Poor Jeff Sessions. He really has painted himself into a corner.
I actually want to have sympathy for his position, but I’m torn between hating to see someone at the point of so many blades, and feeling he asked for it when he threw all his support in early behind such a loathsome, disreputable character as Donald Trump during the primaries.
Trump has a long history, well-documented, as being a cheating, lying, snake. He is not trustworthy. He’s the kind of man who would cut off insurance to a desperately ill nephew, because of a grudge against the child’s father.
He’s the type of man who raised mercenary spawn, who connived to cut out a younger sibling from any family business or inheritance.
Trump is poison, and the quest to attach himself to a wealthy con artist is now blowing back hard in Sessions’ face, as his former colleagues within the GOP work to unseat him and drive him out.
In something that I’m sure will eventually be the plot of a big screen political drama, a desperate cabal of Republicans are working to undermine the U.S. intelligence community, oust the attorney general, and disrupt an active investigation into Russian meddling and possible collusion in a U.S. election.
Leading the charge in these efforts is California Representative Devin Nunes. From the very beginning, Nunes was unusually interested in blocking the investigation into Russian activities in the U.S. He stepped outside of his role as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, reviewed documents related to the probe, and then went to President Trump to review those documents, before giving a presser to announce his findings – all without informing the members of the committee he leads.
He was forced to recuse himself because of his very unorthodox activities. Why would he risk putting himself under such scrutiny?
Now, months later, he’s with a particularly nasty group of insurrectionists that seem desperate to blow everything to pieces, and some who had previously stood apart and were willing to allow the process to play out are now joining him.
On Wednesday, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), secured the backing of Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to enforce a swath of subpoenas probing the Justice Department’s use of the so-called Steele dossier in the probe.
And on Friday, two Republican senators asked the Department of Justice to open a criminal investigation into the author of the dossier, Christopher Steele.
And while the DOJ and FBI sought to hold back some of the documents they were holding in evidence, their requests were rejected by Republican leadership.
Nothing about that smells right.
To be honest, the criminal complaints against Christopher Steele actually feel more like vindictiveness than actual necessity. The man took a job. That’s it.
The Fusion GPS dossier on Trump was first commissioned by the Washington Free Beacon, then later picked up for oppo-research by Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
To date, there have been some items within the dossier that are either questionable or proven false, but other items have been substantiated.
Even Senator Lindsey Graham has joined in the efforts to disrupt the investigation.
“After reviewing how Mr. Steele conducted himself in distributing information contained in the dossier and how many stop signs the DOJ ignored in its use of the dossier, I believe that a special counsel needs to review this matter,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who issued the referral with Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
And this is where it gets murky.
Republicans claim the dossier was used as the seed to grow the Russia probe, but recent reports suggest that the concerns were actually raised by a call from Australian officials to U.S. officials, after a drunken admission by Trump’s foreign policy aide, George Papadopoulos.
Papadopoulos reportedly told an Australian official in a bar that the Russians were shopping dirt on Hillary Clinton. When the hack of the DNC emails came spilling out over social media (thanks to WikiLeaks – considered to be just another tool of the Kremlin), the Australian officials were concerned enough to call and inform their U.S. counterparts.
Some conservatives on Capitol Hill have targeted Mueller directly, arguing that he has stacked his team with lawyers who supported Trump’s campaign rival, Hillary Clinton.
“We’ll investigate the unprecedented bias against President Trump that exists when we allow people who hate the president to participate in the investigations against him,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said in December.
I can remember a time when liberals would whine about Republicans “hating” Barack Obama, and how everybody thought their emotional outbursts were just hyperbole, for the sake of drawing attention away from legitimate policy disputes.
Now, so-called Republicans and conservatives have forgotten their own pre-Trump rhetoric and use what they used to loathe as a shield against legitimate concerns for the safety and integrity of our American way of life.
And part of what these Republican lawmakers want to happen is to see Jeff Sessions removed. They see him as insufficiently loyal to the president. He foolishly tried to inject some manner of discipline and principle into the job by recusing himself, when it appeared he may come under investigation, himself.
Speaking of the new report of Papadopoulos’ involvement, and calling for Sessions to resign:
“Belief in this narrative requires one to blatantly disregard a series of fundamental questions,” like why did the FBI wait more than six months to interview Papadopoulos, wrote Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) in a Thursday op-ed calling for Sessions to leave.
Despite the “manufactured hysteria” over the investigation, Meadows and Jordan wrote, “a simple truth remains: There is no evidence of any collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.”
Getting rid of Sessions is key. Once he’s gone, a new attorney general – one willing to prove his loyalty and acquiesce to Trump above the nation’s laws – can be installed.
All for the sake of retaining power, even if it risks breaking apart the FBI and turning the DOJ from a top law enforcement department to the president’s puppets.
Yeah. There’s no way that can come back to bite us all, later.
Thankfully, not all Republican lawmakers have joined this despicable bunch of partisan hitmen.
But those attacks — on Mueller and on the Justice Department more broadly — have made some Republicans on Capitol Hill uncomfortable. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) told reporters recently that his “heart would be broken” if Nunes followed through with plans to investigate “corruption” at the FBI, for example.
“My colleagues on [the House Intelligence Committee] would tell you some days I can’t remember if I still work for the Department of Justice,” he said. “I am a defender of the Department of Justice more than I am an attacker.”
And that’s how it should be.
For whatever flaws there may be with our law enforcement and intelligence communities, we’re still better off with them than without them, and that means letting them do their jobs, not trying to twist them into weapons for the state.
We saw how ugly things were when Obama was president and had loyalists like Holder and Lynch at the head of the DOJ. Their purpose was corrupted. This shouldn’t be tit-for-tat. We should want impartial, dedicated public servants.
Sessions tried to do the right thing by recusing himself. He just didn’t realize that he wasn’t given the role with the expectation that law and order would be his first priority.