s apparently intense mutual loathing even farther into the rhetorical gutter.

Of the two men, I consider Comey to be much more credible than the president, who continues to demonstrate his inability to tell the complete, unvarnished truth about anything. He has lied continually all during his 16 months as president, not to mention the two years that preceded his election.

I am left to wonder: Why did James Comey choose to saunter down that path of gratuitous innuendo?

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.”

FBI launches raid and the mystery deepens

FBI agents conducted a quick-hit raid on the office of Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

He’s the guy who shelled out that $130,000 hush-money payment to porn queen Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an affair that the president denies ever occurring.

Stay with me on this.

Cohen allegedly paid the money without his client’s knowledge. It supposedly came from a personal account. Trump has said he didn’t know about the payment. And surely we believe the liar in chief’s denial. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? I mean, he’s the president of the United States … after all.

I’m no expert on legal ethics, but this one just doesn’t pass the smell test. It stinks to high heaven.

So the FBI wants to take a look at the documents that Cohen had squirreled away in his office. They may — or may not — have anything to do with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation in the “Russia thing” that Trump calls a “witch hunt” and the product of “fake news” and Democrats who are still steamed over losing the 2016 presidential election.

As an American taxpayer with a keen interest in seeing this mystery play out, I welcome the FBI raid on Cohen’s office. It tells me that the nation’s premier law enforcement agency is on the hunt. It is seeking the truth behind — at a bare minimum (no pun intended) — this seedy, tawdry story involving our nation’s head of state.

There might be some element to this story and the payment of the hush money that hasn’t come out just yet.

So, the mystery deepens. Same for the intrigue.