(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BUSINESS INSIDER)
President Donald Trump wanted to order the Justice Department to prosecute two of his biggest political rivals but backed down when he was told he didn’t have the authority to do that, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
Trump wanted the DOJ to investigate former FBI director James Comey and former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, according to the report. But when the president floated the idea to then White House counsel Don McGahn in the spring, McGahn is said to have told Trump he couldn’t order the DOJ to conduct investigations.
McGahn reportedly added that Trump could request an investigation, but that the move would likely spark a public outcry and accusations that he was abusing his power.
After The Times’ story broke, CNN reported that Trump also broached the topic of investigating Clinton and Comey with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.
One source told CNN that Whitaker came prepared to answer questions about what the DOJ was doing on matters related to Clinton, including the Clinton Foundation and the Uranium One deal. The person reportedly added that while Whitaker was trying to capitulate to the president, he did not appear to cross any line.
Tuesday’s revelation is the latest in a series of documented efforts Trump has made to exert control over the nation’s top law-enforcement agency. The DOJ is meant to be independent of the White House, but Trump has previously shown that he believes it is a political tool to be wielded against his perceived enemies.
In addition to publicly pressuring the DOJ to prosecute his rivals, Trump once reportedly asked advisers why he couldn’t have “my guys” at the “Trump Justice Department” do his bidding.
Trump has long harbored resentment toward both Comey and Clinton. When he ran against the former first lady in the 2016 election, Trump and his surrogates regularly led chants calling to “lock her up” in response to revelations that Clinton used a private email server to conduct government business when she was secretary of state.
He initially backed down after he won the presidency, but Trump soon resumed his calls for her prosecution when Clinton began criticizing him after the election, and as the FBI began investigating his campaign’s contacts with Russia.
Comey, meanwhile, moved into Trump’s crosshairs when he publicly confirmed the existence of the Russia investigation last March, shortly after Trump took office.
Subsequent reporting and congressional testimony revealed that after Trump learned of the investigation, he repeatedly pressured Comey to publicly state he was not personally under investigation, or to drop the probe entirely. When Comey refused, Trump fired him and later publicly stated he ousted the FBI director because of the Russia investigation.
Comey’s firing now makes up the basis of a separate inquiry, overseen by the special counsel Robert Mueller, into whether Trump sought to obstruct justice in the Russia probe.
When Comey began publicly criticizing Trump after his removal, the president called for prosecutors to investigate Comey for leaking classified information to The Times when he had his friend share a memo with the paper that documented some of what Comey believed were his most troubling interactions with the president. The memo did not contain any classified information.
He has also called for Comey and other current and former FBI and DOJ officials to be investigated over their handling of the Clinton email probe during the election.
I was already planning to write an article today about the so-called Christian Right and Republican Politics and I was just putting the pieces together in my mind on how to write it. Then just before I clicked over to this platform I checked in once more to the Google news site that I read every day and found the embers on which to start my fire. The top Google News story a few moments ago was from a Writer from the New York Times named Mike Cohen. The story line was “Evangelical Leaders Are Frustrated At G.O.P. Caution On Kavanaugh Allegation.” There was a picture of a man named Ralph Reed whom the article calls “the Social Conservative Leader”, okay, lets stop right there for a moment. Personally I consider myself to be a social conservative Christian and I personally have never heard of Mr. Reed and after reading some of his opinions I am fully sure that he does not represent me at all. I have often wondered how people here in the U.S. who call themselves Christians can possibly throw their support behind either the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. I realize that many do lean toward one Party or the other simply because our system only gives us two real choices here in the U.S. and both are obviously saturated in evil. I still believe that we voters must dump both of these evils and give the voters several more choices. For us Christians to condone the evil that is both Parties is to greatly diminish the love and the teachings of Christ whom we say we are followers of. Back in November of 2016 we all witnessed pure evil at the top of both of the Republican and the Democratic Tickets, we the people had a no win situation, many people were simply voting for what they felt was the least of the two evils. If we Christians condone that which is evil then we are and we will be counted among the evil, we must separate ourselves from them.
