Tag Archives: Russian meddling

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.

Collusion with Russians = treason?

This investigation into whether Donald J. Trump’s presidential colluded with Russian election hackers is as serious as it gets.

I mean, we’re talking essentially about an of act of treason … potentially, allegedly.

I’ve referred to it as “the Russia thing,” which is what the president called it in an interview not long after he fired FBI Director James Comey. I don’t mean to diminish the importance of what special counsel Robert Mueller is trying to ferret out.

Quite obviously, I have no inside knowledge of what Mueller is looking at or what he might find. I simply read the news like everyone else and am able to draw some conclusions from what I read and hear.

Virtually no one disputes that Russians meddled in our 2016 presidential election. Intelligence analysts say it happened; they say the Russians acted singularly. The only important person who doubts what the spooks have affirmed is the president of the United States. He keeps equivocating.

This is an important matter on many levels. It exposes the vulnerability of our electoral process to foreign interference. The Russians are (a) very good at this sort of Internet sabotage and (b) they remain our most formidable international adversary.

Trump keeps saying he wants to cultivate relations with Russia. How does he do that when the Russians are not to be trusted at any level to keep their word on anything?

The election meddling by itself is bad enough. Any notion that a presidential campaign worked in tandem with a foreign adversary to have a demonstrable impact on our election goes straight to the heart of protecting our nation’s interests against governments that seek to do us harm.

Mueller’s investigation is going to take time, as it should. There can be no rush to judgment on something so intensely important as this. The Mueller probe has many avenues down which it must go.

It must determine whether Donald Trump Jr. actually sought to receive dirt from the Russian government on Hillary Rodham Clinton; it must learn whether Trump Sr.’s firing of Comey constitutes an obstruction of justice; it must learn whether the Trump campaign actually greased the Russians’ path that enabled them to meddle in our sacred electoral process.

And none of that includes any possible financial connection between the president’s business empire and the Russians — which he has denied. Oh, but then again, are we supposed to believe the president’s assertion that he has no business deals in Russia?

The No. 1 issue on the table must be whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and a foreign power. If the special counsel delivers a formal complaint that it occurred, well, ladies and gentlemen … then we’ve got a serious constitutional crisis on our hands.

Putin, Russians can declare: Mission Accomplished

If Vladimir Putin were so inclined, I might expect to see the Russian president unfurl a banner in Red Square that reads, in Russian of course, “Mission Accomplished.”

The Russians meddled in our 2016 election. They sought to influence its outcome. They attacked our electoral process. They declared a form of war against our democratic process.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded as much. I believe them. The winner of the 2016 presidential election, Donald John Trump, has yet to draw that conclusion.

Oh, no. Instead, he has disparaged our intelligence apparatus. He has sought to deflect criticism of the Russians through equivocation, saying that “it could be anybody” who meddled in our election.

Now, do I believe the Russians actually swung the election in Trump’s favor? Do I believe their meddling, by itself, resulted in a Trump victory? No. I believe the president defeated Hillary Rodham Clinton legally. I also believe Clinton made too many fatal mistakes down the stretch to salvage a campaign that she should have socked away long before Election Day.

But you see, the Russians have succeeded famously. They have thrown the U.S. political discussion into near hysteria. Accordingly, they have accomplished one of their primary missions, which is to cast doubt on our electoral process.

We’ve got congressional committees examining the interference. The FBI is examining it, too. The president fired former FBI Director James Comey over the “Russia thing,” and the Justice Department has appointed a first-rate special counsel, Robert Mueller, to conduct an independent probe of that Russia matter.

There might be indictments forthcoming. The president himself might find himself in a world of political hurt. Trump has been so consumed by this investigation that he cannot take the time he needs to fill critical spots within the nation’s executive government branch.

I cannot predict how all these investigations will conclude. I feel fairly confident in suggesting that no matter the outcome, that Vladimir Putin has succeeded wildly in undermining the electoral process of the world’s remaining superpower.

Trump-Putin ‘bromance’ renews

What in the world gives with Donald Trump?

He took the floor today at the White House for a brief press encounter with the president of Finland. He took questions from reporters gathered in front of the two leaders.

One of them asked, “Does Russia pose a national security threat” to the United States.

