Quick Takes: Mueller Hires Experts in the Mafia and Fraud

A roundup of the stories that caught my eye today.

* As Martin noted today, Trump is having a hard time finding lawyers to represent him. Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller doesn’t seem to be having that problem and his hires send a strong signal about where this investigation is headed.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is assembling a prosecution team with decades of experience going after everything from Watergate to the Mafia to Enron as he digs in for a lengthy probe into possible collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

His first appointments — tapping longtime law-firm partner James Quarles and Andrew Weissmann, the head of the Justice Department’s criminal fraud unit — were the opening moves in a politically red-hot criminal case that has upended the opening months of the Trump White House.

* We’ve been hearing a lot about the difficulty Trump continues to have generally with hiring. Not only are there hundreds of significant openings within the federal bureaucracy, but there’s still no word on a possible new FBI Director. Not that long ago the administration summarily fired all of the remaining U.S. Attorneys. The editorial board of the New York Times wants to know what’s up with that.

Three months after President Trump abruptly fired half of the nation’s 93 United States attorneys, following the resignations of the other half, he has yet to replace a single one.

It’s bizarre — and revealing — that a man who called himself the “law and order candidate” during the 2016 campaign and spoke of “lawless chaos” in his address to Congress would permit such a leadership vacuum at federal prosecutors’ offices around the country. United States attorneys are responsible for prosecuting terrorism offenses, serious financial fraud, public corruption, crimes related to gang activity, drug trafficking and all other federal crimes.

…the Democrats couldn’t obstruct any United States attorney nominations if they wanted to because Mr. Trump has not made any.

* From the Ranking Member on the Senate Intelligence Committee:

Russian attacks on election systems were broader and targeted more states than those detailed in an explosive intelligence report leaked to the website The Intercept.

“I don’t believe they got into changing actual voting outcomes,” Virginia Sen. Mark Warner said in an interview. “But the extent of the attacks is much broader than has been reported so far.” He said he was pushing intelligence agencies to declassify the names and number of states hit to help put electoral systems on notice before midterm voting in 2018.

“None of these actions from the Russians stopped on Election Day,” he warned.

* It is always worth noting when the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal goes after a Republican President.

Some people with a propensity for self-destructive behavior can’t seem to help themselves, President Trump apparently among them. Over the weekend and into Monday he indulged in another cycle of Twitter outbursts and pointless personal feuding that may damage his agenda and the powers of the Presidency…

In other words, in 140-character increments, Mr. Trump diminished his own standing by causing a minor international incident, demonstrated that the loyalty he demands of the people who work for him isn’t reciprocal, set back his policy goals and wasted time that he could have devoted to health care, tax reform or “infrastructure week.” Mark it all down as further evidence that the most effective opponent of the Trump Presidency is Donald J. Trump.

* Read this and then try to tell me that it is elitist to talk about the racism/sexism Trump is both exploiting and fueling.

Donald Trump’s campaign and election have added an alarming twist to school bullying, with white students using the president’s words and slogans to bully Latino, Middle Eastern, black, Asian, and Jewish classmates. In the first comprehensive review of post-election bullying, BuzzFeed News has confirmed more than 50 incidents, across 26 states, in which a K-12 student invoked Trump’s name or message in an apparent effort to harass a classmate during the past school year…

The first school year of the Donald Trump presidency left educators struggling to navigate a climate where misogyny, religious intolerance, name-calling, and racial exclusion have become part of mainstream political speech.

* Finally, this one gets me so enraged that I find myself speechless at the thought that we are still hearing crap like this in 2017. It’s all about how Vladimir Putin explains his secret to being a good leader.

“I am not a woman, so I don’t have bad days,” he explained in Stone’s four-part documentary, The Putin Interviews. He went on, “I am not trying to insult anyone. That’s just the nature of things. There are certain natural cycles.”

I can only assume that if he was subjected to “certain natural cycles,” he wouldn’t have ripped off his entire country, stashing his billions all over the globe. He wouldn’t have killed or imprisoned anyone who spoke out against him. He wouldn’t be threatening other countries in a bid to expand his global reach for power. And he wouldn’t have helped elect a racist, sexist, xenophobic madman as President of the United States. If that is what he considers being a good leader, give me the natural cycles of a woman any day!

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.