Comey: “Lordy, I Hope There Are Tapes.”


“Lordy, I hope there are tapes.”

This was former FBI Director Comey’s response to president Trump’s implication that their meetings were recorded.

As Comey answers questions in front of a Senate committee hearing today about his short tenure under the president and subsequent firing, we are getting a window into president Trump’s behavior that we rarely see. The full transcript can be found HERE. In the least, it confirms some of the implications we’ve read in the press, but weren’t sure about. It should be noted that both Republicans and Democrats have unanimously praised Comey on his integrity and attention to detail. So, it stands to reason that his testimony today is considered by them to be truthful. And, on that basis, it shows us the president is not. If that is all that comes out of this testimony, it will be significant. Most obviously, we see that the president lied when he denied asking Comey to end the investigation of Flynn’s Russian connections. The biggest question for me today is the same I had for Flynn: “if this is all manufacture fake news, and all were innocent, why lie about it?”

The timeline of events also appear more clearly than it did before. When all this began in the hours following Comey’s humiliating firing, news came out that Comey disagreed with the president’s account of their meetings. In response, the president tweeted, as usual:

In testimony today, Comey says he countered this by asking a colleague to leak unclassified information about the memo he wrote detailing their interaction. Note that this “leak” was not illegal. Perhaps he foresaw a possible scenario like this, and that factored into why he wrote the memo in a way it could remain unclassified and be shared. He knew that leaking it would not be a crime, were it needed at some point. He specifically said his hope was that knowledge of the memo would lead to a special counsel, and it did.

This back and forth may have best served the country by pushing the real investigation behind closed doors with special counsel, former Director Robert Mueller, where proper procedure and an apolitical investigation can happen. Both parties trust Mueller, and he should be able to assemble the mountain of circumstantial evidence into one or more conclusions. But in the end, it appears Comey played this perfectly under the circumstances. I cannot imagine myself acting any better, and likely not as prudent. The interactions between Comey and Trump are detailed in full HERE.

The takeaways from today’s testimony:

  1. Comey stated the president repeatedly affirmed (three times) that he would remain director, then reversed it in his meeting when he asked to clear the room on Feb 14.
  2. According to Comey, the president made his staff, including Sessions, Kushner and Preibus feel uncomfortable by asking them to leave the room so he could talk privately with Comey.
  3. Comey felt the president would lie about the event, so he wrote “the memo,” and shared the encounter with colleagues.
  4. When asked about Trump’s comments about tapes of the event, Comey said, “Lordy, I hope there are tapes.”
  5. Obstruction of justice was not something he could prove, but thought was possible, and believes Mueller is looking at. “The Special Counsel has all the memos.”
  6. The president lied about denying he asked Comey to end the investigation.
  7. The president repeatedly asked Comey for “loyalty,” and Comey rightly refused. In the midst of an “awkward silence,” Comey accepted Trump’s augmented request for “honest loyalty.”
  8. Comey stated, unequivocally that the president lied about him and the FBI, when Trump claimed the agency was “in disarray,” and had “lost confidence” in him. “Those were lies,” he said.
  9. As he keeps reminding us, president Trump was NOT a subject for investigation, but he is NOW. And it’s by his own doing. The tweeting and public denials invite scrutiny.

During these investigations in the House and Senate, some answers have been found, but the scope keeps getting larger, which should worry the Trump administration. While it doesn’t appear Trump himself “colluded” with Russia (despite his televised invitation to Russia to hack the DNC days before it did), but from Paul Manafort, to Michael Flynn, to even Jared Kushner, the amount of smoke is not to be ignored. And now, it appears paying attention to that smoke is shaking out questionable behavior by the administration itself. What took down president Andrew Johnson in 1868 (impeached, but not convicted) was not his actions in dealing with the South after the Civil War, but his attempt to appoint preferred officials in his administration with Congress in recess. It wasn’t the Watergate burglary itself that took down Nixon, but his attempt to obstruct justice and cover it up. President Clinton was not impeached on his questionable land deals during the Whitewater investigation, but lying about an affair under oath.

It may be that Trump’s demise may have nothing to do with members of his circle colluding with Russian interests, but rather his attempts to obfuscate and obstruct investigations into his associates on the Russia matter. Even if no real crimes are proven to have been committed, this presidency is forever tainted with unprofessional, “improper” behavior, and blatant dishonesty. If no real crimes happened, one has to wonder why so many of the president’s closest associates follow a pattern of omission, misleading, or flat out denial.

As expected, the Trump team is declaring victory by focusing on the color of the leaves, rather than the forest of trees. And on cue, Trumps attorney Marc Kasowitz claimed today that Comey “leaked” classified memos. He also said, “Mr. Comey made clear that the president never pressured” him. This is simply untrue. He said the exact opposite. So, the battle has now been reduced to “who is lying?” Well, I know where I stand.

No matter what happens over Trussiagate, removal of Russian sanctions, the $500 billion oil field, Ukraine policy, NATO or any other controversy, conservative Americans will have to grapple with the reality that our president is simply a dishonest and improper man, and is trying to hide something. While Chris Christie dismisses it as “normal New York conversation,” I’m reminded of Ted Cruz pressing on this during the primaries, when Trump said, “being from New York, my views are a little different than if I lived in Iowa.” No kidding. Maybe it doesn’t bother Christie, or Trump. But it bothers most of the rest of us.

Recent polls that show even half of Republicans, despite strong party loyalty, see the president as dishonest. Nixon resigned when he lost his party. How far behind is the GOP of 2017?

BREAKING: Special Counsel Named in Russia Investigation

The investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to and alleged collusion with Russia just heated up. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced that former FBI Director Robert Mueller will act as special counsel in the ongoing Russia investigation. The New York Times provided further details:

 

“The appointment of Mr. Mueller dramatically raises the stakes for President Trump in the multiple investigations into his campaign’s ties to the Russians. It follows a swiftly moving series of developments that have roiled Washington, including Mr. Trump’s abrupt dismissal of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, and the disclosure that the president urged Mr. Comey to drop the bureau’s investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn.”

 

It is the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein making this announcement, and not the Attorney General Jeff Session himself making it, likely because AG Sessions had previously recused himself from the Russia investigation due to misstatements related to his meetings with the Russian ambassador Kislyak. In his carefully-crafted statement quoted by the Washington Post, Deputy AG Rosenstein made it clear that this was a very big deal, but also emphasized that this move should not be considered proof of any sort of guilt:

 

“In my capacity as acting attorney general I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a special counsel to assume responsibility for this matter … My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination. What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.’’

 

Robert Mueller is a highly-respected former director of the Bureau, serving as its head from 2001 to 2013. He guided the agency through the attacks of September 11, 2001 (becoming Director of the FBI just one week before 9/11) and he shaped its critical role during the Global War on Terrorism for over a decade. He is just about as serious and credible a person for this role as can be imagined.

BREAKING: Congress Asks FBI for Comey Memos and Calls on Comey to Testify

In a day rocked by revelation after revelation – from President Trump’s tweets defending his discussions with the Russians in the Oval Office to General McMaster’s press conference, and from the controversy over the Trump administration’s equivocation on whether the Western Wall is part of Israel (hint: it is) to the disclosure that the intelligence discussed by Trump with Lavrov & Kysliak originated with Israel – yet another potential bombshell dropped this evening. The New York Times reported that James Comey – fired from the FBI by President Trump exactly one week ago today (and apparently known for being an extremely meticulous note-taker) – had written a memo alleging that, back in February of this year, President Trump seemingly pressured him to drop the FBI investigation into Mike Flynn (which he declined to do):

 

“President Trump asked the FBI director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting. ‘I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo. The evidence of Mr. Trump’s request is the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and FBI investigation into links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia … The memo was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence a continuing investigation … ‘I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey, according to the memo. ‘He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.’ … Mr. Comey created similar memos – including some that are classified – about every phone call and meeting he had with the president.”

 

The White House swiftly issued a flat denial of the allegations, stating in part:

 

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

 

So, with the New York Times report on Comey’s memo alleging interference on the part of President Trump and with the White House claiming it never happened, it became clear that both sides couldn’t be right — and so some members of Congress began to assert their powers to get to the bottom of this. Notably, Jason Chaffetz, the Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, said that Congress deserved to see the memo in question immediately, and that he was already in the process of making sure the truth came to light. In an interview with NBC, Chaffetz was very direct:

 

Q: Reax to Comey memo?

Chaffetz: “If the memo exists, I need to see it and I need to see it right away. We are drafting the ncessary paperwork to get the memo so we will find out in a hurry if it’s out there.”

Q: appropriate for president to ask FBI Director to shut down investigation?

Chaffetz: “I want to read the memo first but on the surface that seems like an extraordinary use of influence to try to shut down an investigation being done by the FBI. I don’t know if it’s true yet but I want to find out if that’s actually out there.”

Q: you could subpoena these memos or Comey?

Chaffetz: “Yes, if it’s out there, I’m gunna need to see it and I’ll use every tool we have to get it.”

