By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (5/11/17)
What does a cover-up look like?
A Cover-Up Looks Like a Tuesday Night Massacre.
A Cover-Up Looks Just Like This…
This just in (Tuesday evening), a headline from the Financial Times:
US President Donald Trump has fired James Comey as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to a White House official.
“The FBI is one of our nation’s most cherished and respected institutions and today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement,” Mr Trump said in a statement issued by the White House press office.
The White House said that the decision was based on the “clear recommendations” of Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, and Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general.
“Given the recent controversies surrounding the director, I believe a fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation well,” said Lindsey Graham, a senior Republican senator on the Senate judiciary committee. “I encourage the president to select the most qualified professional available who will serve our nation’s interests.”
The New York Times adds this:
“While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau,” Mr. Trump said in a letter dated Tuesday to Mr. Comey.
I think Trump’s comments make it clear – he has fired Comey for investigating and casting doubt on Trump’s campaign and presidency. I wonder what happens to the FBI investigation now?
To say this was a surprise is an understatement and, as the New York Times reported, Days Before Firing, Comey Asked for More Resources for Russia Inquiry
His meeting to request the additional resources was with Rod Rosenstein who, after a mere two weeks on the job as deputy attorney general, wrote the memo that was used to justify firing Comey. Trump and Sessions are such a class act, it turns out Comey found out he was fired based on a TV in the background while delivering a speech to a group of FBI employees in Los Angeles.
When Comey’s office received Trump’s letter of dismissal it was delivered by Trump’s long-time personal body guard Keith Schiller. Let that sink in a moment… The nominal president of the United States is having a private hire goon deliver a termination letter to a high-ranking public employee. If you don’t believe we have turned a corner here…
While Spicer was off on his nature hike the White House Department of Hyperbole sent out spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders to explain that Comey Committed ‘Atrocities’.
But How Do The Poor Russians Feel About This?
I think they’re Okay. Putin offers his reassurances to US citizens, noting Trump Fired Comey in ‘Accordance With His Law’. Well, okay then, nothing to worry ourselves about.
Ever able to find the humor is the most difficult of situations, stand-up comedian Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov took the announcement in stride and was able to turn the constitutional crisis into a Comey Joke.
We can’t know for sure because the White House blocked all US media from the Lavrov meeting saying it was closed to the press though the Russian official state media organization TASS was granted access. So maybe take a look at TASS to learn more – which seems fitting.
“The Russians had it all out globally while the White House press corps was kept out,” MSNBC reporter Andrea Mitchell said. “It’s unprecedented.”
Here are a few official Russian TASS snapshots of the happy gathering. Now we are depending upon the Russians for news from our White House.
Another Coincidence: Sally Yates Helps Hook A Big Fish
Sally Yates, former acting head of the US Department of Justice, and James Clapper, who served as director of national intelligence during the Obama administration, testified on Monday.
A tip of the hat to Charles Pierce writing for Esquire:
“…what we learned is that Michael Flynn is pretty much a hooked fish. Yates made it clear that her visit to the White House was not the “heads-up” that Sean Spicer tried to fob it off. She told them Flynn was compromised and it took them 18 days to fire him.”
This is not exactly new news but it’s now officially on the record as explained by Sally Yates and she did a masterful job in testifying. Yates offered her own summary of the issues with Flynn, “To state the obvious: You don’t want your national security adviser compromised with the Russians”.
We now officially know that Flynn had contact with Russians, Trump had been warned by many people (including former resident Obama), Yates went to the White House and warned counsel of specific contacts – but in spite of all of this, Flynn was kept on by the White House and continued to have access to all classified briefings and papers. It’s worth highlighting that Flynn had multiple calls with Russian Ambassador Kislyak on December 29th. The very day President Obama imposed retaliatory sanctions and expelled 35 Russian diplomats for Russian hacking and interference in the US election. As part of this discussion Flynn assured Kislyak that the sanctions would be reviewed once Trump was elected.
It took Trump another 18 days and not until after Flynn’s actions were reported in The Washington Post to fire Flynn.
Senator Al Franken does a good job of laying out the case AS WELL AS offering a view on why this took so long:
“Is it possible that the reason that he didn’t fire him then was that, well, if I fire him for talking to the Russians about sanctions, what about all the other people on my team who coordinated?
“I mean, isn’t it possible that the reason — because you ask yourselves, why wouldn’t you fire a guy who did this? And all I can think of is that he would say, well, we’ve got all these other people in the administration who have had contacts. We have all these other people in the administration who coordinated, who were talking.”
Keep in mind, Flynn potentially violated US laws that prevent private citizens from conducting foreign policy. But as Franken points out, “…we have every reason to believe this goes well beyond Flynn”.
James Clapper offered a great summary of events, noting: “…they (the Russians) must be congratulating themselves for having exceeded their wildest expectations.”
Are We Talking About the Same Thing?
During the hearings the GOP lines of questioning wandered far afield of Flynn’s actions and covered everything from “unmasking” to Yates’ non-defense of the Trump travel ban. In the process, Cruz got schooled on this. Well worth seeking out the exchanges).
Ted Cruz even managed to bring Hillary Clinton emails into an exchange with Clapper.
Once again the GOP takes a partisan line to protect the Trump White House even though the denials and deflections fail to stem the tide. To stick to a narrow path, Flynn did have contact with Kislyak, did discuss relaxation of sanctions and lied about it to everyone including Trump and Pence. But others had contacts with Russians as we also know – Sessions, Kushner, Manafort, Page and others.
At this point here is what we know:
- We know the Russians hacked the election.
- We know the Russians intended to influence the election.
- We know the Trump campaign had ongoing contact with Russians and,
- We know there is a lot more we’ll learn.
In the meantime….
Russia Loses the French Election
Outside the ranks of Kremlin acolytes, however, political analysts aimed their criticism directly at Mr. Putin’s foreign policy, saying it was time to recognize that Russian attempts to influence elections abroad, including in the United States, were a disaster and damaging Russian interests.
“One more defeat for the Kremlin,” wrote Konstantin von Eggert, a program host and political analyst on the independent Dozhd television channel.
And Now, A New Twist, A Major Twist, Maybe Trump’s Own Saturday Night Massacre
More to follow…