The president’s response boggles the mind.

He said “a lot of nations” pose threats to our security. Not Russia, which was the precise subject of the reporter’s question.

“A lot of nations … “

This kind of obfuscation and thinly veiled verbal trickery is maddening in the extreme. Although it shouldn’t surprise any of us these days.

The president has continually refused to:

* Criticize the Russians for taking the Crimea back from Ukraine.

* Concur with intelligence agencies that Russia acted alone in trying to influence the 2016 outcome.

* Agree that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a killer.

He keeps soft-shoeing around the obvious assertions by almost everyone else in Washington that Putin is a real bad dude and that he governs a country that poses a serious threat to this nation’s security.

He keeps yammering about the need to craft better bilateral relations.

It’s seemingly obvious, though, that the Russians do threaten us. It’s also obvious that they launched an attack on our electoral process.

When is the president of the United States going to own up what has become patently obvious to the nation he was elected to lead?

Sarcasm? Is that why POTUS ‘thanked’ Putin?

It’s becoming a throw-away line, an automatic “out” for every ridiculous statement that flies out of Donald John Trump Sr.’s mouth.

The president received a direct question the other day. A reporter asked the vacationing president what he thought of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to expel 755 U.S. diplomats. Trump’s response was to “thank” Putin for reducing the U.S. diplomatic service’s payroll.

So, with that idiotic response, the president of the United States effectively told those diplomats — and their Russian allies in the U.S. mission — that they don’t matter. He didn’t thank them publicly for their service. He didn’t say a negative word about Putin’s response to our government’s decision to impose sanctions on the Russian government over its meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Oh, no. He didn’t go there.

Did he mean what he said? White House flacks said he was being “sarcastic.” Really?

Well, where is the disclaimer from the president? Why didn’t he reveal his sarcasm in the moment? Why did he in effect send the message to our Russia mission staff that they don’t matter, that their work and their years of service to the nation is of no value?

I do not believe there was a hint of sarcasm in what Donald Trump said. I believe instead that he engaged his mouth without first thinking of the consequences that his words carry.

This is yet another disgraceful demonstration of a president who “tells it like it is.”

‘Hoax’ probe of Trump now is getting quite serious

This is a mere hunch.

When a special counsel orders an unannounced search of a home for evidence of possible crimes involving the president of the United States, then I believe we have a serious investigation under way.

Federal agents barged into the home of former Donald J. Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort. They collected information and evidence allegedly related to the probe being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller.

The president, let us remember, has said all along that Mueller’s probe is a “witch hunt,” that it is a “hoax,” that the whole “Russia thing” matter is a creation of Democrats who are still steamed at losing the 2016 presidential election.

The search conducted two weeks at Manafort’s home suggests something quite different. It represents a potentially stunning turn in the probe into whether Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 election were done in collusion with the Trump campaign.

Is there an obstruction of justice charge on its way? Might there be an actual violation of the law to be discovered?

Yes, this investigation is still in its infancy. Mueller is known as a meticulous lawyer. He has hired a crack legal team. He is a former FBI director who served under presidents of both major political parties: George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama.

Is this man capable of conducting a “hoax” investigation?

Hmmm. I, uh, don’t believe so.

Will POTUS serve out his term?

The question came to me today at lunch from a fellow I’ve known for more than two decades and who I consider to be one of the smartest men in Amarillo, Texas.

“Do you think Donald Trump is going to serve his entire term as president?” asked my friend, who’s been involved in local government for four decades.

My quick answer was “I think it’s 70-30 that he does but those odds are shrinking.” By that I mean the gap between survival and non-survival is going to become narrow as the special counsel assigned to investigate matters involving the president continues his probe.

I have not a single thing on which to base that percentage estimate, other than my gut and my proverbial trick knee.

I am watching along with millions of Americans the flailing of the president as he tries to achieve his objectives — whatever the hell they might be. The dysfunction is unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed in a presidential administration.

Special counsel Robert Mueller, meanwhile, is examining the Russia matter and his probe well might delve into other issues not related directly to whether the Russians meddled in our 2016 presidential election or whether the Trump campaign colluded with them.

