The Washington Post today has an exclusive report about how our always insecure egomaniacal Twitter-troll-in-chief is leaving the U.S. vulnerable to continuing cyber war attacks from Russia because he does not want to believe the intelligence that Russia engaged in a cyber war against the U.S. in the 2016 election. Doubting the intelligence, Trump pursues Putin and leaves a Russian threat unchecked:
The result is without obvious parallel in U.S. history, a situation in which the personal insecurities of the president — and his refusal to accept what even many in his administration regard as objective reality — have impaired the government’s response to a national security threat. The repercussions radiate across the government.
Rather than search for ways to deter Kremlin attacks or safeguard U.S. elections, Trump has waged his own campaign to discredit the case that Russia poses any threat and he has resisted or attempted to roll back efforts to hold Moscow to account.
His administration has moved to undo at least some of the sanctions the previous administration imposed on Russia for its election interference, exploring the return of two Russian compounds in the United States that President Barack Obama had seized — the measure that had most galled Moscow. Months later, when Congress moved to impose additional penalties on Moscow, Trump opposed the measures fiercely.
Trump has never convened a Cabinet-level meeting on Russian interference or what to do about it, administration officials said.
This is the equivalent of ordering the U.S. military and intelligence agencies to “stand down” and to do nothing in response to the cyber war that is being waged against this country by Russia. This is not just appeasement, but it makes Trump a collaborator with Vladimir Putin in his war against the U.S. (like Vichy France). Some would dare call it treason.
Trump is supported in his appeasement of Russia and collaboration with Putin by the conservative media entertainment complex, in particular FAUX news which has morphed into Trump TV, where Sean Hannity has appointed himself chief propaganda minister for Trump. For months now, Trump TV has been trying to undermine the credibility of congressional investigations and the special counsel’s investigation into the Russian cyber war against the U.S. during the 2016 election and any cooperation and collusion (conspiracy) with the Trump campaign.
Trump is also supported in his appeasement of Russia and collaboration with Putin by Tea-Publican members of Congress who, taking their marching orders from the Trump White House and their talking points from the propagandists at Trump TV, are also trying to undermine the credibility of congressional investigations and the special counsel’s investigation into the Russian cyber war against the U.S. during the 2016 election and any cooperation and collusion (conspiracy) with the Trump campaign. The GOP has emerged as Putin’s fifth column in America.
Heather Digby Parton at Salon lays out in detail how the Republicans try to destroy Mueller inquiry: Will it work? (excerpt):
Robert Mueller’s investigation is getting close to the president and his family now. And as I wrote earlier this week, the Republicans are fighting back. They are not only calling for Mueller to resign over the bogus Uranium One scandal and for palling around with James Comey, they are demanding more investigations into Hillary Clinton’s emails and calling the FBI itself corrupt and downright treasonous.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, a Trump ally, said on talk radio this week that Mueller was staging a coup d’état and “we’ve got to stop the coup before it becomes successful and these yahoos throw us into a civil war.” Donald Trump Jr.’s legal team is calling for an investigation into Reps. Adam Schiff, Jackie Speier and Eric Swalwell, California Democrats and members of the House Intelligence Committee, for alleged leaks to the media.
Everyone in the Congress and the right-wing media is rending their garments over FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok, who worked on the all-important Clinton email case and the Russia investigation. He was dismissed by Mueller last summer when the latter found out that Strzok had privately texted his prosecutor girlfriend that Trump was an “idiot” and a “douche,” among other perfectly reasonable observations.
The New York Times reported last night that the texts showed concerns about Trump winning, which was also perfectly reasonable if you happened to be working on a case in which it became clear that a presidential candidate had extremely suspicious ties to the Russian government. The Times points out that these texts were found during the current investigation by the Department of Justice’s inspector general into, yes, the Clinton email investigation and the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia.
It’s unprecedented for the DOJ to release documents such as this before an investigation is finished, but everyone assumes that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is doing a solid for his president by getting it out there. It’s only a matter of time before someone asks for an investigation to look into the Strzok matter as well, although — despite Trump loyalists’ hysterical assertions to the contrary — FBI agents are allowed to have political views. Indeed, most of them are conservative Republicans.
Finally, Axios has reported that Trump’s lawyer, Jay Sekulow, read a Fox News article which said that a senior Justice Department official named Bruce Ohr, “demoted last week for concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump ‘dossier’ had even closer ties to Fusion GPS, the firm responsible for the incendiary document, than have been disclosed.” Ohr’s wife apparently worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 election, and Sekulow now wants Jeff Sessions to appoint a different special prosecutor to investigate Mueller’s investigation over possible conflicts of interest. There are so many investigations and calls for investigations that they’re all chasing each others tails.
We know the point of all this: Create as much smoke as possible to obscure what’s really happening, which is that the Mueller investigation is coming closer to the president. Trump’s allies in the media and the Congress are trying to discredit Mueller and potentially lay the groundwork for his firing and a series of presidential pardons, if it comes to that.
Trump and his allies attack any independent institution that challenges the president’s power, whether it be the political opposition, the media, the courts and now the Department of Justice. This is dangerous business. It’s not just that the president’s team exerts executive prerogatives. They use every tool at their disposal (and create new ones out of whole cloth) to degrade and discredit any threat to Donald Trump’s dominance.
That’s the mark of an authoritarian leader, and it’s not how things normally work in the American system. We have all these competing centers of power, which are often in opposition but generally depend on a respect for each other’s roles and a sense of responsibility to preserve the integrity of the system. The president is not adhering to those norms. The press is trying to keep the pressure on, but the other independent institutions have not yet been fully put to the test. It’s only a matter of time before they are. We have no idea if they will meet the challenge.
Which brings us to the disgusting display put on by Tea-Publicans on the House Judiciary Committee this week in oversight hearings on the Department of Justice. Justice Dept. Official Defends Mueller as Republicans Try to Discredit Him:
Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein adamantly defended the character and impartiality of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, as he came head-to-head on Wednesday with an increasingly aggressive campaign by Republicans to discredit the inquiry.
The Republicans’ [conspiracy theory] effort received a fresh jolt from the release one night earlier of text messages exchanged last year between an F.B.I. agent, Peter Strzok, and an F.B.I. lawyer, Lisa Page, describing the possibility of an election victory by President Trump as “terrifying” and saying that Hillary Clinton “just has to win.” Mr. Mueller removed Mr. Strzok from the Russia investigation as soon as he learned of the texts, a step that Mr. Rosenstein praised.
Nonetheless, Republicans used the messages as fodder to attack the impartiality of Mr. Mueller during an appearance by Mr. Rosenstein before the House Judiciary Committee.
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[T]he swelling campaign to undermine Mr. Mueller’s investigation, which has dominated conservative media for days, appeared to have little effect on Mr. Rosenstein, who oversees Mr. Mueller. Mr. Rosenstein said he would only fire Mr. Mueller if he had cause under Justice Department regulations — and he said nothing that has happened so far met that standard.
Instead, Mr. Rosenstein mounted a step-by-step defense of Mr. Mueller’s conduct. He noted that department rules prevented Mr. Mueller from taking political affiliation into consideration when hiring for career positions, and he distinguished between officials holding political views and making investigative decisions out of bias. He said Mr. Mueller would be careful not to allow the latter.
“We recognize we have employees with political opinions. And it’s our responsibility to make sure those opinions do not influence their actions,” Mr. Rosenstein said after Representative Steve Chabot, Republican of Ohio, read out the names of members of Mr. Mueller’s team and political contributions they had made to Democratic causes.
“I believe that Director Mueller understands that, and he is running that office appropriately,” Mr. Rosenstein added.
Asked by Representative Bob Goodlatte, the Virginia Republican who chairs the committee, why he remained satisfied with Mr. Mueller, Mr. Rosenstein replied:
“Based upon what I know, I believe Director Mueller is appropriately remaining in his scope and conducting himself appropriately, and in the event there is any credible allegation of misconduct by anybody on his staff, that he is taking appropriate action.”
Mr. Rosenstein’s stance signaled that despite the mounting assault on Mr. Mueller by Mr. Trump’s supporters, the fundamental dynamic surrounding the special counsel had not changed: If Mr. Trump were to try to fire Mr. Mueller based on any developments so far, the president would likely first have to fire or force the resignation of Mr. Rosenstein and then hunt for a replacement willing to carry out his orders, echoing Richard Nixon’s so-called Saturday Night Massacre during the Watergate scandal.
Idiot Tea-Publicans “repeatedly pressed Mr. Rosenstein to appoint a second special counsel to investigate political partisanship in the department in its handling of the Trump-Russia investigation or in last year’s decision not to charge Mrs. Clinton with a crime over her use of a private email server while secretary of state — an idea that has been promoted heavily by commentators on FAUX News (aka Trump TV) and elsewhere in recent days.”
Mr. Rosenstein said he could not appoint another special counsel without a credible allegation of a potential crime to investigate.
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Republicans see further evidence of bias in an email sent by Andrew Weissmann, one of Mr. Mueller’s top deputies, in January telling the acting attorney general, Sally Q. Yates, that he was “so proud and in awe” of her decision not to defend Mr. Trump’s travel ban in court.
Democrats say the pattern is becoming clear: As Mr. Mueller moves closer to Mr. Trump’s inner circle, Republicans try to discredit federal law enforcement and undercut the eventual findings of the special counsel. The Republican effort may also be intended to blunt the political repercussions should Mr. Mueller be fired, Democrats say.
Representative Jerrold Nadler, the Judiciary Committee’s senior Democrat, called the new Republican demands “wildly dangerous” to American institutions.
“I understand the instinct to want to give cover to the president,” he said. “I am fearful that the majority’s effort to turn the tables on the special counsel will get louder and more frantic as the walls continue to close in around the president.”
The New York Times editorialized the other day Fox News v. Robert Mueller:
If only we could dismiss Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Laura Ingraham and the other well-paid propagandists at Fox News as though they were harmless drunks at the end of the bar, ticking off their conspiracy theories to anyone who will listen. Unfortunately, the guy sitting on the next stool is the president of the United States, and he’s all ears.
President Trump watches cable news for four to eight hours a day, according to a report in The Times last weekend. Mr. Trump has disputed that number, but not the fact that his TV diet consists overwhelmingly of Fox’s sycophants, who have now gathered around one insistent message aimed at their No. 1 fan: Fire Robert Mueller now.
That would be a tremendous mistake, one that ought to alarm any true liberal or conservative. It would strike at the very idea that no American is above the law.
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To put it mildly, this is insane. The primary purpose of Mr. Mueller’s investigation is not to take down Mr. Trump. It’s to protect America’s national security and the integrity of its elections by determining whether a presidential campaign conspired with a foreign adversary to influence the 2016 election — a proposition that grows more plausible every day.
If the president’s supporters are upset about how close that investigation is getting to the Oval Office, they should ask not whether any F.B.I. investigator has ever held an opinion about politics, but rather why Mr. Trump chose as his closest advisers people with a tendency to talk to Russian officials and then fail to tell the truth, again and again, about the nature of those communications.
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When the propagandists say, “Get rid of Mueller,” it’s not the truth they’re trying to protect; it’s Mr. Trump himself. Any genuine interest in objective reality left the building a while ago, replaced by a self-sustaining fantasyland.
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None of these attacks or insinuations are grounded in good faith. The anti-Mueller brigade cares not a whit about possible bias in the Justice Department or the F.B.I. It simply wants the investigation shut down out of a fear of what it might reveal. But if your man is really innocent, what’s the worry?
The Washington Post editorializes today, Republicans are worried about the integrity of Mueller’s team. That’s overblown.
Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III began his investigation of Russian election interference to bipartisan praise. Both Democrats and Republicans lauded the former FBI director as the ideal candidate to conduct a politically tricky investigation with rigor and honesty. Yet as Mr. Mueller’s probe has continued, allies of President Trump have turned to attacking a man whose integrity and credibility they had previously considered unimpeachable. There is no basis for their criticisms.
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Neither Andrew Weissmann’s nor Peter Strzok’s activities should cast doubt on Mr. Mueller’s investigation. Federal agents and prosecutors are not forbidden from holding political beliefs or giving campaign donations. The measure of their integrity is whether those beliefs infect their work, and there is no evidence that happened in either Mr. Strzok’s or Mr. Weissmann’s case.
Mr. Mueller’s decision to remove Mr. Strzok from his team after learning of the text messages should be heartening to those concerned for the investigation’s fairness. And Mr. Strzok’s conduct is already the subject of an ongoing internal probe into the Justice Department’s handling of the Clinton email investigation. When its work is complete, the Office of the Inspector General should release as much of its report as possible to give the public a full accounting of any misconduct. The inspector general and the Justice Department should also clarify the circumstances behind the department’s unusual public release of Mr. Strzok’s messages in the midst of an ongoing investigation.
Some supporters of Mr. Trump have returned to their calls to appoint a second special counsel to investigate Ms. Clinton or the Justice Department itself. But none have pointed to any factual basis for such an investigation, which would require a showing of a possible crime.
Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein gave a vote of confidence to the special counsel’s work before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, affirming Mr. Mueller’s integrity and clarifying that he has seen no reason to remove him from office. We are glad to see Mr. Rosenstein stand firm in support of the special counsel he appointed despite the onslaught of partisan attacks. In doing so, he is upholding no less than the rule of law.
While Tea-Publicans are attempting to undermine the Russia investigations, they have literally done NOTHING to secure our elections from cyber attacks in 2018 or to defend the U.S. against ongoing cyber war from Russia. This is appeasement.