TRUMP SAYS HE IS UNDER INVESTIGATION, HIS LAWYER CLARIFIES HE ISN’T

The article originally appeared on India Today. 

While appearing on several talks shows on Sunday, Jay Sekulow, a lawyer from US President Donald Trump’s legal team, denied that Trump was under investigation for firing former FBI director James Comey.

In a tweet yesterday, Trump appeared to confirm that that he was being investigated for firing former FBI director James Comey.

The Post reported that Robert Mueller, who is overseeing the FBI’s probe into Russia’s meddling in last year’s US presidential election and possible links with the Trump campaign, has expanded his inquiry to probe whether Trump obstructed justice by firing James Comey as FBI chief.

Trump said he was being investigated by the man who, in the first place, told him to fire James Comey. Trump’s tweet could be targeting Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the probe into Russia’s intervention into the last year’s presidential polls.

Sekulow, American Center for Law and Justice’s chief counsel, tried to downplay the content of the tweet and defended Trump’s firing of Comey as a constitutional act.

On CNN’s “State of the Union”, he said that the tweet in question was Trump’s response to the Washington Post story that claimed that Trump was under a possible obstruction of justice probe after firing James Comey. Sekulow added that the confirmatory tone of Trump’s tweet was due to Twitter’s word limit, “There’s a limitation on Twitter, as we all know. The President’s response was as it related to the Washington Post report. He cannot in a Twitter statement include all of that in there. That’s it. Simple explanation.”

He reiterated his claims on NBC’s “Meet the Press” saying that Donald Trump “was not and had not been under investigation for obstruction.” He said that “Donald Trump was not afraid of the investigation — there was no investigation” and defended Trump’s tweet in question saying that “Donald Trump is responding to what he’s seeing in the media in a way in which he thinks is appropriate to talk to those people that put him in office.”

“There has been no notification from the special counsel’s office that the president is under investigation,” he told on CBS’ “Face the Nation” programme. Questioning veracity of the Washington Post story, Sekulow asserted that the President could not be under investigation for doing something that the Department of Justice asked him to do. In this case, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had written to Trump to fire James Comey. Sekulow asserted that “the president could not be investigated, or certainly could not be found liable for engaging in an activity he clearly had power to do under the constitution.”

James Comey, who was fired by Trump last month, publicly testified this month that Trump had told him to ease off on his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was under the FBI investigation for his Russian links. Comey said he believed Trump’s advice to be a direction and thus felt uncomfortable by it. Terming Comey’s allegations untrue, Trump later said he was willing to testify under oath.

©SantoshChaubey

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DONALD TRUMP CONFIRMS HE IS UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR FIRING JAMES COMEY

The article originally appeared on India Today.

United States President Donald Trump today appeared to confirm a Washington Post report that he is being investigated for firing former FBI director James Comey.

The Post, this week, reported that Robert Mueller, who is overseeing the FBI’s probe into Russia’s meddling in last year’s US presidential election and possible links with the Trump campaign, has expanded his inquiry to probe whether Trump obstructed justice by firing James Comey as FBI chief.

In his tweet today, Trump seemingly confirmed the report and reiterated his charge linking his presidential campaign with Russia is nothing but a political witch-hunt.

Trump said he was being investigated by the man who, in the first place, told him to fire James Comey. Trump’s tweet could be targeting Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the probe into Russia’s intervention into the last year’s presidential polls.

Rosenstein had written to Trump recommending Comey’s firing.

In an attempt to sound upbeat and to downplay the new developments in a controversy that has now reached the Oval Office, Trump also said that “despite the phony witch Hunt going on in America, the economic & jobs numbers are great.”

Even yesterday, Trump had termed the alleged links between Russia and his campaign as a phony story.

Notably, James Comey, who was fired by Trump last month, publicly testified this month that Trump had told him to ease off on his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was under the FBI investigation for his Russian links.

Comey said he believed Trump’s advice to be a direction and thus felt uncomfortable by it. Terming Comey’s allegations untrue, Trump later said he was willing to testify under oath but Mueller’s reported investigation into the president’s actions means that Trump will have to live with the ghost of another probe reaching to the White House.

Trump had expressed the same outrage when Mueller, a former FBI director from 2001 to 2013, was appointed last month by the US Department of Justice to probe Russian meddling.

While accusing the Clinton campaign and the Obama administration of indulging in illegal acts, Trump had said that “there was never a special counsel appointed to oversee the acts of his Democrat predecessors”.

He had likened the appointment of the special counsel with the “single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history”. “With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign and the Obama administration, there was never a special counsel appointed”, Trump had tweeted.

©SantoshChaubey

SARCASTIC PUTIN OFFERS FIRED FBI CHIEF JAMES COMEY POLITICAL ASYLUM

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has compared fired FBI chief James Comey’s act of leaking information to media to that of a human rights activist. “Comey’s leak of information to the media was more in line with an activist than an intelligence chief,” USA Today* quoted him saying. Putin said this while holding his annual ‘Direct Line’ Q&A call-in session yesterday.

