Trump scandal ‘worse than Watergate’

NZ Herald:  Former US intelligence chief ranks watergate less of a scandal than Donald Trump Russia investigation

A former US intelligence chief today ranked Watergate as less of a scandal than the revelations now ripping through the administration of President Donald Trump.

“I think if you compare the two that Watergate pales really in my view compared to what we’re confronting now,” James Clapper told the National Press Club in Canberra.

There even were concerns among US intelligence authorities about forwarding information to the Trump White House, according to Clapper, Director of National Intelligence under President Barak Obama.

Clapper pointed to the possibility of further damaging revelations when James Comey, the former FBI director sacked by Mr Trump, gives evidence on allegations of Russian interference in US politics before a congressional hearing Thursday, Washington time.

The Comey evidence is yet to come, but in a preliminary to his appearance Top intel officials Coats and Rogers say they’ve never been ‘pressured’ on Russia investigations

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers told a Senate panel Wednesday that they would not answer questions about whether President Trump asked them to downplay possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials in last year’s election, but they said they did not feel “pressured” to interfere or intervene in the Russia investigation.

Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he did not believe it was appropriate for him to publicly discuss conversations he has had with the president.

“I have never felt pressured to intervene or interfere in any way with shaping intelligence in a political way or in relation to an ongoing investigation,” Coats testified in response to a question from Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va.

Rogers also refused to answer Warner’s questions about his conversations with Trump about the Russia investigation.

“In the three-plus years that I have been the director of the National Security Agency, to the best of my recollection, I have never been directed to do anything I believe to be illegal, unethical, immoral or inappropriate,” Rogers said, adding that he has never felt “pressured” to do so.

This saga is likely to continue for some time yet. Comey’s appearance will be on Friday New Zealand time.

In the meantime there are other potential problems for Trump:  Attorney General Jeff Sessions suggested he could resign amid rising tension with President Trump

As the White House braces for former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony Thursday, sources tell ABC News the relationship between President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has become so tense that Sessions at one point recently even suggested he could resign.

The friction between the two men stems from the attorney general’s abrupt decision in March to recuse himself from anything related to the Russia investigation — a decision the president only learned about minutes before Sessions announced it publicly. Multiple sources say the recusal is one of the top disappointments of his presidency so far and one the president has remained fixated on.

Trump’s anger over the recusal has not diminished with time. Two sources close to the president say he has lashed out repeatedly at the attorney general in private meetings, blaming the recusal for the expansion of the Russia investigation, now overseen by Special Counsel and former FBI Director Robert Mueller.

But sources say the frustration runs both ways, prompting the resignation offer from Sessions.

There seems to be a lot of frustrations and diversions in Trump’s administration, but he and his Fox friends are trying to look positive.

This may or may not be evident here:  Under Trump, regulation slows to a crawl

Before he took office, Donald Trump promised to roll back the reach of the federal government, saying that he would end the “regulation industry” on the first day of his presidency. The effect has been immediate and dramatic: According to data compiled by POLITICO, significant federal regulation since Trump’s inauguration has slowed to an almost total halt.

From Inauguration Day until the end of May, just 15 regulations were approved by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), the White House department that reviews important new federal rules. That’s by far the fewest among comparable periods since recordkeeping began in the 1990s: Ninety-three rules were approved during the same period in Barack Obama’s administration, and 114 under George W. Bush.

The near-total freeze in regulations is likely to keep GOP supporters happy, converting on a long-held conservative dream of a government that stays out of the way. “It’s a reason to celebrate,” said Stephen Moore, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation who informally advised Trump during his campaign.

But rulemaking is the key way a White House shapes policy, and for an administration that has struggled to populate federal agencies and get laws passed through Congress, the rulemaking gap denies the administration its biggest chance to make an impact on how America runs. The slowdown has begun to concern some business groups, who worry that key regulations simply aren’t being issued as expected—and liberals warn it could leave the government playing catch-up with major changes.

Trump has said he will live tweet during Comey’s appearance – good grief!

UPDATE: But he has been preempted with the release already of Comey’s prepared statement:

CNBC:  ‘I need loyalty, I expect loyalty’ — read James Comey’s explosive statement about Donald Trump

  • Former FBI Director James Comey will testify that President Trump told him “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.”
  • “I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed,” Comey says in his prepared remarks to the Senate Intelligence Committee.