Sunday, May 20, 2018

Trump and the GOP Congress are who Madison warned us about

“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”


What we are witnessing now is the very thing  founding father Madison warned our new country about.  The writers of our constitution divided the power centers of government into three, executive, legislative, and judicial, each with a check  on the other. Madison warned there was a way to undermine these checks and balances. What was not yet formed when he wrote this were political parties, but he described them as “accumulation of all powers in ...the same hands”, " of many or a few."  The "few" today is one party, the Republicans, in control of all three branches of government with members unwilling to check actions of the president. Worse, they have taken advantage of their party’s control  to protect the President , actively attacking  the credibility  of the investigators and their findings, and obstructing  the investigation into  Russian meddling. They are knocking the props out of our three legged  stool of checks and balances. 

Donald Trump's  defense is that the FBI is a deep state full of Obama people out to get him just as they were in the 2016 election. That is worthy of a belly laugh, since while the FBI was keeping secret their investigation into Trump during the campaign, Comey  twice announced to public they had Clinton and her emails under investigation , which played into her defeat, causing her  polls to crash each time. Furthermore,   every major player on the FBI, Mueller probe, and  judges approving surveillance warrants,  are also registered Republicans.  

The GOP dominated Congress is a profile in cowardice.  GOP congress members  fear that the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller would damage  their control of Congress and loss of the White House in 2020, or cause  early removal of the president.  Mueller is investigating whether the President or members of his close circle conspired or  wanted to coordinate activities with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election on Donald Trump’s behalf as well as whether he or his circle  obstructed justice, and/or  engaged in financial crimes.

The GOP Congress  has done more than just nothing. They have become  Trump's active partners in his attempt to cripple  Mueller's criminal  investigation of Trump, a subject of the investigation,  by demanding investigations of the investigators and  unmasking of FBI informants,  and  whether  Mueller and the FBI followed procedure when asking judges to approve search  warrants. Now  Mueller's boss, Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, is  under a threat of  firing, impeachment, or contempt of Congress.unless  evidence found to date be turned over to them to help with  Trump's defense., a violation of every principle and process of criminal investigation. This  adds fuel  to Trump's  vulnerability to impeachment articles for  obstruction of justice.

The  House Intelligence Committee headed by a GOP Trump loyalist, Rep. Devin Nunes, cut short their investigation, refused to call key witnesses, and announced there was no there, there. A Senate committee  showed more spunk, concluding  there was some “there there”, that Russians did interfere in the 2016 elections. Duh. Their findings were issued after the text of Mueller's  indictments of thirteen Russians provided the evidence and social media ads and bots  paid for by Russians were revealed to the public.

 In the meantime, the GOP  Senate is attempting to control  an independent judiciary for future years,  fast tracking approval of nominees to 140  lifetime positions as judges in federal courts who  pass GOP ideological public policy litmus tests instead of  showing a devotion to  rulings based on independent judgement and legal precedent. 

https://www.yahoo.com/news/watchdog-report-fault-fbi-clinton-probe-delay-171219936--politics.html





Saturday, May 19, 2018

Memorial Day is also a time to remember what those who died were defending

A version of this was published in the Sky Hi News, May 21-23, 2018
https://www.skyhinews.com/news/muftic-memorial-day-also-a-time-to-remember-what-those-who-died-were-defending/

