Suddenly, White House trumpets Mueller report

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before leaving the White House. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

After denouncing the special counsel’s Russia investigation throughout its nearly two-year history, President Donald Trump greeted its conclusion with choice words: “the Crazy Mueller Report,” ″written by 18 Angry Democrat Trump Haters,” containing “total bullshit.”

Now, suddenly, the “witch hunt” is golden, in the pivoting rhetoric of the White House.

Bristling at Democratic attempts to dig deeper into episodes of possible obstruction of justice laid out in Robert Mueller’s report, Trump’s team is pointing to the fact that Mueller stopped short of accusing Trump of a crime (and glossing over the idea that it left Congress to pursue that path as it sees fit.)

This has given rise to fulsome praise for an inquiry Trump has routinely condemned.

“It was the most thorough investigation probably in the history of our country,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday. “I say it’s enough.”

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway offered this: “The president is saying that the Mueller report is the definitive, conclusive non-partisan investigation.”

This, after Trump assailed the inquiry as a partisan, polluted exercise since its inception and, according to the Mueller report, pressed aides to stop it.

Said Conway: “You want to see the nonpartisan, definitive, conclusive taxpayer-funded, lengthy, unobstructed, unimpeded, uninterfered with investigation? You just saw it and it’s called the Mueller report.”

The switch came as House Democrats stepped up their scrutiny of Trump’s behavior and finances and the White House pushed back. A former White House official defied a House subpoena, the Treasury Department ignored a deadline for providing Trump’s tax returns and the president vowed “we’re fighting all the subpoenas” from Democratic lawmakers on these subjects.

Despite crediting Mueller with unparalleled thoroughness — and after countless false claims that the report exonerated him — Trump did not abandon his characterization of the inquiry as a witch hunt, something he’s repeated on Twitter alone nearly 200 times in less than a year .

“We just went through the Mueller witch hunt, where you had, really, 18 angry Democrats that hate President Trump,” he said. “They hate him with a passion.”

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Donald Trump: Stupid is as stupid does

The toxic swamp that envelopes the corrupt and scandal-scarred administration of Donald John Trump stinks at putrid level never before seen or smelled in the halls of power in Washington, DC.

Trump added more stink with a claim that he may have the Supreme Court intervene in any attempt by Congress to impeach him.

Too bad Trump hasn’t read the Constitution, the document considered the rule of the land, that delegates impeachment proceedings to Congress, not any court — including the “Supreme One.”

“I did nothing wrong,” Trump said in his way to talking to most people, in a tweet on Twitter.  “If the partisan Democs ever tried to impeach, I would first head to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Not only are there no ‘high crimes and misdemeanors,” there are no crimes by me at all.”

One could argue, without even a hint of irony, that Trump’s very existence is itself a high crime against humanity.  He has destroyed the presidency, disgraced the nation and replaced “land of the free” with “haven for racism” and “home of the brave” with “house of ill repute.”

Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, an acknowledged expert on Constitutional law, calls Trump’s claims “idiocy.”

Tribe writes on Twitter: ““Not even a SCOTUS filled with Trump appointees would get in the way of the House or Senate.”

There’s no “get out of jail free” care for Trump.

John Wagner, writing in The Washington Post, quotes another constitutional law professor (from Georgetown), Joshua Matz, who says Trump, as usual, “reflects a profound misunderstanding.”

Adds Matz in an email:

If the President were to seek judicial intervention in that fashion, the courts would almost certainly refuse to hear the case on the ground that it is a ‘political question’ textually entrusted to Congress by the Constitution.

In an interview with the Post’s Greg Sargent, Matz adds:

In our constitutional structure, the impeachment power is mightier and more fundamental than virtually any interest that the President might raise against it.

Trump constantly claims that he knows more about everything than anybody else.  In reality, he knows little about anything.  He’s an uninformed, ignorant fool.

Ignoramus comes to mind. So does idiot.

Sadly, so are most of those who make up his “base.”  Paranoia feeds their stupidity while bigotry drives their hatred.

