As its trail of arrests gets closer to U.S. President Donald Trump, the Russia investigation is facing a multi-front assault. The attacks have ramped up following news that Trump’s close confidant Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty and become an informant.
The president’s defenders are now seeking to poke holes in, and undermine, the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller. Here are six avenues of attack:
1. Mueller is biased: “It’s so disturbing and troubling,” Trump aide Kellyanne Conway told Fox News on Monday. She was speaking about weekend news that the Mueller probe removed a top investigator over the summer, after the discovery of texts to a lover blasting the president. This is atop reports that the same FBI investigator, Peter Strzok, was a key figure in the emails investigation that yielded no charges against Hillary Clinton. And there’s more: a paper trail of political donations shows several senior probe employees have a history of donating to Democrats. Another report said Strzok was involved in interviewing Flynn. Said Republican lawmaker Ron DeSantis: “It was almost as if they bent over backwards not to make the case on Hillary. With the Mueller probe, they’re just scorching the earth finding whatever little ticky-tack charge they can find on anyone… (Strzok’s role) undercuts the legitimacy of both those investigations.”
2. Presidents can’t be charged for obstructing justice: This is potentially a key question. There’s evidence Trump tried thwarting an investigation into Flynn. The argument here is he’s allowed to. Trump lawyer John Dowd expressed it via the Axios website: “The president cannot obstruct justice.” Harvard scholar Alan Dershowitz says Trump has constitutional power — to pardon Flynn himself, to fire the FBI director, and to issue instructions to the Justice Department. So what’s the legal problem if he orders the FBI to lay off Flynn, Dershowitz asks: “We’d have a constitutional crisis (if Trump is charged with obstruction),” he told Fox News. “You cannot charge a president with obstruction of justice for exercising his constitutional power.” He says presidents can only be charged with obstruction that involves innately illegal acts — like the Nixon White House destroying evidence and paying hush money. Other legal scholars call this a laughable, quasi-regal, anti-democratic argument. One headline on the Vox website said, “Trump’s lawyer: the president can’t obstruct justice. 13 legal experts (say): yes, he can.” A list of law professors cited legal precedents, and the fact that the president’s power comes from the Constitution — the same Constitution that says he must faithfully execute the law. Peter Shane of Ohio State University called the Dershowitz-Dowd argument “nonsense.”
3. It’s a nothing-burger: They say this investigation is built on a flawed foundation. Mueller’s probe was struck to examine collusion with Russia — during the election. His critics note that four people are now charged — two for financial crimes predating the election, two for lying to the FBI after the election. This view is articulated in a Washington Examiner piece, “Was it all about the Logan Act?” In this narrative, the root of the probe is a dust-gathering, never-used law from 1799, the Logan Act, which forbids people from undermining U.S. foreign policy: Flynn spoke with Russians during the presidential transition; the FBI then questioned him about it; Flynn lied; he and Comey were forced out; Flynn was charged; now he’s a co-operating witness against Trump. A closely related argument involves the notorious Steele dossier — a document filled with jaw-dropping allegations that the Russians spent years recruiting Trump as an asset, and collecting blackmail material on him. The document was gathered by a former British spy and handed to the FBI. But his original customers were Trump campaign opponents. Critics now argue that any evidence stemming from this dossier is illegitimate. Others say this entire line of attack is wishful thinking — there are already several documented communications during the campaign with Russians, or suspected Russian intermediaries like Wikileaks, and some other investigation targets, like Paul Manafort, had reportedly been under surveillance for years.
4. Cut off funding: This is reportedly the route suggested by Steve Bannon. Trump’s ex-staffer, and still-ally, doesn’t want him to fire Mueller. He’s publicly said so. What he’s urging, reports say, is that Congress slash Mueller’s funding. That view is articulated by pro-Trump senator Steve King, who told Politico: “For them to say to us, ‘Vote for an open-ended appropriation into a Mueller witch hunt,’ I think you’ll see significant objection.”
5. Fire Mueller: Canadian friend of Trump Conrad Black suggests how to make this happen. Deriding the investigation as a “never-ending fishing expedition,” Black proposed a chain-reaction of moves, starting with Rex Tillerson’s removed as secretary of state — shift the CIA director to the State Department; appoint to the CIA Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has recused himself from Russia-related matters; have Dershowitz replace Sessions; have Dershowitz kill the probe.
