Jeff Sessions out; what does this mean for the Mueller probe?

‘Republicans just gave Trump ‘a flashing green’ light to replace Jeff Sessions,’ Former Trump Strategist Steve Bannon

Steve Bannon

  • Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, said he understands if the president wants to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
  • He told Business Insider that some Republicans have already given Trump “a flashing green” light to do so.
  • Trump ramped up his criticism of Sessions last week.
  • Sessions offered a rare rebuke to some of Trump’s comments.

bY ALLAN SMITH//Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon told Business Insider in an interview that some key Republicans have given President Donald Trump “a flashing green” light to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Trump ramped up his criticism of Sessions last week after a pair of bombshell legal developments. Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen made a plea deal with federal prosecutors, and his former campaign manager Paul Manafort was found guilty of a series of crimes.

Sessions, in turn, offered a rare rebuke to the president’s remarks.

In Congress, multiple leading Republicans, such as Sens. Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham, signaled that Sessions is likely to be replaced following the midterm elections. Trump has been frustrated by Sessions’ recusal from all matters related to the 2016 campaign.

Bannon, however, told Business Insider that recusal was unavoidable and that anyone as involved in the campaign – such as Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie – would’ve had to do the same.

donald trump jeff sessions

But removing Sessions could prove to be a red line for other Republican senators, as the ouster would give the appearance of Trump trying to interfere with special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe or to influence the Justice Department in other ways.Saying he has “great deal of respect for Sessions,” a “close friend” he calls “one of the fathers of” the right-wing populist movement, Bannon said it makes sense if Trump wants to get rid of the attorney general.

“I think he’s done an amazing job on immigration and the issues,” Bannon said. “But when a president loses confidence in an attorney general, it is his prerogative to do what he wants. Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham are not bomb-throwers. They are about as middle of the road as it gets. They get that after the November election, he’s going to have a choice to make.”

Bannon said he believes ” a number of” Cabinet officials will either depart after the midterms, or Trump will decide he wants someone else in the role.

Watergate’s John Dean rips Trump: I doubt you have any idea what McGahn told Mueller

White House counsel Don McGahn has cooperated extensively with special counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation of Russian election interference. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

Former White House counsel to President Nixon, John Dean, ripped President Trump on Sunday, saying he doubts Trump has any idea what White House counsel Donald McGahn has told special counsel Robert Mueller.

Dean’s comments come amid reports that McGahn is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia and possible obstruction of justice by the president.

“I doubt you have ANY IDEA what McGahn has told Mueller,” Dean tweeted in response to an earlier Twitter thread from Trump bashing The New York Times. “Also, Nixon knew I was meeting with prosecutors, b/c I told him. However, he didn’t think I would tell them the truth!”

@realDonaldTrump (I still have trouble using the title Mr. President for someone installed by Putin), I doubt you have ANY IDEA what McGahn has told Mueller. Also, Nixon knew I was meeting with prosecutors, b/c I told him. However, he didn’t think I would tell them the truth!

— John Dean (@JohnWDean) August 19, 2018

Trump tweeted earlier Sunday morning that The New York Times, which first reported McGahn’s cooperation with the special counsel, was reporting a “fake” story that he said implied White House counsel Don McGahn must be a “John Dean type ‘RAT.’”

John Dean is sworn in by Senate Watergate committee in a photo from June 1973.
Photograph: AP

On Saturday, the Times reported that McGahn gave over 30 hours of testimony to investigators, talking to them extensively about episodes including Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey and the president’s repeated prompting of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to claim oversight of the special counsel, despite his recusal from Mueller’s Russia probes.

The Times said McGahn had grown concerned that the president was preparing to set him up as a scapegoat over the issue of possible obstruction of justice, prompting him to provide as much information as possible to Mueller’s investigation.

READ RELATED: Trump invokes Nixon and McCarthy in NYT White House counsel report rant

McGahn and his lawyer, William Burck, have reportedly been doing as much as possible to cooperate with Mueller since last year. The Times reported that McGahn told investigators Trump tried to assert control of the Russia investigation, “giving investigators a mix of information both potentially damaging and favorable to the president.”

READ RELATED: “Truth isn’t truth”: Rudy Giuliani offers a new explanation of why Trump shouldn’t talk to Mueller

Trump said later Saturday that he allowed McGahn “and all others to testify” and that he has “nothing to hide.”

