Meet James Comey, The New Benedict Arnold

James Comey wants his legacy to be as Superman, standing up to a despotic President Donald Trump, who demanded his personal loyalty above his duty to the law. But really, his legacy will be as the FBI director who put politics above the law, pandering to the Obama administration and the Clinton gang.

In early drafts of Comey’s public statement, the one in July in which he said no prosecutor would prefer charges against Hillary Clinton, he used the words “grossly negligent” in respect to her handling of classified material. This was later changed to “extremely careless.”

The facts in the investigation did not change. No special exonerating information emerged between the early draft and the final announcement. In fact, later evidence clearly supported criminal charges, especially after emails were found on Anthony Weiner’s laptop.

This is why the words “grossly negligent” matter:

A federal statute provides criminal penalties for “gross negligence,” but Comey in his public statement on July 5 instead called Clinton “extremely careless” in her handling of classified information when she was secretary of state. He said no prosecutor would bring a criminal case against her.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley put it more succinctly. Clinton “violated the statute.”

“Although Director Comey’s original version of his statement acknowledged that Secretary Clinton had violated the statute prohibiting gross negligence in the handling of classified information, he nonetheless exonerated her in that early, May 2nd draft statement anyway, arguing that this part of the statute should not be enforced,” Grassley said in a letter to Wray.

Meanwhile, Democrats want to keep the focus on any link between Trump and the Russians, no matter how many links there were between the DNC, Clinton campaign and the very same Russians.

They want Comey to be their hero, when he’s not being blamed for Hillary’s loss. The loser here is, of course, Comey, who will go down in history as less appealing than Benedict Arnold. But his book will sell well.

Comey should have gone with the law all along. He should have prosecuted Clinton. Donna Brazile would have gladly made Joe Biden the nominee (or Bernie Sanders would have lost by at least 79 more electoral votes than Clinton). The outcome would not have changed, since Trump would have probably pardoned Clinton anyway. As a matter of fact, things would have been much smoother.

Now Comey’s legacy will be as the man who began the sad march toward American chaos, where the Russians laugh at us. All because he went for politics over the law.

Confused? Here’s This Week’s Russia/Clinton/DNC News Distilled Down to Bullet Points

This Russia / Trump / Comey / Clinton campaign / DNC story is complex and has become unwieldy. Add to that the first charges in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election were filed yesterday, and it’s enough to make anyone feel like the first time they waded into The Lord of the Rings: Too many names and places and dates.

The instinct is to tune out because we’re all busy and we don’t have time to weed through all of this. Because of that, I thought I’d boil it down for you so you could be informed in the quickest way possible. This story is important for many reasons. Please don’t tune out.

The Players:

Fusion GPS: A law firm hired to do opposition research

Christopher Steele: Former MI6, hired by the Clinton campaign and the DNC, compiled the salacious and not-entirely-corroborated “Trump Dossier”

James Comey: Was FBI director at the time; Used Christopher Steele’s dossier on Trump (paid for by the Clinton Campaign and the DNC) to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on the Trump campaign in 2016

Natalia Veselnitskaya: Russian lawyer, met with Donald Trump Jr. in June 2016, claiming to have dirt on Hillary Clinton

Rinat Akhmetshin: In the same meeting with Donald Trump Jr.; former Soviet counterintelligence officer, reportedly worked for GRU (Russian Military Intelligence), specializing in subversive political influence operations involving disinformation and propaganda. He was working with Fusion GPS lobbying for Kremlin interests to ease international sanctions.

Why is this just now coming to light:

The Fusion GPS, on Tuesday, was released from their client confidentiality obligation, which is how we now know about the Clinton campaign and DNC involvement in all of this.

The New York Times published an expose on this earlier in the week, with correspondent Maggie Haberman angrily tweeting, “Folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year”

What happened:

  • It has now been revealed that Fusion GPS was originally hired by Free Beacon to do opposition research into Trump and other GOP candidates from Fall 2015—Spring 2016.
  • When they discontinued with Fusion GPS, the Clinton campaign and the DNC picked up where they left off and additionally hired Christopher Steele (MI6 Trump dossier guy).
  • Steele came up with the Trump dossier and spread it around D.C. (including the FBI) in the summer of 2016.
  • The FBI (remember James Comey?) used the dossier (paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC) to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on the Trump campaign.
  • Steele also spread the dossier to reporters in the fall of 2016 in the weeks leading up to the election, but reporters chose not to report on it until January 2017 (you know, when Trump was being inaugurated?).
  • An additional part of this story is a meeting which took place in June 2016 between Donald Trump, Jr., Natalia Veselnitskaya (Russian lawyer), and Rinat Akhmetshin (former Soviet counterintelligence officer specializing in disinformation and propaganda).
  • Trump, Jr. took the meeting because he was promised dirt on Hillary Clinton (which he never got).

