Jeff Sessions and the Resignation Letter

Was Sessions fired or did he resign? 

Ok, he’s out.  Some are calling it a firing, others characterize Sessions departure as a resignation.  There is a resignation letter, so it is a resignation.  But, the first line says that he is resigning at the president’s request.    Sessions didn’t want to go.  He was greatly enjoying his final chance to serve the country.    See link below for Sessions’ letter.

The letter has no date on it.    A lot of speculation as to when it was written,  but most likely in September 2018,  when it now appeared Trump was going to fire Rod Rosenstein.

Sessions says in this letter that  the Department  “embraced” Donald Trump’s directive to be a strong law and order department, and then goes into the  many accomplishments of the Department.    It is an incredible defense of the work of the Justice Department.  And it is all about the good work of the Department itself, not himself.  If there is a bit of flattery, it is to Trump.  It is the best justification of why Sessions should not have been fired.

Sessions wasn’t protecting the Mueller investigation from interference by Trump.   After Jeff Session’s recused himself from the investigation,  that job landed to Deputy AG  Rob Rosenstein.  Sessions recused himself because he was part of the Trump campaign and participated in a meeting at the Trump tower in June 2016 where a Russian agent was present.   Sessions has testified over and over again, that he had never participated in any collusion with Russian agents, and nothing has every linked him to the scandal.  So, I believe him.   The recusal  meant  Bob Mueller had the liberty to investigate anyone associated with the Trump campaign, including Sessions.

Now, the Attorney General is Matt Whitaker and regarded generally as a Trump loyalist.   He can do tremendous damage to the Mueller investigation, if he wants   He can also recuse himself from the investigation and put Rosenstein back in charge.  This would immediately take the pressure he’ll be getting from Congress, but Trump could always fire him and Rosenstein.

What happens to Rosenstein, the man that knows too much?   Inside the Justice Department, he will no longer be overseeing the Mueller investigation.   Inside the Department, he would be bound by the Department rules, including not revealing anything he knows.  So, Trump may keep him there.   I don’t see him writing the kind of letter, that Sessions gave the President.

The Russian investigation is the hot potato.     Anyone touching it will inevitably draw the ire of Trump.   The irony is Sessions never touched the Russian investigation.  I don’t believe his recusal was ever the problem.   It was his honesty that got between him and Trump.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Jeff Session’s Resignation Letter

Trump’s “They”

 

“I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad, when you look at what’s going on there. I think it’s a very sad day for our country,”  Donald Trump’s statement.   He went on to say, “He happens to be a very good person. And I think it’s very sad what they’ve done to Paul Manafort.”

Paul Manafort is accused of more than lying.  He is on trial for tax evasion, which is stealing from the federal government.   Millions of Americans each year, obey the law and report their income and assets.   Paul Manafort did not.  He cheated the government for years. He is also charged with bank fraud.  He made fraudulent claims when applying for loans.   A short list of the charges against Manafort is provided at the bottom of the page.

The “they” refers to Special Counsel Mueller’s team.   The “they” works within the US Department of Justice with many FBI agents.  Lady justice wears a blindfold, because justice is applied equally, regardless of other characteristics such as  race, political views, or wealth.  If convicted, this is a clear demonstration that the Mueller team is not conducting a witch hunt.    Manafort may be found innocent on some of the charges because the charges were not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

It’s would be a sad day for the country, when people who are ripping off our country are not convicted.  They are ripping off every honest tax payer.     It would be an extremely sad and troubling day, if Trump decides to pardon Manafort.

Catching criminals and convicting them in a fair trial,  makes our country great.   In other countries, you can buy your way our of a conviction.   The “they”  (DOJ and FBI) are doing their jobs.   I would feel just the same, if a Democrat or Republican was on trial.

But, you can bet Trump would be jumping for joy if the person being charged had any connection to Hillary Clinton.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Wikipedia: Paul Manafort

Charges:

The “counts” are usually because Manafort is accused of the same violation over multiple years.

Subscribing to false income tax returns
Number of counts: 5
Maximum prison sentence per count: 3 years

In an indictment unveiled in February against Manafort and his former business partner, Rick Gates, the special counsel laid out what it described as a years-long “tax scheme” intended to lower Manafort’s tax bills by hiding his income from U.S. authorities.

