Comey Unloads On President Trump, Guarantees That Russia Investigation Will Expand
James Comey's testimony today wasn't the end of the Russia investigation. Indeed, we are only at the beginning of the beginning, and it's likely to get worse for the President before it gets better.
Former F.B.I. Director James Comey appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee this morning and, as the opening statement released yesterday made clear that he would, laid out in detail his conversations with President Trump regarding the Russia investigation in a hearing that is likely to reverberate for some time to come:
WASHINGTON — James B. Comey, the recently fired F.B.I. director, said Thursday in an extraordinary Senate hearing that he believed that President Trump had clearly tried to derail an F.B.I. investigation into his former national security adviser and that the president had lied and defamed him.
Mr. Comey, no longer constrained by the formalities of a government job, offered a blunt, plain-spoken assessment of a president whose conversations unnerved him from the day they met, weeks before Mr. Trump took office. His testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee provided an unflattering back story to his abrupt dismissal and squarely raised the question of whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct justice.
Answering that falls to the Justice Department special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. Mr. Comey revealed that he gave all of the memos he wrote on his interactions with the president to Mr. Mueller’s investigators, the first suggestion that prosecutors would investigate Mr. Comey’s firing last month.
Republicans who came to Mr. Trump’s defense argued that he had been making a suggestion, not ordering Mr. Comey to drop the investigation into the former adviser, Michael T. Flynn. Mr. Comey demurred on whether the president’s actions had amounted to a felony, but said the intent was clear: “I took it as a direction.” If Mr. Trump had had his way, Mr. Comey said, “We would have dropped an open criminal investigation.”
In the month since he fired Mr. Comey, Mr. Trump has faced a crush of damaging news stories about the nature of their private conversations. During his testimony on Thursday, Mr. Comey revealed that he had helped feed that coverage.
Two days after Mr. Comey was ousted, The New York Times reported that Mr. Trump had asked him to pledge loyalty to him. The president then tweeted that Mr. Comey had “better hope that there are no ‘tapes'” of their meetings.
That post inspired Mr. Comey, who responded by allowing a friend to read portions of a memo about his interactions with the president to The Times. Mr. Comey said Thursday that he had hoped to spur the appointment of a special counsel. He succeeded. A day after The Times revealed the contents of that memo, which described the conversation about Mr. Flynn, the Justice Department appointed Mr. Mueller to take over the investigation.
The White House has not commented on whether recordings exist. But Mr. Comey repeatedly baited Mr. Trump to produce them if they did. “Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” he said at the hearing. He added: “The president surely knows if there are tapes. If there are, my feelings aren’t hurt. Release the tapes.”
Mr. Trump has offered a changing explanation for why Mr. Comey was fired. The original justification was Mr. Comey’s controversial handling of last year’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. The White House said that Mr. Comey had lost the support of his agents and that the F.B.I. was in disarray.
“Those were lies, plain and simple,” Mr. Comey said Thursday. Mr. Comey said the president had defamed him, an apparent reference to Mr. Trump’s calling him a “nut job” in a private meeting with Russian diplomats.
Mr. Trump ultimately acknowledged that he was thinking about the Russia investigation when he fired Mr. Comey.
Mr. Comey confirmed that Mr. Trump had not been personally under investigation but said agents would certainly review his activities as part of a broad investigation into possible collusion between Russian operatives and Trump campaign officials. As F.B.I. director, he assured Mr. Trump several times that he was not under investigation.
In a statement after the hearing, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, portrayed Mr. Comey as a leaker who had tried to undermine the Trump administration. He said Mr. Trump had never sought a loyalty pledge from Mr. Comey. And he flatly denied that the president had tried to end he Flynn investigation.
“The president never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone,” Mr. Kasowitz said.
Matt Zapotosky at The Washington Post contends that Comey laid out facts that essentially make out a case that the President sought to obstruct justice in connection with the Flynn investigation:
Former FBI director James B. Comey on Thursday essentially laid out an obstruction of justice case against President Trump and suggested senior leaders in the bureau might have actually contemplated the matter before Trump removed him as director.
Comey did not explicitly draw any legal conclusions. Whether justice was obstructed, he said, was a question for recently appointed special counsel Robert Mueller. But he said Trump’s request to terminate the FBI’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn left him “stunned,” and senior FBI officials considered it to be of “investigative interest.”
Of particular concern, Comey said, was that Trump asked other officials to leave him alone with his FBI director in the Oval Office before saying of Flynn: “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
“Why did he kick everybody out of the Oval Office?” Comey said. “That, to me as an investigator, is a very significant fact.”
Legal analysts have said previously that there was reason to believe Trump might have obstructed justice — both in asking him to shut down the probe into Flynn and then, later, in firing Comey. Comey’s testimony, they said Thursday, clarified and bolstered the case.
Comey testified that he was skeptical of Trump almost from the outset, and he decided to document their interactions because he was “concerned [Trump] might lie about the nature of our meeting.”
His concerns were realized almost immediately. In a meeting just after Trump took office, Comey said, Trump brought up his job as FBI director and asked for loyalty. Comey said he felt Trump was “looking to get something in exchange for granting my request to stay in the job.” The FBI director is generally appointed to a 10-year term to avoid political influence.
The next month, after a counterterrorism briefing, Comey testified that Trump asked him to stay for a one-on-one conversation. He said both Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Trump’s son-in-law and close adviser Jared Kushner lingered behind — in Comey’s view, because they were leery of what might happen next.
When they left, Comey said, Trump said he hoped Comey would shut down an investigation of Flynn. At the time, Comey said, Flynn was “in legal jeopardy,” as agents were investigating him for his contacts with Russians and “whether there were false statements made to government investigators.”
Comey said — as he did in written testimony — that the president had not asked him to shut down the broader probe of possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election. But he said the request on Flynn was nonetheless “very disturbing” and other officials in the bureau were “as shocked and troubled by it as I was.”
Comey allowed, under questioning from Sen. James E. Risch (R-Idaho), that Trump did not outright give him an order.
