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Trump’s Revolting Betrayal Of Sessions

Worser ‘n worser. [1]From the WSJ:

President Donald Trump  expressed his disappointment in Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday and questioned the importance of Mr. Sessions’s early endorsement of Mr. Trump’s candidacy, but the president declined to say whether he planned to fire him.

… Mr. Sessions was the first U.S. senator to back Mr. Trump, a decision that was seen as a major blow to rival Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas). The endorsement came ahead of a handful of primary contests in Southern states with large numbers of evangelical voters—including Alabama, Mr. Sessions’s home—that Mr. Cruz’s campaign had banked on winning.

Mr. Sessions’s endorsement came at a rally in Alabama, one of the biggest of the campaign.

“When they say he endorsed me, I went to Alabama,” Mr. Trump said on Tuesday , recalling the endorsement . “I had 40,000 people. He was a senator from Alabama. I won the state by a lot, massive numbers. A lot of the states I won by massive numbers. But he was a senator, he looks at 40,000 people and he probably says, ’What do I have to lose?’ And he endorsed me. So it’s not like a great loyal thing about the endorsement. But I’m very disappointed in Jeff Sessions.”

Let’s see how Politico reported the Sessions endorsement on February 28, 2016: [2]

Donald Trump won another major endorsement Sunday, surprising the political world when he walked onto the stage for a rally in Madison, Ala., with Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.

Two days ahead of Super Tuesday when 11 states will cast votes, Trump continues to dominate the national airwaves and demonstrate growing support from Republican elected officials.

While New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who threw his support behind Trump on Friday, is a pillar of the GOP establishment, Sessions is a tea party idol who helps validate the New York City billionaire with the conservative grassroots.

Sessions’ endorsement is a major blow to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, whose success may hinge on winning those Tea Party and evangelical voters — and who has so often cited Sessions as an ally in his fight against the 2013 immigration reform effort.

The pair of endorsements for Trump serves as an indication of a growing acceptance on both ends of the Republican Party that he, not Cruz or Marco Rubio or anyone else, is likely to be the GOP nominee.

Think about it: two days ahead of Super Tuesday, an important Tea Party figure endorsed Trump, gutting Ted Cruz. But according to Trump today, Jeff Sessions only endorsed him to jump on the bandwagon and to benefit himself.

Knifing Sessions like that — it’s just dirtbag behavior. Anybody who trusts Donald Trump from now on out is a fool.

Let’s not forget that Jeff Sessions was obliged by the law to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. As Ruth Marcus points out: [3]

The facts: Sessions was the first senator to endorse Trump and served as a close campaign adviser. That is conflict enough, but he piled conflict on conflict by meeting during the campaign with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and then omitting to inform the Senate Judiciary Committee of the meetings when questioned about it.

The law: Justice Department regulations provide that “no employee shall participate in a criminal investigation or prosecution if he has a personal or political relationship” with the subject of the investigation or “any person or organization which he knows has a specific and substantial interest that would be directly affected by the outcome of the investigation or prosecution.” A political relationship “means a close identification with an elected official … arising from service as a principal adviser thereto.”

So Sessions’ situation and the question of whether he could oversee the Russia investigation isn’t a close call. As Sessions told the Senate Intelligence Committee last month, “That regulation states, in effect, that department employees should not participate in investigations of a campaign if they have served as a campaign adviser.”

In other words, it’s a no-brainer, at least if you understand basic concepts of conflict of interest. What Trump perceives as betrayal is Ethics 101.

Trump’s related argument — that Sessions at the very least should have given him a head’s up in advance so that he could have picked a different attorney general at the start — suffers from a similar flaw. A different attorney general might not have needed to recuse himself, but in the end that attorney general would have come to the same conclusion as the deputy left acting in Sessions’ place, that a special counsel was required to oversee the investigation.

Again, the law: Justice Department regulations require appointment of a special counsel when the attorney general, or someone acting in his stead, determines that investigation through the normal departmental processes “would present a conflict of interest for the Department.” How could this not be true of the Russia matter?

What realistic choice did Sessions have? And this is how Trump treats one of his most loyal advisers? A man who left his secure seat in the US Senate to serve as Attorney General! And we’re only six months into this presidency!

(You know what’s going to be funny? When Trump turns on his court Evangelicals [4]. But then, they would have to challenge or otherwise displease him in some way. So they’re probably safe.)

I find it hard to separate the utter lack of character and judgment displayed by Trump in the Sessions matter from the same qualities on display in the Boy Scout speech. What a revolting spectacle! Full transcript here.  [5]A president with a shred of common decency (to say nothing of common sense) would have been ashamed to turn an appearance before the Scouts into a political rally.

My friend Ryan Booth is a white Evangelical, a former state GOP committee member, and one of the most sensible, upright people I know. After this Sessions insanity, he writes:

Hillary would not have been worse, folks. As some of you know, I didn’t vote for either. But Donald Trump is an unstable lunatic. If he lasts until 2020, then I’ll likely end up voting for a Democrat for the first time in my life.

I’m almost there with him. I believe the Democratic Party today wants to do as much damage as it possibly can to social and religious conservatism. I believe the Democratic Party would empower some of the worst people in America. But at least you know what they’re going to do. Trump really is an unstable lunatic whose word means nothing, and who sees no higher obligation than serving himself. If he will do this to Jeff Sessions, there is no reason at all to expect that his next SCOTUS nomination will be Gorsuch II. Maybe it will, but how do we know that?

Some years back, I read — maybe it was in a David Brooks column or book — about a psychological study comparing people who had been raised in an oppressive but stable environment with people who had been raised in a free but unstable environment. Those who grew up in the oppressive but stable environment were happier and had overall better life outcomes than the others. Why? The theory was that predictability had a huge effect on one’s inner state. People who did not know what to expect from day to day, and who therefore could never rest, were significantly less able to thrive.

I don’t know how you would measure this in terms of our political culture, but I suspect that the Trump presidency, whenever it ends, will have had an effect like this on the body politic. Plus there is the shredding of democratic norms of behavior that weren’t questioned before Trump took office. The longer this carnival continues, the more contempt the president invites onto his office, and onto Washington itself.

Look, I think it’s fair and accurate to say that the establishment — both Republican and Democratic — bear a huge amount of blame for the Trump presidency. They deserved to be badly disrupted. But every thoughtful conservative ought to have committed to heart the maxim that says before you tear down a fence, you had better understand why it was erected in the first place. As I’ve said before, Trump is not the cause of this disease, but a symptom. If we have forgotten why it’s important to keep certain basic norms of character and protocol in place, we will lose them — and indeed, have lost them.

Libertarian writer Julian Sanchez gets it:

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js [7]

I just watched the entire Trump speech in Youngstown, Ohio, live on YouTube. If you only encounter Trump’s words on TV news, in print, on the radio, or via Twitter, you will not have gotten a sense of how incoherent he is. He was no different in today’s rally than he was on the campaign trail — but now he’s President of the United States. At least twice during the speech, protesters stood and yelled. The camera from the broadcast I was watching didn’t take its focus off the president, but it did show him walking away from the podium and watching as security (apparently) hauled the protesters away. I don’t complain about security removing disruptive protesters from a speech. What was unseemly about it was the obvious pleasure Trump took in watching the protesters removed. With the second one, he sneered something like, “That one looked young. I guess they’re taking him home to Mommy.”

Can you imagine Reagan acting that way? Can you imagine any American president behaving with such boorishness? Trump said in this rally that it would be easy for him to be “more presidential” than anyone who ever held the office, Lincoln excepted. Sucks to be you, Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, Truman, Reagan… .

This presidency is a travesty. Trump told all those former steelworkers in hard-hit Youngstown that he was going to bring all the steel mill jobs back, and make their lives good again. Those poor people need hope, hope in something real, not this carnival barker who showed up ranting about immigrants, Muslims, the Fake News, lying Obama, and the rest. What are they going to do when they can no longer deny that Trump is a con man? Who will they blame then?

It is possible that Hillary Clinton would have been worse, in her own way. I’ve believed that, even though I could not bring myself to vote for either one of them. But today, I’m just about where Ryan Booth is. I cannot say with confidence which one is worse, but I’m inclining toward Trump. Our country is in a terrible place now, and we’ve brought it onto ourselves. It is going to take a lot to put back together what Donald Trump has broken, and I don’t trust politicians in either party to do it.

Here are short excerpts from the “reactionary” (his preferred label) historian John Lukacs’s 2005 book warning about the threat from populism. I posted them on this blog in January 2016. [8] I want to recall these three today:

Meanwhile, we ought to consider the tendency of journalists and of political commentators throughout the Western world: their extreme sensitivity to every manifestation suggesting the appearance of so-called right-wing political phenomena anywhere. That sensitivity is not comparable to anxieties about a resurgence of the extreme Left. It is not attributable to “political correctness” (a stupid phrase) either. It reflects, instead, anxiety and fear about the potential mass appeal of populist nationalism in the age of popular sovereignty.

And:

In our times … toward the end of the Modern Age, the difference — indeed, the increased discrepancy — between fame and honor has become so large that in the characters of presidents and in those of most public figures in all kinds of occupation, the passion for fame has just about obliterated the now remote and ancient sense of honor.

And:

The “Left” has been losing its appeal, almost everywhere. It may be that in the future the true divisions will be not between Right and Left but between two kinds of Right: between people on the Right whose binding belief is their contempt for Leftists, who hate liberals more than they love liberty, and others who love liberty more than they fear liberals; between nationalists and patriots; between those who believe that America’s destiny is to rule the world and others who do not believe that; between those who trust technology and machines and others who trust tradition and old human decencies; between those who support “development” and others who wish to protect the conservation of land — in sum, between those who do not question Progress and others who do.

This prediction has not aged well. I think today, the Right is divided into three basic factions: 1) Those who hate liberals more than they love anything else; 2) those Republican establishment regulars who think that everything can and should go back to being how it was before the Trump aberration; and 3) a motley crew of conservatives, traditionalists, and religious folks who still hold on to the old ideals, but despair that there are few if any people in national public life who embody them.

Our political future is either Democratic establishmentarianism (whoever Hillary Clinton’s successor is), left-wing populism (whoever Bernie Sanders’s successor is), Republican establishmentarianism (Mike Pence), or Trumpian populism. There is no fifth option. Like I said, the country is in a bad way. If Trump’s treatment of Jeff Sessions isn’t a canary in the pro-Trump conservative coal mine, nothing is.

UPDATE: Salena Zito reports from the enthusiastic rally in Youngstown: [9]

Dave Torrance, from Hermitage, Pa., had left early in the morning with three of his friends to see Trump. Torrance, 71, wore a blue ball cap with “American Patriot” embroidered across the top and a navy T-shirt with an American flag across the front.

Torrance, who is black, says he gets his fair share of criticism from folks when they find out who he supports. He got more when he told them he was driving to see him in person at the rally.

“They don’t understand why I think he is doing OK,” he said. “They don’t think because I am black that I should support him. I am polite about it, but I tell them that politics isn’t about color, it is about accomplishments, and I think Trump is doing the right things.”

His friend, Roxanne Jewell, of Orangeville, Ohio, is tired of all of the news focused on Russia. [10]

“Yes, of course we need to look into things, but I am tired of the information being delivered in a way that says to me the only reason you voted for Donald Trump was because the Russians interfered,” she said. “That is so far from true. I had made my mind up on my own, not by any misleading Internet ads.”

Youngstown is a good representation of the towns that feel left behind in America for the past few decades. Trump has punctuated that in the three previous visits he has done in Mahoning County since announcing his bid for the Republican nomination.

Each time he comes here has drawn supporters from nearby Ohio cities, as well as West Virginia and Pennsylvania; all areas filled with struggling former manufacturing towns down on their knees but not down for the count.

“Trump has shown that he is interested in these people, they represent the people of the Youngstowns across the country that he connected with during the campaign and still connects with today now that he is president,” said Paul Sracic, a political science professor at Youngstown State University, who was standing in the crowd watching the festivities.

“This is like a tailgate before a Steelers game,” he said.

96 Comments (Open | Close)

96 Comments To "Trump’s Revolting Betrayal Of Sessions"

#1 Comment By Potato On July 26, 2017 @ 9:14 am

I cannot say with confidence which one is worse, but I’m inclining toward Trump. Our country is in a terrible place now, and we’ve brought it onto ourselves. It is going to take a lot to put back together what Donald Trump has broken, and I don’t trust politicians in either party to do it.

I don’t often see eye to eye with Rod on matters political, but this states my current views precisely.

#2 Comment By Potato On July 26, 2017 @ 9:28 am

Of course they’re not going to put “Overturn Roe v. Wade” on their platform, and in my opinion they shouldn’t, for at least two reasons. (I don’t believe Supreme Court decisions are proper fodder for presidential votes anyway). BUT, at THIS point, recognition that the pro-life viewpoint is a legitimate moral stand that has a place in the public square, and some women would benefit from hearing it, would be enough. Not to satisfy the pro-life movement, but to win acceptance from a fair number of pro-life voters, who of course, have the right to continue advocating for a change in the law.

There is an opinion piece up on the TAC web site supporting single payer for good conservative reasons. As long as their is some “play in the joints” as the justices like to say, it could win overwhelming support.

And cool the jets on LGBTQWERTY. I think we just about all agree that a qualified gay engineer should not be fired for being gay, a gay couple should not be harassed while shopping for groceries at the local supermarket, and gay marriage has enough popular support that its here to stay. Now, just back off on keeping a diversity of viewpoints in education, and drop that loony stuff about integrating locker rooms, and we can all settle down.

Oh no, the voice of reason! We could….we could… talk to each other!! Compromise even! Crazy talk, Siarlys.

This right here is the path forward out of the jungle we seem to have found ourselves in, into something sensible that we can all live with. Of course if you go onto this path you will find Siarlys Jenkins there, and me, and maybe five other people, period.

Meanwhile the pro-aborts are still back there insisting on a woman’s right to “abort” a perfectly healthy nine-month baby, the pro-life people are still opposing all contraception, the religious conservatives want to re-criminalize gay sex and the LGBTQWERTY peeps are tirelessly working to abolish the entire concept of gender.

Oh my people.

#3 Comment By Bob Taylor On July 26, 2017 @ 9:41 am

Berry Friesen beat me to it: the judgment of God. It’s seen also in the timidity of the congressional Republicans to stand up to Trump. The guy isn’t Hitler, for goodness’ sake! To put a spin on Alice Roosevelt Longworth’s evaluation of Harding, Trump is just a bad man and a slob.

The whole thing might crack apart if one Republican senator had the testiness to try to take Trump on in an Edward R. Murrow – like speech at the time of the McCarthy garishness.

But again: the judgment of God. First, I can’t think of a Republican senator who has what it takes to try to do such a thing ( we’re living in a time of such ungreat men and women ), and second, if one did, the cult of Trump would pounce to defame the senator as a traitor, a Manchurian Democrat, or God knows what.

#4 Comment By John Mann On July 26, 2017 @ 9:43 am

A year ago, I reckoned the great advantage of a Trump presidency would be that it might just open people’s eyes to how dangerous and foolish it was to have any confidence in the American electorate, and how dangerous and foolish it was to concentrate all that power in the hands of a single individual.

They were not going to see that with Bush and Obama, but I thought they might just see it if Trump got his hands on the White House.

Alas, such is the blind faith in the golden calf that is the American political system, that it looks like nobody is seeing the problem – even with Trump at the helm – or even capable of seeing it.

#5 Comment By Wes On July 26, 2017 @ 9:49 am

At commenter Andrew’s suggestion in another post, I starting looking into some of the “Trump running interference, Session in on it, media falling for it, chips about to fall” conspiracy theories. Very interesting stuff! Yesterdday’s Dulles FBI arrest of the DNC staffer trying to flee the country lends credibility…

#6 Comment By Polichinello On July 26, 2017 @ 9:54 am

Nevermind the religious freedom aspect, free speech itself would be at risk with a Hilary presidency. Add to that the mulish insistence on ramping up tensions with the other nuclear superpower in the region and a drive to open borders, and you have the worst sort of disaster. No thanks.

I don’t care for Trump’s tweets on Sessions, and his base is pushing back, and hard, which should indicate that this isn’t about personality. As I’ve said before Trump is in office despite who he is, not because of it. Any of the other candidates, include HRC, could have dealt with their unpopular positions on immigration and trade a long time ago and won the 2016 election. They didn’t and they paid.

So, yes, despite his faults, and they are legion, Trump remains better than the alternatives.

#7 Comment By Andrew On July 26, 2017 @ 10:00 am

“Whatever faults Obama had, he was very easy to ignore. I could go entire weeks without thinking about him.”

But that is largely because the news media never treated Obama as an enemy. Imagine if the Iran deal, for example, was investigated with the same ferocity as Trump’s Russian connections.

#8 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On July 26, 2017 @ 10:04 am

I have to admit Donald Trump challenges my belief in the validity of game theory. Anyone who defects as much as he has should have been shunned by the other players by now.

#9 Comment By Brendan On July 26, 2017 @ 10:07 am

Trump is indeed unstable and unpredictable and supremely unqualified for the task, both because of his actual lack of qualifications and because of his personality and disposition. The latter is the reason I didn’t vote for him, even though I also could never have brought myself to vote for Hillary, so I abstained. I expect that if he is on the ticket again in 2020, I will abstain again.

However, it seems to be the case that all of this craziness is not much impacting him among his base. This recent CNN article is interesting in that regard: [11]. I doubt his base, even if it remains as enthusiastic for four years (which seems doubtful to me), will be enough to carry him in 2020, however.

As of now it seems unthinkable that he would get any votes at all outside of his base, but much of that depends on who exactly the other side nominates, and how scary they are to people who are alienated by Trump’s antics but who are not left-wing democrats or SJWs. One would think that a moderate candidate would be the best option for the democrats in terms of being able to get a significant number of Trump-fatigued white votes, but as far as I can tell this isn’t the predominant mood among the democratic base, making that kind of candidate unlikely. Perhaps another option is to nominate someone who is a person of color and try to motivate the identitarian left base that way again. We will see

#10 Comment By John Gruskos On July 26, 2017 @ 10:11 am

“(You know what’s going to be funny? When Trump turns on his court Evangelicals. But then, they would have to challenge or otherwise displease him in some way. So they’re probably safe.)”

Family Research Council has already rushed to the Defense of Jeff Sessions.

Trump’s court *Evangelicals* aren’t the ones behind this attack on Sessions.

You are wrong about Trump’s Evangelical supporters being moral cowards, just as you are wrong about so much else.

#11 Comment By Sagrav On July 26, 2017 @ 10:38 am

Your ‘side’ (conservative religious traditionalists) have gotten a little bit out of the Trump administration. Gorsuch is at least as conservative as Scalia, and Trump just announced his intention to ban transgender people from serving in the military. Not sure what he intends to do to all of the trans people who are already in the military, but that’s not much of a concern to him.

As someone from ‘the Left’, I still have a hard time seeing how I pose a threat big enough to make conservatives toss their old values in the dumpster and vote for a vulgar conman who once bragged about sexual assault and barging into a changing room filled with underage females (I know you didn’t vote for him, I am referring to the many conservatives who did). People criticized Hillary for being too hawkish. However, Trump has given our military carte blanche to bomb ISIS without heed to civilian casualties, and his idiotic blustering brought us to the brink of armed conflict with North Korea. Folks criticized Hillary for being too friendly to the movers and shakers in the financial industry (a legitimate criticism). Trump has appointed many of those same finance industry goons to important federal positions. Hillary was criticized for (admittedly stupid) handling of official government emails. Trump has leaked confidential information to Russian ambassadors and Twitter. And I will never understand how a milquetoast moderate like Merrick Garland morphed into enough of a liberal lunatic in conservative’s minds that supporting Trump looked worth it.

But I’m just a lefty, liberal, progressive, hippy, communist, maggot to most of the modern Right. My opinions are to be ignored. Too bad there isn’t some kind of Benedict Option for folks like me. All I can do is watch things fall apart.

#12 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 26, 2017 @ 10:41 am

The Dems’ new “Better Deal” policy proposals have zero to say about the culture war hot button issues. Where’s the damage to social and religious conservatism in that?

As a heterodox Christians who generally votes Democrat because the Republicans are downright psychopathic, I would like to agree, but, there is the real hazard that the leadership will run on the “Better Deal,” win elections, and then, when tapped on the shoulder by the LGBTQWERTY donors, intone that of course we always meant to get the transgenders back into the women’s locker room. Political leadership is like that, unfortunately. We don’t have to talk about it, but we are obliged to act on it once we have power.

A clean sweep would be much better.

What about the revolting betrayal of the Republicans, who voted for repeal of Obamacare eight million times when they knew that Obama would repeal it, and now can’t bring themselves to do, well, anything?

They knew President Obama would VETO their repeal, not repeal their repeal. And the reason they can’t bring themselves to do it is, actually doing what they have blithely ranted and raved about would do major damage to the American people and bring the electoral house crashing down upon their ears.

I can’t understand why you’re surprised by Big Tweet’s treatment of Sessions. Knifing people who’ve shown loyalty to him in the back is the guy’s modus operendi.