According to Mr. Reed “the Senate Republicans and the White House are not (PROTECTING) Judge Kavanaugh forcefully enough from a sexual assault allegation.” Mr. Reed goes on to say “if Republicans were to fail to defend and confirm such a (obvious and eminently qualified and decent nominee) that it will be difficult to energize the (faith-based) conservatives in November.” I have a few questions about having Mr. Kavanaugh sitting on the Supreme Court of our Country other than “just” this sexual assault case from when he was 17 years old though, but I will start my thoughts to you with this assault allegation. It appears that the events of that night became quite well-known in the school that the girl attended so it is not some just now made up story. There is a letter that has popped up now about 65 girls that Mr. Kavanaugh went to school with that are saying that he was a great guy who showed no signs of this type of behavior. My question on this is that MR. Kavanaugh went to an all boys prep school and the girl who said she was attacked by him went to an all girls prep high school. So, none of these 65 girls went to school with him, it would be a bit odd that they could have known him so well unless he was quite the ‘party animal.’
When Mr. Kavanaugh got his first job on the Bench his boss had a very bad reputation for sexual misconduct and in fact he resigned from the Bench because of all of the allegations against him. Mr. Kavanaugh said this past week that he was unaware of his Bosses reputation even though it was well know where he worked at. So, even now, is Mr. Cavanaugh just oblivious to the reality going on around him, is he just ignorant, or is he a liar? The New York Times also reports about how Court Clerk’s (the women) who wanted to get a job under Mr. Kavanaugh needed to have that certain “Model” look as he wanted all his female Clerks to be very good-looking. So, talent and knowledge didn’t seem to mean as much with him as a tight butt and a short skirt does seem to.
Now, another very important issue that is being swept under the table by the Republicans in the Senate concerning Mr. Kavanaugh is his finances and his financial records. Bank records show that he has never had more than $60,000 in the bank at any time of his adult life yet he came up with a 20% down payment on a house note of 1.25 million dollars and $107,000 entrance fee for a local Country Club. His finances do not match up with his expenses and his tax records do not match up with where he got the money for his life style. When a person is being considered for a position on the Supreme Court it is normal for the FBI to do a thorough investigation into the person, this has not been done with Mr. Kavanaugh and the Republicans who control the Senate and Mr. Trump do not want to wait long enough for the FBI to run an investigation before they want to vote him onto the Court, why? There are other hypocrisies in Mr. Kavanaugh’s writings like his opinions on the impeachment of President Bill Clinton because of his low character and how he is now willing to over look President Trumps Plethora of examples of no morals.
Here is what I am getting at concerning Judge Kavanaugh and concerning the so-called Christian right. First, sexual assault is something that must be taken seriously and should be investigated by the FBI being that this man is seeking a job in which he will sit in judgement of you, me, our children and grandchildren. For a so-called religious leader to act like even the possibility of such an event is something that doesn’t matter, I beg to differ with you on calling such a person a ‘Religious Leader.’ The White House and the Senate are totally treating the Supreme Court as a Political Toy when it is supposed to be totally independent of Politics all together. Procedures need to be followed, including a full FBI investigation into Judge Kavanaugh morals and sexual assault does fall into this category. Also, the FBI needs to do a full investigation into the financial back ground of Judge Kavanaugh to find out who it is that has been funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to him and why it is that there is no record of this money on his tax reports. We the people need honesty from our government, it is obvious that there is little to no honesty in either the Congress or in the White House so it is very important for we the people to at least have some honest people sitting on the Court Benches and for them to be more than just political monkeys.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BUSINESS INSIDER)
As the special counsel Robert Mueller works his way through the myriad of threads in the Russia investigation, his approach bears more and more similarities to what prosecutors do when they’re tackling complex organized crime cases.
Mueller’s recent plea deal and cooperation agreement with Paul Manafort, the former chairman of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, is just the latest indication of that.
The hallmark of any prosecutor’s approach to an organized crime case, experts say, is the use of cooperating witnesses.
Going up the ladder is critical in these types of cases because the organization typically has a hierarchical structure and a clear chain of command. It also usually involves wide-ranging, multi-party criminal activity.
