Trump Just Blurted Out, Unprompted, That He Installed His Pet Attorney General Over the Russia Probe

Wednesday, we explored the career timeline of Matthew Whitaker, the man whom Donald Trump, American president, appointed acting attorney general after firing Jeff Sessions the day after the midterms. Trump passed over multiple Senate-confirmed officials in the actual line of succession to pick Whitaker, who’d become Sessions’s chief of staff close to a year earlier after repeatedly going on CNN to defend Trump against the Russia probe with the expressed intent of getting the president’s attention and a job. Even some conservative legal commentators have suggested his appointment was unconstitutional, and the state of Maryland is suing to that effect.

This was about as blatant a move to obstruct the investigation as the president could have made. Whitaker is an obvious Trump loyalist and longtime Republican operative who time after time attacked the special counsel’s investigation, including by promoting a story suggesting Robert Mueller’s team was a “lynch mob.”Whitaker has close ties to Sam Clovis, a grand-jury witness in the probe who advised him to start going on CNN to catch Trump’s eye.

After he got the job as Sessions’s chief of staff, Whitaker was described by Trump Chief of Staff John Kelly as the White House’s “eyes and ears” in the Justice Department—an assault on the department’s independence and the rule of law. And even well before all this, Whitaker allegedly politicized a federal investigationas a U.S. attorney in Iowa, participated in scams and grifts in his business dealings, and once flexed his background in federal law enforcement to run protection for a company—of which he was on the board—that the Federal Trade Commission fined $26 million and shuttered as a criminal enterprise.

Still, no matter how clear something is, it helps to hear it from the horse’s mouth. The President of the United States, who once said on national television he was considering “the Russia thing” when he fired FBI Director James Comey, was happy to oblige in a typically freewheeling interview with The Daily Caller. As first flagged by journalist Brian Beutler, Trump seized on a softball question to spill the beans on Whitaker’s appointment.

THE DAILY CALLER: Sure. Could you tell us where your thinking is currently on the attorney general position? I know you’re happy with Matthew Whitaker, do you have any names? Chris Christie —

POTUS: Matthew Whitaker is a very respected man. He’s — and he’s, very importantly, he’s respected within DOJ. I heard he got a very good decision, I haven’t seen it. Kellyanne, did I hear that?

WHITE HOUSE ADVISER KELLYANNE CONWAY: 20 pages.

POTUS: A 20 page?

THE DAILY CALLER: It just came out right before this, sir.

POTUS: Well, I heard it was a very strong opinion. Uh, which is good. But [Whitaker] is just somebody who’s very respected.

I knew him only as he pertained, you know, as he was with Jeff Sessions. And, um, you know, look, as far as I’m concerned this is an investigation that should have never been brought. It should have never been had.

It’s something that should have never been brought. It’s an illegal investigation. And you know, it’s very interesting because when you talk about not Senate confirmed, well, Mueller’s not Senate confirmed.

THE DAILY CALLER: Right.

Right.

The president just admitted, unprompted, that he fired the head of the Justice Department and installed a loyalist over a Justice Department investigation into him and his associates. This is obstruction. This is corrupt. This is an untenable assault on the rule of law in a democratic republic. And the Republican majorities in Congress—to say nothing of his base—will happily let him get away with it.

Oh, and by the way: Trump’s claim he only knows Whitaker through Sessions is a blatant lie. And not just because Trump’s chief of staff said Whitaker was their “eyes and ears.” Here’s Trump on October 11, 2018—a month ago:

“I can tell you Matt Whitaker’s a great guy,” President Trump said in a Fox News interview. “I know Matt Whitaker.”

This is not the first time he’s lied about knowing Whitaker since appointing him to, incredibly obviously, interfere in the Mueller investigation.

All that said, there is a beautiful symmetry here. The rear-end of Donald Trump, a lifetime grifter who’s just trying to lie his way to the end of each day while his brain is steadily melted by television, may ultimately be protected by a ‘roided-out Mr. Clean who came to him through the teevee—and who once threatened peopleon behalf of a company peddling Big Dick Toilets. America the Beautiful.

[Esquire]

Trump suggests Chicago implement ‘stop and frisk’ to curb violence

President Trump said Monday that he’s directed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to provide federal assistance to the city of Chicago to limit gun violence and suggested the city implement the controversial practice of “stop and frisk.”

