Tag Archives: Russia probe

Chaos continues at White House

Donald J. Trump keeps saying all is well at the White House.

Well, it isn’t. Not by a long shot.

The president was going to meet this past week with Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who reportedly said some things about the president’s fitness for his job as commander in chief.

Then the meeting was postponed. The Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee got in the way.

Now we hear that Trump might postpone the Rosenstein meeting yet again, waiting for the Kavanaugh matter to run its course.

Trump and Rosenstein have reportedly spoken by phone. That’s good. At least they’re talking to each other, although none of us knows what they might have said to each other.

I am just amazed one more time with the chaos that continues to grip the White House, the West Wing, the Oval Office, staffing at many levels. Even more amazing is the president’s continuing denials that chaos rules within the Trump administration.

I happen to hope that Trump leaves Rosenstein alone, keeps him on the job, allows him to supervise the investigation into the “Russia Thing” being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller.

You may choose to believe or disbelieve this, but I actually want this investigation to conclude.

Will the president heed the advice, or act … impulsively?

Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein might have just wiggled his way into the proverbial doghouse occupied by his boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Many of us out here are wondering whether the president of the United States, Donald Trump, is going to fire Rosenstein because he allegedly threatened to wear a “wire” to record conversations with Trump — and then recommend that the Cabinet invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove Trump from his office.

Rosenstein has sort of denied The New York Times report that the deputy AG had said all that. However, his denial seems to fall short of a categorical, unequivocal denial.

Still, reports now are surfacing that Trump’s inner circle is telling him: Don’t fire Rosenstein!

Trump facing new dilemma

Indeed, such an impulsive act could turn out to be the Republicans’ worst nightmare, just as would a presidential dismissal of AG Jeff Sessions, who has gotten himself into trouble with Trump because of his decision to recuse himself from the investigation into the Russian attack on our electoral system.

I keep circling back to a question that I cannot yet answer: Has there ever been such an out-front discussion about whether a president was “fit” to serve in the office to which he was elected?

Weird, man. Simply weird.

Trump keeps savaging DOJ, law enforcement

I don’t know why this continues to nag me, annoy me, bother me to no end. It just does and I have to vent a bit.

Donald J. Trump went off on another Twitter tirade against one of his favorite targets: the federal law enforcement network headed by the Department of Justice.

He said in Nevada that he has gotten rid of some of the people he believes needed to go: FBI Director James Comey, deputy FBI boss Andrew McCabe, FBI agent Peter Strzok.

Then the president refers to a “stench” in the Justice Department that needs to go. By association, he disparages and denigrates — yet again! — the many fine career prosecutors, agents and mid-level staffers who do the job they took an oath to do. Which is protect Americans against those who would do us harm.

The president just can’t bring himself to say out loud that he is proud of those individuals, that they are doing great work on behalf of the nation they serve.

Oh, no. Instead, he concentrates his remarks exclusively on those at the top of the chain of command who he thinks are doing the country a disservice. How are they doing that? By continuing to look carefully, meticulously and with tremendous detail the many questions that continue to swirl around the Trump administration.

The president keeps tossing the word “disgrace” around. The real disgrace, as I see it, occurs with the conduct of the president.

He is trying to bully the head of the Justice Department, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the head of the FBI, Christopher Wray, and all the intelligence pros who do their jobs with diligence and dedication.

Right there is the disgraceful behavior of a president who doesn’t know what the hell he is doing.

GOP ‘heroes’ nowhere to be seen or heard

Carl Bernstein, the legendary journalist who helped uncover the Watergate scandal, recently said the real “heroes” who brought about the end of the Richard Nixon presidency were Republicans who told the president that his impeachment in the House of Representatives was a certainty.

And so was his conviction in a Senate trial.

Sen. Barry Goldwater led a GOP team of lawmakers to the White House to tell the president his Senate support had all but vanished and that Goldwater was not among those who would vote to acquit him.

Nixon resigned on Aug. 9. 1974.

I mention this because there appears to be no sign of any Republican “heroism” developing as the walls close in around Donald J. Trump, the current Republican who happens to be president of the United States. The GOP is holding firm in both the House and the Senate — with a few exception — in its support of Trump against the special counsel’s examination into what I like calling “The Russia Thing.”

Might there be some heroes emerge if the counsel, Robert Mueller, produces incontrovertible proof of, say, obstruction of justice, or of conspiracy to collude with Russians who attacked our electoral system, or of violations of the Emoluments Clause in the Constitution that bans presidents from accepting gifts from foreign kings and potentates?

