Tag Archives: National Security

Team Trump to attack Justice Department investigators, explore pardons

As I posted yesterday, the Trump administration is seeking to discredit anyone in the chain of investigators investigating the Trump campaign and his financial connections to Russia in order to provide grist to the conservative media entertainment complex to wage a propaganda campaign against Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team of investigators, for the purpose of laying the groundwork for Trump’s eventual move to a “Saturday Night Massacre” and finding someone at the Justice Department to “Bork” (fire) Robert Mueller.

Trump is also working on a “get out of jail free” card by having his lawyers explore the parameters of his issuing a presidential pardon to his ne’er-do-well family of grifters and con men, and more importantly, to himself.

If Trump is as innocent as he claims, he would be cooperating with Congress and the Justice Department to resolve this matter as quickly as possible to clear his name. He would not be going to war with his own Department of Justice. Trump is plainly behaving as a man who has something to hide.

The Washington Post reports, Trump team seeks to control, block Mueller’s Russia investigation:

Some of President Trump’s lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president’s authority to grant pardons, according to people familiar with the effort.

Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves.

One adviser said the president has simply expressed a curiosity in understanding the reach of his pardoning authority, as well as the limits of Mueller’s investigation.

“This is not in the context of, ‘I can’t wait to pardon myself,’ ” a close adviser said.

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In Times interview, Trump foreshadows the Attorney General resigning and firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller

President Donald Trump gave a remarkable interview to the New York Times yesterday in which he signaled time bombs that will go off in the days and weeks ahead. Citing Recusal, Trump Says He Wouldn’t Have Hired Sessions:

President Trump said on Wednesday that he never would have appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions had he known Mr. Sessions would recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation that has dogged his presidency, calling the decision “very unfair to the president.”

In a remarkable public break with one of his earliest political supporters, Mr. Trump complained that Mr. Sessions’s decision ultimately led to the appointment of a special counsel that should not have happened. “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Mr. Trump said.

OK, two things. Sen. Sessions meetings with the Russian ambassador were not discovered and reported until after his Senate confirmation hearing, making him a potential fact witness and creating a potential conflict of interest which triggered his ethical obligation to recuse himself from the investigation. He could not have told Trump before he took the job that he would recuse himself under this timeline.

Second, Jeff Sessions serves at the pleasure of the president and has previously offered his resignation when the president expressed a lack of confidence in him. In an unprecedented move, Sessions now has been publicly undermined by the president who says he regrets hiring him. Session must resign, and he should do so today if he has any self-respect.

Actually there is a third point, Trump is expressing his view that he wanted an attorney general who would block and deflect any inquiries into his campaign’s coordination with the Russians, signaling that he believes the attorney general is loyal to him personally, and thus rejecting the independence of the Justice Department. See, Trump shows disdain for rule of law with new attacks on Sessions, Rosenstein, Mueller. Update, President Trump’s Contempt for the Rule of Law.

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Jared Kushner a ‘person of interest’ in the Russian digital operation

McClatchy News continues its investigative reporting into the Russian cyber war against the U.S. during the 2016 election. Previous post McClatchy News: Russia uses ‘bots’ and trolls for information war against U.S.

Today McClatchy News reports Trump-Russia investigators probe Jared Kushner-run digital operation:

Investigators at the House and Senate Intelligence committees and the Justice Department are examining whether the Trump campaign’s digital operation – overseen by Jared Kushner – helped guide Russia’s sophisticated voter targeting and fake news attacks on Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Congressional and Justice Department investigators are focusing on whether Trump’s campaign pointed Russian cyber operatives to certain voting jurisdictions in key states – areas where Trump’s digital team and Republican operatives were spotting unexpected weakness in voter support for Hillary Clinton, according to several people familiar with the parallel inquiries.

Also under scrutiny is the question of whether Trump associates or campaign aides had any role in assisting the Russians in publicly releasing thousands of emails, hacked from the accounts of top Democrats, at turning points in the presidential race, mainly through the London-based transparency web site WikiLeaks.

