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Tag: editorial

LA Times: Congressional Republicans Ignore Facts to Protect Trump

U.S. Capitol

By Editorial Board
Los Angeles Times

Following President Trump’s questionable lead, some congressional Republicans are trying to sow doubt about the integrity and impartiality of the FBI and the investigation led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. That investigation already has resulted in an indictment of Trump’s former campaign chairman and a guilty plea by his first national security advisor, and it shows no sign of concluding.

On Thursday, four days after Trump tweeted that the FBI’s reputation was “in tatters,” Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte (R-Va.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told FBI Director Christopher A. Wray: “We cannot afford for the FBI — which has traditionally been dubbed the premier law enforcement agency in the world — to become tainted by politicization or the perception of a lack of even-handedness.”

True enough, but the question is whether such a perception is fair or the result of politically motivated exaggeration by the president and his supporters. So far the evidence points strongly in the latter direction. That comes as no surprise — the attacks on the FBI fit a clear pattern of misdirection and deflection by the Trump administration and its GOP allies on the issue of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

To read more click here.

Baltimore Sun: Trump’s Tweetstorm Slamming FBI Rings Shallow

By Editorial Board
Baltimore Sun

It’s not every day that a sitting president savages as “in tatters” the reputation of the federal government’s top law enforcement arm, but it is a fairly common practice for those who have something to fear from police and prosecutors to attack them as biased, ineffectual or dishonest. Given that Donald Trump’s extraordinary claim that the agency’s standing is the “worst in history” came not long after his former national security adviser admitted to lying to an FBI agent about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, Americans can draw their own conclusions as to what’s going on.

Nothing much surrounding President Trump’s latest frenetic Twitter storm is especially shocking. Not Michael T. Flynn’s guilty plea. Not the prospect that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is closing in on the president’s inner circle. And certainly not Mr. Trump’s customary counter-punch strategy directed mostly at familiar targets, former FBI Director James B. Comey and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. What would have been far more surprising would have been for Mr. Trump to remain silent and not give the nation further reason to suspect that he is seeking to obstruct justice.

Perhaps the most notable moment of all came Sunday when Mr. Trump’s attorney, John Dowd, took responsibility for an especially problematic Saturday tweet in which the president admitted he knew Mr. Flynn had lied to the FBI before he fired him — which strongly suggests he knew his adviser had committed a crime when he asked Mr. Comey to go easy on him after the firing (something Mr. Comey testified to under oath before Congress). Mr. Dowd said he dictated that particular tweet and sent it to the White House social media director to be posted.

Does anyone seriously believe Mr. Dowd actually did that? Or was he just protecting his client from a criminal charge (keeping in mind that the tweet in question was one of 10 on the subject of the Russia investigation from Mr. Trump’s account)?

Also in classic Trumpian fashion, the president took a small development and blew it entirely out of context.

To read more click here.

L.A. Times: Mission of Justice Department Is Not ‘Lock Her Up’

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions


By Editorial Board
Los Angeles Times

We live in a country of laws and no one should be above them. That includes the president. And it also includes Hillary Clinton, the president’s former campaign opponent. Where there is reason to believe wrongdoing or self-dealing has occurred in violation of the laws there should be an investigation and if necessary a prosecution.

But the calls by some Republicans for a special counsel to investigate Clinton smack of something other than a desire for evenhanded enforcement of the law. Rather, they are part of a desperate effort by the president, his allies in Congress and the right-wing media to take the focus off the tangled investigations into the Trump campaign’s conduct, and particularly into any possible collusion with Russia.

Earlier this month Trump tweeted: “Everybody is asking why the Justice Department (and FBI) isn’t looking into all of the dishonesty going on with Crooked Hillary & the Dems.” Meanwhile, Republican members of Congress have offered up a grab bag of incidents and insinuations they claim justify the appointment of a special counsel.

This dubious bill of particulars includes Clinton’s (minimal) role as secretary of state in the approval of the purchase by a Russian company of a controlling stake in Uranium One, a uranium company whose major investor had contributed to the Clinton Foundation; the investigation of Clinton’s use of a private email server (yes, they’re still on about that); and the Democrats’ funding of the so-called “dossier” about Trump and Russia, which some Republicans theorize was the genesis of electronic surveillance of members of the Trump campaign.

On Tuesday Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions told the House Judiciary Committee that any decision to name another special counsel would be guided by law, not politics. But his comments were only partly reassuring.

To read more click here.

NYT: Republicans’ Handling of Sessions Testimony Was Irresponsible

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before Congress about contacts between Trump's campaign and Russia.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before Congress about contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

By Editorial Board
The New York Times

The House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, at which Attorney General Jeff Sessions faced more than five hours of questions, was supposed to be about oversight of the Justice Department.

The committee’s Republicans appeared to have missed that memo. Instead, they toggled between sweet-talking Mr. Sessions — “This is so great to have you here today,” “I sure appreciate your service” — and demanding that he appoint a special prosecutor to investigate a raft of allegations, most half-baked if not entirely raw, against Hillary Clinton, her campaign for president and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

From the supposedly crooked deal that Mrs. Clinton engineered to sell off America’s uranium to the Russians, to the Clinton-Democratic National Committee-F.B.I. conspiracy behind the dossier on Donald Trump, to the tarmac meeting in 2016 between Mr. Clinton and President Barack Obama’s attorney general, Loretta Lynch — no Republican talking point was left unspoken.

It’s not surprising that, after 10 months of the chaotic, scandal-strewn Trump presidency and a steady flow of revelations about the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, Republicans in Congress are desperate to talk about something, anything, else. What better way to distract from the investigation of the current special counsel, Robert Mueller, than to call for a criminal investigation of the president’s defeated opponent?

Committee Republicans asked the Justice Department to appoint another special counsel back in July, and appeared frustrated that it hasn’t happened yet. “It sure looks like a major political party was working with the federal government” to gin up a dossier and get the F.B.I. to “spy on Americans associated with President Trump’s campaign,” Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio said. “Doesn’t that warrant naming a second special counsel?”

To read more click here. 

NYT: Behind the Desperate Propaganda to Discredit Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia Probe

Robert Mueller, via FBI

Robert Mueller, via FBI

Editorial Board
New York Times

And then they came for Robert Mueller.

If there were any remaining hope that Republicans would accept the precise, methodical work of this veteran, highly respected, Republican-appointed law enforcement official — the man Newt Gingrich once called a “superb choice to be special counsel” — it has evaporated in a fog of propaganda and delirious conspiracy theories.

In the real world, Mr. Mueller, appointed as special counsel after President Trump fired the F.B.I. director, James Comey, in May, is doing the job he was hired to do — smoke out any and all links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government officials who assaulted American sovereignty in 2016 in an effort to get Mr. Trump elected. These days, the most serious attacks on American governance are coming not from abroad, but from Mr. Trump’s aides and his allies in the right-wing media and Congress. As ludicrous as these attacks seem, they could yet lead to a constitutional crisis.

Reading the increasingly outlandish theories cooked up by Mr. Trump’s defenders and apologists is like entering an alternate, upside-down universe where Hillary Clinton remains Public Enemy No. 1.

In these irrelevant tales, Mrs. Clinton (or, as Sean Hannity called her on Monday, “President Clinton”) is the real colluder, working stealthily with the Russians to — stay with us here — destroy her own candidacy. Also, she and Bill Clinton once sold American uranium to the Russians. Also, Robert Mueller failed to fully investigate that sale when he led the F.B.I., so he’s complicit in it, too, not to mention he has ties to Mr. Comey, who also led the F.B.I. Also, some of his investigators donated to Democratic candidates.

These efforts at obfuscation and misdirection would be laughable, but they are linked to a very real and dangerous move by Trump allies throughout right-wing media and the government to shut down the Russia investigation for good.

To read more click here.

NYT: Internet Users Should Be Alarmed by DOJ’s Pursuit of DreamHost Information

computer-photoBy Editorial Board
New York Times

Do you use the internet? Are you interested in politics? Do you value your privacy? If you answered yes, you should be alarmed by the shockingly broad search warrant sought by the Justice Department, and approved by a judge in Washington, D.C., last month, targeting DreamHost, an internet hosting company based in Los Angeles.

