Friday, July 21, 2017

Robert Mueller expands Trump investigation, causing GOPers to squawk as they conveniently forget Ken Starr's ever-widening probe of Bill Clinton in the 1990s

Donald Trump and Robert Mueller
The Trump White House, and a number of its conservative backers, blew a collective fuse yesterday, with reports that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is expanding his investigation to include a look at Trump family finances. It's unclear where the issue is headed, but it certainly unleashed a wave of Republican hypocrisy.

According to a report at, Mueller is examining a wide range of business transactions involving Trump and his associates. From Bloomberg:

FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said.

The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Trump, summoning his inner Don Corleone, issued a warning that Mueller would be wise to avoid scrutiny of family finances.  From

President Trump warned special counsel Robert Mueller from investigating his family’s finances beyond the scope of the probe into ties between his administration and Russia in an interview with The New York Times on Wednesday.

“I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia,” Trump told the Times.

Trump during the interview said he wasn’t ruling out firing Mueller as special counsel on the probe into Russian meddling in the presidential election.

He did not say that he would order the Justice Department to fire Mueller or under what circumstances he would fire him, but he indicated Mueller investigating his family's finances would cross a line.

It's not like there isn't a mountain of evidence pointing to shady financial dealings involving Trump, as splendidly reported by Craig Unger in a New Republic piece titled "Trump's Russian Laundromat." Writes Unger:

A review of the public record reveals a clear and disturbing pattern: Trump owes much of his business success, and by extension his presidency, to a flow of highly suspicious money from Russia. Over the past three decades, at least 13 people with known or alleged links to Russian mobsters or oligarchs have owned, lived in, and even run criminal activities out of Trump Tower and other Trump properties. Many used his apartments and casinos to launder untold millions in dirty money. Some ran a worldwide high-stakes gambling ring out of Trump Tower—in a unit directly below one owned by Trump. Others provided Trump with lucrative branding deals that required no investment on his part. Taken together, the flow of money from Russia provided Trump with a crucial infusion of financing that helped rescue his empire from ruin, burnish his image, and launch his career in television and politics.

Where does hypocrisy enter the picture? Republicans who want to rein in the Mueller investigation of Trump, were more than happy when Ken Starr ran wild with his investigation of President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. From a recent CNN report, comparing the Starr and Mueller probes:

Ken Starr had been appointed by a three-person panel of judges in 1994 to investigate a scandal involving land development deals in Arkansas from the time before Clinton became president.

Starr, a conservative Republican who had served as Solicitor General of the United States, took over from Robert Fiske and proved to be an aggressive prosecutor. Over time, Starr broadened the scope of the investigation to include a number of issues, including accusations that had been brought against the President about sexual harassment. In the course of the investigation, Starr's team asked President Clinton about whether he had an affair with a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky who was about half his age. Clinton, seeking to protect himself and his marriage, lied under oath. He also lied to the nation when he said "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky."

The most damaging information against Clinton came after Starr had expanded his investigation multiple times, to include issues that went way beyond the probe's original focus -- the Whitewater land deals and the death of deputy White House counsel Vince Foster.

As the CNN report notes, Whitewater happened years before Clinton became president. In fact, Bill Clinton was not even governor of Arkansas when the Whitewater deal commenced. But Republicans, at the time, gave "thumbs up" to a probe that had nothing to do with Clinton's role as president, or even his campaign for president. And they were fine when Starr expanded the probe to include issues that were far removed from Whitewater and Vince Foster.

So try to wrap your head around the hypocrisy present in this press release yesterday from a group called Americans For Limited Government:

July 20, 2017, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement urging the scope of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation to be limited:

“Robert Mueller was originally tasked to investigate Russia’s supposed interference in the 2016 U.S. election campaign. His appointment was directly tied to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ original recusal on all matters related to the 2016 campaign. The Attorney General’s recusal does not include reported ongoing investigations conducted by the Department of Justice unrelated to the election. As a result, Attorney General Sessions should bind the Special Counsel to only pursuing matters for which Sessions has recused himself from overseeing as the nation’s top cop. If Robert Mueller has not found any criminal matters to investigate pursuant to Russian interference in the election, then his tenure as special counsel should end.”

Who in the hell is Rick Manning? His bio indicates he once served in the George W. Bush administration and was an NRA lobbyist for nine years. I don't know where Rick Manning was during the Whitewater probe, but it's hard to imagine him having any problems with Ken Starr's activities going way beyond their original focus.

One difference between the Starr and Mueller investigations should be noted: Starr was an independent counsel, and Mueller is a special counsel. The differences between the two roles is explained in this recent article by Frank Bowman at Slate.

Still, Trump's inflammatory words about Mueller have raised concerns, even among those on the right, who are knowledgeable about government ethics. From an article at

The former White House ethics lawyer to President George W. Bush on Thursday said that Congress needed to make it clear to President Trump that firing special counsel Robert Mueller would mean his impeachment.

In a Twitter post Thursday evening, Richard Painter, who also serves as vice chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) said that if Trump fires Mueller, it should be "bye-bye" Trump or "bye-bye" Congress.

"Congress must make it very clear: Bye-bye Mueller, bye-bye Trump. Otherwise bye-bye Congress 2018. Americans are fed up," Painter tweeted Thursday.

Painter was not the only GOPer to voice concerns about Trump:

Others besides Painter warned Trump not to fire Mueller on Thursday. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said firing the former FBI director would be a "mistake."

“It would be a mistake to fire Bob Mueller," Rubio told reporters Thursday.

