Tag Archives: Russia probe

POTUS manages to trample on his own high moment

Donald J. Trump is not without some political skill.

He did, after all, manage to win a presidential election when every pundit in America was predicting his defeat in 2016.

The president also is quite good on a more dubious level. When given a chance to shine, to speak with high-minded rhetoric on behalf of the nation — he manages to trample all over his own moment of statesmanship.

Trump went to France this week to honor the memory of those who died during the D-Day invasion of Europe on June 6,1944, 75 years ago. He delivered a glorious speech to the crowd at Normandy. He said the young men who stormed the beach to liberate a continent were the greatest people “who will ever live.”

But only moments before delivering those remarks, Trump managed to tape an interview with the Fox News Channel. There he was, sitting before a cemetery filled with the headstones of fallen Allied warriors.

That backdrop was the perfect antithesis to what came out of his mouth. Donald Trump managed to call former special counsel Robert Mueller — a former Marine who was wounded in combat during the Vietnam War, who received the Bronze Star for valor in combat — a “fool.” He said Mueller “made a fool of himself” with his report detailing the conclusions he reached regarding the 22-month investigation into alleged collusion with Russians who attacked our electoral system.

While speaking to Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham, Trump also managed to call House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a “disaster.”

My point is this: Presidents don’t normally resort to that kind of partisan bickering while in the midst of representing our nation on the worldwide stage. They damn sure don’t do such things while commemorating monumentally historic events such as the D-Day invasion, an event that many historians describe as the decisive battle of World War II.

Presidents are supposed to recognize the solemnity of these events and behave accordingly.

Donald Trump doesn’t play by those rules. He doesn’t play by any of the normal conventions associated with his high and exalted office.

His base adores him for the crassness he exhibits.

It sickens the rest of us.

AG proving to be a major disappointment

Oh, how I wanted William Barr to be the right remedy for a Justice Department under siege from the president of the United States.

The attorney general took office after a contentious confirmation hearing. It is the AG’s second tour of duty at DOJ. He’s an experienced hand and reportedly a fine lawyer with a steel-trap legal mind.

He has been a disappointment to me. Yes, I am a fervent critic of the guy who nominated William Barr to lead the Justice Department. Donald Trump had savaged Barr’s predecessor as attorney general. Why? Because Jeff Sessions did the right thing by recusing himself from the Russia probe.

Barr stepped in and has — according to his critics — acted more like Trump’s lawyer than the nation’s top law enforcement official.

Now we hear from former FBI director James Comey, another damn good lawyer, who has weighed in with scorching criticism of Barr.

Comey said Barr is “echoing conspiracy theories” about the origins of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s exhaustive investigation into alleged collusion with the Russians. Barr, according to Comey, needs to present facts along with his assertions. “This is what Justice is about,” Comey said via Twitter.

Barr also has been critical of Mueller for declining to conclude whether Donald Trump obstructed justice. But … why? Mueller reiterated this week what he wrote in his lengthy report that he couldn’t indict Trump because of Justice Department policy that prohibits charging a president with a crime. So, he said his team couldn’t exonerate Trump, which to my way of thinking is the same thing as saying that the president committed a crime. That sounds as though Mueller drew a conclusion.

I truly wanted William Barr to step up, to steady the DOJ ship and guide the Justice Department into carrying its role as an impartial administrator of justice.

That doesn’t appear to be happening. Thus, the chaos continues in a federal agency that demands calm, firm and steady leadership.

Why the praise for this lawyer?

Emmet Flood is leaving the White House later this month.

Donald Trump is praising the lawyer he brought aboard to help with his battle against former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians who attacked our electoral process.

The president called Flood a “great friend” who did a great job.

Trump tweeted “no collusion, no obstruction.”

Whoa! Hold on a second, Mr. POTUS.

Mueller has said there was “no collusion.” I get that. We all get it, OK? He did not clear the president of obstruction. How many times do we have to say it? Mueller did not exonerate the president. He said so in his 448-page report. He repeated it in that extraordinary nine-minute spiel this week.

Still, the president keeps harping on a known falsehood.

Here’s the deal, though: The more Donald Trump says it the more it sinks into the thick skulls of those who continue to believe the lies this guy gets away with telling.

Weird.

Will the ex-Marine be cowed by Congress? Hah!

Now comes the D.C. chatter about congressional Republicans wanting to take a bite out of former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

Mueller has finished his investigation into whether the Donald Trump presidential campaign “colluded” with Russians who attacked our electoral system. He and his legal team wrote a 448-page report; he turned it in to Department of Justice; Mueller remained silent until this week.

Then he spoke for nine minutes and said he had quit the DOJ, is returning to private life and said that his staff could not exonerate Donald Trump of allegations that he has obstructed justice.

Now we hear that GOP members of relevant congressional committees want to subject Mueller to harsh questions.

Let me think about this. I believe the ex-special counsel has declared that Trump has committed a crime by obstructing justice. He said he couldn’t indict the president because DOJ policy prohibits a sitting president from being charged with a crime.

