Posts Tagged ‘Hillary Clinton’

Federal judge orders State Department to search for more Clinton Benghazi emails

August 10, 2017

The Obama-nominated judge has ordered a status report by September 22

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A federal judge has ordered the State Department to search for any additional Benghazi-related emails then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may have sent or received from aides Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills or Jake Sullivan at their state.gov addresses.

Judge Amit Mehta, who was nominated by former President Barack Obama, ruled that the State Department should search the state.gov emails as well, noting “this matter is a far cry from a typical FOIA case. Secretary Clinton used a private email server, located in her home, to transmit and receive work-related communications during her tenure as secretary of state.”

The judge has ordered a status report by September 22.

The order, signed Tuesday, came after conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch’s lawsuit for Benghazi emails.

The group argued that the State Department’s search of her emails wasn’t good enough, saying only external sources were searched — including the 30,000 emails turned over to the State Department by Clinton, FBI’s search of Clinton’s private email server and emails turned over by Mills, Abedin, and Sullivan.

The State Department argued that a search of the state.gov emails is unlikely to turn up anything additional.

Politico first reported the judge’s order Wednesday.

Clinton’s emails were a subject of controversy during her 2016 presidential campaign after it was revealed that she used a private email server during her tenure at the State Department.

Clinton has cited the controversy, particularly former FBI Director James Comey’s decision in late October to tell Congress the bureau was looking at emails thought to be potentially related to the investigation into her use of the server, as a key reason for why she lost.

http://www.wcvb.com/article/babysitters-arrested-charged-with-assault-endangerment/11663372

Charles Krauthammer: Jeff Sessions and Trump’s deeply repellent vindictiveness in the service of a pathological need to display dominance

July 28, 2017

Sessions lessons


Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)

 Opinion writer July 27 at 7:51 PM

Transparency, thy name is Trump, Donald Trump. No filter, no governor, no editor lies between his impulses and his public actions. He tweets, therefore he is.

Ronald Reagan was so self-contained and impenetrable that his official biographer was practically driven mad trying to figure him out. Donald Trump is penetrable, hourly.

Never more so than during his ongoing war on his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions. Trump has been privately blaming Sessions for the Russia cloud. But rather than calling him in to either work it out or demand his resignation, Trump has engaged in a series of deliberate public humiliations.

Day by day, he taunts Sessions, calling him “beleaguered” and “very weak” and attacking him for everything from not firing the acting FBI director (which Trump could do himself in an instant) to not pursuing criminal charges against Hillary Clinton.

What makes the spectacle so excruciating is that the wounded Sessions plods on, refusing the obvious invitation to resign his dream job, the capstone of his career. After all, he gave up his safe Senate seat to enter the service of Trump. Where does he go?

Trump relishes such a cat-and-mouse game and, by playing it so openly, reveals a deeply repellent vindictiveness in the service of a pathological need to display dominance.

Dominance is his game. Doesn’t matter if you backed him, as did Chris Christie, cast out months ago. Or if you opposed him, as did Mitt Romney, before whom Trump ostentatiously dangled the State Department, only to snatch it away, leaving Romney looking the foolish supplicant.

Yet the Sessions affair is more than just a study in character. It carries political implications. It has caused the first crack in Trump’s base. Not yet a split, mind you. The base is simply too solid for that. But amid his 35 to 40 percent core support, some are peeling off, both in Congress and in the pro-Trump commentariat.

The issue is less characterological than philosophical. As Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard put it, Sessions was the original Trumpist — before Trump. Sessions championed hard-line trade, law enforcement and immigration policy long before Trump (who criticized Romney in 2012 for being far too tough on illegal immigrants, for example) rode these ideas to the White House.

For many conservatives, Sessions’ early endorsement of Trump served as an ideological touchstone. And Sessions has remained stalwart in carrying out Trumpist policies at Justice. That Trump could, out of personal pique, treat him so rudely now suggests to those conservatives how cynically expedient was Trump’s adoption of Sessions’ ideas in the first place.

But beyond character and beyond ideology lies the most appalling aspect of the Sessions affair — reviving the idea of prosecuting Clinton.

In the 2016 campaign, there was nothing more disturbing than crowds chanting “lock her up,” often encouraged by Trump and his surrogates. After the election, however, Trump reconsidered, saying he would not pursue Clinton, who “went through a lot and suffered greatly.”

