“If It’s Possible, Would You Let Me Know, Am I Under Investigation? He Said, ‘You Are Not Under Investigation'”
Every time we see the President explain how then-FBI chief James Comey first let him know he wasn’t being investigated for Russia ties, we hear the voice of Trump’s fellow reality TV star, Judge Judy, saying “No! That’s not the way normal people speak to each other!” Obviously, we were not at Trump’s dinner with Comey, so we can’t be sure what was actually said, only that the logical response to Trump’s question would’ve probably been more along the lines of “You know I can’t tell you that” or “What? What did you just ask me?”
Plus “If it’s possible…”?! Trump isn’t exactly known for saying “pretty please.”
Trump’s recollections came in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt. Also in the interview, Trump admitted he was going to fire Comey anyway; it was his decision alone and not influenced by recommendations from the Justice Department. Problem with that is the White House and Vice President Pence repeatedly stated exactly the opposite: that Trump only acted on the advice of Justice. Trump said the other two times Comey told him he was not under investigation–first referred to in his now-famous firing letter–happened during phone conversations, one initiated by him, one by Comey. He also denounced Comey as a “showboat and grandstander” who left the FBI “in turmoil.” Because of course there can only be one showboat and grandstander.
You can watch those segments of the interview here:
The New York Times published an entirely different account of what they speculate was the same dinner (since Trump and Comey are only known to have dined together once.) In their telling, which is from Comey’s point-of-view and attributed to conversations Comey “recounted to others”, he was asked several times to pledge his loyalty to Trump. Instead, he told Trump that he would only promise to be “honest.” Trump pressed him, asking if he could at least expect “honest loyalty.” (Whatever that means.) The White House says the Times report is not correct. [Note to Trump: It’s not part of the FBI Director’s job description to be loyal to the President.]
Mini-Editorial: White House Staff’s Main Job Is Proving Their Loyalty To The President, Not To The American People
That’s why they keep repeating the same untrue or half-true statements, because their job is to toe the line, and woe to them if they cross it. The Comey firing has made that even clearer. The President can say whatever he wants. And if he contradicts, so what? Only he should be making the headlines anyway. Anybody he perceives is trying to showboat? To grandstand? Well, we now know what happens to them…
Acting FBI Director McCabe Contradicts Both Trump And White House Staff
How much longer do we think Andrew McCabe will be on the job? Hint: Attorney General Jeff Sessions is taking the unusual step of interviewing alternates for the Acting Director position, while also lining up candidates for permanent FBI chief. McCabe appeared in Comey’s place at a previously scheduled Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing.
On Trump Campaign/Russia investigation:
McCabe: “…highly significant.”
White House: “…probably one of the smallest things that they’ve got going on their plate.”
Trump: “…this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.”
On support for Comey within the bureau:
McCabe: “Director Comey enjoyed broad support within the FBI and still does to this day.”
White House: “…countless members of the FBI…are grateful on the president’s decision.”
Trump: “The FBI has been in turmoil. I know that. You know that. Everybody knows that.”
Sessions Orders More Prison Time For Drug Crime
The New York Times reporting this morning Attorney General Jeff Sessions is ordering drug dealers be charged with the most serious crimes possible, carrying the most severe penalties. That reverses Obama-era policies, which allowed federal prosecutors a lot of leeway, so long as defendants were not gang or drug cartel members. Obama’s intent: to roll back the effects and costs of mass incarceration for non-violent crimes. One big question: what happens in states that have legalized marijuana already? Vendors in those states still technically violate federal law. Most of them would now be subject to a mandatory minimum 10 year federal prison sentence, if the feds decide to come in.
Where In The World Is Sean Spicer?
Were you wondering that, considering the press secretary hasn’t been doing any of the briefings for the past couple of days? No, he hasn’t been fired. And it apparently has nothing to do with reports he hid behind a bush to avoid media following the Comey firing. White House says Spicer is a Navy reservist, and was long scheduled to be off this week for duty. (Then again, Trump made his move on Comey when the former FBI director went out of town…)
Smelling Blood? Or Smelling Victory?
One editor’s view: Here’s why it’s so important an independent counsel or select committee be named in aftermath of the Comey firing: if that doesn’t happen, momentum shifts back to Trump. It becomes a victory for him, and his authoritarian tendencies. It’s that simple. The extreme nausea and severe whiplash we’ve all had to endure this week dissipates. All that talk about it derailing his political agenda? Where? How? Trump Thursday formed a “voter fraud commission” to investigate an election he won, and no major figure within his party made a peep. Lingering anger inside the FBI could still come back to haunt him, yes. But the most likely scenario we see playing out? Despite negative initial reaction, it flips to a win for Trump, where he ultimately loses not much, and gains significantly more power to do what he pleases to whomever he wants. And it’ll be a clear signal his actions going forward come without consequences, including from Congress, and certainly not from a Justice Department headed by one of his fiercest disciples. And that’s dangerous.
An opposing view: This might be the beginning of impeachment. In Lester Holt’s interview, Trump said “when I decided to do it (fire Comey), I said to myself.. this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story.” If that’s not textbook “obstruction of justice”, what else is? Sure, the Republicans in Congress are mostly standing by or looking the other way right now, as they hope they can still push through their conservative agendas. But if they start fearing Trump will hurt their own re-election prospects, as it gets closer to the mid-terms, it’s possible they will finally turn on Trump, Nixon-style. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but this editor is NOT ready to declare this a Trump victory just yet.