“He did not direct you to let it go?” Risch asked.
“Not in his words, no,” Comey said.
But Comey later said he took the president’s assertion as akin to a command.
“I took it as a direction,” Comey said. “This is the president of the United States, with me alone, saying ‘I hope this.'”
Comey also noted that he was fired — by the president’s own account — because of the Russia investigation.4
If you were looking for a hearing that would bring the Trump Presidency to a quick end, then this hearing was probably disappointing. As Zapotosky notes in his piece, the facts as related by Comey do seem to relate a case of at least attempted obstruction of justice by the President of the United States, a serious charge that warrants further investigation going forward by both special counsel Robert Mueller and the relevant Congressional Committees. Throughout his testimony, Comey came across as a credible, reliable witness who was testifying truthfully about the conversations he had with the President of the United States, conversations that stretch back to when Trump was still just President-Elect. It was in a conversation in New York at that time that Trump first asked Comey for a pledge of loyalty that, at least in some sense, Comey took to be some kind of requirement on Trump’s part for his agreeing to keep Comey on as F.B.I. Director. Comey, of course, declined to make such a pledge and it was immediately after that meeting that Comey began his practice of memorializing his conversations with the President due to the fact that he was concerned that the incoming President would lie abut the coming of their Presidents. Comey made clear that his interactions with Trump made it clear to him that he could not trust the President, and emphasized that of the three Presidents he has worked with, which have included all three of the men who have been President since 2001, Trump is the only one he believed he could not trust and the only one he met or spoke with on more than a handful of occasions. It also explains why Comey told Attorney General Sessions that he did not want to be alone with the President in the future.
In his testimony, Trump contradicted public claims that the President has made on a number of points regarding both the nature of their conversations and the Russia investigation itself. First of all, Trump has claimed he never asked Comey for his loyalty. As noted, Comey says that this was among the first things that they discussed in their first meeting in early January and that he told the President that he will always be honest with the President. Trump has also claimed that he never asked Comey to take any action regarding the investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn while Comey says that this was the subject of their third meeting, which took place in the Oval Office the day after Flynn had been fired after Trump had asked everyone else in the room to leave so he could speak to Comey alone, an act which suggests that Trump had at least some knowledge that what he wanted to discuss was improper or at least should not be shared with others. Finally, Trump claimed in interviews that it was Comey who asked to have dinner with the President in late January after the Inauguration. Comey said that it was the President who invited him and that it was during this meeting that Trump again brought up the issue of a loyalty pledge as if he were probing Comey for some clue as to what was happening with the Russia investigation. Added together, and taking into account the fact that there’s nothing that’s been made public so far that calls Comey’s honesty into question, that’s at least three instances where the President has told a lie regarding his interactions with Comey.
On top of all of this, of course, is the fact that Comey was ultimately fired. From the context of his conversations, it seems clear that his refusal to pledge loyalty to the President, the fact that he didn’t back off the investigation of Michael Flynn, and the ongoing Russia investigation were the primary motivations for that decision rather than the rationale that was initially claimed by the Administration. All of this fits into what we already knew, of course. Shortly after Comey was fired, it was reported that the President had become frustrated with the Russia investigation in the weeks before Comey was fired, something that Trump himself later confirmed. Then, we learned that the President 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, and that he had referred to Comey as a “nut job” and remarked that the Russia investigation was hampering his Administration. 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. Taken together, this seems to clearly make out a case that the President was trying to interfere improperly in the Russia investigation.
Where all this leads is anyone’s guess, but this is hardly the end of things. If anything, it seems likely that Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference and contact between Trump officials and the Russian government will be expanded, possibly to even include the motivations behind the President’s decision to fire Comey and his efforts to get Comey to “back off” the investigation of Michael Flynn. The Congressional investigations are likely to expand into these areas as well in both the House and the Senate. So, instead of bringing the investigation to a halt, or slowing it down, it seems clear that Trump’s actions have only guaranteed that they will expand and that they will be hanging over his Administration for some time to come.
If you missed Comey’s testimony, you can watch it here:
If this was a crime tv show? The episode after this is when people start getting “wacked”
The saddest thing to come out of this, saddest for our country anyway, is that not a single Republican showed the least recognition of the seriousness of this testimony. Rather, to a one they treated as a political game.
The question that hangs over all of this is simple:
We know for a fact that Russia used illegal means to interfere in our election. Why isn’t Trump doing anything about it?
There is only one logical answer: because Trump colluded, and Trump is in Putin’s pocket.
From the start Trump’s behavior has been 0% consistent with innocence, 100% consistent with guilt. There is no other explanation that even comes close to explaining the evidence and his actions. It is undeniable to any rational, open mind.
Trump is owned by Putin. The White House is under the control of the Kremlin.
Republicans still defending Trump are defending treason.
The re is one republican that does recognize the seriousness of this.: Trump sent out his personal attorney rather than use a government official or speak to the country directly. His personal attorney. Think about that.
Not just his administration, but also the Republican Congress.
I’d agree that there wasn’t a lot of new information that surfaced. I think the comments he made about his belief that Sessions would soon recuse himself due to some unspoken intelligence was eyebrow raising. But, mostly, I was kind of surprised in a world of political speak that Comey just came right out and said that Trump is a liar and he felt uncomfortable about being near him.
I think Comey didn’t want to go down in history as the guy who brought down 2 Presidents.
Hillary was the first he interfered with. And he very well could have brought down Trump with,
“yes I do believe he obstructed justice”.
He knows Mueller will tighten the noose.
Not surprising. The White House Counsel advises the office of the Presidency. It does not act as an attorney for the president in a personal sense, and as such, attorney-client privilege does not exist with respect to counsel for strictly personal matters. It’s also non-existent with respect to counsel regarding congressional proceedings against the president (as a person) due to allegations of misconduct while in office.
Believe me, the last person any president in this situation would want going out to make official statements – which are almost certainly lies – is the WHC.
And I think he knows that obstruction is small beer compared to the underlying crimes.
In the end this will be all about money, not politics. I believe Trump got into a financial bind as western banks started refusing to do business with him. Someone – possibly when he was allowing his casino to launder money – showed Trump a way to keep his desperately-needed cash flowing.
What a crowning achievement for the KGB/GRU/FSB. They hooked him with cash, filmed him with sex workers, all the while assuming he’d just be of use for laundering Russian mob money. They ended up owning a president and doing unbelievable damage to the United States, damage we may never be able to repair.
And Republicans applaud.
Unfortunately the revelation that Comey leaked that memo will blunt the impact of this. Comey is a self-confessed leaker–that’s all the Trump fanatics will need to hear to dismiss everything else. Damn it.
@Just Another Ex-Republican: It doesn’t matter what they think. The most important takeaway from this is that Comey laid out the case for obstruction of justice under oath.
He loaded the gun and handed it over to Mueller.
Republicans are all about splitting the semantic hair of “hope” vs. “order.” This is, of course, horseshit.
We’re talking about the goddamn President of the United States here, in the context of a meeting when he booted everyone else–including Comey’s direct boss, AG Sessions–out of the room. ANYONE in that situation would know EXACTLY what “I hope” meant.
Trumpists have made a big deal of saying “don’t listen to what Trump says, listen to what he means.” Until now, of course, when his exact words are of paramount importance, while what he clearly and plainly meant is irrelevant.
All of this Congressional hearing stuff is just window dressing … gives people something to argue about on twitter. The real show is happening out of the public’s eye.
While President Trump may be able to resist releasing his tax information to the public and the press, it’s not unreasonable to imagine that the FBI/Special Counsel is examining his company’s business connections as they relate to foreign entities … and saying he’s under audit will not be able to deter those questions.
If there’s any “there” there (and I’m not in the prediction business), we will all know one way or another eventually … but likely later, rather than sooner.
Considering where we are in this, I found most of the Republican questions to be pretty focused. They weren’t exactly storming the ramparts on Trump’s behalf. They’re giving lip service to his defense, focusing on trivia. A vigorous defense would be accusing Comey of lying, etc. It’s almost like repeatedly kicking your own party in the groin has consequences.
It wasn’t the slam dunk anti-Trumpers were hoping for but it was bad for Trump. And now I’m very curious as to what came out about Sessions.
And of course the fact that he’s being audited in no way prevents him from releasing his tax returns.
I’m sure you are right on the legal merits. But this has really bad optics. Trump didn’t speak to the American people. And I would guess he couldn’t find anyone credible who was willing to speak for him. So he sent his personal lawyer out. In my book, this is his “I am not a crook” moment.
@Just Another Ex-Republican:
James Comey didn’t leak his memos in hopes of influencing Trump voters. He said right in his testimony today that that he made the memos public in hopes that it would make appointment of a special counsel unavoidable. Mission accomplished.
I personally think President Trump will likely stay in office longer than some people (especially Democrats) imagine/hope. But I also think that the appointment of Special Counsel Mueller is very likely (if not almost certainly) the beginning of the end of Donald Trump’s Presidency.
One thing I was struck by was how much the appearance of integrity matters to Comey. It seems like there were two events in the last year that bothered him — Clinton’s tarmac meeting with Lynch and his own meeting with Trump. In both cases, he felt like it gave the appearance of backdoor deals if nothing else.
He picked the one person who can’t be subjected to a later subpoena regarding what he knows about these matters. That having been said, yes, the optics are terrible. It would have been better to have said nothing at all.
Anything Trump said directly today would be on the record; anybody else would be opening themselves up to a world of expensive legal problems by just opening their mouths on this issue. Kasowitz is as crooked as they come, and the odor surrounding him reaches to Heaven, but he’s not stupid. Know what I mean?.
@HarvardLaw92: yep. I think you have it right. My point wasn’t that Trump should have sent anyone else. As you point out, he almost certainly felt he couldn’t send anyone else, because he had no one else to send.
Can adult children be either compelled or convinced to testify against a parent?
We now know Bill lost the election for Hillary by meeting Lynch on that tarmac.
We know Lynch told Comey to call the investigation of Hillary a “matter.”
We know the collusion story is nothing.
We know the media flat out lied when they said Comey would testify that Trump was under investigation.
We know nothing the Russians did changed to vote totals, so Hillary still lost.
We know Comey, likely illegally, leaked his memos.
We know that Comey told Trump three times that he was not under investigation.
We also know Trump asked Comey to let the Flynn thing go, and that he didn’t order him to do anything.
And if you listen to Alan Dershowitz, you also know that Trump could have ordered Comey to stop the investigation and still not been guilty of a crime.
Trump could very easily pardon Flynn, Sessions, and everyone in his administration for any crimes they have committed relating to Russia, and guess what…. It wouldn’t be obstruction of justice.
Michael, I respect your opinion, but there is one other likely answer that fits here: EGO.
For POTUS Trump to admit that the Russians were involved in the outcome of the election, it would require him to admit that it was not through his own greatness that he arose to the throne.
As a thought like that would be impossible for POTUS Trump, then as a result Russian interference is impossible as well. QED.
For the rest of us, this becomes a point of deviation of realities, with blind loyalty required from those who choose to follow the Trump Trajectory.
I fear for our democratic republic.
@Liberal Capitalist: what did Obama do about Russians! ?
Pre election is was all about how the election can’t be hacked.
Besides, according to Comey whatever Russian interference there was didn’t affect any vote totals.
@Liberal Capitalist: I agree with you that it’s more about Trump’s EGO than anything else.
I still don’t believe that Trump was actively colluding with the Russians. I fully believe that the Russians own Trump financially. I don’t think Putin and crew actually expected Trump to win. I think they were just trying to weaken Hillary as much as possible.
So basically stuff went better than Putin dared to dream of.
Trump has shown an affinity for strongmen/dictators and Putin is just one of many.
