“What we have here is a failure to communicate.”
Or maybe it’s intentional miscommunication and subterfuge.
This blog was first started last week, when President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. Due to other responsibilities that swallowed up my days, it kept getting put off. But, this is a scandal that has legs, so wait a day (or two) and voila! The story just gets bigger. Hell we don’t even have to wait a day; it gets bigger by the hour.
And not just that Comey was fired, but the way it was done. He didn’t get an in-person meeting, or even a phone call — or even a message on his voice mail (it happened to me once) — Comey was in Los Angeles giving a speech to F.B.I. agents. There was a TV on behind him as Comey was speaking and a news channel flashed the message, “President Fires F.B.I. Director.” At first Comey thought it was a joke, but then an aid pulled him into an office and told him the [expletive deleted] President of the United States, that puny little prick of a man Donald Trump had issued a letter announcing the move. Not even the courtesy of a phone call before letting the media know.
Donald Trump: what a small-minded coward — with little hands.
Say what you want about James Comey; he screwed up big time last year during the election — twice, once in July and then in October — essentially helping that prick Donald Trump get elected, but he’s a straight shooter who won’t speak sideways about his decisions..
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was asked by the president to write a memo with quality reasons on why Comey should be fired. In essence, Comey, according to Trump’s surrogates, was fired for treating Hillary Clinton unfairly during the election. What? During the campaign Trump praised Comey for talking about the investigation into Clinton’s email server.
Moments after Rosenstein delivered the memo, while Comey was delivering a speech to FBI agents and a recruitment class, Trump fired the director.
A day later it was reported Comey had asked the Justice Department for more resources to expand the Trump-Russia investigation — Russiagate — just days before Trump fired Comey.
The president’s surrogates went out on TV — and from the podium in the White House press briefing room — and said the action against the FBI director was prompted by Rosenstein’s memo and it was the Deputy Attorney General’s idea to sack James Comey.
And then President Trump does an interview with Lester Holt of NBC News for the “Today” show and contradicts everything his surrogates said in the previous 24 hours. And then tells the media we can’t trust his surrogates to always have accurate information because, in essence, they can’t read his mind. “As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!….” read his first tweet on the topic. “…Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future “press briefings” and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???” followed.
What the president said — on TV in front of cameras with live microphones — that contradicted every other explanation for the very rude, very unprofessional firing of James Comey was this: “I was going to fire Comey. When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.”
He said he made the decision before the memo from Rosenstein and was thinking about the FBI investigation into the ties between the Trump Campaign and Russia. But wait! There’s more! “He’s a showboat, he’s grandstander, the FBI has been in turmoil. You know that, I know that. Everybody knows that. You take a look at the FBI a year ago, it was in virtual turmoil, less than a year ago. It hasn’t recovered from that.”
Say what? Agree or disagree with Comey’s actions during the campaign, there’s one thing that is really clear … well two things: The FBI isn’t in turmoil and James Comey isn’t a grandstander.
But there’s that thing about the “Russian thing,” and thinking about it when he made the decision to fire the FBI director. That’s an impeachable offense, obstructing justice. Lucky for Trump the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate are controlled by Republicans who are slow walking their investigations into the “Russia-Trump thing.” The investigations are understaffed and underfunded, slowing down the process. There isn’t much investigatin’ goin’ on in the old capital.
During the campaign Trump buttered his bread with the charge that Hillary Clinton compromised national security with her private email server. But then, the day after firing James Comey, Trump entertains the two top spies in Putin’s Russia: Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, at the request of Russian President Vladimir Putin. “We come in peace, comrade Donald.” They came with a camera crew from the Tass news agency, which is controlled by Putin’s government. And while Trump was entertaining the Russians he showed them very sensitive, top secret, information gathered by spies inside ISIL. According to most recent news reports, the information was given to the U.S. by Israel. Officials from the Trump Administration, speaking anonymously, claimed the Russians “tricked” them with the photographer.
Trump later said he has a right to share intelligence with foreign leaders and emissaries. That was after National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster went out in front of the White House to tell reporters the Post story wasn’t true. The president considers McMasters to be a pain because he keeps interrupting in meetings to keep Trump from straying off topic and divulging secrets that ought not be shared outside of a very small circle of national security professionals.
And to think Donny and BeBe Netanyahu were having such a wonderful bromance just a few short months ago.
Several news organizations were reporting they could hear Trump’s advisors yelling at one another after the news broke that the president had shared highly classified information with the Russians. This was a few days after it was reported Press Secretary Sean Spicer was hiding in the bushes to avoid the media.
You can’t make this shit up. Who would believe such a ridiculous screenplay? President fires FBI Director investigating his administration for committing treason. President admits on TV he fired the director because of the investigation. Advisors having a shouting match in ear shot of reporters; the press secretary hiding in the White House bushes … That’s just to effin’ crazy to be real.
James Comey, the former Director of the FBI, will testify before the Senate committee about all of this. Turns out he began keeping copious notes of all his conversations with President Trump and his administration from the beginning of Trump’s term. Jason Chaffetz, the chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform sent a letter to acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe demanding the FBI turn over all of Comey’s notes, including the classified ones, so they can review them and see if the president committed any crimes.
McCabe was very cooperative with the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Republicans are now beginning to separate themselves from the Trump Administration and speak about more thorough investigations and even — say it ain’t so — special prosecutors and independent commissions.
