Tag Archives: obstruction of justice

Putin and his puppets are ‘sowing discord and confusion that destabilizes our system’ of democracy

While Americans were enjoying a long weekend Christmas holiday, the Washington Post did some important reporting on Russia’s ongoing cyber war against the United States that few people probably saw.

The hard reporting is a lengthy investigative report, Kremlin trolls burned across the Internet as Washington debated options. You really should read this report for background and context.

Michael Morell, former deputy director and twice acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2010 to 2013, and Mike Rogers, a Republican congressman from Michigan who served in the House from 2001 to 2015 and was chairman of the Intelligence Committee from 2010 to 2015, write in an op-ed at the Post, Russia never stopped its cyberattacks on the United States:

[T]he United States has failed to establish deterrence in the aftermath of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. We know we failed because Russia continues to aggressively employ the most significant aspect of its 2016 tool kit: the use of social media as a platform to disseminate propaganda designed to weaken our nation.

There is a perception among the media and general public that Russia ended its social-media operations following last year’s election and that we need worry only about future elections. But that perception is wrong. Russia’s information operations in the United States continued after the election and they continue to this day.

This should alarm everyone — Republicans, Democrats and independents alike. Foreign governments, overtly or covertly, should not be allowed to play with our democracy.

Russia’s information operations tactics since the election are more numerous than can be listed here. But to get a sense of the breadth of Russian activity, consider the messaging spread by Kremlin-oriented accounts on Twitter, which cybersecurity and disinformation experts have tracked as part of the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy.

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Sen. Mark Warner warns of the plot against Special Counsel Robert Mueller

This week, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate to warn of threats to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and to highlight the constitutional crisis that would likely ensue if the President were to interfere in the Mueller probe.

In recent weeks, a growing chorus of irresponsible voices in Congress, the conservative media entertainment complex, and the White House have begun pushing a coordinated narrative designed to undermine the credibility of the Special Counsel’s investigation, the FBI, and of the Department of Justice itself. Sen. Warner responded to these “troubling” signs that the President may be considering firing Mr. Mueller or top FBI/DOJ brass, pardoning potential witnesses, or otherwise obstructing the Special Counsel’s investigation.

Watch the video.

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Transcript of prepared remarks:

Mr. President –

I rise today concerned about threats to the Special Counsel’s critical investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Over the last several weeks, a growing chorus of irresponsible and reckless voices have called for President Trump to shut down Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation. At first, these calls came from the fringes of our political discourse – those who would refuse to put our country and our security before base political instincts. Earlier this year, many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle were right to push back on those misdirected calls and urge that the Special Counsel be allowed to do his job without interference.

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The latest GOPropaganda ‘stunt’ to smear the Special Counsel’s investigation

Last week, Mike Allen of Axios.com reported a Scoop: Mueller obtains “tens of thousands” of Trump transition emails:

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has obtained “many tens of thousands” of Trump transition emails, including emails of Jared Kushner, transition team sources tell Axios.

  • Trump officials discovered Mueller had the emails when his prosecutors used them as the basis for questions to witnesses, the sources said.
  • The emails include 12 accounts, one of which contains about 7,000 emails, the sources said.
  • The accounts include the team’s political leadership and the foreign-policy team, the sources said.

Why it matters: The transition emails are said to include sensitive exchanges on matters that include potential appointments, gossip about the views of particular senators involved in the confirmation process, speculation about vulnerabilities of Trump nominees, strategizing about press statements, and policy planning on everything from war to taxes.

  • “Mueller is using the emails to confirm things, and get new leads,” a transition source told me.

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Donald Trump channels the spirit of Richard Nixon

Donald J. Trump is channeling the spirit of Richard M. Nixon, who told David Frost in an April 1977 interview that “If the President does it, that means it’s not illegal.”

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Or perhaps Trump is going back to the original source and is channeling the spirit of Louis XIV of France, an adherent of the concept of the divine right of kings, which advocates the divine origin of monarchical rule, who believed in the theory of absolute monarchy and consciously fostered the myth of himself as the Sun King, the source of light for all of his people. During Louis XIV’s reign, his main goal was “One king, one law, one faith.” “I am the State.”

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President Trump’s bumbling lawyer John Dowd gave this exclusive interview to Mike Allen of Axios.com. Exclusive: Trump lawyer claims the “President cannot obstruct justice”:

John Dowd, President Trump’s outside lawyer, outlined to me a new and highly controversial defense/theory in the Russia probe: A president cannot be guilty of obstruction of justice.

The “President cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case,” Dowd claims.

Dowd says he drafted this weekend’s Trump tweet that many thought strengthened the case for obstruction: The tweet suggested Trump knew Flynn had lied to the FBI when he was fired, raising new questions about the later firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Dowd: “The tweet did not admit obstruction. That is an ignorant and arrogant assertion.”

Why it matters: Trump’s legal team is clearly setting the stage to say the president cannot be charged with any of the core crimes discussed in the Russia probe: collusion and obstruction. Presumably, you wouldn’t preemptively make these arguments unless you felt there was a chance charges are coming.

Americans rejected the divine right of kings and absolute monarchy when we told George III of England to “go stuff it up your ass” with the American Revolution. The source of power is “WE the people” in a democratic republic. Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution requires the President to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” And if he fails to do so, Article 1, Section 2, Clause 5, provides for the impeachment of the president. The hallmark of American jurisprudence is that “No man is above the law.”

The first article of impeachment against both Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton were for obstruction of justice. The articles of impeachment against Andrew Johnson alleged high crimes and misdemeanors that today might be construed as obstruction of justice.

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Latest developments in the Trump-Putin campaign investigation

With each new revelation, Donald Trump and his campaign move the goalposts in the Russia investigation. At first there was the flat denial that anyone in the campaign had contacts with the Russians. Then the campaign had to concede, OK there were contacts with the Russians, but we did not discuss collusion. Then it was revealed that the Trump campaign did attempt to collude with the Russians to “get dirt” on Hillary Clinton, but the campaign was unsuccessful in obtaining that information, so “we’re good.”

Trump and his apologists appear to be unaware of “inchoate” crimes—attempts, conspiracy, and solicitation—actions that fall short of the final act of commission, but may still be a prosecutable crime.

George Papadapolous has already plead guilty for lying to the FBI about his multiple contacts with the Russians to “get dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Papadapolous reported on his activities to several senior Trump campaign officials: his supervisor Sam Clovis, then campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, subsequent campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates, and foreign policy adviser Walid Phares. Who’s who in the George Papadopoulos court documents (there are additional persons not identified).

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Obstruction of justice in plain sight

The Washington Post recently editorialized, Trump pulls another stunt of cynical distraction:

The party in power is demanding the investigation and possible prosecution of its defeated political rival on trumped-up claims of wrongdoing. This is what happens in banana republics, not the world’s greatest democracy. Even if this is just a strategy to divert attention, it is unbecoming of the leaders of a rule-of-law state and a disservice to their oaths.

The authoritarian wannabe autocrat Donald Trump has gone full banana republic in the past few days, pressuring his Attorney General and the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute his “defeated political rival on trumped-up claims of wrongdoing” or, once again, he is threatening to fire Jeff Sessions for not using his office to pursue his political rivals. Trump breaches boundaries by saying DOJ should be ‘going after’ Democrats:

President Trump on Friday repeatedly called on the Department of Justice and FBI to investigate his Democratic political opponents, a breach of the traditional executive branch boundaries designed to prevent the criminal justice system from becoming politicized.

Trump urged federal law enforcement to “do what is right and proper” by launching criminal probes of former presidential rival Hillary Clinton and her party — a surprising use of his bully pulpit considering he acknowledged a day earlier that presidents are not supposed to intervene in such decisions.

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