Now under siege, Trump has jettisoned magnanimity. Maybe she should be locked up after all.

This is pure misdirection. Even if every charge against Clinton were true and she got 20 years in the clink, it would change not one iota of the truth — or falsity — of the charges of collusion being made against the Trump campaign.

Moreover, in America we don’t lock up political adversaries. They do that in Turkey. They do that (and worse) in Russia. Part of American greatness is that we don’t criminalize our politics.

Last week, Trump spoke at the commissioning of the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier. Ford was no giant. Nor did he leave a great policy legacy. But he is justly revered for his decency and honor. His great gesture was pardoning Richard Nixon, an act for which he was excoriated at the time and which cost him the 1976 election.

It was an act of political self-sacrifice, done for precisely the right reason. Nixon might indeed have committed crimes. But the spectacle of an ex-president on trial and perhaps even in jail was something Ford would not allow the country to go through.

In doing so, he vindicated the very purpose of the presidential pardon. On its face, it’s perverse. It allows one person to overturn equal justice. But the Founders understood that there are times, rare but vital, when social peace and national reconciliation require contravening ordinary justice. Ulysses S. Grant amnestied (technically: paroled) Confederate soldiers and officers at Appomattox, even allowing them to keep a horse for the planting.

In Trump World, the better angels are not in evidence.

To be sure, Trump is indeed examining the pardon power. For himself and his cronies.

Read more from Charles Krauthammer’s archivefollow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/sessions-lessons/2017/07/27/c7810c54-72f0-11e7-9eac-d56bd5568db8_story.html?utm_term=.760c38454d0e

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Hillary to explain ‘What Happened’ in new book — Clinton will double down on her belief that Russian interference cost her the White House

July 27, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Hillary Clinton says “I’m letting my guard down” in promoting her new book, due out September 12

NEW YORK (AFP) – Defeated Democratic White House hopeful Hillary Clinton promises to let her guard down and explain what happened in her shock electoral defeat to Donald Trump, including the mistakes she made, in a book to published in September.

Publishers Simon and Schuster revealed Thursday that the previously unnamed tome would be entitled “What Happened” and would be the former secretary of state’s “most personal memoir yet.”

“In the past, for reasons I try to explain, I’ve often felt I had to be careful in public, like I was up on a wire without a net. Now I’m letting my guard down,” writes Clinton in the introduction.

Her publishers said the book would reveal what Clinton thought and felt during the bruising 2016 campaign that saw her make history as the first US woman to win the presidential nomination from a major party.

It will describe “what it was like” to run against Trump, “the mistakes she made, how she has coped with a shocking and devastating loss, and how she found the strength to pick herself back up,” they said in an announcement ahead of the September 12 release date.

Clinton would take the reader “inside the intense personal experience” of an election “marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules,” Simon and Schuster added.

The tome will also see Clinton double down on her belief that Russian interference cost her the White House.

Clinton has repeatedly blamed her loss on Russian cyberattacks and has alleged that associates of Trump likely had a hand in the effort.

She also says then-FBI director James Comey dealt her campaign a severe blow when — just days before the November election — he briefly revisited an inquiry into the scandal over her use of private email while at the State Department.

“Hillary shows just how dangerous the forces are that shaped the outcome, and why Americans need to understand them to protect our values and our democracy in the future,” Simon and Schuster said.

Trump has recently revived a campaign-era rallying cry that his former rival be prosecuted, setting off alarm bells in Washington and sparking accusations that he is seeking to divert attention from the widening probe into his campaign’s alleged ties with Russia.

Clinton is the author of five previous books, most recently “Hard Choices” published in 2014, as well as “An Invitation to the White House” and “It Takes a Village,” all published by Simon and Schuster.

Trump Consults With Advisers About Firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions

July 25, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has spoken with advisers about firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, officials say, and launched a fresh Twitter tirade Tuesday against the man who was the first U.S. senator to endorse his candidacy.

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!” Trump tweeted.

The president’s anger over Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the government’s investigation of Russian meddling in the U.S. election had burst into public view Monday when he referred to Sessions in a tweet as “beleaguered.” Privately, Trump has speculated aloud to allies in recent days about the potential consequences of firing Sessions, according to three people who have recently spoken to the president. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” that the president is “frustrated and disappointed” with Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia probe.

