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Americans Need Sunshine on Trump/Russia and the Clinton-Funded Dossier — Now

November 8, 2018 by John Kass
Americans Need Sunshine on Trump/Russia and the Clinton-Funded Dossier — Now
President Donald Trump gets into an exchange with Jim Acosta of CNN at a press conference on Nov. 7.

After the midterm elections, Americans were still trying to see past the political spin to the serious implications of it all.

Did the Democrats win a short-term victory by taking the House and, with it, subpoena power allowing them to investigate and harass the White House on Russia, or even impeach President Donald Trump?

Or did Republicans win a far more significant long-term victory by expanding power in the Senate, thanks to Democrats trying to destroy the reputation and life of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh?

The Democratic strategy on Kavanaugh backfired. Several Senate Democrats in states that Trump won voted against confirming Kavanaugh. They lost their elections the other day.

And now a larger Republican Senate majority has made it easier for the GOP to add even more conservative justices to federal district courts and the Supreme Court, and the impact of those judges will be felt long after Trump or whoever follows him is gone.

That’s the discussion America should be having. But instead, the president changed the national subject and served up his usual platter of steaming Trumpian hash.

He fought with reporters at a White House news conference on Wednesday and continued his quest to make CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta the preening Sir Galahad of his network. But before the news conference, Trump had quietly forced out Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Once that story broke, cable news was able to feast breathlessly on its favorite menu: salted palace intrigue sweetened with doom.

Sessions’ departure wasn’t really a surprise. Trump has wanted him gone forever. He’d ridiculed Sessions endlessly for not protecting him from special counsel Robert Mueller and the so-called Russia probe.

And he repeatedly and publicly referred to Sessions as a weakling for not aggressively going after Democrat Hillary Clinton and the politically partisan dossier that started the Russian investigation.

Trump installed as acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker, the Department of Justice chief of staff, who has been publicly critical of the Mueller probe into allegations of collusion between the president’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia.

What is significant here?

Whitaker, in a CNN interview in July 2017, discussed a scenario in which Trump could toss Sessions out. In his place, Whittaker said the president could appoint an acting attorney general who could strangle the Mueller investigation by squeezing its budget.

Mueller’s operating budget for investigators, lawyers and other staff could be sliced “so low that his investigation grinds almost to a halt.”

Whitaker has also criticized Mueller for all but “crossing a red line” in investigating Trump’s family and finances.

But during the presidential campaign, Trump’s son, Donald Jr., did meet with a Russian contact who reportedly offered intelligence on Hillary Clinton.

And if Whitaker makes any moves against Mueller’s investigation, he should be hauled immediately before a Senate committee and asked tough questions publicly.

Trump may like it if Mueller’s budget is squeezed, if his work is delayed, but America wouldn’t like it. I wouldn’t like it. We need sunshine on this.

Predictably, House Democrats began howling, theatrically, with their thumbs.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, a Democrat who publicly loathes Trump and has openly discussed impeachment, is expected to become chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. He signaled how things will go in the Democratic House to come.

“Why is the President making this change and who has authority over Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation?” Nadler said in a tweet. “We will be holding people accountable.”

Of course he will. That’s politics. And other Democrats will join in, and there will be one committee investigation after another with an eye toward weakening Trump before the 2020 presidential election.

Yes, it will be a political circus. All that gentle talk about bipartisanship will end. Trump and Republicans will scream at the Democrats. You see it happening. That’s politics.

This is also politics: The congressional investigations into possible abuses by the Obama Justice Department, and the so-called fake Russian dossier that started it all, will be finished.

The Democrats will kill it all off in committee, and then we’ll have to wait for some report on that oily scandal from the Justice Department. But federal lawyers take an awful long time.

We deserve to know about Trump and Russia. And we deserve to know how that investigation started, and the political motivations.

And we deserve to know, finally, unequivocally, what happened in those final days of President Barack Obama’s allegedly oh-so-pristine and scandal-free administration.

That’s the Obama administration that ran the White House with Chicago City Hall style. But instead of using cops and local prosecutors to investigate political opponents, they used the FBI.

Or have you forgotten the phone texts from those pro-Obama FBI bosses with anti-Trump political agendas? They loved Hillary and they could smell Trump voters at the Walmart, remember?

And shutting that inquiry down would be just as specious as what Trump has done, calling Mueller’s investigation a “witch hunt” and installing as acting attorney general someone who has talked publicly of throttling Mueller’s investigative budget for partisan purposes.

Democrats and Republicans send their dogs to cable TV news where they bark and bark at each other, until Americans become exhausted by it all.

But it’s our government, not theirs. And the Constitution? That’s our document, not theirs. That’s our Senate, our House, not theirs. They say it’s ours, but they say such things only in election night speeches.

It’s past time they prove it. We need sunshine on all of this now.

John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. His Twitter handle is @john_kass.

© 2018 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

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