• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Donald Trump Reportedly Asked Comey To Shut Down F.B.I. Investigation Of Michael Flynn

Trump Nixon V

The New York Times is reporting that President Trump asked former F.B.I. Director James Comey to drop the investigation of former National Security Adviser Lt. General Michael Flynn and his ties to Russia:

WASHINGTON — President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo that Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.

“I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.

The existence of Mr. Trump’s request is the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and F.B.I. investigation into links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia.

Mr. Comey wrote the memo detailing his conversation with the president immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after Mr. Flynn resigned, according to two people who read the memo. The memo was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence an ongoing investigation. An F.B.I. agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.

Mr. Comey shared the existence of the memo with senior F.B.I. officials and close associates. The New York Times has not viewed a copy of the memo, which is unclassified, but one of Mr. Comey’s associates read parts of the memo to a Times reporter.

“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey, according to the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey that Mr. Flynn had done nothing wrong, according to the memo.

Mr. Comey did not say anything to Mr. Trump about curtailing the investigation, only replying: “I agree he is a good guy.”

In a statement, the White House denied the version of events in the memo.

“While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn,” the statement said. “The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.”

In testimony to the Senate last week, the acting F.B.I. director, Andrew G. McCabe, said, “There has been no effort to impede our investigation to date.”

A spokesman for the F.B.I. declined to comment.

Mr. Comey created similar memos — including some that are classified — about every phone call and meeting he had with the president, the two people said. It is unclear whether Mr. Comey told the Justice Department about the conversation or his memos.

Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey last week. Trump administration officials have provided multiple, conflicting accounts of the reasoning behind Mr. Comey’s dismissal. Mr. Trump said in a television interview that one of the reasons was because he believed “this Russia thing” was a “made-up story.”

The Feb. 14 meeting took place just a day after Mr. Flynn was forced out of his job after it was revealed he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of phone conversations he had had with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

Despite the conversation between Mr. Trump and Mr. Comey, the investigation of Mr. Flynn has proceeded. In Virginia, a federal grand jury has issued subpoenas in recent weeks for records related to Mr. Flynn. Part of the Flynn investigation is centered on his financial ties to Russia and Turkey.

Mr. Comey had been in the Oval Office that day with other senior national security officials for a terrorism threat briefing. When the meeting ended, Mr. Trump told those present — including Mr. Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions — to leave the room except for Mr. Comey.

Alone in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump began the discussion by condemning leaks to the news media, saying that Mr. Comey should consider putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information, according to one of Mr. Comey’s associates.

Mr. Trump then turned the discussion to Mr. Flynn.

After writing up a memo that outlined the meeting, Mr. Comey shared it with senior F.B.I. officials. Mr. Comey and his aides perceived Mr. Trump’s comments as an effort to influence the investigation, but they decided that they would try to keep the conversation secret — even from the F.B.I. agents working on the Russia investigation — so the details of the conversation would not affect the investigation.

Mr. Comey was known among his closest advisers to document conversations that he believed would later be called into question, according to two former confidants, who said Mr. Comey was uncomfortable at times with his relationship with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Comey’s recollection has been bolstered in the past by F.B.I. notes. In 2007, he told Congress about a now-famous showdown with senior White House officials over the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. The White House disputed Mr. Comey’s account, but the F.B.I. director at the time, Robert S. Mueller III, kept notes that backed up Mr. Comey’s story.

The Washington Post is reporting the same story:

President Trump asked the FBI to drop its investigation into his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and urged the FBI director James B. Comey instead to pursue reporters in leak investigations, according to private notes taken by Comey, according to people familiar with the matter.

According to a set of notes written by Comey following a February meeting with the president, Trump brought up the counterintelligence investigation into Flynn and urged Comey to drop the probe in the wake of the national security adviser’s resignation.

“I hope you can let this go,” Trump said, according to the Comey notes, which were described by associates. Comey’s written account of the meeting is two pages long and highly detailed, the associates said. The details of Comey’s notes of the meeting were first reported by The New York Times.

Officials have previously said that Trump and his senior staff have been pressing the FBI to prioritize leak investigations over the bureau’s ongoing probe into possible coordination between Russian officials and Trump associates. On Tuesday, people close to the matter said Comey kept detailed notes of his multiple conversations with Trump.

Details of Comey’s notes were shared with a very small circle of people at the FBI and Justice Department, these people said.

Comey’s description of the event make clear his understanding of the conversation was that the president was seeking to impede the investigation, according to people who have read the account or had it read to them, these people said. Comey felt the conversation was improper and decided to keep the details of the conversations away from the case agents working on the Russia probe.

Not surprisingly, the Trump White House is denying this and it’s likely to come down to a question of whether to believe Trump or Comey in this matter. For example, there’s the question of why Comey didn’t make this public months ago, or why he didn’t disclose it to Congress when he was last before a Congressional Committee. These are legitimate questions, and I suppose that it depends on who one is inclined to believe, but the fact that Comey took the step of preparing a memorandum of his conversation with the President certainly seems to add credence to his version of the events. Additionally, reports from other sources are indicating that this may only be one of many memos that Comey created to document conversations that he had the President, and that it was a common practice of his to make such contemporaneous notes of conversations that he believed could be important in the future. While the memoranda don’t per se prove what these reports are claiming they do, they would corroborate what Comey would presumably testify to were he to be subpoenaed to discuss his conversations with the President.

