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Comey To Testify That Trump Repeatedly Pressured Him On Russia Investigation

James Comey Donald Trump

Former F.B.I Director James Comey will be testifying tomorrow before the Senate Intelligence Committee, and based on the text of his opening statement that has been released to the press, he will say that the President repeatedly pressured him  to state publicly that Trump was not a focus of the investigation and to back off the investigation of Michael Flynn, Trump’s former National Security Adviser:

WASHINGTON — The former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, plans to testify on Thursday that President Trump repeatedly pressured him to publicly announce that he was not personally under federal investigation in connection with the Justice Department inquiry into Russian meddling in last year’s election.

Mr. Comey will say that he told Mr. Trump on at least one occasion in January that he was not under investigation at that time. Mr. Comey has said that investigators are looking into possible links between associates of Mr. Trump and the Russian election interference.

Mr. Trump, in a previously undisclosed phone call on March 30, also asked Mr. Comey what could be done to “lift the cloud” over Mr. Trump from the investigation, according to remarks written by Mr. Comey and published Wednesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee, before which he will appear. During the call, the president told Mr. Comey that the Russia investigation was hurting his ability to govern.

“I did not tell the president that the F.B.I. and the Department of Justice had been reluctant to make public statements that we did not have an open case on President Trump for a number of reasons, most importantly because it would create a duty to correct, should that change,” Mr. Comey said in the prepared testimony.

It was unclear why the committee released the testimony before the highly anticipated appearance by Mr. Comey, who was abruptly fired last month by Mr. Trump.

Mr. Comey wrote a series of memos documenting his interactions with the president, some of which have been described to The New York Times by people who have read them. In one, he told of Mr. Trump asking him to end the investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn.

Mr. Comey will tell senators that he wrote his first memo shortly after he first met Mr. Trump on Jan. 6, during the presidential transition. In that meeting, Mr. Comey briefed the president-elect on the contents of a dossier of salacious allegations that a former British spy believed the Russian government had collected on Mr. Trump.

“To ensure accuracy, I began to type it on a laptop in an F.B.I. vehicle outside Trump Tower the moment I walked out of the meeting,” Mr. Comey said. “Creating written records immediately after one-on-one conversations with Mr. Trump was my practice from that point forward.”

Mr. Comey, who was confirmed in 2013, said that he had not written similar memos for his interactions with President Barack Obama, whom he met privately with twice when he was in office.

Mr. Comey said the last time he had spoken with Mr. Trump was on April 11. Mr. Trump called to ask again when Mr. Comey planned to put out word that Mr. Trump was not under investigation.

Mr. Comey responded that he had passed the request on to his bosses at the Justice Department but had not heard back.

“He replied that ‘the cloud’ was getting in the way of his ability to do his job,” Mr. Comey wrote in his written testimony.

Further details from The Washington Post:

Fired FBI Director James B. Comey said President Trump told him at the White House “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty” in their private White House dinner conversation in January, according to written testimony prepared by Comey.

In written remarks submitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday — a day before his much-anticipated testimony — Comey said he remembered nine separate private conversations with President Trump. Three were in person and six on the phone.

Comey said the president called him at lunchtime on Jan. 27 to invite him to dinner.

“It was unclear from the conversation who else was going to be at the dinner, although I assumed there would be others,” Comey wrote. “It turned out to be just the two of us, seated at a small oval table in the center of the Green Room. Two Navy stewards waited on us, only entering the room to serve food and drinks.”

The president began the conversation, Comey wrote, by asking him if he wanted to stay on as FBI Director, “which I found strange because he had already told me twice in earlier conversations that he hoped I would stay, and I had assured him that I intended to.”

The president replied, according to Comey, that lots of people wanted his job and “he would understand if I wanted to walk away.”

Comey’s instincts, he wrote, were that both the setting and the conversation “meant the dinner was, at least in part, an effort to have me ask for my job and create some sort of patronage relationship. That concerned me greatly, given the FBI’s traditionally independent status in the executive branch.”

The president then made his demand for loyalty.

“I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed,” Comey wrote. “We simply looked at each other in silence. The conversation then moved on, but he returned to the subject near the end of our dinner.”

When prompted again on the subject of loyalty, Comey said he replied, “You will always get honesty from me.”

Comey said that once before Trump’s inauguration, and again at the January dinner, he assured the president that he was not personally under investigation. He also told the president later on that he had shared that information with congressional leaders.

In essence, Comey’s written testimony confirms a key claim that Trump has made — that three times, Comey told the president he was not under investigation.

But it also paints a portrait of a strained, awkward relationship between the two men, in which the president frequently expressed his displeasure about the Russia probe in ways that alarmed the FBI director.

The written testimony also recounts a face-to-face conversation the two men had on February 14 — Valentine’s Day — at the Oval Office, where many senior officials had gathered for a counterterrorism briefing.

After the meeting, the president asked everyone to leave. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and senior adviser Jared Kushner lingered in the room, but the president told them to leave, too, according to Comey.

When the door by the grandfather clock closed, Comey wrote, the president said “I want to talk about Mike Flynn” — the former national security adviser who was forced out after disclosures about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak. Flynn had resigned a day earlier.