Manafort worked for years in the 2000s as a consultant for former Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych’s pro-Russian Party of Regions. The tens of millions of dollars he earned for this work were put in foreign accounts, and Manafort used that money to fund a lavish lifestyle primarily through international wire transfers, Mueller alleges.

Manafort is accused of failing to report this income on his income tax returns, and falsely claiming he had no authority over those foreign accounts.

Failing to file foreign bank account reports
Number of counts: 4
Maximum prison sentence per count: 5 years

From 2011 to 2014, Manafort allegedly failed to file foreign bank account reports, known as FBARs, with the Treasury Department to disclose his control over his overseas accounts.

Bank fraud and bank fraud conspiracy
Number of counts: 4 counts of bank fraud; 5 counts of bank fraud conspiracy
Maximum prison sentence per count: 30 years

Peter Strzok – You’re it

I notice that when people have some trash to get rid of, they tend to dump it somewhere where there is already a lot of trash.  I think Mr. Jeffries got it right:

“There is a criminal investigation into the Trump campaign and possible crimes related to the 2016 presidential election involving collusion with Russian spies to sell out our democracy and hijack the presidency,” said Representative Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York. “My colleagues in the cover-up caucus don’t like that criminal investigation, and therefore, they need to identify a villain. Mr. Strzok, tag, you’re it.”

There about 1,000 summaries of the hearing on the internet, but I still like Mr. Jeffries the best.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

More Trump’s attacks on the FBI

I’m calling them Trump lies.   As President, he can call up the Justice Department, and ask the Attorney General if this allegation is true.   Instead he prefers Fox News.

The New York Times calls this a “distortions of the truth.”    Here is Trump’s tweet on Friday:

“Reports are there was indeed at least one FBI representative implanted, for political purposes, into my campaign for president,” he tweeted Friday. “It took place very early on, and long before the phony Russia Hoax became a ‘hot’ Fake News story. If true — all time biggest political scandal!”

The big problem are “reports” and  “implanted”     Of course, Trump is saying, “I’m not making this up”  however these are not Justice Department nor FBI reports.  It is just something he heard,  on Fox News.   A commentator is not a news reporter, particularly true on Fox News.  Welcome to the echo chamber, from Hannity’s mouth, to  a flurry of tweets from Trump and then back to Fox News.  Ping pong garbage.

A marketing principle: “You can not turn a lie into the truth by telling it a thousand times.  But the lie will seem credible enough to the public, after they hear it a thousand times to be believed as the truth.”    A second rule is “Never concede you are wrong.”

The New York Times and the Washington Post has been very cautious in their reporting.   This is how the Washington Post presented the story:

In mid-July 2016, a retired American professor approached an adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign at a symposium about the White House race held at a British university.

The professor took the opportunity to strike up a conversation with Carter Page, whom Trump had named a few months earlier as a foreign policy adviser.

But the professor was more than an academic interested in American politics — he was a longtime U.S. intelligence source. And, at some point in 2016, he began working as a secret informant for the FBI as it investigated Russia’s interference in the campaign, according to people familiar with his activities.

There is no evidence that there was a paid FBI spy within the Trump campaign.   This is a lie, and very regrettable that President Trump finds it necessary to attack the FBI in this manner.  When Russia agents are making contacts either abroad or  in the US, with the objective of interfering with the US elections, then this is likely a crime.  The duty of the FBI is to find out who the Russian agents are working for, and their US counterparts.  If this requires striking up a conversation with campaign advisers, this is just good law investigation  tactics.

However, as pointed out on CNN, this reporting was based on leaked information to the New York Times and Washington Post.  They know who this individual is but have refused to disclose it.  I hope it stays this way, at least until Mueller’s investigation is finished.  As reported today in the New York Times,  Trump’s congressional allies are demanding full disclosure of the informant, in an attempt to “investigate the investigation” and disrupt or discredit the investigation.   And as collateral damage, weaken the public’s general confidence in the FBI.

According to the New York Times:

“Law enforcement officials have refused (hand over documents on the informant),   saying it would imperil both the source’s anonymity and safety. “

It would also open the door to more  unprecedented congressional inquiries, and interference of the judicial process  in the name of “oversight.”  The only basis for wrongdoing is Trump’s tweets based on Fox News – that’s how screwy things have become.

