Tampering: White House Putting Thumbs On the Trump-Russia Investigation Scale

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TRUMP WATCH--Dana Boente was just named by the Department of Justice (DOJ) as the acting assistant Attorney General for the national security division, which will give him oversight of the FBI’s investigation into coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. 

But in January, as he was leaving office, President Barack Obama issued an executive order that specifically took Boente, who is the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, out of the line of succession for Attorney General. There was no explanation given for the change, but the order meant that if the Attorney General died, resigned, or became incapacitated, Boente would not be in line to be the country’s chief law enforcement officer.

After acting Attorney General Sally Yates was fired by Donald Trump, after she said his Muslim ban was in violation of the law, Trump put Boente in that top job, which he held until the confirmation of Jeff Sessions as AG. Reversing Yates’ position, Boente said, he would demand that DOJ lawyers “defend the lawful orders of our President.”

Apparently our federal law enforcement professionals don't think foreign meddling in our election campaigns is worth worrying about much. They figure whomever these foreign actors choose for us will be fine, probably better than anyone a bunch of a lily-livered liberals and blacks and browns would pick anyway. Look at the winner they picked this time! He's awesome.

Update: This too 

Marc T. Short, the White House director for Legislative Affairs, is leading the Trump administration’s obstruction of the congressional inquiry into Michael Flynn and Russia. Short is also a major player in Vice President Mike Pence’s political operation, and further connects Pence to the Flynn scandal.

As previously reported, Pence was in charge of the Trump transition team, which ostensibly included vetting Donald Trump’s appointments to his White House. Pence received information detailing Flynn’s status as a lobbyist for a foreign government, but later denied knowledge of the entire affair, claiming Flynn had lied to him. That claim led to Flynn’s removal from the position of national security adviser.

But a recent report from NBC News reveals that Pence did conduct a background check, albeit “very casually,” and was aware of Flynn’s connections to foreign governments, which the Trump team apparently ignored in order to appoint Flynn anyway.

The House Oversight Committee is seeking documents related to this process, but the White House is actively obstructing that investigation. Short authored the April 19 letter to the committee, refusing to turn over the requested documents about what the Trump team knew about Flynn and payments he received from the Russian government for an appearance at an event that was followed by dinner with Vladimir Putin.

In the letter, Short said it was “unclear” how the documents requested “would be relevant” to the inquiry. Both Democrats and Republicans have indicated that they view Flynn’s actions as potentially criminal, as he received guidance from the Department of Defense that taking money from Russia as a former military officer could break the law.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the chairman of the oversight committee, said if Flynn took the money, “it was inappropriate, and there are repercussions for the violation of law.” Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking member of the committee, said the payments to Flynn “are extremely troubling.”

 

(Heather Parton blogs under the pseudonym Digby at the blog site she created: Hullabaloo and also writes for Salon and ourfuture.org

-cw

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