“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go,” the president said, according to Comey. The FBI director replied only that “he is a good guy.”

In that conversation, the president repeatedly complained to the FBI director about leaks, and Comey said he agreed with him about the harm caused by leaks of classified information.

Comey said he understood the president to be asking for him to “drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December. I did not understand the president to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign.”

The former FBI director wrote that he found the conversation “very concerning, given the FBI’s role as an independent investigative agency.”

Later, Comey complained to Sessions that he should not have been left alone with the president, and Sessions did not reply, according to the written testimony.

Then, in late March, Trump called Comey at the FBI. In that conversation, the president called the Russia probe “a cloud” hanging over his ability to lead the country.

He also expressed continued frustration that unsubstantiated allegations in a private dossier about him had become public, including lurid claims of sexual activity while in Russia.

“He said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he had been recorded when in Russia,” Comey wrote.

“He asked what we could do to ‘lift the cloud.’ I responded that we were investigating the matter as quickly as we could, and that there would be great benefit, if we didn’t find anything, to our having done the work well. He agreed, but then re-emphasized the problems this was causing him,” Comey wrote.

The opening statement, which I have embedded below, isn’t necessarily the smoking gun of obstruction of justice that many might have expected based on previous reports. However, it is strong evidence in support of that idea and reinforces the allegations of Democrats and the public perception that Trump was at the very least acting inappropriately in his conversations with Comey over the course of four months. between the Inauguration and Trump’s abrupt decision to abruptly fire Comey. It also tends to further corroborate the idea that Trump fired Comey as part of an effort to hobble the Russia investigation, or at least to remove from office an F.B.I. Director was proving to be less pliable on the issue than Trump desired. Originally, of course, the Administration claimed that Comey was fired due to his supposed mishandling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, specifically

Originally, of course, the Administration claimed that Comey was fired due to his supposed mishandling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, specifically the press conference Comey held last July and the letter he sent to Congress in October regarding reopening the investigation due to the apparent discovery of new emails. It quickly became apparent, though, that there may have been ulterior motives for the decision to fire Comey. Reports became to circulate that the President was becoming increasingly frustrated with the Russia, something that Trump himself later confirmed.. At the same time, Trump made a threat directed at Comey with the implication that there may be ‘tapes’ of the conversations between Trump and Comey. Then, we learned that Trump asked Comey to drop the investigation into Flynn  Finally, roughly two weeks after Comey was fired it was reported that Trump had told the Russian Foreign Minister and Russian Ambassador to the United States that he had fired Comey due to the Russia investigation when he met with them in the Oval Office the day after he fired Comey. Since then, there have been additional revelations, including today’s reports that Trump asked Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and C.I.A. Director Mike Pompeo to get Comey to “back off” the Flynn investigation.  During testimony today before the Senate Intelligence Committee today that was originally called to discuss general issues about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, those individuals declined to answer specific questions regarding their conversations with the President, saying that they would not do so in a public forum or before discussing the matter with Robert Mueller, who has been appointed as special counsel to investigate the Russia matter. It also comes on the same day that The New York Times reports that Comey told Attorney General Sessions that he did not want to be alone with the President in the future. Taken together, all of these reports seem to make out a clear case that the President of the United States was seeking to hobble an investigation that was, at the very least, causing him political problems and making it difficult to and advance his agenda.

As is always the case, the devil will be in the details and we can expect that Comey will get into the details of the conversations discussed in this opening statement during tomorrow’s hearing. However, as I said it seems fairly clear that we are about as close as you can get to a case of obstruction of justice based on the summary alone. On several occasions, Trump directly asked Comey to halt the investigation of Michae Flynn and baldly stated to him that the broader Russia investigation was becoming a problem for his Administration. This comes after Trump’s first meeting with Comey prior to Inauguration Day in which the President-Elect repeatedly asked the F.B.I. Director for a pledge of loyalty and Comey responded that he would pledge that he will aways be honest with Trump while he is in office. While this isn’t a direct order it is at the very least a troubling thing for a sitting President to say to an F.B.I Director, especially given the context that the two men had previously had discussions about whether Comey would continue in his position while Trump was in office. Additionally the fact that Trump only had these conversations with Comey one-on-one, including at least one occasion where he asked everyone else to leave the room while he talked to Comey individually demonstrates at least some knowledge on Trump’s part that what he was asking of Comey was something that he should not be asking, which goes to the issue of Trump’s intent in making these inquiries of him. This doesn’t mean that Trump is guilty of anything, of course, but it does raise serious questions and likely indicates that the investigation in the Russia and the Trump campaign will likely expand, and that it’s not going to end for some time.

In any case, the fireworks begin tomorrow at 10am Eastern. The hearing at which Comey is testifying will be broadcast live on all of the cable news networks, on C-Span, and on most if not all of the broadcast television networks. It will also be available via C-Span’s streaming service, which you can access via their website, or C-Span’s mobile app, which is available for both Android and Apple iOS. It’s going to be a very interesting day.

Here is Comey’s opening statement:

James Comey Testimony by Doug Mataconis on Scribd

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. drj says:

    So what?

    The majority party in Congress won’t care.

    Maybe a very serious moderate/maverick will furrow his brow and express DEEP concern,

    But, you know, Hitlery was no angel either.

    Maybe, MAYBE, in a few months time when the toxic orange monster will threaten their re-election this could change. But those tax cuts for billionaires gotta come first.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 3

  2. Mark Ivey says:

    “He said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he had been recorded when in Russia,”

    No Russia, got it. . . :))

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  3. Joe says:

    I get the impression from all these reports that Trump tried to obstruct justice through several avenues, but no one took him particularly seriously.

    Trump: “can we just make this go away.”
    Actual federal employee: “yeah, no. That’s not how this works. We are not in your mob movie.”
    Follow up memo to file by actual federal employee: “Can you believe this guy? What a nut job.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  4. teve tory says:

    James Comey’s seven-page written statement, released by the Senate Intelligence Committee this afternoon in connection with Comey’s impending testimony tomorrow, draws no conclusions, makes no allegations, and indeed, expresses no opinions. It recounts, in spare and simple prose, a set of facts to which Comey is prepared to testify under oath tomorrow. Despite this sparseness, or maybe I should say because of it, it is the most shocking single document compiled about the official conduct of the public duties of any President since the release of the Watergate tapes.

    https://www.lawfareblog.com/initial-comments-james-comeys-written-testimony

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  5. teve tory says:

    Christopher Hayes‏ Verified account

    Can you *imagine* the GOP response if we’d learned Obama had privately asked the FBI director to drop its investigation of Sen. Menendez?

    Christopher Hayes ‏Verified account

    It rhymes with Balls for Dimteachment

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  6. Mr Bluster says:

    Looks like this might have been the high mark in President Pud’s shriveling legacy.

    “You can do anything … Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

    How does he know that there are hookers in Russia anyway?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  7. teve tory says:

    WaPo, May 18:

    President Trump on Thursday denied ever asking FBI Director James B. Comey to back off his agency’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, as well as into the role played by former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

    Asked whether he urged Comey to ease up on the Flynn investigation, Trump said at a news conference, “No, no,” before ordering the media to move on to the “next question.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  8. Modulo Myself says:

    The pee tape is real.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  9. Hal_10000 says:

    It’s not obstruction yet. But it’s another big drop in the bucket.

    The GOP will not turn on him until they have no choice. Even when Nixon resigned, half the GOP supported him and that was after two years of investigation. With every revelation, a few more turn away.

    I’ve mentioned this before but my late great co-blogger Lee coined the term Brownie Moment. It was the moment when a former support of Bush II realized how bad he was and turned on him. Lee named it after his own moment when he saw Bush praising Michael Brown and realized Bush really didn’t understand how badly things had gone. There have been quite a few Brownie moments among Trump supporters over the last four months. And more are coming.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  10. Hal_10000 says:

    @Hal_10000:

    The unwillingness to admit error or that your side has erred is the most powerful force this side of the strong nuclear force.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  11. Bill says:

    @Mr Bluster:

    How does he know that there are hookers in Russia anyway?

    It was almost 17 years ago since I was there, but on the road from Warsaw to Gdansk in Poland, women stood on the side of the road looking for customers and this was out in the country.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  12. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Hal_10000:

    It’s not obstruction yet. But it’s another big drop in the bucket

    It’s dangerously close. That having been said, the practical value of Comey’s testimony is this:

    1) It further drives a wedge between the factions of the GOP

    2) It helps peel away more voters from the GOP

    3) It will encourage Trump to go rogue and run his mouth – and he always digs the hole deeper when that happens. He always has …

    So, legally? The public testimony will probably have mediocre value in and of itself. What he has to say to Mueller behind closed doors will be far more probative.

    Politically? It’s the gift that just keeps on giving …

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  13. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    The initials of the person who is “causing [Trump] political problems and making it difficult to and advance his agenda” are DJT not JBC.

    Note to DJT: The way to “lift [a] cloud” that is hampering one’s agenda is to actively and enthusiastically support and aid in the investigation however possible. Presenting tangible evidence that one’s detractors are misinformed can help also, but it is difficult to either prove or disprove a negative. In any event, Twitter storms about having bugged the White House do not help (see: Nixon, Richard for information on that issue).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  14. Jen says:

    There’s a group that will be running attack ads, against Comey, during the hearings. Every time I think I can no longer be surprised, something else turns up. It’s called the Great America Alliance or some such nonsense.

    To repeat. They are running attack ads, against a congressional witness.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  15. Todd says:

    I’ll get up and watch the testimony tomorrow, but I’m just not sure what will come of any of this (at least in the short-term). Even if special counsel Mueller’s investigation concludes that President Trump himself obstructed justice, it’s very hard to imagine that the Republican controlled house would impeach him. It’s even more inconceivable that 14 GOP Senators would vote to convict. The reality is, unless he chooses to resign, Donald Trump is very likely to be President until at least 2019 (after the midterm elections) and probably even all the way through his full 4-year term.

    The sad thing is, I really hope I’m wrong. At this point, President Mike Pence would be a huge relief. I would disagree with him on almost every issue, but at least he’d be competent to do the job.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  16. Todd says:

    @Todd: Actually that should say 19 GOP Senators.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. Kylopod says:

    @Hal_10000:

    There have been quite a few Brownie moments among Trump supporters over the last four months. And more are coming.

