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  1. #1
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Aug 2005

    Trump resists mounting pressure from Bannon and others to fight Mueller

    Trump resists mounting pressure from Bannon and others to fight Mueller

    By Philip Rucker and Robert Costa
    October 31 at 7:08 PM

    Debate intensified in President Trump’s political circle Tuesday over how aggressively to confront special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, dividing some of the president’s advisers and loyalists as the Russia investigation enters a new phase following charges against three former Trump campaign officials.

    Despite his growing frustration with a federal probe he has roundly dismissed, Trump has been cooperating with Mueller and lately has resisted attacking him directly, at the urging of his attorneys inside and outside the White House.

    But several prominent Trump allies, including former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, have said they think the president’s posture is too timid. Seeing the investigation as a political threat, they are clamoring for a more combative approach to Mueller that would damage his credibility and effectively kneecap his operation by cutting its funding.

    Still, Bannon and others are not advising Trump to fire Mueller, a rash move that the president’s lawyers and political advisers oppose and insist is not under consideration.

    Bannon in recent days has spoken with Trump by phone to relay his concerns about the president’s position and to counsel a shift in strategy, according to three people with knowledge of the conversation. The president — so far — has not accepted Bannon’s advice, these people said.

    Bannon’s view has been amplified elsewhere on the right, with talk radio and cable news commentators speaking out more forcefully against Mueller and his expanding probe. The Wall Street Journal editorial board has called on Mueller to resign. The Journal is part of News Corp., which is led by Rupert Murdoch, a friend of Trump who speaks privately with the president.

    But many people in Trump’s orbit recommend that he stay the course with cooperation — encouraging him to harshly criticize media coverage of the investigation but avoid engaging Mueller.

    “I like Steve, but his advice is not always the most helpful,” said Christopher Ruddy, a Trump friend and the chief executive of Newsmax, a conservative media outlet. “In this case, whatever Steve says, the president should do the opposite.”

    The tensions extend to Capitol Hill, where Republican lawmakers have mostly split into two camps: those who are wary of weighing in on Mueller’s investigation and those who see it as a prime political target.

    Bannon is demanding that GOP leaders move swiftly to end congressional probes into Russian interference, undermine Mueller’s investigation and increase scrutiny on Democratic controversies.

    “The Republicans are like church mice,” Bannon said Tuesday. “No support of the president. Totally gutless. The Hill needs to step up.”

    Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said he believes that Republicans should proceed carefully, and he called Mueller a “very ethical person.”

    “I don’t know how you could improve things by interfering,” Grassley said. “The process just ought to go.”

    House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), a trusted Trump ally, has launched an investigation into an Obama-era uranium deal and is preparing to invite witnesses this week to testify about the FBI’s handling of Russia investigations. Nunes intends to issue subpoenas if people decline to appear, according to people briefed on his plans.

    Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, an informal Trump adviser who praised Mueller earlier this year after his appointment as special counsel, said he has slowly “soured” on the former FBI director and agrees that Congress should put a harsher national spotlight on him.

    “Mueller ought to be held accountable,” Gingrich said.

    He ticked through a series of what he considers questionable moves by Mueller and his team, including their handling of former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, whom the government described in an indictment unsealed Monday as a “proactive cooperator.”

    “Congress should look seriously at whether Mueller put a wire on this guy and sent him around to entrap people,” Gingrich said. “If that happened, Congress better see the full transcripts, not just the FBI’s edited versions. Congress should also ask why they’re raiding [former campaign chairman Paul] Manafort’s home at 5 a.m. for a white-collar crime from a few years ago.”

    This sentiment is not heard at the White House, however, where officials have been careful not to antagonize the special counsel.

    “Our approach has been to be cooperative and responsive and to see this come to a quick conclusion,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. “Have we been aggressive in our comments and our feelings towards the Clinton campaign and the DNC? Yes. But that’s where our aggression is seen and nowhere else.”

    Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer overseeing Russia matters, said after Monday’s indictments of Manafort and his longtime deputy, Rick Gates, “Nothing about today’s events alters anything related to our engagement with the special counsel, with whom we continue to cooperate.”

    Cobb added, “There are no discussions and there is no consideration being given to terminating Mueller.”

    Republicans in Congress said Trump is wise to avoid messing with Mueller.

    “There would be an uprising at the Capitol like never seen before if any kind of interference looked like it was taking place,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). “Regardless of which side of the aisle. That’s just beyond the pale.”

    Among Republicans, there is broad agreement to bring attention to past controversies involving Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic opponent in the 2016 election, that have animated hourly discussions on Fox News Channel and conservative talk radio programs.

    The White House and allies have waged a public relations battle over the Clinton campaign’s and the Democratic National Committee’s funding of research that resulted in the famous dossier that details Trump’s alleged connections to Russia.

    The dossier has become a lightning rod, with congressional Republican leaders trying to discredit Fusion GPS, the firm that commissioned the dossier, and the document’s author, Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer with ties to the U.S. intelligence community.

    Republicans also are trying to bring scrutiny to a 2010 uranium deal approved by the Obama administration, while Clinton was secretary of state. The deal — which Trump used as a political cudgel against Clinton during the campaign — allowed a Russian nuclear energy agency to acquire a controlling stake in a Canadian-based company that had mining licenses for about 20 percent of U.S. uranium extraction capacity, although the company cannot export uranium.

    Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity, a Trump confidant, decried the lack of investigative attention on Clinton, a point the president and his top aides have made in recent days.

    “This is not hyperbole,” Hannity said Monday night in his on-air monologue, which the president is known to watch regularly. “I am not overstating the case. We are at a major crisis point in America tonight. Do we have equal justice under the law in this country today?”

    Some Republican lawmakers have heeded these calls. House and Senate GOP leaders have announced two investigations into the uranium deal, while at least three congressional committees are continuing to look into how the FBI handled Clinton’s email scandal.

    But there appears to be little appetite for legislation that would cut Mueller’s funding or otherwise limit the scope of his investigation, something various Trump allies have suggested is necessary.

    “My basic philosophy is, once you have an independent counsel, you ought to give him a chance to follow the facts,” said Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the chairman of the subcommittee that handles the Justice Department’s funding. “If somebody’s doing a job, you don’t want to cut it off.”

    Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said: “The idea that Bob Mueller is going to have the scope of his inquiry constrained, or be otherwise restricted, is really out there. I think that’s extremely unlikely.”
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Aug 2005
    As much as I would personally like to see the whole special counsel function shut down and the DOJ do its job at a normal expense level, I don't think Trump is going to fire Mueller or Rosenstein or anyone else involved in this Russia Hoax, and unless Congress pulls the funding which I think is how it should be shut down, I don't think Republicans in Congress have either the courage or the votes to do it. I hope they do, and we'll see, but I am not optimistic.

    Robert Mueller is working under multiple conflicts of interest, Rosenstein knew that, but appointed him anyway. That is wrong. Mueller is doing a white collar administrative investigation of businesses and tax records for which he isn't trained or qualified to do, he has already gone off course, because there was no course of law for him to be on to begin with, because no crimes have been committed related to Russia or the election or the firing of James Comey, so he's violating people's rights, making a mockery of our system and country and causing great difficulty for our new President to do his job amidst an opponent-created scandal.

    I didn't support the investigations and impeachment efforts against Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton. I supported the prosecutions of the men who broke into the DNC and bugged it. That was wrong, they shouldn't have done that, it was stupid, pointless and criminal. But Nixon didn't know anything about it, had nothing to do with it, and shouldn't have tried to cover it up when he found out, but that was not an impeachable offense in my view. Nixon truly believed a national scandal over it wasn't in our country's best interest and of course he was right about that, it wasn't, because it gave us Jimmy Carter.

    On Clinton, everyone knew he was a ladies man and a philanderer when they voted for him. He won, twice, just like Nixon won, twice.

    The will of the people be done and accepted, whether it's our guy or theirs. We have the right and power to change it out every 4 years and these elections by the people of our Presidents far outweigh whatever opinion or goal of Congress, because in Trump's case, the 62 million Americans who voted for him and won 30 states in the electoral college carry far more weight than any or all of the opinions of 535 members of Congress.