Additionally, all of this also throws many of the events of the past week into a completely new light. Over the past two weeks, we have seen the President fire James Comey, allegedly because of something he did regarding the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server but which Trump later seemingly admitted was motivated primarily by the Russia investigation. We’ve also seen the President essentially threaten Comey with the existence of tapes of their conversations. Then we learned that the President shared classified information with Russia’s Foreign Minister and Ambassador to the United States under circumstances that were, at least, highly questionable even if not per se illegal. Now we have the allegation that the President tried to shut down the investigation of a top adviser and associate in a private conversation with the Director of the F.B.I. To say that we’ve reached a critical point in this Presidency is to put it lightly.

Assuming that this story is true, and that’s something that can be determined in no small part by determining whether or not these memos exist and releasing them to the public and to Congress, then this is perhaps the most serious charge yet against President Trump out of everything that has been alleged over the past two weeks. What we have here is nothing less than an attempt by the President of the United States to obstruct justice by trying to get the Federal Bureau of Investigation to shut down an investigation into one of his closest advisers during the campaign and a man who he had named as his National Security Adviser. Legally, that arguably amounts to obstruction of justice, and it is among the most serious of the charges that were brought against President Nixon, and which would have formed the basis for his impeachment had he not resigned from office in August 1974. It was also one of the Articles of Impeachment that were filed against President Clinton in 1998. This would be true, of course, even if the investigation were something that was utterly unconnected to the President, but the fact that it was makes the conversation that he had all the more inappropriate and potentially illegal. Additionally, while I have largely dismissed much of the talk about impeachment that has been bandied about since Trump took office, it would seem clear that the fact that the President tried to stop an investigation in thi matter certainly comes close to constituting what would and should be considered an impeachable offense. Yes, this is a radical thing to say about a sitting President, but we’ve clearly made our way into the Twilight Zone here.

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. CSK says:

    I’m pretty sure that Trump is incapable of understanding the concept of obstruction of justice or that what he did is wrong.

    He’s bragged about buying/bribing/paying off politicians. Why would he have any trepidation abut squeezing the head of the FBI?

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

  2. Yank says:

    If true, this should be the end of him……but then you look who controls congress.

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

  3. michael reynolds says:

    There are a lot of people sitting in prison today because of contemporaneous notes made by FBI agents. This is the director of the FBI.

    This sets up a nice battle: Trump’s alleged tapes vs. Comey’s memo. If Trump has tapes, and if he is not guilty, he will happily provide them. If he insists on hiding the alleged tapes he’s guilty. If he now admits that he was lying about tapes, then his tweet threatening Comey with tapes becomes just more evidence a desperate, guilty man.

    If Comey confirms this the Republicans will find themselves in a very tough spot. The generic Congressional polling has an amazing 11 point edge for Dems. Trump is done as a political force and if Republicans want to advance their agenda of screwing poor people, they should recognize the facts, back impeachment and welcome President Pence. But no one’s dumber than Republican congressman.

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

  4. JohnMcC says:

    The Gallup polling for Nixon at the time of his resignation showed about 22 — 24% approval. The equivalent number for Mr Trump today is 36 –38%. I don’t see any reason to expect a sudden emergence of testicles on the part of the R’s.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  5. An Interested Party says:

    At this point, what’s left to shock? Perhaps a tattoo on Trump’s ass that reads “Принадлежащий путину”? McConnell, Ryan, and their fellow cowards in the GOP are pathetic…it will be interesting to see how much, if even at all, this hurts them…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  6. Hal_10000 says:

    I apologize to Fredo Corleone for comparing Trump to him. By comparison, Fredo was a genius.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 0

  7. CSK says:

    Fox News reported that they can’t get a Republican to come on the show and defend Trump.

    If it gets bad enough, Ivanka and Jared will force Daddy to throw in the towel. I’m sure they don’t want to trash the family brand more than it already has been.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0

  8. Todd says:

    @JohnMcC:

    I don’t see any reason to expect a sudden emergence of testicles on the part of the R’s.

    I agree. At this point it’s hard to imagine enough votes in the House to impeach, let alone 2/3 of the Senate voting to convict … even if/when more sh*t continues to hit the proverbial fan. In political terms, the 2018 mid-term elections are a LONG way off. As sad as it is to say, it’s probably not an unreasonable hope by many Republicans that they can ride out the crisis and this will all blow over before the next election … it’s not as if they haven’t done plenty of other outrageous things (govt shutdowns, denying a vote on President Obama’s SCOTUS nominee, etc.,) for which they ultimately paid virtually no electoral price.

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

  9. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Here’s the thing: Even if Trump says he was just kidding about the tapes, who’s going to believe him?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  10. michael reynolds says:

    @CSK:
    About a third of voters.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 0

  11. Lit3Bolt says:

    Anxiously waiting for Dr. James Joyner to chirp again on how BAD it is for unelected bureaucrats to stay loyal to their Constitutional Oaths and OPPOSE the duly elected incompetent traitor of a President and his corrupt, treasonous staff.

    Funny how excuses are endless for Republicans. It’s ok. You can say “Liberals were right all along.” The world will not end if you do so.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2

  12. Todd says:

    @michael reynolds:

    … if Republicans want to advance their agenda of screwing poor people, they should recognize the facts, back impeachment and welcome President Pence.

    The sad thing is, I’m almost to the point where I think it might be a worthwhile tradeoff to have Pence in the oval office, because he’s at least likely to be competent (especially in comparison) when it comes to running the government, and even being commander in chief. Of course the flip side of that is, that he really is a true religious conservative, and with his congressional and executive experience would probably have a better chance of getting some of that agenda through congress. Of course one would hope that after this level of crisis the Republican agenda is dead in the water … but I wouldn’t count on that at all … even if Trump somehow manages to stay in office.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  13. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Perhaps I should have asked: What sentient being will believe it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  14. Jen says:

    And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why the presidency is not an entry-level position. I’m guessing that it wasn’t uncommon for Business Mogul/reality TV star Trump to ask if things would please go away without it resulting in an obstruction of justice charge. Not so in government.

    Chaffetz seems to have been shaken from his stupor on this one, and says his subpoena pen is ready.

    Maybe we are turning a corner here, maybe not. What day is this of the administration? Have we reached 120 days yet?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 0

  15. Franklin says:

    Doug posits that our choice is between believing Comey or Trump.

    Bwaaahahahahaaahaa.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  16. CSK says:

    @Jen:

    I think we’re on Day 116.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  17. Mikey says:

    @Yank:

    If true, this should be the end of him……but then you look who controls congress.

    A Republican friend of mine asserted Comey’s memos are irrelevant because Trump fired Comey and therefore Comey has an axe to grind.

    That’s the kind of shit we’re up against.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 0

  18. CSK says:

    @Franklin:

    Well if it comes down to a question of credibility, I’d believe almost anyone over Trump.

    Okay, anyone.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  19. Todd says:

    @Mikey:

    That’s the kind of shit we’re up against.

    Many of these people STILL believe in their heart of hearts that Barack Obama was really born in Kenya. Why should it be shocking that they find it perfectly plausible that EVERYBODY except Trump is lying now? :-/

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0

  20. MarkedMan says:

    @Todd:

    it’s probably not an unreasonable hope by many Republicans that they can ride out the crisis

    I don’t disagree that Republicans may Think This, but the reality is that it is going to be one thing after another. riding out a storm assumes that the storm will eventually abate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. Jen says:

    I think the pressure might be getting to some of them: https://twitter.com/rachaelmbade/status/864608676740554752

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  22. charon says:

    @Todd:

    . As sad as it is to say, it’s probably not an unreasonable hope by many Republicans that they can ride out the crisis and this will all blow over before the next election

    Assuming it does not occur to them that Trump’s behavior will worsen, not stay the same – because of how his personality will react to the stresses he is experiencing.

    Read more: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/donald-trump-reportedly-asked-comey-to-shut-down-f-b-i-investigation-of-michael-flynn/#ixzz4hIB1fvnF

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. Jen says:

    …and, Chaffetz has sent a letter to the FBI requesting all of Comey’s memos, etc. that relate to the President. Due date is May 24.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  24. Todd says:

    @charon: @MarkedMan: I’m not saying it’s likely this will blow over. However, in the event that this somehow just becomes the “new normal” and we move forward, Republicans have good reason to at least hope (based on the recent past) that they may pay very little political price (in 2018 and 2020) for not coming out against Trump.

    In a rational world, of course they’d pay a price. But just the fact that Donald Trump is in the White House is plenty of proof that we don’t currently live in anything close to a rational world.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  25. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @JohnMcC:

    Your real problem there is the Dems in the Senate. Given the choice between doing the right thing for the country by getting rid of Trump – who is a political gold mine for the party – and being stuck with a much more formidable opponent in Pence, or simply voting no – and thereby allowing Trump to wreck the GOP while also possibly wrecking the country, well, who’s to say which is the better choice?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  26. Hal_10000 says:

    I keep feeling like we’re living in history right now. Like the Trump Presidency will be something historians talk about for a long time. And my grandkids will ask me about it and I’ll say, “Oh, Jeez, that was awful.”

    Hopefully, they won’t be asking me that over the ruins.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  27. HarvardLaw92 says:

    On a brighter note, is everybody else enjoying the fast forward version of Watergate that’s playing out here, or is it just me?

    My freud may conceivably explode due to being over-schadened. :-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  28. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Hal_10000:

    I hate to admit it, but I think I’ve come to the conclusion that my ideal outcome here would be for things to get just bad enough for this to be a teaching moment for the GOP’s idiot base – something painful enough to wake them up & force them to take a good, hard look at reality.

    But that’s probably too much to hope for.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 0

  29. Todd says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    … just bad enough for this to be a teaching moment for the GOP’s idiot base …

    But that’s probably too much to hope for.

    I think they are incapable of learning.

    My hope is that everything happening now would be a teachable moment for those on the left. First for the partisan Democrats who insisted that nominating someone as unpopular as Hillary Clinton wasn’t a huge risk, then for the petulant progressives who campaigned against (and refused to vote for) her on the theory that “Trump couldn’t be any worse”.