Image result for Sarah Huckabee Sanders, photos

Sarah Huckabee Sanders

“That frustration certainly hasn’t gone away. And I don’t think it will,” she said.

Trump often talks about making staff changes without following through, so those who have spoken with the president cautioned that a change may not be imminent or happen at all.

“So why aren’t the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations?” the president tweeted Monday. His tweet came just hours before his son-in-law, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, traveled to Capitol Hill to be interviewed about his meetings with Russians.

Trump’s rapid-fire tweeting resumed at daybreak Tuesday, with the president wondering aloud about Sessions’ “VERY weak” position on “Hillary Clinton crimes.”

In another post to his Twitter account, Trump said: “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump campaign — quietly working to boost Clinton. So where is the investigation A.G.”

He also mocked the Russia investigation in congress, suggesting that Congress might want to talk to his 11-year-old son after it finished with Kushner.

“Jared Kushner did very well yesterday in proving he did not collude with the Russians. Witch Hunt. Next up, 11 year old Barron Trump!” he tweeted.

Trump’s intensifying criticism of Sessions has fueled speculation that Sessions may resign even if Trump opts not to fire him. During an event at the White House, Trump ignored a shouted question about whether Sessions should step down. The attorney general said last week he intended to stay in his post.

If Trump were to fire Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would be elevated to the top post on an acting basis. That would leave the president with another attorney general of whom he has been sharply critical in both public and private for his handling of the Russia probe, according to four White House and outside advisers who, like others interviewed, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

It could also raise the specter of Trump asking Rosenstein — or whomever he appoints to fill the position — to fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel leading the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and potential collusion with Trump’s campaign.

Image result for Robert Mueller, photos

Robert Mueller

The name of one longtime Trump ally, Rudy Giuliani, was floated Monday as a possible replacement for Sessions, but a person who recently spoke to the former New York City mayor said that Giuliani had not been approached about the position. Giuliani told CNN on Monday that he did not want the post and would have recused himself had he been in Sessions’ position.

The president’s tweet about the former Alabama senator comes less than a week after Trump, in a New York Times interview, said that Sessions should never have taken the job as attorney general if he was going to recuse himself. Sessions made that decision after it was revealed that he had met with a top Russian diplomat last year.

Image result for Rudy Giuliani,photos

Rudy Giuliani

Trump has seethed about Sessions’ decision for months, viewing it as disloyal — arguably the most grievous offense in the president’s mind — and resenting that the attorney general did not give the White House a proper heads-up before making the announcement that he would recuse himself. His fury has been fanned by several close confidants — including his son Donald Trump Jr, who is also ensnared in the Russia probe — who are angry that Sessions made his decision.

Trump and Sessions’ conversations in recent weeks have been infrequent. Sessions had recently asked senior White House staff how he might patch up relations with the president but that effort did not go anywhere, according to a person briefed on the conversations. Sessions was in the West Wing on Monday but did not meet with the president, according to deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Newt Gingrich, a frequent Trump adviser, said that the president, with his criticisms of Sessions, was simply venting and being “honest about his feelings. But that doesn’t mean he’s going to do anything,” Gingrich said. Still, he said the president’s comments would have repercussions when it comes to staff morale.

Image result for Newt Gingrich, photos

Newt Gingrich

“Anybody who is good at team building would suggest to the president that attacking members of your team rattles the whole team,” Gingrich said.

Sessions and Trump used to be close, sharing both a friendship and an ideology. Sessions risked his reputation when he became the first U.S. senator to endorse the celebrity businessman and his early backing gave Trump legitimacy, especially among the hard-line anti-immigration forces that bolstered his candidacy.

After Trump’s public rebuke last week, Sessions said, “I’m totally confident that we can continue to run this office in an effective way.”

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Lemire reported from New York. Associated Press writers Julie Bykowicz, Sadie Gurman and Catherine Lucey contributed reporting.