On Memorial Day  May 28 we will specially honor and remember the nearly million and a half in the military who died in wars to keep us from foreign control and the liberty  to pursue life and happiness. At the same time we should be asking ourselves do enough of us even care about protecting our freedoms anymore?
Our founders  put protections of our civil and human rights and freedoms  in the amendments to the Constitution. Not all of those freedoms are absolute and their meanings and limits  have been shaped by an independent judiciary, but they are still fundamental to the freedoms we enjoy for which so many have died.
Nonetheless, the U.S. ranks 45  of 180 countries based on press freedom, survey conducted by the non profit Reporters Without Borders.“ A media-bashing enthusiast, Trump has referred to reporters as ‘enemies of the people,’ ...has attempted to block White House access to multiple media outlets, routinely uses the term ‘fake news’in retaliation for critical reporting, and has called for revoking certain media outlets’ broadcasting licenses.”
We have had  our civil wars, our slavery, our abuses of rights, but we have  had made progress to improve the implementation of our ideals. No longer.   Human Rights Watch, a non profit watchdog group, has released their 2018 report: “Across a range of issues in 2017, the US moved backward on human rights. Trump has targeted refugees and immigrants, calling them criminals and security threats; emboldened racist politics by equivocating on white nationalism; and consistently championed anti-Muslim ideas and policies…. and (undermining) police accountability for abuse…..”
Voter laws are being passed locally that make it more difficult  for minorities to vote by restricting voting times and motor voter registration laws, and  requiring extra effort and expenses to obtain photo IDs. These suppression measures were implemented  deceptively to protect us from virtually non-existent fraud.
The GOP dominated  Senate is fast tracking the process  to fill federal judicial seat vacancies  with ideologues passing litmus tests preferred over nominees who support judicial precedent and who pass peer professionals’ standards .  This will impact the current interpretation of the meaning of freedom for years, from Roe v Wade to the right refuse to serve certain customers on religious grounds to shrinking governmental protections of the environment, worker safety, and health care.
One freedom that our forefathers treasured was protection  from foreign control . Our founders never imagined the reach to millions on social media by Russian bots and advertising  to help Donald Trump win, as the bi-partisan Senate Intelligence Committee has concluded and reported May 16.
Another fear founders had was that  foreigners would try to control the United States by bribery or personal gain by officials  so they put the emolument clause in the Constitution itself. There is a stench in the air that Trump has violated that clause. On May 16, we learned the Trump business organization from which Trump still benefits is  entangled in China financing a Trump Indonesian hotel just as US sanctions were lifted on a Chinese telecom already deemed a threat to US security. Another bombshell May 16 was learning Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer,  manages a consulting company account that appears to have millions coming into it, including foreign money. Suspicions are , that money could be seen as bribery to get access to the President on issues coming before the new administration, yet where finding the money went and who got it  is required to separate the crime from the slime.


https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2018/country-chapters/united-statesk




Lee Greenwood’s great lyric which  captures the meaning of Memorial Day the best:
“And I'm proud to be an American
Where at least I know I'm free
And I won't forget the ones who died who gave that right to me
And I'll gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today
Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land, God Bless the USA.”




Well done, Harry and Meghan


For the cynics and those who promote divisions, quiet. For a few hours there was a wedding that was more than between two people. It was a coming together of two nations, of two cultural traditions , and two races unified by love. May this not be just a moment that is a temporary break from a hateful and angry world that is fearful of change, but a rising up of our better angels.

The couple are declared husband and wife before the Queen and 600 guests at St George's Chapel.
BBC.COM

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Give me a break: one year is long enough for the Mueller investigation?

This falls into the give me a break category. The Trump White House is launching a "wrap it up" campaign; "one year of the Special Counsel  Mueller probe is enough, it has found nothing,  and he works for us" the line goes.The fat lady has not even begun to sing in the last act of  this historical opera and the White House  hopes to shut her up and give her a bad review before the end of the first act.  They must fear the rest of the performance will not be music to their ears. There is much of the performance  plot  they and  we the public do not know yet nor do we know  what other characters have already sung.

For the Trump White House to claim Mueller has no proof of collusion, (or obstruction, or financial crimes) is premature and empty propaganda coming  from the White House mouths, to say the least, since no one yet knows what closed lip Mueller knows and he has not made his reports

It took three years of Watergate  probes into Richard Nixon's cover up,  four years of Benghazi Congressional  hearings and FBI reports  to fail to pin it on Hillary Clinton,  and three years from Whitewater to Monica Lewinsky's blue dress for these investigations  to play out in the Bill Clinton scandal.. A year seems more than a bit short for these kinds of matters, doesn't it? 

  The Trump White House  mimics the same claim made by Richard Nixon in his State of the Union two years before he was impeached. A year is enough, Nixon  said about the special counsel investigation into Watergate, we turned over all documents, and they have found nothing. The break in occurred in 1971.and after special counsel and Congressional investigations,that  impeachment was begun and Nixon  resigned in 1974. Three years was way too long  for Nixon. 

 Benghazi happened in 2012 and the GOP House and Senate dominated hearings kept the issue alive to skewer Hillary Clinton and never could prove she  herself was at fault. The final report was issued in the summer of 2016. For the GOP then four years was just fine; it kept questions about her character alive.

 Aside from the irony of the Nixon propaganda parallel, the GOP House investigation run by a Trump loyalist, Rep. Devin Nunes,  into the Russian connection was a farce and did not call essential witnesses to testify, concluding there was no there there.

 However, the Senate investigation continues and has found there was there there. In their report May 16, they conclude Russians interfered in 2016 to help Trump's campaign, as the result of their findings into the key meeting in the Trump Tower in June 2016 between  Trump cohorts and a Russian agent regarding emails of Hillary Clinton. The suspicion is that the Trump minions hoped to get the dirt on Clinton in return for lifting sanctions imposed on the Russians for past bad behavior . The quid (offer to provide missing emails)  was there but the quo was not discussed.   Whether or not Trump himself was a part of this  is yet to be seen. He was in the building and may have been receiving  telephone calls.  Was the meeting truly a "nothing burger" or there were other events follow ups ,and  other meetings  that would be evidence of conspiracy? What Mueller knows about any of this we do not know ourselves yet, either.

 In  the  just released Senate hearing transcripts regarding the Trump Tower meeting. The angle still unknown is much like Watergate, what did the President know and when did he know about the Trump Tower meeting .We know the meeting  was not about Russian adoption as the Trumpsters claimed, but about  dirt on Clinton's emails.   Donald Trump Jr who organized the meeting  was in emails leading up to the meeting  eager to seek information from foreign governments that would help his father get elected. 

The investigation by Special Counsel Robert  Mueller is about  Trump cohorts, with Trump assured  by Mueller he is  a subject in  the investigation  but not currently  a target of a criminal investigation ,  but  it is Trump and his cohorts that say a year is enough. It  may be long enough for them but not for Mueller.. Since Trump or the associates  are either subjects or targets  being investigated,  if they are not already indicted, they are not the appropriate or wise ones to call those shotsThey may have the power to fire Mueller under ordinary circumstances, but For Trump to fire Mueller  would also be the ultimate evidence  of obstruction of justice seen as a way to stop the investigation about them  before it was finished. Unfolding now is  Act II,  the maneuvering around whether Donald Trump will ever testify to Mueller in any form about what he knew and when did he know it.

_______________________________________________________________________________

 We have deduced  something about what Mueller is finding  and investigating from all of the texts of the indictments and participants  turning states' witness pleading guilty for lying  about their Russian contacts. Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort  and his partner have been hit for money laundering and working for a foreign government. Thirteen Russians were indicted for active measures interfering in the 2016 campaign.   While none of the charges so far  yet confirm Trump and his cohorts "colluded" with the Russians, proof of  obstruction of justice and financial crimes are still charges that we know nothing  about what Mueller knows. That those  related areas of investigation are within the scope of Mueller's authority to investigate  were confirmed in  a judge's ruling concerning  Paul Manafort's indictment May 15 and the authorization for the probe by the Department of Justice in a document issued in 2017.


 https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/2/20/17031772/mueller-indictments-grand-jury

http://www.businessinsider.com/paul-manafort-indictment-moves-forward-2018-5

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/05/17/us/politics/document-Robert-Mueller-Special-Counsel-Russia.html


https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/mueller-told-trumps-attorneys-the-president-remains-under-investigation-but-is-not-currently-a-criminal-target/2018/04/03/d7832cf0-36c1-11e8-acd5-35eac230e514_story.html?utm_term=.025fbe46c959

