By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (7/8/17)
Dear Fellow Readers,
“This Is The Trump Era”… And THAT Attitude Will Be His Undoing
“This is the Trump Era”, so says Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III. Sessions is complicit with Trump in flouting and politicizing the law. Trump sees himself as above the law, the courts are at his command as he demonizes any sources of information that don’t fit his desired outcome and the next shiny object that commands his limited focus.
What better example than his firing of then FBI Director James Comey.
But he has overplayed his hand and he will be found out. In fact I find myself reflecting on the historical accounts – what if Michael Flynn had not tripped up? What if the Christopher Steele dossier had not surfaced in the US? What if Sessions had not fumbled and stumbled?
Trump came into the White House presuming to run it like any Mafia family don without realizing that while that works in Manhattan real estate, it doesn’t work in the 24/7 constant micro-managed media review of every D.C. detail.
Comey Will Make The Case For Obstruction Of Justice, Comey Will Not SAY Obstruction of Justice
Now squaring off in this corner, wearing the dark blue suit against the dark blue drapes ….. GET READY TO RUMBLE!
The build-up to today’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearing which will hear fired FBI director James Comey’s testimony has the trappings and expectations of a Bigly sporting event. Kind of like when Donald Trump wrestled with pro-wrestling hustler Vince McMahon on national television. Comey is not a person to deliver fireworks in a dramatic way. Instead, expect the detailed firecrackers of a case he will offer based on his experience – the superlatives for Comey are words like “methodical” and “trained lawyer”. But he is also “MADE for the big moments”, “does not shy away from the spotlight”, and he will be prepared. This is Comey’s chance to set the record right and he will deliver.
Comey Will Not Compromise The Special Counsel Investigation
First and foremost, Comey will be very deliberate and disciplined – he will not stray in any way that would have the potential to compromise Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation. Obstruction of justice will be limited to actions or statements specific to Flynn.
Illustration by Seth L. Taylor, 2016. Open source.
This has the potential to be a he said/he said account and debate with Trump who has been setting the stage in advance to his own best advantage. But Comey’s delivery will be organized, thorough, detailed, documented, business-like. Comey will not personalize, he will not attack, he will not offer conclusions or judgments. By contrast Trump will huff ‘n puff and Tweet and attack and wave his arms and be … Trump. Trump’s son Eric went on Sean Hannity’s FOX program to comment on the “ugliness” of politics and about Democrats, whining, “They aren’t even people”! Eric and Donald Jr. are offering that it is time to take the high road in political discourse – I did NOT make this up.
Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence is making his own adjustments – without offering a reason he abruptly cancelled a planned interview with PBS for Wednesday afternoon.
Sessions has offered to resign.
For an alternative view, former director of intelligence James Clapper says that Trump-Russia is Worse than Watergate:
“I think (if) you compare the two that Watergate pales really in my view compared to what we’re confronting now,” Clapper said.
Clapper said Trump firing FBI Director Jim Comey, whom Clapper described as a “personal friend and a personal hero of mine,” reflected “complete disregard for the independence and autonomy” of the bureau.
Clapper also said: “the Russia attack on the 2016 US election is not ‘fake news’”.
Comey Gives His Testimony Before He Testifies
Comey has already delivered the highlights of his testimony to be given based on media accounts to date. Partly these were put forward in case Trump tried to block him from testifying:
- Trump demanded the loyalty of FBI Director Comey; that’s not how it works,
- Trump pressed Comey to drop a probe into the actions of national security adviser Michael Flynn regarding Russia,
- Trump sought the assurance of Comey that he was not under investigation (and later referenced this is the memo announcing the firing of Comey).
Now Comey has gone so far as to release his opening statement in advance of his planned testimony. Trump was persistent with his demands of loyalty. As reported by the Financial Times, “Mr Trump told him that “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty”, while Mr Comey only promised to deliver “honesty”.”
The Comey’s opening statement HERE.
Comey will not accuse Trump of obstruction of justice or anything for that matter. He will walk us through events and documentation and build a case but leave prosecution to another person on another day.
That said, there are some very interesting comments:
- The IC (intelligence community) leadership felt it important, to alert the incoming president (January 6 briefing) to the existence of this material, even though it was salacious and unverified.
- I felt compelled to document my first conversation with the president-elect in a memo. To ensure accuracy, I began to type it on a laptop in an FBI vehicle outside Trump Tower the moment I walked out of the meeting. Creating written records immediately after one-on-one conversations with Mr. Trump was my practice from that point forward. This has not been my practice in the past. I spoke alone with president Obama twice in person (and never on the phone) – once in 2015…… In neither of these circumstances did I memorialize discussions.
- (January 27 dinner) A few moments later, the president said, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence.
- (February 14 Oval Office) The president returned to the topic of Mike Flynn saying, “He is a good guy and has been through a lot”. He repeated that Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong on his calls with the Russians, but had misled the vice president. He then said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
- (March 30 phone call in reference to whether Trump was under investigation) “We need to get that fact out.” (I did not tell the president that the FBI and the Department of Justice had been reluctant to make public statements that we did not have an open case on president Trump for a number of reasons, most importantly because it would create a duty to correct, should that change.)
Director Of National Intelligence Dan Coats, NSA Director Michael Rogers Testified Wednesday June 7
There was a good deal of anticipation as well with the appearances of Coats and Rogers before the Senate Intelligence committee ahead of Comey’s appearance today.
In spite of many media stories stating that Trump asked both Coats and Rogers to push Comey to stop his Russia investigation the highlight would be the reluctance by either to answer many questions in a specific way. There was a testy exchange between Sen. Angus King (I-Me) and Rogers:
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) laments the lack of detail offered while holding up the Washington Post and referring to the very detailed and damning [Trump] media reports.
You can watch the hearing HERE.
One interesting view was offered that Rogers and Coats were wise to keeping quiet for now and not getting themselves fired.
From Much Smoke To Very Much Smoke
Former Director of U.S. National Intelligence James Clapper said he believes the Watergate scandal during the 1970’s “pales” in comparison to the assault on US institutions currently being perpetrated by Russia and President Donald Trump.
“Mr Clapper said then president-elect Trump had commented to him before taking office that it would be a good thing “if we could get along” with the Russians. He said he told Mr Trump there were times when both countries interests’ converged but as far as being “intimate allies, trusting buds with the Russians, that wasn’t going to happen”.
“It is in their genes to be opposed, diametrically opposed, to US and western democracies,” said Mr Clapper.
Mr Clapper said it was critical for the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign’s links with Russia to determine what happened.
“As I have often said, it is absolutely crucial for the United States, and for that matter for the world, for this presidency, for the Republicans, for the Democrats and for our nation at large, that we get to the bottom of this,” he said.
“Is there a smoking gun with all the smoke? I don’t know the answer to that,” he said. “I think it is vital, though, that we find that out. In the interim I cannot explain this solicitousness with the Russians.”
Sen. (D-Mo.) on Tuesday questioned President Trump for being “eerily silent” on the issue of Russian interference in the election.
“Is there money here?” McCaskill asked. “Did he make some agreement? Is there a backchannel communication we don’t know about?”
“This is about a foreign government and cyber warfare on our democracy.”
McCaskill argued Tuesday that it’s the responsibility of the administration to stand up to Russia, even if it isn’t politically convenient.
RNC Pretzil Logic Rushes To “Confirm” Trump Is Not Under Investigation
I find this amusing. Here’s an amazing bend-like-a-pretzel act of reassurance to all of us by RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel:
“Director Comey’s statement reconfirmed what the president has been saying all along — he was never under investigation. President Trump was right.”
But Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn is under investigation. And while it might be too early to say “under investigation”, senior adviser to the president Jared Kushner, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and Trump lawyer Michael Cohen are all persons of interest.
How is it of ANY possible reassurance that Trump is presumably not under investigation? Is this like saying the White House is on fire but we know the only thing you care about is the president is maybe “Okay for now”. Isn’t the attempted defense damning in it’s own way?
Portrait of Republican Leadership
(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2017. Open source and free to use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )