Politics November 20, 2016: Trump causes controversy naming Sessions, Flynn and Pompeo to Cabinet

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Trump causes controversy naming Sessions, Flynn and Pompeo to Cabinet

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

President-elect Donald Trump is beginning to fill up his cabinet, adding three more to the two positions he has already filled. On Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, Trump named retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as his National Security Adviser according to sources. On Friday, Nov. 18, Trump added to his cabinet by naming Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general, and Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo as CIA Director. Sessions nomination is causing the most controversy because he had been accused of racist comments against African Americans that led him not to be confirmed for a circuit judgeship in 1986 when the President Ronald Reagan nominated him. Flynn is also causing a stir, for his racist comments against Muslims.

On Friday, Nov. 18, the Trump transition team officially released a statementannouncing President-elect Trump decisions on those appointments. That included statements by the president-elect and Sessions, Flynn and Pompeo. Sessions is a member of Senate Judiciary Committee member, Flynn is “a retired United States Army Lieutenant General and former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency,” while Pompeo is currently a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Sessions was an early contender for a top cabinet post since he was the first Senator to endorse Trump back in February and since then has been a loyal advisor to Trump during the campaign on immigration and Supreme Court nominations. Sessions is facing criticism for remarks that haunted his 1986 confirmation hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee for the position of U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Alabama. Then Sessions was accused of saying the ACLU and NAACP were “un-American” and he used racially derogatory remarks to African American employees. In 1986, Sessions responded, “I am not a racist. I am not insensitive to blacks. I have supported civil rights activity in my state. I have done my job with integrity, equality, and fairness for all.”

Trump campaign manager defended Sessions against the old allegations. Conway told CNN, “We’re aware of what was said and done 30 some years ago and we’re also aware of the incredible career Jeff Sessions has had throughout his life… I think if anyone had a problem with his record they would have run against him. Senator Sessions would be qualified for any number of positions.” Senate Democrats including new minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are against Sessions being confirmed, but also one Republican, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul opposes his nomination.

Flynn is a registered Democrat, who criticized President Barack Obama’s foreign policy after leaving his post as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, which he held from 2012 to 2014. Flynn also has been a loyal Trump advisor and campaign surrogate, especially on issues regarding national security, and on Trump’s Muslim ban that morphed into a ban on immigrants terrorist countries. His views and comments, however, towards Muslims, are problematic and are being criticized.

In February, Flynn tweeted, that “fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.” Flynn revealed in a New York Post op-ed that “the stand I took on radical Islam,” was the real reason for his departure from DIA. Flynn later wrote a book “The Field of Fight: How We Can Win The Global War Against Radical Islam And Its Allies” which was released earlier this year outlining his views on the “global war against radical Islam.” Flynn is also a board member on ACT for America considered “the largest grassroots anti-Muslim group in America.” American Muslim groups are outraged at Trump’s appointment of Flynn. The position of National Security Advisor, however, does not require Senate confirmation.

Pompeo is the least controversial of Trump’s three appointments, but he is still facing opposition from Sen. Paul. Rep. Pompeo was a sharp “critic of President Obama’s foreign policy including the Iran deal” and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and her term as Secretary of State. Pompeo was not an early Trump supporter as his other early picks; Pompeo first endorsed Florida Senator Marco Rubio in the primary. Pompeo has served three terms in the House and is a member of the House Energy Committee and the Intelligence Committee and a member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Pompeo co-wrote a supplement to the report on the way the Obama Administration and Clinton as Secretary of State dealt with the 2012 terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Previously, Trump named Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus his chief of staff and former Breitbart News executive Steve Bannon his chief strategist and senior counselor, both positions do not require Senate confirmations. Trump has spent all week and weekend meeting with prospective candidates for top White House and Cabinet posts, but he still is at the at the start of filling in these positions, with only two months to spare before Inauguration Day.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. Ms Goodman is an expert inpresidential campaigns and election history and she has been covering American elections as a journalist since 2004.

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Politics July 7, 2016: Comey testifies at House hearing defending decision not prosecute Clinton

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By Bonnie K. Goodman 
FBI Director James Comey appeared in front of a Congressional hearing and defended the agency’s decision not to prosecute former Secretary Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information. Comey testified on Capitol Hill on Thursday, July 7, 2016, in a hearing conducted by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee where he was the only witness and lasted four hours.

The hearing focused on whether Clinton lied to the FBI about her handling of classified information during her tenure while using a private email server for official State Department business. Jason Chaffetz, the GOP chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was looking to establish that Clinton perjured herself in her previous testimony on her email server for the House Benghazi Committee last year.

Chaffetz pointed out in his opening statement that Clinton was treated differently because she is the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee. Chaffetz indicated, “We are mystified and confused by the fact pattern that you laid out and the conclusions that you reached.” Continuing Chaffetz said, “It seems to a lot of us that the Average Joe, the average American, that if they had done what you laid out in your statement, that they would be in handcuffs, and they might be on their way to jail. I think there is a legitimate concern that there is a double standard. If your name isn’t Clinton and you are not part of the powerful elite, that Lady Justice will act differently.”

Comey was insistent the FBI’s decision would have been the same for anyone in a similar position. The FBI director adamantly said, “The decision was made, and the recommendation was made the way you would want it to be by people who didn’t give a hoot about politics but who cared about what are the facts, what is the law and how have similar people, all people, been treated in the past.”

The FBI director also clarified the decision not to prosecute was not politically motivated or any coordination with the Obama administration. Comey expressed, “I believe this investigation was conducted consistent with the highest traditions of the FBI. Our folks did it in an apolitical and professional way including our recommendation as to the appropriate resolution of this case.” Comey also told Rep. John Mica (R-Calif.), “I say that under oath, I stand by that. There was no coordination. There was an insinuation in what you were saying that.”

The FBI director, however, admitted Clinton did send three emails with classified information from her private server contradicting her previous testimony to the Benghazi committee and her public statements. Comey, when pressed in the hearing, said, “That is not true. There were a small number of portion markings on, I think, three of the documents.” When he was asked by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), if Clinton previous statement were accurate, that she did not send “any classified material to anyone on my email” and “there is no classified material,” Comey admitted, “There was classified material.”

Democrats and the Clinton campaign dismissed the GOP latest attack on their nominee. Ranking committee member Rep. Elijah Cummings said, “Amazingly, some Republicans who were praising you just days ago for your independence and integrity and honesty instantly turned against you because your recommendation conflicted with the predetermined outcome they wanted.” While Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon tweeted, “House GOP clearly treating FBI Director Comey as a hostile witness #Overreach.”

Politics July 6, 2016: Attorney General Lynch confirms no criminal charges for Clinton over server

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Attorney General Lynch confirms no criminal charges for Clinton over server

By Bonnie K. Goodman

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - JULY 06: Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks at the podium at Boardwalk Hall Arena on July 6, 2016 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Photo by Donald Kravitz/WireImage)

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – JULY 06: Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks at the podium at Boardwalk Hall Arena on July 6, 2016 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Photo by Donald Kravitz/WireImage)

It is now official; former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will not face any criminal charges for using a private email server during her tenure. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced in a statement on Wednesday afternoon, July 7, 2016, that the Justice Department will not be charging Clinton and are now closing their investigation as to if she risked national security with the server. Clinton no longer has to be concerned about criminal ramifications, only political ones.

According to the statement, Lynch said, “Late this afternoon, I met with FBI Director James Comey and career prosecutors and agents who conducted the investigation of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email system during her time as Secretary of State. I received and accepted their unanimous recommendation that the thorough, year-long investigation be closed and that no charges be brought against any individuals within the scope of the investigation.”

Lynch’s statement comes only a day after FBI Director James B. Comey announced a press conference that the FBI would not be prosecuting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, although he called  her actions “extremely careless.” Lynch just expressed this past weekend that she would follow the FBI’s recommendation. The Republicans have been outraged at the FBI’s decision and the GOP House of Representatives have commenced hearings.

Clinton’s campaign was pleased with Lynch’s announcement. Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon tweeted a response, “With the AG accepting Director Comey’s recommendation, this case is resolved, no matter Republicans’ attempts to continue playing politics.” Lynch has been under fire since meeting with former President Bill Clinton at a Phoenix airport while Clinton was still under investigation, although she claimed their conversation was strictly personal.

Politics April 27, 2015: Loretta Lynch sworn in as 83rd Attorney General and first black woman

Loretta Lynch sworn in as 83rd Attorney General and first black woman

April 27, 2015

After more than five months after be nominated by President Barack Obama Loretta Lynch was finally sworn-in as Attorney General on Monday, April 27, 2015. In a ceremony helmed by Vice President Joe Biden Lynch finally replaced Eric Holder…

Politics August 24, 2014: Holder’s visit to Ferguson calms community after Michael Brown shooting, unrest

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Holder’s visit to Ferguson calms community after Michael Brown shooting, unrest

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, August 22, 2014, 6:48 AM MST

Attorney General Eric Holder meets with Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson during his visit to Ferguson, Missouri, Aug. 20, 2014; Holder's visit helped calm the unrest that started when Michael Brown was shot on Aug. 9
Attorney General Eric Holder meets with Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson during his visit to Ferguson, Missouri, Aug. 20, 2014; Holder’s visit helped calm the unrest that started when Michael Brown was shot on Aug. 9
Pablo Martinez Monsivais-Pool/Getty Images