What Fresh Hell Is This?

May 27, 2018

Senator Toomey RESPONDS To Another Letter (Toomey has Shifted His Stance On The Mueller Investigation)

It's been about three and a half weeks since Senator Toomey (or his office) has responded to a letter of mine. Last night I received in the postal mail a letter from his office.

This one is different in a number of ways and not so different after all. First off it's two pages (well, one sheet of paper but text on both sides) and that's never happened before.  Second, the punctuation isn't up to Toomey's usual polished standards.

I realize it's perhaps a wee bit nitpicky but when you see a sentence like this one:
President Trump fired Mr. Comey, and nominated Christopher Wray as the next FBI director.
Or this one:
On October 30, 2017, Mr. Mueller announced charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and campaign advisors Rick Gates, and George Papadopoulos.
where the use of some completely redundant commas coming from the office of a United States Senator you have to wonder who's checking this stuff? And don't they care about proper punctuation?

It's a tiny point but still.

So which letter is Toomey answering?  Let's go see.

He opens with:
Thank you for contacting me about the ongoing Department of Justice investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. I appreciate hearing from you.
Well that certainly narrows it down!  Too bad I've been keeping copies of Toomey's responses as this letter is looking all too familiar.  With some alterations, Senator Toomey's office has sent me this same letter three times.

The first two, I write about them here, are from the summer of 2017.

Here's how the June '17 opened:
Former FBI Director James Comey recently testified before Congress that an investigation into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government is still ongoing. While the former director did not say whether any coordination has been found, he confirmed there is no evidence of vote tampering. President Trump recently fired Mr. Comey, and has nominated Christopher Wray as the next FBI director. It is now up to the Senate to vet and confirm this nomination.
And August '17:
Former FBI Director James Comey recently testified before Congress that an investigation into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government is still ongoing. While the former director did not say whether any coordination has been found, he confirmed there is no evidence of vote tampering. President Trump fired Mr. Comey, and nominated Christopher Wray as the next FBI director. On August 1, 2017, the Senate voted 92 - 5 with my support to confirm Wray's nomination.
And this week's:
On March 20, 2017, former FBI Director James Comey testified before Congress that an investigation into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government was still ongoing. While the former director did not say whether any coordination had been found, he confirmed there was no evidence of vote tampering. President Trump fired Mr. Comey, and nominated Christopher Wray as the next FBI director. On August 1, 2017, the Senate voted 92-5 with my support to confirm Mr. Wray's nomination.
Same letter, updated by a year. Can't we expect a real response from an elected official - especially on such an important matter?  So what's changed?

Paragraph two from June '17/August '17:
(In the interim/Meanwhile), Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to continue the investigation into any links between Russia and individuals associated with the Trump campaign, and any matters that arose from such investigation - an assignment that encompasses the recent allegations surrounding Michael Flynn and Mr. Comey. I have every confidence that Robert Mueller will execute these responsibilities with integrity and professionalism.
And this week's:
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate any links between Russia and individuals associated with the Trump campaign, and any matters that arose from such investigation. On October 30, 2017, Mr. Mueller announced charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and campaign advisors Rick Gates, and George Papadopoulos. The Department of Justice (DOJ) alleges, among other things, that Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates failed to register as foreign agents while working on behalf of the Ukrainian government, and conspired to launder money. Mr. Gates has since pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the special counsel. Further, DOJ has secured a guilty plea from Mr. Papadopoulos for making false statements to the FBI regarding conversations he had with the Russian ambassador. Under terms of his plea agreement, Mr. Flynn will cooperate with the special counsel's investigation going forward. [New Material Highlighted.]
The interesting thing about this, what looks to be a messy rush job on Toomey's part, is found in the last sentence. See that? That's the first mention of "Mr. Flynn" in the letter. Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and George Papadopoulos each get two mentions, the first with their entire names and a second with a "Mr." All poor Michael Flynn gets is a "Mr." 

Messy editing job, Senator. Your office is looking amateurish.

I'm also wondering why Toomey chose the milder, rather informal "alleges" instead of the harsher, more formal "has charged" or "indicted" in the second sentence.  Manafort was arrested, eventually freed on bail and now there's a scheduled court date. Why camouflage the charges behind a bland "alleges"?

But here's the bug news. Toomey's changed his tune about the Mueller investigation. In last year's letters, he ends with:
While I am not a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, please be assured I understand your concerns and will keep your thoughts in mind moving forward. Thank you again for your correspondence. Do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of assistance.
This week's letter inserts this sentence before that ending:
Mr. Mueller ought to conduct a thorough and complete investigation to ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice. It is also important that Mr. Mueller's work be conducted in an apolitical manner so that his findings are credible and nonpartisan.
Last year's letters included the sentence:
I have every confidence that Robert Mueller will execute these responsibilities with integrity and professionalism.
This week Toomey says that Mueller "ought to conduct" a fair, impartial and apolitical investigation (not that he is already doing so). So no longer does Pat Toomey have "every confidence" that Mueller will conduct himself with integrity and professionalism.

This is a big change. And Pat Toomey owes it to his constituents to explain this change.

Full Text of the letter:
Thank you for contacting me about the ongoing Department of Justice investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. I appreciate hearing from you.

On March 20, 2017, former FBI Director James Comey testified before Congress that an investigation into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government was still ongoing. While the former director did not say whether any coordination had been found, he confirmed there was no evidence of vote tampering. President Trump fired Mr. Comey, and nominated Christopher Wray as the next FBI director. On August 1, 2017, the Senate voted 92-5 with my support to confirm Mr. Wray's nomination.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate any links between Russia and individuals associated with the Trump campaign, and any matters that arose from such investigation. On October 30, 2017, Mr. Mueller announced charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and campaign advisors Rick Gates, and George Papadopoulos. The Department of Justice (DOJ) alleges, among other things, that Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates failed to register as foreign agents while working on behalf of the Ukrainian government, and conspired to launder money. Mr. Gates has since pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the special counsel. Further, DOJ has secured a guilty plea from Mr. Papadopoulos for making false statements to the FBI regarding conversations he had with the Russian ambassador. Under terms of his plea agreement, Mr. Flynn will cooperate with the special counsel's investigation going forward.

On February 16, 2018, DOJ charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities with violating U.S. criminal laws in order to interfere with U.S. elections and political processes, beginning as early as 2014. In a press conference that same day, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein emphasized that there were no allegations in the indictment that any Americans were aware of the Russian election interference scheme or that the scheme has any effect on the outcome of the 2016 election.

I look forward to reviewing the findings of Mr. Mueller, the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee, and other congressional committees investigating Russian actions during the election. To the extent that the Russian government, or its agents, meddled in our election, they should face serious consequences. Towards that end, I was pleased to support legislation (Public Law 115-44) that codified and strengthened existing sanctions on Russia. If the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government in an attempt to influence the election, then that should be disclosed and acted upon, too. Russia remains a dangerous threat, and Congress must remain vigilant against our adversaries' attempts to expand their influence and undermine trust in our government.
Mr. Mueller ought to conduct a thorough and complete investigation to ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice. It is also important that Mr. Mueller's work be conducted in an apolitical manner so that his findings are credible and nonpartisan. While I am not a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, please be assured I understand your concerns and will keep your thoughts in mind moving forward. Thank you again for your correspondence. Do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of assistance.
[Line Spacing In Original]

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