Sen. Lindsey Graham repudiated Jared Kushner Sunday for downplaying Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
“Can you imagine what we would be saying if the Russians or the Iranians hacked into the presidential team of the Republican Party?” Graham said during an appearance on CBS News’ Face the Nation. “So, no — this is a big deal. It’s not just a few Facebook ads. They were very successful in pitting one American against the other during the 2016 campaign.”
Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and one of his closest advisers, last week during an appearance at the Time 100 Summit in New York City said that multiple investigations into interference have been more harmful to American democracy than the original interference.
“The whole thing is just a big distraction for the country,” Kushner. “You look at what Russia did — buying some Facebook ads to try and sow dissent. And it’s a terrible thing, but I think the investigation and all the speculation that’s happened over the past two years has had a much harsher impact on our democracy.”
Graham, a fierce Trump ally, said he likes Kushner a lot, “but he’s leaving out a big detail: the Russians hacked into John Podesta’s emails, the campaign manager for the Democratic candidate for president. The Russians hacked into Hillary Clinton’s emails, the candidate for the Democratic Party.
Source: NewsMax Politics
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., says he doesn’t care if President Trump ordered former White House counsel Don McGahn to fire special counsel Robert Mueller.
During an interview Sunday, the Senate Judiciary chairman said what is important is that Trump did not actually impede the special counsel’s investigation.
“I think it’s just all theater. It doesn’t matter. I don’t care what he said to Don McGahn. It’s what he did. And the president never obstructed,” Graham said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
McGahn served as White House counsel from 2017 until late last year. According to Mueller’s report, released earlier this month with redactions, he was one of the officials who resisted Trump’s orders to have Mueller fired. He was also told to lie about being ordered to fire Mueller.
McGahn cooperated with the special counsel’s team, sitting down for several interviews. He is now sought after by Democratic investigators on Capitol Hill for testimony.
Graham’s committee is holding a hearing with Attorney General William Barr next week about the Mueller report, but closed the door to any further action, including seeking testimony from McGahn and Mueller.
“I’m not going to re-litigate it,” Graham said after being asked about both testimony from McGahn and Mueller.
The redacted special counsel report examined nearly a dozen “episodes” for possible obstruction of justice. Although Mueller declined to conclude there was obstruction, the special counsel also noted that he could not say “no criminal conduct occurred.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said “it doesn’t matter” what President Donald Trump said to former White House counsel Don McGahn because in the end, “the president never obstructed” special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
In an interview on CBS News’ “Face The Nation,” Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, discounted revelations in the Mueller report that Trump in 2017 ordered McGahn to fire Mueller.
“It doesn’t matter what he said to Don McGahn — it is what he did,” Graham said. “The president never obstructed,…If you going to look at every president who pops off at a staff and, you know, asks him to do something that is maybe crazy, then we won’t have any presidents.”
Graham added “I don’t care what they talked about” — and added he’s “done” with the Mueller probe.
“The point is, the president did not impede Mueller from doing his investigation,” Graham said.
“I am done,” he added. “I am not going re-litigate it. I don’t know how clear I can be, it is over for me. [Trump] didn’t collude with the Russians. Obstruction of justice in this situation is absurd…. It is over. “
Graham added, however, interference by Russia in the U.S. election “is a big deal.”
“Can you imagine what we would be seeing if the Russians or the Iranians hacked into the presidential team, of the Republican party?” he asked.
“It is not just a few Facebook ads. … the Russians are up to it again and here is what I tell President Trump. Everything we have done with the Russians is not working. We need more sanctions, not less.”
Source: NewsMax Politics
President Trump says apprehensions of unauthorized immigrants on the U.S.-Mexico border has spiked in the past six months because of how he has strengthened the U.S. economy.
“People are pulling up because our economy is so good, I mean, unfortunately, it’s the only bad part about what we’re doing because everybody wants a piece of it and they’re willing to come up and take the risk and this tremendous danger,” Trump said during a Fox News interview with Maria Bartiromo that aired Sunday. “Our laws are so bad — the combination of having a great economy and having the weakest immigration laws anywhere in the world by far.”
The president referenced the government’s Friday announcement of a 3.2% gross domestic product growth rate in the first quarter of 2019. Trump said the U.S. has a shortage of workers and immigration programs must be tweaked to bring in immigrant workers with specific skills depending on the country’s needs.
“We have such great numbers and we have companies pouring in. The problem is we need workers and we’re doing a plan based on merit where people come in, Maria, based on merit so they can help us. They have skills. They have talent,” he said. “We have people coming in under these crazy laws that, I mean, if they need welfare, or if they need handouts for the next 50 years, they are almost incentivized. Those are the people that we’re supposed to be taking and we take as few as possible, I’ll tell you, but the way the laws are, it’s brutal.”