Yeah, that’s a good question. Obama knew about it. It all happened on his watch. Why didn’t he do anything? Clearly a treasonous Putin toady.
And of course, speaking of obstruction, also under Obama:
“I wanted to know was she (Lynch) going to authorize us to confirm we have an investigation. She said yes, don’t call it that, call it a matter. I said why would I do that? She said, just call it a matter. You look back in hindsight, if I looked back and said this isn’t a hill worth dying on so I just said the press is going to completely ignore it. That’s what happened when I said we opened a matter. It made me feel queasy.”
You’ve got nothing. Absolutely nothing.
@TM01: Not sure why I’m feeding the trolls, but I’m bored, so I’ll comment on your post.
1) Quite possible. Bill Clinton’s inexplicable meeting with Loretta Lynch on that airplane probably did set in motion events (the FBI announcements in July and Oct) that negatively affected Hillary Clinton’s election chances.
2) If we believe James Comey, this appears to be a fact.
3) Whether or not there was collusion seems like something that would be more accurately described as something that we don’t know … yet.
4) I never saw these news reports???
5) We haven’t seen any direct evidence that the Russians changed vote totals. That’s not exactly the same thing as saying we know they didn’t. I say we give you the benefit of the doubt on this one … or at least I will … since there are a lot of other reasons Clinton lost.
6) This one is laughable. I don’t know what brain surgeon in right wing media (oh wait, it was Trump’s lawyer) decided to start spreading the idea that Comey sharing his own memos could possibly be illegal … but it seems a whole lot of you have latched onto it.
7) Another fact, straight from Director Comey’s mouth … the operative part of that sentence might be “was not” though. Just sayin’
8) Personally, I think the President asking Comey to back off the Flynn investigation will not end up being a terribly big deal in the end. Obstruction of Justice, especially by a President is something that’s not likely motivate the Republican House to draft articles of impeachment. However, the incident does seem to have had some bearing on Special Counsel Mueller’s appointment … and what he finds (if it’s something so compelling Republicans can’t ignore it) during the course of his investigation may very end up being Trump’s eventual undoing.
The focus pre-election was on voting machines and the counting process. Trivial stuff, to ensure another Florida Brooks Brothers Riot would not need to happen
However shaping opinions is an entirely different hacking method. “Bots” that would engage on comment pages could promote positions.
While individuals express opinions here, that is one person with one perspective, automated methods can continue non-stop, 24 hours a day sowing unrest.
How Russian Twitter Bots Pumped Out Fake News During The 2016 Election
Then again, I remember one person really welcomes that unrest: Who was it that said…
I love Wikileaks!
@Liberal Capitalist: shaping opinion is hacking now.
what the hell do you think the media does every day?
From either side.
I said this in another thread: “Awfully nice job you have there, Mr. Comey. Shame if something happened to it.”
We all know this patter as the calling card of a cheap protection racket. But there’s a reason the racketeer uses this language. Examined out of context, there is nothing menacing about the words of the sentence. It’s intended to read like a statement of genuine concern. It is entirely deniable if repeated back to the authorities – that’s the point. The President of the United States is using the patter of a cheap shake down artist (and just let that soak in) and now all the Republicans are playing the role of his cheap lawyer. “He just “hoped,” ya’Honor. Hope is a good thing, right?”
Got it TM, you’re cool with Russian bots kicking up fake stories to make their outcomes reality
You and a whole lot of others Conservatives.
Enjoy the Trump Trajectory. History has shown his loyalist end up under the bus
It depends on the jurisdiction. Some nine states recognize some degree of parent/child privilege, either statutory or judicial. New York is one of them. Federal law doesn’t recognize it – every appellate circuit which has been faced with the question of its existence has answered it in the negative.
@TM01: It has always been classified under hacking as social engineering. A lot of the old school hacking was social engineering to get information or access. It’s still used today as sometimes the weakest link in security is the person answering the phone or door.
What the Russians have been doing with social media for the last decade or two is substantially different from what you call the media. Although I have noticed with the rise of facebook that some right wing “media” outlets have begun using similar techniques as those used by the Russians.
@michael reynolds: To be fair, because Trump doesn’t care that the Russians took illegal actions that may have helped him win also works as a logical explanation.
I tried to play Senator whazzizname from Idaho’s (?) “what do the words literally mean” game and couldn’t come up with a single instance of a situation where when my boss “wished” something would happen where it didn’t mean that to not create the wished outcome would result in negative consequences for my employment. And I, too, have been terminated for not being able to create the situation my boss wished for.
Meanwhile in DC, they are trying to figure out if it was a terrorist attack in Adams Morgan Thursday night…
Given that Mueller was Comey’s predecessor as head of the FBI, Congressional Republicans might want to tread carefully before launching too many attacks on Comey and, by extension, the FBI.
@JKB: The herring, it is red.
Some good lawyer needs to put this “leaker” business in legal context for everyone. This is a main talking point. (Hint, y’all.)
It’s not just that he isn’t doing anything about it…we now know he has been trying to REWARD them for it since immediately after taking office. One of the very first things he did was try to lift sanctions, and asked for nothing (for the US) in return.
Daily I cannot help think about Benghazi and the 11 investigations and how supine the Republicans are over this.
Supporting this guy makes you an enemy of democracy. Period.
Please provide a link that proves this to be true.
If you cannot…well…if your opinion is based on BS then your opinion is, by definition, BS..
The man is mentally unstable.
@Daryl’s other brother Darryl: He’s just doing the thing where if you say something enough, it becomes the truth to his followers.
@JKB: I think everyone here immediately saw your pathetic post as a deflection. There’s obviously no defense of your man.
how many times do you strike out before you realize you just suck? it should be over, but the haters can’t stand losing all the time so they’ll be back with even lamer allegations.
1) trump didn’t order comey to stop any investigation- although he could have.
2) no justice was obstructed
3) comey’s just a bad bureaucrat at the end of the day, and personally leaked info to the nyt…how pathetic.
