Monthly Archives: July 2017

Breaking: Sean Spicer Resigns

The same morning that Anthony Scaramucci is appointed as White House Communications Director, Sean Spicer resigns. Reports are that he vehemently opposed Scaramucci’s appointment.

Trump offered Scaramucci the job at 10 a.m. Trump requested that Spicer stay on, but Spicer told Trump that he believed the appointment was a major mistake, according to a person with direct knowledge of the exchange.

Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus and top adviser Steve Bannon had also resisted the appointment, according to NBC.

“This was a murdering of Reince and Bannon. They said Anthony would get this job over their dead bodies,” said one top White House official.

This….

But Scaramucci is said to be very close to the Trump family and that Trump likes him.

Anthony Scaramucci rose through the financial ranks of New York, ardently defending Wall Street and founding a global hedge fund.

A Goldman Sachs alum, and named Wall Streeter of the Year by Yahoo Finance in 2016, Scaramucci founded and co-managed SkyBridge Capital, a fund of hedge funds with a reported $11.8 billion in assets.  Skybridge may or may not have violated Russian sanctions.

Scaramucci made headlines in 2010 when he asked Obama during a televised town hall meeting when he was going to “stop whacking at the Wall Street piñata.”

The fact that Scaramucci was appointed over the objections of Priebus, Bannon AND Spicer just shows how difficult managing Trump has been. Spicer’s defection, coming on the heels of defections by the spokesman for Trump’s legal team (as well as Trump’s longtime lawyer from that team) shows that there are definitely HUGE rifts in the administration.

He wasn’t always a Trump fan:

He supporter Walker initially in 2016, but became a Trump supporter eventually.

Spicer is over.

UPDATE — Jesus Christ, read this:

UPDATE #2 — Interesting tweets from Scaramucci

The Constitutional Crisis Cloud

It’s been an insane few days for me personally (with work) and insane in the world of Trump.  I wanted to write at some length about the bizarre Trump interview in the New York Times — and how he dissed his attorney general for recusing himself from the Russian collusion investigation and his veiled threats to Bob Mueller, the independent counsel investigating collusion… and how all that came after Ty Cobb was brought to head all the legal teams and apparently imposed message disciple the day before… and the Trump gave this interview.  I found the whole thing scary for what it says about Trump’s apparent disregard for, well, not only our political institutions, but the law in general.

But that is two days old now, and other things have intervened. So as for the Trump interview, I can only applaud the NYT editorial about it yesterday:

In less than an hour on Wednesday afternoon, President Trump found a way to impugn the integrity and threaten the livelihoods of nearly all of the country’s top law enforcement officials, including some he appointed, for one simple reason: They swore an oath to defend the Constitution, not him.

For a president who sees the rule of law as an annoyance rather than a feature of American democracy, the traitors are everywhere.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions endured the worst abuse, which came during Mr. Trump’s gobsmacking Oval Office interview with The Times. Mr. Sessions’s offense? Recusing himself in March from all investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign, a decision that infuriated Mr. Trump. “If he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” the president said. He called the recusal “extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president.”

Never mind that Mr. Sessions had no real choice but to step aside. Given his proximity to the campaign — Mr. Sessions was one of Mr. Trump’s earliest and most vocal supporters — his ability to be impartial was reasonably in doubt. The “unfairness,” as Mr. Trump saw it, was that Mr. Sessions’s partiality was exactly what he hoped to exploit, mainly to help quash the F.B.I.’s inquiry into his campaign’s possible ties to the Russian government, whose meddling was aimed at tipping the election in Mr. Trump’s favor.

Mr. Sessions said on Thursday that he would continue as attorney general “as long as that is appropriate.” But propriety left the building long ago. It’s hard to imagine he will be there much longer, since the president has, in so many words, invited him to resign for failing to block the Russia investigation. That inquiry lives on for now, but all those associated with it would be justified in fearing that they could well end up like James Comey, the F.B.I. director Mr. Trump fired in May in the hope of shutting it down.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who took charge after Mr. Sessions’s recusal, and Robert Mueller, the special counsel Mr. Rosenstein appointed to run the investigation after Mr. Comey’s firing, were also in the president’s sights. Both men, he complained, were guilty of “conflicts of interest” — which Mr. Trump seems to define as anything that conflicts with his own interests.

For Mr. Mueller, who led the F.B.I. for more than a decade and who is one of the most respected law enforcement officials in the country, Mr. Trump had a clear message: Watch your back. Any investigation into the Trump family’s finances, unrelated to Russia, the president said, would constitute a “violation” of Mr. Mueller’s mandate, and possibly would be grounds for his dismissal. That’s simply wrong. The special counsel is authorized to investigate “any matters” that might arise during the course of the Russia investigation — in fact, he’s already doing so.

In the end, Mr. Trump is concerned with nothing so much as saving his own hide, which means getting rid of the Russia inquiry for good. He previously said this was why he fired Mr. Comey, and it may yet be the undoing of Mr. Sessions, Mr. Rosenstein and Mr. Mueller.

The one person who avoided the president’s wrath was the only one who has not yet had the chance to defy him: Christopher Wray, Mr. Trump’s pick to replace Mr. Comey. “I think we’re going to have a great new F.B.I. director,” Mr. Trump said Wednesday.

Perhaps he forgot that Mr. Wray told senators during his confirmation hearing that he would not hesitate to prosecute the Trump Organization for foreign-corruption crimes if the evidence pointed that way. Or perhaps he thinks he can bend Mr. Wray to his will because, as he told The Times, “the F.B.I. person really reports directly to the president.”

Wrong again: The F.B.I. director reports to the attorney general, precisely to protect the independence of which Mr. Trump is so openly contemptuous. It’s true that the president may fire the director, but that power is, or used to be, reserved for the most extraordinary circumstances.

Mr. Trump’s cavalier attitude toward this carefully designed system is an affront to the people who have spent their careers respecting and protecting it. It’s also the clearest sign yet that he values the rule of law only to the extent that it benefits him personally.

I am more taken with the story in last night’s Washington Post, and particularly this paragraph:

Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves.

Although the story downplays Trump’s questions as “This is not in the context of, ‘I can’t wait to pardon myself,’ ”, the fact that this is even remotely on his mind is troubling. As is the suggestion that he might fire Mueller.

Theoretical or not, we could get to that point, which would be a constitutional crisis because there is no clear answer to the question “Can a president pardon himself?”

The constitutional language governing pardons reads, “The President … shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” That vagueness is part of the reason the boundaries of the authority would need to be interpreted by the courts in unusual cases, like the one at hand.

Some note that the Constitution does not explicitly prohibit a president from pardoning himself. On the other side, experts say that by definition a pardon is something you can only give to someone else.  That’s what “grant” means.  I tend to agree with that.

There is also a common-law canon that prohibits individuals from serving as a judge in their own case. … ‘This is a fiercely debated but unresolved legal question,’ said Brian C. Kalt, a constitutional law expert at Michigan State University who has written extensively on the question. … No president has sought to pardon himself, so no courts have reviewed it.”

One thing is for sure — Impeachment itself is specifically carved out of the presidential pardon power within the Constitution, so if Trump were impeached, he’d have no counter to that action.

But like many, I worry if Republicans are so in the tank for Trump and so unprincipled, that they wouldn’t impeach him even if he pardoned himself.  They certainly are very quiet on the subject today.

On the Democatic side,  Rep. Adam Schiff of California and Mark Warner of Virginia reacted to the news that Trump’s legal team is exploring the possibility of pardons. Schiff called the reports “disturbing” and said it is something the president “should rule out categorically.” Warner said pardoning individuals “at this early stage in these ongoing investigations” would be “crossing a fundamental line.”

They are also taking stands against the firing of Mueller.

And personally, I believe that the oppo research being done on Mueller is very close to obstruction of justice.  I don’t think Mueller can be intimidated, and this is a very bad legal tactic in this situation.  Heck, Mueller was under consideration for Comey’s replacement as the head of the FBI.

To be continued….

UPDATE:  Well, this is reassuring.

https://twitter.com/KenAshford/status/888258956878938113