    So, these threats and actions by Congress to try to overturn the will of the people is a flaw on their part, not the Presidents. All of these Presidents won fair and square and both they and their supporters are entitled to peace of mind during the terms to which they were elected, free of government prosecution and persecution, which is why Presidents have immunity during their term of office. The same applies to departments in the Executive Branch, such as the US Department of Justice, either you carry out the will of the people or you resign and slink your dirty butts off our payrolls.

    Firing James Comey wasn't a "trigger" for obstruction of justice. The President has the full constitutional authority to fire James Comey, so how in the hell can exercising a constitutional right be "obstruction of justice"?

    Also, under our laws, anyone including a Presidential candidate can sit down here or in another country with any foreign government and collude on future policy all day long. This is their right under the First Amendment. So under what authority is the FBI investigating who talked to Russia, who met with Russia, why they met with Russia? That's none of their business, because it is not a crime to talk to foreign leaders or foreign nationals. Dennis Rodman just met with Kim Jong Un in North Korea. Barack Obama just made a big speech in France on behalf of Macron against his opponent, Marine Le Pen. Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Barach Obama have overthrown governments in Libya, Egypt and tried to overthrow the government in Syria.

    I don't know Paul Manafort and had never heard of him before he joined the Trump Train, he was great with the delegates, but running a campaign wasn't his forte. I liked Corey Lewandowski better than both Manafort and Conway, but Trump won anyway, so I guess it's alright, since it worked out to my liking, but I also don't know what Manafort has done wrong. He has most certainly NOT conspired against the United States. If he cheated on his taxes, that's not a matter for a Special Counsel, that's a matter for the IRS or the Tax Division of the DOJ, and he's not even charged with tax evasion. Failing to pay income taxes is not money laundering.

    There is no law against Americans having offshore bank accounts. There's no law against having interests in offshore companies based in other countries either. Also, just because you do business with a foreign government or foreign entity "linked" to some government doesn't mean you have to register as a foreign agent, either. You have to register as a foreign agent when you are lobbying in the US for that government. Lobbying doesn't mean advising or helping or providing services, it means lobbying on behalf of that government.

    Are Apple and Microsoft foreign agents of China because they do business there with the Chinese government? Are they foreign agents when they pander for open borders, increased immigration and free trade treason? As much as I'd like to throw them all in jail, no they are not foreign agents and do not need to register as such. They are business people making money doing business in a foreign country, something Americans have done since before we were a nation with a Constitution and every day since. International business is an important part of life and freedom, nothing at all wrong with it, unless it harms our businesses, so as a protectionist, I want tariffs slapped on those products and services when they are made there and back-hauled into the US, and tax cuts to encourage manufacturing in our country, so we can both Buy American and Hire American as often as possible.

    So in any event, I don't know if Manafort and Gates broke any laws, but Manafort is a very smart guy, so I honestly doubt it, did he stretch some interpretations of our laws, probably, most businesses do, but that is not a crime, that is not money laundering, that is not even tax evasion and it most certainly is NOT "conspiracy against the United States".

    And for Robert Mueller to claim it is, well, that tells me one thing, we need a Special Counsel to investigate Robert Mueller, James Comey and Rob Rosenstein, because using government funds to try to overturn a Presidential Election IS "conspiracy against the United States". It's called a "coup d'etat" and those are illegal in the United States.

    So our dear President will just have to ride it out and keep on keeping on. It's a shame, what should be a joyous process of fixing our country has been tarnished by the SWAMP CREATURES who created this mess to begin with, but I have every confidence in the world in this President to prevail against his ugly foes as well as fix our country.

    GO TRUMP GO!! Best advice from this corner, keep tweeting and let Mueller et al fall by their own bad deeds. Manafort knows how to defend himself and in that process he will expose Mueller for the total Nevertrump jerk he is and Congress will grow a spine, see it for the travesty it is, and shut it down by cutting the funding for it.

    Of course, there's always the leadership in the DOJ, like Sessions, the Attorney General, who should never have recused himself to begin with, to unrecuse himself, and get himself back in charge of the Department he was appointed to lead and manage. But I suppose that's too much to hope for at this point, but hope away i will anyway.
    Last edited by Judy; 11-01-2017 at 05:12 AM.
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