Friday, May 11, 2018

How Russia played with our minds in 2016

https://www.axios.com/russia-facebook-ads-political-race-election-85b9ad01-5606-4c66-ba21-ead811895dc7.html

This is how Russia played with our minds: They hyped hate and used cheap Facebook advertising to appeal to existing prejudices...and receptive minds and hearts shared them with friends...multiplying the hate messages to millions. They were bi-partisan and even targeted liberals to hate right wingers more,  but the greatest unwitting targets were on the right. For a list of kinds of targets and the numbers of voters who saw them, there is a good summary by CBS News. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/congress-releases-all-3000-plus-facebook-ads-bought-by-russians/

 This one on Shariah law, anti Muslim hate mongering, posed a non existing threat, and the fake cause was taken up even in my rural Grand County. Why did they do this? They see democracy as a threat to their authoritarian rule and want to make sure it fails and weakens the US. A house divided cannot stand...approach.
Some new information re the Sharia law scare: https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2018/04/exclusive-robert-mercer-backed-a-secretive-group-that-worked-with-facebook-google-to-target-anti-muslim-ads-at-swing-voters/

This is an update and reposting of an October 17,2017 blog post on this one particular Russian propaganda/active measures use of Facebook advertising.

In the meantime, in April 2018, Donald Trump appointed John Bolton to be his national security adviser who chaired Gatestone, partially funded by the Mercers, that spewed anti Muslim propaganda in 2016 and which was amplified by Russian bots in the election.

The Muslim travel ban will be argued in the US supreme court: https://www.yahoo.com/news/travel-ban-case-justices-first-dive-trump-policy-044621903--politics.html


/


The root of the Muslim ban goes back to the 2016 campaign and it reflected fear of anything Muslim and Islam that has been brewing among a segment of our population . Fear of terrorism is one factor. But since at least 2004 a wave of fear spread across the South that Islam's religious Sharia law would soon be coming to their state.. That has been one element feeding that blanket hatred of anything Muslim and a desire to keep their followers out of the US. Fear of Sharia is a form of  Islamphobia that cropped up again in Grand County with a controversial speaker recently at Constitution Week in Grand Lake. as reported in the Sky Hi News (http://www.skyhinews.com/news/controversial-speaker-during-constitution-week-talks-islam-sharia-law/) The story resulted in a heated exchange of letters to the editor, attacking and defending the point of view expressed at the event.

Those raging against Islam and Muslims often  promote  fear that Sharia law will become the law of the US, or they ask it  in terms, "do you want your neighbor to practice Sharia law and be able to beat their wives ".
Practically speaking  we are in no danger of having Sharia law  imposed on Americans.  American  Muslims have little  political clout since adult Muslims comprise  2% of our population. 58% of those are immigrants. 42% are US born.


There is also a constitutional angle to the Sharia law issue  Thanks to our Constitution, we cannot establish any state religion."  In 1791, the First Amendment was adopted. The "Establishment Clause" forbade Congress (and later, the states) from passing laws which adopt a state religion or to favor one religion over others. In Everson v. Board of Education (1947), the U.S. Supreme Court explained:

Banning Sharia law has been a hot topic in legal and political circles, and often fueled by fear of Muslims. Anti Muslim sentiment erupted in the 2016 election in the form of Trump's Muslim ban.


Ignorance of the practice of Islam fuels much of the anti Muslim hysteria.. Sharia law is interpreted and applied  many different  ways in many different countries. Physical   spousal abuse  is not condoned by all Muslims and clerics, and Islamic scholars, either.  The practice of Islam varies from country to country and cultural and customs are as much an influence as the interpretation of their  theology.  Attitudes toward Sharia law as official law  also vary widely per a PEW research poll. Even in the Middle East, less than 30% of Muslims in Lebanon support Sharia law. In Bosnia, 15% support Sharia law; Turkey 12%. Highest support of Sharia law outside the Arabian peninsula   is in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan and to lesser extent in some Southeast Asian and  African countries..


The Sky Hi News reported  that the speaker felt confident she could be  safely outspoken against Islam  because there were no Muslims in Grand County. She feared for her life because she  was  working  undercover  for a Christian ministry. I wonder how many in Grand County have ever met a Muslim. Such one sided, extreme  opinions can easily  find  fertile ground to grow here.




Our Islamphobia makes us vulnerable to being duped by adversaries such as Russia. .As we have learned through news reports and Congressional hearing testimony ,  Russians saw  an opportunity to weaken  US world influence, sow internal dissent and hatred, and interfere in our elections by  hyping  anti- Muslim hysteria that supported Donald Trump's anti Muslim oratory. One tool the Russians used was social media to organize a Muslim hate rally in Twin Falls, Idaho in 2016. A Russian originated Facebook site promoted an anti Muslim rally in Houston, last year, as well, posing as a Texas organization.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Iran deal pullout: war, peace or self-inflicted wound

A version of this was published in the Sky Hi News May 16, 2018
https://www.skyhinews.com/news/muftic-iran-deal-pullout-war-peace-or-a-self-inflicted-wound/

Update: 5 13 18:
This is truly a way to destroy the Atlantic Alliance. Originally the sanctioned
appeared to be those who supplied nuclear material for production..a challenge since we have already sanctioned Russia for other things without any behavior modification resulting and China, both signers..
Now it appears to trading anything "with the enemy" is included with the threat.
.The rest are our closest allies in Europe and they are making it clear they will
not abide. This is making America a jackass again.


White House National Security adviser John Bolton on Sunday said U.S. sanctions on European companies that do business with Iran were "possible, but Secretary…
YAHOO.COM

A version of this posting below was published in the Sky Hi News May 16, 2018.

Only President Donald  Trump and Israel think Iran is on the brink of gaining nuclear weapons, so President Trump announced the US will pull out of the Iran deal.. The international  inspectors there on the ground, our own intelligence services, and all of our European allies agree: the deal is working. However, Trump made a campaign commitment to pull out, so now he has had to fabricate a reason to break the Iran agreement . Israel  has its own agenda. It always opposed the Iran deal and believes bombing facilities or threatening it is the answer. Israel provided Trump an excuse that flies in the face of every other intelligence service and UN inspector findings. The Israeli claim was based on old intelligence information, and was parsed on debatable verb “tenses”, whether Iran HAD the capability to restart its nuclear program versus whether it HAS that capability now and in the future in spite of the deal.


Give Trump credit. He is is living up to his  campaign promise to pull out of the Iran deal. However one of his campaign promises he could  break is that we would not get involved in a useless war in the middle east. This pullout  approach could be a risk with huge consequences to our blood and treasure and a self inflicted wound, shooting our national interests in the foot.


Critics of the pullout have been vocal. Some call it an historical blunder like invading Iraq to search of WMD. So now, we will have no inspectors and we will slam economic sanctions on Iran? What did we replace inspections with? Nothing. What did we gain as a country? Nothing. What are we losing as a country? Ten years of Iran not restarting their full blown nuclear program and  a plan for indefinite inspections continuing forever. What will be the unintended consequences? North Korea will play Trump and know all the while any agreements with him are to be signed with a wink and a nod.. Now our Arab allies will have the green light to begin their own nuclear weaponization, an arms race in the most war conflicted space on earth. Does this move to pull out of the Iran deal have a hidden intent, critics ask,  to unleash Israel and their strange bedfellows, the Sunni Arabs, to start a war with Iraq and then sucker in the US to fight it for them?