4) “the russians” couldn’t mess with our elections, even if they tried. and trump didn’t collude with them about it.
but i guess we were right about the dreaded “tarmac” incident between lynch and billary.
@Janis Gore: Steve Vladek writes that the leak does not violate executive privilege:
No…he said he hoped he would…and when he didn’t he fired him.
You are a pathetic lickspittle.
Keep riding that tugboat all the way down to the sea floor.
@Daryl’s other brother Darryl: and then he bragged to Lester Holt about what he had done. Trump clearly knows what it means when the boss says ” I hope….”, I only assume his most enthusiastic followers cannot figure it out because they are not employable. Their idol even demonstrated for them and they still don’t get it.
And, of course, to the Russians.
Right. So in your mind Comey is completely believable and a total liar. Simultaneously.
Trump is a criminal. He operates a criminal syndicate. He launders money. He’s owned by Putin. He’s a traitor. You know it, I know it, foreign intelligence agencies know it, the intelligence committees know it, everyone including Trump and his reptile family know it. Even you know it.
Let’s see who turns out to be right.
@Daryl’s other brother Darryl:
I’m not so sure if he bragged to the Russians about it as much as he reported it to them hoping for their approval.
@Daryl’s other brother Darryl: What this reminds me most of is a particular moment involving America’s ultimate proto-Trump: Sarah Palin.
In 2008, a report found her guilty of ethics violations while governor of Alaska. Right after the report was released she claimed she had been “cleared of any legal wrongdoing…any hint of any kind of unethical activity,” and she kept repeating this statement even as a reporter explained to her that the report had said no such thing, even quoting the relevant section that described her, in plain and unambiguous language, as guilty.
In one of my earliest appearances here at OTB back in 2010, I got into an argument over this matter with a Palin fan, who I tried to get to admit that, regardless of the merits of the report, she at least had lied about what the report said. This fan refused to admit even that. (The entire conversation can be read here, but I warn you it is lengthy and I go heavily into the weeds with this guy, something I would not do today.) I found the entire conversation deeply bizarre, as it was a testament to the power of cultish devotion, like that scene from 1984 where the interrogator gets Winston Smith to believe he’s holding up a different number of fingers than he actually is. Palin and Trump both make a habit of telling lies so blatant that sometimes the truth is literally right in front of their faces, and you have to disbelieve the evidence of your eyes and ears to maintain the delusion that they’re somehow being honest–and yet, a substantial number of people manage to do just that.
Some people are so devoted to their dear leader they’d see a red sky if that leader insisted that was the sky’s true color. The rise of figures like Trump and Palin would be impossible if there weren’t hefty chunks of the populace capable of this level of delusion.
I find it amusing that a number of Trump supporters seem to believe that this hearing concluded things.
It did not–Comey’s testimony really is just the beginning. There are two parallel tracks here, the Senate inquiry and the special counsel. The Senate inquiry is focused on the Russian interference in the election, which has been demonstrated repeatedly, the only real outstanding question is whether any Trump campaign operatives knew about and/or assisted with the interference (aka, collusion).
The fact that Trump himself was not under investigation during Comey’s tenure does not mean he will not ever be–this is what Comey tried to convey to him when he noted that IF he (Comey) said publicly that Trump was not under investigation and that later changed, he (Comey) would then have a duty to correct. In other words, making a public statement has consequences.
Trump supporters also need to get a grip on the whole “HE LEAKED” nonsense. Releasing one’s own notes that are NOT classified is not the same as leaking classified intel. You know, like telling the Russians about Israeli intel. I believe I’ve said it before here: the number one thing Trump can do to reduce the number of (non-classified but embarrassing) leaks is to stop being such a jerk to his own staff. Being a good boss means supporting your staff.
On that note, I got the distinct impression that Comey hung Sessions out to dry several times yesterday. Sessions did not act as a good boss–it was his responsibility to corral Trump when Trump (repeatedly) directly contacted Comey, which is a serious breach of long-standing protocols–which are long-standing for a reason.
@Kylopod: in that vein, this focus group of Ohio Trump voters on CNN last night was surreal.
Visit a place like Lucianne.com. The consensus appears to be that Comey lied shamelessly, Trump was totally vindicated, and that Trump is, moreover, a paragon of honesty.
Comey lied…and he completely vindicated Dumb Don.
Those two things are not logically consistent.
@Janis Gore: And here is Steve Vladek again on why the use of the memo was not illegal in the context of being government property:
One of Trump’s sycophants would have known exactly what he meant by “I hope you can let this go.” You forget. There were 15 seasons of The Apprentice.
Well, it might be a little too early to say that. Jumping right to “no obstruction of justice” is as goofy as jumping to “obstruction!” But don’t let that stop you…
This is just post ex facto sour grapes. Trump loved Comey when he was investigating Clinton’s e-mails. Loved him enough to ask for his loyalty. But now he’s a “bad bureacrat?” You must think we’re stupid.
They tried, and Trump invited them to. You forget, part of his stump speech was “hack Hillary’s e-mails, Russia!”
So you do believe Comey…..
The USSR and the DNC were in cahoots for decades. Don’t pretend you care now.
Hell, just go look up Ted Kennedy.
From the mouth of Comey:
[A]s a legal matter, the president is the head of the executive branch and could direct, in theory — we have important norms against this — [that] anyone be investigat[ed] or not. I think he has the legal authority. All of us ultimately report in the executive branch to the president.
Even Comey is still saying the President can direct the FBI to investigate or not anyone. And Trump didn’t even do that.
That CNN interview of those Ohio Trump voters was one of the most incredibly maddening and depressing events of the last year.
Seriously, if you didn’t see it…take a look, its frightening. And here’s why:
My uncle was in the State Department and worked in the U.S. Embassy in Berlin from 1935-1937.
He would tell me that at first, in the bars or cafes, he could have a conversation with the typical German about the pros and cons of what the National Socialist party wanted to do and how some of their policies and their leader were a little “unhinged”.