“Stupid is as stupid does,” says an old English proverb that dates back to at least 1862.

Stupid is Donald Trump.

Stupid does are what happens just about every time he opens his mouth or pounds out a tweet on his phone.

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Is Trump scared? He should be

Some close to beleaguered president Donald Trump (at least the ones willing to talk off the record) say the liar-in-chief is lying again when he claims he is not worried or bothered by what a fuller review of the Mueller report reveals about his corrupt administration.

“Not even a little bit,” Trump answered Monday to a question on whether or not he is concerned.

“He’s lying,” says a former White House aide.  “He’s sweating the details and they keep getting worse.”

Mueller’s report reveals White House aides who feel let down by Trump.

“He ignores loyalty with criticism and blame,” says another former aide.

Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen found that out when Trump dumped him after years of protection by the attorney called “his fixer” and who said he would “take a bullet” for “the Donald.”

Some have jumped ship.  Other are talking and providing vital information to ongoing investigations of Trump and his misdeeds.

“Sooner or later, tyrants are always abandoned by their followers,” writes Eliot A. Cohen (no relation to the former Trump attorney), professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University, in The Atlantic.

He adds:

To be sure, Trump could hang on until the 2020 election. It is even possible, if considerably less likely, that he could be reelected and march off into a glitzy retirement at Trump properties in Florida and New Jersey, his retreat from public life punctuated only by bursts of increasingly senile bombast. But it does seem more likely than it once was that he will go down in disgrace.

Disgrace has long been a constant companion to Trump, the thrice married adulterer who squandered much of his inheritance on casinos that went bankrupt while he cheated investors, stiffed vendors and defrauded those who could not afford his schemes like the phony Trump University shut down after investigators found it was nothing but a con.

Cohen notes:

A tyrant is unloved, and although the laws and institutions of the United States have proven a brake on Trump, his spirit remains tyrannical—that is, utterly self-absorbed and self-concerned, indifferent to the suffering of others, knowing no moral restraint. He expects fealty and gives none. Such people can exert power for a long time, by playing on the fear and cupidity, the gullibility and the hatreds of those around them. Ideological fervor can substitute for personal affection and attachment for a time, and so too can blind terror and sheer stupidity, but in the end, these fall away as well.

The question, however, is whether or not American survives from what many have called the treasonous acts of his failed “leader.”

Presidential historian Joh Meacham says Trump’s actions represent “the definition of treason” by knowing of Russia’s attempts to interfere with the tainted 2016 election that made him president.

“There is a live question about whether he has been giving aid and comfort to the enemy, which is the definition of treason in the Constitution,” Meacham told former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough on the “Morning Joe” cable-TV program. “”This is an existential constitutional crisis, because it’s quite possible that the president of the United States right now is a witting or at least partially witting agent of a foreign power, and I say that with great care, but that’s a possibility.”

Meacham says that all Trump had to do was “know” about the Russian efforts and his failure to take action is, in itself, “aid and comfort” to the enemy.

Complacent Republicans in Congress, who sat on their hands, may be equally guilty of treason to the nation.

The ultimate punishment for treason against America?

It’s no longer death by firing squad.  The Criminal Justice Act of 1990 set the maximum punishment for treason as life imprisonment with no parole for at least 40 years.

No wonder Trump is worried.

Instead of running for re-election, maybe Trump should be running for the border of the nearest country that does not have an extradition agreement with the United States.

There’s always Russia.  Trump has often made it clear that he prefers to company of a murdering dictator than any ally of America.

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House subpoenas McGahn as leaders downplay impeachment

White House counsel Don McGahn. (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP, File)

A House chairman on Monday subpoenaed former White House Counsel Don McGahn as Democratic leaders moved to deepen their investigation of President Donald Trump while bottling up talk among their rank-and-file of impeaching him.

Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler was one of six powerful committee leaders making their case on a conference call with other House Democrats late in the day that they are effectively investigating Trump-related matters ranging from potential obstruction to his personal and business taxes.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged divided Democrats to focus on fact-finding rather than the prospect of any impeachment proceedings after the damning details of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

Nadler and the other chairmen made clear they believe Trump did obstruct justice, according to people on the call who weren’t authorized to discuss it by name. McGahn would be a star witness for any such case because he refused Trump’s demand to set Mueller’s firing in motion, according to the report.

“The Special Counsel’s report, even in redacted form, outlines substantial evidence that President Trump engaged in obstruction and other abuses,” Nadler said in a statement released as the conference call got underway. “It now falls to Congress to determine for itself the full scope of the misconduct and to decide what steps to take in the exercise of our duties of oversight, legislation and constitutional accountability.”

The subpoena angered Republicans even as it functioned as a reassurance to impatient Democrats.

Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary panel, pointed out that McGahn sat for 30 hours of interviews with Mueller and said Nadler was asking for some items that he knows cannot be produced.

Trump himself insisted he wasn’t worried.

“Not even a little bit,” he said when asked Monday whether he was concerned about impeachment. However, his many tweets seeking to undermine the report’s credibility indicate he is hardly shrugging it aside.

“Only high crimes and misdemeanors can lead to impeachment,” he said Monday on Twitter. “There were no crimes by me (No Collusion, No Obstruction), so you can’t impeach. It was the Democrats that committed the crimes, not your Republican President!”

On the other end of the scale, Pelosi’s approach disappointed some Democrats who are agitating for impeachment proceedings. According to her spokesman, Rep. Val Demings of Florida said she believed the House has enough evidence to begin the process.

McGahn was a vital witness for Mueller, recounting the president’s outrage over the investigation and his efforts to curtail it.

The former White House counsel described, for instance, being called at home by the president on the night of June 17, 2017, and directed to call the Justice Department and say that Mueller had conflicts of interest and should be removed. McGahn declined the command, “deciding that he would resign rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre,” the Mueller report said.

Once that episode became public in the news media, the president demanded that McGahn dispute the reports and asked him why he had told Mueller about it and why he had taken notes of their conversations. McGahn refused to back down, the report said.

Nadler’s announcement was one of several leadership moves aimed at calming a struggle among Democrats to speak with one voice about what to do in light of Mueller’s startling account of Trump’s repeated efforts to fire him, shut down his probe and get allies to lie.

After Mueller’s report was released last week, the most prominent of the Democratic freshmen, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, signed on to Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s resolution calling for an investigation into Trump’s conduct and the question of whether it merits a formal impeachment charge in the House.

“Mueller’s report is clear in pointing to Congress’ responsibility in investigating obstruction of justice by the President,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

On Monday, Pelosi’s letter made clear there was no Democratic disagreement that Trump “at a minimum, engaged in highly unethical and unscrupulous behavior which does not bring honor to the office he holds.” But she acknowledged the party’s officeholders have a range of views on how to proceed.

She counseled them repeatedly to go after facts, not resort to “passion or prejudice” in the intense run-up to the 2020 presidential and congressional elections. She is the de facto leader of her party until Democrats nominate a candidate to challenge Trump, so her words echoed on the presidential campaign trail.

“We all firmly agree that we should proceed down a path of finding the truth,” Pelosi wrote. “It is also important to know that the facts regarding holding the president accountable can be gained outside of impeachment hearings.”

As the conference call got underway, Nadler’s subpoena announcement was made public, an indication that the facts-first approach was moving ahead. Pelosi, calling from New York City, spoke briefly. Then she put a show of leadership force on the line — six committee chairmen, some of the most powerful people in Congress — to give more details, according to people on the call.

Nadler went first. Others who followed were Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings, intelligence committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel, Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Water and Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal. The call lasted about 90 minutes and included about 170 Democrats.

During a series of town hall events on CNN Monday night, several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates weighed in. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren repeated her call for an impeachment vote, saying that if lawmakers believe the president’s actions were appropriate, “they should have to take that vote and live with it.”

California Sen. Kamala Harris said she believes “Congress should take the steps toward impeachment.”

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said Trump should be held accountable, but she stopped short of calling for impeachment.

There’s more coming to keep Trump’s reported misdeeds in public. Congressional panels are demanding the unredacted version of the Mueller report and its underlying material gathered from the investigation. Attorney General William Barr is expected to testify in the House and Senate next week. Nadler has summoned Mueller to testify next month, though no date has been set.

In the face of the intense run-up to the 2020 election, Pelosi implicitly suggested Democrats resist creating episodes like the one in January in which Tlaib was recorded declaring the House would impeach Trump.

“We must show the American people we are proceeding free from passion or prejudice, strictly on the presentation of fact,” Pelosi wrote.

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Associated Press Writers Eric Tucker, Mary Clare Jalonick and Will Weissert contributed to this report.

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Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

Once again, Trump lies about Mueller’s actions

President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, April 22, 2019, during the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Donald Trump is falsely suggesting that the people “closest” to him weren’t called to testify before special counsel Robert Mueller and his team because investigators didn’t want to hear the “good things” those people would want to share about the president. Plenty of people close to Trump, or who worked closely with him, were interviewed by investigators or invited to do so.

TRUMP: “Isn’t it amazing that the people who were closest to me, by far, and knew the Campaign better than anyone, were never even called to testify before Mueller. The reason is that the 18 Angry Democrats knew they would all say ‘NO COLLUSION’ and only very good things!” Tweet on Monday.

THE FACTS: The president is wrong on multiple counts here.

Plenty of people close to him, including in his own family, interviewed with Mueller’s team or were at least asked to appear. And of those who did, some said not very good things about their interactions with the president.

Among the advisers and aides who spoke with Mueller was his former White House counsel, Don McGahn, who extensively detailed Trump’s outrage at the investigation and his efforts to curtail it. McGahn told Mueller’s team how Trump called him at home and urged him to press the Justice Department to fire the special counsel, then told him to deny that the entire episode had taken place once it became public.

Others who were interviewed by Mueller include two former White House chiefs of staff, Reince Priebus and John Kelly, former White House communications director Hope Hicks, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders and former strategist Steve Bannon.

Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer who once said he was so close to the president that he’d “take a bullet” for him, also cooperated with Mueller and delivered unflattering details.

Mueller certainly wanted to hear from Trump’s family too, even if not all relatives were eager to cooperate. His oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., declined to be voluntarily interviewed by investigators, according to Mueller’s report. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, spoke multiple times to Mueller’s team. And one of the president’s daughters, Ivanka Trump, provided information through an attorney.

The White House has not yet said to whom Trump was referring in his tweet.

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More trouble for Trump’s scandal-scarred appointees

Herman Cain. (AP Photo/Molly Riley, File)

President Donald Trump’s efforts to reshape the Federal Reserve stumbled on Monday, with one of his potential nominees for the Fed’s board withdrawing from consideration and another being enveloped by fresh doubts.

Herman Cain, a former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, asked to be taken out of the running for an influential post at the U.S. central bank, Trump tweeted. Cain had dropped out of the 2012 presidential race after facing allegations of sexual harassment and infidelity — issues that resurfaced after Trump said earlier this month that he planned to nominate Cain for the Fed.

Trump tweeted that “My friend Herman Cain, a truly wonderful man, has asked me not to nominate him for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board. I will respect his wishes.”

Separately, CNN on Monday unearthed opinion columns that Trump’s other pick for a Fed board vacancy, conservative commentator Stephen Moore, wrote in the early 2000s. Among the opinions Moore asserted in those columns was that women should be barred from refereeing, announcing or even selling beer at men’s college basketball games. Those writings appeared on the conservative National Review website.

Moore told CNN that the articles were “a spoof.”

“I have a sense of humor,” he added.

Cain’s nomination had already appeared doomed after four Republican senators said earlier this month that they wouldn’t vote to confirm him if he were nominated. Republicans hold just a three-seat majority in the Senate, so the opposition of those senators, on top of unified Democratic opposition, made Cain’s prospects appear impossible. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declined to say two weeks ago whether the chamber would confirm Cain.

