Tag Archives: special counsel

No ‘fishing expeditions’? Sure thing, Sen. Cruz

Ted Cruz doesn’t want special counsel Robert Mueller to go on a “fishing expedition” in his search for answers relating to Donald J. Trump’s relationship with Russian government officials.

I now shall remind the junior U.S. Republican senator from Texas about another fishing expedition that once suited GOP members of Congress just fine. It involved Kenneth Starr’s probe into an Arkansas real estate matter; they called it Whitewater.

Starr, the special counsel appointed to look into that deal, then went on a fishing expedition of his own. He wandered far afield and then discovered that President Bill Clinton was involved in a tawdry relationship with a young White House intern.

A federal grand jury summoned the president to talk about that relationship. The president didn’t tell the panel the truth.

Boom! Congressional Republicans then had their grounds for impeaching the president. The House did it. The Senate then acquitted him.

So, you see? Fishing expeditions can turn into something consequential.

Mueller is a pro and deserves latitude in his search for the truth.

I just find it laughable that Cruz would issue a warning against Mueller, a former FBI director and a man fairly universally respected as a thorough and meticulous investigator. Indeed, Cruz called Mueller a “good and honorable man.”

One can imagine if a Democratic president faced the kind of scrutiny that is being leveled against Donald Trump. What do you suppose the Cruz Missile would say then?

I get how political consideration — and leanings — are driving the analyses of the Mueller investigation.

My own take on Robert Mueller’s probe is that if he uncovers something that is, um, illegal, he is bound by his oath to pursue it to the very end.

Let’s get to the heart of this hacking matter

As a frequent critic of Donald J. Trump, I want to set the record straight on a key issue that’s threatening the man’s presidency.

I do not give a rat’s rear end about whether alleged attempts by Russian agents to influence the 2016 presidential election actually created a Trump victory. I accept the notion that Trump would have won the election anyway.

What is troubling me is the question of what role — if any — the Trump campaign had in assisting the Russians.

Former FBI Director James Comey told U.S. Senate committee members today that he is certain of Russian meddling in our election. I accept the FBI director’s opinion on that, too.

I keep circling back to the question of whether Trump’s team actively aided the Russian hackers. If they didn’t aid them, did they know about any attempts to influence the election? If they knew and did nothing, that to me is tantamount to collusion — even if it doesn’t fit the legal definition of the word.

We keep hearing reports of key Trump campaign advisers meeting with Russians during the campaign and then during the transition. It all gets back to the Watergate-era question posed by then-Sen. Howard Baker: What did the president know — and when did he know it?

As for the whether the hacking/meddling actually proved decisive, that they changed enough votes to swing the results in favor of Trump and away from Hillary Rodham Clinton, it doesn’t matter to me. What does matter is that they have done what all those intelligence agencies have said they did. The former director of the FBI has confirmed it to my satisfaction.

If the Trump campaign colluded, dear reader, we are looking at a charge of treason.

Good news, bad news for Comey hearing

Donald J. Trump delivered a one-two punch of good news and, well, not so good news regarding the upcoming testimony of former FBI director James Comey.

The good news: The president said he wouldn’t invoke any executive privilege to silence Comey, who will testify to the Senate Intelligence Committee about conversations he had with Trump regarding the FBI investigation into “the Russia thing.”

The president decided against acting on his stranger impulses by deciding to let Comey have his say. Comey did talk to special counsel Robert Mueller — a longtime friend and colleague — who reportedly “cleared Comey for takeoff,” according to Comey associates.

The, um, bad news: Trump will be tweeting while Comey is testifying.

Allow me an “ugh,” and a “sheesh” on that one.

This president is just about the most insufferable human being ever to occupy this once-exalted office.

Does this clown really have to do this?

Consider as well — for just a moment — that Trump reportedly referred to Comey in conversations with Russian dignitaries at the White House as a “showboat.”

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.

The ‘bombs’ keep exploding inside the White House

James Comey is a “nut job,” he is “crazy” and firing him relieved Donald J. Trump from the “pressure” of an investigation involving the president’s relationship with the Russian government.

That, dear reader, is a summary of what the New York Times is reporting about the president of the United States. It gets even more, um, interesting. The White House is not disputing what the Times has reported.

What does this mean as the president takes wing en route to Saudi Arabia on his first overseas trip as our head of state?

I think it means that the president is digging himself into a deeper hole as Robert Mueller, the newly appointed special counsel, begins his work to uncover the truth about the burgeoning problems that are looking more and more like a full-blown constitutional crisis.

Trump fired the former FBI director, who was in the midst of a probe into whether the president’s campaign colluded with Russian government hackers seeking to influence the 2016 election. Comey wrote a memo that reportedly states that Trump asked him to drop the FBI investigation; Trump denies making that request.

Trump has fired a former acting attorney general, Sally Yates, who warned the White House about former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s exposure to potential blackmail from the Russians; the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, recused himself from anything to do with the Russia probe; then the AG recommends to Trump — in a memo — to fire Comey, which may have violated the terms of his recusal.

Now, what about the vice president, Mike Pence? He said Comey’s dismissal had nothing to do with the Russia probe. The president then contradicts the vice president. Who’s the bigger liar?

I believe this story is getting hotter by the hour.

Special counsel Mueller’s plate is overflowing. The piling on is coming — if you can believe it — from the principal subject of his growing investigation: the president of the United States.

Does an ‘innocent man’ welcome or resist scrutiny?

The thought keeps popping into my noggin: If Donald John Trump is innocent of what is being alleged against him, why is he resisting so fiercely the effort to find out the truth about those allegations?

The president is now under investigation by a special counsel, Robert Mueller, over questions surrounding whether his campaign had any improper contact with Russian government officials. Mueller also is looking at whether Trump asked former FBI Director James Comey to pull the plug on an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s relationship with foreign governments.