 

Chaffetz even took to Twitter to directly state: “@GOPOversight is going to get the Comey memo, if it exists. I need to see it sooner rather than later. I have my subpoena pen ready.” And, just a few minutes ago, the House Committee on Oversight and Government reform sent a letter directly to acting Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe, stating that “If true, these memoranda raise questions as to whether the President attempted to influence or impede the FBI’s investigation as it relates to Lt. Gen. Flynn. So the Committee can consider that question, and others, provide, no later than May 24, 2017, all memoranda, notes, summaries, and recordings referring or relating to any communications between Comey and the President.” Essentially, he asked for all of the Comey memos that the FBI might have in its possession. You can see Chaffetz’s full letter here.

 

After previously declining to testify in closed session in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, many of Comey’s associates predicted that he was absolutely willing to testify – as long as his testimony could be publicly broadcast out to the nation. Well, whether public testimony had been his initial plan or not, it seems like Congress is now likely to force his hand and to compel his public appearance. Senator Lindsey Graham has now repeated his request for Comey to testify in front of the Judiciary Committee, and, after seeing the comments from Congressman Jason Chaffetz demanding to see the Comey memo, Congressman Justin Amash made it clear that he wanted to hear from Comey immediately and publicly:

 

“The allegations reportedly contained in the memo are incredibly serious. Mr. Comey also needs to testify in open session ASAP.”

 

The James Comey saga had been briefly pushed out of the news only when the Trump-Russia Oval Office intelligence discussion controversy consumed the last 24-hour news cycle, but there’s no doubt that he is back at the forefront again. Make no mistake: the allegations supposedly contained in the Comey memo couldn’t be more serious. In his heartfelt farewell letter to the FBI last week, Comey had said “It is done.” In hindsight, it’s safe to say that was a bit premature.

BREAKING: “You’re Hired”? Leading Candidates to Replace Comey at FBI Report For Job Interview on Saturday

Ever since now-former FBI Director Jim Comey’s abrupt firing that shocked Washington D.C., a number of questions have swirled: Why was Comey fired? Was Comey really asked to pledge his loyalty to the President? Why does the White House keep changing its story? Will this lead to some sort of independent commission or special prosecutor? And what does this mean for the variety of investigations surrounding Russia?

 

But there is another immediate & pressing question that needs addressing as well: Who will replace Comey as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (our nation’s premiere law enforcement agency)? Well, in an exclusive from sources inside the White House, Fox News reports that it has obtained a list of the first four leading contenders, all of whom will be interviewing with the Attorney General & Deputy Attorney General on Saturday (May the 13th). From the report:

 

“The four candidates meeting with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy Rod Rosenstein are: Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher, who used to work in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; the acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who recently testified before Congress about the agency’s Russia collusion investigation; Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the current Senate Majority Whip and former attorney general of Texas who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee; Judge Michael J. Garcia of the New York Court of Appeals, who previously served as Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York. The administration is considering nearly a dozen candidates – a list that includes top current and former lawmakers as well as law enforcement figures – to replace fired FBI Director James Comey, a White House official briefed on the matter told Fox News on Friday.”

 

Whoever takes over will be stepping into a media firestorm and into a bright-as-the-sun spotlight with confirmation hearings that are assured to be full of high drama (both real and manufactured). Not to mention the fact that they will be put in charge of winning the trust of and guiding the 35,000 employees of the FBI, handling some of our nation’s most important investigations, enforcing the law, and safeguarding our national security. So who are these candidates, anyway?

 

THE FIRST FOUR BEING INTERVIEWED SATURDAY

 

Former Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher: She’s had a wide-ranging legal career and is currently a Managing Partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Latham & Watkins LLP, the nation’s highest-grossing firm with business & political clients all over the world, where she focuses on criminal investigations, white collar crime, sanctions compliance, fraud, & international security law. She served as an Assistant Attorney General during the Bush administration starting in 2005 (most notably obtaining the Jack Abramoff plea deal) and she’s considered one of the best & most powerful female lawyers in the nation’s capital.

 

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe: He became the Deputy Director of the FBI on January 29, 2016 and assumed the role of Acting FBI Director when Comey was fired on Tuesday. He is dogged by a number of issues, however, including the fact that he contradicted the Trump administration to some extent during his testimony in front of the Senate intelligence committee on Thursday as well as the fact that he is under investigation by DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General over the fact that his wife received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from Clinton allies while he failed to recuse himself from the Clinton email server investigation. Prior to his roles as a deputy & an acting head, he worked out of the FBI’s New York Field Office as well as its Washington Field Office, and he held roles in the Counterterrorism Division and the National Security Branch, as well as leading the High-Value Interrogation Group that was formed in 2009 after the election of President Obama.

 

Texas Senator John Cornyn: He is the senior Senator from the state of Texas, serving in that capacity since 2002. He’s a current member of the Senate Judiciary Committee (including its Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology, & Homeland Security where he had a recent run-in with former DNI James Clapper & former Acting AG Sally Yates). Prior to being a Senator, Cornyn served as the Texas Attorney General from 1998 til 2002. Before that, he was an Associate Justice for the Texas Supreme Court from 1991 til 1997, and before that he was a District Court Judge in Texas from 1985 til 1991. His legal experience spans nearly two decades as either a judge or attorney general plus over a decade and a half in the Senate working on issues related to law enforcement and national security.

 

New York Judge Michael J. Garcia: He has served as an Associate Judge on the New York Court of Appeals since February 8, 2016, after being appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Prior to that he had nearly a decade-long stint in private practice. His previous government experience is pretty extensive though: Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1992 til 2001, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement in 2001 & 2002, Acting Commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in 2002 & 2003, Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement from 2003 til 2005, and then back to the Southern District of New York but this time as its lead US Attorney. He might be most widely known recently for his role as FIFA’s ethics prosecutor (a position he’d eventually resign), where he investigated massive allegations of corruption with soccer’s global body (it’s an incredibly fascinating & disheartening story, and the so-called “Garcia Report” still hasn’t been released).

 

OTHER LEADING CANDIDATES

 

A number of other potential candidates being mentioned who themselves won’t be at Saturday’s job interview with Attorney General Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosentein include: Representative Mike Rogers (a former FBI agent himself); Mayor John Suthers (a former federal prosecutor and now-mayor of Colorado Springs); George Terwilliger (a former deputy attorney general under George HW Bush, Comey-critic, and Republican activist); former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly (who directed the first World Trade Center bombing investigation in the 1990’s); Representative Trey Gowdy (who led the House Benghazi investigation); Paul Abbate (Assistant Director-in-Charge of the FBI); Chuck Rosenberg (the current head of the DEA); J. Michael Luttig (Executive VP of Boeing & a former judge on the appellate court); Ken Wainstein (the very first head of DOJ’s national security division); Larry Thompson (a Comey-critic and former deputy attorney general under George W. Bush); Mark Filip (also a former deputy attorney general as well as a federal judge and Scalia law clerk); Frances Townsend (a Bush homeland security adviser and former NY prosecutor); Michael Anderson (Chicago FBI agent-in-charge); Adam Lee (Richmond FBI agent-in-charge); Kelly Ayotte (former Senator from New Hampshire); Rudy Giuliani (former Mayor of NYC, Trump ally, & 2008 candidate in the Republican presidential primary); Chris Christie (current Governor of New Jersey and early Trump supporter); and even Merrick Garland (Obama’s former Supreme Court nominee for the seat left open by Antonin Scalia that has now been filled by Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch).

 

PICKING A SUCCESSOR

 

Over at National Review, they offer the following advice to President Trump as he decides who will succeed James Comey as head of the Bureau: “Trump now has the similar task of finding a new Justice Department official to succeed Comey. Trump can put to rest the allegations that Comey’s removal obstructs the investigation into the Russian connection by nominating a figure of impeccable credentials and personal integrity who will pledge to continue the investigation no matter where it leads. For that reason, we think that nominating a former elected politician would be a mistake, because that nominee’s every move would raise doubts about partisan motivation – fairly or not. Instead, Trump should pick a former prosecutor or Justice Department official with a reputation for independence and long experience in law enforcement, with few if any ties to the Trump campaign or the administration.” Whoever the pick ends up being, they will certainly have a monumental task in front of them as they work to restore faith & confidence as well as protect the nation. So let’s hope that they are a man or woman of superb skill & redoubtable integrity. The Bureau, and indeed the nation itself, deserves nothing less.

BREAKING: Comey Releases Farewell Letter to FBI Employees (“It is done and I will be fine.”)

In a letter obtained by CNN just a few minutes ago, now-former FBI Director James Comey – fired by President Donald Trump on Monday afternoon – released the following heartfelt farewell to the employees of the FBI, urging them not to focus on his firing but instead to continue to put their energies toward the safeguarding of our nation:

To all:

I have long believed that a President can fire an FBI Director for any reason, or for no reason at all. I’m not going to spend time on the decision or the way it was executed. I hope you won’t either. It is done, and I will be fine, although I will miss you and the mission deeply. I have said to you before that, in times of turbulence, the American people should see the FBI as a rock of competence, honesty, and independence. What makes leaving the FBI hard is the nature and quality of its people, who together make it that rock for America. It is very hard to leave a group of people who are committed only to doing the right thing. My hope is that you will continue to live our values and the mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution. If you do that, you too will be sad when you leave, and the American people will be safer.

