By Robert A. Vella
Although I’m still on-call for jury duty next week, the case I had been selected for was decided yesterday. It was an intriguing experience which involved passionate disagreement over a defendant’s right to claim self-defense against assault charges. I plan to cover it in detail this weekend and it might be of special interest to some readers. Here are my other thoughts for today:
The biggest news that occurred during my blogging hiatus was the testimony given to the Senate Intelligence Committee by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and CIA Director Gina Haspel, which directly contradicted President Trump’s positions on Russia, ISIS, Iran, North Korea, Yemen, climate change, and the southern border. These intelligence officials – all Trump appointees – reasserted the national security threat posed by Russia, that the Islamic State has not been defeated, that Iran is still in compliance with the nuclear deal agreed to with the Obama administration, that North Korea has not and will not give up its nuclear weapons program, that the grave humanitarian crisis in Yemen is primarily the result of military intervention by Saudi Arabia, that climate change does present severe national security problems, and that they did not cite the border with Mexico as a national security concern.
Not surprisingly, Trump angrily lashed out in response. “They are wrong!” he proclaimed. Despite the President’s protests, Congress is moving ahead with bipartisan proposals to reclaim its control over foreign policy which had long ago been ceded to the executive branch. See:
The political crisis in Venezuela is worsening and drawing-in a host of foreign players all looking to exploit the situation. Trump wants to gain control over Venezuela’s vast oil reserves, and National Security Advisor John Bolton is engaging in saber-rattling in order to pressure President Nicolas Maduro out of power. Russia and China have come to Maduro’s aid for their own political and economic interests. I’d like to caution readers about taking sides in this mess. There are no good actors here. The U.S. has a long history of supporting coup d’états against socialist governments especially in the Americas; and, while Maduro is nothing more than brutal dictator, there is little reason to believe his rival Juan Guaido would be any better. Whatever happens politically, one thing is certain – the Venezuelan people will surely continue to suffer. See:
We already knew that Trump has been trying to undermine the Mueller investigation. Now we know that Russia has been too. See:
Trump’s former personal lawyer and convicted felon Michael Cohen has agreed to testify to the House Intelligence Committee on February 8th, but it will be held behind closed doors instead of publicly as originally planned. The change is a victory for Cohen who feared retaliation from Trump, a victory for Trump who didn’t want his dirty laundry exposed in public, and a victory for Special Counsel Robert Mueller whose commitment to fully informing the American people about his Russia investigation should now be called into question. I urge everyone to vigorously demand that Congress do everything possible to get this information released to the public. See: