Tag Archives: Foreign Policy

Sessions testimony: ‘a master class in dissembling’

During the testimony of our Confederate Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III yesterday before the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday there was this entertaining exchange:

SEN. WYDEN: The question is, Mr. Comey said there were matters with respect to the recusal that were problematic and he couldn’t talk about them. What are they?

SESSIONS: Why don’t you tell me! There are none, Senator Wyden. There are none. I can tell you that for absolute certainty. This is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me, and I don’t appreciate it. I try to give my best and truthful answers to any committee I’ve appeared before, and it’s really — people are suggesting through innuendo that I have been not honest about matters, and I’ve tried to be honest.

I half expected Sessions to go all Zell Miller on Sen. Wyden: “I do declare that you have impuned my honor, sir. I demand satisfaction. I challenge you to a duel.

And it was not innuendo, it was signal intelligence of Russian communications. Comey’s Hint at Jeff Sessions-Russia Problem Was Alleged Secret Meeting at Mayflower Hotel: classified intelligence suggested an undisclosed meeting between Sessions and the Russian ambassador to the U.S. in April 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington.

Sessions followed the script set by Lt. Col. Oliver North in the Iran-Contra scandal asserting “I do not recall” more times than I could keep count (this is how a witness can avoid perjury charges). And what he did know, he refused to answer citing some ethereal executive privilege in the future that president Trump might assert, someday,  but had not asserted before his testimony.

This is becoming a thing with Trump administration officials.

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Right-wing media lays the groundwork for firing Robert Mueller

One of President Trump’s lawyers on Sunday would not rule out that the special counsel overseeing the Russia criminal investigation could get fired. President Trump lawyer won’t rule out Special Counsel Robert Mueller getting fired:

On ABC News’ “This Week,” attorney Jay Sekulow evaded a direct question about whether Trump would promise not to interfere with the probe run by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

“Look, the President of the United States, as we all know, is a unitary executive,” Sekulow said.

“But the President is going to seek the advice of his counsel and inside the government as well as outside. And I’m not going to speculate on what he will or will not do.”

He added, “I can’t imagine that that issue is going to arise. But that again is an issue that the President with his advisers would discuss if there was a basis.”

Unitary executive“? We’ve heard this phrase before. The unitary executive theory “asserts that all executive authority must be in the President’s hands, without exception.” Presidential power “must be unilateral, and unchecked.” The phrase “unitary executive” is a code word for a doctrine that favors nearly unlimited executive power, from the twisted mind of Dick Cheney.

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Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to testify on Tuesday

Programming Note: Our Confederate Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III will testify in open hearing Tuesday before Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions will testify in an open hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, according to the committee’s leaders.

The hearing will be held Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Former FBI Director James Comey testified last week that the bureau had information about Sessions — before he recused himself from overseeing the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election — that would have made it “problematic” for him to be involved in the probe. The former director did not elaborate in public on the nature of the information.

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said Sessions requested that the committee hearing be public.

“He believes it is important for the American people to hear the truth directly from him and looks forward to answering the committee’s questions tomorrow,” Flores said.

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Support for James Comey’s version of the story

Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in an interview with ABC’s This Week that Trump’s alleged effort to dissuade then-FBI director James Comey from pursuing an investigation into former national security director Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russia merited an inquiry.

I think there’s absolutely evidence to begin a case,” Bharara told This Week host George Stephanopoulos, adding: “I think it’s very important for all sorts of armchair speculators in the law to be clear that no one knows right now whether there is a provable case of obstruction.”

“It’s also true I think from based on what I see as a third party and out of government that there’s no basis to say there’s no obstruction,” he said.

More importantly, Preet Bharara says he was similarly pressured by Donald Trump as former FBI Director James Comey testified under oath. Former U.S. Atty. Preet Bharara says Trump fired him after a series of ‘uncomfortable’ calls:

Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney for Manhattan, told an interviewer Sunday that he was fired after a series of  “uncomfortable” telephone calls that made him feel that President Trump might be trying to compromise his independence as a federal prosecutor.

