Tag Archives: Russia probe

Democrats made up ‘Russia’ because they lost?

That darn Donald J. Trump cannot accept with any sort of grace that he won an election. He keeps telling Democrats that they lost it and keep rubbing their face in it.

Now the president of the United States is telling Fox News’ Sean Hannity that Democrats concocted the “Russia thing” controversy because they lost the 2016 election. They can’t take losing, he said.

Holy moly, man! I’ve heard of sore losers. I don’t think I’m one of those, just because my presidential candidate lost the 2016 election.

Rarely have I seen as sore a winner as the man who won the election.

Do I need to remind the president of a fact or two about “the Russia thing”? Yes, I believe I do.

First of all, intelligence professionals have concluded that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. They comprise individuals who belong to the Republican Party as well as the Democratic Party. There really is no dispute that the Russians sought to influence the election’s outcome.

Second, I don’t believe that whatever the Russians did — planted phony stories intended to put Hillary Clinton in a negative light, for instance — was ultimately decisive. I do believe Trump would have won anyway.

The fundamental point, though, is that the Russians did meddle in our electoral process. They sought to undermine our free and fair election. The Russians did it!

It isn’t a made-up story. It’s no Democratic Party conspiracy.

The president won the election. He ought to shut his pie hole and accept his victory with a modicum of grace.

Why ‘fight’ Mueller if there’s nothing there?

Donald John Trump’s friends and advisers are encouraging him to fight special counsel Robert Mueller.

The special counsel is up to his eyeballs in investigating a whole array of issues involving the 2016 presidential election. They involve whether Russia sought to meddle in our electoral process; they also involve questions into whether the president’s campaign colluded with Russian government agents in seeking to sway the election. There also are questions about Trump’s financial dealings in Russia and with Russians.

The president says it’s all “fake news” concocted by his political enemies. He keeps denying anything happened. There was “no collusion,” he says.

So, why fight the special counsel? Why not just let Mueller do his job and then produce, um, nothing!

If Donald Trump is as pure as he keeps suggesting he is, then he would welcome a thorough investigation … wouldn’t he? If he is innocent of all those “fake news”-inspired allegations, then it stands to reason that he would endorse Mueller’s findings that there’s nothing there.

That’s right, isn’t it?

Except that Trump keeps acting like he’s got something to hide. Those tax returns still aren’t known to the public. He keeps changing his story. He actually has acknowledged publicly that he fired former FBI Director James Comey over “the Russia thing.”

Is this a “hoax,” as you say, Mr. President? If it is, then ignore those advisers who are telling you to fight.

Donald Trump = Loser

Donald J. Trump is such a “loser.”

He backs losers. He listens to the advice of loser advisers. The president who promised to make America a “winner” again is, um, just another loser.

There, Mr. President. How does that feel?

You see, “loser” is a favorite epithet of Trump’s. He hurls it at political foes. He even calls international terrorists “losers,” which if you think about it is a fairly mild form of insult one might toss at mass murderers and genocidal maniacs. 

CNN reports that Trump is furious at his political team for talking him into backing U.S. Sen. Luther Strange in Alabama’s Republican Party primary election, which Tuesday night nominated former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. GOP voters spurned Trump’s guy and went with Moore, the man known for his rocky tenure as head of the ‘Bama high court. He got tossed from his judicial perch for violating the constitutional prohibition on promoting an official religion and for refusing to back a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that affirmed gay marriage.

Trump is steamed at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who persuaded Trump to back Strange. He’s mad at Vice President Pence’s chief of staff, who urged the same thing. The president just hates being associated with losing, according to CNN, which reported: “Losing is bad for his brand,” another GOP adviser to the White House said of Trump.

The president is on a bit of a losing streak. Not only did he back the wrong pony in the Alabama U.S. Senate race, his attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act have face-planted for the umpteenth time. Oh, and special counsel Robert Mueller has kicked in his legal after burners in his efforts to get to the bottom of “the Russia thing” that Trump has acknowledged caused him to fire former FBI Director James Comey.