“The higher you go, the more insulated those people are,” said Elie Honig, a former federal prosecutor from the Southern District of New York who successfully prosecuted more than 100 members and associates of the Sicilian Mafia. “So the best way to penetrate that closed inner circle is by flipping people, and flipping them up.”
After investigators get a sense of which players are part of a criminal enterprise, they start by targeting those at the lowest levels.
“If they don’t voluntarily cooperate, you get honest leverage on them to compel their cooperation,” said Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor who was part of the team that convicted the Gambino crime family boss John Gotti in the 1990s. “You find their criminal conduct and use that to force them to do what they should have done originally, which is to tell the truth.”
Honig said he once nailed a case by flipping someone who was the driver for a more powerful person in the organization.
“That led us right up the chain,” he said. “And you can see that happening in the Russia investigation.”
The first plea deal Mueller’s office announced was that of George Papadopoulos, who served as an early foreign policy aide to the Trump campaign. Next, he looped in Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser who admitted to lying to the FBI.
In February, Rick Gates, the former deputy chairman of the Trump campaign, announced that he would be pleading guilty and cooperating with the special counsel. Gates’ cooperation led prosecutors upstream, and his courtroom testimony against Manafort helped them successfully convict his former boss on eight counts of financial fraud last month.
Likewise, legal scholars say, Manafort’s cooperation, as well as that of Trump’s former longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, will likely help Mueller and New York federal prosecutors get information on an even bigger fish.
“It’s a classic strategy used in organized crime,” Cotter said. “You start low and you ask people: who did you answer to? Who gave you orders? Who did you report to? That’s the only way to get to the top of a criminal organization, and that’s exactly what Mueller’s doing.”
That said, there are two critical differences between Mueller’s approach to the Russia probe and prosecutors’ approach to organized crime cases.
The first is that most criminal enterprises don’t have a clear paper trail.
“Organized crime is particularly dependent on insider witnesses, because everything is kind of hidden and done in the shadows,” said Alex Whiting, a former Justice Department lawyer who prosecuted organized crime and corruption cases when he worked at the US attorney’s office in Boston.
“These cases usually aren’t paper heavy because there’s no email trail or documentation,” he added.
The Russia investigation, by contrast, has often been document-heavy. Prosecutors introduced 400 pieces of evidence at Manafort’s first trial in Virginia last month, and they planned to put forward almost three times that amount at his second trial had he not struck a last-minute plea deal.
Similarly, their charging document against Gates extensively cited his financial records, emails, and communications with other witnesses.
In that sense, Whiting said, certain aspects of the Russia probe make it more like a white-collar case.
The other crucial difference is that organized crime cases cases involve activities that clearly cross legal boundaries.
But Mueller’s team is sifting through a mix of legal political activity and potentially illegal activity.
The prototypical example of that overlay, Whiting said, is Trump himself.
“The president has the legal authority to fire the FBI director, but is it obstruction if he fired him to hamper an investigation into him?” Whiting said. “Trump has the power to pardon anyone for any federal crime, but is he obstructing justice if he does it to prevent them from testifying? Is collusion a crime?”
“There’s a complexity here that you don’t often see with organized crime,” he added. “In that respect, it’s much more like investigating white-collar crime, because the main questions there are, what was the conduct, and did the conduct cross into illegal territory?”
The bottom line in a case like the Russia probe, Honig said, is that there’s no way to tell where it will ultimately lead.
“When you pull at a thread, you never know what you’re going to unravel.”
AGAIN TODAY TRUMP IS TELLING ATTORNEY GENERAL JEFF SESSIONS TO FIRE SPECIAL COUNCIL ROBERT MUELLER AND TO SHUT DOWN THE RUSSIA INVESTIGATION: RIGHT NOW!
The U.S. Congress can not Impeach a sitting President, only the U.S. Senate can do that. Back when Bill Clinton was President the Republican led Congress voted to Impeach Bill Clinton because an adult female intern gave him oral sex in the Oval Office. What Mr. Clinton did was morally wrong but so is being a liar, a tax fraud, or colluding with a know enemy to commit treason. All are sins, all are wrong, just like making up evidence so that you can go bomb people is a sin, morally and physically. When the Republican led Congress voted to Impeach Mr. Clinton the whole act was nothing but symbolic, the vote had no teeth. Via the U.S. Constitution only the U.S. Senate can Impeach a sitting President and to do so it will require 67 of the 100 Senators to vote for the impeachment, in the Clinton case the Senate didn’t even hold a vote on the issue. There is another set of rules as far as Impeaching the Attorney General is concerned though. To do this, a simple majority of the Congress has to vote to Impeach and then the Senate would have to get 67 of their 100 to vote to Impeach.