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Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire and Colvin at http://twitter.com/@colvinj

Senate Republicans Not Happy Trump Is Picking on “Their Guy” Jeff Sessions

July 25, 2017

JULY 25, 2017 5:00 AM

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions in his office at the Justice Department on June 29, 2017, in Washington. (Photo: Win McNamee, Getty Images)

Why Washington Can’t Quit Qatar

July 24, 2017

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America’s mixed messages on the Qatar crisis have illustrated the complex nature of the allegations against the gas-rich Arabian emirate.
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By Giorgio Cafiero and Daniel Wagner
July 23, 2017

Journalists in Middle Eastern media outlets have been engaged in harsh mudslinging ever since Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain (a.k.a. the quartet) severed diplomatic and economic relations with Qatar last month over Doha’s alleged support for the Islamic State, Al Qaeda and Iranian-backed militias in numerous Arab states. Although some people maintain that the move was long overdue, others argue that for Saudi Arabia to lead the charge was akin to the pot calling the kettle black and that Riyadh, more than any Arab capital, has promoted violent extremism across the Muslim world.

Based on the American diplomatic establishment and the Pentagon’s words and actions since the Qatar crisis erupted, it is clear that Washington, DC plans to continue working closely with all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states in the struggle against terrorism. Nonetheless, the U.S. government’s mixed messages on the Qatar crisis have illustrated the multifaceted and complex nature of the common allegations against the gas-rich Arabian emirate.

High-ranking officials on both sides of the partisan divide in Washington have pointed their fingers at Doha and/or Riyadh, viewing both of them as part of the problem. During Barack Obama’s presidency, Qatar’s ties with Hamas and other Sunni Islamist factions elicited strong condemnation from U.S. lawmakers. John Kerry, who was a senator in 2009, said that “Qatar can’t continue to be an American ally on Monday that sends money to Hamas on Tuesday.” Last month, President Donald Trump accused “high-level” officials in Doha of supporting terrorism, as have neoconservative think tanks, congressmen and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

Earlier this month, in response to the quartet’s thirteen demands for reconciliation with Doha, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s communications adviser, R. C. Hammond, asserted that “this is a two-way street” and that “there are no clean hands.” On July 12, Sen. Bob Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, stated that “the amount of support for terrorism by Saudi Arabia dwarfs what Qatar is doing.” Last year, U.S. lawmakers overrode former president Obama’s veto and passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which implied that the Saudi government had a hand in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. As a candidate for president, Trump supported the legislation, as did Hillary Clinton, although JASTA’s future now appears uncertain.

In the immediate aftermath of Tillerson’s shuttle diplomacy in the GCC, in which he said that Doha’s response to the quartet’s demands were “very reasonable,” it is clear that Washington’s diplomatic establishment continues to value Qatar as a close American ally. Moreover, the United States and Qatar signed a counterterrorism agreement when Tillerson was in Doha on July 11, which followed the two countries completing a $12 billion fighter jet deal in June. Evidently, despite the president’s tweets from last month, Washington and Doha are set on maintaining close ties with the former rejecting the quartet’s case for blockading the latter.

Will this agreement shift the focus toward Riyadh and other GCC capitals, which have accused Doha of patronizing extremism? It appears so. Now the Qataris can claim that they are complying with Washington’s standards for countering terrorism. Either the Saudi/UAE-led bloc of states will now come under pressure to sign similar agreements or explain the reasons behind their refusal to do so. In any event, Washington and Doha’s signing of this anti-terror agreement will undermine the quartet’s efforts to convince the United States to see Qatar through their lens.

For all of the White House’s communications challenges, the U.S. government is committed to strengthening Washington’s counterterrorism cooperation with both Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and it intends to nudge Riyadh and Doha toward reconciliation. Tillerson’s aim is to strengthen the United States and its Sunni Arab allies’ position vis-à-vis the Islamic State and other militant Salafist-jihadist forces, as well as an ascendant Iran. Should diplomatic efforts to mediate a resolution to the Qatar crisis that leaves both sides with a sense security and dignity prove futile, the Trump administration will face a more challenging environment in the Middle East, which will limit the extent to which the White House can achieve its objectives in the region.

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Giorgio Cafiero is the CEO of Gulf State Analytics (@GulfStateAnalyt), a Washington, DC-based geopolitical risk consultancy. Daniel Wagner (@Countryriskmgmt) is Managing Director of Risk Solutions at Risk Cooperative and is writing a new book on cyberterrorism.