This is the gospel truth, but I take no real pleasure in calling the president a “loser.” He’s beginning to exhibit the first glimmers of getting it by reaching out to congressional Democrats on this immigration matter involving those who were brought here illegally as children. They want to stay here and want to achieve citizenship or permanent legal immigrant status.

But … that’s about it.

James Comey: in the political bulls-eye

James Comey is man under siege.

Think of it. The former FBI director is taking incoming rounds from Hillary Rodham Clinton, who blames him for costing her the 2016 presidential election. Her new book “What Happened” seeks to lay out the case that Comey’s 11th-hour decision to take a fresh look at Clinton’s “email controversy” cost her crucial votes down the stretch.

So, does that make Comey a sort of Trump toadie? Is he snuggling with the Trumpkins now that their guy, Donald John Trump, got elected president against Hillary Clinton?

I don’t believe so.

White House staffers now want Comey to be investigated for his leaks to the media in the wake of his sudden firing by Trump as FBI director earlier this year. Let’s not forget that Comey was in the midst of an investigation into the “Russia thing,” which prompted Trump to can him in the first place.

Comey’s allies come to his defense.

Has the former FBI boss committed a crime by leaking information to the press? No chance. He didn’t leak any classified or confidential information. What’s more, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the media against efforts to prevent them from doing their job.

Comey has become a principal figure in special counsel Robert Mueller’s expanding investigation into the Russia matter.

His role in the email controversy involving Hillary Clinton really is irrelevant in the context of the here and now, which is the Russia investigation. It’s worth mentioning only to highlight what I believe is James Comey’s curious position in the crosshairs of leaders in both political parties.

For the record, I don’t believe Comey’s decision to take a fresh look at Clinton’s e-mail mess by itself determined the outcome of the election. Clinton lost to Trump because she made too many other mistakes down the stretch; she snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Nor do I believe Comey should be investigated by law enforcement over his leaks to the media after his shocking dismissal as FBI director. He didn’t break the law.

Keep standing tall, Mr. Comey.

Trump defies political gravity

I found a blog post I wrote not quite a year ago, just prior to the 2016 presidential election.

I’ll get this off my chest right up front: I was dead wrong about Donald John Trump Sr.’s political fortunes when I posted the item.

Here it is:

Trump is committing political suicide

There. I’ve admitted once again. Trump defied conventional political expectations.

I want to mention this earlier item as a cautionary tale about any effort to predict what might happen to the president — even as a special counsel seemingly tightens a noose around the Trump campaign’s alleged connections with a Russian government effort to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

I keep hearing reports about how special counsel Robert Mueller and his crack team of prosecutors are looking ever more closely at key White House aides’ involvement in dealings with Russia. They’re poring through mountains of statements and public testimony from Trump, his closest aides, even members of his family. They’re seeking to determine the truth behind Trump’s involvement with the Russian goons who hacked into our electoral process.

The president keeps bobbing and weaving. He keeps changing his story. He keeps doing what appears to be everything he can to self-incriminate himself.

Does this doom his presidency? Hah!

If the rules of conventional wisdom applied to this clown, he would have imploded long ago. The denigrating of John McCain’s heroic service during the Vietnam War; the disparaging of a Gold Star family; his admission of groping women; his mocking of a disabled reporter; his repeated insults and innuendo; his defaming of Barack Obama over the former president’s constitutional eligibility to serve as president. His incessant lying — about anything!

Any one of those incidents should have doomed this man. That he survived all of them is utterly astonishing in the extreme.

Critics of this blog are fond of reminding me how wrong I was about Trump’s candidacy. They’re entitled to keep reminding me of something I’ve acknowledged readily since this guy’s election. I take a small measure of solace in the knowledge that many other Trump critics were just as wrong. 

I offer this observation as a warning to anyone who’s ready — yet again — to consign this president to the ash heap.

