Tag Archives: special counsel

Yes, POTUS can ‘obstruct justice’

I am not a lawyer, but you know that already.

However, I know enough about history to understand this basic truth: Presidents of the United States can “obstruct justice.” Indeed, two of them — Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon — were accused of obstructing justice. One of them got impeached partly on that accusation; the other came within a whisker of being impeached before he resigned the presidency.

Thus, I am baffled in the extreme by lawyers serving the current president who says he cannot obstruct justice because, well, he’s the president. They are saying in effect that Donald J. Trump is above the law.

I beg to differ. I offer a strenuous objection to the notion that the special counsel, Robert Mueller, cannot determine that Trump obstructed justice in the hunt for the truth behind “the Russia thing.”

I don’t quite understand the logic being offered by Trump’s legal team that suggests Mueller cannot accuse the president of obstructing justice. Trump himself has acknowledged on network television that he fired FBI Director James Comey because of “the Russia thing”; then he told Russian visitors to the Oval Office that his dismissal of Comey had relieved him of pressure from the Russia probe and whether the Russian government meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

To my way of thinking, that constitutes at the very least circumstantial evidence of obstruction, but I know that Mueller’s team doesn’t operate on circumstance; it needs hard evidence. Whether it comes up with anything actionable remains to be seen.

As the nation watches this investigation lurch toward some conclusion, many of us are conflicted about the argument being offered that the president can do anything he wants — because he is the president.

Richard Nixon famously told David Frost that very thing, that the president cannot break the law simply by virtue of his office. The U.S. House Judiciary Committee eventually saw it quite differently when it approved articles of impeachment against the president.

I am pretty sure the law hasn’t changed since the 1970s. The current president took the same oath to follow the law that all of his predecessors took. The law in my view allows for presidents to be accused of obstructing justice.

AG might seek a new job

If I were U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions — and I am so glad I am not — I would be looking for a new job.

As in right now. Immediately if not sooner. But I am not altogether certain a new attorney general would serve the public interest as it regards an ongoing investigation into the president’s 2016 campaign.

The president of the United States, Donald John Trump, has tweeted once again that he regrets picking the former Republican senator from Alabama to be the nation’s top law enforcement officer.

Why is that? Oh, it’s just Sessions decided to do the right thing by recusing himself from any Justice Department investigation into the Russia matter and the Russians’ meddling in our 2016 presidential election.

I am no fan of the AG, but on this matter he made precisely the correct decision. He had served on Trump’s political team; he was central to the president-elect’s transition to the presidency. Had he remained involved in the Russia matter, he would have been in charge of investigating himself. How does the attorney general do such a thing without compromising  a sensitive and complex investigation? He cannot. That’s why he bailed on the Russia probe and turned it over to his deputy AG, Rod Rosenstein.

Donald Trump, though, keeps yapping that he should have picked someone else to lead the DOJ, had he known Sessions was going to recuse himself.

Sessions might be inclined to want out. But there’s this thing involving the integrity of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Would a new AG be as faithful to the appearance of conflict of interest that Sessions was when he recused himself?

Hey, maybe Jeff Sessions ought to wait for Trump to fire him.

Then he can watch along with the rest of us as the crap hits the fan.

No, Mr. VPOTUS, it’s not yet time to ‘wrap it up’

Uh, this note is for Vice President Mike Pence.

Mr. Vice President, pardon this disagreement from a blogger out here in Flyover Country, but it’s not yet time for special counsel Robert Mueller to conclude his investigation into what Donald Trump once called “the Russia thing.”

Indeed, sir, he needs to continue pursuing all the angles, leads and hunches he has in order to reach a conclusion that we all can presume is fair — and complete!

I get that it’s been a year, as you noted in your recent interview, since this investigation began. Do I need to remind you, Mr. Vice President, that the probe into Hillary Clinton’s email matter lasted far longer? Or how about the Benghazi probe that went on for two-plus years? Nothing came of either of those congressional probes, Mr. Vice President — which I’m sure you’re aware of, right?

Did you or your fellow Republicans join Democrats then in calling for an end to those fruitless investigations? Of course you didn’t! Y’all wanted it to go on forever. And ever. And then some!

The special counsel has a lot more ground to plow regarding that lawyer of the president’s, Michael Cohen. He also wants to talk directly to the president himself, who keeps changing his mind on whether he wants to submit to questioning from the special counsel.

You said the administration has provided “millions of documents.” Do you think Mueller and his team can read all that paperwork over a weekend? It takes time, Mr. Vice President, for the legal eagles to pore through all that stuff.

So, give it to them. Let them finish their work on their schedule, not yours, or the president’s or any of your supporters.

I’m not one of them. I want a thorough investigation to reach a conclusion under its own power.

With that, sir, I’ll close with this. I didn’t vote for you in 2016, but you still work for me, as well as for the 65 million-plus Americans who voted for Hillary.

Therefore, as your boss, I implore you to, um … keep your trap shut!

How do we keep the lies straight?

My head is continuing to spin on a swivel as I watch and listen to the explanations, excuses and walking back of statements regarding Donald Trump, Michael Cohen, Rudy Guiliani and Stormy Daniels.

Here is what is most confusing to me: Does a lawyer who works for his or her client do anything “on the client’s behalf” without telling the client?

I refer to that hush money payment that the lawyer, Michael Cohen, made to Stormy Daniels, the porn star who alleges having a one-night tryst with Donald Trump (Cohen’s client). Trump says he didn’t have sex with Daniels … but Cohen made the payment anyway.

Enter the former New York mayor, Giuliani, who now serves on the president’s legal team.

Trump has denied any knowledge of Cohen’s payment to Daniels to keep her quiet about the (alleged) tumble she took with Trump. Then the ex-mayor says Trump knew about it after all. Giuliani adds that Cohen made the payment without telling Trump precisely why he made it.

Huh? Do I have that essentially correct?

A lawyer worth a damn — and it’s not clear to me that Cohen fits that description — doesn’t shell out a six-figure payment to someone on the client’s behalf without telling him in the moment, if not beforehand. Isn’t that what good lawyers do?

I’m not a lawyer. That’s patently obvious. Another lawyer, though, is certainly paying careful attention to all of this. He’s a good one, too. That would be special counsel Robert Mueller, who has hired a legal team that is poring over all of the bobbing, weaving, dodging and ducking.

Stay alert, Mr. Special Counsel.

What? Rudy exposes another Trump lie?

The hits just keep on comin’, man.

Get a load of this latest offering from the man formerly known as America’s Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, who’s now taken on a new gig as Donald Trump’s lawyer tasked with negotiating a “quick” end to Robert Mueller’s investigation into “the Russia thing.”

Giuliani told Fox News’s Sean Hannity this week that Trump repaid another lawyer, Michael Cohen, who had forked over $130,000 to the porn star who allegedly had that one-night sexual tryst a dozen years ago with the man who would become president of the United States.

But … wait! Trump had said he didn’t know anything about the hush money Cohen paid to Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about the fling she allegedly took with Trump in 2006 … which, of course, Trump has denied ever occurred.

So, where we do we stand?

Trump’s denial about Cohen’s payment to Stormy Daniels has been flushed away, apparently. Trump’s denial of the tryst is still on shaky ground, given that Cohen paid Daniels a substantial amount to shut her up about an event Trump said didn’t happen.

Does anyone think any of this is going to persuade Robert Mueller to end his probe quickly? Is this veteran lawyer and former FBI director going to call it quits on this probe just because Rudy Giuliani is on board with the rest of the Trump legal team?

I, um, think not.

Not even POTUS is above the law

The chatter is building around the Russia probe being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller.

It involves some aspects about whether the president of the United States can be compelled to do things the rest of us would have to do under threat of arrest and imprisonment.

We all have heard it said that “no one is above the law” and that “we are a nation of laws and not of men.”

Mueller’s probe into Donald Trump’s campaign and whether there was “collusion” with Russians who interfered in our 2016 presidential election appears headed down some new territory. There also are questions about whether the president might have obstructed justice by firing FBI Director James Comey, who was conducting an investigation of his own.

The special counsel has reportedly prepared a few dozen questions he wants to ask the president.

Mueller reportedly has told the president’s legal team he might subpoena Trump to appear before a grand jury. There is some arguments being offered that president’s cannot be forced to testify.

There even has been some talk that presidents are shielded against indictment.

This leads me back to a premise I noted early in this blog post.

If presidents are subject to the same laws as the rest of us, then Donald Trump should be compelled to testify before a grand jury. If the special counsel finds an offense that rises to the level of an indictment, then the president should be held accountable if the criminal complaint involves an act committed — allegedly — by the nation’s head of state.

The idea that we are a nation of laws and that no one is above the law isn’t a quaint notion that has become obsolete in the 21st century.

I am not going to suggest that Donald Trump is guilty of anything. I merely want the process to conclude in a manner that examines everyone’s involvement — and that includes the president of the United States of America.

Rep. Gohmert shows why he sits on the GOP fringe

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert sits on the fringe of the Republican Party’s congressional caucus for a reason, as he has demonstrated once again.

The East Texas member of Congress thinks special counsel Robert Mueller should be fired. He doesn’t like that the former FBI director and a crack lawyer is investigating Donald J. Trump on several levels. He is concerned that the counsel might actually find some criminality in his probe into whether the Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russian goons who meddled in our 2016 election.

I need to point out here that the GOP leadership wants Mueller to continue. Even some of the back bench members of both the House and Senate GOP caucus know the consequences if the president gets Mueller removed.

Actually, Gohmert the Goober knows it, too. He said, “The only reason that he is not going and the president is not going to fire him and that I am not calling for him to be fired now is … because of all the establishment Republicans that think they would have to come after Trump if he were fired.”

Oh, really? The Republican congressional leadership would “come after” the president for, oh, obstructing justice or for abusing the power of his high office? Is that what he means?

If that’s the case, then the Republican leadership would be correct to sound the impeachment bugle and Rep. Gohmert is utterly wrong in calling for Mueller to be fired.

Mueller was given a broad mandate when Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed him special counsel; the task fell to Rosenstein after AG Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia matter after serving as a Trump campaign and presidential transition official with ties to Russians who had contacted the Trump political organization.

Rosenstein’s appointment of Mueller was hailed by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Gohmert, though, says he had trouble with Mueller’s selection from the get-go.

I’ll offer this bit of advice to Gohmert, which I’ve also offered to the president: If there is nothing to be found — which Trump insists is the case — then let Mueller reach that conclusion and announce it to the world himself.

Meanwhile, Louie Gohmert needs to settle down and let Mueller do his job.

Dear Mr. POTUS: Let Mueller do his job

Dear Mr. President:

I won’t take long to make this point, sir.

You are getting a snootful from your fellow Republicans, the real Republicans who serve in Congress. They’re giving you some advice you need to heed and follow.

Do not do anything to force the ouster of special counsel Robert Mueller.

I say this hoping that you have a half a brain under that hideous comb-over on top of that noggin of yours. If you do you’ll understand that the crisis any such effort would launch. And from where I sit, it likely would not end well for you.

I am presuming you’ve heard from one of the leading Senate Republicans, John Cornyn of Texas, who told Politico that “the consequences would be so overwhelming” if you force Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to kick Mueller to the curb.

Hey, I’m not so sure Rosenstein would obey the order. He’s said already — and you’ve heard that, too — that he doesn’t anticipate firing Mueller unless there’s “cause.” Mueller, Rosenstein, said, is doing a fine job as special counsel.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also has said Mueller needs to finish the job. Same with many other leading Republicans.

Furthermore, if I were you, Mr. President, I wouldn’t take Sen. Ted Cruz’s silence on this matter as an endorsement of you or your conduct. Cruz says he doesn’t comment on tweets, which is likely a reasonable position to take. He said he won’t “focus on the political circus” that is unfolding in Washington.

Whatever. Others are willing to speak out. You ought to heed them.

I don’t expect you to act on what I have to say, or what other critics of you have to say. Democrats are p***ing into the wind.

You preach fealty to Republicans, Mr. President. Now is the time to heed your own advice.

Trump protests too much

Does it make sense to you that someone who denies wrongdoing should keep firing broadsides at those who are investigating allegations of misbehavior? Donald Trump is at virtual war with Robert Mueller.

Trump is the president of the United States. Mueller is a special counsel assigned to look into whether the president did something wrong.

The president denies in one breath that he did anything wrong. In the next breath he rakes Mueller over the coals, calling his probe a “witch hunt” and assorted other pejoratives.

Mueller is examining the president on several fronts. He was selected by the Department of Justice to look into allegations that Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russians who interfered in our 2016 presidential election. He is trying to determine whether there is any obstruction of justice efforts aimed at blocking the investigation. Mueller also is now looking at the Trump Organization’s business dealings with Russian interests.

Trump is howling. He is bellowing. He is tweeting his rage at Mueller.

Why is the president so angry? Why is he so enraged that Mueller — a former FBI director and by most people’s estimation a stand-up, first-class, meticulous lawyer — is doing the job he was charged to do?

Mueller is keeping his mouth shut. He is not talking publicly about his investigation. He is acting professionally. He has assigned his team of legal eagles to pore over the mountains of data they have collected.

Trump is doing quite the opposite. He is yapping, yammering and yowling daily — if not damn near hourly — via Twitter about Mueller’s probe. Is that a logical response of someone who is in the clear? I don’t believe it is.

It would seem more appropriate for the president to do two things: Keep his trap shut and then give the special counsel every bit of information he seeks.

Instead, every Trump tweet or public statement about Mueller only heightens the suspicion that he well might have something to hide. He might say he is innocent of wrongdoing. The president’s actions, though, suggest something quite different.

Another Trump campaign nut case emerges

No one had heard of Sam Nunberg until special counsel Robert Mueller decided to subpoena him to testify before a federal grand jury.

So what does this guy do? He blusters and bellows that he won’t answer the call to testify before the panel that is looking into whether Donald Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russians who meddled in our electoral process.

And then …

Nunberg has second thoughts. He says he might testify after all.

Oh, but first he went on cable news broadcasts — CNN, Fox, MSNBC — to offer lots of goofy bluster about how he “laughed” at the subpoena.

My initial question was this: Who in the hell is this guy?

I have learned that he attended some meetings and has some inside information about what Donald Trump might know. He has said some disparaging things about his former boss.

This clown is playing with some seriously hot fire if he intends to stiff the special counsel. Mueller is no fool. He’s not a partisan hack. He is a former FBI director and a first-class lawyer. Mueller is known to be meticulous in his approach to evidence-gathering and highly circumspect about what he says in public.

A loudmouth like Nunberg is the antithesis of Mueller. Sadly, he is the kind of clown with whom Donald Trump has surrounded himself.

Come to think of it, he mirrors the Big Man himself.

Weird.