    But my wish is probably too much to hope for too

    … since there are still plenty of “we love Bernie” groups who seem to get more excited about protesting DNC Chairman Tom Perez, than trying to figure out how we’re going to elect more Democrats. Oh yea, and then the wonderful news from a few days ago that Hillary Clinton has started a new PAC to join (lead?) the “resistance”. She’s definitely who Democrats need selling their message right now.

    My fear is that the left is too broken/incompetent to take political advantage of this disaster of a presidency … so the country is being destroyed for nothing.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 0

  30. MarkedMan says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    s everybody else enjoying the fast forward version of Watergate that’s playing out here

    Yeah, how about that. What took place in the last 10-15 days took months and months in Nixon’s time..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  31. michael reynolds says:

    @Todd:
    Yep. What you said.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  32. michael reynolds says:

    Here’s what you’ve got to just love about Trump. He’s a criminal who thinks it will be clever to pick fights with the CIA, the NSA and the FBI but then, showing the brilliance that makes him so very ‘special,’ he thinks, ‘Why not Mossad, too?”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  33. dmichael says:

    @Jen: Let’s not be quick to ascribe good motives to the greasy weasel Chaffetz. He may be playing strategic retreat: pretending to attempt to find out what happened while providing cover and opportunity for delay to Trumpists in the Republican Party to allow them to formulate an escape. He and his committee can sit on whatever they get from the FBI. (Wow, I am now in the very uncomfortable position of defending the FBI. Strange days indeed)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  34. Liberal Capitalist says:

    sorry that I repost, but the schadenfreude is so smooth and creamy!!…

    Wow…

    First the Comey firing over the Russian investigation

    Then the Russian security leak, in the Oval Office

    The Comey says that The Donald asked him to stop investigating Flynn and the Russian connection…

    Hat Trick! Trifecta! It’s a touchdown homerun slamdunk!

    Just not enough popcorn in the WORLD for this!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  35. Kylopod says:

    @Todd: We’re pretty much on the same page here. Trump has benefited heavily from what might be called the Dory the Fish Principle, where no matter how disqualifying the latest revelation, before long it’s forgotten as if it never happened–absorbed into his general awfulness which people just sort of take for granted so that it’s no longer shocking. That’s more or less what was going on throughout last year with his attacks on the Khans and later the Access Hollywood tape, where for certain periods of time Trump’s poll numbers sank dangerously low and there was talk of the GOP leadership bailing on him–and then they didn’t, and his numbers recovered in the course of increased media scrutiny on Hillary.

    As for right now? I can imagine scenarios where something gets revealed that’s so utterly extreme the party decides it has no choice but to abandon him. But we’re not at that point yet, and we may never get to that point. The Republican leadership has made a strategic decision to stick with him through thick and thin. As I’ve said before if he stepped in front of a truck tomorrow probably most elected Republicans would be privately cheering. But they live in abject terror of the voters who brought him to power.

    Nixon went to his grave proclaiming his innocence in the Watergate scandal, and it’s pretty much guaranteed that if Trump is brought down, a substantial chunk of GOP voters will refuse to believe his guilt no matter how blindingly obvious it turns out to be. Even if Trump is caught on tape confessing to doing something unambiguously criminal (wait, didn’t that happen already?), pursuing it would still tear the party apart. I doubt it would be a teachable moment for very many in the party. His hardcore supporters would claim he was the outsider brought down by the “establishment” forces he’d come to combat (the Mr. Smith of his time, in essence), while other Republicans would attempt to rewrite the Trump saga as just some bizarre fluke that didn’t in any way reflect the failings of the party.

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

  36. TM01 says:

    Meeting allegedly took place Feb 14.
    FBI cleared Flynn Jan 24.
    Huh?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  37. Tyrell says:

    I think that the focus has been too much on details. Everyone seems to be missing the big picture in all of this.
    Think.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 12

  38. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Todd:

    Agreed.

    I’ll even admit you were right about Clinton if you’ll just let that one go already.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  39. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Speaking of Ms. Clinton…

    What was it that everyone had a problem with ? I can’t remember…

    Kind of pales in comparison, doesn’t it ?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  40. Robert c says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    You’re out of touch. His base is so devoted, so nihilistic that they don’t care. They see no
    future without Trump, and if he goes down they’ll drag us all with them, or so they think. Trumps base are the new American martyers. In their minds, they are victims, consummate victims. They will not convert. It’s a religion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  41. Argon says:

    @michael reynolds:

    This sets up a nice battle: Trump’s alleged tapes vs. Comey’s memo. If Trump has tapes, and if he is not guilty, he will happily provide them. If he insists on hiding the alleged tapes he’s guilty. If he now admits that he was lying about tapes, then his tweet threatening Comey with tapes becomes just more evidence a desperate, guilty man.

    On CNN, Alan Dershowitz suggested that Trump wouldn’t have tapes because it would’ve been incredibly stupid to record conversations.

    I thought: The tapes must exist. Trump is that stupid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  42. Joe says:

    @Jen:
    @dmichael:

    You may think Chaffetz wants info. I think Chaffetz needs to see and own the field. Did Comey do memos on all interactions with Trump? Are the memos drafted in a self-serving manner? Are any missing?