Trump blamed Congress, which was controlled by Republicans his first two years in office, for not changing immigration laws that he said entice people to travel to the U.S. and enter without permission.
In 2017 the Trump administration endorsed the RAISE Act by Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, which would create a merit-based immigration system and eliminate the diversity visa lottery. The legislation was reintroduced earlier this month.
Trump confirmed the White House is working with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on a comprehensive immigration reform package that also addresses asylum reforms, which Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., said is the underlying cause for the record-high number of families are traveling to the U.S.
White House adviser Jared Kushner said Tuesday that investigations into Trump campaign interactions with Russian elements “had a much harsher impact on our democracy” than Russian attempts to influence voters.
Kushner dismissively referred to Russia’s 2016 efforts as “a couple Facebook ads” during an on-stage interview at a forum hosted by Time magazine.
“You look at what Russia did, you know, buying some Facebook ads to sow dissent and do it — and it’s a terrible thing — but I think the investigations and all the speculation that’s happened for the last two years has had a much harsher impact on our democracy than a couple Facebook ads,” Kushner said.
He added: “I think they said they spent about $160,000. I spent about $160,000 on Facebook every three hours during the campaign. If you look at what the magnitude of what they did and what they accomplished, I think the ensuing investigations have been way more harmful to our country.”
White House reporter Brian Bennett contested Kushner’s characterization of Russian efforts, saying they featured more than Facebook ads, including hacking Democratic emails, as described in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report released last week.
“Our focus during the campaign was on the candidate, on the message,” Kushner responded. “In the campaign, we didn’t know that Russia was doing what they were doing. … the notion of what they were doing didn’t even register to us as being impactful.”
Kushner also defended his role in attending an infamous 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with Russians teasing dirt on Hillary Clinton. According to Mueller’s report, Kushner became aggravated during the meeting, texting then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort “waste of time” and emailing two assistants requesting that they call to give him an excuse to leave.
“Lindsey Graham told me I’ve had the best text message in the history of text messages when I was in that crazy meeting in Trump Tower and I said, ‘Get me the hell out of here,’ basically. It was a meeting that had it never come up and had it never been done, I wouldn’t have thought of again. But now, the media spends so much time focusing on it. And quite frankly, the whole thing is just a big distraction for the country,” he said.
Kushner said he believed Russia-collusion theories were so popular because many people did not expect Trump to win the election.
“I think that instead of saying, ‘Oh wait, we got it wrong’, they said, ‘Maybe it was Russia,'” he said.
As Democrats mull how far to push the impeachment envelope against President Trump after Robert Mueller found no evidence of collusion with Russia in the 2016 election but punted on obstruction of justice charges, another investigation could further blunt their attempts to oust the president from office or damage his re-election chances.
Amid calls from Trump and his supporters to “investigate the investigators,” Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz has been hard at work over the last year looking into the sources and methods the FBI used to begin surveillance of a one-time Trump campaign adviser based at least in part on discredited information gathered by a former British spy.
That packet of intelligence, known as the “Steele dossier,” contains salacious and unsubstantiated details about Trump’s alleged romps with Russian prostitutes, along with business and political quid pro quos with Russian officials.
Attorney General Robert Barr said the inspector general is wrapping up his probe and could release a final report as early as next month.
Those interviewed by Horowitz and his team over the past year, according to Politico, say he seems intensely focused on undermining the dossier and credibility of Christopher Steele, the former British MI6 agent who produced the document. Steele had served as a confidential source for the FBI since 2010 until a falling out over his leaks to the media about the Trump-Russia probe.
While prominent Democrats have accused Mueller of failing to do his duty and Barr of prioritizing the interests of Trump over the American people, they’ll have a more difficult time assailing Horowitz, a Harvard-educated lawyer appointed by President Obama to the DoJ’s top watchdog post in 2012.
Horowitz, who was a partner in New York City’s oldest law firm, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, before becoming inspector general, served as a board member of the Ethics Resource Center and the Society of Corporate Compliance Ethics.
He began his career at the Justice Department in the 1990s, serving as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, including stints as the chief of the public corruption unit. Before leaving in 2002, he worked as the deputy assistant attorney general of the criminal division and as its chief of staff.
Roughly a year ago, Horowitz also proved he’s willing to disappoint Trump and his supporters. He thoroughly investigated the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation and charges that the probe was rigged to let Clinton off the hook.
Horowitz amassed a mountain of embarrassing emails and electronic messages between former FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok and his co-worker and lover, Lisa Page, about their hatred for Trump and an “insurance plan” to derail his presidency. However, Horowitz concluded that he could not link the “appearance” of personal bias against Trump to “evidence that any political bias or improper considerations actually” impacted the way the FBI pursued the Clinton email probe.
He also harshly criticized then-FBI Director James Comey for his July 2016 announcement that he would not recommend any charges against Clinton, and his subsequent October 2016 decision to tell Congress that the FBI had discovered new emails and had re-opened the case.
Still, Horowitz concluded that Comey hadn’t acted out of political bias, but did “deviate” from established procedures and engaged “in his own subjective, ad hoc decision making” in what the IG described as an extremely unusual case with high political stakes.
The stakes couldn’t be higher when it comes to Horowitz’ current probe. Steele was hired by the opposition research firm Fusion GPS in 2016 to look into Trump’s Russia ties, and that work was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee through a law firm.
Republican members of Congress and other Trump allies allege the only true collusion took place between the Clinton camp and the FBI, with Steele’s help. They accuse the DoJ and the FBI of abusing the FISA process and misleading the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court by relying on the dossier to obtain approvals for the surveillance without disclosing that the information was unverified or paid for by Democrats and the Clinton campaign itself.
Democrats counter that the FBI wouldn’t be doing its job if it hadn’t investigated Trump associates’ ties to Russia. For instance, the unpaid campaign adviser at the center of the FISA controversy, Carter Page, first attracted FBI attention back in 2013 when he interacted with undercover intelligence agents in New York City. Carter’s trip to Russia in the summer of 2016 sparked more scrutiny and justified the warrant the FBI submitted to in October 2016, they argue.
But Trump and his supporters have blasted the FBI for continuing to use the dossier to attain FISA court warrants even after Steele was terminated for unauthorized and potentially criminal leaks to the media.
Last January, then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Sen. Lindsey Graham, who now helms that panel, referred Steele to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution for lying about his contacts with several media organizations before the 2016 election.
Rep. Jim Jordan, who serves as the ranking Republican member on the House Oversight Committee, on Saturday pointed to the dossier as the rationale used to launch an investigation “on a false premise.”
“You can’t have the FBI using one party’s opposition research document to launch an investigation and spy on the other party’s campaign,” he said.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, a conservative Republican from Florida, over the weekend said Horowitz has evidence that FBI officials received tickets to concerts and athletic events from members of the press as incentives to leak to them.
“One of the … nuggets that the inspector general is working on is the corruption that existed between the media and members of the FBI,” Gaetz said, without citing his sources for the information.
The American public, especially those on the right, are already highly skeptical of the mainstream media, whose credibility has continued to sink during its coverage of the Trump administration amid the president’s frequent charges of “fake news” and the media’s torrent of stories alleging Trump’s collusion with Russia.
A Morning Consult/Hollywood Reporter survey released earlier this month found that the share of adults who said some of the biggest media outlets – including ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, the New York Times, NPR and the Wall Street Journal – were credible dropped an average of 5 percentage points over the past three years, from 56% to 44%.
The media skepticism was predictably most pronounced among Republicans, whose responses show a 12-point drop in their trust in news outlets over the course of the last three years.
It also doesn’t help that the dossier first surfaced in the liberal media when BuzzFeed posted it online – complete with the lurid details of a sex tape featuring prostitutes that the Russian government was said to be holding over Trump. Mueller’s investigation found no evidence that such a tape existed. It also didn’t corroborate another dossier claim published in a McClatchy report that then-Trump attorney Michael Cohen met with Russian officials in Prague.
The Mueller report’s conclusions poked huge holes in the Democrats’ Trump-Russia narrative and sparked new questions about the way the FBI went about investigating it, as well as the media’s role in fanning its flames. Horowitz’ report will try to address both issues.
At the beginning of the Horowitz probe, House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler – who is weighing whether to begin impeachment proceedings against the president — said it’s a “shame” that the inspector general has to “devote resources to investigate a conspiracy theory as fact-free, openly political, and thoroughly debunked as the president’s do-called ‘FISA abuse.’”
As the probe is winding down, Steele himself appears less sanguine about Horowitz’ findings and conclusions. He has reportedly declined to be interviewed and plans to rebut the IG’s characterizations in a rare public statement.
The New York Times on Friday also reported that Steele never tried portray the dossier as anything other than raw intelligence — jumping off points for the FBI to begin investigating.
How that assertion squares with Horowitz’s findings will be closely watched by those on both sides of the aisle. But for Democrats eager to herald the Mueller report’s details on possible obstruction, the IG’s work could be tough to portray as just another government investigation biased in Trump’s favor.
Source: Real Clear Politics
WASHINGTON — The constitutional case for impeaching President Trump was best made two decades ago by one of his most servile enablers, Lindsey Graham, now the senior senator from South Carolina:
“You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if this body [the Senate] determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role … because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”
The political case for moving deliberately but fearlessly toward impeachment is even clearer: If timorous Democrats do not seize and define this moment, Trump surely will.
What just happened is that special counsel Robert Mueller delivered a searing indictment of a president who has no idea what “honor” and “integrity” even mean — a president who lies almost pathologically, who orders subordinates to lie, who has no respect for the rule of law, who welcomed Russian meddling in the 2016 election, who clumsily tried to orchestrate a cover-up, who tried his best to impede a lawful Justice Department investigation and failed only to the extent that aides ignored his outrageous and improper orders.
What Trump claims just happened is a “witch hunt.”
Anyone who thinks there is a chance that Trump will lick his wounds and move on has not been paying attention. Having escaped criminal charges — because he is a sitting president — Trump will go on the offensive. With the help of Attorney General William Barr, whose title really should be Minister of Spin, the president will push to investigate the investigators and sell the bogus counternarrative of an attempted “coup” by politically motivated elements of the “deep state.”
Here is the important thing: Trump will mount this attack no matter what Democrats do. And strictly as a matter of practical politics, the best defense against Trump has to be a powerful offense.
I fail to see the benefit for Democrats, heading into the 2020 election, of being seen as such fraidy-cats that they shirk their constitutional duty. Mueller’s portrait of this president and his administration is devastating. According to Lindsey Graham’s “honor and integrity” standard — which he laid out in January 1999, when he was one of the House prosecutors in Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in the Senate — beginning the process of impeaching Trump is not a close call.
It is also important for Democrats to keep their eyes on the prize. The election is the one guaranteed opportunity to throw Trump and his band of grifters out of the White House, and the big anti-Trump majority that was on display in last year’s midterm must be maintained and, one hopes, expanded.
But that task will largely fall to the eventual Democratic nominee, whoever that turns out to be. Presidential contenders should be free to position themselves however they see fit on the impeachment question. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has chosen to single herself out by leading the charge. Others may choose to demur and focus instead on the kitchen-table issues, such as health care, that polls show voters care about.
But most Democratic members of Congress (believe it or not) are not running for president. Their focus has to be on their constitutional duty — and nowhere in the Constitution does it say “never mind about presidential obstruction of justice or abuse of power if there’s an election next year.”
I have no intention of letting congressional Republicans off the hook. They have constitutional responsibilities as well, though it’s clear they will not fulfill them. Imagine, for a moment, if the tables were turned — if a GOP majority were running the House and a Democratic president did half of what Trump did. Do you think Republicans would hesitate for a New York minute? Articles of impeachment would have been drawn up long ago and stern-faced senators, including Graham, would already be sitting in judgment.
The conventional wisdom is that Republicans made a political error by impeaching Clinton. But they did win the presidency in 2000 and go on to dominate Congress for most of George W. Bush’s tenure. If impeachment was a mistake, it wasn’t a very costly one.
Does it “play into Trump’s hands” to speak of impeachment? I think it plays into the president’s hands to disappoint the Democratic base and come across as weak and frightened. Voters who saw the need to hold Trump accountable decided to give Democrats some power — and now expect them to use it.
(c) 2019, Washington Post Writers Group
Source: Real Clear Politics
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., predicted Democrats will “stampede” to impeach President Trump after special counsel Robert Mueller’s report was released last week.
“I thought we all trusted Mueller. So here’s what I think is going on in the House: There’s going to be a stampede to impeach President Trump,” Graham said during a Monday evening interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “They’re going to use the Mueller report and anything they can find to try to destroy his presidency. Nancy Pelosi is not in charge of the Democratic Party — the radical left is in charge.”
“I expect that there will be impeachment proceedings against President Trump,” Graham said, adding that he believed the Mueller reported was “vindication” for Trump. Ultimately, Graham said impeachment proceedings would lead to Trump’s reelection in 2020.
Democrats lack a cohesive message on impeachment as they lay the groundwork to launch investigations into Mueller’s findings. The redacted report released last week showed Mueller did not find collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin during the 2016 election. However, Mueller did not clear Trump on the issue of obstruction of justice, leading some Democrats to pounce.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., spent Monday urging members of her caucus to back off talk of impeachment, noting in a letter that there are alternative means to “holding the president accountable” beyond holding impeachment hearings. In a caucus-wide conference call, Pelosi and party leaders pushed for the focus to be on investigations into Mueller’s most damning findings.
Still, some Democrats aren’t ready to back off the impeachment talk just yet, including Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.
“If the Democrats cannot decide that they’re going to move with impeachment, I guess they’re going to go on with these investigations,” Waters said during an interview Sunday with MSNBC. “How long are they going to go on with them? What more do they need to prove?”
Earlier Monday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., issued a subpoena to former White House counsel Don McGahn, who rejected Trump’s request to fire Mueller, to appear before the panel this month and provide the committee with documents.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler on Friday issued a subpoena to the Justice Department for an unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, in addition to the underlying grand jury evidence and testimony.
The subpoena, which demands the material by May 1, escalates the House’s confrontation with Attorney General William Barr, whom Democrats have accused of whitewashing Mueller’s findings and misleading the public about the nature of the special counsel’s conclusions in order to protect President Donald Trump.
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“My committee needs and is entitled to the full version of the report and the underlying evidence consistent with past practice,” Nadler (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. “Even the redacted version of the report outlines serious instances of wrongdoing by President Trump and some of his closest associates. It now falls to Congress to determine the full scope of that alleged misconduct and to decide what steps we must take going forward.”
Mueller’s report, which Barr released Thursday with limited redactions, painted a devastating picture of Trump’s efforts to curtail or restrict Mueller’s investigation of Russian links to the Trump campaign in 2016. Mueller also found that despite numerous contacts between Trump associates and Russians — as well as a clearly established Russian effort to help elect Trump — the evidence didn’t prove that anyone in Trump’s orbit conspired with the Russian government.
But Democrats say they need to see the fully unredacted report and underlying evidence for their own investigations. In some instances, Mueller reported that Trump satisfied all the elements of an obstruction crime but emphasized that he drew no “ultimate conclusion” about his conduct because of Justice Department constraints on indicting a sitting president. The Judiciary Committee is already investigating Trump for obstruction of justice and has requested documents.
The committee initially authorized Nadler to issue the subpoena earlier this month after it became clear that Barr was not going to release the full, unredacted report and all of the underlying evidence. Democrats have called on Barr to ask a court to release the grand jury information, which is usually kept secret. Barr told lawmakers last week that he does not intent to seek that court order, but he invited Democrats to go to court themselves to get their hands on the information.
The subpoena served on Friday came after Democrats say they exhausted all of their options to obtain the full report voluntarily. Nadler said last week that he wanted to “show the court that we’re making every effort to reach an accommodation … because that strengthens the case for enforcement of the subpoena.”
Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said Nadler’s subpoena was too broad and sought materials that “by law, can’t be shared outside the Justice Department.”
“[The subpoena] commands the department to provide Congress with millions of records that would be plainly against the law to share because the vast majority of these documents came as a result of nearly 2,800 subpoenas from a grand jury that is still ongoing,” Collins said in a statement, praising Barr for “good faith transparency.”
But Nadler told “Good Morning America” earlier Friday that it was imperative his committee see the full report to make “informed decisions” about whether to pursue impeachment against Trump, though he said “we’re not there now.”
Nadler is one of a select group of congressional leaders who will be allowed to view a less redacted version of the report, though that version will still not include grand jury evidence. The Justice Department will allow those lawmakers to view the less redacted report in a secure setting beginning next week.
While the president and his allies have insisted Mueller’s report exonerates the president, Democrats have accused Barr of acting as a de facto defense attorney for the president, first with a four-page summary of the Mueller report released last month and again on Thursday with his press conference ahead of the report’s public release. Democrats say Barr — in both his press conference and his four-page summary — mischaracterized many aspects of the report to portray it in a more favorable light for the president.
Democrats have taken issue in particular with Barr’s conclusion that Trump did not obstruct justice, arguing that Mueller’s report shows the issue should be taken up by Congress.
“Because Barr misled the country, we have to hear from Barr, which we will on May 2. We have to hear from Mueller and ask him a lot of questions,” Nadler said Friday. “We have to hold hearings and hear from other people both on the question of obstruction of justice, whereas I said the special prosecutor invited Congress to look into that, not the attorney general. We have to look into all that. We need the entire report, unredacted, and the underlying documents in order to make informed decisions.”
Lawmakers will have the opportunity to grill Barr about his handling of the report in two weeks. On May 1, the attorney general will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee; on May 2, he will appear before the House Judiciary panel.
Nadler has also invited Mueller to testify “as soon as possible.” Barr said Thursday that he wouldn’t have an issue with Mueller appearing before Congress, but it was unclear on Friday if Mueller planned to accept Nadler’s invitation.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary panel, said he’s not interested in having Mueller testify.