Image: Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani meets with U.S. President Donald Trump in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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Trump son to testify before US Senate panel next week

July 20, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Donald Trump Jr is seen in December 2016 as he walks around Trump Tower in New York
WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Donald Trump’s eldest son and a former campaign manager will testify before Congress next week as part of US investigations into the Trump team’s alleged contacts with Russia, a Senate panel announced Wednesday.

Donald Trump Jr and Paul Manafort are scheduled to testify in an open hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday at 10 am (1400 GMT).

Both men attended a controversial meeting with a Russian lawyer last year in which they were expecting to receive dirt from Moscow on Donald Trump’s 2016 election rival Hillary Clinton.

Adding to the political drama in Washington next week, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday, albeit in a closed-door session, CNN reported, citing Kushner’s lawyer.

Kushner, who is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, also attended the June 2016 meeting with the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya.

Trump Jr sent shockwaves through Washington when he confirmed the meeting by releasing a series of emails in which the now-president’s son was told the campaign could get “very high level and sensitive information” that was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

It put Trump’s son and son-in-law at the center of a burgeoning scandal involving multiple US investigations into whether Trump associates colluded with Moscow in its efforts to tilt the 2016 election in the Republican’s favor.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and top Democrat Dianne Feinstein warned in letters to those testifying next week that they need to “preserve all relevant documents in your possession… related to Russian interference in the 2016 election, including documents related to your or the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russian government officials, associates or representatives.”

The senators said they would issue subpoenas if the witnesses did not produce the required documents.

The Trumps and the Truth — Time for radical transparency

July 18, 2017

The Trumps and the Truth

The best defense against future revelations is radical transparency.

U.S. President Donald Trump in the Blue Room of the White House, July 17.
U.S. President Donald Trump in the Blue Room of the White House, July 17. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Even Donald Trump might agree that a major reason he won the 2016 election is because voters couldn’t abide Hillary Clinton’s legacy of scandal, deception and stonewalling. Yet on the story of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, Mr. Trump and his family are repeating the mistakes that doomed Mrs. Clinton.

That’s the lesson the Trumps should draw from the fiasco over Don Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with Russians peddling dirt on Mrs. Clinton. First Don Jr. let news of the meeting leak without getting ahead of it. Then the White House tried to explain it away as a “nothingburger” that focused on adoptions from Russia.

When that was exposed as incomplete, Don Jr. released his emails that showed the Russian lure about Mrs. Clinton and Don Jr. all excited—“I love it.” Oh, and son-in-law Jared Kushner and Beltway bagman Paul Manafort were also at the meeting. Don Jr. told Sean Hannity this was the full story. But then news leaked that a Russian-American lobbyist was also at the meeting.

Even if the ultimate truth of this tale is merely that Don Jr. is a political dunce who took a meeting that went nowhere—the best case—the Trumps made it appear as if they have something to hide. They have created the appearance of a conspiracy that on the evidence Don Jr. lacks the wit to concoct. And they handed their opponents another of the swords that by now could arm a Roman legion.

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Don’t you get it, guys? Special counsel Robert Mueller and the House and Senate intelligence committees are investigating the Russia story. Everything that is potentially damaging to the Trumps will come out, one way or another. Everything. Denouncing leaks as “fake news” won’t wash as a counter-strategy beyond the President’s base, as Mr. Trump’s latest 36% approval rating shows.

Mr. Trump seems to realize he has a problem because the White House has announced the hiring of white-collar Washington lawyer Ty Cobb to manage its Russia defense. He’ll presumably supersede the White House counsel, whom Mr. Trump ignores, and New York outside counsel Marc Kasowitz, who is out of his political depth.

Mr. Cobb has an opening to change the Trump strategy to one with the best chance of saving his Presidency: radical transparency. Release everything to the public ahead of the inevitable leaks. Mr. Cobb and his team should tell every Trump family member, campaign operative and White House aide to disclose every detail that might be relevant to the Russian investigations.

That means every meeting with any Russian or any American with Russian business ties. Every phone call or email. And every Trump business relationship with Russians going back years. This should include every relevant part of Mr. Trump’s tax returns, which the President will resist but Mr. Mueller is sure to seek anyway.

Then release it all to the public. Whatever short-term political damage this might cause couldn’t be worse than the death by a thousand cuts of selective leaks, often out of context, from political opponents in Congress or the special counsel’s office. If there really is nothing to the Russia collusion allegations, transparency will prove it. Americans will give Mr. Trump credit for trusting their ability to make a fair judgment. Pre-emptive disclosure is the only chance to contain the political harm from future revelations.

This is the opposite of the Clinton stonewall strategy, which should be instructive. That strategy saved Bill Clinton’s Presidency in the 1990s at a fearsome price and only because the media and Democrats in Congress rallied behind him. Mr. Trump can’t count on the same from Republicans and most of the media want him run out of office.

If Mr. Trump’s approval rating stays under 40% into next year, Republicans will begin to separate themselves from an unpopular President in a (probably forlorn) attempt to save their majorities in Congress. If Democrats win the House, the investigations into every aspect of the Trump business empire, the 2016 campaign and the Administration will multiply. Impeachment will be a constant undercurrent if not an active threat. His supporters will become demoralized.

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Mr. Trump will probably ignore this advice, as he has most of what these columns have suggested. Had he replaced James Comey at the FBI shortly after taking office in January, for example, he might not now have a special counsel threatening him and his family.

Mr. Trump somehow seems to believe that his outsize personality and social-media following make him larger than the Presidency. He’s wrong. He and his family seem oblivious to the brutal realities of Washington politics. Those realities will destroy Mr. Trump, his family and their business reputation unless they change their strategy toward the Russia probe. They don’t have much more time to do it.

Appeared in the July 18, 2017, print edition.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-trumps-and-the-truth-1500332545

The decline and fall of Jared and Don Jr.: Nepotism often ends badly

July 17, 2017

By Jonathan Turley

The perils of nepotism have been captured in President Trump’s responses to his son and son-in-law eagerly attending a meeting that they believed was a Russian government lawyer bringing dirt on Hillary Clinton directly from the Russian government. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn and short-lived campaign manager Paul Manafort were shown the door over far less scandal — yet Trump declared of his relatives that “I think many people would have held that meeting.”

He called Donald Trump Jr. a “high quality person” who did nothing wrong, or even unwise. He added in his Paris press conference, “Politics is not the nicest business in the world, but it’s very standard.” Now NBC News reports that a former Soviet counterintelligence officer was also in the meeting. Does the president have any choice but to continue to defend his relatives?

With his comments to date, Trump has assumed the costs directly for their actions. And that is the real cost of nepotism. It reduces the range of motion in dealing with scandals. There is no option for political triage when family is on the line.

Jared Kushner came into the government as a senior adviser and “secretary of everything” through an act of nepotism. With his wife, Trump’s daughter Ivanka, he was given a high-ranking position based first and foremost on his familial relationship with the president. Federal bans on nepotism do not extend to the White House staff. Accordingly, Kushner’s appointment is perfectly legal. It is not however ethical or beneficial for the administration.

The term nepotism comes from the Latin root for nephew. Its origins are traced to the Middle Ages practice of Catholic popes giving high-ranking religious positions to their nephews. Nepotism became not the exception but the rule in religious appointments. It was eventually denounced as unethical and unwise. Nepotism elevates loyalty over capability. The “nephews” not only tended to do poor jobs, their scandals had a greater impact on their sponsors.

Trump does not stand out in his embrace of nepotism in the White House. John Adams, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford Hayes, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and others appointed relatives to high positions. Their failures often heightened the vulnerability of these presidents. Consider Ulysses S. Grant. Grant’s administration reportedly employed dozens of his relatives. He then used his pardon power to benefit family members. One brother-in-law, James F. Casey, stole property from the New Orleans Customs Office but was still reappointed by Grant as collector of customs. Another brother-in-law, Abel Rathbone Corbin, was accused of involvement in a bribery scheme. Yet another brother-in-law, Frederick Dent, made money by selling insider information as an usher. Grant’s reliance on ethically challenged relatives resulted in a scandal-plagued administration that forever tarnished his legacy. Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner described Grant’s administration as exhibiting “a dropsical nepotism swollen to elephantiasis.”

