Hits and Misses

Hits and Misses

Monday, August 20, 2018

Rudolph Giuliani's "The Truth is Not the Truth"

That "failing" and "fake news" organ The New York Times had as its lead story in the Sunday edition of August 19, 2018, that the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, had never been asked by Trump's team of lawyers to give a full accounting of his testimony to Mueller's investigators.  The potential consequences of this omission have caused consternation among Trump's lawyers.

Why are they so concerned?  In the first place, the first team had not invoked attorney-client privilege before McGahn testified.  Secondly, McGahn was almost certainly mindful of the historical example of former White House Counsel John Dean, who served time after Watergate.  Even more unsettling for the Trump team was the fact that when he testified McGahn believed that Trump might well have chosen him to be the fall guy in any obstruction of justice case relating to firing Comey as head of the FBI.  The result was that McGahn cooperated fully with Mueller's investigators.  How fully is fully?  Would you believe testifying on at least three occasions for a total of more than thirty hours?

Now, endowed with the wisdom of hindsight, Trump's second team of attorneys is frantically performing damage control.

How well is this damage control working?  Judging by that razor-sharp spokesman Rudolph Giuliani's performance on NBC's Meet the Press that same day on August 19th, not too well. In fact, Giuliani appears to have become untethered to any known reality.  It's surreal.

Speaking to his concern that Trump not be "rushed" into testifying and thus get "trapped into perjury," Giuliani declared that any statements made by the president in such an interview would not be true: "It's somebody's version of the truth, not the truth."

"Truth is truth," Chuck Todd, the show's host, responded.

"No, it isn't truth," Giuliani replied, apparently forgetting that the person in question was Trump himself and not "somebody" else.  And then comes Giuliani's kicker: "Truth isn't truth."

How long, O Lord, how long will this surreal farce continue?

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Trump's Revoking of John Brennan's Security Clearance

John Brennan was director of the CIA from March 2013 to January 2017.  As I noted in an earlier post, Brennan is one of the few who has dared publicly to criticize President Trump.  In a decision made some weeks ago but only announced yesterday, Trump has revoked Brennan's security clearance. Why? Brennan supposedly has demonstrated "erratic behavior" and "increasingly frenzied commentary."   Here, as so often in the recent past, the charges emanating from the topsy-turvey world of the Trump administration apply more pertinently to those who have made them.  I have quoted below some of the key passages from Brennan's Op-Ed piece in The New York Times of August 16, 2018. The ellipses indicate where I've cut, but I encourage everyone to read it in its entirety. Far from being erratic, let alone frenzied, Brennan is clear, logical, and devastatingly persuasive.

Brennan declares: "In my many conversations with James Comey, the FBI director, in the summer of 2016, we talked about the potential for American citizens, involved in partisan politics or not, to be pawns in Russian hands  We knew that Russian intelligence services would do all they could to achieve their objectives, which the United States intelligence community publicly assessed a few short months later were to undermine public faith in the American democratic process, harm the electability of the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, and show preference for Mr. Trump. . . .

"The already challenging work of the American intelligence and law enforcement communities was made more difficult in late July 2016, when Mr. Trump, then a presidential candidate, publicly called upon Russia to find the missing emails of Mrs. Clinton.  By issuing such a statement, Mr. Trump was not only encouraging a foreign nation to collect intelligence against a United States citizen, but also openly authorizing his followers to work with our primary global adversary against his political opponent.

"Such a public clarion call certainly makes one wonder what Mr. Trump privately encouraged his advisers to do--and what they actually did--to win the election. . . . I am now aware--thanks to the reporting of an open and free press--of many more of the highly suspicious dalliances of some American citizens with people affiliated with the Russian intelligence services.

"Mr. Trump's claims of no collusion are, in a word, hogwash.

"The only questions that remain are whether the collusion that took place constituted criminally liable conspiracy, whether obstruction of justice occurred to cover up any collusion or conspiracy, and how many members of "Trump Incorporated" attempted to defraud the government by laundering and concealing the movement of money into their pockets . . . .

"Mr. Trump clearly has become more desperate to protect himself and those close to him, which is why he made the politically motivated decision to revoke my security clearance in an attempt to scare into silence others who might dare to challenge him.  Now more than ever, it is critically important that the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and his team of investigators be allowed to complete their work without interference--from Mr. Trump or anyone else--so that all Americans can get the answers they so rightly deserve."

Trump's revoking of Brennan's security clearance is a clumsy attempt to intimidate not only him but others, whom he has named publicly.  Not only is this revocation unjustified by any malfeasance on Brennan's part, but it is clearly meant to silence, not so much Brennan's views, as those of other potentially damaging critics.  So much for the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment! Every American who cares about the rule of law should protest this bullying by our erratic and increasingly frenzied President, and every American worthy of the name should vigorously support Robert Mueller's investigation.  As the Romans declared, Fiat iustitia, ruat caelum: "Let justice be done, though the heavens fall!"