True. But I won’t be shedding any tears for Sessions. Its like watching Hitler turn on the SA, or sending a few Junkers to the hangman. Not that Trump is Hitler… not that Sessions will be hung… just watching one bad guy knife another bad guy in the back.

#13 Comment By Orrin On July 26, 2017 @ 10:55 am

I don’t think more than a handful of people who voted for Trump last time and would even remotely consider doing so again (I include myself in both categories) care who the attorney general is or how Trump treats him, or really even whether Trump is a nice guy. Some people on the right wake up in the morning and see shame and chaos and embarrassment. I wake up in the morning, see my stocks going up, see a transgender ban in the military, see Gorsuch on the Supreme Court and likely, soon, someone else who I doubt will be of Ginsburg’s political persuasion, see illegals being arrested, see rioting having decreased from last year, see regs being cut, see new manufacturing plants opening up. The rest of the world has some messy spots but they were there before and some may still be there after 8 years, and we cannot control it all. Perhaps we cannot bring our country back to where it once was, but we can try to pull it back from the brink and these are all good first steps. Yes, surely Donald Trump is not a paragon of rectitude and good moral character, but I personally admire George H.W. Bush and the “public service patrician” archetype, and yet he installed backsliders on SCOTUS, raised taxes, and p.s. also played around on his wife, just more discreetly. Yet it seems for some it’s all about keeping up appearances, making a public show of “good character” rather than trying to get what we want done, and at least Trump seems to be in there trying, even if it’s not always effective.

I think the frothing at the mouth many commentators appear to be doing after every tweet is unbecoming, more unbecoming than the tweets themselves, which are maybe ill-advised at times, silly at others, but surely not the end of the world.

As another commentator wrote several months ago, I hope he does (or at least tries to do) every single thing MSNBC’s audience is afraid of. That is what we have had to put up with since the 90s and if he rams at least some of it through, fine by me, it doesn’t have to be pretty. If liberals ever control the Supreme Court again, we’re all doomed anyway.

I am only engaging in mild hyperbole here.

#14 Comment By Stan Golding On July 26, 2017 @ 10:57 am

“Anybody who trusts Donald Trump from now on out is a fool.”

lol yes, only now is it apparent that a 70 year old, trivorced, mysogenistic tv conman cannot be trusted with the fiduciary duty to lead the worlds sole economic and military superpower.

Honestly, Republicans deserve this. The country deserves this.

This was a choice.

#15 Comment By red6020 On July 26, 2017 @ 11:00 am

Rod, for somebody that talks a lot about “abandoning the American imperium” and stopping work to “shore it up”, etc., you sure do talk a lot about preserving “democratic norms of behavior” and “the fundamental integrity of our democracy”, etc.

If the #BenOp includes doing our best and fighting hard to preserve liberal democracy, what does “abandoning the imperium” or this whole apolitical stance mean? Just stop fighting for social conservatism? Why fight to preserve liberalism politically but not conservatism?

I hate that Trump savaged Sessions, but b/c it was disloyal, petty, and if he wanted him gone he should’ve just fired him instead of whining about it.

#16 Comment By Andrew On July 26, 2017 @ 11:03 am

I wrote on the most recent Trump thread, that I considered Trump’s treatment of Sessions to be an elaborate disinformation technique. He is playing a long game, with Trump, Sessions, and Mueller all on the same side. They are up against something very formidable, and so it is necessary to create a smokescreen.

There has been a lot of talk about the people Mueller has hired. Most conservatives are frustrated because his team is made up of partisans, and it looks like he is engaged in a “witch hunt” (as Trump himself has called it).

I would recommend reading this description of the people Mueller has hired. It reveals some very significant insights about the individuals on Mueller’s team.

[12]

Money quote: “The important question is why does a team assembled under the mandate to investigate foreign influence in the 2016 elections seem to be less of a panel of election law experts and more of a legal hit team assembled to tear to pieces an international crime ring stuffed to the brim with expertise in financial, corruption, terrorism, and white collar crimes?”

The pieces are starting to fall into place. The most important recent development is the arrest of Imran Awan by the FBI. (Why isn’t the regular news media covering this story? How curious.) Awan was the IT aide for Debbie Wasserman Schultz and many other Democrats.

In a nutshell, the Russia collusion story has always been fake. The real story (which includes actual collusion with foreign countries) is the corruption of the Clinton Foundation, along with the illegal methods the Obama administration used
(such as surveillance and unmasking) to influence the election. There are numerous overlapping illegalities within the Democratic party that are about to be exposed.

As I wrote on an earlier post, Trump is not the one in trouble here.

#17 Comment By Colonel Bogey On July 26, 2017 @ 11:22 am

I was too appalled by Trump to vote for him, but I was relieved that Hillary lost. In 2020, if Trump’s still around and running, I still won’t vote for him, but unless the Democrats resurrect Grover Cleveland or Al Smith or John W. Davis, I won’t vote for them either. I guess it’ll have to be Darrell Castle again.

#18 Comment By Archibald Meatpants On July 26, 2017 @ 11:25 am

Yikes! Calm down Rod.

Not sure if Rod realizes just 15 years ago a president sent us to war with false pretenses that killed hundreds of thousands of people.

I know Trump’s manners are hurting your feelings, but policy is what actually matters.

#19 Comment By Rusty On July 26, 2017 @ 11:26 am

What are they going to do when they can no longer deny that Trump is a con man? Who will they blame then?

