Tag Archives: Russia hacking

Can Trump’s exit get any uglier? Uhh, yeah

REUTERS/James Glover II

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Donald John Trump’s exit from the presidency of the United States is getting uglier by the day.

I wish I could find a bottom to its ugliness. Sadly, I cannot locate it.

So many reports are coming out daily about Trump’s seeming disinterest in the nation’s actual existential crisis: the coronavirus pandemic that is killing thousands of Americans each day. He is obsessed with an election he lost and fixated on ways he could possibly remain in power.

Trump hates the term “loser,” except when he uses it to describe others. Now that he must wear the label himself, Trump has become some sort of monster in the White House. He convenes meetings that include a disgraced national security adviser who received a presidential pardon and a campaign lawyer who insists that Trump could seize voting machines in precincts that voted for President-elect Biden.

The Russians have hacked into our security network and Trump is silent, except to downplay its significance.

I don’t fear necessarily for the future of our democratic system of  government. It will survive this maelstrom of misery and mayhem. However, it is going to require some repair from the new president and his team. To that end, my hope is that President Biden deploys his vast knowledge of government and its workings to set about restoring the regular channels of communication and retooling government’s machinery.

I guess my deepest concern at this moment, as Trump’s term as president staggers to a close, is the prospect of the commander in chief doing something profoundly foolish and reckless intending to take our attention away from the Russian hacking operation. That would be for Trump to start an armed conflict, thrusting young Americans into harm’s way.

Is that beyond the capacity of a president who appears fixated solely on holding onto power? Absolutely not!

This is a dangerous man and this is a dangerous time.

We have 30 days to go before sanity returns to the Oval Office. I am holding my breath.

Yes, the blame for Russia hacking crosses party lines

It pains to me state this, but the release of Robert Mueller’s report on The Russia Thing and other matters has revealed a serious stain on the presidency of Barack Hussein Obama.

I am not for a single instant going to give Donald Trump a pass on his campaign’s involvement in the Russian hacking of our electoral system in 2016. You won’t see me offer up a “What about this?” excuse for what happened during the course of that campaign.

However, I am going to concede that all of the hacking, the interference, the blatant attack on our electoral system occurred during the final full year of President Obama’s administration.

The president and the Justice Department under his watch should have taken stern, immediate and decisive measures to stop it. They didn’t.

A CNN analysis notes that Obama was too wrapped up in the Iran nuclear arms deal he and Secretary of State John Kerry were brokering to risk angering Russian President Vladimir Putin. They wanted the Russians on our side. Yet they knew of the hacking, according to Mueller, while it was occurring in real time.

Yes, so did the Trump team. They, too, should have acted. The Trump campaign should have blown the whistle loudly on what was occurring in the moment. Donald Trump’s invitation to the Russians to look for Hillary Clinton’s “missing e-mails” tempted the Russians to the point of launching their attack on our system that very day.

But as they say, we only have one president on the job at a time. The president we had in 2016 failed to do what he should have — and could have — done to stop this attack on our sacred electoral system.

President Obama said he told Putin to “knock it off” at the time. It wasn’t nearly enough.

Now it’s Trump vs. McMaster … imagine that!

So much buzz, so little time to process it all.

Donald Trump fired off a tweet over the weekend that took aim at a remarkable target: the man who provides him national security advice.

H.R. McMaster said at an international conference that special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of several Russians on charges of 2016 election meddling provides “incontrovertible” proof that the Russians launched an attack on our electoral system.

Trump’s response was to say that McMaster “forgot” to say that the indictments didn’t accuse the Trump campaign of “collusion,” that it didn’t help the Russians hack into our system; nor did McMaster say that the meddling actually influenced the outcome, according to the president.

So, the battle is joined. As Politico notes, the two men have been at odds ever since McMaster replaced the disgraced Michael Flynn as national security adviser.

Here is the Politico story

Who knew? I mean, McMaster is a highly decorated U.S. Army three-star general, a man with tremendous attention to detail. He is a national security scholar who now works for a man who doesn’t have the interest or inclination to study anything. The president flies by the seat of his pants and reacts viscerally to crises.

Is there any wonder that Gen. McMaster and the president would be at odds?


We are left to wonder how this White House, the president and his top aides ever are able to concur on anything. Who in the world gives this president advice he actually heeds?

The answer is no one.

Let’s hear the other side of this memo matter

We now know what Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee think of Robert Mueller’s investigation into the “Russia thing.”

Let’s now hear what Democrats on the panel think about it.

Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes released “The Memo” that alleges bias in Mueller’s probe into whether the Donald Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russians who hacked into our electoral system and influenced the outcome of the 2016 election.

The memo has touched off a firestorm, caused an earthquake, initiated a tsunami — pick your metaphor.

So, let’s hear what Democrats think. Nunes can make that happen, given that he’s the chairman. So can the president, who’s at the center of all this tumult.

If we’re going to talk about “transparency,” and some members of Congress are doing so, then let’s be totally transparent.

I want to hear what Democrats are saying about their GOP colleagues’ effort to discredit the Mueller investigation.

C’mon! Come clean!

Inquiring minds — such as yours truly’s — want to know. Hey, we deserve to know.

Dear Mr. POTUS: Let Mueller do his job

Donald J. Trump requires a lesson in government. Yep, the president of the United States does not understand how many things work.

Take the special counsel hired by the U.S. Department of Justice to examine the president’s potential ties to the Russian government and whether there might be some collusion between that government and the president’s winning campaign in 2016.

He is rattling some sabers, threatening to fire special counsel Robert Mueller if he looks into the Trump family’s financial dealings.

Here’s where the lesson might kick in.

The special counsel has wide latitude to take the examination wherever it leads. Does the president recall what occurred when an earlier special prosecutor, Kenneth Starr, began examining a real estate matter involving President and Mrs. Clinton? He sniffed around and then learned about a young White House intern. Starr then learned about a relationship she was having with the president. He decided to ask the president some questions about it. He summoned him to a federal grand jury; the president violated the oath he took to tell the truth; he then was impeached.

That’s what happens, Mr. President. Special counsels are within their legal authority to look where they can find to determine the truth. Indeed, an examination of family business dealings well might help the public learn the whole truth about the relationship between the Trump empire and the Russian government. If it finds nothing there, then Mueller’s office can clear the president.

Technically, the president cannot summarily fire the special counsel. He has to ask the Justice Department to do it. Indeed, a leading congressional Republican, Rep. Mike McCaul of Texas, has warned the president about getting rid of Mueller. If he does it, the president faces a bipartisan backlash on Capitol Hill.

Let the process continue, Mr. President. You don’t seem to know the trouble you would purchase if you act foolishly.

Time for you to quit, Mr. Attorney General

If I read Donald Trump’s comments about Attorney General Jeff Sessions correctly, it appears the president is pretty damn angry at the man he picked to lead the Department of Justice.

It also looks as though Trump’s confidence in his AG has vanished, which suggests to me that it’s time for the attorney general to hit the road.

The president has broken sharply with one of his earliest U.S. Senate supporters, saying he never would have picked Sessions if the attorney general would recuse himself from a deepening investigation into Trump’s connections with Russian government officials. Actually, Sessions’s recusal was one of the more noble aspects of his time as AG, given that he couldn’t possibly be trusted to be impartial and unbiased as he was a key player in Trump’s transition team after the 2016 election.

Trump is showing signs of extreme anxiety as the special counsel’s investigation picks up momentum. Indeed, the president also said in an interview with the New York Times that the counsel, Robert Mueller, must stay away from the Trump family financial issues as he pursues the facts behind the so-called “Russia thing.”

As for Sessions, he can’t do his job as the nation’s top legal eagle. The man who appointed now appears to have lost faith in him because he decided to do the right thing by recusing himself. Beyond all of that, his own testimony before Senate committee members has been rife with holes and has produced seemingly more questions than answers about his own role in the Russia matter.

And so … the mystery deepens and the crisis continues.

No, Mr. President; Obama did react to Russian hacking

Donald J. Trump keeps harping on a canard, which is that Barack Obama “did nothing” when he learned in the summer of 2016 about Russian efforts to hack into our electoral process.

Wrong, Mr. President.

Trump keeps dodging the question about whether he believes the Russians sought to influence the 2016 presidential election. Today, he once again gave the Russians some political cover by saying that “other countries” are hacking us, too.

