Top Menu

Archive | Administration

Senate Intelligence Committee to Probe Trump, Russia Connection

In a show of bipartisanship rare in the new 115th Congress, Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Mark Warner (D-VA), the Republican and Democratic heads of the Senate Intelligence Committee, have jointly announced that they will thoroughly investigate “counterintelligence concerns related to Russia and the 2016 U.S. election” and “any intelligence regarding links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns.”

“Reports that the White House may have been briefed weeks ago on the nature of Gen. Flynn’s calls raise deeply troubling questions,” said Warner in his own statement. “The American people deserve to know at whose direction Gen. Flynn was acting when he made these calls, and why the White House waited until these reports were public to take action.”

Committee Chairman Burr concurred in the joint statement, which also said that testimony would be taken from senior officials in both the Obama and Trump administrations and that this includes “.. the issuance of subpoenas if necessary to compel testimony.”

“As part of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s oversight responsibilities we believe that it is critical to have a full understanding of the scope of Russian intelligence activities impacting the United States,” said Burr.

And Warner was quick to point out that in no way does Flynn’s resignation eliminate the need for an ongoing investigation.

“Nothing about this resignation, or resignations that could occur in the future, precludes the Senate Intelligence Committee from continuing to investigate Gen. Flynn, or any other campaign official who may have had inappropriate and improper contacts with Russian officials prior to the election.”

Blumenthal Calls for Independent Counsel on Flynn Case

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) is demanding a special counsel in the case of Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who resigned yesterday after less than 30 days in the Trump administration. Flynn quit after it was revealed that he lied to the White House about his conversation with a Russian official in which he discussed the sanctions imposed on Russia by Barack Obama, over interference in the November U.S. elections.

“There are very serious questions about who knew what and when,” said Blumenthal today from the Senate floor. “These classic what did they know and when did they know it questions must be answered by an independent counsel or commission, and the reason that it must be independent is the same very profoundly important reason that I gave to then-nominee Jeff Sessions, now Attorney General.”

Blumenthal made it clear that it was Sessions’ closeness with Trump for the entirety of the presidential campaign and during the transition that made him question the new Attorney General’s objectivity.

“I certainly have respect for the office of the Attorney General, but Jeff Sessions was deeply involved in President Trump’s campaign and in the presidential transition, and I expressed to him in the hearing on his nomination that he would have to distance himself from an investigation of exactly these issues to maintain impartiality and objectivity in that investigation.”

Most importantly, the Connecticut Democrat emphasized that this investigation must have an unending reach and that it must include a probe into how soon Trump knew that Flynn was having these discussions with the Russian government.

“The Attorney General must appoint a special counsel in cases where there is reason to question his complete impartiality and objectivity. The reality as well as the appearance mandate here that there be an independent investigation by a special counsel.

“Only a special counsel independent of the Attorney General and of the White House can ask with penetrating, aggressive, unflinching analysis whether the President knew before Michael Flynn made those phone calls to the Russian ambassador and other phone calls to other foreign powers, what the subjects of the conversation were, even whether they were going to be made.”

Indicating that nobody in Congress should be willing to push this critical issue under the carpet, Blumenthal said the topic was much bigger than just this single circumstance.

“This issue is about more than just a phone call to the Russian ambassador. It is about the integrity and honesty of public officials about the protections that we give to our intelligence and about the independence of our justice system.”

Democrats Sounded Alarm on Flynn in November

As I’m sure you have all heard, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned last night, upon discovery that he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence and others about his conversations with Russia and the possibility of ending U.S. sanctions over election-related hacking.

This comes as no surprise given Flynn’s close ties to Russia and the fact that he has been under investigation for allegedly receiving money from Russia in 2015, when he attended a celebratory banquet, sitting right next to Vladimir Putin.

Hmmm. If only Democrats had said something about Michael Flynn as Trump’s National Security Advisor when he was nominated… Oh, wait, they did.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR); November 19, 2016

“He has indicated an openness to torture and the destruction of an entire city, both of which are clearly illegal, not to mention immoral and destructive to America’s global leadership. His financial entanglements with Russia and other foreign governments are also cause for concern, particularly given President-elect Trump’s refusal to disclose his own finances.”

Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD); November 18, 2016

“As a staunch critic of Russia’s approach to the liberal democratic process, human rights, sovereignty and the rule of law, I am disturbed by General Flynn’s relationships and ties with Russian actors. I am concerned about General Flynn’s relationship with RT, a television network funded by the Russian government and well-known for promoting the Kremlin’s political agenda, but which Flynn has characterized as no different than CNN or MSNBC. General Flynn was paid to attend RT’s 10-year anniversary gala in Russia, where he gave a talk on world affairs and was photographed sitting next to Russian President Vladimir Putin – a photograph Mr. Putin has used repeatedly to promote his own causes.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD); November 18, 2016

“President-elect Trump promised during his campaign that he would ‘drain the swamp,’ but his top national security adviser is Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, whose firm is reportedly being paid to lobby the U.S. Government by a close ally of Turkey’s president. It is unclear how Lt. Gen. Flynn was reportedly allowed into intelligence briefings during the campaign despite these apparent conflicts of interest.”

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA); November 18, 2016

“I am deeply concerned about his views on Russia, which over the last 12 months have demonstrated the same fondness for the autocratic and belligerent Kremlin which animate President-elect Trump’s praise of Vladimir Putin. Some of the policy positions he’s advocated, a newfound affinity for the Russian and Kremlin, concern me a great deal.”

Stay tuned as the depth of ties between Russia and the Trump administration continue to unfold.

Patrick Leahy: Trump, Spicer Sound a Lot Like Putin

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has been in the United States Senate for over 40 years and has long been a Democratic stalwart on a wide array of important issues. Today, leading up to the Wednesday confirmation vote on Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions — and despite the discouraging battle Democrats are fighting on Trump’s cabinet picks — Leahy is still in there slugging.

He hit the Senate floor a couple of hours ago and assailed Sessions, but also took some shots at the antics of both President Mini-Mitts and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, saying that the way they behave and speak reminds him a lot of a guy named Vladimir Putin.

“In less than a week, the president has attacked a federal judge for performing his Constitutional duty. He’s called unfavorable polls fake. He’s continued to discredit as dishonest any media that dares to criticize him,” said Leahy. “His spokesperson Sean Spicer echoes these sentiments. They sound remarkably like what one would expect to hear from Vladimir Putin.”

“In fact, President Trump has done this while reiterating his support of torture and his admiration of Putin. Remember, Putin’s critics, journalists and others continue to turn up dead.”

Leahy then turned his attention to Sessions, saying that the Alabama Senator consistently rolls over and says nothing to speak out against the world view Trump seems to share with the Russian President.

“President Trump and Senator Sessions both speak about the importance of law and order. President Trump and Vladimir Putin seem to agree about what those words mean. Senator Sessions has said nothing to suggest that he disagrees, even though the Congressional Republican leadership recognizes Putin as a dangerous thug who tramples on the rule of law.

“Why our president keeps praising this man who assassinates his critics, who has killed people who criticize him in the media, who has stolen so much money, taken so many bribes, he’s become one of the wealthiest people in the world. He’s not a person to praise.

“I think we have to be careful to care about the integrity of our democracy, about due process, the rule of law, about the constitution of checks and balances. We should expect a nominee for Attorney General to demonstrate he’ll defend these principles. To not remain silent when they’re attacked, even if the person attacking them is the President of the United States.”

And this is the gut check that Senate Republicans face in their vote tomorrow. Does it matter to them that the American president so closely aligns himself with views and actions that would be criminal in our country? How about that the Attorney General nominee would be highly unlikely to go against any actions Trump’s toddler brain deems correct at the moment? Do they see a stark difference in the vision most Americans have for our country and what Trump seems to like so much about Russia?

I would like to think one or two GOP Senators will consider those questions and step up but… the Magic 8-Ball says “don’t count on it.”

Newest GOP Talking Point: We’re Just Mad Trump Won

Have you noticed it yet? I’m referring to what is obviously the Republican talking point of the week. It’s been everywhere from television to print to the floor of the United States Senate. It’s brilliant in its mindless simplicity, which means it will be perfect at keeping mindless and simple Trump supporters stoked and righteous.

According to Republicans, Congressional Democrats –and by extension, all of us — don’t really have policy differences with Donald Trump and aren’t truly aghast at the horror show of the last two weeks. Their stance this week is that we’re all just mad and throwing hissy fits over a lost presidential election. That’s our only problem.

In fact, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) actually did call it a hissy fit on the Senate Floor Wednesday.

“We know our Democratic colleagues are still trying to re-litigate the election of November 8 and, because their preferred candidate lost, they’re now trying to do everything they can to slow walk and to hamper the ability of the winner, President Trump, to get his cabinet up and running to govern the country.

“I just hope our Democratic colleagues realize that this is not serving the public interest and it’s not, frankly, good politics, it doesn’t strike me, just to be so angry and throw a temper tantrum. Or as I said yesterday to some folks, growing up, people used to talk about throwing a hissy fit, and this really strikes me as throwing a hissy fit.”

“We know some will continue to refuse to accept the results of the election,” said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), getting in on the action the same day. “But our Democratic colleagues should not follow the far left down that harmful path for our country.”

And, amazingly enough, Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) echoed those precise sentiments in a floor speech on Thursday while accusing Democrats of rabid obstructionism on the cabinet nominations of Tom Price and Jeff Sessions.

“I have seen media reports that Democrats want to obstruct the nomination of Tom Price as well as that of Jeff Sessions,” said Barrasso. “I expect Democrats will plan to grandstand for political purposes because they have no real objections to either person’s qualifications or credentials.”

“The Democrats’ real complaint is that they lost the Presidential election. Political spite isn’t a good enough reason for delay. Democrats need to get over it and get on with it.”

I guess strategically, we can all understand why the Republicans would try to distract attention from Trump’s Cabinet of Deplorable and onto a fake narrative that makes Democrats look like brats who are just upset that they lost.  After all, it couldn’t actually have anything to do with the dangerous, unqualified and objectionable pack of miscreants Trump nominated to his administration, could it?

Nah, we’re all just a bunch of sore losers.

We’ll wrap up with Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) throwing, well, a hissy fit after Democrats boycotted a Finance Committee hearing this week on Price and Steven Mnuchin.

“This is the most pathetic thing I’ve seen in my whole time in the United States Senate,” Hatch lamented. “What’s the matter with the other party? They’re that bitter about Donald Trump? The answer has to be yes.”

Schumer: Yates Firing “Monday Night Massacre”

A few minutes ago, during a late-night Senate session, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) discussed Donald Trump’s firing of acting Attorney General Sally Yates, calling it the “Monday Night Massacre”. Yates was fired earlier today after refusing to enforce Trump’s ban on certain Muslim citizens entering the U.S. and expressing the opinion that the executive order was illegal and maybe even unconstitutional. Here’s Schumer earlier this evening:

“We’ve had a large number of eloquent speeches about the President’s executive order and while they were going on, of course, we had a Monday Night Massacre. Sally Yates, a person of great integrity, who follows the law, was fired by the President. She was fired because she would not enact, pursue the executive order on the belief that it was illegal, perhaps unconstitutional. It was a profile in courage. It was a brave act. And a right act. And I hope the president and his people who are in the White House learn something from this.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s diminutive minion Sean Spicer also weighed in tonight saying “Ms. Yates is an Obama administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.”

Mattis Out of Loop on Immigration Executive Order

I think newly-minted Defense Secretary James Mattis is starting to see already that he may have made a mistake signing on with Team Trump as the only truly qualified cabinet member. It looks like bringing Mattis into the loop on the rollout of his disastrous Muslim ban was an afterthought for Trump — and I would bet former-General Mattis is not accustomed to being an afterthought.

According to this article, Mattis only saw the executive order when it was a done deal and a couple of hours before it was released. It also appears that Mattis’s input on the order was not sought. Which is not surprising given that, during the presidential campaign, Mattis was sharply critical of Trump’s yapping about a ban on Muslim immigration.

Anyone taking wagers on how long before Mattis eventually resigns?

All the Best Diplomats Threaten People

Yeah, this is how you exercise diplomacy, influence people and get them on your side.

“For those that don’t have our back, we’re taking names,” said Haley. “We will make points to respond to that accordingly.”

Just like her boss, Haley mistakes being obnoxious with being strong.

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes