My latest at Real Clear Politics (link here)
Here’s a synopsis:
My latest at Real Clear Politics (link here)
Here’s a synopsis:
Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple
◆ Roy Moore abandoned by national Republicans as more women accuse him
Comment: With such a thin margin in the Senate, Republicans need the Alabama seat to pass legislation (not that they have done so, yet), but individual office holders cannot afford to back him. And they are absolutely right, ethically, to back away from this sleazebag.
Unfortunately for Republicans, Moore owes them nothing, so they have no leverage to force him out of the race.
Trump and his Press Secretary will have to answer the question, an awkward prospect.
A write-in candidacy might win, but it’s a long shot.
The New York Sun notes the precedent of the Adam Clayton Powell case, where the House refused to seat the long-time congressman in 1966 because of corruption. He took the case to the Supreme Court and won. In other words, Congress can remove people from office after giving them hearings but cannot refuse to seat them.
That would mean immediate and nasty hearings to unseat Moore, with the prospect of further public humiliation. When he contemplates that, he might decide to back out. If he does, the Governor would probably postpone the election–over strenuous Democratic objections and lawsuits.
◆ AG Sessions testifies before Congress on Russia, Clintons, Roy Moore (New York Times)
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, showed selective recall on the Trump campaign’s Russia contacts.
Mr. Sessions said he had “no reason to doubt these women” who have accused the man who wants his old Senate seat, Roy S. Moore, of seeking sexual or romantic favors from them as teenagers. –New York Times
Comment: There seems to be enough smoke here to warrant a serious investigation. If so, then it should be conducted by a Special Counsel, not the DOJ for several reasons. The most important, by far, is this:
Any investigation of political opponents by law enforcement carries the heavy burden of perceived unfairness. Supporters of the opposing party (or candidate) will fear that the state’s power to investigate and punish is being used to crush opposition. That should never happen in a democracy. Even if the investigation is fair, it must be perceived as fair.
While Sessions and other political appointees could–and would–say that the task has been delegated to “career professionals,” they would have to sign off on any recommendations to charge. Again, their opponents could not be confident the process was fair and impartial.
Bottom line: Appoint a Special Counsel to investigate Uranium One, the Clinton Foundation, and the botched FBI investigation of the Clinton email server, including James Comey and Loretta Lynch’s roles.
◆ My Hunch: Yes, he will. And the ramifications will be huge
I’m betting Trump orders Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to ax special counsel Bob Mueller.
Trump’s reason—not that he needs one—will be the friendship between Mueller and Trump’s fired FBI chief, Jim Comey.
Trump could get that ball rolling, but then, I predict, shortly after the 2018 midterms, we’ll be calling Mike Pence, “Mr. President.”
◆ MY ADVICE:
If I were advising Trump, which would be about as likely as my advising Rahm Emanuel, I’d tell him, “Stick with the special counsel you’re stuck with.”
◆ MY ADVICE:
Give up this charge that the friendship between Mueller and Comey represents a “conflict of interest,” especially given that one of your closest cronies (think Newt Gingrich] couldn’t praise Mueller, a 12-year veteran of the top FBI job under both W. Bush and Obama, enough when Rod Rosenstein made the appointment last month. (See The Hill’s article on Trump allies attacking the Mueller-Comey relationship (link here).)
That high praise was bestowed, of course, before leaks seemed to reveal that Mueller’s probe had morphed from Russian collusion to, reportedly, investigating Trump personally for obstruction of justice over his allegedly pressuring Comey to drop an investigation into former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn. Not only that, but rumors are also swirling that Mueller is looking at Trump’s financial dealings and those of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
◆ Robert S. Mueller III (“”Bobby Three Sticks” to his friends) is close to heading home at the close of a distinguished career.
Among other honors, Mueller, 72, is a decorated Marine for service in Vietnam.
Mueller is not going to allow a personal friendship with Trump’s (and Hillary’s) enemy #1, Jim Comey, to sully his reputation.
One could argue that the fact that Mueller and Comey are friends will make Mueller more careful about charging Trump with obstruction of justice, etc. in the absence of a rock-solid case.
One could also argue that Mueller should have declined the appointment. The Hill this morning quotes a “Justice Department statute that says recusal is necessary when there is the `appearance’ of a `personal’ conflict of interest.”
Looking for a way this afternoon to postpone the pain of transcribing an interview tape from last week, I started to search narrowly whether Mueller had ever expressed his affection for Comey.
It took a matter of seconds to find this quote from Mueller in a Washington Post story dated August 23, 2013. (link here). The context is Mueller reflecting on the bittersweetness of leaving the FBI and turning over the job to Comey. Mueller called Comey a “`good friend,’ an `excellent choice’ and a `superb prosecutor.’”
◆ Mueller’s affection for Comey should have been no surprise to anyone who follows Washington politics. Yet Gingrich tweeted that Mueller was “a superb choice…His reputation is impeccable for honesty and integrity. Media should now calm down.”
Did anyone on Trump’s press team research the relationship?
In 2004, the two men—Mueller then FBI chief and Comey deputy attorney general– survived the kind of experience—a civilian version of combat–that cements friendships.
◆ Comey, who I think would have been better suited for a career on the stage than in law enforcement–ran up the stairs of the George Washington University Medical Center, to prevent George W. Bush’s attorney general, John Ashcroft, incapacitated after emergency surgery, from signing a reauthorization of a surveillance program. Mueller, also on the scene, backed Comey, then serving as acting attorney general in the wake of Ashcroft’s surgery, in calling the program illegal.
More important, Mueller assisted Comey in getting to Ashcroft’s bedside by ordering Ashcroft’s FBI agents to let Comey through. The two men, working together, thus succeeded in preventing Ashcroft from signing a document, thrust before him by W’s White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, and his chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., that would have reauthorized a program of warrantless domestic eavesdropping.
◆ MY FINAL ADVICE:
Again, if I were advising Trump, I’d tell him to keep his head down, his mouth shut and get on with the business of leading the country, so voters will care if Trump is forced from office because of what he has described, via tweet, of course, as a “WITCH HUNT.”
Carol Felsenthal is much-published author. Besides a long list of magazine credits, she has written a number of acclaimed biographies:
She is also a contributing writer for Chicago Magazine and the political blogger for their website, Chicagomag.com.
She has taught biographical writing at the University of Chicago and written profiles of everyone from Ann Landers to Michelle Obama.