It’s Been Exactly A Week Since President Trump Fired James Comey, And Those Close To The Former FBI Director Are Not Inclined To Let Bygones Be Bygones
The New York Times says President Trump asked Comey to shut down the federal investigation into Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. According to the Times, that happened in an Oval Office meeting in February. The source: a memo Comey wrote himself shortly after the meeting. The Times says it did not actually see the memo; the story is sourced to two people who read the memo, and then read parts of it to the Times.
Trump’s words as recollected in the memo: “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.” Trump has not hidden his fondness for Flynn, one of his earliest supporters, despite the fact that he fired Flynn for lying to Vice President Pence about discussions with Russia. (Only AFTER it was reported in the media.) That sentiment continues to be reflected in a statement issued by the White House in reaction to the Times report:
“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 is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the President and Mr. Comey.”
Late last evening, Republican Jason Chaffetz, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee said the FBI needs to produce the memo if it’s got it. He Tweeted:
.@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.
— Jason Chaffetz (@jasoninthehouse) May 16, 2017
At the same time, others in Congress say it’s up to the Times to prove the validity of the document.
Opinions related to this new bombshell were many and far-ranging. We picked a few:
New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait calls Comey’s Memo “the smoking gun of Donald Trump’s Watergate.”
Lawfareblog discusses whether Trump’s conduct meets the legal definition of “obstruction of justice.” Answer: assuming the Times story is completely accurate, probably, though it’s a very hard charge to prove.
The Daily Beast: “Trump Officials on Comey Memo: ‘Don’t See How Trump Isn’t Completely F*cked’” (But since that isn’t an actual quote from any Trump official in the story, we could’ve done without the vulgar headline.)
Even Breitbart was subdued in it’s coverage (at least for Breitbart) saying only: “New York Times Oversells ‘Comey’s Revenge’ Story.”
Now back to the other big story that was overtaken by the Comey memo….
Putin Says He Wants To Help The President Out, Says U.S. In State of “Political Schizophrenia”
The Washington Post reports this morning Russian President Vladimir Putin will give over records of his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s meeting with Trump last week. (Of course, only if the White House says it’s OK.) Putin denies Lavrov passed on any secret intel to Russia as the result of the meeting.
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster Says What President Trump Discussed With Russians Was “Wholly Appropriate”
Let’s accept this as fact. Still begs the question, why didn’t McMaster say everything was on the up-and-up a day ago? Instead of launching into a sideways attack at the Washington Post, refuting things their story never said, making it seem like it was wholly untrue?
And then President Trump comes along with some early morning Tweets, saying, yes he did share intel with Russia and had the “absolute right” to do so. He’s right: he had every right to do it. But again we ask: why didn’t he just say this in the first place?
As a point of reference, we link once more to the original story in the Washington Post. And also a story analyzing McMaster’s statements of the last two days, demonstrating while he is obviously angry, nothing he’s said refutes anything the Post actually alleges. (Yes, it would be better if this piece was done by someone other than the Washington Post, but it’s still interesting.)
We also found this curiously compelling: a post from conservative blogger and radio host Erick Erickson. In it, Erickson claims to know one of the sources of the story and says that person is, or was, a very strong Trump supporter, who is trying to send a message to Trump. Erickson himself is no fan of Trump.
Israel Was The Source
The New York Times reports the classified information President Trump shared with the Russians came from Israel, and could complicate what have been generally good relations ahead of Trump’s visit to Israel next week.
ABC’s respected investigative reporter Brian Ross reports Trump’s disclosure to the Russians puts the life of a spy in jeopardy, who is working inside ISIS on Israel’s behalf.
Laptop Ban Is Coming
One detail Trump apparently shared with Russia: an Isis plot involving laptops on airplanes. As a result, the U.S. is likely to expand a laptop ban in the cabins of U.S. bound international flights pretty soon. The U.S. already bans laptops on flights from several Mideast countries. Airlines want more time to figure out how to secure the devices without risking fire or theft.
McConnell To White House: Grow Up! And While You’re At It, Hire Merrick Garland
The Senate Majority Leader telling Bloomberg he’d like to see a little less “drama” from the White House. And he enthusiastically recommends Trump choose former Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland to head up the FBI. Of course, McConnell’s interference is the main reason Garland is not right now on the supreme court. And Garland says he’s not interested in the FBI job anyway. Why would he be? Giving up a lifetime appointment to the second most important court in the land for an easily fireable post as lieutenant to Trump/Sessions? Opening his spot on the court to an ultra-conservative judge? So we think it’s a bit dastardly that McConnell’s telling the White House to stop playing games, while he continues to play games himself.
Food For Thought
James Comey might have had a role helping a President get elected and now helping a President get impeached.