By the time he left in 37, he said those same conversations were impossible. That any little criticism of Hitler was met with a blank stare, a glazed confusion, a complete unwillingness to admit any failure. The mind of the typical German was closed to any facts or rationality when it came to Hitler’s craziness. That closing of the minds made Dachau and Auschwitz possible.
I watched that CNN interview last night and was absolutely stunned and horrified at how these (all white folks) Trump Ohio voters thought that Comey was the LIAR!!!!! That Comey had vindicated Trump!!!! That Comey was the leaker!!!!!
They were totally blinded from reality of what they just witnessed with their own eyes and ears.
This is the real danger to this country. This is the eye opening reality. They all raised their hands (I believe 9 of them) unanimously when they pledged their allegiance to Trump and that the Comey hearing did nothing to “change their mind”.
Again, the test of politics is “how do I change their mind?”
Two people in my lifetime did it: FDR who created the New Deal and Ronald Reagan who wanted to destroy it.
FDR’s legacy lasted for 50 years 1932-1982. St Reagan is still with us and going strong 36 years later as the GOP is about to cut taxes and raise DoD spending. AGAIN.
If you aren’t already appalled at Trump being POTUS, watch that CNN clip to be truly depressed.
PS Bill I HOPE you take your head out of your azz. That doesn’t mean you HAVE to do it. You can leave it stuck up there is you want.
Pledging allegiance to Obama. Sick.
@TM01: You ignored the most important phrase in Comey’s statement: “we have important norms against this.”
Why do we have these norms? Because they protect us from authoritarian rule. They differentiate us from the dictatorial regimes. They allow our government to distinguish between what’s merely legal, and what is right.
And you, and the rest of the party-before-country Republicans, would flush them straight down the toilet, because you WANT authoritarian rule. You WANT America to become a dictatorial regime.
In the end, you want an emperor, and you will love to tell him how beautiful his clothes are, even as those of us who remain in touch with reality know he’s naked as a jaybird.
…..Pledging allegiance to Obama. Sick….
Last I looked, Obama didn’t personally “hope” that the FBI Director drop the Hillary “matter”.
@TM01: Here’s the pledge that made you so mad, verbatim:
Talking to a conservative is like talking to your refrigerator. You know – the light goes on, the light goes off, it’s not going to do anything that isn’t built into it. And I’m not going to talk to a conservative anymore than I talk to my damn refrigerator.
He had a point.
@bill: “comey’s just a bad bureaucrat at the end of the day, and personally leaked info to the nyt…how pathetic.”
He leaked the info to assure an independent counsel. Next day one was appointed. Sounds like a guy who’s pretty good a bureaucracy to me… and hardly pathetic.
Of course, this is all a deflection from idiot bill. When it’s proven that Trump was in hock to Russian mobsters, will he put his fingers in his ears and claim he can’t hear anything or actually start to explain that this is a good thing? Time will tell.
@Janis Gore: What’s hilarious is the idea that Trump was acting innocently because he was brand new to presidenting and thus couldn’t possibly be expected to know that obstruction of justice was a bad thing, and at the same time knows every nuance of executive privilege.
I have no idea why some of you bother to rebut these right-wing nutters at length.
You’re actually helping them by putting their talking points front and center, ahead of your own. You’re allowing them to set the agenda.
Point-by-point rebuttals merely serve to repeat their disinformation. Bad idea — you’re helping them to get out their message, bolstering it through repetition. Instead, just mock them, present the facts, and don’t worry about how they specifically distort those facts.
Donald Trump is the President of the United States and can’t advance material litigation in a Congress dominated by his own party. James Comey is a fired FBI Director and can get a special counsel appointed with a single well-placed leak. Perfect bank shot. That’s the difference between venting your ego and understanding how the world (or at least Washington) works.
To give Trump credit where due, I think he had more to do with getting an independent counsel appointed, by firing Comey, than Comey did by leaking.
Because that’s how it’s done.
You accept them as people with different viewpoints and different experiences who might actually be reasoned with. Then you try and reason with them. If they don’t want to do it, they look ridiculous. You don’t.
On the other hand, if we go with this method:
We get Donald Trump as president.
While the actresses mentioned in that article did invoke the Pledge of Allegiance in a pro-Obama ad, they weren’t “pledging allegiance to Obama” or anything close to that. That’s a fundamental distortion of what they were saying. The ad can be legitimately criticized for unfairly insinuating that people who don’t support Obama are being insufficiently patriotic. But of the two major parties, the Dems are certainly not the ones who resort to that type of argument the most often.
What’s amusing about your lame attempt at “I know you are but what am I?” here is that you’re unwittingly confirming the very stereotype we’ve been talking about. You believe that these actresses were “pledging their allegiance to Obama” for one reason, and one reason only: because this Washington Examiner piece told you to. Even though the description of this event in the article itself revealed nothing of the sort. You’re not thinking for yourself at all, just regurgitating whatever you hear from sources you choose to believe in.
The issue we’ve been discussing here is the senseless way in which Trump supporters deny flaws of his that are in plain view. Claims that he pulled right out of his butt–the size of the crowd at his inauguration, illegal aliens voting, Obama wiretapping him, and so on–have become practically gospel truth on the right simply because he said them. There’s no equivalent to that with Obama. I’ll grant there was a bit of a cult of personality thing going on during his 2008 presidential run, but after he won the White House the left was pretty consistently critical of him on a whole range of issues, and certainly the vast majority of his supporters didn’t treat him like a god who could do no wrong. Yet the latter is exactly how a large chunk of Trump’s supporters view Trump, whose flaws dwarf those of any other president in modern times.
Now, you’ve got a choice here. You can attempt to come up with a concrete rebuttal to our arguments. Or you can pull out yet another link to one of the endless right-wing brainwashing sites, thinking you’re scoring “points” against our “side” that neutralize everything we’ve said.
Why do I get the feeling the second possibility is a lot more likely?
Donald “Second Place” Trump is president because Democrats didn’t show up.
The most compelling motivator for voting is hope.