Donald Trump is at the center of all this. He’s not used to this kind of scrutiny. Nor is he accustomed to being challenged at every turn by political foes or by the media.

I told my friend that every human being has his or her limits. We don’t yet know where those limits exist with Donald Trump. Does the president have a limitless capacity to suffer the indignities that governing in a complicated political system inflict on him? After all, this self-proclaimed business genius is new to this game of politics, government and public service.

My buddy is as aghast as I am, moreover, that this man even got elected in the first place. “What have we done?” he asked, obviously rhetorically.

We exchanged a few more thoughts on this totally unpleasant subject before heading back to our lives.

Bear in mind this, though, about the “prediction” I made. One is that I no longer predict seriously political outcomes. I never thought, for instance, that Hillary Clinton would run for the U.S. Senate in 2000 at the end of her husband’s two terms as president; she did.

Nor did I ever think Donald John Trump Sr. would be nominated by the Republican Party and then be elected president in 2016. He was.

Many Americans were wrong about the outcome of this past year’s election, which makes me quiver at the thought of predicting with any kind of certainty whether this clown will survive the ongoing onslaught that awaits.

Grand jury portends intensifying of probe?

Am I able to make a presumption without sounding presumptuous?

I’ll give it a shot.

Robert Mueller, the special counsel assigned to examine Russian meddling in our 2016 election, reportedly has just impaneled a grand jury to begin hearing evidence and, more than likely, call witnesses to tell the panel what they know about this matter.

Here’s my presumption: I am going to presume that Mueller’s investigation is gaining some speed and that the former FBI director just might be smelling some blood in the water around Donald J. Trump and his presidential campaign team.

Recall for a moment another grand jury that a special counsel impaneled. I refer to the panel called into duty at the behest of Kenneth Starr, who was ostensibly examining a real estate transaction involving Bill and Hillary Clinton. Then he stumbled onto something quite unexpected: a relationship that President Clinton was having with a young White House intern. He summoned the president to testify before the grand jury, which asked him about that relationship. The president didn’t tell the truth.

Bingo! Impeachment followed.

Is the past going to be a prologue for what might await the current president?

As the Wall Street Journal reports: “Grand juries are powerful investigative tools that allow prosecutors to subpoena documents, put witnesses under oath and seek indictments, if there is evidence of a crime. Legal experts said that the decision by Mr. Mueller to impanel a grand jury suggests he believes he will need to subpoena records and take testimony from witnesses.”

I believe it also suggests that Mueller might expand his probe into areas other than precisely the Russian meddling and the allegations of collusion between the Russians and the Trump presidential campaign. There might be a subpoena or two coming that deals with, say, Trump’s tax returns and assorted business connections involving Trump’s business interests and Russian government officials.

Here’s another presumption: This story is still building.

Open wide, Mr. President, and swallow this bill

Congress has just force-fed Donald J. Trump a heaping helping of his least-favorite veggie, chased down with a bitter concoction of political reality.

The president signed a bill that imposes tough new sanctions on Russia. He doesn’t like the bill. He signed it anyway, then took a series of shots at Congress for — as the president implied — undermining executive authority to conduct foreign policy.

Poor guy. What lawmakers have done is hold him more accountable for the way he deals with Russia, the nation that meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

Trump continues to remain virtually silent on the meddling matter. He has said utterly nothing in public about the harsh retaliation that Vladimir Putin recently took in response to the sanctions bill; the Russian president ordered the expulsion of 755 U.S. diplomats and foreign service staffers. Trump’s reaction? Silence, nothing.

So now we have imposed more sanctions on Russia. The president needs congressional authority to lighten them, which gets under Trump’s paper-thin skin.

He lashed out at Congress for its inability to approve a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and said he, alone, is able to negotiate better deals with foreign powers than those nincompoops on Capitol Hill.

Meanwhile, the probe into Russia’s meddling continues. The president needs to let that investigation proceed full throttle. If it produces nothing, then Donald Trump can crow himself hoarse. If it comes up with something, um, incriminating, then he has to deal with whatever consequences fall into his lap.

If the president isn’t going to speak out on behalf of our electoral system, then it behooves Congress to articulate a nation’s outrage. That is what lawmakers have done with this sanctions bill — and they have forced it down the president’s throat. Good for them!