Tag Archives: Russia probe

Before we start throwing dirt on Trump …

I am about to depress some readers of this blog; other readers might take heart in what I am about to say.

Before we start writing Donald John Trump Sr.’s political obituary, I feel compelled to remind us all — even those of us who oppose this man’s presidency — that this guy is the consummate political survivor.

How many “last straws” has this clown managed to pick up and toss aside? Sen. John McCain is a “war hero only because he was captured”; the mocking of a New York Times reporter’s physical handicap; the disparaging of a Gold Star family; the “Access Hollywood” recording of Trump boasting of grabbing women by their … whatever; the constant lying.

He’s now in trouble — supposedly — because of remarks he has made about white supremacists and neo-Nazis. He’s been applauded by ex-KKK grand lizard David Duke. His statements about the Charlottesville riot have been appalling in the extreme. Republicans are turning their back on the president.

Does any of this produce a death knell for this man’s presidency?

Any one or all of the aforementioned hideous examples should have derailed his ride to the White House. They didn’t. His base hung with him. He got elected.

Trump has made an absolute mess of his high office. And oh yes, he has that “Russia thing” under investigation by a dogged, meticulous special prosecutor.

Do not, though, think he’s a goner. At least not just yet.

There. Now I just depressed myself. Damn!

Hey, what about ‘the Russia thing’?

Pssst. I am about to let the cat out of the bag.

Much of the nation — maybe most of it — has been consumed by the tragic events of Charlottesville and the president’s response to it. I get it. Donald Trump first blamed “many sides” for the riot; then he singled out the white nationalists, neo-Nazis and the Klan; and after that he reverted back to his original response.

All ever-lovin’ hell has broken loose. The fecal matter has hit the fan.

But, but, but …

We have this other thing going on. It’s the “Russia thing.” Remember it? Of course you do!

Special counsel Robert Mueller has assembled a crack team of legal eagles who are examining the many aspects of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. There might be an obstruction of justice element; there might be collusion; there might be some financial matters to examine; hey, we might even get to see the president’s tax returns.

As the national media continue to scurry after this Charlottesville story — as they should — Mueller and his team are being left relatively alone to pore through the mountain of evidence and information that keeps piling up.

The last thing I heard — and it seems like eons ago now — was that Mueller wants to speak with former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus. There might be subpoenas coming from Mueller’s office.

I just thought it would be useful to remind everyone that as important as the Charlottesville story is — and the media must cover it — we’ve got this other matter lurking out there.

The “Russia thing” needs a resolution. Don’t look for it soon. Just be sure to keep one eye on the special counsel’s exhaustive search for the whole truth.

Hoping these Bannon reports are true

Oh, how I hope reports that have surfaced about Stephen Bannon are true, that he’ll be shown the door at the White House, the one leading away from the “real dump” where the president now lives and works.

A Bannon exit actually would verify that White House chief of staff John Kelly is the kick-a** Marine everyone says he is and that he cannot work with someone who (a) holds extreme right-wing views, (b) has the ear of the president of the United States and (c) is wholly unqualified to be the “senior strategist” for Donald John Trump Sr.

I have made no secret of my loathing of Bannon, the former Breitbart News executive whose publication has — and continues to do — published blatantly racist and anti-Semitic commentary on public policy. Bannon is the darling of the “nationalist wing” of the base that continues to cling, albeit in declining numbers, to its support of the president.

Bannon reportedly also has been feuding with another Trump grownup, national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who happens to be an active-duty Army lieutenant general; he, too, has been known to kick some back sides in his day.

The president is on vacation in New Jersey. He’ll be returning soon to the place he calls “a real dump.”

The changes that might await him are substantial, thanks to the work of Kelly, the retired Marine general. The potential changes likely won’t erase the immediate past — the “Russia thing” and questions about whether the president sought to obstruct justice in that ongoing FBI and special counsel investigation.

If only Gen. Kelly can control the president’s Twitter fingers. We’ll still have to see how that plays out.

Sarcasm? Is that why POTUS ‘thanked’ Putin?

It’s becoming a throw-away line, an automatic “out” for every ridiculous statement that flies out of Donald John Trump Sr.’s mouth.

The president received a direct question the other day. A reporter asked the vacationing president what he thought of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to expel 755 U.S. diplomats. Trump’s response was to “thank” Putin for reducing the U.S. diplomatic service’s payroll.

So, with that idiotic response, the president of the United States effectively told those diplomats — and their Russian allies in the U.S. mission — that they don’t matter. He didn’t thank them publicly for their service. He didn’t say a negative word about Putin’s response to our government’s decision to impose sanctions on the Russian government over its meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Oh, no. He didn’t go there.