Robert Mueller is conducting a serious criminal investigation with the help of the FBI.  He runs a tight ship, with the only information surfacing in the media is from Trump’s personal lawyers or through court filings.

The FBI investigation had its first big break in May 2016 when George Papadopoulos, who  like Carter Page, was a foreign policy adviser,  talked to Australia’s ambassador in London, about obtaining political dirt on Hillary Clinton including Clinton’s hacked emails, to help influence our elections in favor of Trump.    Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.

The adage “the best defense is an offense” seems to be Trump’s strategy.    Trump and Mike Hannity (Fox News)  are trying their best to create an alternative reality, where conspiracy theories and deep state nonsense can thrive.   This is shameful.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Client-Attorney Privilege/ Alan Dershowitz

It is very common knowledge that the FBI raided Michael Cohen’s office to seize information relevant to the Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniel’s cases.   Michael Cohen is Trump’s personal lawyer.

There’s been so much commentary on the raid, that it seems hardly worth adding to it.  However, the one person who doesn’t seem terrible angry is Michael Cohen, as follows:

Two days after FBI agents raided his home and office—reportedly seeking documents related to hush payments made to women with whom President Trump allegedly had an affair, among other information—the president’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen had this to say: “I just want my stuff back.” That comment, made to ABC News, was Cohen’s first remark since telling CNN on Tuesday that the raiding federal agents were “extremely professional, courteous and respectful,” contradicting the president’s claim that agents “broke into” his lawyer’s office.

I stated before that it seemed everything was done by the book.  The Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, signed off on the search warrant.  He is a Trump appointee.  There were multiple checks on this search warrant.   Michael Cohen is under investigation for bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance contributions.

The items seized from Michael Cohen are with the “taint team” to determine if what information is relevant under the scope of the search.  It is another safeguard to protect the rights of Michael Cohen, against unreasonable searches.

Alan Dershowitz, the very well known defense attorney and former Harvard professor, doesn’t see it this way.  He obviously doesn’t believe there are enough checks in the system, to allow a search and still protect the legitimate privacy of an attorney’s records outside of what is criminal evidence.  An article appearing in The Hill,  is provided in the links.  He has appeared on Fox News network, with the same opinion.  Others, particularly on CNN and MSNBC,  have voiced far more confidence in the judicial system and believe prosecutors will respect the rights of Mr. Cohen.  I am particularly concerned, when Alan Dershowitz states that FBI raids should be limited to only “major crimes”  which he then states this isn’t one of them.   What will remain in the hands of judges, is the evidence that was used to support the search warrant, so Dershowitz, like the rest of us, is completely in the dark.

We have First Amendment rights of free speech.   This is the protection for individuals, who espouse very unpopular opinions including radicals on the far right and left of the political spectrum.   It  protects  gay rights activist and  atheist organizations.   When high powered attorneys  seek to intimidate people to give up their rights in exchange for money,  I think this is worthy of an investigation.   It is particularly egregious if the Daniel’s contract was invalid and payments were violations of campaign finance laws.   The Supreme Court allows massive donations to be given to political parties, to monopolize the air waves during campaigns.  The courts can not condone campaign violations which also silence dissent during a campaign.

To ignore potential violations of law helps create new rights for the wealthy and powerful class, a form of immunity from the law.  Donald Trump felt that he could have his lawyer fix  his indiscretions through physical harm and hush money to gain the silence of others, leaving him in the clear.    This was done to help his campaign for president, running on a campaign who claimed (until today) that his opponent was crooked.   The First Amendment is needed for small people or people who work for small organizations.

Dershowitz further states that the raid will make people afraid to seek legal advice.  I seriously doubt it.   A good lawyer will be sure to take steps to ensure confidentiality by having a client sign a contract to represent them in a specific matter.   The problem Trump has, is that he wanted Cohen to fix everything, and leave him in the clear.   It likely made Cohen a partner in crime.

Dershowitz goes on, to state this highly intrusive manner of collecting evidence, was done for political reasons.  Again, this seems contrary to facts as there were reviews of this warrant in the Justice Department and the Southern District of New York.  If a similar raid were conducted on Hillary Clinton’s office, it would have to go through the same court system.  I would support this as well.

I believe Michael Cohen subdued reaction is because he knows the FBI has a mountain of incriminating evidence against him.   The role of Trump’s fixer came to an abrupt end, and now the fixer has some real negotiating to do with authorities instead of Trump’s occasional indiscretions.