Oh, but now some members of the right-wing Freedom Caucus — such as Reps. Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows and Devin Nunes — want to eviscerate the former FBI director. They want to question his motives. They want to cast aspersions on his credibility, integrity, perhaps even his love of country.

Hmm. Well, I am one American who believes in Robert Mueller. I honor his decades of public service — starting with his enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps and his combat service in the Vietnam War.

I also am quite certain that this combat veteran is not going to be cowed or intimidated by some grandstanding politicians who intend to make names for themselves.

Those who know Robert Mueller have signed off on his impeccable integrity and his commitment to conducting a meticulous investigation. He has served the nation well.

I heard his nine-minute soliloquy this week. I understand what he said. He has said in terms that ring with crystal clarity that had he and his team been able to clear Donald Trump of obstruction of justice that they would have done so.

Congress, it’s now up to you.

POTUS can stop declaring ‘no obstruction’

Well, that was a remarkable non-event.

Former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III called a brief press event today to tell the world a few things.

He is closing up his shop and going back to becoming a private citizen. Mueller said he will not talk to Congress, as he has said all he is going to say about the 22-month investigation into whether Donald Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with the Russians who attacked our electoral system in 2016.

Oh, and he said that he did not clear the president of obstruction of justice, leaving the door wide open — still! — for Congress to do whatever it deems necessary to correct whatever ills it deems need correcting.

I want to join the millions of Americans who grateful for the work turned in by the former FBI director. He is, as one of Trump’s lawyers called him, “an American hero.” He is a patriot and a man of impeccable integrity and character.

As for his decision to forgo any congressional testimony, I have ruminated a bit about that and I accept his decision to call it good. The 448-page report he filed at the end of his probe ought to serve as the defining document of what he concluded.

Mueller and his team did not find sufficient evidence that Trump and his campaign conspired to collude with the Russians. He also said that despite evidence of obstruction of justice that he would follow Department of Justice policy and decline to indict a sitting president.

I accept those findings, too.

He also did not “exonerate” the president of obstruction of justice. Do I believe Donald Trump’s hysterical claims of “no collusion, no obstruction”? Or do I accept the more studied and serious analysis from Mueller that had there been grounds for exoneration he would have said so? I’ll go with Mueller. Trump, meanwhile, can yammer, stammer and blather all he wants about there being “no obstruction.”

Mueller has left it clear that the issue of obstruction now rests in the laps of 100 U.S. senators and 435 U.S. House members.

They have more work to do.

As for Mueller’s work, it’s over.

Thank you again, Mr. Special Counsel. You have performed a marvelous public service.

Mueller wants to talk … in private

U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler made news last night by revealing that special counsel Robert Mueller wants to talk to the committee, but in private, behind closed doors, no media, no cameras, no members of the public.

My first reaction was to say, “Hold on! You need to talk to us, Mr. Special Counsel, about how you concluded that the president of the United States didn’t conspire to collude with Russians who attacked our electoral system and how you couldn’t ‘exonerate’ him of obstruction of justice.”

Then I thought about it.

Mueller, a former FBI director and a man known to be a serious lawyer of the highest integrity, said he doesn’t want to star in a media spectacle. He wants to be able to talk candidly with the House panel, which will release a full — and I presume unredacted — transcript of his testimony.

In my version of worldly perfection, I want Mueller to sit before the nation and talk to us directly. I also know I cannot dictate how these things should be handled.

I barely can remember what Mueller’s voice sounds like, it’s been so long since he’s been heard in public. During the 22 months he probed the issue of collusion with the Russian election hackers, he remained steadfast in his silence. Meanwhile, Donald Trump was all over the place, proclaiming the investigation to be nothing but a “witch hunt” led by “18 angry Democrats.” Trump has continued to make a total ass of himself, but Mueller has kept his silence — mostly.

He did write that letter complaining about the way Attorney General William Barr described the nature of Mueller’s findings.

I want to respect Mueller’s intention to stay out of the political spotlight. Lord knows committee members from both parties would do their share of posturing and pontificating once the TV cameras clicked on. Mueller sounds as if he wants no part of that charade.

If the Judiciary chairman is correct and Mueller agrees to talk to the committee in private, then my sincere hope is that we’ll be able to see the complete transcript immediately.

That is, unless Mueller changes his mind and decides to talk openly in front of the nation that has paid a hefty price for a serious investigation into whether the president is a crook.

It was never a ‘witch hunt,’ Mr. POTUS

Donald J. Trump appears set to ride the “witch hunt” horse all the way to his final day in the Oval Office, which I hope is sooner rather than later . . . if you get my drift.

Special counsel Robert Mueller concluded his 22-month investigation into alleged “collusion” with Russians who attacked our election in 2016. He said there was no prosecutable evidence of a conspiracy to collude. Fine . . . sorta.

Then he left the door open to a possible obstruction of justice complaint brought by someone other than the special counsel’s office. Mueller apparently decided he couldn’t under Justice Department rules file a complaint against a sitting president.

Along the way, Mueller’s team produced many indictments, a few guilty pleas, a number of convictions and some prison sentences for Trump campaign team members.

That is not a “witch hunt.” Yet the president appears intent on hammering away incessantly with the mantra that has been shown to be anything but what he calls it. Attorney General William Barr, for crying out loud, has said that Mueller did not engage in a “witch hunt” as he searched for the truth.

I had hoped against hope that Trump would accept the findings that Mueller reached and then gone on with the task of “making America great again.”

He proclaims himself to be cleared of collusion and obstruction. Yet he continues his loathsome attacks on the character of Mueller, former FBI director James Comey, former CIA director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and a whole host of second-tier officials who — by the way — have been critical of the president.

Witch hunt?

Not a chance. Nothing of the sort.

The more Donald Trump bitches and moans about a legitimate and necessary investigation — and the more the president stonewalls Congress — the more culpable he sounds.

Mueller holds the key to Trump impeachment

It’s not yet clear whether the former special counsel, Robert Mueller, will talk openly and publicly to Congress about that investigation he conducted into The Russia Thing.

I surely want him to take an oath to tell the truth and then answer questions from House and Senate committees about how he arrived at his findings. He determined that Trump and his 2016 presidential campaign did not conspire to collude with Russians who attacked our electoral system. To borrow a quote from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: Case closed.

The other question involves obstruction of justice.

Here’s where I believe Mueller’s testimony could be the Mother of Game Changers as it regards Donald Trump.

Someone on a pertinent committee is going to ask Mueller — a top-notch lawyer and a former FBI director — this question: Did the president of the United States break the law by obstructing justice in the investigation into the Russian interference?

Mueller has said he could not file a formal complaint against the president of the United States, following Department of Justice guidelines. He did not “clear” Trump of any crime. Mueller merely said he couldn’t indict Trump because he is the president.

But the question is out there: Did the POTUS break the law?

There well could be a game of rhetorical gymnastics as Mueller tries to dodge the question. It might take an equally nimble senator or House member to flush the answer out of Mueller.

However, he if says “yes, the president broke the law,” then I believe we well might have grounds to impeach POTUS.

However, and this remains a huge caveat: Would such an admission by Robert Mueller actually shake Senate Republicans loose from Trump’s political vise grip to put the president in jeopardy if an indictment finds its way to the Senate, where the president would stand trial?

My hope would be that it would. My fear is that GOP cowardice would remain too strong to toss aside.

Trump’s tax returns: the gift that keeps on giving

We need to see Donald John Trump’s tax returns. There can be no doubt about that.

Is the president legally obligated to provide them? No. He certainly is not. However, political tradition dating back more than four decades has resulted in presidents and candidates for president to allow the public full access to their personal financial condition.

Trump, though, keeps changing his tune. He once said he would release them once the Internal Revenue Service completed an audit; then he backed away from that pledge; now he is resisting efforts from Congress to obtain them in accordance with the law.

Why is this important?

He campaigned for president on the basis of the fabulous wealth he said he accrued. Trump kept boasting about how he is “really rich.” Now we hear from The New York Times that the real estate mogul lost more than a billion bucks for a decade ending in 1994, which seems to belie Trump’s assertion of his business brilliance.

More to the point, though, are the questions that continue to lurk out there regarding his business dealings with Russia. He said he does not do business with Russians. Those who are close to Trump say otherwise. Who’s telling the truth?

And, yes, the Russia issue is pertinent because of all those questions about the Russian involvement/interference in our 2016 presidential election.

Trump has thumbed his nose at countless political norms since announcing his presidential candidacy. One of them has been to withhold his tax returns from public view. There must be some reasons that Trump won’t reveal them: He isn’t as rich as he says he is; he gives next to nothing to charity; he doesn’t pay his share of federal taxes; he has extensive business dealings with those nasty Russians.

And yet, the president keeps insisting that there’s nothing to see. It’s time to move on.

Well, if there’s nothing to see, why doesn’t Trump just let us make that call for ourselves?

I believe there is plenty to see. That likely explains everything about what Trump is hiding from public view.

No, Mr. Leader, the case is not ‘over’!

Listen to me, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. I’m going to say something you’ve heard already, but you choose to ignore.

The case against Donald Trump is not “over,” as you said on the Senate floor today. There’s more to learn about that obstruction of justice matter.

I get that the collusion case is done. Finished. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings on that matter aren’t exactly going down well with all Americans; I’m one of them who wishes he had reached a different conclusion as to whether the president’s campaign conspired to collude with the Russians who attacked our electoral system. He didn’t. However, since I have extolled Mueller’s integrity and professionalism, I am left to accept his findings.

Mr. Majority Leader, the obstruction case is still gaping wide open. We need to get to the bottom of what the president did and how Mueller concluded that he wasn’t “exonerated” of allegations that he has obstructed the investigation into the Russia matter.

You, sir, have added to the disgrace of your own high office. I’ve already said on this blog many times already that the president has disgraced his office. Now it’s your turn, Sen. McConnell.

Step aside and let your colleagues in the Senate and down hall in the U.S. House of Representatives complete their probe into obstruction, per Mueller’s suggestion in his lengthy report.

The case isn’t over.