Impeachment Week in Review: Here's What You Missed

It’s amazing how quickly the Singapore summit/photo-op is receding in the rear-view mirror of the Trump Administration’s stunt-diplomacy Limo/ATV hybrid.  Meanwhile, all those German engineers that used to stand confidently with their arms folded on test tracks while their products deftly wove in and out between them are running wildly for the bleachers as trade war fears kick up and the whole big-wheeled MonsterTrump show veers onto their course.  The Dow Jones Chart is clearly spooked – probably by the trade war fears, but maybe also by fear, doubt and uncertainty as Boss Tweet noses his thumbs at the American people, who watch in horror as OUR government separated families including young children and nursing infants, and put children in cages overseen by a just-following-orders crew instructed NOT to offer young children even the comfort of a hug.  Attorney General Jeff Sessions emphasizes that families who register as asylum seekers at the border are not subject to this treatment – but the main objection being raised is that families who are attempting to enter illegally with children are being subject to this manifestly inhumane treatment.  Over-the-top anti-Trump… or “that’s the way it is” as Walter Cronkite used to say?   OK… here’s an insightful counterbalance – Pat Buchanan’s most recent column.  But this must be said: in the last week, somewhere between fawning praise for a murderous, dictatorial tyrant, and our government-sponsored mass destruction of the most basic family bonds on our borders, America has crossed a line into a kind of “Total Depravity on Parade” spectacle.  More topically, until the issue of separating families at the border became pre-emptive, there was significant blowback from the Trump Administration and supporters over the recently released DOJ report from Inspector General David Horowitz – including an “over-the-top” call from Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani that the Mueller investigation be immediately suspended, and itself investigated, and FBI Agent Peter Strzok should be “in jail by the end of next week” – Giuliani himself later admitted that line of attack was “just for show.”  House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes suggested impeachment of senior Justice Department officials might be “on the table” if his Committee doesn’t receive long-sought documents.  Meanwhile, Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, is in jail facing witness tampering accusations, and Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen is reported to be losing his current legal team, and is seen as likely to become a cooperating witness. 

Blowup/Blowback: the wake of the recent Horowitz DOJ Inspector General report…

Axios reports: "DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz confirmed on Monday that the watchdog is looking at potential mishandling of confidential information by former FBI director James Comey in his leaking of memos and that the OIG will 'issue a report when the matter is complete,' he told the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Axios summarizes: "The big picture" as follows: "President Trump has accused Comey of wrongfully disclosing confidential information when he leaked the memos about his interactions with Trump, which fueled the Mueller investigation and accusations of obstruction of justice. The Wall Street Journal reported in April that some of the information in the memos was classified, and now Horowitz is confirming those suspicious."

RealClearPolitics reports: "In a FOX News interview, House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes responded to this question: ’So the bottom line is you're willing to go all the way, you're willing to move to Impeachment of the leadership of DOJ and FBI?’ with the reply: ‘Absolutely, I've been there for awhile now.’”  RealClearPolitics further reports on Nunes': "quest to get the DOJ and FBI to provide documentation of why they opened a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign in summer 2016. "¶  "The latest deadline is this coming Friday, June 22, and if the documents are not made available to Nunes and the committee by then 'it is not going to be pretty,' Chairman Nunes said."  In this way Nunes has broadened the context under which impeachment can be used by Congress as a kind of "general purpose" remedy for, among other things, executive intransigence.

Writing for the Chicago Tribune news columnist John Kass opines regarding the recent FBI Inspector General's report vindicating FBI bias in the Clinton e-mail investigation flies in the face of a "silky lie" told by then-President Obama.  Kass writes: "Obama’s lie was told in 2015, when Obama was asked by CBS’ Bill Plante when he learned Mrs. Clinton had used an unsecured email server.  'The same time everybody else learned it, through news reports,' Obama said.” Kass continues: “According to the inspector general’s report, Obama was in fact one of 13 top government officials communicating with Clinton on her private email server, even as Clinton’s server was targeted by foreign intelligence services.  According to the IG report, before former (and fired) FBI Director James Comey took it upon himself to publicly criticize Clinton (and exonerate her from a criminal charge), a draft of his public address was heavily edited.  It was edited for Hillary Clinton’s benefit, to buttress the case that what she did wasn’t prosecutable.  But Comey’s comments were also edited to protect someone else. The IG report discusses a key paragraph in Comey’s statement summarizing the FBI’s thinking that ‘hostile actors’ had accessed Clinton’s server.  The paragraph, the report said, ‘referenced Clinton’s use of her private email for an exchange with then President Obama while in the territory of a foreign adversary. This reference was later changed to “another senior government official,” and ultimately was omitted…’  Just chew on this apiece: How could Hillary Clinton ever be prosecuted without implicating Obama, who emailed her using a pseudonym?  Obama might have been portrayed as a victim of her use of a private server. She used that server to hide her dealings with the controversial Clinton Foundation from congressional inquiry. She should have been prosecuted.  But then, two things would have happened.  Her campaign would have fallen apart immediately, and along with it, Obama’s legacy.”

Blowup/Blowback: Horowitz report impacts Mueller investigation -- As part one of an apparent "punch-and-back-off" strategy, RealClearPolitics reported: "In an appearance on Sean Hannity's FOX News show on [June 14th], Rudy Giuliani, personal attorney to President Donald Trump, called for the end of the Mueller investigation following the release of the DOJ inspector-general's report. Giuliani said Rod Rosenstein and Jeff Sessions could redeem themselves by prosecuting Peter Strzok.  'Rosenstein and Jeff Sessions have a chance to redeem themselves and that chance comes about tomorrow. It doesn't go beyond tomorrow. Tomorrow, Mueller should be suspended and honest people should be brought in, impartial people to investigate these people like Peter Strzok. Strzok should be in jail by the end of next week,' Giuliani said." The RealClearPolitics story noted Giuliani said he was not speaking for the President. The "back-off" part came four days later, with this Drudge headline: "Giuliani says his demand for Mueller probe to be suspended was just for show" -- linking to a Politico article which reported:  "President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani said on Monday that he was actually just bluffing last week when he called for Justice Department leaders to suspend special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation within 24 hours."

Mueller/Cohen investigation – ABC News' George Stephanopoulos reported June 13th:  "Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime confidant and former personal attorney, is likely to cooperate with federal investigators, as his lawyers are expected to leave the case, sources said."  Nothing further has bubbled up on this report since then.  Cohen is reported to no longer represent President Trump.

The Washington Post reports former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort has been jailed in the "VIP section" of a Virginia Federal Prison, where he will await trial after his bail was revoked due to illegal witness tampering activity he was found to have engaged in.  His imprisonment is seen by many to make it more likely that he will become a cooperating witness in the Mueller investigation, with the implication that President Trump's legal and political position might be undermined.  Since 2011 four other inmates in Manafort's prison have died while in custody -- including one death after a 32 year old woman suffered a stroke, and medical attention was delayed -- that case resulted in a settlement agreement with the prisoner's family for $375,000.

2018 Midterm campaign tactics could be trouble for Trump -  Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg opines in the NY Times that recent political thrusts of President Trump and his administration to "energize the base" may in fact be backfiring as we approach the 2018 mid-term elections.  Greenberg doesn't challenge "conventional wisdom" about the paramount importance of maximizing the turnout of "base" voters during mid-term elections.  Rather, he segments the Republican base, and reports that major elements of it -- non-religious conservatives, moderate Republicans, and Catholic conservatives have significant percentages who only "somewhat approve" or disapprove of Trump.  Such tepid positive support ranges from 30% to 39% -- beyond that, people who disapprove (somewhat or strongly) range from 14% to 26%.  This contrasts with an average "strongly disapprove" percent of 79% for Democrats -- an additional 10% somewhat disapprove of Trump, while approval (somewhat or strong) is 9%.  As Trump attempts to "energize" his base, it appears he is having more impact in further inflaming and uniting the Democratic base rather than uniting and consolidating his own base.  In short, Greenberg’s thesis is that Trump's: "outrageous, gutsy strategy of ginning up his base with one more attack on black athletes, one more crackdown on Central American mothers and children on the Mexican border, one more assault on Obamacare, one more tariff on imports..." may be more likely than not to drive a "blue wave" overthrow of the GOP's House majority. 

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