Governor Greitens Indicted

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Governor Greitens, of Missouri, has been indicted on a felony invasion of privacy charge in Saint Louis. The Governor allegedly took a photo of his former hairstylist, with whom he was having an affair, while she was blindfolded. Additionally, he is alleged to have threatened to release the photo, if she were to speak of their affair. The photo portrayed the woman in at least partial nudity, and Greitens is said to have transferred it onto his computer. The relevant statutory language reads as follows:

1. A person commits the offense of invasion of privacy if he or she knowingly:
(1) Photographs, films, videotapes, produces, or otherwise creates an image of another person, without the person’s consent, while the person is in a state of full or partial nudity and is in a place where one would have a reasonable expectation of privacy . . . .

2. Invasion of privacy is a class A misdemeanor unless:
(1) A person who creates an image in violation of this section distributes the image to another or transmits the image in a manner that allows access to that image via computer . . . . Mo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 565.252 (West).

Greitens denies the allegations, and has indicated that he has no plans to resign.

57e41c2918bd5.image.jpgPhoto by Huy Mach, hmach@post-dispatch.com

Trump Claims Obama Acquiesced in Face of Russian Interference

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In response to the indictment of a group of Russians for meddling with the 2016 presidential election, Trump seems to have asked why Attorney General Jeff Sessions has not investigated the crimes of President Obama, because the meddling happened during the Obama administration, and “. . . . [he] [didn’t] do something about [it].” The allegation came in the form of a tweet, which read:

Question: If all of the Russian meddling took place during the Obama Administration, right up to January 20th, why aren’t they the subject of the investigation? Why didn’t Obama do something about the meddling? Why aren’t Dem crimes under investigation? Ask Jeff Sessions!

Trump’s question as to why Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General, is not investigating the Obama Administration and the the crimes of the Democrats, reads as an allegation of criminal conduct. The fact that he sandwiched Obama’s lack of action in the middle of his question further suggests that President Obama, by virtue of his inaction, is guilty of a crime. If that analysis is correct, the President is suggesting that acquiescence in the face of a complete conspiracy is criminal conduct. There is some argument to made here (though a very poor one). Section 3 of Title 18 of the United States Code says that “whoever, knowing that an offense against the United States has been committed, receives, relieves, comforts or assists the offender in order to hinder or prevent his apprehension, trial or punishment, is an accessory after the fact.” This crime, though arguably the most relevant to Trump’s allegation, is a very bad fit. One would have to believe that Obama, in not speaking out harshly enough against the Russian meddlers, relieved, comforted, or assisted them to prevent their prosecution. One might argue that if Obama were to impose no sanctions on Russia he may in some way be preventing its “punishment.” Still, that would be a very abstract argument, because if President Obama had decided not to sanction the Russians, there would be no punishment to prevent. This argument is still more outrageous, in light of the fact that Obama DID sanction Russia for election meddling in the last two years of his administration.

All that being said, I think it is far from accurate to suggest that a less-than-fierce reaction to Russian election interference could be considered criminal. However, if it could, Trump would have something far worse to fear than President Obama — President Trump himself has yet to impose the Russian sanctions passed by Congress last year. Despite all this analysis, I doubt Trump meant to make a serious accusation. Rather he continues to try and distract the American people by pointing fingers away from himself.

f63d3fa9e9b34571ca1b4b11f5a8598b.jpgJim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

 

A sound, if politically improbable, way to protect Mueller

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Readers of this site who don’t also take the New York Times should consider reading a Times Op-Ed by Neal Katyal and Ken Starr, linked here. It relates a little-remembered coda to Robert Bork’s decision to acquiesce in Richard Nixon’s order to fire Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.  Bork, to his immense credit, appointed a solid replacement for Cox in Leon Jaworski, and promulgated an internal DOJ regulation making it extremely difficult for the president to fire the new guy.  That regulation has long since lapsed, to be replaced by the less protective one under which Robert Mueller operates.  Nonetheless, something like it could be implemented without congressional action.

The key questions, however, are whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions would countenance such a regulation, and, even more centrally, whether Mr. Trump would squelch the idea.  The likelihood that either or both would allow it seems very small indeed. Still, unlike a lot of stuff that appears in the national press about the Mueller investigation, this is a reasonable proposal from two people with long experience at DOJ.