By Grant’s standard, Kushner’s appointment and performance in office are stellar. However, everything in nepotism is … well … relative. Kushner’s effort to use Russian diplomatic resources to create a “back channel” for communications with Moscow was as stunning as it was stupid. His meeting with with Sergey Gorkov, the head of Vnesheconombank, was equally radioactive. The bank was the subject of U.S. sanctions and Gorkov’s resume includes a degree from the Academy of the Federal Security Service, the Russian spy school.

His failure to recall the meeting with the Russian lawyer is legitimately suspect, particularly when he was copied on emails that promised damaging information directly from the Russian government to help Trump win the election.

The Russian scandal shows that the real danger is not any imminent threat of criminal charges, but the familiar grind of nepotism on an administration. When Donald Jr. got into trouble as part of his position in the Trump campaign, Trump had to give his absolute support to his “high-quality” son. At best, his son had fallen for a bait-and-switch that made his team look like colossal chumps. However, you cannot distance yourself from your own blood.

Similarly, Kushner is not some aide, like Flynn, who can be simply sent home after a short but dismal performance in office. That would make Thanksgiving dinner a tad awkward. So the president must keep him — and his failures — close.

Trump only had to look to his campaign nemesis to understand the perils of nepotism. Bill Clinton (over the advice of many) appointed his wife to head his Health Care Task Force. A federal appeals court in Association of American Physicians and Surgeons v. Clinton found that Hillary Clinton was a “de facto” officer of the White House and suggested that, if nepotism laws applied to the White House, her position would be a violation.

However, the biggest problem was that Bill Clinton gave opponents a major advantage. The failure of the First Lady would be his failure — adding to the incentive to run the project into the ground. On top of that strategic blunder, Hillary Clinton by 1994 had become highly unpopular among Republicans. Had  the president selected a neutral leader to bridge the parties, he might have had a chance to secure real reforms.

While there is no compelling basis for prosecution on the current facts, Kushner could well be in legal jeopardy over the course of the unfolding federal and congressional investigations. Nepotism can have an impact on the legal defense strategy for the White House. Counsel cannot control or confine the damage if they cannot separate the president from a targeted official. You cannot cut off a target who is bound to the president by blood or marriage. That means the administration has limited options and has to double down when called out on the relationship — as the president did in Paris. That is the cost of nepotism, and those costs are only likely to grow with time.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University and a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors. 

Six Months In To The Trump Administration, Looks Like James Comey Will Have The First “Tell All” House of Cards Style Book Out

July 16, 2017
 Newsweek
 “It will speak to a broader desire in our country for more ethical leadership.”

Major publishers are vying for the rights to a memoir by James Comey, in which the former FBI director will outline his views on leadership and describe, among other things, his brief and controversial tenure in the Trump administration.

Agents of the literary kind are now the only ones who Comey has working for him—and according to the New York Times they have been discussing the project with major New York publishers. The book is expected to go to auction this coming week. Comey is being represented by literary agency Javelin.

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FBI Director James Comey, March 20, 2017

The book will not be a conventional memoir, but will focus on leadership lessons Comey drew from his time leading the bureau. He angered many Democrats over his decision to reveal the re-opening of the Hillary Clinton emails investigation two weeks before the presidential election, and drew ire from Republicans for overseeing the investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

President Donald Trump fired Comey in May. The administration initially claimed it was over Comey’s handling of the Clinton emails investigation, but the president subsequently told interviewers he had sacked Comey over the Russia investigation.

Comey has not gone quietly. He has released details of memos in which he alleges that Trump pressurized him to drop an investigation into General Michael Flynn, a former Trump national security advisor accused of collusion with Russia.

In May, publishers told the U.K.’s Daily Mail that Comey could earn as much as $10 million for a book deal, with his story resembling a real life version of hit Netflix political drama House of Cards.

“It’s a book about leadership and his search for truth, informed by lessons and experiences he’s had throughout his career, including his recent experiences in the Trump administration,” Matt Latimer, a partner with Javelin told The New York Times. “It will speak to a broader desire in our country for more ethical leadership.”

Comey testified before a Senate committee investigation Russian electoral interference in June, in an appearance broadcast live on television and watched by 20 million Americans, in an event dubbed the “political Super Bowl.”

Comey’s firing resulted in the Justice Department appointing former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead the Russia investigation.

http://www.newsweek.com/james-comey-trump-russia-comey-book-deal-637418