Putin Is Offering James Comey Asylum

Speaking at his annually televised answer-and-question session to the Russian public, Vladimir Putin made the shocking offer on Thursday to give former FBI director James Comey political asylum if he needs it.

“If Comey will be under the threat of political persecution, we are ready to accept him here,” Putin stated during the speaking engagement. “It sounds very strange when the head of the security services writes down a conversation with the commander-in-chief and then leaks it to the media through his friend.”

Watch the quick exchange below.

In the clip, you can see where Putin actually compares Comey to famous NSA leaker Edward Snowden, who is currently living in Russia under asylum protection. The Russian president builds a narrative that Comey is somewhat of a civil rights activists for leaking information to the public.

There is no doubt in my mind Putin has the audacity to give Comey asylum should the former FBI director seek it. Of course, we know that would never happen. Putin knows this, too.

So then what is the Russian leader doing exactly? What he is doing is trolling the United States. He is trolling us at epic proportions.

There is no real free press in the Russian Federation. Major news outlets are state-run and manipulated by the Kremlin. Putin critics in the media are regularly killed. The idea of press freedom in Russia is a joke.

We know this. And Putin knows we know this

Putin clearly sees the irony in giving people like Edward Snowden and James Comey asylum in the name of government transparency. However, he does this to simply troll our own institutions – if his people are somehow fooled into thinking things are just as bad here as it is there, then that’s just a plus for the Russian president.

You don’t believe he enjoys trolling just for the fun of it? How else can you explain his answer to Oliver Stone earlier in June when asked if he ever has “off” days:

“I am not a woman, so I don’t have bad days,” Putin responded. “I am not trying to insult anyone. That’s just the nature of things. There are certain natural cycles.”

 

Who Has a Better Plan for the Comey Hearing: Trump or These Bars?

Well, rejoice, you have a voice
If you’re concerned about the destination
Of this great nation
It’s called the American Honky-Tonk Bar Association
— Garth Brooks

A man walks into a bar to watch James Comey testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

No, this isn’t a story from The Onion. If you feel the urge to drink while watching the former FBI director give testimony regarding the Russia investigation on Capitol Hill Thursday morning, you’re in luck. Bars in cities ranging from Washington D.C. to Houston to San Francisco will be open early for the hearing, which is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. EST.

Business Insider reports on a number of bars planning such festivities in anticipation of the Comey testimony, including the following:

“Come on… you know you want to watch the drama unfold this Thursday,” Shaw’s Tavern, which will be serving $5 Stoli vodka and “FBI” sandwiches, wrote on Facebook. “Grab your friends, grab a drink and let’s COVFEFE!”

Precisely why people would want to drink as this particular “drama” unfolds is never explicitly stated, though multiple bars are throwing shade and will be offering deals on vodka. (No word on whether Hillary Clinton’s overfoamed beers are on the menu.)

If you’re looking for a good justification to drink on a Thursday morning, I offer President Trump’s planned response the hearing: live tweets. The Hill reports the following:

Two senior White House officials told the newspaper that Trump is planning on responding to Comey’s comments via Twitter, and Trump’s official schedule is clear before his first event at 12:30 p.m.

Whether you wish to drown your sorrows like you might have when stock dipped after some of his tweets, or to toast when he upsets liberals on Twitter, if you have a drinking game planned for his neologisms or simply need to facepalm in the liquid sense in response to his capitalization, if you’d like to sip a Moscow Mule while tuning into the hearings along with Moscow, there’s an excuse for you.

I know Trump’s mishandling of the POTUS Twitter handle would drive me to drinking if I were the White House communications director.

Speaking of Sean Spicer, he says (bless his heart) the president will be focused on other issues, but Newt Gingrich has said that Trump is “infuriated at a deep-gut, personal level” over the media’s coverage of the ongoing Russian investigation story. In Gingrich’s words, Trump is “not going to let some guy like that smear him without punching him as hard as he can.” Roger Stone reiterated that this has been Trump’s sentiment. It’s hard to envision him not responding to the hearing via Twitter.

Regardless, the covfefe will be flying and so will the cocktails. If the neighborhood bar is participating, you have an outlet, a distraction, or a companion, whichever you need. 

Ben Sasse: Comey’s firing ‘exacerbates erosion of trust’ in American institutions

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) is worried that President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey will further “undermined public trust in government” according to The Washington Times.

“I’ve been critical of that decision,” Sen. Sasse told “Face the Nation.” “I think it exacerbates the erosion of trust in our institutions, so I’m disappointed in the timing of the firing.”

Sasse added that there’s still “a lot that we need to understand better about how this happened.”

“There’s been a lot of politicization going on at the Department of Justice over the last five to eight to nine years as well,” he said. “We should want the Department of Justice to be very, very insulated from partisan politics.”

The Senator argued that these developments are part of a “civilization-warping crisis of public trust” in American institutions. Sasse noted that statesmen should work to rebuild that trust and create “a shared sense of what it means to be an American.”

“We’re going to need to have some institutions that we can rely on and believe are apolitical when the public has more and more doubt,” he concluded. “And right now Washington isn’t at all focused on the long-term challenge of rebuilding a shared narrative about America and institutional trust in our servants.”

After the firing, Sasse released a statement calling Comey “an honorable public servant.”

“Regardless of how you think Director Comey handled the unprecedented complexities of the 2016 election cycle, the timing of this firing is very troubling,” he said. “Jim Comey is an honorable public servant, and in the midst of a crisis of public trust that goes well beyond who you voted for in the presidential election, the loss of an honorable public servant is a loss for the nation. As the chairman of the Judiciary Committee’s Oversight Subcommittee, I have reached out to the Deputy Attorney General for clarity on his rationale for recommending this action.”

Chuck Schumer: Democrats Could Block the New FBI Director

Chuck Schumer, who doesn’t know how to anything but pose for cameras, suggested this weekend that Democrats will block Donald Trump’s pick to head the FBI until the Department of Justice agrees to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Schumer spoke with Jake Trapper on meet the press, where Trapper asked about a potential plan to force the DOJ to appoint a special prosecutor by blocking the new FBI Director.

“As you know, the Justice Department would have to appoint a special prosecutor. Senator Mark Warner, he’s the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, he wants the Democratic Party to refuse to vote on the nomination of a new FBI director until [a special prosecutor] is appointed. Do you support that move?”

Schumer, not wanting to waste an opportunity to get some free press, suggested Democrats may continue to play obstructionist in the Senate.

“I think there are a lot of Democrats who feel that way. We’d have to discuss it as a caucus, but I would support that move.”

If this sounds familiar, it’s because Schumer took an equally crazy stand on Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. Schumer wagered that public outcry would prevent Republicans from nuking the filibuster, and he lost. The gamble here is an equally long shot.

The American people are getting tired of this obstructionist nonsense. There’s a reason Jon Ossoff, the democratic candidate in Georgia’s 6th District, is running to the middle and agreeing to work across the aisle. Luckily, establishment Democrats are doing Ossoff no favors. For whatever reason, Democrats in Washington remain completely detached from reality. They honestly believe blocking Trump at every turn is a recipe for success.

At this point, we don’t know who, if anyone, will be appointed. What if Donald Trump follows Mike Lee’s lead and nominates Merrick Garland? It would be absolutely glorious to watch Schumer squirm as he decides whether to block Garland or give Trump his nominee. A reasonable statesman would at least wait on a nominee before threatening to block the President 7 months removed from an election, but then again, nobody has ever accused Schumer of being a reasonable statesman.

Even with the current turmoil in the Trump administration, the Democratic Party can’t seem to get their act together. High profile Democrats like Schumer and Warren are absolutely determined to cause gridlock with pointless political theater. It was abysmal failure and incompetence by the Clinton campaign that put Trump in the White House, and Schumer’s crazy political theater may just keep Republicans in control of Congress. It’s almost like Democrats want to lose.

How Quickly Can the WH Change the Narrative?

Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President of the United States on June 16, 2015. Since that time, the mainstream media has given him no peace and has hounded his every step. All of his speeches, interviews, tweets, policy announcements, and personnel decisions were analyzed, scrutinized, debated and most of the time reviled by the establishment.

By the end of summer 2015, it was readily apparent both the MSM and establishment political structure had the long knives out for him, and were convinced he would be brought down in short order. Going into fall 2015, predictions abounded daily about his demise before the Iowa caucus, then as that proved not to be the case; each startling tweet, controversial policy announcement, and outlandish speech brought new prophecy about the death of his candidacy.

Yet, with each new supposed political crisis, the candidate managed to change the narrative in short order. However it happened, the MSM appeared to have serious attention deficit disorder, running from one shiny new object to the next. Nothing seemed to stick long enough to hurt the Republican front-runner.

As the elected President, Mr. Trump has so far managed to confound both the press and naysayers by moving quickly from one issue to another so that it seems impossible to focus on any one thing long enough to gain traction. The press labeled him “Teflon Don” because he seems to be a savant at changing the narrative at just the perfect time, escaping their grasp every time they thought they had his hide nailed to the side of the barn.

Enter All Things Russia, Russia-gate, the Russian Scandal, the Election Stolen by the Russians, and How the Russians Destroyed Hillary’s Chance to be President. In some form, All Things Russia has had some staying power, primarily because the Clinton machine had to have a scapegoat,  the Democrats in Congress have found it to be a great fund raising tool, and because the MSM pundits don’t really have to work that hard to flog it, and hey everybody loves to hate on Russia once in a while.

Today, The Observer’s John Schindler writes “This Can’t End Well for Trump“. There are two points he makes which would send shivers up anyone’s spine.

It’s difficult to see how this can end well for Team Trump since, even with Comey gone, the FBI will continue its counterintelligence investigation of the White House and the 2016 election, looking for links to Vladimir Putin—and so will Congress. The president may have to worry about the latter as much as the former, particularly in light of the revelation that the Senate Intelligence Committee has turned to the Treasury Department for help in getting to the bottom of Trump’s murky finances. Significantly, Congress is getting support in its investigation from Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, known to insiders as FinCEN. These are the Intelligence Community’s experts in tracking shady financial deals.

No matter how pure and righteous a person is, nobody in their right mind wants anyone in the federal government poring through their financial documents. Danger Will Robinson danger!

Then there is the second minefield, sure to become a hourly talking point within the next few days:

Then there’s the fact that one or more grand juries are busy assessing which members of Team Trump may be facing criminal charges—and for what, exactly? We now have confirmation, after weeks of rumors, that a Federal grand jury in Virginia has issued subpoenas for inquiry into possible illegalities committed by Michael Flynn, the retired Army lieutenant general who briefly served as Trump’s National Security Advisor before he was booted for lying about his connections to Moscow. This grand jury is part of the Justice Department’s broader investigation of KremlinGate, and there are persistent rumors of a second grand jury in New York examining Team Trump. The same sources which reported the Virginia grand jury, weeks before the mainstream media confirmed the story, speak of one in New York—and that indictments are coming.

To be sure, Mr. Schindler is no fan of our President, nor was he a fan during the election season. He is however intellectually honest, well sourced, with an unimpeachable resume. He concludes:

Regardless, if the White House expected that by firing Director Comey they could make their Russia problems go away, they were sorely mistaken. FBI employees were flabbergasted and enraged by the rude manner in which their boss got fired, while people across the Intelligence Community were befuddled by this latest Trumpian tactic. Since the president has repeatedly insulted and demeaned our nation’s spies during his few short months in office, we should now expect a barrage of embarrassing leaks from the IC in response. That’s how the DC game is played.

If past history is predictive, one can assume the White House will change the narrative in short order. From a political aspect, it seems imperative. What would that look like? Which issue would coalesce his supporters and gain him political capital from conservatives, all the while so totally enraging the Democrats and liberal press that they lose all focus on Russia?

One word: Clinton. All things Clinton. Emails. Classified Information. Lying under oath. Ignored subpoenas. State Department cover up. Then for a cherry on top? All things Clinton Foundation.

This is not a prediction, nor an attempt for prophecy. It simply makes sense. The new DOJ is very unhappy about how the old DOJ and FBI treated All Things Clinton and view the outcome as an abomination to justice. Also, the President’s supporters would be ecstatic. All the requisite players are aligned, to say the least.

Other possibilities? North Korea? Venezuela? The UN and/or NATO? But none of these seem “big” enough for the moment.

This scenario might seem outragous and highly unlikely, and it very well might be. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if reports citing anonymous sources begin to hit the press with the words Clinton, investigation, and grand jury featured prominently in the next few days. It’s hard to believe the WH will allow this Russia feeding frenzy to continue much longer.

The beautiful irony is the fact that the Clintons and their coterie were the ones who perfected this exact scheme and performed it so flawlessly time and time again. To many Trump supporters and conservatives, this would be rich irony indeed.

Donald Trump and the Art of Bad Communication

At this point, why would anyone be surprised. This morning, there they were, a series of tweets, by the most powerful man and leader in the world, President Donald J. Trump. Every time major headlines come out of the White House, you can guarantee two things, that the President will tweet and the media will be in a frenzy. On Wednesday morning, those trends continued with gusto.

A day removed from sending his longtime private security guard to deliver the termination letter to FBI headquarters stating that FBI director James Comey would be fired, President Trump spouted off on social media.

No matter how the President or his team spin, the optics of Comey getting fired are not great. President Trump has every right and power under the Consitution to fire whomever the FBI director may be. This has happened before. In 1993, President Clinton ousted William Sessions as FBI director after Sessions refused to voluntarily step down amid ethical concerns.

That being said, from a communication point, it continues to be amateur hour at the White House. The White House is saying that all of Washington (see Trump’s tweet above) lost confidence in Comey, yet Sean Spicer, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Kellyanne Conway have yet to explain what led the President to this direct move. As communicators, their job is to answer the why. They are the information branch of the White House. The President and members of his press staff should heed by the words in Psalm 37, “the mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak what is just.”

For whatever reason, the President and his staff are still under the idea that all publicity is good publicity. That may have been the case on Page Six of the New York tabloids, but that does not work for the Commander and Chief. Ratings last only so long. The American people will eventually get tired of this act.

Words (or in this case tweets) of a President matter. Great leaders always use their words to challenge, inspire, and uplift. FDR’s fireside chats, Kennedy’s inaugural, Reagan against communism, Lincoln at Gettysburg, or President Bush after September 11th. Great communication is not only about speaking well, but it is also the ability to paint a picture of hope. We need a President that we can trust when he speaks or tweets to the American public.  For the good of the republic, dumbing down truthfulness, irreverent babble, attacking senators, or yelling “fake news” does not bring clarity.

 

Why An Independent Commission On Russia is Coming

So far, it seems a split is growing in the GOP over the president, and some are just tired of spinning stories and avoiding questions, every day. No, I’m not going to add to the flood of Comey articles that abound in the wake of his odd firing, I just want to summarize the change in weather patterns.

Within hours of Comey’s firing, Congressman and House Freedom Caucus member Justin Amash (R-MI) called the president’s letter “bizarre.” Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) lamented that he “just can’t… find an acceptable rationale for the timing,” while Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) echoed that sentiment, saying “I am troubled by the timing and reasoning.” Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) also called it “very troubling,” as Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said it only confirmed the need for an independent investigation.

We’ll see how this plays out.

However, something does seem to being missed in this constantly changing news cycle: the political winds are shifting toward establishing an independent commission to investigate the Russia’s election meddling. In Rep. Amash’s tweet about the president’s “bizarre” letter, he himself said his staff is “reviewing legislation to establish an independent commission on Russia.” Meanwhile, both Senators McCain and Lindsay Graham called for one a month ago.

Regardless of where this latest storm lands, far too many questions exist to ignore. And, the Senators just want answers.

It’s probably for the best, since confidence in either side appears to be stretched thin, although the Senate hearings have been full of mutual admiration for civility and “bipartisanship.” Unfortunately, it’s turned CSPAN into MTV Real Life for political junkies like us, and a source of fodder for the president’s twitter feed. An independent commission could work mostly out of the sight of cameras and able to focus on their work.

An independent commission requires an act of Congress, and this likely won’t be difficult to pass. The president could veto the measure, but the number of Republicans wanting an independent commission is growing, and we know the Democrats won’t turn it down. A veto will not stop a commission, if Congress wants one.

I am as frustrated as anyone that these distractions continue, seemingly every day. I’ve made no secret of my distaste for our president since the day he announced his candidacy two years ago. But, here we are, in control of 31 states, the US Senate, the House and (so far) the presidency. I’ll take the wins where and when we can get them. Instead of working on taxation, true health care reform, overhauling government regulation, honest and humane immigration reform, or Article V campaigns, we’re more galvanized than ever. No one wants to talk to the other side, let alone vote for compromises in legislation. Every day, there’s another bombshell story, mistake, or flat out lie that we must rationalize and talk our way around.

I’m sick of it. I want to get something done.

Hopefully, an independent commission can lift the heaviest burden from the House and Senate intel committees, and supplement the work of the DOJ and (hopefully still) the FBI in getting to the bottom of these countless questions. Maybe then, the Senate and House can show Americans why they trusted them time and again to take the reins and prove our policies work better for everyone.

James Comey Finds Out He’s Fired in the Most Uncomfortable Way

This is brutal.

By now, we’ve all heard about the firing of FBI Director James Comey. It’s news that has kept social media buzzing hot all through the evening, as people try to decide if it was a good move, a bad move, an insidious move, or if they care at all.

Most of us have even seen the ice-cold letter sent from the office of President Trump to Comey, informing him of the decision to remove him from his post, immediately.

How did James Comey find out?

Well, apparently, everybody knew before him, and he had to find out in the worst possible way.

From the Washington Examiner:

Comey was “caught flat-footed,” when he looked up and saw on TV that he was fired, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Comey was speaking to FBI agents at a recruiting event and was set to give a speech shortly after. When he saw the news report on TV, he allegedly laughed and said he thought it was a fairly funny prank.

Yeah, this is gonna leave a mark.

He was then escorted to an office, where staff informed him that it wasn’t a prank, and that he was, indeed, fired.

Needless to say, Comey didn’t give his speech, afterwards. I can’t think of a more awkward position to be in.

The firing is said to be in response to findings by the Justice Department that suggest he botched the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails last year.

Let’s face it: That really was a roller coaster ride, and many were left scratching their heads after Comey reeled off a list of violations by Clinton, only to top that off with the announcement that he would not be recommending charges against her.

Trump said he acted based on the recommendations of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who found that Comey’s improperly moved to “usurp” the attorney general’s authority and decided not to prosecute Clinton.

While the left has been quite vocal (and shrill), voices on the right have been a bit more controlled and gracious.

Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse issued a statement after the news broke, calling Comey “an honorable public servant.”

Speculations will probably continue to run amok, for some time.

However, as Erick pointed out earlier, Comey’s replacement is a Democrat, whose wife was supported by the Clinton machine, so it’s unlikely that this was done to derail the Russia investigation, as some have suggested.