Impeachment isn’t such a long shot after all

Let’s play out a possible scenario that could emerge from the 2018 midterm election.

Democrats think they have a shot at winning back the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. They also believe their chances of winning a Senate majority are even greater.

I’m going to pose a question that well might provoke some angry response: Is it possible that we can learn just how much Democrats hate Donald J. Trump if they manage to achieve a majority in the House and Senate? Is impeachment a foregone conclusion if both congressional chambers flip next year?

Special counsel Robert Mueller is hard at work collecting information — perhaps even evidence — concerning whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russians who hacked into our electoral system. If they produce actual evidence and release it to the public, say, in the first quarter of 2018, then the impeachment talk is going to ratchet up to a very loud level. Then again, there might be perjury accusations coming forward, which also is serious enough to impeach a president; just ask Bill Clinton about that one.

The election will occur in November of next year.

Suppose the special counsel produces evidence of collusion. Suppose, too, that Democrats seize control of Congress.

I’ll now offer a brief explanation of presidential impeachment, which is a two-act drama.

It takes only a simple majority of House members to impeach a president. What might the “high crimes and misdemeanors” include? If there’s collusion, I believe that constitutes an impeachable offense.

If the House impeaches the president, it then merely files a formal complaint, an accusation. Then the House hands off to the Senate, which conducts a trial.

To convict a president, though, the bar is set much higher. Two-thirds of the Senate, 67 senators, must vote to convict. President Andrew Johnson came within a single vote of being tossed out of office; President Bill Clinton faced three counts in his Senate trial, and he was acquitted on all three by comfortable margins.

I wouldn’t dare to predict how a Trump trial would conclude. I am not even going to predict that Congress’s controlling majority is going to flip next year.

If it does, however, my sense is that impeachment becomes many times more possible than it is at this moment with Republicans in charge of Capitol Hill.

Firing Comey a big mistake? Yeah … do ya think?

I didn’t expect to agree with Stephen K. Bannon on anything.

But you know what? The former chief strategist for Donald John Trump Sr. said something on “60 Minutes” that makes me rethink that notion.

He said the president’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey is the “biggest political mistake in recent political history.”

I believe Bannon is on to something.

Trump canned Comey because of the “Russia thing.” He said initially the Russia probe wasn’t a factor; Vice President Mike Pence said the same thing. Then the president blabbed to NBC News anchor Lester Holt that, yep, Russia was the reason.

Then came Robert Mueller, the former FBI director who was hired by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to become special counsel. Mueller is off and running; he has hired a crack team of legal eagles; the “Russia thing” is getting pretty damn serious.

Mueller is examining whether the Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russian computer hackers who sought to meddle in our electoral process in 2016. He is going full bore, as he should. Had the president not fired Comey, Bannon said, there would be no Mueller, no special counsel, no need for concern among Trumpkins that Mueller has smelled blood in the political water.

Bannon is a tremendously objectionable character. He is back where he came from, as editor in chief of Breitbart News. Bannon had no business in the West Wing. His political experience is just a shade greater than Donald Trump, who had none before he entered the 2016 presidential campaign. Bannon is a right-wing provocateur and political hack who once sat on the “principals committee” of the National Security Council. Then the president wised up and removed him.

However, Bannon is likely quite correct about what Trump may have done to his presidency by kicking Comey out the door and ushering in the Age of Mueller.

And isn’t it fascinating that someone who professes such admiration for Donald Trump might have given the special counsel — Mueller — an even more inviting target by talking about potentially grievous political consequences the president has delivered to himself?

Oh, by the way, Texas cell phone ban takes effect

Texans have been fixated on news from the Gulf Coast of late.

Flooding. Heavy wind. Thousands of people displaced. Some tragic deaths. Injuries. Devastation from the deluge.

While we were praying for our friends and loved ones, and while some of us were looking toward Washington and the “Russia thing,” a big day arrived in Texas.