Here are the main points (and why you should care) :

1) The Russians were playing both sides against the middle in last year’s campaign. They were involved, clearly, but their main goal was to sow division among us. This kind of scheming is old hat for them (I mean, hello, this is the former Soviet Union we’re talking about. If you’re unfamiliar with their tactics, I would encourage you to brush up on their history).

The question is: Will we continue to walk blithely along, not acknowledging that a foreign government would use underhanded means to cause our nation harm by influencing our elections?

2) Whichever side of the political spectrum you fall on, if anyone is found to have committed criminal activity, they should go to jail like you or I would if we had committed the same crimes.

We were always supposed to be “a nation of laws, and not of men,” meaning that it didn’t matter what your connections were or how powerful you were—justice was blind. At this point, we can either return to being the constitutional republic we once were, or we can embrace cults of personality, complete with the corruption characteristic of every other banana republic.

3) At the end of the day, we still need to look at as the responsible parties for this pile of political puke. It’s taken us a long time to get here, and it will take us a long time to clean it up, but our politicians are a reflection of us. Yes. They are.

You may hate Donald Trump—or you may hate Hillary Clinton. But we must get back to the core of truly wanting justice no matter who’s involved. Look. James Comey had to have known that Dossier was funded by the Clinton Campaign and the DNC.

If you hate Donald Trump and are glad he acted the way he did (meaning, as FBI director, he was acting in a thoroughly political manner), just consider: Would you be glad if the Trump FBI chief did the same thing?

I suspect not. Corruption is corruption, and if we don’t return to being the people who require honesty and blind justice from their politicians (because we are honest and require that of ourselves), we can, ultimately, wave goodbye to our freedoms and admit that our side winning was more important than the freedoms it was our duty to preserve for our children.

Did James Comey Break The Law With Trump Memos?

The former FBI director may be in some hot water.

A bombshell report from The Hill revealed that four of the seven “Trump memos” created by James Comey contained classified information. The revelations contradict statements the fired FBI director made during a Senate Intelligence committee hearing and undermine his past criticism of Hillary Clinton.

While still employed by the White House, Comey created the memos following conversations with the president. The two first met during a one-on-one private dinner at the White House on January 27. They also spoke privately in the Oval Office on February 14. During their conversation at the Oval Office, Trump reportedly asked the former FBI director to close the investigation of Michael Flynn. Comey says he decided to keep notes because his interactions with Donald Trump made him feel uneasy.

Government officials determined that four of the memos contain information that have been marked as as both “Confidential” and “Secret” by the FBI.

Not only did Comey remain in possession of the memos even after getting the boot on May 9, he also leaked at least one of the documents to a Columbia law professor friend, Daniel Richman. Comey’s intention of leaking the memo to Richman was to instigate a special counsel investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Richman did, in fact, share the memo with the New York Times.

“I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter,” Comey said in testimony. “I didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.”

During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in June, Comey insisted he believed that the memos he created were unclassified: “My thinking was if I write it in such a way that I don’t include anything that would trigger a classification, that would make it easier to discuss within the FBI and the government and to hold onto it in a way that makes it accessible to us,” he stated.

What does all this mean for James Comey?

A lot remains to be seen. If he is found to have conducted “unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material,” he would be in direct violation of 18 U.S. Code § 1924. However, that “unauthorized” part may be tricky.

As the acting FBI director, Comey was at liberty to authorize what information can be classified and unclassified. However, Comey kept the documents long after he was fired. Also, Politico is now reporting that some of the memos were retroactively classified, further complicating this growing drama.

Who Actually Believed Trump Had Tapes Of His Comey Conversations?

Did anyone believe there were actually recordings of the private conversations between President Trump and former FBI Director James Comey?

After the reports of the uncomfortable, private conversations between Trump and former FBI Director James Comey were made public, Trump was not a happy camper.

Comey had written in personal memos about those meetings that Trump, at one point, had asked for “loyalty,” and in an Oval Office meeting, after having dismissed his aides, including senior adviser Jared Kushner, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions (both who seemed to pause, as if unsure leaving was the right thing to do, in that moment), Trump stated that he hoped Comey could see his way to dropping the investigation surrounding ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Comey later testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that Trump did not ask him, directly, to stop the investigation. He simply said he “hoped” Comey could let Flynn go.

