Opinions From Here

Opinion by Sen. Adam Schiff on Mueller’s testimony before Congress

July 26, 2019

On Wednesday, the Congress finally had its long awaited chance to hear directly from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Now that a little time has passed, I wanted to send you a note with my thoughts.

We knew going into the hearing that the Special Counsel was a reluctant witness who preferred not to testify at all, believing his report should speak for itself. But we also felt it was important for the American people to hear from Mueller directly about his work, rather than have its meaning filtered through the deceptive lens of Bill Barr, or worse, the President himself. I wanted to use this opportunity, with millions of Americans watching, to lay out the full breadth of what Mueller’s report describes in exacting detail: Disloyalty to country. Greed. And lies.

Lots of lies.

First, Mueller was absolutely clear that Russia intervened in our elections in a sweeping and systematic fashion, and they did so to help elect Donald Trump. You and I have known that for a long time, but with all the efforts by the President and his allies to muddy the waters, it was important to hear it from Mueller directly.

What’s more, Mueller also made clear that the Russians approached the Trump campaign and offered them illicit help, and that the campaign never reported it to authorities. In fact, they welcomed the help of a hostile foreign power, encouraged it, planned for it, and built a campaign around it. And then they lied over and over to cover it up.

Second, Mueller made it clear that his report did not exonerate the president. Far from it.

Or in Mueller’s prosecutorial words — “The president was not exculpated.” And when asked if the President could be charged when he left office, Mueller said that was true.

Third, Mueller defended his investigation.

The president has constantly called the Mueller investigation a “witch hunt” and the idea that Russia interfered to help him win, a “hoax.” When asked, Mueller simply answered:

“It is not a witch hunt.” And, “Absolutely, it was not a hoax.”

Finally, Mueller made it clear that this isn’t about history — it’s about the present, and about the future, with elections that are right around the corner. The Russians are still interfering, “doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it in the next campaign.” Mueller continued, “We have underplayed to a certain extent that aspect of our investigation,” and that Russia’s efforts could do “long-term damage to the United States that we need to move quickly to address.”

And yet Trump said just last month that if he was offered dirt on his opponent by a foreign power again, he’d probably take it.

It’s clear that Trump won’t take the threat of foreign interference seriously. In fact, he still welcomes it. In the words of Robert Mueller, “problematic is an understatement.” Mitch McConnell, for his part, just killed another election security measure.

Trump’s loyalty is to himself and his financial gain, not the country. And that avarice was shared by those closest to him in the 2016 election – a willingness to put money ahead of patriotism and ethics. That is disloyalty to country. Strong words, but justified given what Mueller found, and what we all see each and every day.

But as much as Mueller shared, he also made clear the limits on this investigation. Many questions remain unanswered which go to the heart of protecting our democracy. Some go to the red line the President drew around his finances, and the fact that Mueller seems not to have “followed the money.” Congress must continue to investigate, to go to court where necessary, to hold the President and his administration to account, and to get the answers necessary to protect the country from any potential compromise. We will find the facts and we will follow them wherever they lead.

Opinions From Here

Opinion by Dan Rather

July 28, 2019
(FB post)

Does Baltimore have problems? Of course. And so does Appalachia, and Beverly Hills and every part of this nation. We have struggles with disease, and addiction, and poverty, loneliness and job insecurity, education, health care, child abuse and natural disasters. And so much more. Some of the problems are concentrated and some are more diffused. Some are new challenges and some are the result of systematic abuses, like white supremacy, with deep roots in our national fabric. But the very notion of our nation, the very ideal enshrined in that beautiful phrase e pluribus unum (out of many, one), is that we are one nation and the struggles of our citizens are the struggles for all of us. There are many reasons why President Trump’s attacks on Congressman Cummings were bigoted and thus un-American. Why are the struggles of some Americans in the president’s eyes to be blamed on forces such as immigrants or unfair government practices while others (and mostly those of minority districts) are to be blamed on the diverse politicians who represent those districts? The answer obviously speaks for itself. President Trump does not view himself as the President of the United States, or at least the United States of 2019. He views himself as the president of his base. He sees his path to reelection as stoking the indignant outrage of enough Americans to overwhelm those (at least in the right battleground states) who believe in a pluralistic and more just America. For someone who sanctimoniously lectures on not hating America, to love to or leave it, the president spends a lot of time saying how horrible this country is. His is of course a grossly distorted view but it will be on center stage in the upcoming campaign. The great sadness is that we do have challenges, we do have problems, we do have needs. From climate change to income inequality to health care, we face forces that we will have to face together if we have the courage to move beyond the dangerous rhetoric meant to divide us, shame us, and diminish us for short-sighted political gain.

