Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Last Call For It's Mueller Time, Con't

And we finally get the other shoe to drop in the firing of Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.

Nearly a year before Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired senior FBIofficial Andrew McCabe for what Sessions called a "lack of candor," McCabe oversaw a federal criminal investigation into whether Sessions lacked candor when testifying before Congress about contacts with Russian operatives, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News
Democratic lawmakers have repeatedly accused Sessions of misleading them in congressional testimony and called on federal authorities to investigate, but McCabe's previously-unreported decision to actually put the attorney general in the crosshairs of an FBI probe was an exceptional move. 
One source told ABC News that Sessions was not aware of the investigation when he decided to fire McCabe last Friday less than 48 hours before McCabe, a former FBI deputy director, was due to retire from government and obtain a full pension, but an attorney representing Sessions declined to confirm that. 
Last year, several top Republican and Democratic lawmakers were informed of the probe during a closed-door briefing with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and McCabe, ABC News was told.

Jeff Sessions was under investigation, guys.  "Was" being the operative word, however...

By then, Sessions had recused himself from the FBI’s probe of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, giving Rosenstein oversight of the growing effort. 
Within weeks, Rosenstein appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to take over the investigation and related inquiries, including the Sessions matter. 
Two months ago, Sessions was interviewed by Mueller's team, and the federal inquiry related to his candor during his confirmation process has since been shuttered, according to a lawyer representing Sessions. 
"The Special Counsel's office has informed me that after interviewing the attorney general and conducting additional investigation, the attorney general is not under investigation for false statements or perjury in his confirmation hearing testimony and related written submissions to Congress," attorney Chuck Cooper told ABC News on Wednesday. 
According to the sources, McCabe authorized the criminal inquiry after a top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, and then-Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., wrote a letter in March 2017 to the FBI urging agents to investigate "all contacts" Sessions may have had with Russians, and "whether any laws were broken in the course of those contacts or in any subsequent discussion of whether they occurred." 
It's unclear how actively federal authorities pursued the matter in the months before Sessions' interview with Mueller’s investigators. It's also unclear whether the special counsel may still be pursuing other matters related to Sessions and statements he has made to Congress – or others – since his confirmation.

Sessions is no longer being investigated for statements to Congress.  That's what we do know.  Whether or not he's being investigated for other matters since becoming AG, well...

Only Mueller knows.  But Andrew McCabe was fired.  That's a fact too.  And less than a week after that happened, we have our first major leak involving McCabe where we only find out now that the FBI was investigating Trump's AG from the word go.

Stay tuned.

The Flake Out Fake Out Continues

Retiring Arizona GOP Sen. Jeff Flake appears to be unfettered by the party of Trump and is saying whatever appears to be on his mind these days in his self-serving exit from the Senate, but at least we have a Republican threatening to take action in case Trump cans Robert Mueller.

Sen. Jeff Flake, one of President Trump’s most prominent Senate critics, told The Washington Post in an interview Tuesday that he would support impeachment proceedings against Trump if the president ends special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election “without cause.”

“We’re begging him: ‘Don’t go down this road. Don’t create a constitutional crisis. Don’t force the Congress to take the only remedy that Congress can take,’ ” said Flake (R-Ariz.). “To remind the president of that is the best way to keep him from going down that road. To fire Mueller without cause, I don’t know if there is any other remedy left to the legislative branch.” 
Flake compared any possible effort by Trump in the coming weeks to end the Mueller probe to President Richard Nixon’s infamous 1973 firing of the special prosecutor during the Watergate scandal.

“If [Trump] fires [Mueller] without cause, how different is that from what Nixon did with the ‘Saturday Night Massacre’?” Flake asked. “He left before impeachment came, but that was the remedy then, and that would be the remedy now.”

It would be.  But Flake isn't actually going to do anything about that knowing full well that impeachment will never get past Paul Ryan in the House this year regardless of what Trump does, and that Flake will already be gone when Democrats most likely take over the House in 2019.

What Flake is actually doing is testing the waters in 2020 to primary Trump, because being in the Beltway for years has somehow convinced him that Never Trump Moderate Republicans still exist.

Flake — who recently traveled to New Hampshire and is considered a potential Trump challenger in the race for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination — said he was speaking up Tuesday about the prospect of impeachment because Republican warnings have been unsuccessful in holding back Trump’s criticism of Mueller’s probe. Flake expressed alarm over how the president’s attacks on the investigation have seemed to escalate over the past week as the president faces mounting legal and political challenges. 
Flake also credited Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) for taking the lead in talking about the possibility of impeachment proceedings — a topic most Republicans are eager to avoid. 
Earlier Tuesday, Graham told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that firing Mueller, “if he did it without cause,” would “probably” be an impeachable offense.

Flake said in the interview: “Nobody wants to talk about it. I don’t want to talk about it. As soon as you mention the i-word, that’s all people want to talk about.”

Flake is about as useful as Graham is too.  Both Senators are supposedly critics of Trump, but Graham supports the Trump position on votes 88% of the time, Flake 86%.  I don't buy Flake's fake out and neither should you.

The Blue Wave Rises, Con't

Primary day in Illinois yesterday means that we now know who will be competing in November's races in the Land of Lincoln, and the race for governor will come down to a pair of billionaires.

The race for Illinois governor will be a battle between two deep-pocketed candidates who've already sunk more than $120 million of their own money into the contest, putting it on pace to become the costliest such campaign in U.S. history.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, a wealthy former private equity investor, defeated conservative state Rep. Jeanne Ives on Tuesday for the GOP nomination.

"We are in a critical time, a critical turning point in Illinois," Rauner told supporters. "I am humbled by this victory. You have given me a chance to win the battle against corruption that plagues Illinois."

He will face Democratic billionaire J.B. Pritzker, an investor and heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune. Pritzker easily won the primary over Chris Kennedy, the son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy; and Daniel Biss, 40, a state senator who campaigned as the "middle-class candidate."

Pritzker, 53, already has spent more than $70 million to bankroll his campaign, while Rauner has put in about $50 million and has received millions more from his wealthy friends in the business community. Combined they're expected to top California in 2010 as the nation's most expensive governor's race.

Pritzker is problematic at best, but he's a better choice than Rauner, one of most disliked sitting governors in the nation right now.  Much like Chris Christie's wrecked legacy in New Jersey, this blue-state Republican is leaving a massive fiscal mess behind and he very nearly lost his own primary bid.

In House races, Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski, arguably the bluest of the remaining Blue Dogs, survived his primary against Marie Newman.

Rep. Dan Lipinski, an avid foe of abortion rights and one of the most conservative Democrats in the House, fended off a fierce challenge from the left on Tuesday night in Illinois, all but assuring an eighth term in Congress.

Lipinski narrowly prevailed over businesswoman Marie Newman, 51 to 49, after a bitter campaign battle that pitted the party’s ideological poles against one another. Lipinski was backed heavily by anti-abortion rights groups and by some unions, while Newman boasted endorsements from a host of outside groups on the left in the 3rd District contest.

"I would like to make Mr. Lipinski to have a very painful evening, so we‘re going to wait," Newman told her supporters shortly before midnight, according to news reports, as she declined to concede before the race was called by The Associated Press.

Lipinski's Trump Score, according to FiveThirtyEight, finds him voting along with Donald Trump and the GOP about a third of the time, which for a blue district like his was definitely worth a primary challenge.  It failed this time, but I imagine he's pretty rattled.

And before the "But there's no difference between the parties" idiocy in the cheap seats begins, Illinois Republicans will be running an actual Nazi and Holocaust denier in IL-3.

Arthur Jones, a Holocaust denier described as a Nazi by the Illinois Republican Party, won the Republican primary on Tuesday in the state’s Third Congressional District, a heavily Democratic district that includes part of Chicago and its suburbs, according to The Associated Press.

Mr. Jones, 70, unsuccessfully sought the nomination five times before, and his victory on Tuesday was a foregone conclusion after the Republican Party failed to draft another candidate to enter the race against him.

“Even if only myself and my wife voted for me, I’d win the primary because the Republican Party screwed up big time,” Mr. Jones said in an interview.

The Illinois Republican Party has sought to distance itself from Mr. Jones in recent weeks, blanketing the district with campaign fliers and robocalls urging voters to “stop Illinois Nazis,” according to a robocall script provided by the party. Mr. Jones said he had received three robocalls himself.

“Arthur Jones is not a real Republican — he is a Nazi whose disgusting, bigoted views have no place in our nation’s discourse,” Tim Schneider, the Illinois Republican Party chairman, said in a statement. He said the party had urged voters “to skip over his name when they go to the polls” and moving forward planned on “vehemently opposing Jones with real campaign dollars.”

A spokesman for the Illinois Republican Party said those dollars would be used to support an independent candidate in the November general election. Party leaders are in talks with several potential candidates, the spokesman said, but have not yet decided which one to endorse.

Republicans couldn't find a candidate who wasn't a Nazi by the deadline.  That's who we're up against in November, so keep that in mind.


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