The theory of the ultrahawks’ and Trump’s reasoning for pulling out is that such a threat of war will keep Iran from restarting their nuclear program.   The Iranians think there is a crazy man in the White House, so Iranians are motivated to keep their nuclear development in cold storage. Really? Re-instating sanctions and trying to cripple their international banking will bring Iran to its knees, force them to renegotiate,  and foment a desperate population to bring on regime change. That theory has some major flaws in practice.


Trump's strategy will only work if our other partners in the deal pull out, too, and restart sanctions, but that is not happening. So far the Western European signers say  they will stand by the deal. The US has had virtually no trade with Iran since the fall of the Shah so our solo sanctions would have zero impact on Iran.. We will become instead a bellacose supporter of those now unleashed to use military strikes, risking a wider war and an Arabian nuclear arms race as the rest of the world , including China and Russia, continues buying Iranian oil and products.










Saturday, May 5, 2018

If you can't fire Rosenstein, impeach him?

Update: 5/10/18) At issue: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/nunes-subpoena-to-justice-dept-requested-all-documents-about-individual-described-as-longtime-intelligence-source

5/11/18 New bipartisan attempt to protect Mueller's investigation by preserving and reporting fruits of investigation if fired. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/lawmakers-weigh-plan-b-protect-mueller-s-work-n873241

A version of this was published in the Sky Hi News May 7, 2018.
https://www.skyhinews.com/news/muftic-if-trump-cant-fire-him-impeach-rosenstein/


DOJ refuses to release information Nunes demanded because it asked for disclosure of the redacted information on what the DOJ says is an intelligence source and to release that name would damage national security and imperil the life of the source. The DOJ and Democrats on the the House Intelligence committee which Nunes chairs believes that 1) Donald Trump is looking for a pretext to fire Rosenstein if he does not provide the information and that 2) the information would flow to the White House, giving them inside information, a roadmap, needed for a defense against Mueller findings. Also imperiled in this is Attorney Jeff Sessions as well as Rod Rosenstein, since their refusal to turn over the classified information of ongoing investigations...long policy of the DOJ... This could open up the pretext for the President to fire Sessions and Rosenstein or for the impeachment of Rosenstein and then to close down the Mueller probe. As of 5/10/18, the issue is kicked over until next week. (comments per Ari Melber and guests on MSNBC). Impeachment of Rosenstein would take that off the hands of the President who probably would trigger impeachment for obstruction of justice action if he did it. This way one cannot impeach Nunes and his GOP cohorts who also received backing from Speaker Ryan to day for wanting to expose a secret source..

If Donald Trump cannot fire Rod Rosenstein because it would look too much like obstruction of justice, then the House Freedom Caucus is trying to impeach Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General, who oversees the Mueller Russian investigation.  Their impeachment attempt begins this week. The House Freedom Caucus is clearly trying obstruct justice by crippling the Mueller investigation to oust his boss, Rosenstein, in hopes that a Trump loyalist would take his place and rein in the Mueller investigation.  Clever. There is no way to impeach the House members for their obstructing justice.


At least three times since the first of the year Donald Trump asserted he wanted to fire Rod Rosenstein. However  a handful of GOP Senators warned him that could lead to his own impeachment for obstructing justice, much like the Nixon Watergate impeachment, when Nixon fired the investigators , special counsels, and Department of Justice ( DOJ ) officials  investigating his connection and cover up.


Why is Rosenstein such an object of this attempt? Rosenstein is the key player. He is the one who can fire Mueller and Mueller’s charge is to give a report to Rosenstein who has the power to decide whether to refer the report to Congress for their decision and power to impeach a president.   Since Donald Trump does not have the power to fire Mueller directly, he needs to replace Rosenstein with a loyalist who will either restrict Mueller’s probe or fire him. To Trump’s rescue comes the Freedom Caucus impeachment attempt.


Both Rosenstein’s  boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions,  and he were appointed by Donald Trump. Both are Republicans.  Sessions has threatened to resign if the president fired Rosenstein. Sessions heads the Department of Justice (DOJ).Sessions recused himself because he himself had unreported conversations with the Russians during the 2016 campaign so that the task of overseeing the investigations fell to Rosenstein, next in line. . In turn, the DOJ/FBI had  already been engaged in investigating the Russian interference in the 2016 elections since the summer of 2016. When Trump fired the FBI director James Comey, allegedly for not swearing loyalty to him or for refusing to cooperate in the Russian connection investigations. Rosenstein hired a special counsel, Robert Mueller, to investigate whether obstruction of justice, conspiracy  (collusion) with the Russians to fix the elections, or other crimes were found to have been committed. Mueller’s investigators are the FBI, IRS and intelligence services, and any number of other federal investigators led by prosecutors in three jurisdictions. Whatever happens to Mueller, or Rosenstein, these other investigations could continue. So why bother?


A political drama  indeed will be all that will result. The merits of the arguments deserve an entire separate column, but the politics of it are clear.  The chances that the Senate would provide them with ⅔ vote needed to oust Rosenstein will not happen because there are not enough GOP senators . This is purely a political move geared to gin up the Trump base before the 2018 elections or to paint the Department of Justice full of non-Trump loyalists that are  so prejudiced against Trump that any findings and reports would have no credibility. In public addresses made to lawyer groups last week, Rod Rosenstein is holding firm in his support of the rule of law and called the House attempt: “extortion“. “...“We are going to do what is required by the rule of law and any kind of threats anybody makes are not going to affect the way we do our job.”
_____________________________________________________________________


     
This follows in the heels of the GOP Chair of the House Intelligence Committee,  Devin Nunes, abruptly cutting off their committee’s investigation into the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections that helped Donald Trump win. That committee was a farce, with  Rep. Devin Nunes caught coordinating actions with the White House in his infamous midnight ride to report to the White House what the White House had disclosed to him. . Nunes then engineered the end of the committee’s investigation without calling on key witnesses and subpoenaing key
documents. The minority Democrats were never consulted and issued their minority report that highlighted those shortcomings. Of course, the Mueller investigation continued in spite of these efforts since Mueller has farmed out his investigations to various agencies and several other prosecutors in other jurisdictions.
Failing that, per the conservative Washington Times,May 1,  “ The House Freedom Caucus, which is chaired by Rep. Mark Meadows, North Carolina Republican, have drafted eight articles of impeachment against Mr. Rosenstein, multiple media outlets reported late Monday. Those drafts reportedly accuse Mr. Rosenstein of abusing his authority when he renewed a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant on Trump campaign aide Carter Page ahead of the 2016 presidential campaign.”  All of these charges are based on the Nunes led committee.

In the meantime, a handful of Senators made it clear they would not approve attempts to oust Mueller, enough given the closely divided Senate to stop amy impeachment attempts of Rosenstein. Bills have been introduced to protect Mueller, but have gotten nowhere because the Senate GOP leader refuses to bring the bills up to a vote, claiming it was unnecessary since the White House had no plans to fire Mueller. Whether those same senators would oppose impeaching Rosenstein is not known, but given the close partisan balance in the Senate, getting a 2/3 vote to convict and oust would still be an impossibility.

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/04/11/trump-mueller-republican-senate-516431


https://www.politico.com/story/2018/05/01/rosenstein-justice-department-extortion-563167

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/04/18/read-my-lips-no-new-bill-to-protect-robert-mueller-mitch-mcconnell-basically/?utm_term=.362139c0e3f3

http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/385587-conservative-house-lawmakers-draft-articles-of-impeachment-against

















The is a replication of a prior blog post , updated, providing more details. Why firing Rod Rosenstein would be like   firing Robert Mueller, 2/ 7 /18
This post was written the last time rumors were Donald Trump was threatening to fire those investigating him, but it is a relevant now as rumors are rampant now, 4 11 18
Revised February 8, 2018


Update: April 20, 2018: AG Sessions threatens to quite if Rosenstein is fired:


