Even Without Collusion, Serious Threats Remain For Trump In The Russian Investigation

440px-Director_Robert_S._Mueller-_III-1donald_trump_president-elect_portrait_croppedBelow is my column in USA Today looking at the array of threats still present for the Trump White House even if collusion fades as part of the Russian investigation.  There still could be evidence discovered or disclosed on collusion. However, after multiple indictments, pleas, and a year of investigation, we have not yet seen any credible criminal allegations linked to collusion.  As many on the blog know, I have long been skeptical about the real likelihood of a criminal case based on collusion or obstruction against President Donald Trump. However, even if collusion does recede as a threat, there remain significant areas of risk for the President.

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Singular Demotion: Trump Tells Citizens “Ask Jeff Session!”

jeff_sessions_official_portraitYou know you are on the outs with the President when he not only unleashes an army of citizen trolls on you, but demotes you from plural to singular.   President Trump posted another controversial tweet this morning in asking why he is being investigated but not his predecessor or the Democrats. He tells supporters to Just “Ask Jeff Session.”  Attorney General Sessions appears to still be the persona non grata and, if anything, diminishing by the day.

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Russian Indictments Are Long On Chicanery and Short On Collusion

fa0f116753ca535f6304144908b8b67e--russian-posters-propaganda-artBelow is my column in The Hill newspaper on the implications of the Special Counsel indictment of 13 Russians and the express statements of the Special Counsel and the Deputy Attorney General that there is no evidence of any American knowingly working with these Russians.  This indictment addresses the core of Russian hacking and misinformation campaigns by the Russian government.  The admission of no evidence of collusion is notable and significant. As I mentioned in the column, that does not mean that the investigation will not go forward, including pursuit of any collusion between the Russian and the Trump campaign. However, after a year and multiple pleas, none of the indictments have established the alleged nexus between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

There still remain a number of potential threats for the White House from new collusion evidence to financial-related crimes to new allegations stemming from the alleged payoff of former lovers.  However, while Rep. Adam Schiff is still insisting that there is ample evidence of collusion and obstruction, the core (and original) allegation against Trump has moved little in terms of real evidence (at least evidence made public).  Moreover, the evidence of the Russian campaign shows that it began in 2014 before Trump ran for president.  It seemed to target the presumed victor: Hillary Clinton. However, when Trump ran, it targeted Trump.  Both anti-Clinton and anti-Trump rallies were ultimately organized by the Russians to spread division. It was a curious effort since the country was already quite divided and the Russian-led protests paled in comparison to the massive anti-Trump rallies like the Women’s March or the continual protests over Hillary Clinton.  The most serious problem was not the trolling or the organizing but the hacking.

 

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Bannon Moves Closer To Contempt In Defying The House Intelligence Committee

downloadI have been critical of the House Democrats on the Intelligence Committee, particularly for their claims of highly sensitive material in the Nunes memo (which turned out to be facially devoid of such material).  However, I believe that the Democrats (and some Republicans) are on solid ground in considering a contempt sanction against former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.  Bannon has refused to answer questions on the grounds of executive privilege but the White House has not asserted executive privilege in prior hearings as far as we can tell. He simply says that he was told not to answer questions. After failing to appear before the Committee or to answer questions previously, Bannon was already looking at a serious possibility of contempt.  He then showed up yesterday with a list of 25 questions that he was prepared to answer “yes” or “no.”  Bannon spent 20 hours with the Special Counsel’s investigators but gave monosyllabic responses to a congressional oversight committee and then refused to answer material questions. That sounds a lot like contempt to me.

 

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In The Case Of The FISA Memos, Transparency Is National Security

downloadBelow is my column on the ongoing controversy over the majority and minority memos from the House Intelligence Committee. President Donald Trump has sent the Democratic memo — which is much longer and detailed — back to the Committee for revisions. He accused of the Democrats of intentionally loading up the memos with classified information to argue that the White House was withholding embarrassing information.  This column below argues for disclosure of not just as much of these memos as possible but underlying material.

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The Politics of Treason: Both Trump and The Democrats Are Reckless In Calling Each Other Traitors

Degradation_alfred_dreyfusBelow is my column in USA Today on the increasing talk of treason by both Democrats and Trump in recent weeks.  President Donald Trump has indicated that his comments about Democrats being traitors was only a joke.  That is hardly compelling in a speech that also denounced the Democrats as “unAmerican.”  Clearly, many in the audience do not take such comments as a joke.  At the same time, many Democrats have been calling Trump or his family traitors in the actual rather than rhetorical sense. There is no basis on the existing evidence to charge Trump with treason. These comments are equally reckless and unfounded.  The Framers sought to remove this charge from the political discourse by not just adopting a narrow definition but incorporating that definition into the Constitution.

Here is the column:

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Twitter War: Comey Drops Pseudonym and Judgment In Social Media Attacks

440px-Comey-FBI-PortraitBelow is my column in the Hill newspaper on the recent tweets from former Director James Comey attacking allegations that he (and others) abused the secret FISA surveillance system. It is an ironic twist for Comey who is now acting in the same fashion as Trump in commenting on pending investigations and compromising himself as a potential witness or even target in future investigations.

Here is the column:

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