Rubio, of course, is the guy who raised the supposed correlation between hand size and penis size during the Republican presidential primaries of 2016. When Rubio becomes a voice of maturity and reason, Trump likely is on shaky ground.

The notion of Republicans griping about an expansion of Robert Mueller's Trump investigation should be seen as a joke -- sort of like Marco Rubio's presidential campaign. But now it seems many GOPers are so encrusted with dishonesty and hypocrisy that they can't even get the joke.


Anonymous said...

Issuing a threat to Robert Mueller? Did Trump get that idea from Vlad Putin?

Anonymous said...

News out today from MSNBC that Trump and Putin may have met even more times at G-20:

Anonymous said...

The Paula Jones lawsuit was a ridiculous bunch of crap, and Starr's expansion into that territory led to Monica Lewinsky. It not only hurt President Clinton, but it also hurt our country. I suspect 9/11 never would have happened if Clinton had not been endlessly harassed and allowed to do his job.

Anonymous said...

If Mueller has the tax returns and gets to the bottom of money laundering, all hell is going to break loose.

Anonymous said...

Trump reportedly is asking about pardons for himself and associates, so he seems to be admitting there are grounds for impeachment. Criminal prosecution, which a pardon would make impossible, would come after impeachment. In my view, Trump is admitting he has committed impeachable offenses -- and he and family members likely have committed crimes.

Anonymous said...

Death . . . taxes . . . and Republican hypocrisy.

The three things you can count on in life.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 10:48. Roughly 3,000 Americans lost their lives because Ken Starr's investigation -- which started with events before Bill Clinton was even Arkansas governor; nothing to do with his presidency -- had to be carried out. If Clinton and Al Gore, and others had been allowed to focus on their jobs, I suspect 9/11 never happens.

Anonymous said...

But . . . but . . . he got a blowjob in the White House.

Anonymous said...

How could Trump pardon himself if it's proven the election was rigged, and he never should have been president to begin with?

legalschnauzer said...

@11:14 --

Great point. If Trump is an illegitimate president, any pardons he tried to give would be illegitimate. That's how it seems to me. How can you issue pardons if you aren't really president, under the law.

Anonymous said...

The worst thing about Ken Starr's investigation is that it gave us 8 years of George W. Bush as president. Without Starr, and the Monica Lewinsky crap, Al Gore wins the 2000 election. Of course, Gore won the election anyway, but without Monica, it's not close enough for the Republicans to steal. With Gore in the White House, I think he and his admin. are paying close attention to bin Laden, and 9/11 never happens.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Ken Starr ran into a little karma, with all the corruption on his watch at Baylor U.

Anonymous said...

Trump is toast.

Anonymous said...

I think 9/11 was payback by Saudis to the Bush family for putting U.S. troops on Saudi soil and playing nice all these years with the royal family, which is hated by everyday Saudis. I think it was an attack on the Bushes, more than an attack on U.S. in general. With Al Gore as president, I don't think 9/11 ever happens.

Anonymous said...

NYT says Trump pardons could be a crime:

Steve said...

If it is proven that Trump's election is fraudulent, could he be removed without impeachment ?

legalschnauzer said...

Steve --

Good question. My guess is that it would depend on possible collusion with the Russians to rig the election. If that's proven, I think that would be an impeachable offense, so I think Trump could face removal via impeachment and possible criminal prosecution.

Anonymous said...

The reporting by Craig Unger in the New Republic piece is fantastic. I hope all of your readers will click on that link and read the article, which is lengthy but well worth the effort. It shows that Trump has been a shady guy for a long, long time, and he owes his business and show biz revival to Russian interests.

Anonymous said...

The shit just hit the fan. Bigly!

Sessions discussed Trump campaign-related matters with Russian ambassador, U.S. intelligence intercepts show

By Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller July 21 at 6:51 PM

Russia’s ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, according to current and former U.S. officials.

Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s accounts of two conversations with Sessions — then a top foreign policy adviser to Republican candidate Donald Trump — were intercepted by U.S. spy agencies, which monitor the communications of senior Russian officials both in the United States and in Russia. Sessions initially failed to disclose his contacts with Kislyak and then said that the meetings were not about the Trump campaign.

Lets see the little weasel talk his way out of this little misunderstanding.

legalschnauzer said...

@8:21 --

Wow, big story. This is first I've seen of it, so still need to digest. Still, trying to think of implications, what this could mean. What are your thoughts? Thanks for sharing with LS audience. I gather it just broke this evening?

Anonymous said...

Story posted at >>July 21 at 6:51 PM<<

A fairly common opinion on the source and motive for this "leak":

Every GOP figure I've spoken to at #AspenSecurity assumes Trump leaked this to force Sessions out. "Certainly not a Mueller leak," one said.

The long view: Trump organizes/authorizes this "leak" to provide a reason to fire Sessions, Trump fires Sessions, Trump hires an AG who will fire Mueller, Mueller is fired, The USA proceeds to either an instant political shitstorm and full blown constitutional crisis or the actualization of a Dear Leader Trump/Putin cult takeover of the USA.

legalschnauzer said...

@10:03 --

That sounds like a likely scenario to me. Thanks for sharing.

I can't help but think how this reflects on the Alabama political scene of the last 20-plus years, with all of its liars and cheaters -- Luther Strange, Bob Riley, Rob Riley, Bill Pryor, Bill and Leura Canary, Mark Fuller, R. David Proctor, Alice Martin, Jessica Medeiros Garrison, and so on. All of these people are allies of Sessions, or have his support. And now we know that Sessions has zero scruples, will even sell out his country to our No. 1 foreign adversary.

Anonymous said...

Remain Calm and Carry On.