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Attempted collusion confirmed: ‘We are past the point of innocent explanations on Trump and Russia’

(Permanent musical accompaniment to this post, Whoomp! There It Is)

With the New York Times report Trump’s Son Met With Russian Lawyer After Being Promised Damaging Information on Clinton, we have the first direct public admission against interest that the Trump campaign attempted to collude with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer in an effort to obtain damaging information against Hillary Clinton.

The most interesting point of the Times story is that it is sourced to five advisors inside the White House, after Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner updated his national security clearance forms to reveal yet another meeting that he “forgot” to disclose on his initial form. The Sunday Afternoon of the Long Knives.

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Donald Trump Jr. has recanted his earlier denials about any such meetings, saying that he did agree to the meeting to see what dirt the Russians had on Clinton, but that they didn’t deliver anything useful–instead using it as a pretext to lobby for changes to the Magnitsky Act (sanctions against Russia). When the Kremlin Says ‘Adoptions,’ It Means ‘Sanctions’.

This was not just any Russian lawyer. As Martin Longman explains in detail at the Political Animal blog, Trump’s Inner Circle Met With No Ordinary Russian Lawyer. Natalia Veselnitskaya is the lawyer for the Russian mafia:

More than that, though, she should have been seen as an attorney for murderous Russian mobsters with high-level connections to the Russian Ministry of the Interior. Simple prudence should have prevented them [Trump campaign] from getting entangled with such a person, and not just for political reasons. The potential for blackmail or violence were too high to be acceptable to a rational person.

The New York Times followed up with a third installment in its Donny Jr. series on Monday evening. Trump Jr. Was Told in Email of Russian Effort to Aid Campaign:

Before arranging a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer he believed would offer him compromising information about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy, according to three people with knowledge of the email.

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You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a Russian in the Trump campaign

There were no note takers allowed at Donny and Vlad’s first date, with only the principals (Trump, Putin), their foreign ministers (Tillerson, Lavrov), and translators for each side present. The Trump-Putin Bromance Is Back On. So there is no official record or transcript of what was actually said in this meeting (well, maybe the Russians have a recording). Both men, known to be world-class liars, are free to claim whatever they want in an effort to spin their first date.

Our always insecure egomaniacal Twitter-troll-in-chief was so enamored with the man who engaged in a cyber war against the United States to hack our U.S. election for the purpose of making him president — “Oh Vlad, you bad boy! You really shouldn’t have! But thank you! It’s lovely” — that he says he wants to continue dating.  ‘Time to Move Forward’ on Russia, Trump Says, as Criticism Intensifies:

President Trump’s account of his lengthy and closely scrutinized closed-door meeting with Mr. Putin on the sidelines of theGroup of 20 summit meeting came in a series of Twitter posts the morning after he had returned from the gathering in Hamburg, Germany. They appeared to be an attempt to move beyond the controversy after Moscow characterized the election discussion as a meeting of minds rather than a showdown between the American president and his Russian counterpart.

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On Sunday, it appeared that Mr. Putin had to some degree succeeded in doing just that, after Mr. Trump’s refusal to answer questions about the encounter essentially ceded the narrative to Mr. Putin.

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Donny and Vlad’s first date did not go well — for America

Our always insecure egomaniacal Twitter-troll-in-chief started his day in Hamburg, Germany at the G20 Summit by tweeting this absurd claim that John Podesta and the DNC emails were the talk of the G20 leaders.

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John Podesta interrupted a cross-country trip to tweet a response giving the idea as much credence as it deserves:

Pulled in for a pit stop in E. Fairmont W. VA. to see that our whack job POTUS @realDonaldTrump is tweeting about me at the G20.

Get a grip man, the Russians committed a crime when they stole my emails to help get you elected President.

Maybe you might try to find a way to mention that to President Putin

BTW, I had nothing to do with the DNC

God only knows what you’ll be raving about on twitter by the time we get to Utah.

Dude, get your head in the game. You’re representing the US at the G20.

Podesta followed up his tweet with an op-ed at the Washington Post. Why is Trump tweeting about me when he should be doing his job?

This bit of insanity was followed by Trump’s long-anticipated first date with his man-crush Vladimir Putin and, well, let’s just say that his first date did not go well — for America.

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