    At the end of the day, Chaffetz is strongest if he has the whole collection (no more surprises). At that point, he can identify his targets.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  43. panda says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Your real problem there is the Dems in the Senate. Given the choice between doing the right thing for the country by getting rid of Trump – who is a political gold mine for the party – and being stuck with a much more formidable opponent in Pence, or simply voting no – and thereby allowing Trump to wreck the GOP while also possibly wrecking the country, well, who’s to say which is the better choice?

    Read more: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/donald-trump-reportedly-asked-comey-to-shut-down-f-b-i-investigation-of-michael-flynn/#ixzz4hIyrOI10

    ]

    I think is wrong on two counts.
    1. Predisent Pence post a bruising impeachment brought about by the republicans is not exactly a super-formidable opponent.
    2. Any Democratic Senator voting no on impeachment is a dead man walking. We political junkies understand that its in the party’s interest to keep Trump going. Rank and file primary voters will have pitchforks out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  44. panda says:

    @Joe:

    At the end of the day, Chaffetz is strongest if he has the whole collection (no more surprises). At that point, he can identify his targets.

    The problem for him is that if he has them ,the Democrats have them too. And Elijah Cummings is not a fool.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  45. michael reynolds says:

    @Argon:
    I was living in Washington DC during Watergate, updating CCH’s and hunting down documents for a Democratic law firm, when Alexander Butterfield testified about the Nixon tapes. The universe absolutely froze for a minute solid. Cocktails dribbled down chins. Cars crashed. Scallops were badly overcooked. It was kind of amazing, because right then we all knew the end of the story.

    Donald Trump is his own Alexander Butterfield.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  46. michael reynolds says:

    @Robert c:
    Yeah, but you’re talking about the crazy one third. He got 46%. There’s about 10% of play in there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  47. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    This reporting better be damn accurate.
    If not…Don the Con comes away stronger.
    If it is…President Pence….perhaps one of the dumbest men in politics.
    And a religious extremist.
    We are still fwcked.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  48. Jen says:

    @Joe: I think Chaffetz wants two things: to have all the information (information is power, *especially* in DC), and to have control of the timing.

    The Republicans, I think, have gotten to the point where they are exhausted and aren’t getting anything done. If there’s going to be an investigation, they want it done sooner rather than later, because if they can get Pence installed they’ll still be able to ram through their horrible agenda (and with far fewer distractions). The longer it takes, the worse the fallout will be.

    @Todd: Clinton’s PAC–I got the email–appears to be about fundraising and providing support for five different progressive groups. There are still plenty of us out here who think she got a raw deal and are willing to stand up and support these groups. It’s a smart strategy for her–it keeps her involved but lower profile, and capitalizes on her popularity–yes, I used that word–with people like me. The Democrats DO have to get their act together. I am ready to pull my hair out when I see articles on Politico about Bernie considering a 2020 run. That’s insane, and he needs to stop that nonsense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  49. Todd says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    if you’ll just let that one go already.

    Done. I really only brought it up because I had a bit of a WTF moment when I saw the headline the other day about Clinton’s new “Onward together” PAC. For the good of the country, both her and Senator Sanders need to fade off into the sunset. The extent to which either remains (or tries to insert themselves) in the forefront of national Democratic politics is really only good for the Republicans. As screwed up as the right is, the Democrats/left remain very divided and dysfunctional as well … and unlike the far right, who vote, the left has a history of reacting to Democratic divisions by staying home. In short, I’m as cynical about politics right now as I think I’ve ever been in my life.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  50. wr says:

    @Todd: “I’m almost to the point where I think it might be a worthwhile tradeoff to have Pence in the oval office”

    Nope. Gotta take Pence out too. No way he isn’t dirty by this point. And it’s got to wait until after the mid-terms. This nation can’t afford President Ryan — we need President Pelosi.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  51. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Todd:

    And I don’t disagree. I like the idea of her raising money – which she is very good at – but she needs to do and spend it quietly. She can still help the party, but not in front of a camera.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  52. Todd says:

    @wr: Not. Going. To. Happen. The best Democrats can hope for is a Republican other than Donald Trump in the oval office (for the sake of the nation. I don’t think we can take 3+ more years of this), then try to beat that person in 2020.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  53. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Robert c:

    Michael said it first. We don’t need to – and can’t – reach the loonies.

    The 2010 wave involved about an 11% shift in voting patterns / turnout. Ergo, we don’t need to convince the crazies. We just need to peel away enough of the persuadable to shift electoral dynamics in 2018. That is doable if the GOP doesn’t get its act together – and quickly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  54. Janis Gore says:

    @michael reynolds: HA!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  55. Scott says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Scallops were badly overcooked.

    Nearly spit my coffee. Thanks for the laugh. We need that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  56. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jen:

    Bernie considering a 2020 run. That’s insane, and he needs to stop that nonsense.