Mueller indicts some Russians … and the noose tightens

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By Frank Bowman

Yesterday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced that Robert Mueller’s team had obtained an indictment against thirteen Russian persons and three Russian firms charging them with a variety of crimes committed in the course of an integrated scheme by the Russian government to swing the 2016 presidential election to Mr. Trump.  I’m not going to discuss the details of the indictment here; they are well-covered elsewhere, including in the New York Times and Slate, and anyone who reads this blog will surely  have devoured the particulars.  For now, I’ll make only a couple of points:

  • This is an important development. It puts into the public realm the particulars of the long-reported conclusions of every U.S. intelligence agency that Russia meddled in the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf, and stamps those conclusions with the imprimatur of a federal grand jury.  Mr. Trump, who rarely lets facts constrain his private musings or public utterances, may keep doubting Russian interference.  But except in the more fever-haunted corners of the right-wing media, the fact of Russian meddling on Trump’s behalf now becomes impossible to deny.
  • Ardent Trump opponents will doubtless be disappointed that the indictment does not charge any affiliates of the Trump campaign with knowingly aiding Russians in their nefarious activities.  It does say that Trump campaign affiliates cooperated with Russians in various ways, but is careful to describe such persons as “unwitting individuals affiliated with the Trump campaign.” The key point here, as numerous commentators have observed, is that the particular activities specified in the indictment are of a sort that required concealing Russian involvement.
  • However, this indictment does not address the events most likely to have included knowing collusion with Russians by Trumpists, most notably the multiple efforts by high-level Trump campaign operatives, including Donald Trump, Jr., to obtain “dirt” on Hillary Clinton from Russians; Donald Trump Sr.’s public encouragement of Russian theft of Clinton e-mails; possible contacts between Trump operatives and Wikileaks (which in turn probably got dirt on Secretary Clinton from the Russians); etc.  And this indictment has nothing to say about the possibility that Russia may have secured compromising information about Mr. Trump, thus giving them the sort of leverage over him that would help explain their enthusiasm for his candidacy.
  • Accordingly, the claim by Trump spokesmen that this indictment clears Mr. Trump of “collusion” is nonsense.  All one can say is that this indictment does not address that issue.  Whether subsequent indictments will do so is an entirely different question.

The more intelligent among Mr. Trump’s defenders should be very worried by this indictment.  For these reasons:

  • By laying out in surgical detail a calculated foreign assault on American democracy, it shreds the notion that the Mueller investigation is a partisan “witch hunt.”  In light of the facts laid out in the indictment, the Trumpist effort to blame the whole investigation on a convoluted conspiracy between Democrats and Russians to manufacture the Christopher Steele dossier becomes facially absurd.  That’s not to say Trump allies won’t keep flogging Mr. Steele.  They surely will. But to anyone with even a hint of objectivity, the idea that the Mueller investigation is all about a “dodgy dossier” is now untenable.
  • The indictment makes plain that the Russians were not merely intervening against Hillary Clinton, but were working for Mr. Trump, uniquely among Republican candidates. Among the indictment’s nice details is the fact that the Russians campaign  disparaged not only Secretary Clinton, but also Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.  This fact gives rise to the obvious question — why Trump?  There are two possible answers, neither of them happy for Trump fans.  Either the Russians simply thought of Trump as the chaos candidate, a man whose ascendance would disrupt American democracy (a sadly prescient notion), or in a more sinister vein, they really do have something “on” Trump in the sense of possessing information about either his personal or business affairs that would render him amenable to Russian pressure.
  • This indictment makes it materially harder for Mr. Trump to fire Mueller and stop his investigation.  To fire Mueller now would halt an investigation into a demonstrated national security threat, something all but the most degraded congressional Republicans would find hard to swallow. Moreover, by choosing to personally announce the Mueller indictment, Deputy AG Rosenstein signaled that the Justice Department as an institution is standing behind Mueller’s work.  Rosenstein is saying, as plainly as if he put up a sign, “To get to Mueller, you have to take me out first.” What’s more, I read this as not merely a personal declaration, but as Rosenstein throwing down the gauntlet on behalf of career federal prosecutors unwilling to be cowed by the bluster of a president under suspicion.  This doesn’t mean Trump won’t go on a firing spree anyway.  But I think this indictment makes that less probable and makes the political cost of such a spasm much higher.
  • Which leads me to the last, and perhaps most critical point. Had Mr. Trump fired Mueller last week, he could (and would) have tried to excuse it as stepping in to stop a frivolous politically-motivated fraud. With this indictment, the Mueller investigation has irrefutably become a matter of protecting national security.  Should Mr. Trump shut the whole thing down now, that alone would, in my judgment constitute an impeachable offense and one that would resonate across party lines.  It would be bad enough for a president to fire a special counsel to protect his personal or political interests.  That would be impeachable behavior, to be sure, but Trump’s apologists could try to justify the firing as mere self-protection against the corrupt activities of evil Democrats and the nefarious “Deep State.”  But for Mr. Trump to shut Mueller down now would be to abrogate, openly and unapologetically, the president’s basic responsibility to protect the country and constitutional democracy itself from foreign enemies.  Even if the degraded specimens who now represent the Republican Party on the House Judiciary Committee were unwilling to move against Trump in such a case, a Democrat-controlled House would view the matter differently.  And I suspect, or at least hope, that a good number of honest Republicans would agree.

No, the Grand Jury Can’t Proceed Without Mueller (or at least some federal prosecutor)

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By Frank Bowman

As regular readers of this site are well aware, I deeply disapprove of Mr. Trump, his shameless enablers, and all their works.  And I’m entirely in favor of employing the legitimate tools of both law and politics to oppose Mr. Trump and to expose his criminal or impeachable conduct, if any.

But, at least for me, that doesn’t mean anything goes. Indeed, because the fundamental sin of Trumpism,  from which all its other evils flow, is disregard of legal rules and norms, Trump critics have a special responsibility not to bend the law or misrepresent what it permits.  This being so, I have too regularly found myself in the role of starchy maiden aunt prudishly reproving fellow Trump critics when they trot out yet another implausible interpretation of the law or the mechanics of criminal practice.

Earlier this week, I got after Professor Larry Tribe and co-authors for suggesting that Congressman Devin Nunes committed obstruction of justice by releasing the infamous memo.  And sadly, I’m back at it today.

In the February 14 edition of Politico, law professors David Yassky and Bennett Gershman contended that, even if special counsel Robert Mueller and all his team were fired, somehow the grand jury empanelled to investigate the Trump-Russia connection could continue the investigation, and even produce an indictment. For a half-a-hundred reasons, some legal and some practical, this could not happen.  In my own piece on Politico today, linked here, I explain why.

I hope, in future, to spend more time on what Trump opponents can do, and less on what they can’t.

Larry Tribe & Company Jump the Shark: Whatever Devin Nunes may be doing, it’s not obstruction of justice

By Frank Bowman

In this morning’s New York Times, eminent Harvard Law Professor Larry Tribe, joined by Norman Eisen, former ambassador and White House ethics adviser, and Caroline Fredrickson, president of the American Constitution Society, published an op-ed arguing that Congressman Devin Nunes may have committed the crime of obstruction of justice by coordinating with the White House to release the infamous MEMO that attacked the credibility of the infamous DOSSIER compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.

I yield to no one in my contempt for Congressman Nunes’s ridiculous memo, which I characterized as “a tragicomic face-plant. Likewise, I am heartsick at the coordinated efforts by Republican congressmen to undercut the Russia investigation and undermine the Justice Department. Nonetheless, while the behavior of Nunes and his unsavory congressional cohorts is tragic and deeply un-American, it’s not the crime of obstruction of justice. And labeling it as such is a sad mistake.

As I have discussed at length elsewhere, obstruction can be prosecuted under a number of statutes, the most likely being  18 United States Code, Section 1503 and 18 United States Code, Section 1512. A violation of Section 1503 occurs if a defendant “corruptly … endeavors to influence, intimidate, or impede any … officer in or of any court of the United States, or … corruptly… influences, obstructs, or impedes, or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede, the due administration of justice.” The last phrase is the so-called “omnibus clause” and has been construed quite broadly by federal courts. A violation of 18 United States Code, Section 1512(c) occurs if a defendant: “corruptly … obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so….”

The Tribe/Eisen/Fredrickson theory of obstruction runs thus: (1) “[T]he Nunes memo may be designed at least in part to provide the president an excuse for firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the individual with supervisory authority over Mr. Mueller, the special counsel in charge of the [Trump-Russia] investigation.” (2)  The objective of this “scheme” is to “clear a path to install a Trump-friendly replacement who would either fire Mr. Mueller or otherwise defang the investigation.” (3) Therefore, Nunes has obstructed justice.

