Tag Archives: Russia meddling

Trump’s legal team keeps moving the goal posts

I’ll begin by stipulating the obvious, which is that I am not a lawyer.

Therefore, I am having difficulty understanding the logic of Donald J. Trump’s legal team, which is now insisting that special counsel Robert Mueller produce evidence of a crime before the president agrees to meet with him.

Eh? What? Huh?

Mueller is looking into myriad questions surrounding the president’s conduct. They include possible obstruction of justice, collusion with Russian election meddlers, campaign finance violations and maybe some shady business dealings.

So now we hear that the president’s legal eagles want Mueller to actually have evidence of a crime? Are they suggesting that Muller indict Trump first and then bring him for some Q&A?

What kind of goofy strategy is that?

I’ve always understood that a prosecutor — which is the role Mueller is fulfilling — needs to interview witnesses prior to compiling criminal complaints that might result in an indictment.

Trump’s legal team keeps moving the goal posts. Trump keeps changing his tune: He’ll talk to Mueller, then he won’t; he calls Mueller’s probe a “witch hunt” and a “hoax”; then he’s back to wanting “100 percent” to talk to the special counsel.

The bizarre drama continues.

Meanwhile, the other principal in this saga — Robert Mueller — remains the cool, calm professional. He is saying nothing. He is just doing his job.

Let the special counsel finish his job

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is getting antsy about the probe being done by special counsel Robert Mueller.

McConnell wants Mueller to finish it up. Call it good now. End it. Move on to the next thing.

I believe the majority leader needs to settle down and needs to let Mueller continue his job at his pace, gathering facts and evidence with all deliberate speed.

Mueller is examining whether Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency included some “collusion” with Russians who meddled in the election outcome in 2016. This is a complicated, tedious, meticulous investigation.

McConnell says it has gone on “forever.” Actually, Mr. Leader, it’s only a little more than a year in progress.

Whitewater? Do you remember that one? The probe that looked initially at a real estate deal involving Bill and Hillary Clinton plodded along a lot longer than the Mueller investigation has gone. Did the Kentucky Republican senator call for that investigation to end?

Let’s see. Oh, I don’t believe he did.

Donald Trump’s constant yammering about a “witch hunt” has gotten to McConnell. It has spooked him beyond reason. Yes, the majority leader says he supports the Mueller probe. I appreciate McConnell’s statements of support.

However, the former FBI director (Mueller) needs time to finish a complicated investigation into questions that deal fundamentally with the integrity of our nation’s electoral system.

This stuff needs time to sort out.

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.

‘An attack on our country’?

Let me try to sort this out for a moment. That’s all it will take.

Donald J. Trump calls an FBI “raid” on a lawyer’s office, which it executed legally through court-ordered search warrants, an “attack on our country.” He calls it a “disgrace.” He condemns the FBI in the strongest terms possible.

Meanwhile, what does he say about Russian efforts to manipulate the 2016 election? What condemnation does he level at Russians who hacked into our electoral process and disseminated information intended to influence that election in Trump’s favor? Nothing, man!

OK. So, which is the greater “attack on our country”? The FBI sought records from Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to tie up some loose ends in connection with a relationship the future president of the United States had with a porn actress. The FBI is trying to determine the source of a $130,000 payment that Cohen made to Stormy Daniels to buy her silence related to the alleged relationship.

That is the “attack on our country” but the actual attack, by the Russians during our 2016 presidential election, is not?

What in the name of election collusion am I missing here?

Law and order party now talking ‘purge’ at FBI

How can the political party that prides itself on being the champion of “law and order” now contain members who are doing all they can to undermine that principle?

That appears to be happening within the ranks of the Republican Party.

Members of Congress, being goaded by those in the conservative mainstream media, are ratcheting up their criticism of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the “Russia thing” that instigated the president’s dismissal of former FBI director James Comey.

The Justice Department appointed Mueller to be special counsel, enabling him to begin looking into allegations that the Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russian agents who had hacked into our nation’s electoral process. The FBI, meanwhile, keeps getting hammered by some on the right and the far right and, oh yes, by Donald Trump, the nation’s president.

The FBI and DOJ are now being called “biased” against Trump. What? I thought the president extolled the FBI back when it was investigating Hillary Rodham Clinton’s email usage while she served as secretary of state.

Apparently that’s all changed. Trump now says the FBI needs a thorough housecleaning. It needs top-to-bottom reorganization, he says. It has a new director, Christopher Wray, whose hands are being zip-tied by the president’s tweets and assorted public comments about the FBI.

There once was a time when the FBI was considered the premier investigative law enforcement agency in the entire world. Few people thought to impugn the agency’s integrity or that of the men and women who run it. That time seemingly passed the night of Nov. 8, 2016 when Donald Trump got elected president.

The president, though, in recent days has talked about Mueller treating him “fairly” and has actually dialed back some of his fiery, anti-FBI rhetoric.

Those of us who pay attention to the president are concerned that he’ll reload and start lobbing more artillery at the agency when given the chance.