Did he mean what he said? White House flacks said he was being “sarcastic.” Really?

Well, where is the disclaimer from the president? Why didn’t he reveal his sarcasm in the moment? Why did he in effect send the message to our Russia mission staff that they don’t matter, that their work and their years of service to the nation is of no value?

I do not believe there was a hint of sarcasm in what Donald Trump said. I believe instead that he engaged his mouth without first thinking of the consequences that his words carry.

This is yet another disgraceful demonstration of a president who “tells it like it is.”

‘Hoax’ probe of Trump now is getting quite serious

This is a mere hunch.

When a special counsel orders an unannounced search of a home for evidence of possible crimes involving the president of the United States, then I believe we have a serious investigation under way.

Federal agents barged into the home of former Donald J. Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort. They collected information and evidence allegedly related to the probe being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller.

The president, let us remember, has said all along that Mueller’s probe is a “witch hunt,” that it is a “hoax,” that the whole “Russia thing” matter is a creation of Democrats who are still steamed at losing the 2016 presidential election.

The search conducted two weeks at Manafort’s home suggests something quite different. It represents a potentially stunning turn in the probe into whether Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 election were done in collusion with the Trump campaign.

Is there an obstruction of justice charge on its way? Might there be an actual violation of the law to be discovered?

Yes, this investigation is still in its infancy. Mueller is known as a meticulous lawyer. He has hired a crack legal team. He is a former FBI director who served under presidents of both major political parties: George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama.

Is this man capable of conducting a “hoax” investigation?

Hmmm. I, uh, don’t believe so.

With ‘friends’ like these …

Donald John Trump Sr. needs all the friends he can find on Capitol Hill.

Why, then, does the president of the United States insist on waging rhetorical war with the leader of the U.S. Senate’s Republican majority? Why is he picking a fight with Mitch McConnell, a master Senate parliamentarian and a guy known as one who can move legislation?

That’s what Trump is doing.

I’m going to put my money on McConnell getting the better of this battle of wits.

McConnell was mildly critical of the president for setting “excessive expectations” for his legislative agenda. Trump then fired back — via Twitter, of course! — this message: “Senator Mitch McConnell said I had ‘excessive expectations,’ but I don’t think so. After 7 years of hearing Repeal & Replace, why not done?”

You see, this is another demonstration of what the president fails to acknowledge. He is the leader of the Republican Party. He’s the head of the executive branch of government. He owns the GOP’s failure to enact an Affordable Care Act replacement bill as much as the congressional Republican leadership.

Except that he refuses to take ownership on that failure. Or any failure, for that matter.

This deteriorating relationship is going to bring great harm to the president’s ability to enact any kind of legislative agenda. The more he fights with members of his own party, the weaker he appears across the land.

Democrats, meanwhile, should follow the time-honored credo of refusing to butt in when principals of the other party are fighting so openly.

What’s more, if the special counsel’s investigation into that “Russia thing” gets any hotter, and it produces actionable results, the president is going to seriously need friends on his side of the aisle. This intra-Republican squabbling isn’t going to help him.

This might be where I should say: Awww, cry me a river.

Why such anger, Mr. Vice President?

Why, oh why is Vice President Mike Pence so darn angry at The New York Times?

The allegedly “failing” newspaper has published a story revealing that Pence’s political team is working behind the scenes to mount a presidential campaign in 2020. Pence is simply outraged, I tell you. Outraged that the Times would report such a thing.

Pence is like all the other men who have preceded him in the second-highest office in the land. They all want to be the Top Dog, the Big Man, Numero Uno. Is Pence so different? I doubt it. Seriously.

To be sure, the NY Times said Pence is planning a primary campaign against Donald J. Trump Sr. His plans presume that the president won’t seek re-election, or that he will be otherwise, um, unavailable to run for a second term.

What might prevent Trump from running in 2020? Let’s see:

* He could be impeached and tossed out of office over allegations that he obstructed justice in the Russia investigation or that his campaign colluded with the Russians. There might be some financial issues that arise from special counsel Robert Mueller’s expanding investigation. Will it happen? I ain’t projecting such a thing. Or … the president might resign.

* The incessant armchair psychoanalysis might determine that the president suffers from some sort of serious personality disorder that compels him to tweet so often and with so much damaging effectiveness. I won’t join that debate, either.

* Trump might figure he cannot stand the incessant failure to get anything done. He’s not used to working with those who resist him at every turn. Trump’s business background has placed him at the top of the ladder. He’s got to share that standing now with Congress and the courts.

* Or, maybe the president can just declare victory — say “mission accomplished” — and pack it all up and head back to Mar-a-Lago, Bedminster or some other posh digs that will remove him and his family from that “real dump” where they live part time in Washington, D.C.