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska ( @lisamurkowski ) tweeted, “Like many Alaskans, I’m concerned about the continuous and often conflicting reports about President Trump, the FBI and Russia.” Murkowski attached the full message which reads, “… The American people deserve to know the truth. I still maintain that the Senate Intelligence Committee should continue conducting a thorough and fair investigation. At the same time, it’s imperative that we — Congress, the FBI, the Administration — work to restore the public’s trust. In order to gain that credibility, it may be that we need to look to an independent commission or special prosecutor.”
Republican Senator from Maine, Susan Collins asked the rhetorical question in front of reporters, “Can we have a crisis-free day? That’s all I’m asking.” Ummm … no Senator. As long as the GOP either sits on the fence about the president and his administration, or flat out gives him a pass, we are going to have days filled with chaos and scandal.
After the Washington Post reported on Trump giving top secret information to the Russians — in the Oval Office — Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, an early supporter of Trump, told reporters, “Obviously, they’re in a downward spiral right now and have got to figure out a way to come to grips with all that’s happening. You know, the shame of it is there’s a really good national security team in place and there are good productive things that are under way through them and through others, but the chaos that is being created by the lack of discipline is creating an environment — it creates a worrisome environment.”
Worrisome? Well that’s being generous.
You know, this growing scandal with James Comey and the FBI has pushed into the background the scandals of the Trump Family profiteering off Donald being president — Ivanka’s deals with China to make her clothing (buy American — Yay!), the two boys profiting with real estate deals in Turkey and elsewhere, Jared Kushner’s sister offering green cards to investors.
But this Comey/FBI thing keeps growing. Apparently in one of Comey’s memos he said the president asked him to let the investigation into former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn’s ties to Russia go. You know, just stop investigating because, you know, Flynn is a good guy.
“Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!” Was the chant we heard Flynn leading during the Republican National Convention. Now it appears Flynn is the one in danger of being stripped of his military pension and locked up. Probably committed treason.
There’s a reason President Obama fired him as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency after Flynn turned it into a chaotic mess. Shortly thereafter Flynn became an unregistered foreign agent — which is against the rules — illegal actually — and a good reason to take away all or part of his military pension. Yeah, he’s a good guy all right.
Democrats have been calling for an independent commission or special prosecutor for months now. These latest reports just strengthen their demands.
When Comey was fired, Democratic California Representative Tony Cárdenas said, “I am outraged and disgusted by President Trump’s abrupt firing of FBI Director Comey. I’m also seriously concerned about the impact this action will have on the ongoing investigation into Russia’s interference in our elections. Now more than ever, it is crucial that we have an independent prosecutor to ensure the American people get the truth.”
Democratic California Congresswoman Barbara Lee said, “I am deeply troubled by President Trump’s decision to fire the FBI Director who was investigating allegations of collusion between the President, his campaign and the Kremlin. When it comes to Russia, this Administration has proven it will not act in the best interests of the American people.” On Wednesday (May 16) Lee said, “The American people deserve to know if President Trump tried to quash the FBI investigation into his campaign’s alleged collusion with the Russians. If true, this would constitute obstruction of justice, which is an impeachable offense.
“These allegations go far beyond party interests. Congress must take the long-overdue step of forming an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate this constitutional crisis.
“Congressional Republicans have a choice – either they fulfill their oath to defend the constitution, or they’re complicit in a cover-up.”
That about sums it up. President Trump is not acting in the best interests of the American people and if Congressional Republicans sit by and do nothing, they are participating in a cover-up.
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UPDATE: The Justice department just announced it has appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller as Special Counsel to oversee the FBI’s investigation into the Russian government’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential elections. Mueller will also be investigating, “… any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.”
It was Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, second-in-command at the Justice Department, who made the decision. Attorney General Jeff Session recused himself from any investigations into the Russia-related matters, due to his close ties to the Trump Campaign and meetings with Russian officials during the campaign.
This scandal has fast-moving legs.
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UPDATE: Late Wednesday night the New York Times reported that Michael Flynn told the Trump Transition Team he was under investigation by the FBI on January 4, 16 days before Donald Trump’s inauguration. Trump’s transition lawyer — and current White House Counsel — Donald F. McGahn II, was the first one told and then the information was shared with other transition lawyers two days later.
Sally Q. Yates, who was acting Attorney General in the early days of the Trump Administration, had warned the White House about Flynn’s potential for being compromised on January 26. It wasn’t until Yates’s warning was made public — and that Flynn had misled Vice President Pence — that President Trump fired Michael Flynn. And this, some speculate, is the real reason Yates was fired from her job in the Justice Department.
It was also revealed the Mr. Comey kept notes of all his interactions with the president and that in one of his conversations with President Trump, Comey was told, “I hope you can let this go.”
Although Comey hasn’t spoken publicly about his firing or conversations with the president, those closest to the former FBI Director said Comey would never tell a potential target of an investigation that he or she was either being investigated or not. In his letter firing James Comey, President Trump claims that on three occasions Comey had told him he, personally, was not under investigation.
It will be interesting to see how this gets enveloped by the special prosecutor, Robert Mueller.
Top photo is screen shot of President Trump speaking with Lester Holt of NBC
Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the elected government officials and business were so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that.