Tag Archives: special counsel

‘Collusion delusion’ becomes new Trump mantra

Donald Trump has produced what sounds like a 2020 campaign slogan, referring to the “collusion delusion” as he continues his touchdown dance after Robert Mueller concluded his investigation into The Russia Thing.

It’s a knee-slapper! Don’t you think? Well, me neither. The president is reciting it and getting lots of laughs, cheers, whoops and hollers from the adoring crowds.

It is good to put a couple of issues into perspective.

First of all, special counsel Mueller did not say that there was “no collusion.” He said, according to Attorney General William Barr, that he found insufficient evidence to produce a complaint of collusion with the Russians against the president and his 2016 campaign team.

We haven’t yet seen Mueller’s report. William Barr today said he intends to release the report, with redactions, in a couple of weeks. We don’t yet know what precisely Barr is going to black out from public view. He has talked openly about grand jury testimony, issues related to national security and statements that mention individuals who aren’t formally charged with wrongdoing.

My sincere and fervent hope is that the AG releases as much as of the report as possible. He has pledged transparency. I want to believe him.

Absent any knowledge of what Mueller has concluded, it is impossible — even for the president — to say categorically that he has been “exonerated” at any level regarding any allegation that has been leveled against him.

Trump is incapable of being magnanimous in victory. He vows revenge against those who he says have done him wrong. That includes damn near everyone who didn’t vote for him, or so it sounds to me. He continues to label the Mueller probe as a “witch hunt” that failed. He continues to refer to the media as the “enemy of the people.” Trump hurls despicable personal insults at congressional Democrats; House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has become his latest target.

One more point: We haven’t seen anything yet about obstruction of justice. Barr said that Mueller did not “exonerate” the president, even though he did not find sufficient evidence to conclude that he did obstruct justice. Once again, we need to see precisely what evidence Mueller collected and we need to be able to assess how he reached his conclusion.

Yet the president of the United States, as he is prone to do, is getting way out in front of this still-developing story.

Hey, he still has his campaign slogan that he thinks will serve him well. “Collusion delusion” it is. My sense is that Donald Trump is wallowing in his own delusion as well.

Hoping the end of probe would . . . be the end!

Silly me.

I had this na├»ve thought that Robert Mueller’s report to the attorney general into whether Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russians would be the end of the story.

The special counsel would wrap up his findings, hand them to AG William Barr, who then would tell the public what Mueller had found out. We’d all know — for better or for worse — what went down during the 2016 presidential election.

Then this happened: Mueller essentially cleared Trump and his team of conspiring to collude with Russians who interfered with our election; but then he remained silent on whether Trump obstructed justice by seeking to block any further examination into top aides.

What’s more, Barr issued a four-page “summary” of Mueller’s findings. Not everyone believes Barr’s assessment of what Mueller determined. They contend that Barr is a Trump toadie, handpicked by the president to run interference for him.

Now we’re waiting on the full report from Barr, who promises “transparency.” I am forced to ask: How much of it is he going to show us?

I tend to trust William Barr. I also tend to believe him when he says he will let Americans see as much of Mueller’s findings as he can under the law. I do not need to know the deepest national secrets. All any of us ought to see is the body of evidence that Mueller had collected and from which he drew his conclusions.

Of course, I do have questions now about why Mueller would remain silent on the obstruction of justice matter. Barr said Mueller determined that even though he lacked credible evidence of obstruction, he didn’t “exonerate” the president; Trump, quite expectedly, calls it all a “total exoneration,” which is yet another Trump lie.

I’m going to pose another question: If we presume the worst, that Barr withholds parts of Mueller’s report that might be damaging to the president, would the special counsel be willing to blow the whistle on what the AG is hiding from public view?

Oh, how I want to know the whole truth. My hope of knowing it upon the end of Robert Mueller’s probe has been quashed.

We need to see more of what Mueller found

A four-page summary authored by the U.S. attorney general isn’t enough.

Americans need to see — to the furthest extent possible — more of what special counsel Robert Mueller III found that led him to clear Donald Trump of colluding with Russians or of obstructing justice.

Don’t misconstrue my point. I accept Mueller’s findings. He worked tirelessly along with his team of prosecutors to get to the truth behind the allegations that Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russian government operatives. He has determined that there is insufficient evidence to accuse the president or his campaign of collusion. Nor does he have enough evidence to accuse him of obstructing justice.

AG William Barr, though, did say that the lack of a formal criminal complaint on obstruction of justice does not “exonerate” the president.

So, let’s look at the supporting documents that Mueller used to make his determination. Congressional Democrats want the public to see them. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls it an “urgent” matter.