As DreamHost explained in a blog post on Monday, it hosts disruptj20.org, a website that helped organize anti-Trump protests on Inauguration Day, and posted pictures of those protests in the days after. There were large-scale protests across Washington on Jan. 20, most of which involved peaceful marches or sit-ins. But some people turned to violence, breaking store windows, setting fires, throwing rocks at police officers and, in one case, assaulting Richard Spencer, the white nationalist, during a television interview. More than 200 people have been charged with felony rioting.

As part of its continuing investigation, the Justice Department demanded that DreamHost turn over “all records or other information” relating to the site, which received more than 1.3 million requests to view its pages in six days after the inauguration. Those records include personal information like I.P. addresses, which identify a specific computer; data about which of the site’s pages a user viewed, and when; and the type of operating software on that person’s computer. Federal prosecutors are also seeking all emails, photos and other content sent to and from the site.

“That information could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express political speech protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment,” DreamHost wrote in its blog post.

It doesn’t matter whether the visitor is suspected of participating in a crime, or is even known to have attended the protests. If someone clicked anywhere on the site from anywhere in the world, the government wants to know.

To read more click here. 

Times of Trenton: Trump’s Justice Department Erodes Constitutional Rights

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

By Editorial Board
Times of Trenton

“It tears at the fabric of our great nation and does not move us forward; it takes us backwards.”

With these terse words, more than 60 members of Congress – including half a dozen from New Jersey – summed up their dismay over a decision by the U.S. Department of Justice that does an enormous injustice to members of the LGBTQ community.

In a no-holds-barred letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the lawmakers expressed deep disappointment concerning a friend-of-the-court brief the department filed late last month in the case of Zarda v. Altitude Express.

In the brief, the nation’s top law-enforcement body claims that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect lesbians, gays or bisexual people from discrimination.

Not so fast, the letter writers argue. Not only is the Justice Department’s action contrary to existing law, they say forcefully, but it also violates the country’s basic ideals of liberty and justice for all.

The original lawsuit under review stems from 2010, when a skydiving instructor named Donald Zarda charged that a former employer, Altitude Express, Inc., violated the Civil Rights Act by discriminating against him because of his sexual orientation.

Star-Tribune: Combating Extremism Must Stay Priority After Homeland Security Resignation

homeland-security-sportsBy Editorial Board
Star-Tribune

The resignation of a top U.S. Department of Homeland Security official has left the agency without a strong, outspoken advocate for locally led efforts to combat homegrown terrorism, a threat that the weekend violence in Charlottesville, Va., put a disturbing spotlight on.

With federal support for these programs now uncertain, private nonprofits and the business community must step up to fill this leadership void.

George Selim, who resigned in late July, led Homeland Security’s Office of Community Partnerships and directed the agency’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) task force. His energetic leadership made him a familiar figure to Minnesota law enforcement authorities and others working here to thwart terror recruiters. Some of these have targeted young people in the state’s large Somali-American community.

Selim, who began his federal career during the George W. Bush administration, merits praise for embracing a more comprehensive approach to fighting extremism. In addition to intercepting recruits and prosecuting them, he argued that preventive measures are needed.

This pragmatic approach is built on the premise that those who put down roots and prosper are less likely to fall prey to recruiters’ deceptive promises. Social services programs that build strong families, as well efforts to “de-radicalize” those who get involved with extremists, are now a critical component of CVE strategy.

Under Selim’s leadership, the Office of Community Partnerships advocated for federal grants to local organizations and finally convinced Congress to appropriate the dollars. The agency awarded the first round of grants in 2016. Two Minnesota organizations received $770,000 in funding: the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and Heartland Democracy, a mentoring program for young people.

Unfortunately, it’s unclear if there will be a second round of grants. Selim’s departure raises troubling questions about CVE’s future. The CVE approach has been controversial in some circles because it’s sometimes deemed too soft an approach to terrorism. Other critics dislike that these dollars help immigrants, while others have wrongly contended that CVE shouldn’t encompass white supremacist groups inside U.S. borders.

To read more click here.