His reaction? He went quiet for about two days. Then he returned to Twitter to accuse his enemies of conducting a “witch hunt”; he opposed the appointment of a special counsel by the Justice Department; he told Coast Guard Academy graduates that he is the most persecuted politician in history.

He keeps insisting the Russian government didn’t seek to influence the 2016 election, despite what multiple U.S. intelligence agencies have said to the contrary. He also insists that “there was no collusion” between his campaign and Russian hackers.

POTUS keeps blabbing about Russia

I’m just wondering whether someone who’s clean would feel the need to fight back so strongly. Why wouldn’t the president welcome the probe, endorse Mueller’s credentials as a pro, then let the man reach a conclusion that verifies what the president has been saying?

Trump’s overheated reaction just doesn’t sound to me like something that an innocent man would do. Maybe it’s just me. I don’t think I’m alone in wondering about the conduct of a politician who keeps insisting he did nothing wrong.

Turn the special counsel loose

If history is any guide, a special counsel investigation aimed at rooting out issues relating to the president of the United States and his alleged ties to Russia well could develop a life of its own.

Robert Mueller has been given the task of finding out whether Donald John Trump’s presidential campaign was complicit in Russian government efforts to swing the 2016 presidential election. He’s also going to examine possible links between a former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, to the Russians. Moreover, he has latitude to look into whether the president obstructed justice by “asking” former FBI Director James Comey to shut down a probe of Flynn’s ties to Russia.

Could there be even more to learn, beyond the official tasks given to Mueller — himself a former FBI director?

Mueller’s the man

We have some historical precedent to ponder.

Kenneth Starr once held the title of “independent prosecutor.” His duty in the 1990s was to look at a real estate venture involving President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Republican critics in Congress thought there were some shady circumstances that needed to be examined. Starr began poking around and discovered some evidence of a relationship between President Clinton and a young 20-something White House intern.

A federal grand jury summoned the president to testify. The president took an oath to tell the whole truth to the grand jury — and then he lied about his relationship.

Ah-hah! GOP House members then cobbled together an impeachment proceeding that charged the president with perjury and obstruction of justice. The House impeached the president. The Senate held its trial and he was acquitted.

Will history repeat itself? I have no clue. My guess is that special counsel Mueller doesn’t yet know where his probe will lead.

These matters do have a way of growing legs. The statute gives Mueller considerable leeway in his pursuit of the truth. The president cannot fire him; he can, though, order the Justice Department to do so. Let’s hope that Donald Trump resists that impulse. I know that’s a tall order, given the self-proclaimed joy he gets when he fires people.

But the Justice Department’s deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, has picked a serious legal heavyweight to do some seriously heavy lifting.

It’s time now for Robert Mueller to get busy. Rapidly.

Mueller pick enables Congress, POTUS to get back to work

One of my first takeaways from today’s blockbuster news about the appointment of a special counsel to probe the “Russia thing” suggests that Congress and the president can get back to actual work.

You know … governing!

Robert Mueller is going to lead the investigation into whether Russia colluded with the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 election; he’ll look at whether Donald Trump asked former FBI director James Comey to shut down a probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s Russia connection; he might even find some other things we haven’t even thought of … yet.

You’ll recall that a former special counsel, Kenneth Starr, was tasked initially with examining a real estate deal involving Bill and Hillary Clinton and discovered that the president was having an “inappropriate” relationship with a young White House intern. The rest became history.

Mueller, himself a former FBI director, is an excellent choice to lead this probe. I give Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein high praise for making this choice.

Senators, House members and the president now can get back to arguing over some other things: health care, tax reform, infrastructure, immigration matters, North Korea, Syria, NATO.

We can argue ourselves hoarse over the merits of what Donald Trump wants to do. I don’t mind that debate continuing at full throttle.

This Russia matter and all its tendrils have strangled the government. For his part, Trump has made a mess of just about everything he has touched. Congressional leadership hasn’t acquitted itself much better, either.

Yes, House and Senate committees will continue to examine the “Russia thing” along with whatever Mueller uncovers. Let them pursue their charter as prescribed by congressional rules.

The rest of the House and the Senate — along with the guy who is president of the United States — ought to concentrate more fully on what they were sent to Washington, D.C., to do.

That is to govern.

Take it away, Robert Mueller

I have just caught my breath.

Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has given the cause of truth and justice — and perhaps even the American way — a major boost. He has named former FBI director Robert Mueller as the special counsel to examine the “Russia thing” and “related matters.”

What do we make of this?

I’ll take a stab at a couple of points.

One is that Mueller served as FBI director under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. James Comey replaced him as FBI boss. Mueller and Comey reportedly are professionally close and have worked together well over many years.

Comey is out of his job at FBI, having been fired by Donald J. Trump because he was spending too much time on the “Russia thing.”

And, yes, we have reports of a memo that Comey wrote after the president reportedly asked him to shut down the FBI probe of former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s Russia ties.

OK. So now Mueller will probe deeply into what, if any, relationship the Trump presidential campaign had with Russian government officials and the Russians’ effort to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Mueller will be free of any direct link with the Trump administration and with Congress. He will be “independent” and will be charged with seeking the truth behind the myriad allegations that have bedeviled the president and his team.

Rosenstein faced great pressure to appoint the special counsel. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from all matters relating to Russia; the Trump administration opposed the appointment of a special counsel. It fell to Rosenstein to make the call.

Mueller is known as a tough-minded lawyer.

Hey, this story is accelerating way past the posted speed limit. I’ve got to take my foot off the gas pedal for a moment or two.

I’ll just applaud the deputy AG for making this call. I also plan to breathe deeply and get ready for the next round of blockbuster news.