Top House Democrats Want Sessions Punished For Breaking Federal Law

In spite of the current administration’s endemic corruption, and congressional Republicans complicit involvement in covering up, or at least ignoring, blatant corruption and criminal acts, it was surprising there was little outrage after it was revealed the Attorney General committed perjury before the Senate. Even for corrupt Republicans, it seemed impossible they would do or say nothing about the nation’s top lawman committing a federal felony with impunity, but apparently there really is a perverted sense of honor among Republican criminals. Now, because Jeff Sessions was able to commit a federal felony and then get rewarded with a cabinet level position, he broke the law again. But Democrats are finally taking the criminal Sessions’ actions seriously and calling for his discipline at the least, and by rights summary termination.

The day following Trump’s obstruction of justice in firing James Comey, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) labeled Sessions’ role in the criminal obstruction of justice endeavor a “blatant disregard for the pledge he made in his recusal letter.” Remember, proud evangelical Sessions had to recuse himself from “any investigations” related to the Russian interference in the 2016 election because he violated the Ninth Commandment (he lied) about his contacts with Russians during the campaign. Wyden’s point, and it is beyond refute, is that Sessions violated that “public recusal” when, as attorney general, he played an integral role in firing the FBI Director overseeing the probe into Russian interference in the election; thus Senator Wyden’s remark that Sessions displayed “blatant disregard for the pledge he made in his recusal letter.

On Friday, two House Democrats went farther than just talking about Sessions’ violations and rightly asserted that indeed, in violating two very public recusal pledges, the Attorney General broke the law. The House Oversight Committee’s top Democrat, Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD) was joined by the highest ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, Representative John Conyers (D-Mich.) in issuing a letter to the Department of Justice demanding disciplinary action for Sessions’ federal violations.

In their letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, senior House Democrats Conyers and Cummings not only informed Rosenstein that Sessions broke another federal law, they demanded to know what kind of discipline the Deputy Attorney General was going to impose on the nation’s top law enforcement official. They wrote in part:

We are writing to request your assistance in addressing the crisis of confidence created by Attorney General Jeff Sessions when he participated directly in the decision to fire FBI Director James Comey despite the fact that he previously recused himself from any actions involving the investigations of the Trump and Clinton presidential campaigns.

It appears that the Attorney General’s actions recommending that Trump fire Director Comey may have contradicted his sworn testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee at his confirmation hearing, breached the public recusal he made before the American people, and violated the law enacted by Congress to prevent conflicts of interest at the Department of Justice.

Federal law sets forth as a penalty for recusal violations removal from office, and the Attorney General’s violation in this case appears to be particularly grave. Since you are the acting Attorney General in this particular matter, we call on you to explain the measures that now may be required to mete out appropriate discipline in this case.” (author bold)

The issues leading to Sessions committing another federal crime are his blatant violation of two separate recusal promises related to the 2016 presidential campaign. First, during his Senate confirmation hearing, Sessions promised to recuse himself from any investigation involving Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton because of the several derogatory statements he made about her while he was actively campaigning for the Trump.

Second, Sessions succumbed to public and Democratic pressure on March 2 after it was revealed he committed perjury under oath in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee when he could no longer conceal that he lied that he had no contacts with Russia’s ambassador. But instead of resigning from Trump’s Cabinet, or being charged with perjury, removed from office, and prosecuted, Sessions simply recused himself from “any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States.

The two House Democrats’ letter to Rosenstein, also complicit in aiding Trump’s obstruction of justice in Mr. Comey’s dismissal, asserted that Sessions broke the law by violating his recusal promises in several ways.

First, the Democrats point out that in his May 9 letter to Trump recommending Comey’s immediate termination, Sessions specifically agreed with the assessment by Rosenstein that Comey mishandled the “investigation into Clinton’s emails.”

That was a direct contradiction to Sessions’ first recusal promise and it is a contradiction widely publicized and in writing. And, in Representative Conyers and Cummings’ letter they particularly cited a report in Reuters that Jeff Sessions, Rod Rosenstein, and Trump met with and asked the then-FBI Director Comey to give them a preview of his testimony into the “Clinton email investigation” when he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 3; another violation of Sessions’ stated recusal.

As far as Jeff Sessions’ very public recusal regarding the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s involvement in the election on Trump’s behalf, the House Democrats specifically made note of “multiple press reports that stated that Mr. Comey’s dismissal in which Sessions was a direct participant was directly related to the FBI’s ongoing Russia investigation.” That particular contention, that Comey was fired because of the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference, was confirmed by Trump himself in a nationally-televised interview with NBC’s Lester Holt; an interview in which Trump all but admitted to obstructing justice.

According to Representatives Conyers and Cummings, Jeff Sessions’ actions merit some serious disciplinary action, including termination. As the Democrats proffered, Sessions certainly broke a federal law “barring Justice Department officials from participating in any investigation that presents a conflict of interest.” And, as if to punctuate their assertion that Sessions is guilty, Conyers and Cummings demanded that Rosenstein answer questions about Sessions’ conduct leading up to his violating two recusal promises.

