Tag Archives: Russia probe

Prosecutors exhibit courage in quitting this probe

Four prosecutors who recommended a seven- to nine-year prison term for a convicted felon who’s also a friend of Donald John Trump have quit.

Why? Because the attorney general of the United States, William Barr, has said he wants to reduce their recommendation to send Trump pal Roger Stone to the slammer for as long as nine years.

Does this seem like political meddling in the criminal justice process? It does to me.

And who, pre-tell, ordered this recommendation? It might have come from, oh let’s see, the White House.

Stone is awaiting sentencing for lying under oath and for hindering the investigation into the Russian collusion matter that ended up on special counsel Robert Mueller III’s desk.

Trump called the career prosecutors’ sentence recommendation a “miscarriage of justice.” My question now is whether Barr acted on the president’s Twitter rant. If so, then it looks for all the world to me as though we have yet another case of presidential meddling where it does not belong.

The prosecutors who quit have shown considerable backbone and grit in walking away from their responsibilities in this matter. They remind me of when AG Elliot Richardson and his deputy William Ruckelshaus resigned rather than follow President Nixon’s order in 1973 to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox as the Watergate scandal began to spin out of control.

These four prosecutors today can stand tall for the principle they have endorsed.

William Barr: biggest disappointment of Trump Cabinet

I wanted William Barr to be a stellar choice to become U.S. attorney general. I wanted him to demonstrate that Donald Trump was capable of selecting someone with high honor, integrity and gravitas.

He has disappointed me in the extreme.

Barr came to the AG post after serving in that position for President Bush 41. He distinguished himself well serving as the head of Justice Department near the end of President Bush’s single term. My hope when he emerged as the successor to Jeff Sessions was that he would do so yet again.

Instead, he has done so many things that have shattered my misplaced optimism.

He disagreed with the inspector general’s findings that the FBI was not motivated by partisan bias when it began its probe into the Russian attack on our electoral system; he continues to insist that the FBI “spied” on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign; he misrepresented special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings into “The Russia Thing”; he said Mueller cleared Trump of “collusion,” when Mueller did nothing of the kind.

Former AG Eric Holder has said that Barr is “unfit” to serve as attorney general. I fear he is right.

William Barr took an oath in effect to be the people’s lawyer. He has become the president’s personal legal bag man.

He is the No. 1 disappointment to emerge from the Trump morass.

FBI director might be headed for the exits … yes?

When the person who appoints you to an important job refers to you as the “current” individual doing that job, then you might want to consider your next career move.

So it might be with FBI Director Christopher Wray, to whom Donald Trump referred as the “current director.” Why the qualifier? Well, Wray has backed up the findings of the Justice Department inspector general who said that the FBI did not launch its probe into the Russia election interference with any political bias.

Here is what Trump said via Twitter about Wray: I don’t know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me. With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken despite having some of the greatest men & women working there!

Trump has alleged that former FBI Director James Comey was biased against him when he began examining allegations that Russia attacked our electoral system in 2016. He fired Comey in 2017. The IG was brought in to determine whether the probe began because of bias against Trump.

The IG, Michael Horowitz, said the FBI did not act with political prejudice, although he did scold the FBI for committing serious mistakes in seeking warrants involving one of Trump’s campaign aides. Political bias? Prejudice? Not there, said Horowitz.

And so now we are left to wonder whether Christopher Wray, whom Trump selected to succeed Comey, is headed for the proverbial political guillotine.

I have lived long enough to remember a lot of internal political battles. I’ve watched them from some distance. Even during Watergate, when the FBI got caught up in that hideous scandal, I don’t ever recall an embattled President Nixon refer to the FBI boss in terms that the current embattled president is using against Wray.

What does this do to morale among the troops in the trenches? How does it affect their performance? How do they concentrate on the myriad investigative duties required of them while the director is being singled out by the president?

The chaos persists. The bad news is that it is quite likely to worsen.