The second most compelling motivator is anger.
The third most compelling motivator is fear.
Clinton relied on number three. Bad idea.
I know that you insist on believing that white people are the center of the universe, but it was the failure to lure black voters to the polls in places such as Milwaukee, Detroit and Cleveland that was the heart of the problem. It’s not that they voted for Trump, they just didn’t vote.
@wr: Such a mind, such a great mind.
You have seen the part of the deposition where Trump’s lawyers say they meet with him in pairs because he lies so much?
@Pch101: I suspect that it’s the same reason that you spend so much time rebutting Pierce–refusal to let the other person have the last word.
Trump says he will testify under oath.
Yeah, sure he will.
@Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:
Pearce claims to be a liberal who is trying to convert liberals.
Bill et. al. are obviously not liberals and have no shot of doing anything more than preaching to his own hard right choir.
If Pearce positioned himself as a right-winger, then I wouldn’t bother.
You know the most powerful way to change voters’ mind? It’s simple. Take over the party. That’s it. Once you’re in control of the party, it’s guaranteed most members of the party will agree with everything you say. Even if it’s the polar opposite of what the party was saying a few years back.
What, you actually think Republican voters were “persuaded” of Russia’s greatness on the merits of the argument?
Similarly, Reagan didn’t “persuade” voters of the beauty of regressive tax cuts. He turned it into party orthodoxy, and then the voters followed. Which is what always happens.
In short, you don’t win people over by making the best arguments. You win them over by convincing them your views are part of their “team.” Sorry if that sounds cynical, but it’s true.
Think of me as a liberal Republican if it makes you feel better, I don’t care.
Truth is, I’m so corpulent that I probably won’t fit in whatever box you want to put me in.
@Daryl’s other brother Darryl:
Right after he produces his tax returns and the proof Obama was born in Kenya.
The House Intelligence Committee has asked Trump to turn over his Comey tapes.
It’s probably pretty close to the same reason anybody on this blog ever bothers to respond to you …
We know that no matter what argument is presented, you already “know” that you’re the only one who’s right … and will likely tell us so. As such, it would probably make more sense to just ignore most of your provocations.
But since we’re here anyway, sometimes it’s simply an excuse to type something. 😉
You want an authoritarian dictator?
Thank god for Trump and Sessions.
Obama’s banana republic:
@TM01: I would only like to remark that this article is published in a fake news organ.
We are still waiting for:
proof of Obama’s Kenyan birth and the “very interesting” report of Trump’s private investigators in Hawaii,.
Identities of the 3 million illegal voters,
lawsuits against women who accused Trump,
proof that Obama ordered Trump Towers to be wiretapped,
and now…. tapes of Trump/Comey conversations.
Eventually some people have to acknowledge that Trump bluffs…
there really is no wizard behind the curtain.
@TM01: Right. Because nothing says “tin-pot dictator” like funneling money to Habitat for Humanity…
Let me guess — when Bush #1 advocated for devolving more charitable work to private nonprofits rather than having the government do it directly, you adamantly argued against that. Right?
@DrDaveT: I disagree. Better to take it into the treasury. The government can then give grants to see what can happen. Here’s a project. Not many square feet, but a hella lot better than living in a cardboard box:
@Janis Gore: Read the comments on community response.
This liberal insistence on trying to be reasonable with unreasonable people has gotten us to where we are now.
You can’t reason with a tumor. You have to cut it out and kill it, otherwise it will kill you.
Read and learn
LOL, and we’re back to Andrew frigging McCarthy again. 🙄
You’re nothing if not predictable.
For the benefit of the rest of the class who actually possess a brain:
Mueller has been quietly recruiting some of the best criminal litigators in the country. Thus far:
Aaron Zelbey – UG William & Mary, JD UVA.
* Special agent – FBI, Counterterrorism
* AUSA, National Security & Counterterrorism Unit
* Chief of Staff, FBI
* Senior Counselor, National Security Division, DOJ
* Partner, WilmerHale
Jeannie Rhee – UG Yale, JD Yale Law, editor in chief YLJ
* AUSA, District of Columbia
* Associate, WilmerHale
* Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University School of Law
* Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, DOJ
* Partner, WilmerHale
James Quarles – UG Denison University, JD Harvard Law
* Assistant Special Prosecutor, Watergate Prosecution Task Force
* Associate & Partner, WilmerHale, Complex Litigation
Andrew Weissmann – UG Princeton, JD Columbia
* AUSA, Eastern District of New York, Chief, Criminal Division
* Deputy Director / Director, Enron Task Force
* Special Counsel to the Director, FBI
* Partner, Jenner & Block
* General Counsel, FBI
* Chief, Criminal Frauds, DoJ
and most ominous, IMO …
Michael Dreeben, UG U Wisconsin, JD Duke Law
* Assistant to the Solicitor General
* Deputy Solicitor General
(full disclosure: I know Michael personally, and have the utmost respect for him, both personally and professionally. The guy is a walking encyclopedia of the federal criminal code, and has argued more than 100 cases before SCOTUS. Nobody knows it better than he does. Objectively speaking, he’s one of the best, if not the best, federal criminal lawyers in the country. You do not bring Michael in unless you’re girding for war …)
Who has Trump managed to recruit?
Kasowitz, one of Kasowitz’s associates who specializes in real estate, and Jay fricking Sekulow. 🙄
Not exactly a dream team, but when everybody who is anybody in the legal profession won’t come anywhere near you, I guess you take whatever you can scrape up from the bottom of the barrel.
The takeaway? Mueller is staffing up for a wide ranging inquiry which will go well beyond Michael Flynn et al to include examining potential financial frauds, etc. He means business …
Stay tuned, kids. It’s going to be entertaining. 😀
Jay Sekulow? LOL!
I guess defending religious liberty = protecting His Royal Assness, the Lord Trump from the legal consequences of his actions.
I literally laughed out loud when I read it. If that’s the best he can come up with, he’s already doomed. 🙂
Even leftwing Alan Dershowitz says it time to move on.
