Trump tried to get intelligence officials to deny collusion

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More comes out about President Trump interfering in the investigation of Russian connections with his campaign.

He asked the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, and the Director of the National Security Agency, Michael Rogers, separately to deny publicly that any collusion took place.

Both refused the request as inappropriate.

Dan Coats is the former Republican senator from Indiana whom Trump appointed to his position.

In related news, former CIA director John Brennan testified before a Congressional Committee that Russia “brazenly interfered with the 2016 election” and that he briefed Congressional leaders about this in August.  He also talked with his counterpart in Russian intelligence, warning him about the consequences of their “aggressive” actions.  Read what he says about Russian attempts to win over individuals after the jump (and after the Trump story).

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Special prosecutor appointed

 

Robert S. Mueller

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has appointed a Special Counsel–a.k.a., Special Prosecutor–to investigate Russian attempts to influence the U.S. election and any connections to the Donald Trump campaign.

The Special Counsel is former FBI director Robert Mueller, who was appointed by President Bush and continued to serve under President Obama.  He is widely respected by both Republicans and Democrats.

The drama unfolds. . . .We had Special Prosecutors investigating Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.  Do you think this will end differently for President Trump? [Read more…]

“I hope you can let this go”

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Fired FBI director James Comey has reportedly kept a paper trail of President Trump’s inappropriate efforts to influence investigations of his administration’s Russia connections.

The New York Times reported on a memo that Comey wrote the day after the president’s national security director Michael T. Flynn resigned.  It recorded a conversation in which the president told Comey what a “good guy” Flynn is, concluding “I hope you can let this go.”

The White House denies the account.  According to another report, Comey’s notes show that he felt pressured to drop the investigation.  CNN’s legal analyst says this could be an obstruction of justice, what Nixon was impeached for.

There are those building a case for impeachment.  Comey is in a position to strike back.  The implication of these stories is that Comey made other memos and notes, so those may be coming out too, eventually.

Does the president’s “hope” really rise to the level of obstruction of justice, or are his critics over-reacting?

All of these controversies, even if overblown, are hurting President Trump’s ability to enact his agenda.  Republicans in Congress don’t seem afraid of him anymore and some are trying to distance themselves from the Republican president’s plummeting approval ratings.  That could jeopardize the repeal of Obamacare, immigration actions, tax reform, etc.

Realizing that Democrats won’t, should Republicans, the media, and Americans in general “let this go”?

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Repealing chivalrous laws

318px-John_Everett_Millais_The_Black_BrunswickerThe Oklahoma state legislature, supposedly a conservative lot, has repealed the criminal seduction law, which forbade seducing a virgin by promising to marry her.  Also repealed was a law  forbidding slandering a woman’s virtue.

The state senator who pushed these repeals, a woman, thought the laws were funny.  She also said they were “obsolete, antiquated, inappropriate for our modern society.”

The Daily Oklahoman, supposedly a conservative newspaper, also thought these laws, designed to protect women, were funny.  But when the reporter, in the spirit of fun, quoted advocates of the law from 100 years ago, those gentlemen came across as noble and chivalrous in their zealous concern for wronged women.

I’m not saying we should or should not have such laws.  But the notion that chronology determines whether or not an idea is right or wrong or a law is appropriate or not is surely fallacious.  Yes, women now must be treated just like men, and the Victorian exaltation of womanhood is now considered sexist.  But women are still exploited sexually, and the problem of slandering a woman’s reputation has become even worse in the age of social media.  At any rate, mocking those chivalrous laws designed to protect women just shows the coarsening of our age.

Painting:  “The Black Brunswicker,” by John Everett Millais (1860), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=564102 [Read more…]

Indonesia convicts Christian governor of blasphemy

388px-Wakil_Gubernur_DKI_Basuki_TPA court in Indonesia has found the governor of Jakarta, a Christian, guilty of blasphemy and sentenced him to two years in prison.

His crime?  He said in an election campaign that his opponents were deceiving people by saying that the Q’uran teaches that Muslims should not be led by non-Muslims.

This apparent questioning of the Q’uran sparked riots and an indictment against him.  The court drew on the statements of an Islamist radical as an expert witness.

The conviction is evidence that radical Muslims are becoming more and more influential in Indonesia, which has a large Christian minority (including some six million Lutherans).

 

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Religious liberty in the military

 

U.S. Army Capt. John Barkemeyer, a chaplain, conducts mass for Soldiers on a remote contingency operating base in Ramadi, Iraq, Sept. 20, 2007. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Kieran Cuddihy) (Released)The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod may yet again be headed to the Supreme Court, at least to the extent of having filed an amicus brief in the case of a female Marine corporal who was given a bad-conduct discharge for refusing to take down a Bible verse in her workplace.  (“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper.” [Isaiah 54:17])  It remains to be seen if the court will take her case.

But there are other religious liberty issues in the military.  Some relate to chaplains being ordered to compromise their faith.  Many relate to LBGT issues.

The Synod is weighing in on some of these issues in various channels.  The Lutheran Reporter has a story on the problem and the church’s efforts. [Read more…]