Is it so wrong to believe the vice president is getting ready for any eventuality? Is it wrong to presume that the No. 2 guy wants to ascend to the No. 1 spot?

The media have done a great job of keeping the public informed about the goings-on related to the Trump administration. The New York Times has just racked up another scoop.

Pipe down, Mr. Vice President.

End of cyber bullying? Yes, it starts at ‘home’

Mr. President: Your bullying hasn’t worked before and it won’t work now. No one is above the law.

— U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, responding via Twitter to social media attacks from the president of the United States

There you have it. The president is using Twitter to “bully” a member of the U.S. Senate.

Donald Trump tweeted some intensely personal criticism of Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, over the senator’s remarks this past weekend regarding the special counsel’s investigation of Russia’s efforts to influence our 2016 election.

Trump responded by calling Blumenthal a Vietnam War con man, referring to when Blumenthal was caught in 2010 fabricating stories about how he served “in Vietnam” during the war. He didn’t and apologized for the misleading statements he made saying that he had served “in country.”

Cyber bullying anyone? There it is.

Which brings me back to another point I’ve made already. First lady Melania Trump wants to make cyber bullying her signature effort as long as she and her husband occupy their respective titles. It’s a noble cause and I’ve applauded the first lady for bringing attention to the issue of cyber bullying, particularly among children.

However, Melania, you do need to start the campaign right at home, in the “dump” where you live part time with your husband, the White House.

Seriously, Mme. First Lady. Take your husband aside, reprimand him sternly and get him to stop using social media as a weapon with which he insults and bullies his political opponents.

Trump unites Congress, if not the nation

Donald John Trump has promised all along that he would be a unifier, that his election as president would bring the country together “bigly.”

I want to underscore some of the limited success that Trump has achieved in keeping that promise. He has managed to unite members of Congress, who represent 330 million Americans.

They are united against the president’s boorish and bristling behavior. Members of Congress — senators and members of the House of Representatives — have united against the president as he rails against two key public officials: the attorney general and the special counsel assigned the task of examining “the Russia thing.”

It fascinates me greatly that we hear Republicans and Democrats on the same side as Trump chastises AG Jeff Sessions for being “weak” and for recusing himself from the Russia investigation. Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has predicted that “there will be hell to pay” if the president fires Sessions from his job. And, yes, even some Democrats who voted against Sessions’s confirmation are arguing that the AG did the right thing in recusing himself from the Russia probe.

How else have lawmakers locked arms?

They don’t want the president to get rid of special counsel Robert Mueller, a man of impeccable integrity and honesty.

Mueller has assembled a crack team of legal eagles to pursue questions about whether the Trump campaign had an improper relationship with Russian government hackers who meddled in our electoral process. He’s now getting ready to put a grand jury to work to hear evidence about potential collusion and covering up by the president and/or his campaign team.

Trump has called it all a “hoax” and a “witch hunt.” Democrats and Republicans alike on Capitol Hill say Mueller’s mission is neither of those things. They are demanding that Trump stop rattling Mueller’s cage with implied threats of dismissal.

Indeed, the Sessions and Mueller stories are intertwined. If the president were to move Sessions out of his job at Justice, he could find another AG who would replace Mueller.

Were that to happen, I feel safe in predicting that the crap will hit the fan.

Ah yes, such unity is a sight to behold.

Kenneth Starr: The King of Irony

Leave it to Kenneth Starr to make one of the more ironic declarations about the unfolding investigation into Donald J. Trump’s alleged involvement with Russian election hackers.

Starr has cautioned special counsel Robert Mueller to avoid going onto a “fishing expedition” in his search for the truth behind whether Trump’s presidential campaign had any improper dealings with Russians seeking to meddle in our 2016 election.

Mueller needs to keep his mission focused, Starr said. He shouldn’t allow it to wander onto unplowed ground.

Well now. How does one respond to that?

Let’s try this.

Kenneth Starr became a master judicial fisherman in the 1990s when he was selected as special counsel to investigate a real estate deal called Whitewater involving President and Mrs. Clinton. He came up with nothing there. Then he sauntered off into a sexual harassment charge leveled against the president by Paula Jones. Then he found something else, which was a relationship the president was having with a White House intern.

Real estate deal leads to sexual harassment, which then leads to a sexual relationship. Impeachment followed all of that.

Is the current special counsel headed down the same path? I haven’t a clue.

Kenneth Starr, though, proved to us all that these investigations can hit pay dirt even as they wander hither and yon.

The comic aspect of this whole discussion is that someone such as Starr would issue a word of caution for one of his legal descendants about a “fishing expedition.”