    I agree with much of what you said, but in bringing up the trajectory of Bush’s support as compared to Trump’s, there’s an important difference to keep in mind. Trump rose to power in defiant opposition to the party establishment, vigorously attacking many of the party’s sacred cows and embodying some of the most embarrassing stereotypes that mainstream Republicans have been fighting for years. The GOP leadership ultimately got behind him, but while holding their noses. And soon there emerged two kinds of Trump supporters, both equally crucial to his election. First, there are the hardcore Trumpies. These folks have have an unbreakable, cultlike adoration of the man, and literally nothing will convince them to abandon him, no matter what is revealed about him.

    The second group consists of the partisan GOP loyalists, many of whom would be perfectly happy if Trump stepped in front of a bus tomorrow, but who live in paralyzing fear of upsetting the first group.

    It’s nothing like the Bush coalition. Bush was always essentially a product of the Republican Party at the turn of the 21st century. Almost the entire GOP establishment got behind him practically as soon as he began eyeing the race in 1999. He was a favorite of the party’s business wing in addition to being popular among religious conservatives. What finally hastened the collapse of Bush’s presidency was his abandonment by independents and centrists, at a time when the negative consequences of his governance were really starting to be felt on a large scale.

    With Trump, on the other hand, we’re less than six months into his presidency, he’s barely enacted enough policy in the first place to have the kind of destructive long-term effects that we saw with Bush, and he’s incredibly unpopular but he was incredibly unpopular even back when he was elected! The problem with assessing whether or when his supporters will abandon him is that a lot of his supporters never especially liked him to begin with and yet stuck with him anyway. Unlike Bush it’s a coalition of people for whom Trump can do no wrong and people who know but don’t care that Trump does everything wrong. That’s why it’s hard to determine how his failures will ever cause his support to crater.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  18. Hal_10000 says:

    @Kylopod:

    Very good points. There was a thread on Twitter tonight arguing that a President being the subject of hearings *by his own party* four months in is unprecedented. He had a chance to patch relations with the establishment wing but has continued to fight against them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  19. Lit3Bolt says:

    I’m sure Dr. James Joyner is appalled that Comey would dare not swear loyalty to his Commander-in-Chief, and drop treason and counterintelligence cases at the President’s whim. DEEP STATE!!!!1111!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  20. michael reynolds says:

    Each of these things are dots of paint on a Seurat. Or pixels if you prefer, on a monitor. At first, especially if you’re standing too close, it’s just dots. You add more dots and people begin to see a pattern. They step back to take in more. And then it all coalesces into an image.

    People already know, deep down, even the dumb ones. But they won’t let that reality emerge, they’ll hold on desperately to the notion that it’s just dots of color. But that doesn’t mean they don’t know. A lot of those people will never accept reality, but enough will when they have a hook to hang their rejection of Trump on. They need an event. I don’t know what that event will be, but it’s coming, because it always does.

    There will be an inflection point but that inflection point would never come without all those dots of color. You paint the picture and pretty soon it’s almost impossible for most people to avoid seeing what’s in front of them.

    Alternate metaphor: termites in a wooden support beam.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  21. Lit3Bolt says:

    I’m tired of Republicans destroying the things they profess to love. Now a traitor President must be tolerated because some people who have too much money and are too old to really enjoy it decree It Must Be So, and some people who are desperately afraid of different skin pigmentations follow them.

    Thanks, DC Republicans. Good to know your primary loyalty is to Chinese billionaires, Russian kleptocrats, and Saudi princelings.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  22. Terrye Cravens says:

    There might not have been an investigation back in January of Trump…but who knows what they have found out since then?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  23. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @drj:

    But, you know, Hitlery (sic) was no angel either.

    Oh, please…

    I am SO tired of listening to fascist anarchist “conservatives” saying “suck it, you lost, deal with it, snowflake”… but when real malfeasance comes up, the go-to is always “well, Hillary…”

    There is no “both sides do it” here.

    Frickin’ Hillary could be a verified bloodsucking vampire right now, and you know what? SHE’S NOT THE PRESIDENT !!

    All of this cr@p is owned by POTUS Trump and the mindless minions that voted him in.

    There is no pivot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  24. MarkedMan says:

    @Lit3Bolt:

    I’m tired of Republicans destroying the things they profess to love

    Read more: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/comey-to-testify-that-trump-repeatedly-pressured-him-on-russia-investigation/#ixzz4jMv2IgsD

    I notice James has been unusually silent in all this. I’m sure he has a lot on his plate but I have to wonder if he just can’t stomach what his party has become. James always struck me as believing that his team, the Republicans, actually had some kind of moral advantage over the Dems. I don’t think that is as common in Democratic supporters. We tend to be much more cynical and skeptical of our party, and focus more on results. But a lot of the Republicans I thought had integrity seemed to share that belief. But even he must see now that the Modern Republican party stands for nothing but dust. Obama or Hillary would be impeached by the Republicans for one tenth of what Trump has admitted to, but since it is one of their own the most senior leadership makes excuses for him.

    It’s similar to the “Conservative Christians” or the Evangelicals. They blabbered on and on about Clinton and morality and how a President who had an affair was unworthy of the office. But once it was their own guy on the dais all that morality crap was tossed aside.