    He’d be a fool to even try. One of Clinton’s larger mistakes was not taking him out – decisively and completely and early – before he became a thing. If he’s dumb enough to run again in 2020, the other Democrats who’ll be running won’t make that same mistake. They’ll eviscerate him, and they’ll do it right out of the gate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  57. Todd says:

    @HarvardLaw92: lol, if I’m going to drop it, I respectfully request that you resist the urge in the future to dredge up this old argument as well. From my perspective, the Sanders “phenomena” only happened because Clinton so effectively “cleared the field” by dissuading other top tier Democrats such as Warren and Biden from entering the primary. That progressive cat is out of the bag now though … any 2020 “establishment” candidate trying to “take out” Sanders or whoever he endorses, risks replaying the same circular firing squad, enthusiasm killing scenario that at least contributed to Hillary Clinton’s general election loss.

    As bad the Republican’s problems are, I’m just not sure how the Democrats are going to be able to overcome their own significant divisions going forward.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  58. CSK says:

    No tweets from Trump for the past 18 hours. Do you suppose Ivanka took his phone away from him? Or that he’s been straitjacketed?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  59. Jen says:

    @Todd: @HarvardLaw92:

    I’m with Harvard on this one. I think that the one lesson of the 2016 race that both parties are going to take away is that handling opponents with gentleness in the primaries is no longer an option.

    We’re going to see very nasty primary fights in the future, I think. This is an incredibly depressing thought because it will turn more and more people off on politics, which will have the effect of the party loyalists (aka, the True Believers) picking the candidates. We’ll end up with more Cruz-and-Sanders types in the general election, who are too far right and left, respectively, for the general population.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  60. Janis Gore says:

    It might be worth watching this speech for the Coast Guard. Maybe he’s spent the evening working his response into that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  61. S. Fields says:

    Does anyone think the opportunity that may come from this debacle is genuine campaign reform?

    I think the most prevalent sentiment across the political spectrum in 2016 was resignation about the candidates we had to choose from. At what point does the country get wise to the fact that that is a predictable result from the way we run and finance political campaigns in the US?

    It’s likely far too much to hope for, but to my eyes, hating US elections is the only common ground I see on the political landscape at this time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  62. Neil Hudelson says:

    @panda: @Joe: @dmichael:

    While I don’t want to go too far out on a limb depending on Chaffetz, I think we are misreading what motivations he may have.

    Remember, not only is he retiring, he’s already set up a job at Fox.
    Chaffetz can see the writing on the wall–Trump is going down. It may be tomorrow, it may be next year, but it will happen.
    In any other year, Chaffetz would have to worry about a pro-Trump primary challenger. That’s a moot issue–he doesn’t need to win one single more vote.
    So now he gets to look at his place in history, and what all this means for his next job.
    If you were Chaffetz, would you:
    -Defy all logic and common sense, throwing yourself repeatedly on a sword to protect a President with whom you will no longer work in just a few days.

    Or.

    -Do you valiantly cross partisan lines to lead the take down of a corrupt POTUS, generating headlines in the process, and ensuring your name is in the final chapters of all the books that will be written about this?

    Like I said, I’m not betting my life on this scenario, but I see a lot reasons for Chaffetz to choose door # 2, very little reasons for him to take door #1.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  63. Todd says:

    @Jen: I might have shared this here before, but my “unrealistic” wish for American politics is that we are somehow able to find a way to have 3 parties in the future. The conservatives can have their tea party, and the left can have their progressive party, then we form a new centrist party called the DemPubs or Republicrats whose primary platform would be building consensus and brokering compromise. The biggest problem with our political discourse right now is that the ideological extremes (on both sides) have entirely too much influence on our electoral outcomes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  64. CSK says:

    Justin Amash has raised the possibility of impeachment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  65. Electroman says:

    @An Interested Party: That tattoo actually reads “невоспитанный”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  66. MarkedMan says:

    @Neil Hudelson: I admire your optimism but a) Chaffetz is going to Fox, otherwise known as Trump-Fluffer Central, and b) there is strong circumstantial evidence that Chaffetz’s mysterious trip to the White House to “bring Trump up to date” was done to deliberately launder information bought to Trump in violation of the law. So Chaffetz may have real personal reason to try to keep the Trump boat afloat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  67. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Electroman:

    Personally, I would go with “свойство”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  68. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Todd:

    It wasn’t an argument. I’m just telling you – point blank – what I have no doubt would happen should be choose to run.

    There is no right / wrong / judgment involved in that statement. I’m not espousing it, or even saying that it’s a good idea. I’m just saying that it would happen. For better or worse, the other candidates will absolutely gang up to attack him & drive him out of the race as quickly as possible. I suspect they’d use some of the same opposition material that the Republicans dug up, for two reasons:

    1) It’s easy, and;

    2) It makes them look moderate in comparison to Sanders

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  69. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    I just hope that events don’t happen so quickly that voters forget about it before November 2018. The nation needs the GOP to pay for their sins, not receive grace because “our long national nightmare is over” a year too soon.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  70. Todd says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I’m not disagreeing that what you describe would likely happen … I’m also not disagreeing that it would be terrible if Sanders (or Clinton) decided to run again in 2020. But I don’t think it’s “helpful” for either major segment on the Democratic side of the spectrum to be attacking each other … again, I’m not so naïve to think this won’t happen.

    My own personal views are much more in line with establishment type Democrats (as you are aware, I opposed Clinton for reasons other than policy), but I think it’s a bit of a tough sell to try to convince young progressives that in an alternative scenario Bernie Sanders would have been beaten … given the fact that the establishment candidate actually did lose. Because of this, I think in the next primary, it may end up being establishment type figures that have more of an uphill battle than whoever the progressives decide to rally around (Tulsi Gabbard maybe?).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  71. Jen says:

    @Todd: In an ideal world something like that would be lovely.

    Unfortunately, our system has evolved to reinforce the two party system, and not all for bad. In the situation in which you outline, that “middle way” party would consistently need to get to 50+%. It can’t do that without drawing voters from one side or another, which means it would have to make a judgment call on which direction to tilt, thus negating the premise.

    It would have to do this to win elections, rather than perpetually act as a simple spoiler.* I think I’ve mentioned the Maine Problem here before. The reason that nutcase they have as governor got elected was because the vote was split 5 ways in his first election, and either 3 or 4 ways when he was reelected. I’d hate for a third party to consistently put Republicans in office, but history bears out that they are loyal to an almost insane degree. We aren’t set up in a way that allows for coalition governing. When I was a poli sci major, I thought our system was superior to parliamentary systems. I’m far less certain of that now, which is one of the benefits of maturing I suppose. You realize things aren’t as simple and clear-cut in the real world as they seemed when you were learning about them.

    * I am speaking here on a national scale given the permanence of the electoral college. Obviously, in states like Maine, Vermont, and others, independent candidates have run for and won statewide office.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  72. Todd says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:

    I just hope that events don’t happen so quickly that voters forget about it before November 2018

    Here’s a sobering thought: The story about Trump’s “grab em by the pu$$y” remark came out almost exactly ONE month before election day. That’s how short American voter’s memories are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  73. Janis Gore says:

    And here he goes. Campaign speech in address to graduates. Treating it like a rally.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  74. Todd says:

    @Jen:

    We aren’t set up in a way that allows for coalition governing. When I was a poli sci major, I thought our system was superior to parliamentary systems. I’m far less certain of that now, which is one of the benefits of maturing I suppose. You realize things aren’t as simple and clear-cut in the real world as they seemed when you were learning about them.

    I understand and agree. Even for something like my idea to work, the way we vote would likely have to be changed … which means the constitution would probably have to be amended … and if we’re going to do that, we might as well just take it all the way to a parliamentary system of government. Since most people in this country seem to give the President outsized credit or blame for everything that happens anyway, we might as well have a system where he/she actually has the power to implement an agenda that might influence the outcomes for which that credit/blame will be attached.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  75. S. Fields says:

    @Todd:

    I can’t think of a time that’s been more ripe for such a change to the way we vote. I believe a broad swath of the population would get behind such an effort if it were sold as a way out of our current political morass.

    The problem is finding someone – or a even small group – to champion such a constitutional change. The environment is so poisonously polarized that I can’t think of anyone who might wield some influence who also be widely seen as neutral.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  76. Jeremy says:

    @S. Fields: I don’t know about financing, but I do think we need to actually change the voting system itself. No more plurality. Time for Approval Voting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  77. Ed says:

    Fake news. “I hope you can let this go,” does not equal “President Trump asked former F.B.I. Director James Comey to drop the investigation of former National Security Adviser Lt. General Michael Flynn and his ties to Russia”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 11

  78. Mikey says:

    @Ed: Oh, please, spare us this horseshit. Everybody knows what “let this go” means. Stop trying to pretend Trump was asking Comey to do anything besides what he was obviously asking Comey to do.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  79. charon says:

    @MarkedMan:

    a) Chaffetz is going to Fox, otherwise known as Trump-Fluffer Central, and

    Fox is also a businees, so maybe will need to continuously answer the question do they want to look progressively more ridiculous by staying in the tank for Trump and thus pandering to a shrinking niche market?

    Read more: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/donald-trump-reportedly-asked-comey-to-shut-down-f-b-i-investigation-of-michael-flynn/#ixzz4hMUxRg1v

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  80. michael reynolds says:

    @Ed:
    Every five minutes Trump has a different story, and every five minutes clowns like you defend him only to have to pull a mid-air somersault and defend a completely different story.

    No one, but no one, doubts this story. In fact, we will within weeks have confirmation. I know it, the White House knows it, Congress knows it, and only the truly brainwashed Foxbots remain clueless.

    You may be a paid mouthpiece, or you may just be not very bright, but really those are your only two choices: paid liar or sucker-for-free.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  81. Kylopod says:

    @Todd:

    Even for something like my idea to work, the way we vote would likely have to be changed … which means the constitution would probably have to be amended

    I’m not so sure. The biggest structural factor that keeps our rigid two-party system firmly lodged in place is the winner-take-all nature of elections for Congress and the Electoral College. It would not require a constitutional amendment to move to a system of proportional representation for either House or presidential elections (though that wouldn’t be possible for the Senate, the one thing the Constitution prohibits from being amended away).