One of the many things that Mr. Trump has proven over and over again is that he is a total habitual liar, folks this is not a quality trait for anyone to have, especially the Leader of any group or organization. If you can not believe anything that is coming out of a persons mouth, what good are they as a person or as a Leader? If you remember, right after Jeff Sessions was approved by the Senate to be Mr. Trumps Attorney General he was caught lying at least twice to the Senate about his Russian contacts during the Presidential campaign of 2016. This is why Mr. Sessions recused himself from anything to do with any investigation into any Russian collusion during the 2016 Presidential Campaign. Mr. Sessions turned over this investigation to his number two-man Rob Rosenthal who then appointed the former Republican FBI Director Bob Mueller to head this investigation. As you most likely know, this whole set of events infuriated Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump has tried to get Mr. Sessions to fire Mr. Rosenthal several times but Mr. Sessions has refused to do so. Now Mr. Trump is demanding that Mr. Sessions fire the Special Council, Mr. Mueller. One of the many realities of the real world that Mr. Trump doesn’t seem to understand is that Mr. Sessions can not legally fire the Special Council or shut down the Russia investigation because Mr. Sessions in his recusing himself made it to where he can not legally do what the President is demanding that he do.
As a 62-year-old citizen of the United States I have learned very plainly that the politicians on both sides of the ‘political isle’ both Republicans and Democrats, as a whole do not give a damn about this country or the people who live within its borders. The only reason that the Republicans in the Congress and the Senate are backing Mr. Trump is because the President says he is a Republican. If Mr. Trump was a Democrat these same Republicans like my disgusting home state Senator Mitch McConnell would have been trying to get him Impeached ever since he took Office on January 20th of 2017. I am not by any means going to give the Democrats a free pass here in this article today either, to do so would be total hypocrisy. If the Congress and the Senate were controlled by the Democrats at this time and Hillary Clinton were the President and she had done all these exact same treasonous sins that Mr. Trump has done (she has many of her own personal sins which she should be in prison for, just some different ones than Mr. Trump has) the Democratic leadership would be shielding her from Impeachment just like the Republicans are doing right now with Mr. Trump. To hell with the Country, to hell with the people, the only things that matter are ‘the Party’, personal power and bigger bank accounts. If you don’t think so my friend, you are being naive at best.
Evidently by law the President can fire the Special Council, Mr. Mueller himself, just as he can fire Jeff Sessions and or Mr. Rosenthal and he can assign some flunky into those positions. This ‘flunky’ could then fire Mr. Mueller and shut down every thing that the DOJ (Department Of Justice) is investigating concerning the crimes that Mr. Trump and his family are so obviously guilty of. Then all the world will see if Mitch McConnell will grow a set of balls and insist that a vote for Impeachment take place, at once. My guess is no, he won’t. The reason that I believe this is because of seeing how these bought and paid for pieces of trash have operated over the past 50 or so odd years. I have absolutely no faith in either ‘Party’ to ever simply be honest with the American people and to do their damn jobs that the people have been paying them to do. To me, if the events do play out like I believe they will with Mr. Trump and several members of his family being charged with major crimes against the sovereignty and security of the people of Our Nation, then it is time for the people to remove all the trash in the Senate and the Congress who are betraying us. Simply put, the people must then Impeach them ourselves, or we don’t deserve a free Country to live in!
(THIS ARTICLE SO COURTESY OF CNN)
Trump’s odd behavior with Russian president Vladimir Putin got people talking last Monday, when the two men met in Helsinki, and the criticism continued all week long, evincing deep concern about the relationship between two of the world’s most powerful men.
And if Helsinki was fresh kindling for a raging fire, Trump poured even more fuel on it Sunday night. With the click of a button, he tweeted that “Russia” — shorthand for the Russian interference campaign in 2016 — was “all a big hoax.”