There appears to be some “evidence” of obstruction, just not enough to file formal charges, Mueller concluded. I get that.

I also want to see the rest of it. Or at least as much of the rest of it that won’t tar individuals who aren’t charged with wrongdoing. We don’t need to see national security-sensitive information, either.

Many Americans have been waiting for a couple of years to know what the special counsel has concluded. We have heard the executive summary as delivered by the attorney general.

There’s more to learn.

Waiting for that proverbial big shoe to drop

While the nation — perhaps the world — awaits word on what Robert Mueller III concluded in his exhaustive investigation into alleged collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russians, it is good to understand what we do not yet know.

We don’t know whether special counsel Mueller found any sort of collusion between the Trump team and Russians who hacked into our election system. It’s good to understand that “collusion” is not a crime. Therefore, Mueller isn’t going to charge anyone with committing a criminal offense if they winked and nodded at Russians who claimed to have dirt on Hillary Rodham Clinton, Trump’s 2016 presidential opponent.

Nor do we know whether the president — in Mueller’s eyes — “obstructed justice” when he fired FBI director James Comey in the spring of 2017 because he was conducting a probe into that “Russia thing.” Again, there might not be any criminality involved with Comey’s firing, but there might be an intent that Mueller has identified.

Mueller has been mum on every aspect of his investigation. Thus, we don’t know if he’s going to give Trump the kind of tongue-lashing that Comey gave to Clinton when he concluded the FBI probe into her use of private e-mail servers while she was secretary of state. Do you recall how Comey said Clinton was guilty of “extreme recklessness”? It gave Republican opponents of Clinton plenty of fodder to toss at her while she sought the presidency in 2016. Will there be a similar scolding in store for the president when we see what Mueller has concluded?

It has been said in the past 24 hours that “We don’t know what we don’t know.” To put it another way, it is good to keep our traps shut and stop speculating about what Mueller has delivered to Attorney General William Barr.

Mueller had a narrow mandate when he accepted the special counsel job two years ago. It was to determine the extent — if any — of collusion between Trump’s team and the Russians. His work is done. We don’t know what he has concluded.

Is this the end of it? Does the president now slip/slide away out of the grasp of prosecutors? Umm. No. He’s still got Congress that will be hot on his trail. And let’s not dismiss those prosecutors in New York who are looking at other matters not connected to the Russians.

Mueller’s findings are still to be revealed.

Let’s just wait. Shall we?

Wide range of conclusions to draw from Mueller findings

Robert Mueller’s submission today of a final report on alleged “collusion” involving the Donald Trump presidential campaign is fraught with peril or is brimming with joy, depending on whose side you’re on.

The special counsel has turned over a tightly sealed report to Attorney General William Barr. He said he would recommend no further indictments. Donald Trump Jr. is off the hook; so is son-in-law Jared Kushner. By “off the hook,” I mean that Mueller isn’t going to issue any indictments.

We can run all over the field trying to determine what Mueller has produced.

He might have produced a finding of no criminality, no wrongdoing, no unethical conduct, no collusion, no conspiracy. Nothing! Zero. The president can high-five what’s left of his White House staff, unlimber his Twitter fingers and blast away at Mueller.

Or . . . Mueller has determined something quite different. He might find that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian goons who attacked our electoral system in 2016. He might conclude there was conspiracy to collude. He might have found an obstruction of justice at any number of stops along the way.

There might indeed be nothing worth prosecuting, but there might be enough in that report to conclude that the president has committed an “impeachable offense” or three, maybe four.

Whatever we learn in due course — and I hope it’s soon — I am prepared to accept whatever Robert Mueller has concluded. He is a professional. His integrity is intact. Mueller is a former FBI director whose tenure was extended past the term of a Republican president (George W. Bush) for two more years by his Democratic successor (Barack H. Obama).

I just want the AG to let us know quickly.

Now . . . the wait begins

Robert Mueller III has handed off the report the world has been waiting for to Attorney General William Barr.

Well . . .

His work is finished! Now it’s up to the attorney general to do the right thing, which is to say that he must release Mueller’s findings to Congress and to the rest of us. That would be you, me and the rest of Americans whose money paid for this two-year-long probe into allegations of “collusion” between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russians who interfered with our election in 2016.

Mueller has submitted a letter to Barr. He hasn’t revealed a single thing about what’s in the report. The AG likely has a good idea of what’s in it; he likely knew what it contains even before he received it.

I understand that there are limits to what the AG can and should release. He doesn’t want to implicate individuals who aren’t charged with crimes, if anyone has been implicated in potential criminal activity.

However, now that Mueller’s work is done, it should not take the attorney general very long to determine how much to divulge to Americans — such as me — who are waiting to know what Mueller has found.