Rosenstein's tenure is in jeopardy. CNN quotes  President Trump as having said of Rosenstein, “Let's fire him, let's get rid of him,” but was talked out of it.  Soon after the Nunes memo  came to the public's attention, it was seen by critics  as an attempt to create a pretext for the President to fire him. Mr. Trump revived the possibility. When asked if he would fire Rosenstein,  Trump answered "you figure it out".  In a letter to President Trump, Democratic Congressional leaders wrote "Firing Rod Rosenstein, DOJ Leadership, or Bob Mueller could result in a constitutional crisis of the kind not seen since the Saturday Night Massacre." They were referring to  similar actions Richard Nixon took in Watergate. Even Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader, said : "Rod Rosenstein is doing a fine job."


Donald Trump has his own self-interested reasons to want to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod  Rosenstein. Assuming President Trump believes firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller would certainly trigger serious impeachment attempts, firing Rosenstein would be a tempting  alternative. Rosenstein has already indicated he was not a Trump team player when his Department of Justice objected to the release of the Nunes memo.The Nunes memo was also viewed by many as an attempt to provide  Donald Trump with a public rationale to fire Rosenstein for alleged “deep state bias” and for FBI alleged incompetence in a single court filing to renew a FISA warrant for surveillance of Carter Page. The Nunes memo was also seen as an attempt to damage the credibility of the FBI so that their findings would be viewed as biased.  Polls show that strategy is working with the GOP rank and file


Some senators have warned him  firing Rosenstein also could backfire on him just as did the the firing of FBI Director James Comey. Comey was investigating President Trump's associates' with contacts with Russians. That firing  resulted in the appointment of Mueller to investigate if the President or his associates were obstructing justice or they conspired with Russians to interfere in the 2016 elections, or even if financial crimes were committed, all possible impeachable offenses.


Another possible temptation  for Donald Trump to fire Rod Rosenstein  would be to limit the scope of Mueller’s report.  The Deputy AG has the power to put the report in a desk drawer if he does not see release of it would be in the public's interest, whatever that means. A new deputy AG could take money laundering off the table or out of the report, for example. Mr. Trump has made it clear that subject was a red line he thought Mueller should not cross.


The game could then become delay, delay, delay until after the November Congressional elections. Firing Rosenstein and replacing him with a Trump loyalist could a result in drawn out  court challenges, congressional hearings, and a confirmation vote of the Senate, though it would not halt the investigation since it could continue under Rosenstein's deputy. Donald Trump could also  contend his reason try to avoid testifying to the Mueller team or taking the 5th was that the FBI was too politically biased against him. That issue could also be tied up in the Courts past the November 2018 election.


Win or lose the  court challenges, resulting  delays could benefit the GOP and President Trump. The GOP fear is the 2018 midterms could flip control of the  House that has impeachment powers to Democrats. The GOP now has the majority in the House and while they have control, it is realistic to believe they would not impeach their President. Delays would give Donald Trump an opportunity  to keep up the morale of his base through November and keep Congress in GOP hands. It might work. In the midst of Watergate, Nixon was re-elected to a second term by a large majority. It was not until after that election he was forced by the courts to release the tapes that his role in the Watergate cover up was revealed to the public and impeachment was begun.


There are two unforeseen circumstances that could change this scenario: the Mueller findings could be
so explosive even House Republicans could not ignore them and would proceed with impeachment or
that Mueller would indict the president and shortcut impeachment proceedings.  Whether he has the power to do the latter is an unsettled legal matter and would depend upon a Supreme Court ruling..


____________________________________________________________________




















“What happens when the special counsel’s investigation is complete?


Rosenstein’s order notes that if Mueller deems it “necessary and appropriate,” he is “authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters.” The federal code states that at the conclusion of a special counsel’s investigation, he must provide the acting attorney general with a confidential report explaining decisions about whether or not prosecutions are warranted. The acting attorney general could decide to make that report public. According to the code, the “Attorney General may determine that public release of these reports would be in the public interest, to the extent that release would comply with applicable legal restrictions.”