He seemed to be contradicting his own claims that he believes US intelligence.
Now the White House press corps — and members of the public — have even more questions for the commander in chief.
It remains to be seen if Trump will take questions this week, or if press secretary Sarah Sanders will hold daily briefings. There have only been two on-camera briefings so far this month.
But it is shaping up to be another week filled with questions about Trump’s loyalty.
“It’s bewildering, why the president would go back and call this a hoax,” veteran political analyst David Gergen said on CNN.
On any level it is astonishing to see a sitting president contradict his own administration this way. Intelligence agencies, congressional leaders, and outside experts have all assessed that Russia was responsible for a sweeping attack on the US election in 2016.
Trump has given lip service to this assessment, saying he accepts the intelligence community’s conclusions, while acting like he does not.
The repeated walk-backs have sowed confusion and left the press corps scrambling to keep up. What should journalists take more seriously: Words Trump reads from a script, or his out-of-the-blue musings on Twitter?
Most of the times when reporters have shouted questions to him in recent days, he has declined to answer. So he’s done most of his talking in tweet form.
He continues to claim regularly that the Robert Mueller investigation into Russian interference in 2016 is a “witch hunt.” Numerous Trump administration officials say it is not a “witch hunt.” They also say the Russian effort is ongoing.
But on Wednesday, Trump left people wondering if he believes the Russians are still actively interfering in American politics.
To be clear, Trump’s director of national intelligence Dan Coats says yes. Coats recently said it was “undeniable.”
But when ABC’s Cecilia Vega asked “Is Russia still targeting the US, Mr. President?” Trump responded “Thank you very much. No.”
Vega was one member of a small press pool that was allowed inside the beginning of a Cabinet meeting. When Trump said “no,” Vega followed up: “No, you don’t believe that to be the case?”
Trump was again heard saying “no.”
News outlets sent out breaking news alerts. But then Sanders claimed he was saying “no” to answering questions from the press corps.
This explanation made little sense because, after he told Vega “no,” Trump continued fielding questions from other reporters.
So there’s ample reason for journalists to try to ask again: “Is Russia still targeting the US?”
With regards to Trump’s treatment of Putin and Russia, national security experts and journalists have been citing the fact pattern and saying there’s something strange going on.
“No rational president would act this way if he weren’t being blackmailed on some level,” Republican congressman turned MSNBC host Joe Scarborough commented. Scarborough has been harshly critical of Trump for more than a year.
Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo, a liberal-leaning website, wrote that Helsinki “made cautious, prominent people start to come to grips with the reality” that Trump is “under some kind of influence or control by a foreign adversary.”
This story remains, at its heart, a mystery. The Trump-Putin meeting is still shrouded in secrecy. One way to solve a mystery is by asking the right questions until answers start to emerge.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLITICO)
House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy chastised Donald Trump for inviting Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington, saying Sunday that some members of the president’s administration should consider quitting if Trump won’t listen to their advice.
“The fact that we have to talk to you about Syria or other matters is very different from issuing an invitation,” Gowdy said on “Fox News Sunday” of the Putin invitation, which the White House confirmed last week would be extended for the fall. “Those should be reserved for, I think, our allies.”
The South Carolina Republican suggested that some members of the administration may need to consider leaving if Trump continues to disregard their advice to stand firm against Russia.
That concern has dominated discourse in Washington since Trump’s summit with Putin in Helsinki last week, at which he spoke more harshly of the FBI than of Russia.
“It can be proven beyond any evidentiary burden that Russia is not our friend and they tried to attack us in 2016,” Gowdy told host Bret Baier. “So the president either needs to rely on the people that he has chosen to advise him, or those advisers need to reevaluate whether or not they can serve in this administration. But the disconnect cannot continue.”
Political commentators and Democratic lawmakers said after Trump’s news conference with Putin — in which he refused to side with the U.S. intelligence community on the issue of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and said he held both countries responsible for tensions — that advisers including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and national security adviser John Bolton should quit their posts.
But Republican lawmakers have been more hesitant to call for such a response from the president’s team.
Earlier this weekend, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman penned an op-ed for a Utah newspaper in which he said he would not resign, saying he felt he is very much needed in the role. And Coats said during a Thursday interview with NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell that the question of resigning was “a place I don’t really go to publicly.”
“As long as I’m able to have the ability to seek the truth and speak the truth, I’m on board,” Coats said. After Trump indicated Monday that he did not believe Russia was responsible for hacking Democratic Party computers and other wrongdoing during the 2016 election, Coats defended American spies’ assessment that Moscow was to blame.
Gowdy struck a tone of admonishment Sunday on Trump’s refusal to side with the U.S. intelligence community — comments that the president later partially walked back.
“I’m glad he corrected it,” Gowdy said, “but when you’re the leader of the free world, every syllable matters.”
Still, Gowdy urged Trump to separate concerns about Russian interference from his frustration with the investigations into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
“I have not seen one scintilla of evidence that this president colluded, conspired, confederated with Russia,” he said. “And neither has anyone else, or you may rest assured Adam Schiff would have leaked it,” he said, referring to the Democratic congressman from California.
Congressional Democrats continued Sunday to be skeptical of the response of their Republican colleagues on the Russia issue.
“When it comes to defending the country, they’re not willing to follow through,” Schiff said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Others were just rather startled at the week’s whole turn of events.
“The fact that we have to question the integrity, the honesty and the loyalty of a commander in chief when it comes to dealing with Russia is a problem in and of itself,” said Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) on CNN‘s “State of the Union.”
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THINKPROGRESS’)
On Saturday night, the New York Times published a report detailing the public disclosure of more than 400 pages of heavily redacted documents related to a FISA warrant filed in 2016 against Carter Page, an advisor for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Page has been a key focus of the intelligence community’s investigation into Russian interference from the very beginning. And as Saturday’s disclosure reveals, the FBI presented enough probable cause suggesting Page had been recruited by Russian officials that four separate Republican-appointed judges authorized still-undisclosed surveillance measures targeting Page.
Oddly, both Donald Trump and Carter Page tried to spin Saturday’s disclosure as some kind of victory. Several members of the far-right fringe in Congress — led by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) — lied to the public several months ago via a memo that falsely asserted the FBI sought the warrant on the sole basis of the infamous Steele dossier, a Republican-conceived memo written by a former British intelligence officer containing several salacious rumors about Donald Trump.
As Democrats and the FBI later disclosed — and as Saturday’s release makes clear — the dossier was far from the only evidence provided to the FISA court, and its inclusion contained a lengthy caveat noting the politicized nature and unsubstantiated claims contained within the document. Incidentally, several of the allegations contained in the dossier have since been verified. On Sunday, CNN’s Jake Tapper invited Page to respond to Saturday’s revelations, and it took exactly one question for him to trip over the facts of the case.
“The document accuses you of being an ‘agent of a foreign power.’ Were you?,” asked Tapper.
“Jake, this is so ridiculous, it’s just beyond words,” said Page. “You know, it’s — you’re talking about misleading the courts. It’s just so misleading, going through those 400-plus page documents, where do we even begin? It’s literally a complete joke, and it only continues. It’s just really sad.”
Tapper, who was still waiting for Page to answer his question, tried again. “Were you ever an agent of a foreign power? Did you ever advise the Kremlin or work with the Kremlin on anything?”
After more stammering, Page finally got around to a “no,” before immediately admitting that he had, in fact, served as an advisor to the Kremlin and met several times with Russian officials during multiple trips to Russia over a period of years leading up to and including 2016.
Page went on to claim that the courts were misled by the FBI, alleging the agency knowingly relied on incorrect or incomplete information in seeking their warrant. He offered no basis for those allegations however, and the documents released on Saturday in fact make it clear that the FBI was very forthright about the sourcing of its information.
Of course, that didn’t stop Donald Trump from leveling the same false allegation. He tweeted about the release of the FISA documents early Sunday, lying about law enforcement agencies “misleading” the FISA court.