Note that, even as stated, the object of the purported “scheme” is completely speculative. Tribe and company write that the memo “may be designed at least in part” to provide Trump an excuse to fire Rosenstein and then Mueller. Maybe. But it’s equally plausible that the memo is designed, not to enable Mueller’s removal, but to pre-emptively discredit his findings in the mind of the public, thus providing a political benefit both to Trump and to the political party whose fortunes are increasingly tied to his. The latter objective is slimy in the last degree, but it’s not criminal.

Moreover, even if Nunes is “scheming” with the White House to clear the way for Mueller’s removal, that is not obstruction of justice unless Nunes has a “corrupt” purpose. Tribe and company acknowledge this point, but glide right past it, making no effort to explain what Nunes’ corrupt purpose was or with what evidence it might be proven.  For them, it seems to be enough that Nunes’ has acted “at least in part” with the aim of getting Mueller fired.

As much as Trump opponents may want to think otherwise, opposition to Mueller and his investigation is not, in itself, immoral or illegal.  It is perfectly possible to conclude that no such investigation should be occurring, or that, if it must occur, someone else ought to be running it.  I disagree on both points, and I think that people who entertain these views are either cynical partisans or gravely, if honestly, mistaken.  But I don’t imagine that disapproving of Bob Mueller’s work is “corrupt.”

To prove that Nunes acted “corruptly” one would have to show that he believed that a “natural and probable effect” of his memo would be the firing of Robert Mueller, and that he believed firing Mueller would stop or impede the investigation Mueller heads, and that he believed Mueller’s investigation is not a “witch hunt,” but a legitimate inquiry into matters deserving of federal law enforcement attention. Some might argue that, as a matter of law, it doesn’t matter what Nunes believes about the legitimacy of the Mueller inquiry.  Technically that might be so.  But pragmatically, it makes all the difference in the world.

Imagine that a rogue U.S. Attorney began investigating the ACLU and the NAACP based on specious claims that they were treasonous communist front organizations in league with North Korea. One would hardly think of charging a congressman with obstruction of justice if the committee he chaired were to provide the White House and the public with information undercutting the credibility of the overzealous U.S. Attorney in hopes of getting him fired.

Finally, as Tribe and company concede, congressmen are protected by the speech or debate clause of Article I, Section 6, from prosecution for activity integral to legislative or oversight responsibilities.  The authors strive mightily to distinguish Nunes’ activities from those covered by the constitution, but their efforts are ultimately strained and unconvincing. After all, the memo was issued, not by the White House or by Devin Nunes in his personal capacity, but by the Republican members of a congressional committee chaired by Congressman Nunes.

But the big point here is that, regardless of the technicalities, no sane federal prosecutor would seriously consider indicting a United States congressman on these facts. It just would not happen.  And one has to assume that, as intelligent and sophisticated lawyers, Professor Tribe, Mr. Eisen, and Ms. Fredrickson know that.

That being so, it is hard to see what is accomplished by publishing such stuff. Sure, it feeds the hopeful fantasies of the many Americans who understandably despise Mr. Trump and his enablers.  But it’s not real.  It’s sloppy result-driven legal analysis untethered to any appreciation of real-world behavior in the criminal justice system.  It lends undeserved credence to Alan Dershowitz’s constant refrain that Trump opponents want to criminalize ordinary politics. It feeds into the broader right-wing narrative that liberal lawyers are mere anti-Trump propagandists incapable of dispassionate analysis.

And so, to Professor Tribe and friends I would say this: Lord knows I sympathize with your distaste for Mr. Trump.  And I, too, would like nothing more than to see the man out of the office he daily disgraces. But please stop trying to shoehorn every deplorable act of this concededly deplorable crew into a criminal statute.  It diminishes not only your credibility, but that of other legal critics of Mr. Trump and his minions.

More importantly, the problem with Nunes’s clumsy machinations is not that they constitute a technical violation of a federal criminal statute, but that they amount to an open and notorious assault on the integrity of the entire legal and national security apparatus of the United States.  That’s a “political” problem, in the broad sense of the term employed by Alexander Hamilton when he spoke in Federalist 65 about the political character of impeachable offenses. It is a cardinal error to jam Trumpist assaults on the norms of republican government into ill-fitting technical legal categories.  To do so both diminishes the seriousness of the mortal challenge Trumpism presents to American democracy and affords Trumpists a cheap defense — if their outrageous behavior proves not technically criminal, they can proclaim it entirely acceptable.