    Conservative Christians. Evangelicals. Republicans. I always thought they were phonies. Now we have proof, in spades.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 36 Thumb down 0

  25. MarkedMan says:

    @Lit3Bolt:

    Thanks, DC Republicans. Good to know your primary loyalty is to Chinese billionaires, Russian kleptocrats, and Saudi princelings.

    Read more: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/comey-to-testify-that-trump-repeatedly-pressured-him-on-russia-investigation/#ixzz4jN1BDfzu

    And the Koch brothers. We shouldn’t forget the Koch’s…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  26. Modulo Myself says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I suspect if the few honest Republicans knew where the bottom was they would speak up. But they don’t.

    Look at the Russians trying to hack into Florida’s voting registration system. Do I think that Hillary Clinton actually won Florida but Donald Trump and the Russians he does business with hacked into the vote counting system and stole the state? Not at all. But the GOP has spent decades pretending voter fraud is an issue so they could take away the right of African-Americans to vote. The former governor of Alabama’s mistress explained all of this very concisely, apparently. Why would they not try to change actual votes? What’s going to stop them except the difficulty in doing so and getting away with it? Also, note that Trump was pretty eager to suggest 3 million illegal votes for Hillary. He seems to do what the Freudians call projection a great deal. What are the odds that somehow Flynn or some imbecile was actually talking to the Russians about this hack? 1 in 2?

    No, the bottom is obvious and it’s damning, and it’s best for the smart ones to be silent.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  27. Janis Gore says:

    @MarkedMan: An apropos tweet:

    https://twitter.com/longwall26/status/872573662448291841

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  28. teve tory says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Conservative Christians. Evangelicals. Republicans. I always thought they were phonies. Now we have proof, in spades.

    it’s seldom remembered, but the Christian Conservative Movement did not originally unite in the 1970’s around fighting abortion. They united in the 50’s and 60’s to fight desegregation.

    Bob Jones University didn’t even permit interracial dating until March 3, 2000.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  29. Andre Kenji says:

    Impeachment would be incredibly problematic. If Trump has legitimacy problems imagine Mke Pence, that was not elected to be President. I know that well, for obvious and really sad reasons. One of the reasons that Brazilian President Michel Temer is a complete diplomatic dwarf is that basically everyone knows that he is not supposed to be there.

    That should be a last resort(By the way, I’m beginning to think that countries should eliminate the office of vice-President and create a system of Direct Elections after a vacancy).

    On the other hand, that’s a complete mess, a mixture of Iran-Contras with Watergate, for completely stupid reasons. But there is a Mid-Term Election in 2018.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  30. Mikey says:

    @MarkedMan: @JohnFugelsang: “Trump is Jesus to followers of Jesus who have rejected the teachings of Jesus.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  31. Lit3Bolt says:

    @MarkedMan:

    He’s silent because he’s guilty and self-conscious of his complicit approval of all of this.

    I keep hammering his “DEEP STATE” post because he was dead f*cking wrong and has refused to admit it.

    He thinks Trump+Russia is simply another thing of party politics that should stay in the shadows because reasons.

    He has never expounded on those reasons. He has only said Trump was duly elected, and it was time for the entire Federal bureaucracy to obey Trump without question, whether they liked it or not.

    He was hectoring, pedantic, and entirely unsympathetic. With each catastrophic revelation, he has been mute on his own blog.

    Recently, he doubled down, saying he still believed and was even more convinced by his earlier position.

    James Joyner is the failure of American Conservatism in one man.

    The REFUSAL to even THINK he is wrong. The CONVICTION that because I am liberal, I must be not right.

    He is a soldier on the wrong side of history.

    And for that, I am sorry.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 4

  32. Lit3Bolt says:

    @James Joyner:

    Trump is already compromised by multiple conflicts of interest with foreign agents and his businesses. His Cabinet is composed of kooks and clowns, some of which are totally dedicated to the destruction of the agencies they head.

    As you repeatedly note, Trump was duly elected. However, for some reason, none of his actions yet have crossed a moral event horizon for you, probably because Trump hasn’t put an avowed pacifist in charge of the DoD who wants to unilaterally disarm the United States and turn the Pentagon into a shopping mall (after it levitates first, of course).

    It’s fine that you probably don’t care much for the EPA, the Labor Dept, the BLM, or HHS. Are you equally sanguine about say…the DoE? Trump cronies messing with NASA? The DIA?

    What about the agencies that were are really talking about here…the NSA and the CIA? Every single person who works they has received more scrutiny for security clearances than Trump could ever stand. They had to show their tax returns. Except now he’s the President, and can grant access to anyone in his administration with a wave of his hand, including his children and son-in-law. Since Barron knows the cyber, I’m sure he can be trusted with high clearance.

    How would you like to see your life’s work squandered away by a self-proclaimed Know-Nothing? Your fellow agents endangered by possible Russian partisans lurking in the administration? Or your CinC blowing an asset’s cover with a tweet?

    Would you lie for your CO? Would you LIE ALL THE TIME for your CO, to cover up his incompetence and failures? Because that’s what Trump ultimately demands. And no, he’s not going to “regroup.” There’s no temporary bad judgment with Trump. It’s always bad.

    I’m sure the Draft-Dodger-in-Chief appreciates you going to bat for him, though.

    Read more: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/bureaucratic-insurgency/#ixzz4jNOX8QYO

    Reposting this, since I think it has held up well, from February.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  33. teve tory says:

    Nobody can complain that Trump is being hemmed up by the Deep State. From Politico:

    According to a database maintained by the Partnership for Public Service and The Washington Post, the Trump administration has formally nominated just 63 candidates – 39 of which have been approved – for 559 key positions that require Senate confirmation. Overall, there are 1,200 government jobs that require say-so from the Senate to fill.

    Ed Brayton:

    Donald Trump, eager to make any excuse for his own laziness, incompetence and total lack of interest in governing, is lying about Democrats blocking his nominees. What nominees? Exactly. He’s barely nominated anyone for the hundreds of positions requiring them in executive agencies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  34. Kylopod says:

    @Hal_10000:

    He had a chance to patch relations with the establishment wing but has continued to fight against them.

    Partly that’s because he believes he doesn’t need them at all. One of the central myths of the Trumpist movement is that he got where he is totally in spite of the GOP establishment. It’s a message that’s pervasive in Trump-friendly media such as Breitbart, which is where he gets a lot of his daily info from. So it’s a one-way street: the establishment is terrified of going against him, but he has no qualms with going against them–and so, in effect, they become his servant. The question is whether this situation will last indefinitely, or there will be a breaking point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  35. JohnMcC says:

    Would toss out the possibly off-topic thought that the ‘stone-walling’ by the DNI Coats and DNSA Rogers is unprecedented in our history and represents a possible crossing of the Rubicon by a political movement that claims to be conservative but is really a radical political cult.

    We are dangerously close to losing our constitutional democracy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  36. David M says:

    How has Trump gone after the establishment GOP? Sure, he has his mean tweets, but he’s basically giving them everything they want, and all they have to tolerate is a higher risk of WW3.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  37. SenyorDave says:

    @JohnMcC: political movement that claims to be conservative but is really a radical political cult.

    As cynical as I have become, I really believed that some Republicans would speak out forcefully about what is going on. I guess it really is time to ratchet up the cynicism to 11 (TOTH to Nigel Tufnel).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  38. Pch101 says:

    I helped prosecute Watergate. Comey’s statement is sufficient evidence for an obstruction of justice case.

    …Comey proved what Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and National Security Agency Director Michael S. Rogers carefully avoided admitting in their testimony on Wednesday — that the president had specifically attempted to shut off at least a major piece of what Trump calls the “Russia thing,” the investigation into the misleading statements by fired national security adviser Michael Flynn concerning his role in dealings with the Russians…

    …Comey’s statement meticulously detailed a series of interventions by Trump soliciting his assistance in getting the criminal probe dropped. These details are red meat for a prosecutor…

    …Comey’s statement lays out a case against the president that consists of a tidy pattern, beginning with the demand for loyalty, the threat to terminate Comey’s job, the repeated requests to turn off the investigation into Flynn and the final infliction of career punishment for failing to succumb to the president’s requests, all followed by the president’s own concession about his motive. Any experienced prosecutor would see these facts as establishing a prima facie case of obstruction of justice.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/former-watergate-prosecutor-comey-lays-out-sufficient-evidence-for-an-obstruction-of-justice-case/2017/06/07/a12964a4-4be3-11e7-9669-250d0b15f83b_story.html

    Thanks, Republicans!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  39. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Pch101:

    I agree with his stance. IMPLO we have established a sufficient evidential basis to support charges (there are multiple instances) of attempted obstruction under 1505 et al. In a hypothetical case, I’d have had no problem whatsoever taking the set of facts as we’re currently aware of them to a grand jury in pursuit of indictments.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  40. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Pch101: @HarvardLaw92: Now the problem is to decide what to do. My preference would be a situation where we avoid having a President Pence arise out of the ashes of impeachment (because he might be able to get things done) and after his term of office, we send the Donald to one of the less spiffed up Club Fed sites where he can live out the days until he is drooling/raving crazy with dementia. At which point, he should be released into the humanitarian care of his children (unless the government gets stuck with the bill for his care since he was President–in which case they can weld the door shut and feed him through a slot).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  41. gVOR08 says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:My best hope is that we have a long, thorough, leaky investigation up to the mid terms. Then have a long, thorough, leaky impeachment by a Democratic House. A boy can dream.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  42. pylon says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:

    Midterm elections – Clinton runs and wins. Dems flip the house. Clinton appointed speaker.
    House impeaches Trump and Sessions. Clinton is president.
    Clinton appoints Obama to SCOTUS.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  43. Tyrell says:

    J. Edgar would know how to handle this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  44. Pch101 says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:

    The Democrats and others should have an ongoing campaign of quasi-investigations (since the GOP won’t allow for too many formal ones), innuendo and seeding doubt.

    In other words, the Democrats should behave like Republicans, except without all of the lying. It should be very, very uncomfortable to be a Republican these days.

    And no, the goal should not be to convert Republicans, but to flip some independents while increasing Democratic/Democratic-leaning turnout. Don’t worry about what the GOP thinks; it is not realistic to expect to convert all but a few of them, and the attempt to do so would detract from the message that others need to hear.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  45. MBunge says:

    @Hal_10000: He had a chance to patch relations with the establishment wing but has continued to fight against them.

    Why would anyone WANT him to patch relations with them? They are the ones, in case you’ve forgotten, who followed George W. Bush over the cliff in Iraq and wanted to destroy the global economy over the debt ceiling.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  46. MBunge says:

    And just for the extremely dense out there, Comey’s testimony is…

    1. Trump DID NOT directly tell him to stop any Russia probe.

    2. Trump WAS NOT under investigation for anything.

    3. He deliberately leaked damaging information to Trump, while info that would have helped Trump was deliberately suppressed.

    Wow. What a home run for you guys.

    Mike

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 22

  47. michael reynolds says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:

    we send the Donald to one of the less spiffed up Club Fed sites where he can live out the days until he is drooling/raving crazy with dementia.

    What, a three month sentence?

    Sorry. There it was. I had to pick it up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  48. michael reynolds says:

    @MBunge:

    God you’re pitiful. What’s so vile about you is that you know you’re lying, you know you’re a mouthpiece for a criminal cover-up and you just don’t care.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1

  49. Pch101 says:

    It would seem that the esteemed faculty of the Bunge School of Public Policy doesn’t understand that majorities are needed to pass legislation.

    Who is this idiot, and why doesn’t he know that he is one?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  50. drj says:

    Comey: “They [i.e., Russia] are coming for America.”

    GOP Senators: “But her emails!”

    Not even a pretense of concern. Even more pathetic than I predicted.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  51. Mikey says:

    @Pch101:

    Who is this idiot, and why doesn’t he know that he is one?

    He’s a Trumpist. They don’t do “self-aware.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  52. Pch101 says:

    @Mikey:

    He’s a Trumpist. They don’t do “self-aware.”

    They do a damn fine job with self-pity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  53. Pete S says:

    @Tyrell: Yes, you are right. Comey referenced it in his testimony. Hoover would have blackmailed Trump to avoid being fired.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  54. pylon says:

    @MBunge:

    Well, when Chris Williams says it was damaging to Trump, it was damaging to Trump. By your logic, mobsters are just complimenting a store owner on their “nice place” and not looking for protection money.

    But I guess I’m dense because:

    1. Comey said Trump was lying (5 times).

    2. Comey pretty much admitted that Sessions is deeply involved in the Russia investigation.

    3. Comey said it was apparent Trump was trying to buy his compliance.

    4. He did say Trump wasn’t personally under investigation, but he also pretty much confirmed that his campaign was. And that it could lead to Trump.

    5. He said there was zero doubt that the Russians interfered. And we all saw the results of the election. And he said Trump had zero interest in how or why the Russians interfered.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  55. Guarneri says:

    Two lawyers and Jeff Toobin walk into a bar…………

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 13

  56. michael reynolds says:

    @Guarneri:

    This is for you: http://www.alz.org/research/

    Don’t give up!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  57. Guarneri says:

    I notice you don’t address the implicit issue. Just name calling. As usual.

    You guys have nothing. Nothing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 11

  58. Guarneri says:

    Those damned conservatives just won’t see collusion for what it is.

    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/chris-matthews-trump-russia-collusion-theory-came-apart-with-comey-testimony/article/2625372

    Start moving the goalposts, losers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 12

  59. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:

    There is nothing to do. Trying to impress charges against a sitting president for wrongful actions committed while in office is not impossible, but it does run into a brick wall as long as the person is still in office.

    Short version: we can try and convict him for obstruction, but we’ll need to impeach & remove him first.

    (and since somebody will undoubtedly ask: No, being tried in a criminal court for obstruction after having been impeached based on the assertion of obstruction doesn’t constitute double jeopardy.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  60. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Guarneri:

    I have to admit that when a communications major from (wtfi) Winthrop University speaks about the law, I drop everything and am uncontrollably glued to my screen …

    He’s a frigging media reporter. You’re not even trying at this point; you’re just trolling out of spite.

    :roll:

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  61. michael reynolds says:

    @Guarneri:

    You’re the champion of the non-sequitur. Which makes your complaint hypocrisy.

    You aren’t even following the story, Drew, or you wouldn’t be dumb enough to provide that idiot link. If you want to comment, start paying attention. No one has the time to keep filling you in on the basics. You’re like some guy who’s never watched a football game who keeps asking why the players keep running into each other. After a while it’s just tedious.

    Do the work, Drew.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  62. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @pylon:

    Comey said it was apparent Trump was trying to buy his compliance

    My read on that interchange was more “coerce” than “buy”, but from the standpoint of 1505 it’s a distinction in search of a difference.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  63. michael reynolds says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Can he be indicted while in office? And can prosecution be delayed until he leaves office?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  64. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    That’s untested waters. SCOTUS has never had to address it and the Constitution doesn’t go there.

    General opinion (with which I agree) is probably: no. Having the judicial sit in judgment of the executive sets up a separation of powers conflict that is probably best avoided. It’s impossible to separate the person from the office – you’d essentially have a situation where the judicial branch was putting the executive branch on trial. Constitutionally – the body which sits in judgment of the president while he/she is in office is Congress.

    Once he/she is out of office, then we’re off to the races (or the prison cell, as the case may be)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  65. pylon says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Buy in the sense he’d keep his job for that “favour”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  66. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @pylon:

    I think like a prosecutor (still, after all these years …)

    To me, that reads “if you want to keep your job, you’ll play ball”. It’s a veiled threat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  67. Pch101 says:

    “Useful, accurate information from Guarneri” is an oxymoron.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  68. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Didn’t address this before:

    I do believe that a credible case can be made that the SOL is tolled with regard to violations committed by a sitting president while that president remains in office.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  69. Joe says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    “Nice job you got there, Mr. Comey. Pity if anything happened to it.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  70. charon says:

    @pylon:

    4. He did say Trump wasn’t personally under investigation, but he also pretty much confirmed that his campaign was. And that it could lead to Trump.

    Lots of people saying that, but close reading of Comey statement and parsing says more limited:

    Comey goes to great lengths to:

    stress the importance of and explain the distinction between specifically counter-intelligence vs. criminal investigations; and

    very, very carefully circumscribe his confirmation of the assurance he gave Trump, i.e., that ” . . . we did not have an open [specifically] counter-intelligence case on him . . . ” personally.

    It’s hilarious that Trump in his stupidity a) doesn’t grasp this, and so b) proclaims himself vindicated!

    Above is from comments at the Frog Pond: http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2017/6/8/95656/29974

    Also this there:

    In that context, prior to the January 6 meeting, I discussed with the FBI’s leadership team whether I should be prepared to assure President-Elect Trump that we were not investigating him personally. That was true; we did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him. We agreed I should do so if circumstances warranted. During our one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower, based on President-Elect Trump’s reaction to the briefing and without him directly asking the question, I offered that assurance.

    Better to read the original at Booman …

    Read more: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/comey-to-testify-that-trump-repeatedly-pressured-him-on-russia-investigation/#ixzz4jRdCQKUV

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  71. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Wow. John McCain. What was that?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  72. pylon says:

    @charon:

    Charon, I was specifically talking about his live testimony. I agree that his written statment is limited to counter-intelligence investigations. However, he did say at one point today there were no investigations with Trump as the personal subject. He also said that at least one of his senior advisors held the view that saying Trump wasn’t under investigation went too far because his campaign was definitely under investigation. And that it could lead to Trump himself (hence the “I didn’t want to have to self-correct” business).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  73. pylon says:

    Big losers today:

    Trump, Sessions, McCain.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  74. pylon says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I think we are saying the same thing. Comey felt like his job was being threatened, like he was being pressured and, in fact, virtually being ordered.

    His best moment was actually admitting that he perhaps should have reacted more vehemently.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  75. Kylopod says:

    @MBunge:

    Why would anyone WANT him to patch relations with them? They are the ones, in case you’ve forgotten, who followed George W. Bush over the cliff in Iraq and wanted to destroy the global economy over the debt ceiling.

    Attacking a bad idea doesn’t automatically mean your ideas are any better. For instance, recognizing the Iraq War for the disaster it was (or, rather, turning against the war after it began going south and then falsely claiming to have opposed it from the start) doesn’t mean there is any wisdom in proposing to “bomb the sh!t out of ISIS.” Similarly, many people who aren’t exactly staunch free-traders might give pause to Trump’s proposal to place a 40% tax on Chinese imports.

    Just because the doctor’s performance is wanting doesn’t mean it is preferable to hire someone without a medical license who practices homeopathic remedies and faith healing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  76. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @michael reynolds: Bah dum/rim shot [cymbal splash]. No problem. I can always use a good joke.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  77. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Will the SOL run out on the obstruction before he leaves office? IIRC, earlier in this drama you were saying that the investigation could lead to his arrest after he leaves office, or did I misunderstand (easy to do, I’m just an ig’nint cracker after all).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  78. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I shoulda read farther down so I could see the answer to MR. Thanks!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  79. KM says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    It’s impossible to separate the person from the office – you’d essentially have a situation where the judicial branch was putting the executive branch on trial. Constitutionally – the body which sits in judgment of the president while he/she is in office is Congress.

    The impeachment process in the Constitution was written to protect the Executive from being challenged and removed under spurious charges. It was designed to help insulate the Office from frivolous and baseless attacks in order to assure some measure of independence. The thought process was, however, that Congress would not tolerate an active criminal or scoundrel in Office and would impeach him first, thus leaving him open to litigation and potential imprisonment.

    It was *not* designed to protect the guilty from prosecution for his term. It was *not* intended to be a coward’s shield and blanket immunity against serious charges. A President was intended to be a leader, not a thug to use the conservative parlance.

    The Founders didn’t really anticipate a Congress that would actively aid and abate criminal activities by turning a blind partisan eye to them. They wouldn’t have wanted a murderer, for instance, to be in Office when the only thing keeping him from a long-term cell is Article 2. The clear assumption seems to be that they thought there would be enough decent and honorable people to look past political differences and remove someone obviously unfit for duty. They would have wanted the impeachment to happen and if Trump managed to survive, seen it as proof the charges were weak.

    What is the Constitutional recourse against a Congress that fails to do its duty?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  80. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @KM:

    Truthfully? Amending it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0