Trump frustrated he can’t order the Justice Department around

President Trump he is frustrated but sort of acknowledges that he shouldn’t get involved in what the US Justice Department and FBI do, but he still seems unable to resist. He has been particularly prominent in commenting about the investigation of his own campaign.

It’s sad that the President even thinks of being able to demand and dictate to justice organisations.

@BengaminWittes:

I’ve been thinking about these comments Trump made. What a fabulous tribute they are to the men and women of the DOJ and the FBI!

The tribute is, of course, inadvertent: Trump doesn’t understand the statement he is making about independent law enforcement. But let’s unpack it for a moment.

The President is saying that he would like to interfere in ongoing investigations. He is saying that he would like to order up investigations of his political opponents. He is announcing that he is a corrupt actor who does not believe in the rule of law.

He is a man who is capable of firing his FBI Director because he will not aid him in these endeavours and to threaten his Attorney General and his Deputy Attorney General and the special counsel over the inconveniences they pose him.

Even as I type this, he is tweeting about how DOJ should be investigating Clinton. (For example: )

In these comments, he is announcing frankly how badly he wants to corrupt the Department of Justice.

And yet, he is “frustrated.” Why? It’s not because of Jim Comey. He got rid of Jim Comey. It’s not because of Sessions or Rosenstein. Lordy knows they have not shrouded themselves in glory.

It’s because the norm of independent law enforcement—which he is menacing—is actually strong enough to constrain him—at least right now.

It’s strong enough that he can fulminate all he wants about investigating Clinton and still Mueller does his job, and the FBI does its job, and the men and women of the DOJ do their jobs, and none of their jobs, as our democratic polity has determined them, is to fulfill his undemocratic ambitions to loose investigators on people he doesn’t like and to have the Justice Department protect him.

It’s a stunning statement of presidential constraint: A president actually saying that he aspires to corrupt interference with law enforcement and can’t pull it off. Let it warm your heart. It sure warms mine.

But the attempts at interference continue.

 

Just now:

More than eight years after Bergdahl walked off his base in Afghanistan — and unwittingly into the clutches of the Taliban — Bergdahl walked out of a North Carolina courtroom a free man Friday. Bergdahl, who pleaded guilty to endangering his comrades, was fined, reduced in rank to E1 and dishonorably discharged — but he received no prison time.

Prosecutors had requested a 14-year prison term following a week of emotional testimony from the survivors who were wounded during missions to find Bergdahl after he left the base in June 2009. Bergdahl’s defense team has asked for no prison time.

In closing arguments, defense attorneys argued that Bergdahl already had suffered enough confinement during five years of brutal captivity by Taliban allies. They asked the judge for a dishonorable discharge and no prison time.

Their argument for leniency also cited harsh campaign-trail criticism by Donald Trump and Bergdahl’s mental disorders.

The 31-year-old soldier from Hailey, Idaho, was brought home by President Barack Obama in 2014 in a swap for five Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Obama said at the time that the U.S. does not leave its service members on the battlefield.

Republicans roundly criticized Obama, and Trump went further while campaigning for president, repeatedly calling Bergdahl a traitor who deserved death.

So Trump has been trying to interfere in this case since before he was president. He is still doing it as Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States.

Because US justice officials appear to refuse to be influenced by Trump it is just futile posturing, but it’s a piss poor look for a President.

Bernie Sanders gets it. First he gets a swipe from Trump.

But he responded:

Bernie gets it. I don’t know whether it is deliberate attempts at distraction by trump, or that he is easily distracted from his job, but one could legitimately question who the crazy one is.

Trump campaign officials charged, Trump protests

The first indictments in the FBI investigation into Russian interference in the US election reveal charges have been laid against three people who worked on the Trump campaign, but Trump insists there was ‘NO COLLUSION!’

Fox News leads with Trump denials: Trump, GOP lawmakers slam Manafort indictment as irrelevant to Russia-collusion probe

The president fired back on Monday in an attempt to distance his White House from the Manafort and Gates indictments, noting their crimes were committed “years” before they worked on the campaign.

Washington Post leads with Three former Trump campaign officials charged in Russia probe

George Papadopoulos, who served as a foreign policy adviser to Trump’s campaign, pleaded guilty earlier this month to making a false statement to FBI investigators who asked about his contacts with a foreigner who claimed to have high-level Russian connection. The agreement was unsealed Monday.

News of the plea came as Manafort and his longtime business partner Rick Gates were charged in a 12-count indictment with conspiracy to launder money, making false statements and other charges related to their work advising a Russia-friendly political party in Ukraine.

Fox News continues with diversion and downplaying Trump:

And also details of the charges:

EXPLAINED: How Paul Manafort is connected to the Trump, Russia investigation

It’s been more than a year since Paul Manafort briefly led President Trump’s quest for the White House and even longer since he worked for a controversial Ukrainian politician.

The opening paragraph downplays the Trump connection.

Manafort and his former business partner Richard Gates, 45, were told to turn themselves into federal authorities Monday morning. First reported by the New York Times, these are reportedly the first charges filed in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 president election.

Manafort and Gates were indicted by a federal grand jury that contains 12 counts: conspiracy against the U.S., conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading [Foreign Agents Registration Act] statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, a spokesperson for the Special Counsel’s Office told Fox News.

Manafort, 68, has been the subject of a longstanding investigation due to his past dealings in Ukraine several years ago – for which he didn’t file as a foreign agent until June 2017. But Mueller has incorporated that investigation into his own probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion with Trump associates.

Eventually, Manafort was hired by controversial former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a pro-Russia politician who was ousted from power twice. After Yanukovych was eventually elected president in 2010, Manafort reportedly stayed on as an adviser and worked with other projects in Eastern Europe, including the Party of Regions political party.

Manafort also worked for Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska. In 2005, Manafort came up with a plan to influence U.S. politics, business dealings and the media in order to “greatly benefit the Putin Government,” according to the Associated Press.

Deripaska, 49, is a close Putin ally and signed a $10 million annual contract with Manafort in 2006. They maintained a business relationship until at least 2009, the Associated Press reported.

Financial records obtained by the New York Times indicated that Manafort was in debt to pro-Russian interests by up to $17 million prior to joining Trump’s campaign.

Along with Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s eldest son, Manafort met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskay in June 2016. She was said to have damaging information on Trump’s campaign rival, Hillary Clinton, which was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

Mueller took over the criminal investigation into Manafort’s financial dealings as he looks into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to win the White House.

Trump and the Russia investigation: What to know

Before he handed over the White House to Trump, former President Barack Obama sanctioned Russia for its alleged involvement in the election – a move that would eventually come back to dismantle one of Trump’s senior aides.

Trump’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., also got the administration into hot water for his own actions during the campaign. Trump Jr. confirmed in July 2017 that he took a meeting with a Russian lawyer during the campaign as she was supposed to have damaging information about Clinton.

Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, were at the meeting as well. The two are also being investigated.

Michael Flynn’s tenure as Trump’s national security adviser was short but rife with controversy that still bedevils the administration. But Flynn didn’t come without a warning.

Only a few days after the November election, Obama met with Trump to share his concerns about Flynn, a retired lieutenant general. Flynn had served under Obama as head of military intelligence until he was fired in 2014 following reports of insubordination and questionable management style.

As Obama issued the sanctions on Russia for its involvement in the election, Flynn reportedly called the Russian ambassador to discuss the move. Flynn initially denied speaking to the ambassador, but when intelligence officials revealed proof, he said he just didn’t remember speaking on that topic.

Flynn resigned under harsh scrutiny for misleading the administration, including Vice President Mike Pence, about his ties to and conversations with Russian officials.

He remains under multiple investigations by congressional committees and the Pentagon’s inspector general. Mueller has included Flynn in his probe, and his investigators are reportedly trying to determine if he was secretly paid by the Turkish government during the campaign, the New York Times reported in August.

So this is likely just the first shots fired by the Mueller investigation.

Last word from Trump, in typical trump fashion:

The president led a chorus of critics of the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, noting that the crimes for which Manafort and his aide, Rick Gates, are charged appear to predate the presidential campaign by years.

“Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????” Trump tweeted Monday. “….Also, there is NO COLLUSION!”

Perhaps the President doth protest too much.

The mess in the US

The mess in the US is looking messier.

The latest news claims that the ‘private memos’ of James Comey contained classified information, and Donald Trump Jr has been more closely linked to Russian interefrence in last year’s election.

The Hill: Comey’s private memos on Trump conversations contained classified material

More than half of the memos former FBI Director James Comey wrote as personal recollections of his conversations with President Trump about the Russia investigation have been determined to contain classified information, according to interviews with officials familiar with the documents.

This revelation raises the possibility that Comey broke his own agency’s rules and ignored the same security protocol that he publicly criticized Hillary Clinton over in the waning days of the 2016 presidential election.

Comey testified last month before the Senate Intelligence Committee that he considered the memos to be personal documents and that he shared at least one of them with a friend.

Comey insisted in his testimony he believed his personal memos were unclassified, though he hinted one or two documents he created might have been contained classified information.

President Trump dived in to that –  Trump on Monday morning tweeted out an angry response: “James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!”

But his son Donald trump Jr has been linked more closely to Russian interference in the election.

NY Times: Trump Jr. Was Told in Email of Russian Effort to Aid Campaign

Before arranging a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer he believed would offer him compromising information about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy, according to three people with knowledge of the email.

The email to the younger Mr. Trump was sent by Rob Goldstone, a publicist and former British tabloid reporter who helped broker the June 2016 meeting. In a statement on Sunday, Mr. Trump acknowledged that he was interested in receiving damaging information about Mrs. Clinton, but gave no indication that he thought the lawyer might have been a Kremlin proxy.

Mr. Goldstone’s message, as described to The New York Times by the three people, indicates that the Russian government was the source of the potentially damaging information.

There is no evidence to suggest that the promised damaging information was related to Russian government computer hacking that led to the release of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails. The meeting took place less than a week before it was widely reported that Russian hackers had infiltrated the committee’s servers.

But the email is likely to be of keen interest to the Justice Department and congressional investigators, who are examining whether any of President Trump’s associates colluded with the Russian government to disrupt last year’s election. American intelligence agencies have determined that the Russian government tried to sway the election in favor of Mr. Trump.

And the NY Times now has a copy of the email: Russian Dirt on Clinton? ‘I Love It,’ Donald Trump Jr. Said

The June 3, 2016, email sent to Donald Trump Jr. could hardly have been more explicit: One of his father’s former Russian business partners had been contacted by a senior Russian government official and was offering to provide the Trump campaign with dirt on Hillary Clinton.

He replied within minutes: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”

Four days later, after a flurry of emails, the intermediary wrote back, proposing a meeting in New York on Thursday with a “Russian government attorney.”

Donald Trump Jr. agreed, adding that he would most likely bring along “Paul Manafort (campaign boss)” and “my brother-in-law,” Jared Kushner, now one of the president’s closest White House advisers.

The documents “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” read the email, written by a trusted intermediary, who added, “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

This is now under more investigation.

The Justice Department, as well as the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, is examining whether any of President Trump’s associates colluded with the Russian government to disrupt last year’s election. American intelligence agencies have determined that the Russian government tried to sway the election in favor of Mr. Trump.

Trump Jr has been defending himself via Twitter.

On Monday, Donald Trump Jr. said on Twitter that it was hardly unusual to take information on an opponent.

On Tuesday morning, he tweeted, “Media & Dems are extremely invested in the Russia story. If this nonsense meeting is all they have after a yr, I understand the desperation!”

After being told that The Times was about to publish the content of the emails, instead of responding to a request for comment, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted out images of them himself on Tuesday.

“To everyone, in order to be totally transparent, I am releasing the entire email chain of my emails” about the June 9 meeting, he wrote. “I first wanted to just have a phone call but when that didn’t work out, they said the woman would be in New York and asked if I would meet.”

Both Putin and President Trump have tried to distance themselves.

A spokesman for Mr. Putin said on Monday that he did not know Ms. Veselnitskaya and that he had no knowledge of the June 2016 meeting.

Back in Washington, both the White House and a spokesman for President Trump’s lawyer have taken pains to distance the president from the meeting, saying that he did he not attend it and that he learned about it only recently.

So his sone, his son-in-law and and his campaign boss said nothing to him at the time? And have said nothing to him since, even though it has been a prominent ongoing topic?

The president has denied any collusion with Russia over the election, but he looks like he could sink into the mire.

This draining the swamp thing may take a while yet.

Especially when the Trumps look as murky as anyone else.

UPDATE: Murkier

Comey “so many false statements and lies”

Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication…and WOW, Comey is a leaker!

So sayeth Donald Trump via his Twitter account.

Note the fine print there – “Trump doesn’t answer question on presence of tapes of meetings”.

Trump and his many messengers have been working hard to discredit Comey and his testimony. They are playing to an audience, playing to public opinion, but that may be futile if not counter productive.

The FBI special investigator Robert Mueller should be able to see through the hubris, if he takes any notice at all.

And what about public opinion? A pox on both their houses.

Before the testimony Most say Trump is tampering with Russia investigations

Ahead of former FBI Director James Comey’s eagerly anticipated testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, an ABC/Washington Post poll has found that both he and President Trump have serious credibility issues with the U.S. public.

When asked how much they trust both men on their views of Russian interference in the 2016 election, 36 percent of the public said they trust Comey” a great deal” or “good amount”compared to 21 percent for the president.

According to the poll, 55 percent trust the former FBI director “just some” or “not at all” on Russia.

Trump is seen as even less trusworthy with 72 percent of Americans having some trust in him or none at all when it comes to the matter of interference in the election.

Notably, the poll also found that  56 percent of people think Trump is trying to interfere with the investigation into Russian influence on the election while 61 percent of respondents believe he fired Comey to protect himself rather than for the good of the country.

Rasmussen Reports:  Comey Edges Trump In Voter Trust

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 45% of all Likely U.S. Voters trust Comey more than Trump. Thirty-seven percent (37%) trust the president more, while 18% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

But as is generally the case these days, there is a substantial partisan difference of opinion. Seventy percent (70%) of Democrats trust Comey more; 65% of Republicans have more faith in Trump. Among voters not affiliated with either major political party, 42% trust the ousted FBI director more, while 33% trust the president more.

It’s a closer call among voters when it’s between Trump and Congress. Forty-one percent (41%) trust the president more, while 43% have more confidence in the average member of Congress. Sixteen percent (16%) are undecided.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on June 6-7, 2017 by Rasmussen Reports.

The RCP Trump Approval average is widening to 55.5% disapprove to 39.0% approve.

US government “under assault and eroding”

James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence, says that America’s founding fathers created three co-equal branches of government with checks and balances, but with Trump as president, that was now “under assault and is eroding.”

Fox News: Clapper: US govt ‘under assault’ by Trump after Comey firing

…Clapper on Sunday described a U.S. government “under assault” after President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to fire FBI director James Comey, as lawmakers urged the president to select a new FBI director free of any political stigma.

“I think, in many ways, our institutions are under assault, both externally — and that’s the big news here, is the Russian interference in our election system,” Clapper said. “I think as well our institutions are under assault internally.”

Clapper spoke following Trump’s sudden firing of Comey last week, which drew sharp criticism because it came amid the FBI’s probe into Russia meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible ties between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign.

Clapper said America’s founding fathers had created three co-equal branches of government with checks and balances, but with Trump as president, that was now “under assault and is eroding.”

Politicians from both sides also have concerns.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said the new FBI director should certainly be someone “not of partisan background” with “great experience” and “courage.” He left open the possibility that Democrats might try and withdraw support for a new FBI director unless the Justice Department names a special prosecutor.

Under rules of the Senate, Republicans could still confirm an FBI director with 51 votes. Republicans hold 52 seats in the chamber to Democrats’ 48.

A new FBI director without wide support from both parties would add to the current problems and concerns.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a member of the Judiciary Committee, said promoting an FBI agent to lead the agency would allow the nation to “reset.”

“It’s now time to pick somebody who comes from within the ranks, or is of such a reputation who has no political background at all who can go into the job from Day 1,” the South Carolina Republican said.

“The president has a chance to clean up the mess he mostly created,” Graham said, adding, “I have no evidence the president colluded with the Russians at all, but we don’t know all the evidence yet.”

Only the FBI know all the evidence they have at this stage.

It is certainly very messy, but what are the chances that Trump will tidy up the mess rather than make it worse?

Trump is even blaming his own press team now.

Wall Street Journal: Trump Weighs Shake-Up of Press Team

President blames team for failing to contain Comey controversy and hasn’t ruled out replacing Spicer

President Donald Trump is considering broad changes to his communications team and strategy, which he blames for failing to contain the controversy surrounding his firing of former FBI Director James Comey, according to multiple administration officials.

Among other moves, Mr Trump is again weighing replacing Press Secretary Shaun Spicer.

I’m not sure there will be many people willing to volunteer to take over from Spicer.

Trump has also suggested he may scrap the daily press briefings and hand out a two weekly printed statement instead. The press briefings have been done for about a century and it will raise eyebrows if they are scrapped, but currently they are of little use given how uninformed Spicer and his deputy have been, and/or how quickly the White House story keeps changing.

Trump warns Comey and attacks media

The Donald Trump sacking of FBI Director James Comey is escalating after the reasons for the termination have kept changing, and Trump appears to be unhappy with the bad press.

The sacking is said to be because he was getting increasingly irate with Comey and with media coverage of investigations into Russian collusion with Trumps presidential campaign.

Now Trump seems to be getting even more irate with the media for covering the debacle.

  • Then the President came for the media.
  • Then the President came for the FBI.
  • Then the President came for the media again.

CBS News: Sean Spicer faces first White House briefing since Comey’s firing

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Friday is giving his first briefing since President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, as questions about the timing and reasoning behind Mr. Trump’s shocking decision mount.

Mr. Trump suggested Friday morning over Twitter that maybe “it would be best to cancel” the White House press briefings, after Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders gave an account of the decision to fire Comey that was in direct conflict with what Mr. Trump said later.

Spicer has been at the Pentagon fulfilling his Naval Reserve duty, and was supposed to continue work at the Pentagon Friday, but was called back to the White House. The president suggested, again over Twitter, that because he’s such “a very active President,” that his surrogates can’t speak for him “with perfect accuracy.”

The White House has claimed Mr. Trump fired Comey because he lost the confidence of rank-and-file FBI employees and because of a Tuesday recommendation from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to fire Comey over his handling of the Clinton email investigation.

But Mr. Trump himself has contradicted initial statements (as well as his own termination letter of Comey), claiming he was going to fire Comey regardless of any DOJ recommendation and that when he decided to fire Comey, he thought of the “made-up” story about his connections to Russia.

Earlier this year, the president also asked Comey to pledge his loyalty. Comey responded that he could promise that he’d be honest with him.

Mr. Trump’s account of the dinner differs from Comey’s, and earlier Friday, he tweeted that Comey had “better hope that there are no ‘tapes.‘”

Comey was leading the investigation into Russian election meddling.

Fox News: It was all Trump’s decision: POTUS changes White House narrative on Comey firing

When President Trump sat down with Lester Holt yesterday, he essentially altered the version of James Comey’s firing that his top aides have been pressing in public.

“I was going to fire regardless of recommendation,” he told the NBC anchor. The recommendation in question was a two-page memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who had been on the job for two weeks.

Rosenstein is “highly respected,” Trump said, “he made a recommendation, but regardless of recommendation I was going to fire Comey” (who he called a “showboat” and a “grandstander”).

At Wednesday’s press briefing, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked: “So it’s the White House’s assertion that Rod Rosenstein decided on his own, after being confirmed, to review Comey’s performance?”

“Absolutely,” she replied. “And I think most of America had decided on their own that Director Comey was not the person that should be leading the FBI.”

But if the president asked for a review to buttress a move he planned to take anyway, then Rosenstein’s letter isn’t the crucial document that was being advertised.