Ummm … Hillary, DUH. Why would that ever change?

#20 Comment By John On July 26, 2017 @ 11:43 am

I am sort of curious about the flood of support for Sessions. Wasn’t Sessions a prototypical Neoconservative and rabid supporter that “sh__ty little country” when he was in the senate? Didn’t he actively support the totally fraudulent Iraq and Libyan wars.

The fact that Sessions is now opposing Trump’s attempts to extricate the US from its ill fated Syrian misadventure is a tipoff that Sessions’ Neocon mindset runs deep and continues to influence his behavior. He will eventually turn on Trump big time to appease his Neocon overseers and as a result should be fired immediately.

#21 Comment By Kodiaks On July 26, 2017 @ 11:57 am

This where the left is really shooting itself in the foot, these midwestern steel workers don’t need to hear about intersectionality or inclusion in the arts, it’s condescending.

#22 Comment By KD On July 26, 2017 @ 12:02 pm

It may not please Trump, but many are endeared to Trump not because of Trump the person, but because of Trump the symbol. In contrast, many are endeared to Jeff Sessions because of Jeff Sessions the person, not because of Sessions the symbol.

It is much easier to back the person and find a new signifier for the symbol. Remember, the liberals, and the neocons are out to impeach Trump. If he through his actions convinces Buchanan and Coulter that impeachment is the best option, no one will care about the Electoral College count. Not even Jared.

#23 Comment By Ferdinand On July 26, 2017 @ 12:13 pm

From Josh Marshall, for the “Mueller is on a witch hunt” fanatics:

“If there’s a there there in the Trump-Russia story, it didn’t come out of nowhere. It almost certainly began in the money channel I described above. The existence of such a channel is neither inherently illegal or subject to any dispute. We know from voluminous reporting that such a channel existed. Money from the countries of the former Soviet Union was key to funding numerous Trump building projects. Russians and nationals from other FSU countries bought up numerous individual apartment units in Trump-branded buildings. A number of Trump’s key business partners and rainmakers were either emigres from the former Soviet Union or Americans who were conduits for money from the same countries. Through these various threads of the story money laundering, organized crime and various kinds of criminal behavior are persistent and ubiquitous. None of this is really up for debate. It’s all been demonstrated by voluminous reporting.”

[13]

#24 Comment By bkh On July 26, 2017 @ 12:24 pm

@Andrew wrote, among other things: “As I wrote on an earlier post, Trump is not the one in trouble here.”

Interesting read you included. I am going to make an extra big bag of popcorn for this. Since an arrest has already been made, this group may be farther along then anyone knows. Especially if the theatrics with Trump and Sessions are already this good.

#25 Comment By Robert Levine On July 26, 2017 @ 12:39 pm

Some years back, I read — maybe it was in a David Brooks column or book — about a psychological study comparing people who had been raised in an oppressive but stable environment with people who had been raised in a free but unstable environment. Those who grew up in the oppressive but stable environment were happier and had overall better life outcomes than the others. Why? The theory was that predictability had a huge effect on one’s inner state. People who did not know what to expect from day to day, and who therefore could never rest, were significantly less able to thrive.

There is a similar study from the stress literature, which demonstrated that the rates for gastric ulcers were lower in those parts of London that were bombed nightly during the Blitz than in the suburbs, where bombs fell only very occasionally. Unpredictablity is more stressful than being bombed every night.

Of course, with Trump it feels like we are getting Twitter-bombed every night, and I’ll admit I’m less stressed now about his outbursts than I was 6 months ago. But then something like his speech to the Boy Scouts comes along.

He degrades everything he touches.

#26 Comment By John Gruskos On July 26, 2017 @ 1:05 pm

“I support strong border enforcement, and reduced immigration.”

“Those poor people need hope, hope in something real, not this carnival barker who showed up ranting about immigrants, Muslims, the Fake News, lying Obama, and the rest.”

There is a contradiction between these two statements.

The first admits that mass immigration is a major problem, the second suggests criticism of mass immigration is a dishonest demagogic tactic.

[NFR: Are you willfully blind here? I said clearly that I was talking about the steel industry. — RD]

#27 Comment By Anonne On July 26, 2017 @ 1:07 pm

Think about who these tweets are for: the brownshirts and apparatchiks who give Trump their blind, unthinking loyalty. Everything is a show, everything is designed for media consumption. He’s continuing to play like he’s a victim, and keep the base angry. Without anger, there is no power or energy to keep the charade going. Pissing off liberals is a side benefit, he will demonize our institutions and our system of checks and balances for his own personal ends.

This is all about stoking the coals for his little cult. He is creating a new reality by forcing people to react to his tweets all the time. His base just tunes out the outrage and rationalizes everything away to keep Trump as some kind of victim. The outrage machine continually conditions them to follow because it’s never about policy, it’s always about identity and attacking Trump is attacking them. These people have no principles other than whatever pisses liberals or the establishment off, and Trump is manipulating that as much as he can.

He could fire Sessions in the same undignified way that he fired James Comey, but he chooses not to. There is a purpose to this. He has to tear Sessions down first because Sessions is one of his base, and confuse the uneducated about the role of the Department of Justice and the Attorney General. The firing is coming.

#28 Comment By John Gruskos On July 26, 2017 @ 1:17 pm

John (11:43am),

Based on what evidence do you suggest Sessions is a hawkish influence within the Trump cabinet?

Sessions voted against arming the “moderate” Syrian rebels in 2014, I doubt he objects to Trump’s decision stop arming them.

If Sessions is still a supporter of regime change wars, then why did he support Trump instead of Cruz, who arguably had an even tougher immigration policy?

The most hawkish speech Trump gave during the election was his AIPAC speech, written by Kushner.

I was obsessively following Trump’s foreign policy pronouncements during the campaign, and as near as I could tell Miller was the dovish influence, Kushner the hawkish influence, and Sessions neither here nor there.

Sessions seems to have become more dovish over time, perhaps under the influence of Miller.

#29 Comment By Andrew On July 26, 2017 @ 1:26 pm

By the way, I forgot to add something that seems kind of obvious. Trump’s attacks on Sessions (launched at the New York Times, of all places!) is causing many people across the political spectrum to defend Sessions publicly, and even praise his virtues.

Now Sessions is announcing investigations into illegal intelligence leaks. The politicians and journalists who have been defending Sessions from Trump and praising him are going to have a hard time demonizing his investigations.

#30 Comment By Bunduck On July 26, 2017 @ 1:41 pm

While I am sure that this will go nowhere, I have to jump in and comment to say that a lot of what the poster “Andrew” is saying is pure unabashed lies, BS, and propaganda.

It is Alex Jones kookiness to say that Mueller’s investigation is not at all about Trump’s notorious connections to the Russian oligarchs, but about the Clinton Foundation secret corruption scandal. Let me guess she was using money from that to kidnap children in Haiti for the pizza sex dungeon?

I have absolutely no idea what an IT person who stole money from a Congressional Credit union has to do with the Clinton’s but in the fevered minds it all adds up. This is the truth, the fact that Trump says nothing bad about Russia and that many of his aides had made secret meetings that only get revealed after the fact when reported on are the conspiracy theory.

#31 Comment By KD On July 26, 2017 @ 1:46 pm

I don’t believe the Russian conspiracy theories, but I can’t imagine Trump’s empire being as big as it is, doing real estate development in mob heavy places like NJ and NYC, without some shady practices going on somewhere.

Thus, I can understand Trump going tilt about Mueller digging. Mueller is liable to find something, and no one cares if its pay-offs to the mob or collusion with Russia. However, he is clearly playing on tilt, which is not going to get him out of the hole. But whatever, he goes down in flames, we get Pence, not exactly a patriot or even a confederate, but still better than Hillary.

#32 Comment By Alan On July 26, 2017 @ 2:00 pm

LOL. So Rod’s buddy Ryan claims that Hillary would not have been worse. Rod reveals that his buddy Ryan held some position on the GOP. Ahhh…now we’re getting somewhere. So Ryan is a run of the mill neocon, establishment GOP guy. As I said at the start, LOL.
Someday Rod you’ll see that so much of what you claim to hate in America these days is being pushed forward by all of your many “friends” in the American political establishment.

#33 Comment By MikeCLT On July 26, 2017 @ 3:11 pm

I agree that Trump’s attacks on Sessions are disgraceful. And absolutely stupid. Sessions is his most loyal and effective cabinet member and is implementing Trump’s signature issue, immigration enforcement.

However, there are real questions as to whether Sessions was required to recuse himself at the time he did. You should read Andy McCarthy’s posts on this. I’m not a big fan of NR, but McCarthy is worth reading on the legal issues because he knows what he is talking about. Ruth Marcus, whom you cite as an authority, does not.

Here is a link to a recent McCarthy article on the recusal issue. He has several other worthwhile posts on the legal standards applicable in this situation.

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#34 Comment By Bill Kurtz On July 26, 2017 @ 3:38 pm

All we need to remember about Trump is that every word he says is a lie, including “the” and “and.”

#35 Comment By Andrew On July 26, 2017 @ 5:09 pm

@Bunduck,

I love you too.

You wrote, “I have absolutely no idea what an IT person who stole money from a Congressional Credit union has to do with the Clinton’s but in the fevered minds it all adds up.”

You are minimizing the significance of this case. Do a little more research on Imran Awan (even briefly via Dr. Google), and consider these questions:

1) Why was Awan paid so much, far more than what would be a typical IT salary, and what was it for?

2) What was his connection to Pelosi, and why did he have access to her iPad (see Wikileaks)?

3) What information is on the smashed hard drives that the FBI seized from Awan’s home? Why were they smashed in the first place?

4) Why did so many Democrats avail themselves of his services, when it appears he (and his brothers) did very little actual work?

5) Why did Debbie Wasserman Schultz threaten the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police with “consequences” for holding her computer that was being used to investigate Awan (there’s a video – this is not conspiracy theory)?

6) Why is Awan’s new lawyer a long time Clinton associate?

7) Why is it only right-wing sites that are reporting any of this? Shouldn’t this be a major headline news story?

Let me stipulate that you could be right. Maybe the premise I’ve articulated in prior posts is just fanciful conspiracy theory. But I sincerely don’t think so. I think it is the Democrats that are in trouble in the long run. If I’m mistaken, I’ll issue a mea culpa. 🙂

#36 Comment By Ken Zaretzke On July 26, 2017 @ 6:04 pm

What Trump deserves and needs at DOJ is what Reagan had. A principled and firmly conservative nice guy for AG (think Ed Meese and Jeff Sessions), and smart but ruthless top aides (Brad Reynolds, Terry Eastland). By ruthless I don’t mean cruel, just don’t you-dare-get-in-the-way of-this-policy-or-we’ll-screw-you-over. There aren’t many of those people, but there are some. But they aren’t at DOJ.