Dan Rather

Articles From Here

Better to have a few rats than be one

By BALTIMORE SUN EDITORIAL BOARD

BALTIMORE SUN |JUL 27, 2019

In case anyone missed it, the president of the United States had some choice words to describe Maryland’s 7th congressional district on Saturday morning. Here are the key phrases: “no human being would want to live there,” it is a “very dangerous and filthy place,” “Worst in the USA” and, our personal favorite: It is a “rat and rodent infested mess.” He wasn’t really speaking of the 7th as a whole. He failed to mention Ellicott City, for example, or Baldwin or Monkton or Prettyboy, all of which are contained in the sprawling yet oddly-shaped district that runs from western Howard County to southern Harford County. No, Donald Trump’s wrath was directed at Baltimore and specifically at Rep. Elijah Cummings, the 68-year-old son of a former South Carolina sharecropper who has represented the district in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1996.

It’s not hard to see what’s going on here. The congressman has been a thorn in this president’s side, and Mr. Trump sees attacking African American members of Congress as good politics, as it both warms the cockles of the white supremacists who love him and causes so many of the thoughtful people who don’t to scream. President Trump bad-mouthed Baltimore in order to make a point that the border camps are “clean, efficient & well run,” which, of course, they are not — unless you are fine with all the overcrowding, squalor, cages and deprivation to be found in what the Department of Homeland Security’s own inspector-general recently called “a ticking time bomb.”

In pointing to the 7th, the president wasn’t hoping his supporters would recognize landmarks like Johns Hopkins Hospital, perhaps the nation’s leading medical center. He wasn’t conjuring images of the U.S. Social Security Administration, where they write the checks that so many retired and disabled Americans depend upon. It wasn’t about the beauty of the Inner Harbor or the proud history of Fort McHenry. And it surely wasn’t about the economic standing of a district where the median income is actually above the national average. No, he was returning to an old standby of attacking an African American lawmaker from a majority black district on the most emotional and bigoted of arguments. It was only surprising that there wasn’t room for a few classic phrases like “you people” or “welfare queens” or “crime-ridden ghettos” or a suggestion that the congressman “go back” to where he came from.

This is a president who will happily debase himself at the slightest provocation. And given Mr. Cummings’ criticisms of U.S. border policy, the various investigations he has launched as chairman of the House Oversight Committee, his willingness to call Mr. Trump a racist for his recent attacks on the freshmen congresswomen, and the fact that “Fox & Friends” had recently aired a segment critical of the city, slamming Baltimore must have been irresistible in a Pavlovian way. Fox News rang the bell, the president salivated and his thumbs moved across his cell phone into action.
As heartening as it has been to witness public figures rise to Charm City’s defense on Saturday, from native daughter House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, we would above all remind Mr. Trump that the 7th District, Baltimore included, is part of the United States that he is supposedly governing. The White House has far more power to affect change in this city, for good or ill, than any single member of Congress including Mr. Cummings. If there are problems here, rodents included, they are as much his responsibility as anyone’s, perhaps more because he holds the most powerful office in the land.
Finally, while we would not sink to name-calling in the Trumpian manner — or ruefully point out that he failed to spell the congressman’s name correctly (it’s Cummings, not Cumming) — we would tell the most dishonest man to ever occupy the Oval Office, the mocker of war heroes, the gleeful grabber of women’s private parts, the serial bankrupter of businesses, the useful idiot of Vladimir Putin and the guy who insisted there are “good people” among murderous neo-Nazis that he’s still not fooling most Americans into believing he’s even slightly competent in his current post. Or that he possesses a scintilla of integrity. Better to have some vermin living in your neighborhood than to be one