Comparing James Comey to Edward Snowden, a sarcastic Putin said Russia was ready to grant asylum to Comey in case he is prosecuted for those leaks, “It sounds very strange when the head of the security services writes down a conversation with the commander-in-chief and then leaks it to the media through his friend. How, in that case, does he differ from Edward Snowden?,” The Guardian** wrote quoting him. Edward Snowden, who is facing espionage charges in the US, is a whistleblower and former CIA contractor who leaked US intelligence documents of mass surveillance and was given political asylum by Russia.

Putin added that since Comey’s acts are more like an activist than an intelligence chief, if the latter feels pressured in the US or if he is prosecuted, Russia would be happy to grant him political asylum.

In his testimony, former FBI chief James Comey had said that he intentionally leaked memo on his conversation with Trump to build pressure to appoint special counsel in the case. Comey’s strategy worked after the US Department of Justice appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller special counsel to probe Russian meddling into the last year’s US presidential election.

©SantoshChaubey

FOR TRUMP, ITS WITCH-HUNT AGAIN

After terming appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel to probe Russian meddling into the last year’s US election a political witch-hunt, US President Donald Trump has turned his ire once again at the former FBI director and his opponents for the ‘obstruction of justice’ investigation. While terming the attempts to link his team with Russian meddling phony, he blamed his opponents for building the case for ‘obstruction of justice’ on similar hollow grounds and repeated again that the whole case against him is the ‘single greatest witch hunt in the American political history’.

The Washington Post reported last night that Mueller had expanded his scope of investigation on Russian meddling to take into account a possible obstruction of justice by Donald Trump after former FBI director James Comey, who was fired by Trump last month, publicly testified that Trump had told him to let his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was under the FBI investigation for his Russian links, go. Comey said that he had taken Trump’s advice as a direction and felt uncomfortable by it. Terming Comey’s allegations untrue, Trump later said he was willing to testify under oath but Mueller’s investigation says Trump will have to live with ghost of another probe reaching to the White House after the Russian meddling investigation.

This is not the first time that Trump has questioned Robert Mueller. He felt the same sense of political witch-hunt when Mueller was appointed last month. Accusing the Clinton campaign and the Obama administration of indulging in illegal acts, Trump had said, “There was never a special counsel appointed to oversee the acts of his Democrat predecessors”. He has likened the appointment of the Special Counsel with the “single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history”. “With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign and the Obama administration, there was never a special counsel appointed”, Trump had tweeted.

Mueller headed the FBI from 2001 to 2013, a period that witnessed a Republican President in George Bush and a Democrat President in Barack Obama. Mueller has earned the reputation of being a hard taskmaster and an honest, tough and resolute person. He is known as someone who doesn’t toe the line and instead stands for principles as he did when he had threatened to resign if the then US President George Bush went ahead with his domestic surveillance plans without approval of the US Department of Justice.

©SantoshChaubey

IN HIS FIRST REACTION AFTER COMEY’S TESTIMONY, TRUMP CLAIMS VIDICATION AND TERMS FIRED FBI CHIEF A LEAKER

US President Donald Trump has reacted on former FBI chief James Comey’s public testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. In a tweet, he has said that Comey’s testimony completely vindicates him and he didn’t forget to add that Comey, who he fired last month, is a leaker.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Deputy Press Secretary of the White House, rebutted Comey’s claims saying President Trump was not a liar. Trump’s private lawyer Marc Kasowitz released a statement after Comey’s testimony ended which said that President never said to Comey that “he needs loyalty, he expects loyalty”. Kasowitz statement further said that the President never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone, including suggesting that that Mr. Comey “let Michael Flynn go”, Trump’s former National Security Adviser. Flynn was forced to resign in February after it emerged that he had misled the US Vice-President Mike Pence on his communication with the Russian Ambassador.

Fired FBI chief James Comey in his hours long testimony yesterday had termed Trump a liar some five times, had said that Trump had asked him for loyalty, had directed Comey to drop investigations on Flynn and had said that he intentionally leaked memo on his conversation with Trump to build pressure to appoint special counsel in the case. Comey’s strategy worked after the US Department of Justice appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller special counsel to probe Russian meddling into the last year’s US presidential election.

©SantoshChaubey

TRUMP: EX-FBI CHIEF ROBERT MUELLER’S APPOINTMENT TO PROBE RUSSIA’S ROLE IN US ELECTION POLITICAL WITCH HUNT

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Donald Trump has termed the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as the Special Counsel to probe Russia’s role into last year’s US Presidential election a political witchhunt.

Mueller has been hired to lead the ongoing FBI investigation into Russia’s meddling into last year’s US Presidential Election and to find out whether some members of the campaign team of Donald Trump were complicit in the whole Russian game that intended to benefit Trump’s campaign.

Accusing the Clinton campaign and the Obama administration of indulging in illegal acts, Trump said, “There was never a special counsel appointed to oversee the acts of his Democrat predecessors”. He has likened the appointment of the Special Counsel with the “single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history”.