6. Rally the base: Ultimately, politics could decide all of this. Trump’s fate could eventually rest with Congress, given the legal realities — the president’s power to pardon; doubts about whether a sitting president can be charged; and the aforementioned debate about obstruction of justice. Impeachment, the ultimate political punishment, requires a two-thirds vote in both chambers of Congress. That’s 290 in the House, 67 in the Senate. It means more than 100 Republicans would have to turn on their president. And the full-throated assault on Mueller — from Trump’s Twitter feed, Fox News, and conservative news outlets — provides a daily rallying cry for the ranks to remain united.
Lucy Parsons Project Racists Protest Pakistanian Middle Eastern Cafe in San Fransisco
Looks like the GOP can’t help funding fake “progressive” organizations under the guise of fighting for black rights. What’s the new “cause?” A half dozen white women have been daily protesting a local Middle Eastern Cafe owned by a Manny Yekutiel, a man of Pakistani Jewish Descent whose family fled persecution in Pakistan.
Manny Yekutiel opened his eponymous Manny’s in November, calling the Middle Eastern cafe and restaurant in downtown San Francisco a “civic social gathering space.” His goal for the Mission District eatery was “to create a central, accessible and affordable place to go to become a better informed and more involved citizen,” he told the San Francisco Examiner.
Manny’s has earned praise for hosting talks with speakers on issues ranging from Black Lives Matter to urban sustainability.
But Yekutiel, who is Jewish, is being protested weekly, accused of espousing “racist, Zionist, pro-Israel ideals.” His café has been vandalized and painted with anti-Semitic and anti-Israel slogans over and over again — mainly by White racists.
The only allegation seemingly against him is that he is Jewish. Yekutiel has even said he does not support everything the Israeli government does and disagrees with its treatment of the Palestinians — and has many friends who are Palestinian.
Yekutiel reportedly has met nearly all the requirements of United to Save the Mission, a coalition of more than a dozen neighborhood nonprofits and activist groups. They include bilingual signage and staff, moderate prices (a cup of coffee is $1.75) and food prepared by a nonprofit employing homeless, formerly incarcerated and low-income community members, who earn all the food revenue. Community groups can use the space for free.
Trump Promotes “Hitler Lover” Buchanan
Despite claiming 20 years ago that Pat Buchanan was a “Hitler Lover,” the President is now quoting him in tweets.
Last week, Buchanan posted an article on the anti-immigration site Vdare.com that implored Trump to declare a national emergency on the southern border, “because mass migration from the global South, not climate change, is the real existential crisis of the West.” Trump has publicly considered such a declaration as a way to go around Congress in order to secure funding for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
On Sunday, the president quoted a portion of Buchanan’s post in a pair of tweets. The first said, “‘The Trump portrait of an unsustainable Border Crisis is dead on,'” and then listed a number of immigration-related crime statistics. Buchanan did not cite the source of the data, but the context indicated it was from the Trump administration.
In 1999, Trump called Buchanan a “Hitler lover” and said it was “incredible that anybody could embrace this guy.” Buchanan, who has often been accused of expressing racist and anti-Semitic views, at the time was seeking the Reform Party’s nomination for president.
“Look, he’s a Hitler lover,” Trump said on “Meet the Press” in October 1999. “I guess he’s an anti-Semite. He doesn’t like the blacks. He doesn’t like the gays. It’s just incredible that anybody could embrace this guy.”
Every Border Congressperson Opposes Trump Wall
Despite being both republicans and democrats, they have one thing in common: they are completely against a border wall in their district and say no one living there wants it.
Congressman Vincente Gonzalez, a democrat, says he’s not against border security at all.
“I think we can deal with Central American migration in a humane way, have humanitarian centers, even have asylum hearings there. We have the knowhow and we have the experience because we have been doing it here in our southern border. I think we should share that with them and try to attack the problem further south,” said Gonzalez.
Congressman Gonzalez says there needs to be an immigration bill to take care of the immigrants who are in the United States now and set up temporary migrant worker programs like the country has done in the past.
During a private dinner with Mr. Trump last year, the congressman suggested a “virtual border wall,” one that would use technology and existing military surveillance equipment currently not in use. But Mr. Trump wasn’t interested in non-physical alternatives, Gonzalez said.
The USA TODAY Network asked the 534 members of the House and Senate whether they support the $1.6 billion down payment approved by the House and found fewer than 25% of Republicans willing to stand up for the plan publicly.