Tag Archives: Russians

Comey set to return to center stage

I understand James Comey is a good lawyer.

He knows the consequences of committing perjury. He understands that when he takes an oath he is bound to tell the whole truth.

The former FBI director, whom Donald J. Trump fired just the other day, is heading to Capitol Hill in a few days to talk to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Reports now are surfacing that Comey is going to tell senators that the president sought to meddle in an investigation Comey was leading. Trump is the focus of the investigation, which now has been taken over by special counsel Robert Mueller. Comey said the FBI was examining whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians seeking to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Trump denies collusion. He has told TV networks and other media that he fired Comey because of the “Russia thing” and Comey’s investigation into the actions of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. He also reportedly blabbed as much to Russian dignitaries who were visiting him in the Oval Office; the Russians have denied that Trump said discussed Comey.

Hmmm.

Comey on the stand

Now we’ll get to hear from the former FBI director himself. I’m quite certain that senators — particularly those on the Democratic side of the dais — are going to get right to the heart of the Big Question.

Did the president of the United States — in your opinion — obstruct justice by asking the FBI director to shut down his probe of Flynn and the campaign’s Russia connection?

Be sure you tell us the whole truth, Mr. Comey.

To collude with Russians or not collude?

Let’s play out a hypothetical scenario that appears to be a bit less hypothetical than it was a month or two ago.

FBI Director James Comey says his agency is investigating whether Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign worked in cahoots with Russian goons to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

Let’s presume for the sake of discussion that the FBI finds collusion. It determines that someone in the campaign worked with Russian government officials to swing the election in Trump’s favor.

How far up the campaign chain of command might it go? Maybe such collusion occurred only at the mid-level of the Trump campaign. Perhaps it was done only by some junior hired gun who, perhaps, was feeding the Russians information they could use against Hillary Rodham Clinton.

If that’s the case — that this was done without direct knowledge by the campaign’s senior management team — then it becomes fair to wonder: Does such a discovery presume an impeachable offense? Would that be grounds to impeach the president of the United States, even if he had zero direct knowledge of such collusion as it was taking place?

My sense is that it should. Why? Well, the president boasted of his business acumen. He bragged about how he had control over everything in his life.

If such collusion occurred out of his sight or his earshot, then would he be guilty of gross campaign incompetence? Does such incompetence translate to an inability to govern? And does any and/or all of it destroy whatever credibility the president needs to conduct his duties as head of state?

We don’t know the status of the FBI investigation. Nor do we know the extent of the evidence that congressional committees have gathered in their search for the truth behind this most disturbing story.

We are likely entering a frightening time as the FBI continues this complicated probe.

Get ready for hot seat, Mr. Deputy AG-designate

Rod Rosenstein.

That name, right there, well might become the most-watched in Washington, D.C., behind — quite naturally — the name of the president of the United States.

Rosenstein has been picked by Donald J. Trump to become the deputy U.S. attorney general.

Why is this fellow so important right now? Because his boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has recused himself from anything to do with an investigation into whether Trump was too cozy with Russian government officials. That means Rosenstein, by all accounts a hard-nosed prosecutor, will get to decide whether to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Trump-Russia matter.

Rosenstein’s confirmation hearing focused almost exclusively on Sessions, Trump and the Russians. Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats sought to pin him down, trying to get him to commit to picking a special prosecutor. Rosenstein didn’t give that one up — to no one’s surprise.

Unlike Senate and House Republicans who say it’s “too early” to determine whether there’s a need for a special counsel, I happen to believe one should get the call. There needs to be a thorough investigation of what the president knew about the Russian effort to influence the 2016 presidential election, when he knew it, whether he colluded with the Russians. We also need to know whether Trump or someone from his campaign staff sought to renegotiate sanctions leveled against Russia by the Obama administration over the Russians’ meddling in our electoral process.

Rosenstein isn’t your ordinary, run-of-the-mill deputy AG. Folks in that job usually blend into the woodwork, never to be seen or heard from again once they take office.

Not this guy.

Assuming the Senate confirms him — and it should — Rosenstein is about to settle into one of the hottest seats in Washington.

Do the right thing, sir. Pick that special counsel.

Someone’s actually listening in Trump administration

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions did the right thing today: He has recused himself from any investigations involving the president of the United States and the Russian government.

As the late, great New York Yankees broadcaster Mel Allen would say: How ’bout that!

Sessions has come under withering attack over whether the Justice Department should be involved in these probes about whether the president and the Russian government had any improper or illegal contact during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The AG clearly was not the right man to lead such a probe. He’s a friend and close political ally of Donald J. Trump; he served on the president’s national security team during the campaign; he nominated him at the GOP convention this past summer.

No one could — or should — trust this AG to perform the kind of investigation that these questions about Trump require. He has backed out, to which I say: Good for you, Mr. Attorney General.

“I have recused myself in the matters that deal with the Trump campaign,” Sessions said at a hastily called press conference today.

Please note that he said he has “recused myself.” Is that good enough? I hope it is. I hope his recusal means that he won’t have any communication — not even in private — with the career prosecutors who might be working on this case … for the time being.

A better solution to this conflict of interest issue would be for the Justice Department to hand this matter over to an independent counsel, someone with zero ties to the administration. Congressional Democrats want that to happen; so, too, do a number of key congressional Republicans, which gives this notion some staying power.

It cannot be disputed with any degree of seriousness that the Russians sought to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. Trump has sought to disparage and discredit our intelligence community by saying it is wrong to draw that conclusion. His reaction has been disgraceful and disrespectful in the extreme.

The Kremlin denies any such wrongdoing. Show of hands: Who believes anything that comes out of the Kremlin? Me, neither.

The question many of us have is whether the Trump campaign team communicated with Russians before Trump took power, seeking to apply some leverage in lessening the sanctions that the Obama administration had placed on Russia over its interference with our electoral process.

I believe in my heart that such action could be defined as, let’s see, treasonous. We need to know what the top man — that would be Donald Trump — knew, when he knew it and whether he was a party to any of it.

Recuse yourself, Mr. Attorney General

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions should have no business — none! — taking part in any investigation of a growing crisis regarding Michael Flynn, the Russians and whatever else might emerge.

Sessions needs to hand this probe over to an independent investigator, wash his hands of it and let the hounds loose on their hunt for the truth. They need to find out the whole truth about who knew what, when and how much regarding the former national security adviser’s contacts with the Russians. They need to get to the bottom of whether Flynn was acting as a lone wolf or whether he was doing the bidding of someone higher up on the chain of command.

Why must the AG recuse himself? Well, Sessions is biased in favor of Donald J. Trump and his administration.

He was the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump’s candidacy for president.

Sessions gave a glowing nominating speech on Trump’s behalf at the Republican National Convention.

The senator served as an adviser to Trump throughout his winning campaign.

He and Trump are friends, allies and have essentially been joined at the proverbial hip for years.

Sessions needs to surrender this probe to an independent investigator. Congress needs to have a hand in it, but only to accept or reject the investigator’s findings.

As for Sessions. Stay away, Mr. Attorney General.