In the end, the criminal justice system may play a supporting role in solving the Trump problem, but that problem will only finally be solved by political means — convincing a sufficiently abundant majority of the American people to repudiate Mr. Trump and his allies at the ballot box. Only in that way will Mr. Trump be denied a second term, and only in that way will a congress be elected in 2018 that takes impeachment seriously.

 

 

Impeachment in the States: Missouri Governor Edition – Part 3 (The Picture)

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This site has previously discussed the Missouri law applicable to impeachment of governors and its application to the sex scandal swirling around Gov. Eric Greitens. We have previously noted that state officials are impeachable for virtually any misconduct violative of state law, including criminal misdemeanors.  We have observed that the offense Mr. Greitens seems most likely to have committed (if the publicly reported information proves accurate) is invasion of privacy, RSMo 565.252.

Mr. Greitens would be guilty of this crime if he took a picture, without the consent of the woman with whom he was having a sexual interlude, while she was fully or partially unclothed.  Mr. Greitens would be guilty of the more serious felony offense of tampering with physical evidence, RSMo 575.100, if he took such a picture and later, “Alter[ed], destroy[ed], suppresse[d] or conceal[ed the photo] with purpose to impair its verity, legibility or availability in any official proceeding or investigation.”

The question of whether such a picture was ever taken, and if so what happened to it, has become a running theme in Mr. Greitens’ interactions with his critics and with members of the press. Several days ago, for example, a reporter for the St. Louis Post Dispatch asked Mr. Greitens directly whether he had taken a photo of his former mistress.  Mr. Greitens declined to answer, claiming that he had answered questions about the matter before. However, Mr. Greitens has never denied taking such a picture, despite having had multiple opportunities to do so.  In his most extensive previous statement, Mr. Greitens said:

“This was a consensual relationship. There was no blackmail, there was no violence, there was no threat of violence, there was no threat of blackmail, there was no threat of using a photograph for blackmail. All of those things are false.”

Note that he denies “using a photograph for blackmail,” not taking a photograph in the first place.  It’s a curious circumlocution.  If no photograph was taken, why not say so plainly, and as Ephesians 6:14 puts it: “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place”?

Indeed, even if one’s belt of truth had of late come unbuckled, it would make sense to deny that a photograph was ever taken … unless, of course, there really was a photograph and one feared that evidence of its existence might surface.

It may prove that Mr. Greitens was simply inartful in his original statements about this matter, and is now simply being unwisely stubborn in his refusal to amplify on an undoubtedly painful subject.  Still, if Mr. Greitens neither took nor destroyed an incriminating photograph, he ought to say so in plain terms and put the matter to rest.  So long as he evades these questions, a cloud of suspicion rather larger than a man’s hand will hang over his office and unnecessarily complicate the state’s affairs.

Frank Bowman

AAG Rachel Brand Quits: Who’s Next?

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By Frank Bowman

Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, the number 3 official in the Justice Department, resigned today after barely nine months in office to take a position with Walmart. This matters because Ms. Brand would have been the next person in line if: (a) Mr. Trump ordered Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and (b) Rosenstein either refused and resigned or refused and was fired.  With Rosenstein gone, Ms. Brand would face the same unpalatable choice.  It would seem she does not want to be this generation’s Robert Bork.

For those not up on their Watergate history, Mr. Bork was the Solicitor General at the time President Nixon ordered the firing of Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox.  Nixon ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire Cox. Richardson refused and resigned in protest. Nixon then gave the same order to Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus, who also refused and resigned. Whereupon Nixon turned to Robert Bork, who fired Cox.

Although Bork was a brilliant lawyer and one of the leading intellectual lights of the budding conservative movement, he forever bore a Mark of Cain for the firing, particularly after it became clear that Nixon had indeed committed both crimes and impeachable offenses. When he was nominated for the Supreme Court by President Reagan, the nomination failed, partly because of fierce opposition to his criticism of many of the civil rights and criminal procedure precedents set by the Warren and Burger courts, but certainly also because of his role in the “Saturday Night Massacre.”

Ms. Brand’s departure raises several interesting questions:

First, who takes her place in the DOJ hierarchy?  Presumably someone will be named acting Associate Attorney General fairly quickly.  The AAG plays too large a role in administration of the Department for the job to remain vacant indefinitely.  One move the White House might try would be to appoint as acting AAG a Trump loyalist willing to do the dirty deed of immediately firing Mueller. Such a person would have to know that doing so would surely prevent confirmation into the job on a permanent basis, and if rational, would also realize that acting as Trump’s henchman would permanently ostracize him or her from the federal law enforcement community. I doubt there are many such creatures in the middle and upper reaches of the Justice Department.

There is also the possibility that Mr. Trump could insert a political hitman from the outside into the acting AAG position. That is highly unlikely, but not impossible.  Under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, an acting replacement for a position requiring senate confirmation (which Associate Attorney General does) must either (1) already occupy an advice and consent position (i.e., a position for which he or she was nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate), or (2) be an employee of the same agency for at least 90 days prior to appointment and have a salary equal to a GS-15 (the highest grade of ordinary civil service rank).  This means that an acting replacement for Ms. Brand from outside DOJ would already have to occupy a Senate-confirmed position in some other agency, or be inserted into the Department as a regular employee with the appropriate pay grade 90 days before becoming Acting AAG.

The first option expands the pool of possible acting replacements for Brand from Main Justice political appointees and confirmed U.S. Attorneys to anyone holding an advice and consent position anywhere in the government.  The second move would be awkward and transparently obvious, and would take three months to arrange.

Second, so long as the AAG slot remains empty, or the acting AAG refuses to fire Mueller, the next person in line is, once again, the Solicitor General, currently Noel Francisco. I know nothing whatever about Mr. Francisco, other than that he has a distinguished resume as an appellate practitioner.  It seems hard to imagine that he would relish becoming this generation’s Robert Bork.  The lessons of Watergate for a man in his position are pretty stark. But one never knows.

For a more detailed look at the line of succession after Solicitor General Francisco, see Professor Jed Shugerman’s blog.

The larger message of the Brand departure, and for that matter of the ongoing turmoil at the White House caused by the resignation of staff secretary Rob Porter (and a few hours ago speechwriter David Sorensen) over domestic abuse allegations, is that few quality people are willing to accept high office in the Trump Administration, and those of any integrity, or merely a sense of professional self-preservation, tend to leave fast.  One senses that both the reluctance to join the Trump parade and the disposition to leave it are increasing.

The problem for the country is that the federal government is increasingly either unstaffed at senior levels or in the hands of sycophants and second-raters. Sadly, many, perhaps most, of Mr. Trump’s loyal base either don’t know this or have been so indoctrinated by years of right-wing anti-government propaganda that they believe the accelerating deconstruction of the national government is a positive good.

In many ways, the denouement of the Mueller probe is the least of our worries….

 

 

 

 

Bombastic Words about “Bombshell” Texts

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President Trump has claimed that the text messages which were exchanged between FBI Agent Strzok and FBI Lawyer Lisa Page are “bombshells.” The text messages were likely related to the investigation of the Clinton Email Scandal. While others have expressed concern over what the text messages indicate about the way the FBI handles cases, President Trump did not specify what he meant when he called the texts “bombshells.” Though one might argue that the text messages indicate that there is an “Anti-Trump bias” in the FBI, they are a clearer indication of a lack of professionalism than they are of anything else.

Trump’s calling the texts “bombshells” is a part of his pattern of using any discrepancy within the FBI to characterize the investigation of his obstruction of justice and attempt to defraud the United States as misguided. He made similar claims after the release of Nune’s memo, stating that it “totally vidicates” him, despite the fact that memo did little more than allege possible partisan bias in a dossier used to obtain a warrant. It seems Trump will take what distractions he can get. Meanwhile, I am eagerly awaiting the results of Mueller’s investigation — for the truth covered by all these pointed fingers.

download (2).jpegSusan Walsh/AP Photo

Is Another Shutdown Coming?

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The Government passed a stop-gap bill to prevent another government shutdown today; however during bipartisan negotiations Trump said that he would “love to see a shutdown,” if the parties could not come to an agreement over immigration. The comment took place during talks about the MS-13, an international gang. Trump complained that “Democrats don’t want safety.”

It’s a possibility that President Trump was bluffing to achieve greater bargaining strength in the immigration debate. However, if the parties are unable to come to an agreement over immigration, and a government shutdown resulted, it seems likely that Trump would get the brunt of the blame. The majority of people blamed President Trump and Republican Senators for the last shutdown. If another shutdown occured, it could mean a windfall for Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections.

donaldtrump.jpgEric Thayer/Reuters