I cannot predict the future any more than meteorologists can predict with absolute clarity what the weather will do the next day.

Why the absence of any GOP heroes? President Nixon never grabbed the party by the throat in the early 1970s. Sure, he won re-election in 1972 in a historic landslide. However, the party didn’t exactly belong to him. Fast-forward to the present day and we find that Donald Trump has managed — through an astonishing display of intimidation and innuendo — to capture the heart and soul of a party with which he had only a passing acquaintance prior to becoming a politician, which was when he announced his presidential candidacy.

Because I don’t predict these matters any longer, I am left just to wonder whether there might be a hero or three out there among the Republicans who serve in Congress. What might it take to shake them loose from the death grip that Donald Trump has on them?

‘Sad’ to watch POTUS trash the AG

Donald J. Trump continues to concoct reasons for why he believes Attorney General Jeff Sessions was a bad choice from the beginning.

He interviewed badly with the U.S. Senate; he couldn’t answer easy questions; he was “mixed up and confused.”

What absolute crap! The reason the president is miffed at the AG can be summed up in a single word: recusal.

Sessions recognized what Trump didn’t see coming: The AG’s role in Trump’s presidential campaign precluded him from being able to investigate matters involving the Russian government’s effort to influence the 2016 election outcome. He did what Justice Department policy and rules require: he recused himself from all things dealing with Russia.

And the president didn’t see that coming? He didn’t anticipate any kind of conflict of interest?

Because of his own ignorance of government ethics, Trump is now tell media outlets that he now doesn’t “have an attorney general.” He calls it “so sad.”

Go ahead, Mr. President. Fire the attorney general. Understand, though, that the AG — whether it’s Sessions or someone else — doesn’t work for the president. He works for the rest of us out here. He works also for those of us who didn’t support Trump’s effort to become president.

The attorney general shouldn’t do the president’s bidding because of some effort to protect the president’s political future.

If you’re looking for a “sad” circumstance regarding Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions, it is because the AG did something correct and proper and that action — all by itself — has aroused Donald Trump’s rage.

Manafort holds one of the keys to Trump survival

Let’s concede Norm Eisen’s partisan leaning: He served as ethics chief for President Barack H. Obama.

So, when he predicts that Donald J. Trump “won’t survive” whatever his former campaign chairman tells special counsel Robert Mueller, it is good to take it with a bit of a grain of salt.

However … the man might know something the rest of us don’t know.

Will the president survive?

Manafort has agreed to cooperate with Mueller after pleading guilty to two felony counts; he’s already been convicted of eight felony charges and faces a lengthy prison term.

Manafort is near the top of the Trump campaign’s chain of command. There ain’t much room between him and the very top 00 which would be Donald Trump.

Manafort is reportedly planning to talk — if he hasn’t already — to Mueller’s legal eagles who are trying to determine whether the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russians who attacked our electoral system in 2016.

Mueller’s probe is a wide-ranging — but totally legal and appropriate — examination of this troublesome issue.

He’s already reeled in some big fish. He’s gotten guilty pleas and has persuaded some big campaign hitters to cooperate with his probe.

Manafort clearly is the biggest fish to date.

Sure, the White House says it has “nothing to fear” from a Manafort guilty plea. You expect that kind of thing from the White House and from those associated with the president. They, too, are partisans.

Given my own bias, though, I’m going to go with Norm Eisen’s view that Trump might not “survive” whatever Manafort spills to Robert Mueller.

The walls are closing in on the president

I am pretty sure we can toss aside the comment from the White House that Paul Manafort’s guilty plea will have no impact on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 presidential election.

We have come to expect such false bravado from Donald J. Trump’s team. It delivered the goods yet again when Manafort pleaded guilty to two felony charges and gave Mueller a promise to “cooperate” with his probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians who attacked our electoral system.

Manafort is the biggest fish that Mueller has reeled in. Manafort is the former campaign chairman for Trump. He left the campaign in mid-stride, handing over campaign management duties to Kellyanne Conway.

I, of course, have no way of knowing with any certainty about the mood within the White House. However, when I do the math, I find that two plus two still equals four.

Manafort’s guilty plea and pending cooperation cannot bode well for the president. That brings me to the question of the day: Will the president pardon Manafort and expose himself to accusations of obstruction of justice?

The threat is growing

Trump shouldn’t go there. Then again, he has shown a tendency to do things just because he can. The president has unquestioned power to pardon anyone he chooses. Is this president enough of a fool to do the most foolish thing imaginable at this point in the investigation? I am not putting a single thing past this guy.

Yes, the walls are closing in. However, I won’t predict the president’s downfall. I mean, he wasn’t supposed to win the 2016 election in the first place.

We all know what happened.

‘Witch hunt’ produces another guilty plea

Robert Mueller’s “rigged witch hunt” has reeled in another Big One.

Paul Manafort, the former Donald Trump 2016 presidential campaign chairman — who’s already facing a lengthy prison term because of a prior felony conviction — is going to plead guilty to another felony charge … reportedly.

Mueller, the special counsel assigned to examine the “Russia thing,” has reportedly worked out a deal with Manafort, who’ll plead guilty to avoid another costly trial. The Russia thing, of course, centers on allegations that the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russians who attacked our electoral system in 2016.

Is there going to be a flip?

Here’s the big question that is slated to get answered sometime Friday: Is the former Trump campaign boss going to cooperate with Mueller? Hmm. I don’t know what he’ll do. Mueller ain’t talking, which is his M.O., unlike the president, who likes to blab his brains out via Twitter at every opportunity.

Trump no doubt will fire off yet another “witch hunt” allegation, which of course is nonsense. It would be laughable if the stakes weren’t so high.

The president’s political future keeps looking a bit murkier with every guilty plea, every former aide who rolls over. However murky the future appears to be getting, it doesn’t yet have much form.

Even with the news that Paul Manafort is getting ready to plead guilty, we cannot yet know the impact it will have on the future of the 45th president of the United States.

This much I feel confident in saying: Robert Mueller’s investigation is the farthest thing possible from a “rigged witch hunt.”

As for the next big development, I’ll await the news after the sun comes up in the morning.

Loyalty to what … not to whom

We’re hearing a lot these days about the word “loyalty.”

As Donald Trump fumes and seethes over the publication of an anonymous op-ed in the New York Times, the president and his allies keep talking about the “disloyalty” exhibited in the essay from a “resistance movement” inside the White House that seeks to protect the nation from Trump’s more dangerous impulses.

I am aware of the oaths that all these individuals take when they assume their public service jobs. The loyalty they pledge isn’t to the man, but to the law, to the U.S. Constitution and there’s an implied loyalty to citizens of the country.

Trump’s insistence of personal loyalty is misplaced and is the result of a man with no experience in public service.

It’s been reportedly widely for more than a year that the president fired FBI Director James Comey when he couldn’t extract a personal loyalty pledge from Comey. Attorney General Jeff Sessions seems to have been held to the same standard when he took the job as AG; when he recused himself from probe into “the Russia thing,” the president took that as an act of personal disloyalty.

A president who worked exclusively in the private sector prior to becoming a national politician doesn’t understand the implications of the oath he and his lieutenants take.

Once more, with feeling: These men and women pledge loyalty to the nation, its laws and the Constitution — not to the man at the top of the executive branch chain of command.

Woodward peels bark off Trump White House

I feel quite comfortable making this assertion, which is that Robert Woodward is not some schmuck seeking to make a name for himself.

Oh, no. Woodward is one of the country ‘s most renowned print journalists and he has just published a book that talks about life inside the Donald Trump administration. He made his name by reporting on an earlier presidential scandal, that thing called “Watergate,” which ended with the resignation of the nation’s 37th president, Richard M. Nixon.

Woodward’s latest volume is, um, shall we say an unflattering portrait.

The book, “Fear,” talks about how the president referred to Attorney General Jeff Sessions as “mentally retarded” and mocked the AG’s southern accent. It references a mock Q&A to prepare for a possible interview with special counsel Robert Mueller and how Trump exploded in anger, calling Mueller’s probe into alleged Russian collusion during the 2016 presidential campaign a “goddamn hoax.”

According to The Washington Post, where Woodward works as an associate editor: A central theme of the book is the stealthy machinations used by those in Trump’s inner sanctum to try to control his impulses and prevent disasters, both for the president personally and for the nation he was elected to lead.

Also, according to The Post: Again and again, Woodward recounts at length how Trump’s national security team was shaken by his lack of curiosity and knowledge about world affairs and his contempt for the mainstream perspectives of military and intelligence leaders.

To think Americans actually elected this guy president of the United States, commander in chief of history’s greatest military machine and the Leader of the Free World.

Oh, the humanity!

I think I now know what I want for Christmas.