Flynn was fired from his position as national security adviser only three weeks into the job, after it was discovered he failed to disclose contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak. He also misled Vice President Pence about those contacts.

After news of Comey’s memos was revealed, President Trump took to his favorite venue – Twitter – and said that Comey had better hope there were no tapes of their conversations, before he started leaking to the press.

He has a way of stepping on his own feet.

Many took that to mean that there were. In fact, during Comey’s June 8 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, he was asked if he had knowledge of any such tapes.

Comey’s response was: “Lordy, I hope there are tapes!”

Immediately following Comey’s testimony, the House Intelligence Committee gave the White House a deadline of June 23, 2017 to turn over any recordings Trump may have had.

Trump responded to the demands by saying during a Rose Garden press conference that he would reveal whether there were tapes or not in the very near future.

With the deadline fast approaching and nowhere to turn, Trump was back on Twitter to come clean.

So, in other words, more bluster? To be fair, Trump never said there were tapes, but only hinted, solely for the sake of riling Comey and the media.

President Trump is doing himself no favors by continuously goading the press, and those who are legitimately trying to work through an issue of a hostile foreign government threatening the integrity of our voting system.

Does he want this all to go away?

Many of us are fatigued by the constant scandal, but maintaining our republic was never going to be a trouble-free process.

To quote Patrick Henry: The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.

How soon we forget.

Trump Claims ‘Vindication’ For Something Comey Never Said

In the days since the Senate testimony by former FBI Director James Comey, the Trump camp has claimed that the testimony vindicated the president. Beginning with a tweet by the president the following day, Trump supporters claim “total and complete vindication” from Comey’s statements under oath. However, the claim focuses on only one part of Comey’s testimony and the claim of vindication is for something that Comey never said.

The focus of the Trump Administration since last Thursday when Comey testified was Comey’s statement under oath that President Trump was not under investigation by the FBI. The problem with this claim is that Comey had never claimed that the president was personally under investigation.

It is likely that many people may have assumed after Comey’s Senate testimony in March that President Trump was being investigated, but a look back shows that Comey never made that claim. Comey’s testimony a month before he was fired contained the bombshell revelation that the FBI was investigating the Trump campaign for its links to Russia, but he never said that the president was under direct scrutiny.

Here is a look back at what then-FBI Director James Comey said before Congress on March 20, 2017 (video available here):

I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. That includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts. As with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment as to whether any crimes were committed.

Comey told Congress that the FBI was investigating “individuals associated with the Trump campaign,” not the president. The individuals were left unnamed, but FBI inquiries about Mike Flynn, Carter Page, Roger Stone and Paul Manafort had been known for months. Carter Page was the target of a FISA warrant obtained by the FBI prior to the election last year.

At some point after the March testimony, President Trump apparently became obsessed with the idea of proving that he was not under investigation. Comey testified that he privately assured the president that he was not under investigation on several occasions. Comey also said that the president asked him to publicly announce that he was not under investigation, a request Comey resisted because “because it would create a duty to correct, should that change.” In his letter firing Comey, Trump awkwardly thanks Comey for “informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation.”

Trump supporters seem to believe that, since the president was not under investigation, that Comey’s firing could not be an obstruction of justice. To the contrary, Trump was alleged to have interfered with the investigation of Michael Flynn, not an investigation into his own ties with Russia. Even though the FBI probe was targeted at Flynn, Page and the others instead of Trump, firing the FBI director to interfere with the investigation could still represent obstruction of justice.

A second trope by Trump supporters is that since Trump was not under investigation, the inquiries by the Congress and the Special Counsel should be halted. This represents a misunderstanding of what the investigations are about. These investigations were also not targeting Trump personally. The purpose of the congressional investigations is to determine exactly what Russia did to interfere in the 2016 elections. The investigation by Special Counsel Bob Mueller focuses on whether any members of the Trump campaign worked with Russian operatives and whether any crimes were committed.

Despite the Trump Administration spin, James Comey’s testimony did not clear the president. In fact, the most damaging part of Comey’s June 8 testimony may be a statement that has scarcely been mentioned. When asked why he thought Trump fired him, Comey answered, “Again, I take the president’s words. I know I was fired because of something about the way I was conducting the Russia investigation was in some way putting pressure on him, in some way irritating him, and he decided to fire me because of that.”

The investigations will continue and President Trump is not in the clear.

Did Donald Trump Jr. Confirm Comey’s Testimony?

 

In the days after James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, President Trump denied the former FBI director’s claims, telling reporters at a press conference last week, “James Comey confirmed a lot of what I said. And some of the things that he said just weren’t true.” Trump continued, ”And there would be nothing wrong if I did say it according to everybody that I’ve read today, but I did not say that.”

Now it seems as though the president’s son may have corroborated Comey’s claim that President Trump told him, “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.”

In an interview with Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro on Saturday, June 10, Donald Trump Jr. said that he thinks Comey misinterpreted President Trump’s words. “You and I both know my father a long time,” Trump Jr. said. “When he tells you to do something, guess what? There’s no ambiguity in it.”

“There’s no: ‘Hey, I’m hoping — you and I are friends. Hey I hope this happens, but you’ve got to do your job.’ That’s what he told Comey. And for this guy, as a politician, to then go back and write a memo, ‘Oh, I felt threatened.’ He felt so threatened, but he didn’t do anything,” Trump Jr. continued.

Donald Trump Jr.’s statement that President Trump expressed his hope that the FBI would “let this go” is a direct contradiction to the president’s claim that he “did not say that.” The younger Trump’s statement also contradicts a claim by the president’s personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz, who categorically said that President Trump “never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone, including suggesting that Mr. Comey ‘let Michael Flynn go’” per Business Insider.

While his statement undercuts his father’s claim that he never told Comey he hoped the Flynn matter would be let go, Donald Trump Jr. has echoes Trump’s second statement that his hope to Comey was not a command.

With less debate over what President Trump said, the question becomes one of context and how the message was delivered. Unless there are tapes of the conversations, the dispute will remain centered on who people choose to trust more.

I Don’t Care for Trump, But I Don’t Believe He Obstructed Justice

My feelings on Donald Trump have been well known for a long time. I think he is a detriment to the GOP and the party is on the verge of annihilation because of him. I think the sooner the party stands up to Trump to sooner the party can figure out how to survive. I think the man needed some latitude as a novice chosen to sit in the big chair, but the man has doubled down on ignorance instead of trying to learn on the job.

But I do not think the man is guilty of obstruction of justice. I do not think the man even tried to obstruct justice. I think it is notable that all the people screaming the loudest about this are partisan Democrats. Yes, I think James Comey is a good man and an honorable man, but I also think Comey is sympathetic to the Democrats. Barack Obama would not have appointed Comey if Comey leaned right.

The Democrats can trot out all the old Watergate warriors and all the people fired by Donald Trump all they want. But I do not think Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice. I do not think Donald Trump worked with the Russians to steal the election. I do not believe the parade of awfuls that Democrats keep screaming about to mobilize and energize their base.

The problem for the GOP, however, is Donald Trump is not a believable person. His base is starting to get tired of defending the indefensible. He has contradicted his own White House team repeatedly. He has caused more confusion, and all these injuries to his administration are self-inflicted. He is his own worst enemy cheered on by enablers in the media and the crowds around him.

But still, I do not believe he obstructed justice. The one other thing I do believe, however, is Robert Mueller is a fair man who understands the gravity of the situation. I do not condone the character assassination of James Comey, nor do I condone the character assassination of Robert Mueller. If Robert Mueller finds that the President did obstruct justice based on his review of the situation, I will have to reconsider my position.

Until then, the daily cavalcade of hysterics from Democrats makes me more likely to believe the President.

Mike Flynn Is the Key To the Trump-Comey Dispute

As the furor rages unabated after the testimony of James Comey, both sides are coming to the realization that it settled nothing. Comey said just enough to allow both sides to reinforce their preconceived notions and declare a victory. Comey’s testimony is not the end, but is more like pulling a thread that causes other threads to unravel. Even though Comey did not present irrefutable evidence of criminal activity by the president, he did make a blatant accusation that the president is corrupt. The investigations will continue and, at this point, it seems that the trails all point toward Michael Flynn.

The investigation of Michael Flynn is at the center of the dispute between James Comey and President Trump. In Comey’s opening statement, the former director claimed that it was the investigation of Flynn that prompted Trump’s alleged request that, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy.”

Who is Michael Flynn? Flynn is a retired US Army general who rose to command the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Obama. He served honorably in both the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters of the War on Terror. Flynn abruptly retired a year early from his position at the DIA, apparently under pressure from the Obama Administration. Sean Spicer confirmed in May that Barack Obama had warned the Trump camp about getting too close to Flynn.