Trump needs them but, unfortunately, so many of the are *establishment Republicans*, with “establishment” broadly understood to include Kempian conservatism (open borders and free trade). The Federalist Society is filled with such people, and that’s good for getting someone like Neil Gorsuch on the S.Ct., but not much good for accomplishing Trump’s main policies.

I’d be raving like a lunatic over this fact if I were in Trump’s shoes.

#37 Comment By Liam On July 26, 2017 @ 6:13 pm

“All we need to remember about Trump is that every word he says is a lie, including “the” and “and.””

I would instead say the only words that Trump says or thumbs that have any substantive meaning are: “I”, “me”, “my” and “mine”. All of his other seeming words are dissolved into those.

#38 Comment By CharleyCarp On July 26, 2017 @ 6:17 pm

MikeCLT, I think Mr. McCarthy is mistaken about the scope of the Attorney General’s recusal, and therefore about the legal standards at play. This is not a recusal from the ‘Russia Investigation,’ whatever that is, but from everything campaign related.

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As a general proposition, it seems to me that we who have not seen the evidence the Attorney General was privy to are very poorly placed to second guess his decision that recusal was proper under the applicable laws.

I don’t generally agree with the Attorney General on much, but on the subject of what he knew, when he knew it, what his involvement in the campaign was, and whether the ethical rules that bind him (including but not limited to the general recusal rule) could arguably preclude his involvement in whateer investigations may or may not have been taking place (and the AG specifically disclaimed confirming any in his recusal), I think he knows a lot more than someone reading published articles is ever going to know.

The decision cannot have been taken lightly.

#39 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 26, 2017 @ 7:30 pm

If we are very lucky, the top leadership in both houses of both parties, and most of Trump’s cabinet, will all be caught up in major ethics scandals, and both parties will be force to turn to really new leadership over the next three years.

#40 Comment By Glaivester On July 26, 2017 @ 9:13 pm

One thing that has occurred to me. A lot of the same Senators who were demanding that Sessions withdraw his nomination or that he resign as Attorney General are now demanding that Trump keep him as Attorney General and threatening to hamstring Trump’s ability to replace Sessions if he does leave.

Is it just possible that this whole Sessions thing was just an exercise in reverse psychology?

#41 Comment By muad’dib On July 26, 2017 @ 9:28 pm

Honestly, Republicans deserve this. The country deserves this.

Republicans deserve Trump, every damn bit of it, I hope they choke on it, but the American people don’t deserve any of this, more of them voted for Hillary than for Trump, 3 million more as a matter of fact…

On the bright side, while the fine people of Appalachia and various other Red states are likely to lose their healthcare, I am likely to get a small tax cut. They are getting what they voted for, I have no sympathy…

#42 Comment By Ellimist000 On July 26, 2017 @ 11:04 pm

Derek,

“THE ONE issue, just one, which I assumed you cared about, Religious Freedom, would have been crushed with a Hillary win”

Her and what army? Particularly if the GOP kept one or both of the Senate, which would have almost certainly happened. And sorry to burst your bubble, but the Court has generally held to precedent, practical concerns, and yes, Constitutional law in religious matters. They would have been so with Garland or anybody else Clinton could have gotten through a GOP or split senate. Arguably, the left wing judges have been more in line with fair rule of law than the majority of the Catholic justices were when it came to religion (Roe and Ogberfell don’t count, whatever you think of them).

It always amazes me how Trumpers assume that everyone wants a strongman (woman?) as much as they apparently do. This isn’t how this country works. If it were, Trump would not be having problems.

#43 Comment By Ellimist000 On July 26, 2017 @ 11:09 pm

“If we are very lucky, the top leadership in both houses of both parties, and most of Trump’s cabinet, will all be caught up in major ethics scandals, and both parties will be force to turn to really new leadership over the next three years.”

Let’s hope. Although in a better world, the way the GOP continues to support Trump and the way the Dems pushed Clinton hell or high water WOULD be major ethical scandals…

#44 Comment By M. Orban On July 27, 2017 @ 1:49 am

@Glaivester
Is it just possible that this whole Sessions thing was just an exercise in reverse psychology?

The first thing that made me laugh tonight!
Oh dear… bless your heart…
No. The president is not like that. He genuinely believes that AG Sessions failed him by not preventing the Russia investigation that he wants to stop at any cost.
The conservative – southern for the most part – senators are telling him to go to hell.
The Democrats sit back and enjoy the spectacle.
That’s it. There is no more to it.
Any speculation beyond it is self delusion.

#45 Comment By jamie On July 28, 2017 @ 12:46 am

July 26, 2017 at 7:30 pm
If we are very lucky, the top leadership in both houses of both parties, and most of Trump’s cabinet, will all be caught up in major ethics scandals, and both parties will be force to turn to really new leadership over the next three years.

Siarlys, this is exactly how we ended up with Trump. Scandal inflation is not the answer. We have to hold people to standards that are honest and livable.

#46 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 28, 2017 @ 1:37 pm

jamie, this is NOT how we ended up with Trump. Scandals had little or nothing to do with how he (a) got the GOP nomination, or (b) came through a hair’s breadth ahead of his former buddy, Hillary Clinton, who like him, had a 70 percent negative rating, and a well deserved one at that.

If we hold people in public office to standards that are honest and livable there will be a few left standing, but damn few.