Why would the top legal talent in the country want to work with Trump? He lies, he doesn’t follow his lawyers’ advice, and he stiffs them on the bill. That has got to be the utter trifecta of undesirability insofar as a client is concerned.
Dear boy, there is a great deal more to this than simply the action of firing Trump. Frankly, that piece of this scenario is incidental, at best.
Trump violated federal law by even making the approach. All we needed was an excuse for cracking the door open enough to justify appointing an SP & instigating an investigation.
We have that. Now we get to just sit back and watch it sift through Trump’s life.
Helpful hint for you: if (when …) this particular line of investigation happens to unearth facts about additional areas of inquiry – whether related to the initial investigatory mandate or not – they’ll follow them. It’s how you get from “Did they cheat in this one little real estate deal?” to “Were you getting a BJ in the White House & lying about it?”
If you can’t understand what that means, ask your buddy Gunga Din Dershowitz (or maybe those monumentally stupid folks over at your Treehouse for Morons) to explain it for you.
None of that helps, no, but frankly, the biggest reason is simply that nobody of any import wants to be associated with / get anywhere near the sinking ship.
Aside from the fact that it’s career suicide to have something like this hung around your neck, nobody in this strata of the legal profession is going to accept playing JV for Mark Kasowitz. They’re not second tier, and they don’t want the stink of being associated with either him or Trump.
We were one of the first firms that was approached. We politely, but firmly, suggested that they look elsewhere. He’s PNG here now.
I figured as much. Do you think he’ll be able to persuade any other “talent” to join his team? Given the caliber of intellectual and jurisprudential firepower Mueller has lined up so far, if I were Kasowitz I’d be, ah, defecating large red clay blocks of building material.
THIS is the whole game. Anybody (on either “side”) who is getting excited about what is said (or not said) in Congressional hearings, or after reading the latest scoop in their favorite newspaper is merely expending energy cheering (or jeering) over the pre-game. The real action is already happening (or about to happen) behind closed doors. We’ll hear about it eventually, but likely at best many months down the road.
I’m sure pretty much everyone understands that for Comey this is personal. Fewer may understand that for Mueller it is also.
The way Trump has treated Director Comey is beyond shitty, and pretty much everyone in the FBI–even those who supported Trump–is very angry indeed. To say the FBI is like a family, as Comey often did, isn’t an empty phrase or cliche’. And that doesn’t stop at retirement. Director Mueller is still part of that family. I’m sure he still sees Jim Comey as a brother, and of course a fellow member of one of the most exclusive brotherhoods there is.
Remember also that Mueller is probably the finest Director the Bureau has had, a man who was confirmed in that post a mere week before 9/11 and subsequently led the FBI through the most significant and extensive re-shaping in its history, with great success. And Comey was his protege’.
So he’s going to dig deep, very deep indeed, and the way he and his team of top-notch litigators are going to go through Trump’s life will make Sherman’s march across the South look like a Sunday afternoon cookout.
You don’t f*ck with family and Trump has. Bigly.
There’s a difference (or at least there should be) between politics and life.
When it comes to politics, I somewhat agree with you … Democrats (IMO) sometimes tend to spend a bit too much effort trying to change people’s minds, and some even seem to have an almost fetish level obsession when it comes to overvaluing Republican “crossover” voters.
That being said, if we were tasked to try to live our lives with one 4-word prime directive in mind, going with “Don’t be a dick” would probably serve most of us well in the long-run.
p.s. along those lines I almost feel like I should apologize to you for my previous response to you … even as I was hitting the “post” button it felt like I was probably crossing over that not always easy to live by line a bit myself. 🙂
I was not actually arguing for or against this; I was simply noting the rampant hypocrisy of TM01’s positions — he’s for it if it’s a Republican doing it, and against it if it’s a Democrat.doing it.
That said, with regard to whether it’s better to have the government do it directly or not, it matters enormously which specific ‘it’ you’re talking about. There are things that nonprofits do extremely efficiently, and things that they do not. There are also efficient ways of getting funds to nonprofits, and inefficient ways.
The last estimate I saw was that the marginal impact of tax breaks on charitable donations lead to an additional ~$50B of charitable giving that would not be made absent those deductions. This is, in part, why the US leads the world in rate of charitable giving. On the other hand, a large fraction of those charitable donations are to religious institutions, which is maybe not the best bang-for-the-buck in terms of social welfare. But then, if you put that money into the Treasury, a big chunk of it will go for Defense, which is even less effective at achieving social goods.
It seems to me that, given the current Congress, nonprofits are a much better bet than the federal government, if you’re hoping to actually help people. That doesn’t mean there aren’t wonderful federal programs and crappy nonprofits; it’s just a general average.
Liberals have allowed conservatives to demonize them for decades.
And that has not been limited to the political arena. The right has turned politics into a hammer for a culture war of their creation.
So no, it is necessary to fight back. And the way that things are going, that may eventually turn into something that goes beyond words, as there is a contingent on the far right that is convinced that they will have support from the public and the military if they attempt to overthrow the government.
Truthfully, unless he dumps Kasowitz and changes how he plays ball re: lying, nobody is going to take his calls. There are a few heavy hitters who might personally be willing to take the challenge – one over at Kirkland in particular comes to mind – but their managing committees are making it clear that it’s a non-starter, as did ours. Trump is not to be entertained and the partners are under orders to refer any further approaches to he who lunches with G-d.
At least in our level of the profession, from everybody that I’ve talked to including Roge – Trump has been declared radioactive. He’s on his own.
Agreed. I have enormous & abiding respect for Bob Mueller. He’s straight up honorable, doesn’t pull punches, doesn’t play favorites, and you just know that whatever he’s telling you can be trusted. His loyalties extend to the constitution, the law and his FBI family.
Between him, Mike and Andrew (the guy who gutted the Gambinos, among others), speaking frankly, Trump is in a world of shit.
“Trump is in a world of shit”…Lawd, that’s heartwarming.