The late night comedians, such as Stephen Colbert and John Oliver, are having a tremendous amount of fun over the irony in all of this.   Trump appointed an Attorney General, who has been as tough as nails on illegal immigration, drug use and against sentencing reforms.   Yet, Trump is steadfastly trying to make himself an exception to the heightened law and order approach of the Justice Department.

Trump is saying in essence, “Go after criminals, but stay away from my campaign officials and their contacts.”

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

http://thehill.com/opinion/judiciary/382459-dershowitz-targeting-trumps-lawyer-should-worry-us-all

Wikipedia:  Jeff Sessions

Trump’s Malicious Lies

He has attacked FBI Director Comey as a leaker of classified information, the acting Director as  Andrew McCabe as corrupt,  the head of the Justice Department, Jeff Sessions and Rob Rosenstein of using poor judgment in the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.   His latest attacks have been against Robert Mueller,  accusing him of a unwarranted  investigation of the Russian meddling in the 2016 and ignoring the crimes of Hillary Clinton in dealing with the Russians.

Although the harshest attacks come from Trump himself on the actions of the Justice Department,  in other areas, Trump is touting the accomplishments of the Justice Department, particularly the war on drugs, and crack down on human trafficking and illegal immigration, without any mention of Jeff Sessions.

The head of the Justice Department and FBI can be fired at a moments notice without cause.  Director Jim Comey learned he had been fired from CNN news broadcast.  Andrew McCabe is no longer in the direct line of fire.   The new FBI Director, Christopher Wray began his job yesterday.   If he feels that Hillary Clinton broke the law during 2016, he is free to investigate this activity.  Investigations can be closed, then re-opened.

I did not include attacks on the Washington Post and the New York Times from their reporting.  I previously posted my reasons why the New York Times reporting should be trusted, and that the newspaper is thriving, not failing.

The most serious accusations are against Robert Mueller, because Trump will use this as a pretext to remove him.  Jeff Sessions is far from being weak. Here’s the headline from the front page of the New York Times, “Under Attack, Justice Dept. Pushes Ahead, Quietly Carrying Out Trump’s Agenda.”  It goes on how Jeff Sessions is at work by 6:15 am, and starts his day on a treadmill, and a bowl of instant oatmeal in the microwave.  He hand-washes the bowl.

So, what were the malicious lie told by Trump?  It is the uranium story.  All fact checkers I know (Snopes.com, Politifact.com and factcheck.org find the essential details in  Trump’s narrative are false.    Here it is (snopes.com):

Allegations of a “quid pro quo” deal giving Russia ownership of one-fifth of U.S. uranium deposits in exchange for $145 million in donations to the Clinton Foundation are unsubstantiated.

No US uranium can be exported to Russia, not before the deal and not afterwards.  Russia may have an interest in US uranium mines, but Russia doesn’t get any uranium from the US.   The “quid pro quo” is simply a polite way of saying that Russia bought Hillary’s support, by slipping 145 million to the Clinton Foundation.    The whole story falls apart because the bulk of the  contributions were made in 2007, long before the buyout of Uranium One.

The whole uranium story should have fallen apart long ago because the timeline is all wrong.  The Snopes article states:

Of the $145 million allegedly contributed to the Clinton Foundation by Uranium One investors, the lion’s share — $131.3 million — came from a single donor, Frank Giustra, the company’s founder. But Giustra sold off his entire stake in the company in 2007, three years before the Russia deal and at least 18 months before Clinton became secretary of state.

Nobody is above the law.  Hillary Clinton, her staff and the Clinton Foundation must play by the rules.   I particularly like the way Snopes concluded the piece:

An enormous volume of interest and speculation surrounds the workings of the Clinton Foundation, which is to be expected. Given the enormous sums of money it controls and the fact that it is run by a former U.S. president who is married to a possible future U.S. president, the foundation deserves all the scrutiny it gets, and more.

At the same time, for the sake of accuracy it’s crucial to differentiate between partisan accusations and what we actually know about it — however little that may be.

This was published in October 2016, as Trump was storming the country with “Crooked Hillary” narratives.  Now the attacks have turned to Robert Mueller, as enemy number one.   He is directed to investigate Russian interference into the 2016 election, so he really can’t extend his investigation to a contribution received in 2007 by  Guistra  to the Clinton Foundation as payoff for a decision after he no longer had a stake in the company.   Whole narrative is really flaky.