To borrow a Watergate-era phrase: Do not, Mr. AG, keep us twisting in the wind.

Hicks turns on POTUS; more to follow, maybe

Michael Cohen once was Donald Trump’s lawyer, a man he could count on to “fix” things gone awry. He’s now one of the president’s worst nightmares.

Hope Hicks once served — albeit briefly — as communications director for the White House occupied by Donald Trump. Now she’s gone over the hill, telling congressional Democrats she wants to cooperate fully with them.

Cohen likely was motivated to turn against Trump by a prison sentence he received after pleading guilty to lying to Congress; he is set to start a three-year federal prison term soon. He might, it should be noted, get that sentenced reduced.

Hicks isn’t driven by that necessity. She has told House intelligence and judiciary committee members she lied on Trump’s behalf. She says she’s done lying.

Oh, my. It seems as if this saga has no end. There’s no bottom to this pit. It sinks lower and lower.

Whether the special counsel, Robert Mueller III, provides anything of substance in his investigation of The Russia Thing now seems almost a moot point. There might be other information coming forward from former friends, political allies and associates of the president of the United States.

Cohen, Hicks . . . who else is out there?

Glad that deputy AG is staying put for now

I am glad to hear the news that Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is staying at his post for a while longer.

I’ve heard the term “heat shield” applied to Rosenstein’s presence near the top of the Justice Department chain of command. It’s an apt term.

Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller to the post of special counsel to look into allegations of collusion between the Donald Trump presidential campaign and Russian operatives who interfered with our election in 2016.

Then-AG Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia matter. Why? Because he worked on the Trump campaign and he knew he could not investigate himself. He followed DOJ rules and regs and infuriated Trump in the process. Trump then fired Sessions.

William Barr is the new attorney general. Mueller is finishing his investigation.

Rosenstein needs to stay on his watch to help ensure that Mueller is allowed to finish his task under his own power.

I trust AG Barr to allow Mueller to do his work. However, the special counsel — who has impeccable credentials — cannot have too many eyes keeping tabs to ensure it’s all done correctly, ethically and transparently.

Trump tweets reveal desperation?

Robert Mueller is finishing up his exhaustive investigation into all things relating to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

We don’t yet know what the special counsel has determined. However, the president’s reaction in advance of the report’s conclusion might be offering some clues.

Trump set some sort of unofficial personal record this weekend with a Twitter torrent that laid waste to a number of targets: Mueller, of course; the late John McCain; the “fake news” media; Democrats, naturally.

I just don’t know how this is the conduct of someone who is confident that the special counsel is going to exonerate him. We are witnessing a possible unraveling of an individual who well might be petrified at the prospect that the special counsel is about to deliver the goods on him.

It’s not a pretty sight.

The trashing of the late Arizona Republican senator, McCain, is especially troubling. Hey, I have written about this extensively already. I just cannot get past the notion that the president of the United States would feel so threatened by the memory of a man he now says he never has liked.

And why in the world would he disparage, denigrate and dismiss someone who served with valor and, yes, heroism in defense of his country? Why now, seven months after McCain died of brain cancer?

The specter of the pending Mueller report being sent to Attorney General William Barr looms large in all of this.

Donald Trump likely doesn’t know what Mueller has concluded. He is reacting seemingly on some sort of concern that Mueller is going to inflict potentially mortal wounds on the president, his closest aides, even his family.

This is all quite nerve-wracking. I’m just a chump blogger. I also am someone who was shocked beyond measure that Trump got elected president of the United States. Still, my nerves are beginning to get the better of me as I await the findings of the special counsel.

Therefore I only can imagine what is occurring within the president’s nervous system.

‘No collusion,’ Mr. President? Let’s wait on that one

 

Donald J. Trump has a “no collusion” fetish.

He keeps invoking the “no collusion” mantra even when it’s irrelevant to the issue of the day.

Take the Paul Manafort sentence handed down the other day. The president’s former campaign chairman got a 47-month sentence for tax fraud and assorted other crimes. None of them had a thing to do with the allegations that the campaign “colluded” with Russians who attacked our electoral system in 2016.

Yet there was the president of the United States, crowing about how the judge found no evidence of collusion with Russians.

Hey, Mr. President? That issue isn’t even on the table in this discussion. Manafort’s sentence didn’t have a single thing to do with collusion.

Oh, and Mr. President, we’re still awaiting Robert Mueller report that he supposedly is preparing to submit to Attorney General William Barr.

That is where we’re going to find out — more than likely — whether there is any Russian hanky-panky related to your 2016 presidential campaign.

So . . . POTUS needs to settle down and wait for the report silently.

Yeah, I know. I’m asking for the impossible.