Because the FISA documents were heavily redacted, there isn’t very much new information the public learned on Saturday. One thing was made very clear though: the Trump administration and their extremist allies in Congress have been lying to the public for months.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE)
Here’s what I hope Robert Mueller will conclude when he is done investigating Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign: The president is innocent of criminal wrongdoing. He did not know of or approve contacts with Russians to influence the election. His interactions with FBI Director James Comey and other Justice Departmentofficials never rose to the level of obstructing justice.
But it would require an extraordinary faith in Trump’s character and a stubborn disregard for his behavior to expect that outcome. If there is one inference to be drawn from everything he has done with respect to the investigation and the Russian government, it’s that he suffers from a powerful consciousness of guilt.
The latest came in a tweet expressing bitter regret that he didn’t choose someone other than Jeff Sessions for attorney general — because Sessions recused himself and therefore can’t send Mueller packing. Trump doesn’t want a fair and impartial investigation; he wants no investigation.
He insists over and over that there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russians. But we already have evidence there was — in the form of guilty pleas by Trump aides Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos for lying to the FBI about their contacts with Russians.
We have evidence in the 2016 meeting hosted by son Donald Jr. and attended by son-in-law Jared Kushner with a Russian lawyer who had promised information from the Kremlin incriminating Hillary Clinton. Meeting secretly with Russians in hopes of cooperating for mutual benefit is collusion, whether illegal or not.
This week, we got confirmation that the statement Donald Jr. issued — claiming the meeting was primarily about adoption issues — was dictated by his father. When The Washington Post reported that last year, the White House denied the story. In a memo to Mueller obtained by The New York Times, however, Trump’s lawyers admitted it was true.
Yet he has insisted that “nobody’s found any collusion at any level.” The assertion is not only false; it’s flagrantly, obviously false.
Over and over, Trump has resorted to complaints, attacks and deceptions. He fired Comey ostensibly because of how the director mishandled the investigation of Clinton. But Trump went on to say repeatedly that he did it because of the Russia probe. Recently, though, he tweeted, “I never fired James Comey because of Russia!” Lying is generally not a manifestation of innocence.
His shifting position on being interviewed under oath by Mueller likewise betrays him. When the question first was posed, Trump declared himself “100 percent” willing. Or maybe it’s zero percent. In January, his lawyers sent a letter to Mueller rejecting the idea.
“Your office clearly lacks the requisite need to personally interview the President,” they told him. “Having him testify demeans the Office of the President before the world.” One of his lawyers, Rudy Giuliani, added another reason for this reluctance, expressing concern that Mueller might “trap him into perjury.”
But someone who tells the truth is in no danger of committing perjury. What Trump might be in danger of is admitting to crimes that could lead to his indictment or impeachment.
Giuliani, however, has not ruled out that Trump, if subpoenaed, might invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself. (Trump in 2016: “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”) Nor has Giuliani ruled out refusing to submit to a subpoena.
If that weren’t enough to indicate the president has a large pile of things to hide, Trump now claims the power to grant himself a full pardon. But a pardon would be necessary only if he is guilty of specific crimes.
It’s impossible to exaggerate his lawyers’ claims about his impunity. They say a president may not be indicted. Giuliani said Trump could not be indicted even “if he shot James Comey.”
The president can’t obstruct justice, his team insists, because the president has complete power over federal law enforcement. Anything he does in that realm is therefore legal.
Maybe his pattern of chutzpah and untruth is just the essence of his toxic character, which bubbles over no matter what. But more likely, the conduct of Trump and his attorneys reflects their knowledge that he is guilty of serious offenses and their fear that he will be exposed and punished. He looks like someone terrified of going to prison.
Even congressional Republicans say he won’t do anything so foolish as to fire Mueller or pardon himself. But desperate men do desperate things.
Steve Chapman, a member of the Tribune Editorial Board, blogs at www.chicagotribune.com/chapman.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF VOX NEWS)
Healthy Living: Mind, Body, Spirit, and Soul
Thoughts and memories of a young English woman who fell in love and went to live in Algeria
Exploring the world one bite at a time
BE-ing your most joyful, naturally healthy, whole, balanced, and vibrant YOU!
Pequeñas dosis a base de concentrado de palabra. Frases, poesía, microcuentos y otros escritos.
Life as an Ambulatory Equine Veterinarian