Tag Archives: Russian interference

Going for two in a row, yes, Mr. President?

Donald Trump accepted help from Russian goons in 2016 who decided to hack into our nation’s electoral system to help him win that presidential election.

Now the president appears to be looking toward a Russian neighbor, Ukraine, in digging up dirt on the son of a possible Democratic candidate for president in 2020.

The target this time is Hunter Biden, son of former vice president Joe Biden. The allegation is that Hunter Biden is doing business with a Ukrainian oligarch who also happens to own an energy company.

Trump is pushing back on reporting that he is looking for dirt on Hunter Biden. He denies it … of course! Naturally, he is totally believable in his denial, right? Well, no. He isn’t.

He is blaming the “Democrat Party” and the “Fake News Media” for concocting the story.

Actually, I happen to believe there’s a gun under all that smoke. It’s just me, perhaps. Then again, the president already has proven to be a pathological liar who cannot tell the truth under any circumstance.

Let’s all remember that former special counsel Robert Mueller determined that Russians interfered in our election in 2016. He joined other intelligence experts in making that determination. Trump, as his style, denigrated Mueller and all the other trained spooks who work for this country.

How does anyone believe anything the president ever says?

I cannot.

Was the 2016 election ‘rigged,’ Mr. POTUS?

Mr. President, I lost count of the number of times you said that the 2016 election would be “rigged” if Hillary Rodham Clinton were to win the presidency.

I remember how it became a sort of campaign stump speech mantra. You kept hammering away at what you said would be a “rigged” result stemming from what you said were “Crooked Hillary’s” instincts. I recall how you said the Democratic Party rigged its nomination outcome to ensure Clinton would carry the party banner against you over Bernie Sanders.

Well, your victory surprised a lot of us, Mr. President.

But then came the reports of Russian hackers interfering in our electoral system. I accept that Robert Mueller’s investigation said you and your campaign didn’t conspire to collude with the Russians.

However, his insistence that the Russian interfered on your behalf brings to mind the question: Was the 2016 election “rigged” to benefit you, Mr. President, over your opponent?

You have kept so very quiet about that aspect of the election. I know you have stood by your pal Vladimir Putin’s denial that he interfered in our electoral process. I also know how you’ve undercut the nation’s intelligence network that says categorically that the Russians interfered in our election.

I once thought out loud that the Russian attack didn’t have a discernible impact on the election result. I have changed my mind.

Mueller said it … in so many words: Trump obstructed justice

Let me be crystal clear: Robert S. Mueller III told congressional questioners that Donald J. Trump, the nation’s president, obstructed justice.

No, he didn’t say the words: “Donald Trump obstructed justice.”

But he made a couple of key points that need to be reaffirmed. So I will do so.

He said in May that if there were grounds to “exonerate” the president of obstruction of justice in the Russia investigation, “we would have said so.” He didn’t.

Then this past month, in testimony before the U.S. House Judiciary and Intelligence committees, Mueller was asked whether he would indict Trump were he not president. He said “yes” both times.

So, the way I interpret the former special counsel’s findings is that he believes the president obstructed — or sought to obstruct — justice while he was looking for nearly two years into whether the Trump presidential campaign conspired to collude with Russian goons who attacked our electoral system in 2016. He couldn’t prove conspiracy. I accept that finding.

Mueller left the obstruction of justice matter up to Congress.

Therefore … he concluded that Trump obstructed justice.

Is any of this impeachable? It is likely that there are grounds for impeachment somewhere in this mess.

The bigger question facing House members, though, is whether there are sufficient grounds to move congressional Republicans — namely those in the Senate — off their stubborn resistance to doing what they must, which is to impeach the president and then convict him of those deeds in a Senate trial.

If the answer is “no,” then there is no point to impeaching this con artist/clown/carnival barker.

DNI Dan Coats on his way out? That, too, is a shame

Donald Trump reportedly is preparing to rid his administration of yet another seasoned political professional, someone with experience, knowledge and credibility in the job he is doing on our behalf.

That would be Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, one of the remaining adults working within the Trump administration.

I understand the president hasn’t gotten over the way Coats reacted to the surprise announcement that Trump was going to meet with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin in 2018. Coats was being interviewed by a network TV reporter when he got the news via Twitter that the president and Putin would meet.

“Isn’t that special?” Coats told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell.

Trump is seeking a DNI successor

Trump is supposedly conducting informal interviews with individuals who might succeed Coats as DNI, which I guess means that Trump has spilled the proverbial beans regarding Coats’ future.

I hate to see this happening. Dan Coats has done a credible and competent job as DNI, seeking to bring some semblance of order and discipline to the nation’s intelligence-gathering network. He has stood with other intelligence executives to declare, for instance, that the Russians indeed did attack our electoral system in 2016, a declaration that the president continues to dismiss.

The CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff all have said the same thing: The Russians did it! Trump’s response? He has sided with Putin, who told him he didn’t do it.

I don’t want Dan Coats to leave his post. He is a solid public servant with many years of service behind him. Donald Trump needs more — not fewer — men and women of Coats’ caliber around him.

Of course, none of that matters to the man with the self-described “big brain.”

39th POTUS lowers the boom on No. 45

James Earl Carter made a little news today.

I don’t know if it’s ever happened before, but the 39th president of the United States likely is the first former president to question the legitimacy of the current president.