On Friday, the state’s ban on use of cell phones while driving motor vehicles took effect. Texas joined many other states in enacting a statewide ban. It’s not entirely clear if the ban supersedes local ordinances — such as in Amarillo — but the statewide ban does accomplish an important mission. It brings continuity to how the state expects motorists to behave while they are traveling on Texas streets, roads and highways.

I’m proud of our Panhandle legislative delegation. They were strongly in favor of the ban. Indeed, so was Republican state Rep. (and former Texas House Speaker) Tom Craddick, who authored cell phone ban bills in several legislative sessions.

Then-Gov. Rick Perry vetoed a cell phone ban bill in 2011, calling it an undue intrusion from the government into the behavior of citizens. What a crock!

Perry’s successor, Greg Abbott, signed the 2017 bill into law. Which makes a lot of Texans quite happy. Count me as one of them.

This law enables the state to post signage at highway entrances at all corners of the state. It puts motorists coming into the state on notice that they need to keep their cell phones quiet — or use their hands-free communication systems inside their vehicles.

To my way of thinking, that is far better than to asking motorists to risk breaking the law if they don’t know whether individual communities have bans on the books.

Texas legislators did well by approving this law. Gov. Abbott did well, too, by signing it into law.

I just wanted to remind you that the law took effect. Now, let’s turn back to worrying about the flooding victims and “the Russia thing.”

Trump taxes might be revealed … soon? Perhaps? Maybe?

Those special counsel investigations do have a way of producing results where one might least expect it.

Take the probe being conducted by Robert Mueller into the “Russia thing,” whether the Donald Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russians who were hacking into our electoral process in 2016.

It turns out that Mueller has enlisted the aid of Internal Revenue Services criminal investigative team to help him in his investigation of the Russia matter.

Why is this so, um, titillating?

The president told us when he launched his campaign two years ago that the IRS was conducting a “routine audit,” which prevented him from releasing his tax returns for public view; presidential candidates of both parties have been releasing their returns every election year dating back to 1976.

Trump has vowed to release them; then he backed away from that; then he sort of said he would release them; now he’s apparently back to the “no way” mode regarding the returns.

The IRS involvement is important to Mueller reportedly because it could reveal whether Trump had any business interests in Russia, something he denies. Evidence is piling up that Trump, uh, more than likely lied about that.

What needs saying once again is that a routine audit does not prevent release of the returns, according to the IRS. Moreover, Trump never has produced a shred evidence that the IRS is actually auditing his tax returns; he’s presumed that we should take his word for it.

The tax returns are important for a number of reasons. They shed light on the nation’s top public official’s business connections; they will tell us if the president really is as rich as he kept bragging he is; in this instance, they’ll reveal whether Trump is truthful about having “no business dealings in Russia.”

The tax return issue won’t go away. Nor should it. Not until the president keeps faith with a four-decade political tradition and releases them for full public scrutiny.

What is POTUS trying to hide?

I keep circling back to this question regarding “the Russia thing,” the investigation into whether the Donald Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russians who meddled in our 2016 election.

If Donald J. Trump is innocent of the allegations that have been leveled against him and his team, why is he angry at U.S. senators for not doing enough to “protect” him from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team of legal eagles?

The president reportedly is steamed at congressional Republicans who won’t rush to his defense. He is angry about efforts to protect Mueller from any presidential effort to get rid of him. One Republican senator, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, is defending pending legislation aimed at shielding Mueller from Trump’s vengeance.

If the president is innocent, if he has done not a single thing wrong, then why is he acting like someone with something to hide?

Hey, I have no inside info here. I’m just watching all this drama from the peanut gallery in Flyover Country.

That gnawing in my gut is beginning to cause some rumbles of discomfort. Donald Trump is working pretty damn hard to discredit everyone seeking to learn the truth.

My sense simply is this: If the truth is as Donald Trump says it is, then let the special counsel do his job, and let him come up empty.