In fact, Flynn became an early advisor to the Trump campaign and was considered as a vice presidential candidate. Flynn eventually was appointed as President Trump’s National Security Advisor after delivering a fiery speech to the Republican National Convention.

As National Security Advisor, Flynn lasted just over three weeks. The issue was false statements that Flynn had made to Vice President Pence, Press Secretary Spicer and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Before the election and during the transition, Flynn had secret communications with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak in which he discussed sanctions that the Obama Administration had imposed on Russia in response their interference in the election. Flynn denied discussing the sanctions until the Washington Post reported that leaks revealed that there was evidence from surveillance that Flynn was not being truthful.

Even after Flynn’s duplicity was revealed, Trump waited 18 days before finally deciding to fire him. Shortly after the Flynn’s dismissal on the basis of loss of trust, The Hill reported that Trump called him “a wonderful man” and said that the media had treated him “badly.” The is in sharp contrast to the firing of Comey, who was attacked by Trump on Twitter in the days after his dismissal.

Since leaving the White House, Flynn’s troubles have only gotten worse. Flynn is under investigation for failing to disclose a $33,000 payment from the Russian state-owned propaganda network, RT, after leaving the DIA. The New York Times reported in April that Flynn initially failed to disclose other payments from “companies linked to Russia.”

Flynn also may have broken the law by doing consulting work that benefitted the government of Turkey without the permission of the US government. After being fired by Trump, Flynn registered with the US government as a paid foreign agent for work done the year before that could have aided the Turkish government. Flynn may have also failed to fully disclose his contracts and payments from the Turkish consulting work.

Further, the Wall Street Journal reported that Flynn met with Turkish government contacts last summer, while he was still working for the Trump campaign, and discussed the possibility of returning Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric that Turkey blames for last summer’s failed military coup, without going through legal US extradition procedures. Former CIA Director James Woolsey said the discussion involved “a covert step in the dead of night to whisk this guy away.” Woolsey said he did not hear a specific plan and would have objected if he had.

Even before Donald Trump was nominated as the Republican candidate, Flynn drew criticism for his ties to Russia. In December 2015, Flynn was paid $45,000 by RT to speak at the network’s 10th anniversary gala. The network also paid airfare for the trip and hosted Flynn at a luxury hotel in Moscow according to NBC News. Flynn sat at the same table as Russian President Vladimir Putin at the event.

In 2013, as head of the DIA, Flynn arranged a controversial trip to Russia for a group of US intelligence officers with the goal of building a working relationship with the GRU, Russian military intelligence. Flynn planned to host GRU officers in the US, but the Russian invasion of Crimea led to chilled relations between the two countries.

There are many questions about Mike Flynn that are unanswered. There is not even a definitive answer on how Flynn and Trump came to know each other. In an interview with the New Yorker, Flynn claimed he hit it off immediately with Trump in an August 2015 meeting in New York. In his interview with NBC News in May 2017, Trump denied knowing Flynn in 2015 In any case, Flynn was identified as an advisor to Trump by February 2016.

Trump’s relationship with Michael Flynn is central to the question of whether the president tried to interfere in the investigation of Flynn and whether he abused his authority in firing Director Comey. Trump is also alleged to have asked other intelligence officials to back off from the Flynn investigation. When asked by senators, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Advisor Mike Rogers said that they have never been “pressured” to interfere in an investigation. Neither would answer the question of whether Trump had ever broached the subject, however.

Right now, even after James Comey’s testimony, there are far more questions than answers. At this point, it is unknown whether a crime has been committed by either Mike Flynn or Donald Trump, but if there has been no crime then what has the White House cover-up been about? Did President Trump act illegally to protect Flynn? If so, why? Why did Trump really fire Comey? And why fire him when he did, months after taking office and seemingly out of the blue? The timing of the firing endangered the Republican legislative agenda at a time when the Republican health care reform had just passed the House and the party was looking towards tax reform.

Mike Flynn seems to hold many of the answers, but he isn’t talking. The retired general is invoking his fifth amendment right against self-incrimination and refusing to comply with a subpoena to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee.  Flynn also initially refused to comply with a subpoena for personal documents relating to his businesses. Eventually Flynn agreed to provide some documents after senators issued subpoenas his businesses as well.

With Special Counsel Bob Mueller likely investigating Flynn alongside the Senate Intelligence Committee, the probe into the Russian interference in the election and possible collaboration by members of the Trump campaign isn’t over yet. It’s just getting started and the relationship between President Trump and Gen. Flynn is likely to generate many more headlines before it’s over.