And to think it came from someone — President Carter — who has said publicly that he prays for Donald Trump to succeed while he is serving as president of the United States. Indeed, Carter recently spoke of a phone call he took from Trump in which the president, according to his predecessor, could not have been more gracious, kind and respectful.

Has the former president turned on the current guy in the White House? President Carter said the Russian attack on our election in 2016 was intended to elect Donald Trump. It succeeded. Without the Russian interference, according to Carter, Trump would have lost the election to Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Most remarkable of all, perhaps, is that Vladimir Putin has actually said on the record that he interfered for the expressed purpose of electing Donald Trump.

Therefore, in the former president’s mind, Donald Trump is an “illegitimate” president.

To my way of thinking, the idea that such a condemnation would come from a man of impeccable integrity gives this accusation added gravitas. Of course, one must take into account the undeniable fact that Jimmy Carter likely isn’t privy to the details of what might have occurred while the Russians were attacking our electoral process.

Still, the former president has sounded a stern word of condemnation about one of his presidential successors. We should not dismiss it out of hand.

POTUS gives foes the ammo they now need to, um, impeach

Am I allowed to change my mind, to suggest that the evidence now has reached a form of critical mass that qualifies as an “impeachable offense”?

Of course I am!

I believe it has arrived in the form of an interview that Donald Trump granted ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos in which the president said he would accept negative information on a political foe from a foreign government.

Bingo, bango! There you have it. The president then said the “FBI director is wrong” when he said just a month ago that anyone who gets that kind of “opposition research” should report it to the FBI. How does it feel, Christopher Wray, to take a shiv straight in the back?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been fervent in our belief that impeachment is not in the cards, at least not until there is compelling evidence of wrongdoing. Well, it might that the president has provided it that evidence with his reckless pie hole spouting off how he would do precisely what has been alleged that he did during the 2016 election: that he would use information on a foe provided by a hostile foreign power.

I had stood with the speaker in her resisting calls for impeachment.

Today, after digesting what I have heard from POTUS, I am having second thoughts.

This is a dangerous man serving as our head of state.

Stand firm, FBI director Wray

I want to declare right here and right now my strong desire for FBI director Christopher Wray to stay where he is, in charge of the world’s premier law enforcement/investigative agency.

You see, Wray has just been undermined by the man who appointed him to his office, the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.

Trump told ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos that he would accept information about a political foe presented to him by a foreign power, even a hostile foreign power, such as, oh, Russia.

Director Wray, though, has said specifically and categorically that any political candidate whose campaign receives such information must turn it over the FBI.

Trump said when reminded of Wray’s view by Stephanopoulos that “The FBI director is wrong.”

There you have it. The president once again is refusing directly to back the wisdom cited by the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Do not go anywhere, Christopher Wray.

Yes, it likely will be a trying time for Wray as the 2020 presidential election gets into full swing. The Russians attacked our electoral system in 2016. Wray’s predecessor as FBI director, James Comey, began looking deeply into “The Russia Thing” and got fired by the president.

The FBI needs a strong leader. Christopher Wray appears to be a grownup and a law enforcement and legal pro. I realize that an ethical professional would find it trying, indeed, to work in a government administration led by someone without an scintilla of ethical understanding.

I just want to beseech Christopher Wray. The nation needs this man. Badly.

Isn’t an attack on our electoral system … an attack on U.S.?

I would have thought that a documented, proven attack by a foreign hostile power on our electoral system would produce an all-out, full-throttle, frontal assault on future attacks.

I must have been mistaken.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he is going to prevent any consideration of election security measures by the Senate. McConnell, a Republican lawmaker, has taken aim at Democratic senators’ election security measures, calling them some sort of “Democrat protection” notion.

If we take the long view, we need to grasp what happened in 2016 and again in 2018. Russian government agents hacked into our electoral system. They interfered in our presidential election three years ago. They sought to help Donald Trump get elected president. Our nation’s top intelligence analysts have said the same thing: The Russians did it!

Why aren’t members of the House and Senate debating some measure to prevent this kind of electoral sabotage in the future?

I shudder to think that McConnell is running interference for the president who recently has referred to the 2016 attack as a “Russian hoax.”

What else am I going to conclude?

Gates, hardly a flaming lib, weighs in on ‘case closed’ claim

Robert Gates is no one’s flaming liberal. He’s a lifelong Republican who served as defense secretary for — get set! — Republican President George W. Bush and Democratic President Barack H. Obama.

Gates’ bipartisan credentials are, thus, set. So, when he says that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s declaration that it’s “case closed” regarding the Russian attack on our electoral system is flat wrong, well, I’m inclined to listen to him.

Gates has suggested that the Trump administration’s response to the Russian attack has been tepid and weak-kneed.

He said this on “Face the Nation” today: “And frankly, I think elected officials who depend on honest elections to get elected ought to place as a very high priority measures to protect the American electoral system against interference by foreigners.”

Gates doesn’t believe the Trump team has made those measures a “very high priority.” Gee! Do ya think?

I remained baffled and astonished that Donald Trump would stand next to Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and actually disparage U.S. intelligence analyses that Russians interfered in our election in 2016, and then went on to say he didn’t see “why they would.”

The president was wrong. Stubbornly wrong at that.

Robert Gates has served at the pinnacle of power in administrations governed by presidents of both major parties. He is not the partisan hack that clearly fits the description of the Senate majority leader.

This case is not “closed.” Nor is the matter involving the obstruction of justice charge that special counsel Robert Mueller left wide open in his 448-page report.

Case closed? Not . . . even . . . close!

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.