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Robert Mueller is assembling a ‘dream team’ of prosecutors

For those Tea-Publicans who have abandoned all reason for blind loyalty to the authoritarian personality cult of Donald J. Trump, and who have convinced themselves that their Dear Leader is either a naife who is innocent of any and all wrongdoing, or is above the law, I would suggest you consider the legal team that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is putting together for his investigation. If there is “nothing to see here,” as Trump apologists delusionally assert, Mueller would not be assembling a “dream team” of heavy-hitter prosecutors. He clearly believes that he is sitting on something “yuuuge.”

Politico reports, Everything we know about the Mueller probe so far:

Special counsel Robert Mueller is assembling a prosecution team with decades of experience going after everything from Watergate to the Mafia to Enron as he digs in for a lengthy probe into possible collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

His first appointments — tapping longtime law-firm partner James Quarles and Andrew Weissmann, the head of the Justice Department’s criminal fraud unit — were the opening moves in a politically red-hot criminal case that has upended the opening months of the Trump White House.

* * *

Mueller brings a wealth of national security experience from his time leading the FBI in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Veteran prosecutors say he has assembled a potent team whose members have backgrounds handling cases involving politicians, mobsters and others — and who know how to work potential witnesses if it helps them land bigger fish.

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Quick Takes on James Comey Testimony (updated)

> Steve Vladeck, professor of law at the University of Texas School of Law, co-editor-in-chief of Just Security and co-host of the National Security Law Podcast: “A few hours after former FBI director James B. Comey finished testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, President Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, suggested that Comey had violated the law. By causing memos about conversations between Trump and Comey to become public, Comey had committed an “unauthorized disclosure of privileged information,” Kasowitz claimed.” Trump’s lawyer says Comey violated executive privilege. He’s wrong. “On a day characterized by hubris remarkable even for Washington, the blatant wrongheadedness of this “privilege” claim still stands out. In fact, executive privilege almost certainly does not cover the Comey memo. And even if it did, disclosing it without authorization isn’t illegal.”

> Matt Zapotosky, Washington Post: Comey’s sharing of notes about Trump doesn’t make him a criminal, analysts say: Prosecutors who bring charges against people for sharing information with the public can do so only when classified or other national security material is at issue. Material cannot be classified to conceal legal violations or prevent embarrassment, according to an executive order from President Barack Obama. Telling a reporter nonclassified information of public interest is not only legal, but it’s often the right thing to do.

> Phillip Bump, Washington Post:There’s no indication Comey violated the law. Trump may be about to. By threatening James Comey, Trump’s lawyer may be violating whistleblower retaliation rules.

> Norman Eisen, chief White House ethics lawyer for President Barack Obama, and a co-founder and the chairman of CREW, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington; and Noah Bookbinder, executive director of CREW and a former federal corruption prosecutor. Comey’s Case for Obstruction of Justice: “Mr. Comey’s sworn statement and answers before the Senate Select Intelligence Committee now provide strong evidence that President Trump committed obstruction of justice.” “But strong initial evidence is not the same as a slam-dunk case, and Mr. Comey’s testimony also made clear how far we have to go before the question is definitively resolved.”

> Phillip Allen Locavara, served as counsel to Watergate special prosecutors Archibald Cox and Leon Jaworski: I helped prosecute Watergate. Comey’s statement is sufficient evidence for an obstruction of justice case. “Comey’s statement lays out a case against the president that consists of a tidy pattern, beginning with the demand for loyalty, the threat to terminate Comey’s job, the repeated requests to turn off the investigation into Flynn and the final infliction of career punishment for failing to succumb to the president’s requests, all followed by the president’s own concession about his motive. Any experienced prosecutor would see these facts as establishing a prima facie case of obstruction of justice.”
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