DJT: Hardly the master of impeccable timing

Talk about bad timing, bad optics, bad messaging.

On the very day that U.S. House of Representatives Democrats reveal articles of impeachment against him, Donald John Trump decides to welcome Russian foreign ministry officials into the White House.

Bad timing, optics and messaging?

Well, consider that the president is being impeached by the House over his withholding of military aid to Ukraine, which is fighting rebels backed by — get ready for it — those nasty Russians! He withheld the aid in exchange for a political favor he sought from Ukraine, asking them to announce an investigation into alleged wrongdoing by Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

So what does the president do when the impeachment articles are announced? He invites Russian diplomats who work for a government is benefiting materially from the very action for which the House is impeaching him.

Remember, too, that he brought these clowns into the Oval Office in 2017 the day after he fired FBI Director James Comey who, not coincidentally, was investigating the “Russia thing.”

It makes my head spin.

Meanwhile, the IG makes some big news

While members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee today were making spectacles of themselves with their posturing about this and that regarding Donald Trump hideous behavior, the Justice Department’s inspector general managed to make some real news.

Michael Horowitz, who is known to be a non-partisan straight shooter, released a report today that debunks Trump’s assertion that the FBI acted properly in instigating its investigation into Russia’s attack on our electoral system in 2016.

Boom! Bingo! There you go!

The president has been yammering seemingly forever that the FBI was prompted by partisan political concerns to launch a probe into the Russians’ attack on our system. The IG said today the FBI report was done properly and with justification.

To be fair, the IG did scold the FBI on some procedural matters involving some aspects of the information gathering it completed. The IG said the FBI committed “errors” while wiretapping a member of Trump’s campaign staff. The big stuff? The conspiracy that Trump and others have sought to perpetuate? No deal, man! Ain’t nothing there, according to the Horowitz.

Of course, Attorney General William Barr has criticized the report. He is holding onto the notion that the FBI conspired to ensnare the president with an investigation based on specious allegations that President Barack Obama ordered the wiretapping of the Trump campaign offices.

The inspector general has cleared the FBI of the idiotic allegations that Trump and others have leveled at the world’s premier investigative agency. This is a big deal that, to my mind, eclipses the posturing many Americans today witnessed by members of a key congressional committee.

The inspector general’s report likely won’t silence Donald Trump. He’ll keep hammering away with his Twitter account that the FBI was inspired by partisan concerns to undermine his election as president. The IG says otherwise.

I am going to stand with the inspector general.

Sen. Kennedy: ‘I was wrong’ about Russia’s attack

What do you know about this?

It appears — and happily so — that Donald Trump’s penchant for refusing to apologize when he messes up isn’t contagious among fellow Republican politicians.

One of them, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, said over the weekend that Ukraine might have attacked our electoral system in 2016. The TV interviewer, Fox News’s Chris Wallace, asked him directly who he thought was responsible for the hack into the Democratic National Committee server. Kennedy said it could have been Russia, or it could also have been Ukraine.

Wallace pushed back, telling Kennedy that the U.S. intelligence community said uniformly that Russia was responsible. Kennedy didn’t take the bait in the moment.

The “Ukraine mighta done it” narrative has become a talking point among GOP politicians seeking to divert attention away from Russia and from Trump’s bizarre affection for Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.

Then Kennedy had second thoughts about what he told Wallace and told CNN’s Chris Cuomo he was wrong. Sen. Kennedy said he misheard Wallace’s question, then affirmed that Russia was responsible.

That didn’t hurt a bit, I’ll bet.

If only the nation’s top Republican, Donald Trump, could swipe a page from Kennedy’s book of contrition.

Alas, it won’t happen. Not ever.

Did the POTUS lie to Mueller, too?

Oh, my! The hits just keep on comin’ with regard to Donald J. Trump.

The House of Representatives, which is up to its collective eyeballs in an impeachment inquiry into the president of the United States, is now looking into whether Trump lied in his written responses to Robert Mueller III, the former special counsel hired by the Justice Department to look into The Russia Thing.