“We want to straighten it out and straighten it out fast. There’s no reason for what’s going on there,” Trump told law enforcement officials at a convention for the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Trump said he’s urging Chicago officials to “strongly consider stop and frisk.”

“It works, and it was meant for problems like Chicago,” Trump said, garnering applause from the audience.

Trump previously suggested during his 2016 presidential campaign that stop and frisk could be used to help prevent violence in black communities. He has cited its effectiveness in New York City under former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), who is now his personal lawyer.

The city’s use of the practice, in which police stop, question and frisk a person on the grounds of reasonable suspicion that either the person is dangerous or a crime has been committed, was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in 2013.

In addition to proposing Chicago implement the policy, Trump said Monday that he’d like city officials to change a 2016 deal between the police department and the American Civil Liberties Union that required city police to document every street stop they made in an effort to curb racial profiling.

The president suggested that law enforcement had their hands tied by the agreement.

“The crime spree is a terrible blight on that city, and we’ll do everything possible to get it done,” Trump said. “I know the law enforcement people in Chicago, and I know how good they are. They could solve the problem if they were simply allowed to do their job and do their job properly.”

Trump’s directive to get the federal government involved in Chicago comes days after a city police officer was convicted of second-degree murder in the 2014 shooting of teenager Laquan McDonald.

The shooting prompted numerous protests across the city, and the conviction renewed tensions between the community and city law enforcement.

While activists and residents praised the decision as a measure of justice, the Chicago Police union blasted the jury’s decision, calling it a “sham trial and shameful verdict.”

Chicago has long struggled with a reputation as a city beset with gun violence, though The Chicago Tribune reported that there have been fewer shooting victims so far in 2018 than at the same point in the previous two years.

[The Hill]

Reality

Donald Trump isn’t the “law and order candidate,” but the “every failed police tactic that targeted minorities candidate.”

Trump failed to mention that in every city where stop-and-frisk was implemented, they have become case studies in the perils of such an approach.

Four of the five biggest American cities — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia — have all used stop-and-frisk tactics in an attempt to lower crime. Despite what Trump says, the results are mixed, and in each city the methods have been found unconstitutional for disproportionately targeting minorities.

For example, in Donald Trump’s hometown the NYPD’s practices were found to violate New Yorkers’ Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and also found that the practices were racially discriminatory in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Trump wants to take this nationally.

The most proven form of policing is when officers work with communities thereby gaining trust of a population. So when there is an issue in their neighborhood, residents are more likely to open up and offer evidence.

Media

Trump on Sessions: ‘I don’t have an attorney general’

US President Donald Trump has said he does not “have an attorney general” in his fiercest attack yet on Jeff Sessions.

In an interview with Hill.TV, Mr Trump renewed criticism of Mr Sessions’ decision to step aside from the inquiry into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

He also said he was unhappy with Mr Sessions’ response to immigration.

The attorney general is yet to respond to Mr Trump’s comments.

It is unusual for a sitting president to attack their attorney general and critics accuse Mr Trump of trying to meddle in the legal system.

After the president criticised Mr Sessions last month, two key Republican senators signalled that they would support Mr Trump if he were to fire Mr Sessions after the November mid-term elections.

However, other Republicans told Politico they thought this would be a bad move and said they were standing by the attorney general.

Mr Sessions has pushed back against previous criticism by Mr Trump. “While I am attorney general, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations,” he said in August.

“I demand the highest standards, and where they are not met, I take action.”

[BBC News]

White House Reiterates Trump Call for Investigation of Anonymous Opinion Writer

The White House press secretary on Monday called for the Justice Department to investigate who wrote an anonymous opinion column last week that was critical of President Trump, echoing the president’s demand for such a probe.

“If that individual is in meetings where national security is discussed or other important topics, and they are attempting to undermine the executive branch, that would certainly be problematic and something that the Department of Justice should look into,” Sarah Sanders told reporters at Monday’s briefing.

Mr. Trump last week said he wanted Attorney General Jeff Sessions to launch an investigation into who in his administration penned the column in the New York Times, which was attributed only to a senior administration official and said there was a secret resistance movement at work in Mr. Trump’s administration that aims to curtail his “worst inclinations.”

The president said he was concerned the author may be involved in discussions about national security issues. “I don’t want him in those meetings,” he said.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on Monday. When Mr. Trump raised the prospect of an investigation last week, a department spokeswoman said the agency doesn’t confirm or deny investigations.

Presidents typically avoid calling for Justice Department investigations, particularly ones related to their own administrations, to avoid the perception they are interfering in department matters. Mr. Trump has done so on multiple occasions.

A parade of senior members of Mr. Trump’s administration publicly denied writing the column last week.

Ms. Sanders declined on Monday to say what crime the author of the column may have committed. “I’m not an attorney,” she said. “It’s the Department of Justice’s job to make that determination, and we’re asking them to look into it.”

Asked whether the president was aware that the column was protected under the First Amendment, Ms. Sanders said: “It’s less about that part of it, and whether or not somebody is actively trying to undermine the executive branch of the government and a duly elected president.”

She declined to say whether the White House was launching an internal search for the column’s author, whom she called “gutless.” “We’re certainly focused on things that actually matter,” she said.

[Wall Street Journal]

Trump Wants Attorney General to Investigate Source of Anonymous Times Op-Ed

President Trump said on Friday that he wants Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate the source of an anonymous Op-Ed piece published in The New York Times, intensifying his attack on an article that he has characterized as an act of treason.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One as he traveled to Fargo, N.D., Mr. Trump said, “I would say Jeff should be investigating who the author of that piece was because I really believe it’s national security.”

Mr. Trump said he was considering action against The Times, although he did not elaborate.

The president has raged against the column since The Times published it on Wednesday afternoon. But his latest remark indicates that he wants to use the Justice Department to root out the author of the column, which described some members of the administration in a state of near-mutiny against a president some view as dangerous and untethered from reality.

“We’re going to take a look at what he had, what he gave, what he’s talking about, also where he is right now,” he said.

[New York Times]

Reality

Remember, this is very similar to the Obama administration’s treatment of Fox News report James Rosen, who the Department of Justice treated as a co-conspirator and a criminal in their investigation of leaks.

Trump: I never called Sessions ‘mentally retarded’

President Donald Trump denied late Tuesday night that he called Jeff Sessions “mentally retarded” and made fun of his Southern heritage, his latest push back to Bob Woodward’s upcoming book on the Trump White House.

“The already discredited Woodward book, so many lies and phony sources, has me calling Jeff Sessions “mentally retarded” and “a dumb southerner,” the president wrote on Twitter. “I said NEITHER, never used those terms on anyone, including Jeff, and being a southerner is a GREAT thing. He made this up to divide!”

Trump and the White House have already issued a litany of criticisms against Woodward’s latest tome, “Fear.” Excerpts indicate the president is depicted as increasingly erratic and his staff allegedly is forced to resort to the type of tactics sometimes used to control children — like stealing problematic papers off of his desk — to try to thwart him.

Known for his Pulitzer-Prize winning reporting on the Watergate scandal, Woodward has remained adamant that the eyebrow-raising anecdotes in his book are accurate. Even so, Trump, White House chief of staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis have issued statements denying portions of Woodward’s reporting.

In the reported excerpt in question, Trump allegedly told then-White House staff secretary Rob Porter that Sessions was “mentally retarded” and was a “dumb Southerner.”

Trump’s tweet Tuesday night was a rare bit of defense for his beleaguered attorney general, who has weathered intense criticism from Trump. This past weekend, the president vented about the Justice Department’s prosecution of two GOP congressmen, Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter, and how the timing of the announcement of those charges has prevented the GOP from finding others to run in their place.

[Politico]

Reality

Responding to legendary journalist Bob Woodward’s book that he called Jeff Sessions a “retard,” Donald Trump tweeted he absolutely never called Sessions or anyone else a “retard” in his entire life.

Here is audio of Donald Trump calling someone a “retard” at the 19 minute mark.

Here is another audio of Donald Trump calling a reporter “retarded”.

Trump attacks Jeff Sessions for not forcing the Justice Department to ignore Republican crimes

President Donald Trump on Monday publicly criticized his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions, for allowing Republican congressmen to be indicted for alleged criminal behavior.

“Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department. Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff…” Trump tweeted.

The president was apparently referring to Congressmen Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Chris Collins (R-NY). Hunter was charged with illegally using campaign funds to pay personal expenses while Collins was charged with taking part in an insider trading scheme.

“….The Democrats, none of whom voted for Jeff Sessions, must love him now. Same thing with Lyin’ James Comey. The Dems all hated him, wanted him out, thought he was disgusting – UNTIL I FIRED HIM! Immediately he became a wonderful man, a saint like figure in fact. Really sick!” Trump added in another tweet.

[Raw Story]

Trump again threatens to ‘get involved’ in the Justice Department

President Trump on Thursday evening again threatened to “get involved” in the Department of Justice (DOJ) “if it doesn’t straighten out.”

Trump said during a rally in support of Indiana Republican Senate candidate Mike Braun that the DOJ and the FBI “have to start doing their job and doing it right and doing it now.”

“I wanted to stay out, but if it doesn’t straighten out … I will get involved and I’ll get in there if I have to,” Trump said.

The president’s comments echoed those he made in May, when he threatened to “get involved” in a rolling dispute between conservative House Republicans and the top DOJ official overseeing the Russia probe.

Trump has frequently attacked the DOJ and Attorney General Jeff Sessions over the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The president’s feud with the DOJ has escalated since last week, when he said during an interview on “Fox & Friends” that Sessions “never took control of the Justice Department.”

“The Dems are very strong in the Justice Department,” Trump said. “And I put in an attorney general that never took control of the Justice Department, Jeff Sessions. Never took control of the Justice Department. It’s sort of an incredible thing.”

Sessions quickly fired back, saying in a statement that the DOJ “will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.”

Weeks before that interview, Trump wrote on Twitter that Sessions should stop the special counsel’s investigation “right now.” Trump has repeatedly cast the investigation as a “witch hunt.”

Sessions has long drawn the ire of Trump for recusing himself from the Russia investigation a month after being installed at the DOJ last year.

The president’s attacks against Sessions have continued to fuel speculation that he could move to fire the attorney general at some point.

Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) both predicted last week that Trump will eventually fire Sessions.

Trump told Bloomberg News earlier in the day Thursday that Sessions would remain in his job until at least the November midterm elections, but declined to say whether he would keep Sessions after the elections.

The president appeared in Indiana on Thursday night in an effort to boost Braun, who is seeking to unseat Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) in November.

[The Hill]

Media

Trump blames Sessions for Cohen pleading guilty to campaign finance fraud in rambling Fox News interview

President Donald Trump on Wednesday pointed the finger at Attorney General Jeff Sessions for not doing enough to stop his former “fixer” Michael Cohen from pleading guilty to campaign finance charges.

During an interview with Fox News’ Ainsley Earhardt, Trump admitted that it would have been a little “dicey” had he ordered Cohen to make an illegal campaign contribution that would be hush money for women who allegedly had affairs with him.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday pointed the finger at Attorney General Jeff Sessions for not doing enough to stop his former “fixer” Michael Cohen from pleading guilty to campaign finance charges.

During an interview with Fox News’ Ainsley Earhardt, Trump admitted that it would have been a little “dicey” had he ordered Cohen to make an illegal campaign contribution that would be hush money for women who allegedly had affairs with him.

Unlike the allegations being levied against Trump, however, Obama was not found to have had any part in failing to report the donations, and the donations in question were not being used to pay out hush money to ex-mistresses.

Despite this, however, Trump said that the two cases were very similar — and then took a veiled shot at Sessions.

“He had a massive campaign violation,” Trump claimed. “But he had a different attorney general, and they viewed it a lot differently.”

[Raw Story]

Trump Continues to Hammer DOJ Lawyer Bruce Ohr: ‘A Total Joke!’

President Donald Trump is once again targeting DOJ lawyer Bruce Ohr, who reportedly had some connection to the compilation of the Steele dossier.

Trump went on to say that Ohr is “at the center of FALSE ALLEGATIONS” which led to the Russia investigation:

Trump singled out Ohr before in a press pool outside the White House, calling him a “disgrace” and saying he “suspect[s]” he will revoke Ohr’s security clearance “very quickly.”

[Mediaite]

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