“With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign and the Obama administration, there was never a special counsel appointed”, Trump tweeted.

After Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey for the latter’s handling of Russia’s meddling role in the US election and after Comey claimed that Trump had asked him to drop the probe into his former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s Russia connection, the Trump Administration and the White House faced a barrage of questions. Democrats were openly accusing Trump of trying to influence the FBI investigation into Russia’s meddling for his vested interests.

Under pressure, Deputy Attorney General of the United States Rod J. Rosenstein announced Mueller’s appointment. Mueller headed the FBI from 2001 to 2013, a period that witnessed a Republican President in George Bush and a Democrat President in Barack Obama. Mueller has earned the reputation of being a hard taskmaster and an honest, tough and resolute person. He is known as someone who doesn’t toe the line and instead stands for principles as he did in 2004 when he had threatened to resign if the then US President George Bush went ahead with his domestic surveillance plans without approval of the US Department of Justice.

Trump welcomed the appointment, saying “A thorough investigation will confirm what we already know. There was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity.” Robert Mueller, while accepting this responsibility, said he would discharge it to the best of his ability.

©SantoshChaubey

US AT WAR WITH RUSSIA? DEMOCRATS FEEL SO

2008 US presidential nominee from the Republican Party and influential US senator John McCain had, in December 2016, termed the Russian interference though cyber attacks in the 2016 US presidential election an act of war. Then it did not echo much. Also, John McCain, who is chairman of US Senate Armed Services Committee, has had a long running feud with Donald Trump.

But after the recent hearing of the House Intelligence Committee where the FBI Director James Comey testified that the FBI was indeed investigating the Russian meddling in the US polls and if some members of the Trump campaign team were having Russian connections, many Democratic senators, have started voicing their opinions against the Russian belligerence. And they think the Russian interference was an ‘act of war’.

It was the first public admission by the FBI into the ongoing probe that the FBI director termed ‘unusual’, as the FBI doesn’t confirm or deny that it is investigating a matter unless it is highly ‘unusual’. Here the FBI believed the situation was so serious and in public interest was at stake, as Comey testified before the House Intelligence Committee.

After Comey’s admission, the issue has become central to the Democratic Party’s narrative to target US President Donald Trump. “I think this attack that we’ve experienced is a form of war, a form of war on our fundamental democratic principles”, charged Bonnie Watson Coleman, Democrat from New Jersey, during a recent security committee hearing.

Her words were echoed by Democratic Party senator from California Jackie Speier who said during the same hearing where Comey was testifying that ‘he actually thought that their (Russian) engagement was an act of war, an act of hybrid warfare and he thought that’s why the American people should be concerned about it’.

Another Democratic senator for California, Eric Swalwell, who had launched a separate section on his official website to detail Donald Trump’s officials connection with Russia, said, “I see this as an opportunity for everyone on this committee, Republicans and Democrats, to not look in the rearview window but to look forward and do everything we can to make sure that our country never again allows a foreign adversary to attack us”, as quoted by The Hill, a newspaper and website with wide following. The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is currently probing Russian meddling matter and Swalwell is one of its members.

In January, the US democrats had written a letter to the US Congress to demand an independent, bipartisan commission, with equal representation of Democrats and Republicans, to probe the allegations but the House Speaker Paul Ryan rejected such calls.

US intelligence agencies believe that Vladimir Putin did order the Kremlin to interfere in the US presidential polls and the charge that it was done in order to hurt the prospects of the US Democrats and Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, gained momentum after thousands of Hillary Clinton emails were leaked by Russian hackers, a revelation confirmed by the CIA. The fact that Donald Trump has always been soft on Russia and Vladimir Putin and he would often talks of new alignments with Russia during his campaign days, further bolstered the feeling.

Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security advisor, had to resign after it was found that he had lied on his Russian connection. Trump’s attorney general Jeff Sessions, who had a controversial ascent to head the Trump administration’s legal team, had to recuse himself from the investigations into the Russian meddling after it was revealed that he was also in touch with the Russian Ambassador in the US during Trump’s campaign days.

After the humiliating setback in the US presidential polls, the US Democrats have got multiple opportunities to target Trump. Trump entered the White House with historically low approval ratings. His controversial travel ban targeting some Muslim majority nations has seen strong disapproval even from some Republicans and has been stayed by the US courts. Most recently, his favourite campaign promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, fizzled out this week when his party could not arrange numbers in a house dominated by the Republicans.

Add to it are the controversies like his official weekend visits to his private mansion Mar-a-Lago that cost US taxpayers millions or his over a dozen visits to Golf Courses when he had promised that he would not take off days. Wrapping it with a grand narrative of its conventional rival Russia, attacking the US, with unconventional tools like cyber wars, that hurt the sovereign interests of the country but benefit the Trump camp, serves the purpose of showing Trump and Republicans in a questionable light. These all together create a perfect recipe for the Democratic Party to bounce back from its low confidence levels some months back.

©SantoshChaubey