Let me ponder this for a moment.

So, do you think the serial liar in chief, the man who cannot tell the truth under any circumstances, might have deceived Mueller, who sought answers into allegations that the Trump 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russians who attacked our electoral system?

That doesn’t require much rumination, at least for me. I believe it is entirely possible that Trump lied to Mueller.

What is unclear to me, though, is whether Mueller received some sort of pledge from Trump — or made him take an oath — to be truthful when he answered questions in writing.

If he did, and then the president lied to him, well … I believe they call that “perjury.” I also recall that Republicans in Congress used perjury as their justification for indicting President Bill Clinton in 1998, who lied to a grand jury about whether he had “sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.” 

We all know how the House is likely to react if it finds evidence of lying to Mueller. What we don’t know is whether the House will be equally vocal if it determines that Trump told Mueller the “truth and whole truth” when he responded to the special counsel’s questions. Fairness would require the House to declare that Trump told the truth if that’s what it learns.

But seriously … Trump’s record of lying makes it extremely difficult to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Trump’s hypocrisy on full display … imagine it!

Donald Trump now is insisting that “the whistleblower” whose comments have helped trigger the move toward presidential impeachment must testify in public. He or she must sit in front of Congress and answer questions out loud.

Written testimony “is not acceptable,” according to the latest version of Trump’s doctrine.

Really? He said that?

Why do you suppose he refused to answer questions posed to him directly by former special counsel Robert Mueller III during the investigation into alleged Russian collusion during the 2016 presidential campaign? Why, the president only responded in writing to Mueller’s team of investigators.

Hypocrisy, anyone?

DOJ embarks on, dare I say it, a ‘witch hunt’?

The Department of Justice is now launching what has been called a criminal inquiry into — get ready for it — the investigation into whether Russia interfered in our 2016 presidential election.

What DOJ expects to find is not clear. Attorney General William Barr has appointed a seasoned prosecutor, John Durham, to lead the probe. This one puzzles and concerns me greatly.

Don’t politicize DOJ

Every leading intelligence official within the Donald Trump administration has said the same thing: Russia interfered in our election and sought to elect Donald Trump as president in 2016. Trump, of course, has debunked that notion; he also has denigrated our intelligence agencies’ ability to reach the conclusion they all reached.

When former Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe, his deputy AG, Rod Rosenstein, appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller to be special counsel and lead the investigation into the Russia matter.

Trump has hurled some harsh language at Mueller’s investigation, which concluded in May with a partial exoneration of Trump of “colluding” with Russians; he left open the question of whether Trump obstructed justice in the pursuit of truth behind that interference.

Now we have DOJ entering the scene.

To what end will this probe conclude?

I just hope that John Durham, the experienced federal prosecutor who has drawn praise from partisans on both sides of the aisle, will be able to withstand political pressure that might emanate from the top of the Justice Department.

Still, I fear how this probe will proceed. I smell a “witch hunt” in the making.

Trump mounting strange defense

Donald Trump’s reaction to the looming impeachment decision in the U.S. House of Representatives reminds me of the tactic he employed when special counsel Robert Mueller was examining The Russia Thing.

The president then chose to denigrate, disparage and all but defame Mueller’s probe, all the while proclaiming he did nothing wrong during the 2016 campaign.

My thought then was: If he is innocent of wrongdoing, why not just turn everything over and let the proverbial chips fall? He didn’t. Mueller finished his work, essentially absolving Trump of colluding with Russians who attacked our electoral system, but leaving the door open for Congress to decide the obstruction matter.

Now the House is marching toward impeaching the president. He calls the House action “unconstitutional,” which of course it isn’t. He has declared he won’t cooperate in any way, then changed his mind and said he would cooperate if the House treats him “fairly,” whatever that means.

My question today is similar to what it was then: If he did nothing wrong, is he hiding something he doesn’t want anyone to see?

Just cooperate, Mr. President, and let the House do the job that the U.S. Constitution empowers it to do.