    Still, it’s important to keep in mind that none of this is likely to occur without an overwhelming desire for it from the American public. Americans may complain about the parties, but at the end of the day they still support them. It’s striking that in an election between the two most unpopular candidates in history, 94% of the electorate voted for one of the two. The situation is what political scientists call negative partisanship–basically, people may not care for their own party, but they sure as hell hate the other party, and in our system it’s a zero-sum game so that the only effective way to stop one is by voting for the other. So we’re trapped in the system we have, because the only way out of it is to make radical structural changes that aren’t going to happen unless people move out of the very mindset that the system has cemented in place. It’s a Catch-22 in a country that already has a strong bias toward maintaining the status quo.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  82. Tyrell says:

    @CSK: I@Todd: Around here support for Trump remains high, maybe even more in the last few weeks: more Trump yard and car flags are popping up. I was at a get together during Easter; talk there was of total disapproval and disdain of the main news media. A couple of churches have “Support the President” on their signs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  83. Jen says:

    @Kylopod: Can you expand on these two items?

    “though that wouldn’t be possible for the Senate, the one thing the Constitution prohibits from being amended away).”

    — I really don’t understand what you mean here, as the way I’m reading this means you believe the Constitution prohibits any amendments regarding the Senate. That is clearly incorrect because the 17th amendment changed the way in which we elect the Senate, so what are you referring to?

    It’s striking that in an election between the two most unpopular candidates in history, 94% of the electorate voted for one of the two.

    I’m guessing you mean 94% of those who voted, rather than 94% of the electorate, which is all eligible voters. Turnout was around 58% of the electorate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  84. the Q says:

    Yes, getting rid of Bernie early would have insured a bigger loss as Hillary would have been unfettered to support the TPP, NOT reinstating Glass Steagall, going all in on a minimum wage of $9.00, stumping for Syrian engagement, not being against the Keystone pipeline…WAKE UP, some of you mimic the Trump head in the sand supporters – you are completely divorced from reality.

    We ran the least liked, most unpopular, distrusted candidate in Dem history and some of you, like Claude Reins, are shocked, shocked that she lost to a madman?

    The first step in Dem neo lib recovery is to stop being in denial. Harbarf Law that means you. You need to attend some DSOC meetings and get over your constant bullshcite about Bernie. Listening to geniuses like you has lost us 2/3 of state legislatures, 33-16 deficit in state governorships, the house, the senate, the oval office and the supreme court. What part of “We are getting waxed electorally” don’t you get?

    Waiting for totally irrelevant garbage response from HL92 the original Hillary slurper in 5…4…3…2

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 9

  85. Kylopod says:

    @Jen:

    I really don’t understand what you mean here, as the way I’m reading this means you believe the Constitution prohibits any amendments regarding the Senate.

    Sorry. I was referring to the statement in Article V of the Constitution that Congress may propose amendments provided that “no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate”–which makes it essentially impossible to pass an amendment turning the Senate into a proportionally representative body.

    I’m guessing you mean 94% of those who voted.

    Yeah, that’s what I meant.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  86. george says:

    @Todd:

    That’s the question. At which point is it more dangerous to have a crazy but lazy, non-ideological narcissist in charge than a sane, hard working, motivated ideologue? Right now I’d say I’d still rather have the lazy narcissist than the motivated ideologue, but at a certain value of crazy that switches. Not sure we’re there yet – and if the Dems can win back the Senate in 2018 then much of Trump’s madness can be limit. Pence would be much harder to limit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  87. charon says:

    @george:

    Right now I’d say I’d still rather have the lazy narcissist than the motivated ideologue, but at a certain value of crazy that switches.

    Whether you call it “narcissistic spiraling” or “decompensating” or whatever, Trump’s behavior is sure to continue to worsen, given his mental issues, just as it is currently doing.

    Read more: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/donald-trump-reportedly-asked-comey-to-shut-down-f-b-i-investigation-of-michael-flynn/#ixzz4hNN1BUjc

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  88. Mikey says:

    Deputy AG just appointed a special counsel to take over the Trump-Russia investigation.

    It’s former FBI Director Robert Mueller.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  89. al-Alameda says:

    @wr:

    Nope. Gotta take Pence out too. No way he isn’t dirty by this point. And it’s got to wait until after the mid-terms. This nation can’t afford President Ryan — we need President Pelosi.

    Give Conservative Media about 5 minutes and they’ll have base Republican voters hating Nancy Pelosi more than they hate Hillary Clinton. They’ll be opening investigations into Pelosi’s ties with Russian financiers and her private email servers, etc, etc, etc.

    Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg has a better chance of becoming president than Nancy (OMG! San Francisco liberal!) Pelosi.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  90. Todd says:

    @george:

    At which point is it more dangerous to have a crazy but lazy, non-ideological narcissist in charge than a sane, hard working, motivated ideologue?

    We are already past that point (IMO). Trump in the oval office is bad for the country (period, full stop). Political considerations aside, there’s just no good enough reason for anybody who is not a supporter of his to hope that he stays. If it was already June of 2018, then maybe. But even then, I think it’s just too dangerous to have somebody that reckless running the country.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  91. Tyrell says:

    @al-Alameda: “San Francisco liberal”: yes, you got that right.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  92. wr says:

    @al-Alameda: I don’t mean Pelosi would be elected. She’s in her 80s, for heaven’s sake, and would be a terrible candidate. But if Trump and Pence both go the Speaker is next in line of succession. And if the Democrats hold the House, it’s President Nancy…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  93. wr says:

    @Tyrell: Um, yes. Because she is a liberal and she represents San Francisco. What’s your point?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0