Sanders told ABC’s Jon Karl yesterday she hadn’t had the chance to ask the president that question about whether he had already made up his mind. “Nobody was in the dark…You’re trying to create this false narrative,” she said.

None of this affects the core question of whether the president acted properly in canning his FBI director. But it does underscore that the administration’s rollout of this controversial decision has been shaky.

The media narrative has moved on to whether the White House is engaging in some kind of coverup, with newspaper accounts challenging some of the administration’s key points.

And that is upsetting Trump, further raising suspicions that he is trying to hide something.

NY Times: Trump Warns Comey and Says He May Cancel Press Briefings

President Trump on Friday warned James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director he fired this week, against leaking anything negative about the president and put the news media on notice that he may cancel future White House briefings.

In a series of early-morning posts on Twitter, Mr. Trump even seemed to suggest that there may be secret tapes of his conversations with Mr. Comey that could be used to counter the former F.B.I. director if necessary. It was not immediately clear whether he meant that literally, or simply hoped to intimidate Mr. Comey into silence.

“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.

Mr. Trump appeared agitated over news reports on Friday that focused on contradictory accounts of his decision to fire Mr. Comey at the same time the F.B.I. is investigating ties between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia.

A self inflicted train wreck by Trump. It was only a matter of time before his reactive behaviour and ego would escalate – at least this is happening on internal matters and not in the Far East or the Middle East.

The presidency could be in a state of failure, but Foreign Policy goes further and asks Is America a Failing State?

We have the tin-pot leader whose vanity knows no bounds. We have the rapacious family feathering their nests without regard for the law or common decency.

We have utter disregard for values at home and abroad, the disdain for democracy, the hunger for constraining a free press, the admiration for thugs and strongmen worldwide.

We have all the makings of a banana republic. But worse, we are showing the telltale signs of a failing state. Our government has ceased to function. Party politics and gross self-interest has rendered the majority party oblivious to its responsibilities to its constituents and the Constitution of the United States.

On a daily basis, Republicans watch their leader violate not only the traditions and standards of the high office he occupies, but through inaction they enable him to personally profit from the presidency, promote policies that benefit his cronies and his class to the detriment of the majority of the American people, and serially attack the principles on which the country was founded — from freedom of religion to the separation of powers.

Is it that bad? It is looking increasingly like that.

Trump has had staunch supporters but some of those must be starting to wonder whether he is unfit for purpose.

 

The sense of chaos in US politics

If President Trump thought that firing FBI director James Comey would bury his Russian problem he seems to have been mistaken.

Washington Post: Why Trump’s efforts to shake his Russia problem only make it worse

New questions are arising in the wake of his sudden decision to can FBI Director James B. Comey, along with revived calls for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the question of Russian influence in last year’s election and the Kremlin’s connections to Trump’s presidential campaign.

“The only thing that is guaranteed right now is that the sense of chaos will continue, not only in law enforcement but also in Congress,” said GOP strategist Kevin Madden, a veteran of Capitol Hill and the Justice Department. “Every single lawmaker in the House and Senate is going to be pressured to take a stance.”

Of course, the surest way to end the controversy would be through a credible investigation that comes to a definite conclusion about the methods and extent of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether it involved improper dealings with people close to Trump.

White House officials maintain that Comey’s firing had nothing to do with his agency’s Russia investigation but, rather, with his handling of the probe into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Yet Trump’s letter terminating Comey alluded to the questions surrounding his own administration (“While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation …”) and made no mention of the FBI director’s much-criticized decisions involving Clinton.

Fox News: McCabe says FBI call not to prosecute Clinton angered some agents, defends Comey

New Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe acknowledged for the first time in public testimony Thursday that some agents were angry with the 2016 decision not to prosecute Hillary Clinton – while also defending ousted Director James Comey’s overall standing at the bureau.

“I think morale’s always been good, but there were folks within our agency that were frustrated with the outcome of the Hillary Clinton case and some of those folks were very vocal about those concerns,” McCabe testified.

While he noted the anger over that decision, he also pushed back on White House claims that Comey had lost confidence from rank-and-file staff in the agency.

“I can tell you also that Director Comey enjoyed broad support within the FBI and still does to this day,” he testified, adding that many staff held a “deep, positive connection” with him.

That won’t help Trump or the White House. Neither will Trump by the sounds of his reaction.

Fox News: Trump: Comey a ‘grandstander,’ ‘showboat’

That’s rather ironic coming from Trump.

President Trump on Thursday called fired FBI Director James Comey a “showboat” and “grandstander” who Trump intended to fire regardless of any recommendation from the Justice Department.

Trump, speaking to NBC News, gave his first in-depth remarks since the stunning ousting of Comey on Tuesday evening.

“Look he’s a showboat, he’s a grandstander,” Trump said. “The FBI has been in turmoil. You know that, I know that. Everybody knows that. You take a look at the FBI a year ago, it was in virtual turmoil – less than a year ago. It hasn’t recovered from that.”

Trump said he had planned to fire Comey for some time, but “there’s no good time to do it by the way.”

So Trump has taken responsibility for the firing, after initially implying he was acting on the advice of the Justice Department.

And Trump isn’t helped by his media staff. It’s hard to know how long the hapless Sean Spicer will keep trying to defend the mess without having any idea what trump will himself come out with.

And this lame diversion won’t help either: Kellyanne Conway Implies Anderson Cooper’s Eye Roll Was Sexist

On Tuesday, Kellyanne Conway made a triumphant return to the airwaves to discuss the circumstances around President Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey. When Anderson Cooper showed her several clips of then-candidate Trump praising Comey, Conway responded with, “You’re conflating two things that don’t belong together.” She went on to discuss Trump’s strategy in Michigan…

…conflating two things that don’t belong together…

— at which point Cooper rolled his eyes dramatically:

Conway responded to the eye roll on Thursday during an appearance on Fox & Friends. And naturally, she linked it to sexism.

“Hillary Clinton is in search of sexism as a lame excuse for why her disastrous candidacy and campaign lost six months ago,” she said. “[But] I face sexism a lot of times when I show up for interviews like that.”

She went on, “Could you imagine … having a male anchor on the network roll eyes at Hillary Clinton [or at] a female spokesperson for President Obama or President Bill Clinton? I think not.”

It wasn’t her gender that he rolled his eyes at.

 

More on Comey’s firing

President Donald Trump controversially fired FBI director James Comey yesterday – see Comey termination.

There’s been many concerns about how Comey has handled a number of things, particularly investigations into Hillary Clinton’s emails, his intervention and then withdrawal just before last November’s election, investigations into alleged collusion between people involved with Trump’s campaign and Russians, and a leak plagued FBI.

It’s ironic that Trump praised Comey strongly during his campaign but a key justification for his sacking is his handling of Clinton’s email investigations last year.

Many questions have been raised about the timing of this sacking, as they should be.

In his ‘you’re fired’ letter to Comey Trump said:

“It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission.”

Two things will be critical if public trust and confidence is to be restored.

First and foremost, the new director of the FBI will need to be seen as non-partisan and independent, so who is appointed to the job will be critical if confidence is going to be restored.

Second, the ongoing investigation into Russian collusion with Trump associates and with his campaign must continue, and must be done independently of the FBI director appointed by Trump.

Otherwise a dysfunctional looking FBI will become a farce, and Trump’s presidency will have serious credibility problems of it’s own to deal with, and potentially legal and constitutional problems.

Some of the wide range of coverage:

Wall Street Journal: Comey’s Deserved Dismissal

President Trump fired James Comey late Tuesday, and better now than never. These columns opposed Mr. Comey’s nomination by Barack Obama, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Director has committed more than enough mistakes in the last year to be dismissed for cause.

The Daily Beast: ‘Smell of Watergate’ Hits Trump’s White House

Firing the FBI director leading the investigation into his campaign’s possible collusion with an adversarial foreign power is big stuff, the biggest shock President Donald Trump has delivered in his short, shock-filled presidency.

“It really does have the smell of Watergate,” says historian Robert Dallek. “It just raises suspicion this is a Nixonian president trying to cut off this investigation or at least delay it.”