Is this what the GOP “base” wants to hear from the president? That he is disparaging and disrespecting an institution that hard-core Republicans used to support?

Are we clear now? POTUS backs intel agencies

That’s as clear as mud, isn’t it?

Donald John Trump says in one breath that Vladimir Putin is sincere when he says Russia didn’t meddle in our nation’s 2016 presidential election.

In virtually the next breath — actually it was the next day — the president says he backs the U.S. intelligence agencies’ assessment that, yep, the Russians meddled, they interfered, they sought to influence the election outcome.

The question now is this: Which is it, Mr. President? Who do you believe?

This kind of stumble-bum rhetoric is driving many of us utterly bananas.

POTUS back tracks

Trump had been “on script” for most of his 12-day trip to Asia. Then he shook hands with the Russian president; the men met privately for a brief period in Da Nang, Vietnam. Putin told Trump he has been “offended” by assertions that Russia meddled in our election. Trump seemed to side with the bad guy while dismissing the assessments of the good guys, the men and women who work for our intelligence agencies.

For the life of me, I don’t understand — let alone accept — Trump’s belief that Putin can be trusted as far as he can throw him. The man is a former KGB hot shot. He is trained to lie.

Forgive me for quoting former Fox TV commentator Bill O’Reilly, but O’Reilly did assert correctly during an interview with Trump that “Putin is a killer”; Trump responded by saying, essentially, “So are we.”

Good … grief. Dude! Get an ever-lovin’ grip!

Oh, but now he backs U.S. intelligence analysts, who’ve been saying all along that Russian hackers meddled in our election — and they did so on orders from Vladimir Putin. One of them who stands by our analysis of Russian meddling happens to be CIA Director Mike Pompeo, whom Trump appointed.

My head is spinning.

That’s it: Blame Congress now

Here, dear reader, is a tweet that came from the president of the United States. It is just another in an endless litany of shocking pronouncements from Donald John Trump Sr.

Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low. You can thank Congress, the same people that can’t even give us HCare!

There you have it. The president has blamed Congress for enacting a tough sanctions bill against Russia. He didn’t say a word in that tweet about his signing the bill into law. Lawmakers approved the bill with overwhelming majorities and they undoubtedly would have overridden any presidential veto.

Indulge me for a moment.

The U.S.-Russia relationship has tanked because the Russians have been caught — and please pardon the somewhat dated description here — red-handed in their effort to attack the U.S. electoral process. The Russians sought to meddle in our 2016 presidential election. Intelligence analysts have concluded the Russians did it. Members of the Trump administration have drawn the same conclusion.

The only high-ranking U.S. official to equivocate is the highest-ranking of them all: the president.

Congress acted as it should have acted by imposing new sanctions on the Russians — and by assuring that Congress has the final say on any effort to lessen or eliminate them.

Yet the president continues to hold tightly to this notion that he can “negotiate” better deals with Russians than Congress.

I should add that Trump signed the sanctions bill without the usual fanfare associated with high-profile bill signings. No TV cameras were present; the president didn’t hand out pens to officials as he etched his signature to the document. The signing was carried in the proverbial dead of night. Why is that?

Now he’s going after Congress yet again for doing what it is entitled to do.

Just suppose for a moment that Donald Trump finds himself in grave political trouble down the road. Suppose special counsel Robert Mueller concludes that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian effort to sway the election; let’s also suggest that Mueller might find evidence of obstruction of justice stemming from Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.

All of this well might bring the president to the brink of impeachment by the House of Representatives. It is at that point that the president is going to need every friend he can find on Capitol Hill to save his backside.

Is this how he nourishes those relationships, by blaming Congress for the deterioration in U.S.-Russia relations?

Is the Trump-Putin bromance over … finally?

Donald John Trump Sr. and Vladimir Putin once were thought to be made for each other.

One of them is a tough guy; the other seems enamored of tough guys. Putin is the former; Trump would be the latter.

Now, though, their relationship has taken a turn for the worst. Congress enacted a tough new sanctions protocol against Russia — as well as against North Korea — that prohibits the president from scrapping them without congressional approval.

Trump says he’ll sign the sanctions bill.

Putin responded this weekend by ordering the removal of 755 American diplomats from Russia, dramatically reducing the U.S. presence in that country. The Russian president seems to think his response is equivalent to the U.S. expelling of 35 Russian diplomats in retaliation for the Russians’ meddling in our 2016 presidential election.

It’s not at all proportional.

The question remains: Will the U.S. president stand firm or will he roll over?

Trump has been maddeningly reluctant to call the Russians out for their interference in our election. He keeps equivocating by suggesting that “it could be anyone” other than the Russians. He dismisses U.S. intelligence agencies’ assessment that the Russians acted alone.

Will see how this plays out. My hope is that Trump awakens from his infatuation with Putin and concludes that the Russians aren’t our friends — and that the two leaders have wildly differing views on their personal relationship.