By Glynn Wilson –
In a major breakthrough in the scandal of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, a special counsel has been appointed by the second in command at the Department of Justice, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, quelling wide spread calls for an independent investigation.
Former FBI Director Robert Mueller accepted the appointment on Wednesday, and it was announced by Rosenstein with no sign of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is supposed to have recused himself but was involved in the action last week to fire and replace FBI Director James Comey.
“I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authorities and appoint a special counsel to assume responsibility for this matter,” Mr. Rosenstein said in a statement. “My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination.”
The choice of Mr. Mueller recieved praise by Republicans and Democrats. He served under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and Mr. Obama respected him enough to ask that he stay on the job two years beyond the 10-year term until.
As a special counsel, Mueller will have the freedom to choose whether to consult with or inform the Justice Department about his investigation. According to the law and the order naming him, is authorized to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump” as well as other matters that “may arise directly from the investigation.” He can request additional resources subject to the review of the assistant attorney general and he has the power to bring criminal charges.
The mainstream media and the news wires are reporting this as the appointement of a special counsel to “investigate possible collusion between President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign team and Russia” as well as “alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election.”
But that seems to be in the wrong order, since it only became all about Trump since he fired FBI Director James Comey last week, with the president continuing to attack the media and issue one false defense after another on Twitter and TV. He was even defended by Russian President Vladamir Putin himself.
So far there is no proof — even if there were attempts by Russia to “meddle” in the election with spying, hacking and spreading “fake news” — that it had the desired effect or changed the outcome of the election. That has not even been part of the investigation, not among the questions being asked by U.S. intelligence services. This has not stopped Democrats from drawing that conclusion all over social media, including and especially on Facebook.
But there is mounting evidence that Trump has financial ties to Russian oligarchs and this is clouding his judgement when it comes to Russia, and he is going to great lengths to cover this up.
The announcement on the appointment of the special prosecutor came in the wake of a tumultious week for the president in Washington, with Mr. Trump reportedly highly irritated, defending himself speaking to Coast Guard cadets while perparing for an extended trip abroad.
“Look at the way I’ve been treated lately, especially by the media. No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly,” Trump said. “You can’t let them get you down. You can’t let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams.”
Critics are heartened by the announcement of the special prosecutor at first glance, but this could still be a long investigation and a lengthy process that could take months or even years before Trump could be removed from power — or potentially exonerated.
The most damning thing for president Trump yet came during the past week, when it surfaced that there may be tapes to corroborate Mr. Comey’s memos that the presdient asked him to back off in the investigation of then National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, a charge that is tantamount to obstruction of justice, the very thing that forced President Richard M. Nixon to resign or face impeachment on August 9, 1974.
Assessing the Media Coverage of Trump
Asked on National Public Television what she thought of mainstream media coverage of the election and the scandal, journalist and author Amy Goodman of Democracy Now had some interesting thoughts for host Tavis Smiley.
“The corporate media rolled out the red carpet for Donald Trump,” she said. A new think tank study shows “he got $5 billion in free airtime,” compared to Bernie Sanders, there was no comparison, she said.
“This uninterupted airtime really paved the way for what we’re seeing today,” she said. Then he goes on the attack against the media, calling the press “the enemy of the people.”
She wondered if he just stopped attacking them what the “corporate media” would do.
“I really feel the media would wrap their arms around him, as they do the establishment so often,” she said.
Go back to the Iraq War in 2003, she said, “when the media really acted as a conveyer belt for the lies of the Bush administration, alleging weapons of mass destruction.”
“It matters because the lies takes lives,” she said.
“Right now, Donald Trump is hitting the media so hard,” she said, “that you are seeing people and institutions stand up and say no. The media, journalism, is essential to the functioning of a democratic society.”
Yet the media tends to give people the bad kind of static — lies, obfuscations, misrepresentations and half truths.
“What we need the media to give us is the dictionary definition of static — criticism, opposition, unwanted interference,” she said. “We need a media that covers power not covers for power. We need a media that is the Fourth Estate, not that covers for the state. And we need a media that covers the movements that create static and make history.”
She said the media has stood up, now, finally, and has “reminded us repeatedly of how important it is to have the Fourth Estate. And I applaud that every step of the way.”
“But where the media falls down,” she said, “is when it comes to the U.S. engaging in military action.”
Look at what happened when Trump bombed Syria, she said. “You had journalists immediately saying, ‘Donald Trump became president tonight.”
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© 2017, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.