The potential is there to find evidence of collusion that could be termed traitorous, says Dallek. “If he were so clean and without any kind of compromise in this situation, he’d let the investigation go forward and urge a special prosecutor to take over. Instead, he’s giving every sign of a coverup.”

The letter Trump sent to FBI Director James Comey said, in effect, “thanks for exonerating me” three times (like so many Trump claims, the only sign it’s so is that Trump said it)—and then fired him. But Trump can’t abolish the position, and whoever he appoints will have to be vetted and confirmed by the Senate.

Maybe Trump and his coterie of yes-men ignorant of history think he can name a loyalist.

The Federalist: 6 Quick Takeaways From Trump’s Firing Of FBI Director Comey

1) Comey Was Not Good at His Job

2) The Firing Was Done from a Position of Strength

3) It’s Reasonably Not Just the Clinton Probe

4) Democrats Have Been Begging for This, Only to Denounce It

5) This Is Not a Coup. Get a Hold of Yourself

6) Investigations Will Continue

For alternative facts and alternative reality:

RCP: Kellyanne Conway vs. Anderson Cooper on James Comey Firing: “You’re Looking At The Wrong Set Of Facts”

In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Kellyanne Conway discusses President Donald Trump firing of FBI Director James Comey. Conway said the president’s decision “is not a coverup” and “had nothing to do with Russia.”

Comey termination

The US train wreck has taken a congtroversial turn with the ‘termination’ of FBI Director James Comey’s contract. Comey found out part way through a speech to FBI staff in Los Angeles.

Sean Spicer announced”

ComeyTerminationSpicer

Trump’s letter:

ComeyTerminationTrump

There’s some bizarre stuff there.

Time will tell whether this is the threat to the integrity of the US democracy that some claim or not, but it has some aspects of real concern.

Questions have been raised about what really prompted the sudden sacking.

More will no doubt come out about this.

RNZ have a summary: James Comey’s shock dismissal – what we know so far

More important for the US is what they don’t know yet.

Deputy Rosenstein’s recommendation letter:

ComeyTerminationRosenstein

Attorney General Session’s letter:

ComeyTerminationSessions

US discussion – Flynn and immunity

News or views or issues from the USA.USFlag


The Wall Street Journal raised interest with a story yesterday claiming that now resigned National Security Advisor Mike Flynn approached the FBI and Congress saying he was willing to testify in exchange for immunity.

Just Security comments on this: Flynn’s Public Offer to Testify for Immunity Suggests He May Have Nothing to Say

Although Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner of Covington & Burling, refused to comment for the article, he tweeted out a statement teasing that “General Flynn certainly has a story tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit.”

As an experienced lawyer, Kelner will know that the Justice Department would never grant immunity for testimony on these terms. Prosecutors would first require that Flynn submit to what’s called a proffer session in which Flynn would agree to tell everything he knows in exchange for the prosecutors agreeing not to use his statement against him.

Only after the prosecutors heard what Flynn could offer in terms of evidence against others, and had an opportunity to assess his credibility, would they be willing to discuss any grants of immunity or a cooperation deal. At a minimum, the prosecutors would require Flynn’s lawyer to make a proffer outlining the information that Flynn could provide.

The fact that Flynn and his lawyer have made his offer publicly suggests that he has nothing good to give the prosecutors (either because he cannot incriminate others or is unwilling to do so). If he had something good, Flynn and his lawyer would approach the prosecutors quietly, go through the proffer process in confidence, and reach a deal.

So they think a deal isn’t going to work.

The Justice Department will tell Congress that a grant of immunity at this stage could compromise its ongoing criminal investigation. Already, statements from the Congressional committees suggest no interest in granting immunity to Flynn.

Flynn’s lawyer appears to have hoped that publicity, pressure or politics might cause one of the Congressional committees to jump. Flynn’s lawyer may have concluded that at a minimum the public offer would help change the atmospherics around his client, which could help him at a future stage. But the ploy feels desperate, indicating that Flynn may not have much to offer.

And the very fact that Flynn’s lawyer is making a play for immunity at this stage suggests that he has some fear that his client faces real criminal exposure.

That could well be the case.