My point here, though, is that President Obama did react to reports of Russian hacking.

He imposed economic sanctions against individuals; he tossed Russian diplomats out of the United States; he closed two Russian diplomatic compounds — all of this in reaction to reports of Russian hacking.

Trump is having none of it. He wants to divert attention from the questions and suspicion that continues to swirl around him regarding the Russians and whatever — if any — relationship they had with the Trump presidential campaign.

I get that presidents have blamed their immediate predecessors for real and imagined problems. Obama laid a lot of blame at the feet of his predecessor, George W. Bush — although he did give the Bush administration plenty of credit for the work it had done in helping locate Osama bin Laden prior to the May 2011 commando raid that killed the al-Qaeda leader.

Is there ever going to be a moment when the current president would offer a good word to his immediate predecessor? Don’t hold your breath. I won’t.

As for Trump’s insistence that Obama did “nothing” to respond to Russian hackers, that’s just another lie.

Yep, the Russians are laughing at us.

Donald J. Trump tweeted the following, apparently early this morning: “Russian officials must be laughing at the U.S. & how a lame excuse for why the Dems lost the election has taken over the Fake News.”

It’s rare that I agree with the president, but I have to endorse part of the message he fired off today.

They’re laughing at us, Mr. President … just not for the reason you tried to articulate in this nonsensical Twitter message.

The Russians are laughing at the chaos they have created by hacking into our electoral system and by seeking to swing the 2016 presidential election in Trump’s favor.

To be fair, nothing has been proven — yet — about what they might have accomplished. However, every intelligence agency and expert in many countries agree with the premise that the Russians tried to influence the election.

Look at what has happened since Trump took the presidential oath.

The FBI has said it is investigating whether the Trump team colluded with the Russians; the president’s son-in-law has become the subject of another probe; the Justice Department has appointed a special counsel to examine the “Russia thing”; Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from anything to do with Russia; Michael Flynn was fired as national security adviser because he lied about his own Russian contacts.

They also might be chuckling and chortling over the president’s refusal to call the Russians out publicly for what all those intelligence agencies have concluded about their meddlesome ways.

Are the Russians laughing at us? You’re damn right they are!

Don’t pick Sen. Cornyn to lead FBI, Mr. POTUS

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn has shown up on Donald J. Trump’s short list of possible nominees to become FBI director.

In the name of non-bias, non-political leanings and law enforcement professionalism, I am hoping that the president does not pick Sen. Cornyn to lead the FBI in this critical time.

James Comey got the boot from the FBI’s top job because — if we are to believe anything that comes out of the president’s mouth — he was spending too much time and energy on the “Russia thing.”

Truth be told, in my view, the next FBI director needs to spend a whole lot more time on Russia and related matters. Is John Cornyn the man to do the job? No way, dude!

Cornyn may get a good look

I’ve known Cornyn for a number of years in my capacity as a journalist first in Beaumont and then in Amarillo. We have had a nice professional relationship during those years. I’ve known him as a Texas Supreme Court justice, as a state attorney general and as a U.S. senator. I disagree with him politically, but he’s a gentleman.

Over the years, as my hair got grayer, Sen. Cornyn would needle me that I eventually would get as gray as he has been for decades. I’m still not there yet, although I’m close.

All that said, he is as wrong for the job of FBI director as anyone being considered. Why? He is a partisan hatchet man for the Senate’s Republican caucus. He’s the No. 2 man in the Senate GOP hierarchy and his main task in recent Senate sessions has been to ensure the election of more Republicans. I understand that’s part of his job and I respect that someone has to do it, that they need to fill the ranks with partisans on both sides of the aisle.

Cornyn’s highly political profile, though, makes him a terrible fit for the FBI director’s job. Comey was in the middle of an investigation that was looking into allegations that the Trump campaign was complicit in efforts by the Russian government to influence the 2016 election — seeking to help Trump get elected president.

Are we to believe that a member of the president’s own party who would get the task of leading the FBI and, presumably, continue that investigation will shed his partisan leanings?

The president needs to look within the law enforcement community to find a new FBI director. He needs to find someone who has no political axe to grind. He needs to nominate someone with zero political ties to the White House, or to the Congress.

John Cornyn is not the man for this job.