Dean became a key witness for prosecutors in the Watergate scandal after pleading guilty to a count of obstruction of justice. He said Saturday that “McGahn is doing right!” in response to the Times report.

Harry Leslie Smith: I’m nearly 100 years old, I saw the 1945 refugee crisis firsthand – and I need people to listen to my warning

 

Harry-Leslie-Smith-portra-012
Harry Leslie Smith in World War Two

Jeff Sessions says US border control detention centers not comparable to Nazi concentration camps: ‘Jews were trying to leave the country’eu ref.jpg

As the northern hemisphere wends its way into summer, my sense of calm has been broken by the anguished cries of refugees the world over who have been denied their human right to a life free of war or poverty. Maybe it’s my advanced age and knowing that I will be dead soon that makes me angry and resolved not to remain quiet.

I cannot sit back in good conscience while the world my generation built is left to turn feral in the hands of right-wing populists and indifferent capitalists. Too many people died and too many lives were cut short or mangled by the Great Depression and the Second World War for me to accept that the architecture of fascism being built by Donald Trump along with demagogues in Europe and Asia should be allowed to go unchallenged.

I am a very old man whose only weapon is that I have endured the catastrophic history of the 20th century and I am not afraid to tell younger generations what I saw and experienced in my youth. I want my memories to be a testament of what must not happen again, especially when it comes to the treatment of those who flee their countries because of war or persecution.

So even though I am close to 100 years old, I travelled two days ago to Ottawa because I think Canada has shown leadership when it comes to the current refugee crisis. I came to meet with Justin Trudeau’s principal secretary Gerald Butts because I wanted to explain why, at the age of 95, I am making the refugee crisis my last stand.

In this meeting I was asked how my journey towards refugee advocacy started. For me, it began near dusk on a day near the end of April 1945 when my RAF unit made camp close to the Dutch-German border.

In the distance, artillery rumbled, sounding to my ear like thunder did when it struck the moors, miles from my mother’s one-up-one-down house in an ugly part of Halifax. The fragrance of spring flowers coming into bloom jarred against the remnants of war that surrounded me, from burnt-out German vehicles to the bloated corpses of horses that lay at the side of the roadway.

All of Europe ached from the pain of battle, hunger, injury, loss, and death. We were a generation bleeding out from the madness of fascism that had butchered a continent. Humanity, however, hadn’t deserted my generation even if the war had stolen our innocence.

That’s why, on that night, when scores of refugee children came to our perimeter fence enticed by the smell of stew that cooked on our camp stoves, we didn’t turn our backs on those children, like so many well-fed people do today in Europe and America. No, we fed them, played with them and gave them a safe place to kip until the Red Cross arrived and took them to safety.

I look back and think how different life was because all we wanted was the right to grow old in dignity under the umbrella of a welfare state. Think about it: out of the ashes of the Second World War, the United Nations was conceived and the declaration for human rights written, enacted and for decades held as sacred and inviolable. Whereas from the funeral pyre of the Iraq War was born the furies of Isis and total destabilisation in the Middle East.

In this era we live in grotesque inequality and ignorance. Populism and fascism ride about the world stage like a victorious sports team in a city parade. The United States under Donald Trump cages refugee children, pulls out of the UN Council and uses dehumanising terms about other races; doing so has, from Nazi Germany to Rwanda, always been a harbinger of genocide.

In Italy, a new government coalition comprising a right-wing faction which would make Mussolini proud bars the refugee rescue ships that trawl the Mediterranean Sea searching the waters for desperate souls who left Africa in boats that wouldn’t be safe to punt down the river in Maidenhead. These men, women and children make this crossing because staying in their home countries means certain death, perpetual rape or devastation from economies that only benefit the wealthy.

Even worse, the interior minister in Italy is drawing up lists like Nazis of old against the Roma to deport them from their nation’s borders, making them eternal refugees.

Most disturbing to me are the people I encounter every day who have food in their bellies, a job to go to and holidays to eagerly await, and yet they judge refugees who have endured horrible privations as corrupt swindlers. They in their selfish, racist myopia become a tide of malevolence that drowns the aspirations of too many people who have on an individual level suffered the same horrors as people in the death camps of the Nazis or the gulags of Stalin.

Right now, there are 64 million people the world over who are displaced. They are either living in squalid camps or fleeing for their lives over dangerous terrain, looking for sanctuary in western countries who are ignoring the warning signs of this crisis with same tenacity as the ancient people of Pompeii ignored the rumblings of Vesuvius.

It’s why at 95, I cannot be silent any longer about this growing threat to humanity’s survival. I am spending the little time I have left to live on earth travelling the world to visit refugee camps, government leaders and ordinary people to try to end this madness.

There is a good chance because of my age that I will die on my travels, but I am not worried about my end. I am more worried about the end of a world that believes that all human beings have a right to peace and prosperity, not just the entitled few.

We cannot let the candle of civilisation be blown out by the likes of Donald Trump, which is why, to resist him, you must in your way help end the refugee crisis. So I ask you to flood your government representatives with letters, emails and tweets in support of refugees – because it is only the slender thread of fate that separates our destiny from theirs.

Harry Leslie Smith is the author of ‘Don’t Let My Past Be Your Future’published by Little Brown 

Child: “I don’t want them to stop my father. I don’t want them to deport him”

The audio of 10 Central American children, sobbing and freshly separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, spans just seven minutes, and yet it’s difficult to listen through to the end.

“I don’t want them to stop my father,” one child cries in Spanish at the U.S.-Mexico border. “I don’t want them to deport him.”

WATCH: Get an inside look at a U.S. border detention facility

An audio recording recently obtained by ProPublica depicts children from several countries crying desperately for their parents as consular workers and border agents attempt to calm them down.

Pleas for “Mami” and “Papi” can be heard between the sobs, interjected with the voice of a border patrol agent and fellow consular workers.

“Well, we have an orchestra here, right?” the border agent says. “What we’re missing is a conductor.”

WATCH: Trump responds to illegal immigration policy criticism: U.S. “will not be a migrant camp”

A much-contested Trump administration policy, which mandates taking undocumented immigrant children from their parents at the border and putting them in U.S. government facilities, has sparked outrage from Trump’s opponents in recent weeks, though Trump loyalists remain steadfast in their support.

ProPublica states in its reporting that the audio was taken at a US Customs and Border Protection detention facility. The individual who made the recording gave the clip to civil rights attorney Jennifer Harbury, who then reportedly gave it to ProPublica.

READ MORE: Hillary Clinton calls Trump’s immigration policy a ‘humanitarian crisis’

One Salvadorian girl can be heard clearly on the recording, insisting that the consular worker call her aunt, and even proceeds to recite part of her aunt’s phone number — which she has memorized.

“At least can I go with my aunt? I want her to come. I want my aunt to come so she can take me to her house. I have her number,” the six-year-old girl said.

WATCH: Trump tweets creating confusion around controversial border policy

“Are you going to call my aunt, so that when I’m done eating she can pick me up?” she attempted a second time.

READ MORE: Trump’s immigration crackdown: Why children are being separated from their parents at U.S. border

The consular worker begins to respond, saying that once the girl had finished her food, they would come back. However, the worker is cut off by the girl rattling off her aunt’s phone number.

“I have her number memorized. 3-4-7-2-,” she began.

“My mommy says I’ll go with my aunt and that she’ll pick me up there, as quickly as possible, so I can go with her,” she added one last time.

Over 2,000 children have been separated from their parents at the border since Trump administration officials launched a zero-tolerance U.S. immigration policy, announced in recent weeks by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The policy calls for prosecuting everyone who attempts to enter the country illegally and separating them from any children they may have brought with them.

WATCH: Protest at U.S. border processing centre over child separations

According to ProPublica, more than 100 of those children are under the age of four.

Later on in the audio clip, border agents ask where each child is from, who then begin listing a variety of countries. Some of these include Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

The policy has attracted swift condemnation in the media, as well as from both fellow and former politicians. Hillary Clinton called the policy a “moral and humanitarian crisis.” Former first lady Laura Bush called the administration’s practices “cruel” and “immoral.”

WATCH: White House answers questions about separating families at the border

Democrats and Republicans alike have spoken out against these practices, though the Trump administration has maintained that it’s simply enforcing the laws already in existence.

Sessions said Monday that “We cannot and will not encourage people to bring children by giving them blanket immunity from our laws.” This sentiment was echoed in a statement released by a Customs and Border Protection spokesperson in a statement to ProPublica.

According to a recent poll conducted by CNN, two thirds of Americans disapprove of the Trump administration immigration policy, whereas only 28 per cent of Americans approve.

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