Those questions include whether Sessions took the time or proper step of consulting with ethics officials regarding his involvement in matters relating to Comey’s firing, and whether Sessions had taken part in any discussions about the Clinton email or Russia investigations; something his meeting with, and letter to, Trump would inform that he certainly did.

The chance that the Deputy Attorney General will be any more law abiding or honest than Sessions or Trump seems slim to non-existent. This is especially true if he joined Trump and Sessions in asking the FBI Director to reveal in advance what his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee would entail. In fact, once one realizes that this entire affair is being run by corrupt and criminal Republicans from the Oval Office to the House to the Senate to the Department of Justice, there is little hope whatsoever that justice will ever be served. If Jeff Sessions was able to blatantly commit perjury under oath before the Senate with impunity and then be rewarded with a cabinet position, no Republican alive is going to hold him accountable for breaking another federal law.

Washington Post Offers Brilliant and Reasoned Endorsement of Hillary Clinton

Anyone familiar with a newspaper editorial board’s process of deciding which candidate to endorse for any office in any election will confess it can be a lengthy and sometimes contentious task. Two weeks ago when the New York Times editorial board endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, anyone with a pulse could see the board did its due diligence and put forward a well-researched and well-conceived rationale for endorsing Clinton. Late this week, the Washington Post weighed in on the presidential election and officially endorsed Hillary Clinton and gave what is arguably the most well thought-out and clearly reasoned endorsement of any candidate in recent memory.

Although the Post methodically laid out its reasons for endorsing Ms. Clinton, the editorial’s first paragraph really said everything any of their readers needed to know about Clinton as a superior choice over not just Donald Trump, but any candidate from any party.

There is a well-qualified, well-prepared candidate on the ballot. Hillary Clinton has the potential to be an excellent president of the United States, and we endorse her without hesitation.”

In similar fashion of the NYT’s endorsement, the Post did not focus on why Donald Trump is “dreadful” or why Clinton is the “lesser of two evils;” because it is not why the board endorsed her. However, like any thoughtful endorsement it did not shy away from why it believes, right or wrong, that some Americans dislike and distrust the former Secretary of State and U.S. Senator. The piece carefully explained how and why it believes Hillary could have handled the past 25 years of conservative attacks on her character better.

Interestingly, the endorsement did note what it called Clinton’s “genuine flaws, missteps and weaknesses;” of which one, a lack of charisma, the board considered an asset in America’s “angrily divided nation” where, if elected, she will have to govern and work with a political party “determined to thwart her.”

It is worth taking the 4 minutes to read the Post’s endorsement, but there was one specific point that stands out as justification for the opening paragraph about Clinton being “well-qualified and well-prepared” to be “an excellent president.”

In a few words with significant weight behind them, the Post said Hillary Clinton is “dogged, resilient, purposeful and smart. She does not let her feelings get in the way of the job at hand. She is well positioned to get something done,” and she will not be deterred from progress by a defeat no matter how brutal.

The Post specifically noted that instead of holding “some grudges” toward Republicans who “lambasted her husband in the most personal terms” during an impeachment fiasco, after winning election to the Senate in 2000 “colleagues in both parties found her to be businesslike, knowledgeable, intent on accomplishment, willing to work across the aisle and less focused than most on getting credit.”

On domestic issues, the Post remarked that “Ms. Clinton’s agenda is commendable, and parts may actually be achievable: immigration reform; increased investment in infrastructure, research and education, paid for by higher taxes on the wealthy; sounder family-leave policies; criminal-justice reform. In an era of slowing growth and growing income inequality, these all make sense, as do her support for curbing climate change and for regulating gun ownership.”

On all of those issues, the editorial board noted that Clinton may not please some farther-left Democrats or hard-right Republicans, but because this is a divided America and progress comes in excruciatingly painful incremental steps, her steady hand, knowledge, and intent on accomplishment by working across the aisle will achieve results; if only incrementally.

What was surprising, really, was the Post’s remark that “Ms. Clinton underlined her fitness for office in what was essentially the first major decision of her potential presidency: her choice of Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) as running mate.” The Post noted, rightly, that “Ms. Clinton selected a person of sound judgment, with executive and legislative experience and unquestionable capacity to serve as president if necessary.” It was an executive-level choice that demonstrated Clinton’s “seriousness of purpose and relentless commitment to achievements in the public interest” instead of making a choice based on exciting “this or that part of her base.”

The Post ended its endorsement with a point that did not have to be made and really did nothing to substantiate the worth of a major newspaper’s otherwise brilliant endorsement. It said, “We believe that Ms. Clinton will prove a worthy example to girls who celebrate the election of America’s first female president. We believe, too, that anyone who votes for her will be able to look back, four years from now, with pride in that decision.”

Anyone who supports or votes for Hillary Clinton should not do so based on her gender regardless the historical or role model value for girls or women. The only reason to support Clinton’s candidacy is because she is “well-qualified and well-prepared to be an excellent president;” the most important reason offered by the Washington Post editorial board.

 

h/t shoq

Bernie Sanders Didn’t Lie – He Blamed Media Because He Believed a Lie

 

It is, or it can be, easy to get caught up during a hotly-contested campaign and make statements that one might reconsider making after the fact. But if that  is the case, the wise thing to do is “walk back” the offending statement as elegantly as possible and if the statement was based on a gross error, or dog forbid a blatant lie, then admit the misstep, apologize, and move forward with the campaign.

Over the past couple of days all the rage has been the two Democratic candidates for the nomination claiming their opponent is “unqualified to be president.” The only problem is that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton never said Senator Bernie Sanders is unqualified to be president; even though she was given three prime opportunities to do so.

In fact, Mrs. Clinton was pressured by MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, three times, to state categorically that “Senator Sanders is not qualified to be president.” She refused to be dragged into what is typical of Republican politicians Scarborough is used to easily manipulating into saying what he wanted to hear. Hillary Clinton is not a Republican, and since she is very dedicated to maintaining Democratic unity, she was not about to be manipulated by the likes of “Morning Joe.”

Apparently, Senator Sanders, or his staff, failed to verify reports that Mrs. Clinton said on national television that he was unqualified to serve as president, so he reciprocated during a campaign speech. He said,

She has been saying, lately, that she thinks that I am quote-unquote ‘not qualified to be president.’ Let me just say in response to Secretary Clinton that I don’t believe she is qualified if she is, through her Super Pac, taking tens of millions from special interests.”

Now there are two specific problems with the Senator’s remarks. First and foremost; Hillary Clinton never said Sanders is unqualified despite being aggressively pressed on the issue three times. Second, taking special interest money does not make a candidate “unqualified to be president.”

If that were the case then Senator Sanders is as unqualified as he claims Mrs. Clinton is because he takes millions in special interest money as well; including from wealthy Hollywood elites and there is nothing wrong with it. It is, unfortunately, the nature of American politics and not a reason for either of Democratic candidates to be considered “unqualified” to serve.

What is wrong is that the Senator reacted negatively, and hastily, to something that never occurred. It is curious that no-one on his campaign staff alerted him that regardless what he might have heard, or wanted to believe about Mrs. Clinton, she refused to stoop so low as to say he was unqualified to serve despite being “aggressively pressed” three times. As one writer notedMrs. Clinton did what a ‘statesman’ would do;” take the high road to maintain unity with the Democratic base.

It took a day or so, but Senator Sanders did kind of walk back his statement regarding Mrs. Clinton’s qualifications to serve, but he blamed the media during a press conference yesterday for instigating his untoward remark about Mrs. Clinton’s qualifications. Senator Sanders even said he did not want to get into “that type of politics.”

This is not the type of politics that I want to get in, I know it’s what the media loves. It is not the type of politics that I want to get in, but let me also be very clear. If Secretary Clinton thinks that I just come from the small state of Vermont, we are not used to this, we will get used to it fast.”

Maybe that is how they apologize and say I made a mistake in  Vermont, but if that is the case it was unconvincing and likely irritated a few more on the left. The simplest thing to tell the press, his supporters, and the American people was not about being a victim of the media, but that he simply overreacted before vetting what he believed was a slight against his character and qualifications.

As noted by other columnists, “Simply calling your opponent ‘unqualified’ isn’t necessarily the wisest thing to do, but if it’s how you feel, it also isn’t necessarily earth-shattering heresy.”  Unless, however, that comment is based on a blatant lie with video verification it was a blatant lie; no matter where the lie originated. Senator Sanders’ comment rankled Hillary supporters and no small number of Democrats,  but a different response from the Senator would have allowed them to get over it and have a new sense of respect for Bernie and his campaign.

Even after learning it was lie, it was  unforgivable to shift the blame to the media; it is what Republicans do and it is beneath Senator Sanders as a man of integrity. It does not take any effort to say “I was wrong, I overreacted and I shouldn’t have; I apologize.” A comment like that would go a long ways to combat the “Bernie Lied” articles making the rounds on the Internet. What Bernie did was overreact to a lie, but made it worse by blaming the media instead of his campaign.

As yet another columnist commented, this nominating primary is not some kind of amateur game without serious consequences for the entire nation. It is all well and good to fight for the nomination, but as noted here, here, and here, anything serving to divide the left is a win for Republicans. It is exactly why the Karl Rove types are spending tens-of-millions to feed the “Left’s” smear campaign against Mrs. Clinton’s character.

Senator Sanders says he does not want to get into dirty politicking and that he wants to lead the most powerful nation on earth.  But as mentioned here, “if he can’t admit a simple mistake or apologize for it – which is what blame-shifting amounts to – his qualifications for the Democratic nomination may be fine. It’s his character that becomes a matter of debate.”

It is too bad that instead of a simple apology and “a strong walk-back by Senator Sanders himself,” Bernie made it look like he can be easily manipulated by a headline; one he was quick to blame for leading him to engage in exactly “the type of politics” he says does not want to get into. It is too late though, because blaming the media just defined the “type of politics” the Democratic campaign is now into and that is indeed very sad and unproductive.