Working with you has been one of the great joys of my life. Thank you for that gift.

Jim Comey

 

James Comey was not fired in person, but rather found out about his firing while giving a speech to fellow FBI agents at the Los Angeles field office. Reactions to Mr. Comey’s firing by President Trump have run the gamut — from strongly supportive to reluctantly supportive to extremely opposed and some nuanced reactions in between. The current word on the Hill is that the freshly unemployed former director has been invited to testify in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee as early as next week.

BREAKING: FBI expediting review of Clinton emails after criticism of Comey letter

After facing a storm of bipartisan criticism for his cryptic message about “emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation” of Hillary Clinton, the FBI is attempting to accelerate its examination of hundreds of thousands of emails that may or may not implicate Mrs. Clinton for the improper handling of classified material. Comey’s letter to Congress to “supplement” his previous testimony has upended the presidential election, bringing complaints from both sides of the aisle and rejoicing from Trump supporters.

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), wrote to Comey, “While I disagree with those who suggest you should have kept the FBI’s discovery secret until after the election, I agree that your disclosure did not go far enough.” Grassley continued, “Without additional context, your disclosure is not fair to Congress, the American people, or Secretary Clinton.” Grassley called for a response to congressional queries on the emails by Friday, November 4.

CNN reported that former Attorney General Eric Holder said, “Good men make mistakes. In this instance, he [Comey] has committed a serious error with potentially severe implications.” Holder said that Comey’s letter “violated long-standing Justice Department policies and tradition” that prevent officials from commenting on ongoing investigations and politically sensitive matters for 60 days prior to an election. “I fear he has unintentionally and negatively affected public trust in both the Justice Department and the FBI,” Holder added.

Former Bush Administration Attorney General Alberto Gonzales agreed. “If you delay the announcement, hopefully it’s not going to jeopardize an investigation, it’s not going to jeopardize the pursuit of justice, and voters will have the opportunity to vote on Election Day without information that may in fact be incomplete or untrue,” Gonzales said on CNN.

In the wake of Comey’s letter, it seemed that the FBI was feeling little urgency in the investigation. The Washington Post reported that agents investigating the Wiener case knew of the emails several weeks ago, even though Comey said he only learned of them on Thursday, the day before his letter to Congress. ABC News reported that it was not until Sunday night, three days after Comey learned of the emails, that the FBI finally received a warrant to begin reviewing their contents.

Now that the review is underway, the Los Angeles Times reports that the Justice Department has promised to “dedicate all necessary resources and take appropriate steps as expeditiously as possible.” The investigators are using a computer program to flag emails that require individual review. The number of emails pertinent to the investigation is likely to be a small fraction of the estimated 650,000 emails. Even with expedited handling it is unlikely that the review will be completed before the election.

In the end, there may be nothing new to be found in the pile of emails. In a letter to FBI employees, Comey wrote, “We don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed.” He continued, “Given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression.  In trying to strike that balance, in a brief letter and in the middle of an election season, there is significant risk of being misunderstood.”

It seems that Comey has definitely been misunderstood and has created a misleading and confusing situation for both the voters and the candidates only a week and a half prior to the election. Ronald Hosko, a former senior FBI official, told the LA Times, “I don’t envision a circumstance where this changes dramatically [for Clinton],” but many, including Donald Trump, have received a different impression. Regardless of the content of the emails, the mere announcement of the review can impact the election.

After vague and contradictory statements about the email investigation over the past several months, the FBI owes voters a full and rapid explanation of its findings and the contents of the emails. Voters should not be forced to choose a president based on incomplete and misleading information.

DR Radio

Dead Reckoning Radio: “No Crime” Clinton, Police Shootings, and Pastoral Censorship

  • What is going on with Hillary “extremely careless” Clinton?
  • What’s up with the shootings of black men by police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota?
  • Something coming from Iowa has us worried about censorship of pastors.

    Listen in!

In this episode, Hadley, Brian, and Jay discuss the FBI’s decision to not charge Hillary Clinton, the recent shootings of black me by police in Louisiana and Minnesota, the regulations on speech and bathrooms in Iowa, and more. For the full show notes check out our website.