Several other controversies have also dogged Moore. A lien of more than $75,000 was filed against him in January 2018 for unpaid taxes. Reports have also indicated that he has fallen behind on alimony and child support payments to his ex-wife.

The CNN report Monday also noted that Moore once wrote, “Is there no area in life where men can take vacation from women?”

On top of that, both Cain and Moore have faced widespread criticism that they are unqualified for a critically important role on the world’s most influential central bank and that Trump chose them mainly for their allegiance to him and his priorities.

On Monday, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer warned the Republicans against using Cain’s withdrawal as a “pathway” to approval of Moore, calling him “equally unqualified and perhaps more political.”

“Mr. Moore, like Mr. Cain, poses a danger to the economic stability of our country,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement. “Mr. Cain clearly saw the writing on the wall and withdrew his name from consideration; hopefully Senate Republicans will again voice their deep concerns and force Mr. Moore to do the same.”

Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust and a former Fed official, said Moore “has been overly partisan” in his comments about the Fed. Moore has lavished praise on Trump’s tax cut policies and has accused Chairman Jerome Powell of undercutting the economy with interest rate hikes.

Those criticisms “don’t sit well, certainly with people inside the Fed, and with the financial markets,” Tannenbaum said. “The Fed’s culture is consensus-driven and apolitical.”

Indeed, Trump’s picks of Cain and Moore have sparked worries about the Fed’s ability to remain politically independent. Last fall, Cain co-founded a pro-Trump super political action committee, America Fighting Back PAC. It features a photo of the president on its website and says, “We must protect Donald Trump and his agenda from impeachment.”

“There were so many things about (Cain) that were red flags,” including his lack of understanding of monetary policy, said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton and longtime Fed watcher. Cain has served on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City but didn’t participate in any interest rate decisions in that position.

The potential nominations surfaced after Trump spent months attacking Powell, his own pick to lead the Fed, and other Fed officials for raising rates four times last year. Trump has contended that those rate hikes hurt the stock market and were unnecessary because there was no inflation threat.

At a meeting in March, Fed policymakers indicated that they expected to keep rates unchanged this year, a sharp change from December, when they suggested that they would lift short-term rates twice more this year.

The Fed board, along with presidents of the Fed’s regional banks, plays a critical role in the U.S. economy, holding meetings to debate and vote on whether to raise their benchmark interest rate. That rate, in turn, affects everything from mortgage rates to the interest rate on auto loans and the interest paid on savings accounts. The Fed typically increases its benchmark rate when it worries inflation is about to accelerate, or cuts it to accelerate growth.

Like Moore and Trump himself, Cain has criticized the central bank’s policies. In a 2012 Wall Street Journal column, Cain argued that the Fed’s low rate policies had distorted the value of the dollar. He advocated a return to the gold standard as a way to control inflation, a position that most economists disagree with. Many economic historians argue that the gold standard, which fixes the dollar’s value to a specific amount of gold, worsened the Great Depression.

Before leaving the presidential race, Cain had proposed a “9-9-9” tax plan that called for replacing the current tax system with a flat 9 percent business and individual income tax, and a 9 percent sales tax.

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AP Writers Martin Crutsinger and Marcy Gordon contributed to this report.

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Romney ‘sickened’ by Trump’s dishonesty

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, left. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Sen. Mitt Romney says he’s “sickened” by the dishonesty the Russia investigation found in the Trump White House, but the president fires back that Romney should have put the same energy into running for president in 2012 that the Utah Republican has tapped in criticizing him.

Romney also tweeted Friday that in reading the special counsel’s report he was “appalled” Americans working on the Trump campaign had welcomed help from Russia.

On Saturday, Trump responded via Twitter, saying if Romney “spent the same energy fighting Barack Obama as he does fighting Donald Trump, he could have won the race (maybe)!”

In 2012 Romney won a slightly greater percentage of the popular vote than Trump in 2016. He’s one of the few prominent Republicans to criticize Trump since Trump’s election.

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