I was very glad that no pardon was given to Hillary Clinton nor anyone in the White House or Clinton’s foundation before Obama’s departure.

Trump is trashing everyone who isn’t in the White House.  At least, isn’t currently in the White House. The heat is definitely on as Robert Mueller has convened a grand jury to examine criminal activities associated with Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

The latest Quinnipiac Polls show that most Americans do not trust Trump.  I wonder why?

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Fact check:  West Virginia Rally  (much more fiction than fact

Snopes.com  Russian to Judgment

(note the Brietbart connection, with Clinton Cash book in 2015)

West Virginia Rally- Trump: Politifact.com West Virginia Rally

The special counsel “should be looking at the … uranium (Hillary Clinton) sold that’s now in the hands of very angry Russians.”

Politifact on Uranium story

New York Times, 2015 article on the buyout transaction. 

 

 

 

Republican Posturing on the Mueller Investigation

You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history – led by some very bad and conflicted people! #MAGA,” Trump tweeted last Thursday.

I don’t subscribe to Twitter.   I hope this is the last time I have to refer to anyone’s tweets.

Republican’s are posturing on questions about  Robert Mueller’s investigation.  Is it going to be impartial?  Is Trump going to be vindicated?

I believe the responses from Republicans follow  these approaches:  (1) Duck the question entirely,  (2) Call it a witch hunt or rigged investigation,  as if Democrats had wormed their way into Jeff Session’s Justice Department  or (3) State that the process must continue, it will be thorough and fair, and will vindicate  Trump.

First, how to duck the question. It is easy to  state,   “I’m not going there”, or “It’s far too early.”  Then add how special counsel in the past, such as Ken Starr’s investigation of Bill Clinton, seemed to never end.

A variation on the first approach is to bring in a boat load of accusations made against Hillary Clinton,  and state that if an investigation is needed, it is of all the wrong doing by her.    Of course, Jeff Sessions can investigate Hillary Clinton or anyone he wants to.

The second way, the full frontal assault (Newt Gingrich approach) and  slam Mueller for hiring biased staff.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich believes special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is a “rigged game” because most of Mueller’s lawyers have donated to Democrats. On Tuesday, Gingrich criticized Mueller for not having pro-Trump attorneys on his team and addressed reports that three members of Mueller’s team have donated to Democrats. One lawyer even defended the Clinton Foundation. “He apparently couldn’t find a single pro-Trump attorney to hire, and I just think that’s a rigged game, and I think that it’s a mistake to pretend this is going to be some neutral investigation,” Gingrich said on CBS This Morning. “I don’t give the benefit of the doubt to somebody who could only hire Democrats but claims we ought to trust him.”

This claim of bias is obviously weak as observers say that Mueller is staffing up with an all star group of lawyers.     He knows Washington, and this is a super high stakes investigation.

The final approach is championed by Marco Rubio,  who I believe still has presidential aspirations.   Marco stated the following,  just after the Trump Cuban-American love fest for Fidel haters:

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Sunday defended special counsel Robert Mueller’s “stellar” reputation and ability to “conduct a full and fair and thorough investigation” on possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

“I believe he is going to conduct a full and fair and thorough investigation that we should have confidence in,” Rubio told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“I’ll continue to believe that based on his reputation and years of service to our country unless there’s any evidence to the contrary,” Rubio said.

Rubio’s comments contradict recent efforts by President Trump’s legal team to attack Mueller’s integrity as special counsel. The team is raising concerns that Mueller’s prior relationship with former FBI Director James Comey is a conflict in his ability to lead the investigation.

Trump’s legal team has left open the possibility Trump will fire Mueller as well.

Rubio also stated that he felt in the end, Trump would be cleared of any wrong doing.

Republicans can decide whether to go with Newt’s attack on Robert Mueller’s staff, or Rubio’s faith in the system.

During all this, the Democrats are probably best to say as little as possible.  They wanted an independent investigation, and they got one.  Beyond this, they should just keep their mouth shut about the ultimate outcome.  They should not respond to Trump’s persistent tweets.   If you are winning, don’t gloat.

It is exactly in line with Rubio, to just let the facts speak for themselves.

Stay tuned,

Dave