Tag Archives: James Comey

Stand firm, FBI director Wray

I want to declare right here and right now my strong desire for FBI director Christopher Wray to stay where he is, in charge of the world’s premier law enforcement/investigative agency.

You see, Wray has just been undermined by the man who appointed him to his office, the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.

Trump told ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos that he would accept information about a political foe presented to him by a foreign power, even a hostile foreign power, such as, oh, Russia.

Director Wray, though, has said specifically and categorically that any political candidate whose campaign receives such information must turn it over the FBI.

Trump said when reminded of Wray’s view by Stephanopoulos that “The FBI director is wrong.”

There you have it. The president once again is refusing directly to back the wisdom cited by the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Do not go anywhere, Christopher Wray.

Yes, it likely will be a trying time for Wray as the 2020 presidential election gets into full swing. The Russians attacked our electoral system in 2016. Wray’s predecessor as FBI director, James Comey, began looking deeply into “The Russia Thing” and got fired by the president.

The FBI needs a strong leader. Christopher Wray appears to be a grownup and a law enforcement and legal pro. I realize that an ethical professional would find it trying, indeed, to work in a government administration led by someone without an scintilla of ethical understanding.

I just want to beseech Christopher Wray. The nation needs this man. Badly.

AG proving to be a major disappointment

Oh, how I wanted William Barr to be the right remedy for a Justice Department under siege from the president of the United States.

The attorney general took office after a contentious confirmation hearing. It is the AG’s second tour of duty at DOJ. He’s an experienced hand and reportedly a fine lawyer with a steel-trap legal mind.

He has been a disappointment to me. Yes, I am a fervent critic of the guy who nominated William Barr to lead the Justice Department. Donald Trump had savaged Barr’s predecessor as attorney general. Why? Because Jeff Sessions did the right thing by recusing himself from the Russia probe.

Barr stepped in and has — according to his critics — acted more like Trump’s lawyer than the nation’s top law enforcement official.

Now we hear from former FBI director James Comey, another damn good lawyer, who has weighed in with scorching criticism of Barr.

Comey said Barr is “echoing conspiracy theories” about the origins of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s exhaustive investigation into alleged collusion with the Russians. Barr, according to Comey, needs to present facts along with his assertions. “This is what Justice is about,” Comey said via Twitter.

Barr also has been critical of Mueller for declining to conclude whether Donald Trump obstructed justice. But … why? Mueller reiterated this week what he wrote in his lengthy report that he couldn’t indict Trump because of Justice Department policy that prohibits charging a president with a crime. So, he said his team couldn’t exonerate Trump, which to my way of thinking is the same thing as saying that the president committed a crime. That sounds as though Mueller drew a conclusion.

I truly wanted William Barr to step up, to steady the DOJ ship and guide the Justice Department into carrying its role as an impartial administrator of justice.

That doesn’t appear to be happening. Thus, the chaos continues in a federal agency that demands calm, firm and steady leadership.

Stand tall, Christopher Wray

FBI director Christopher Wray now finds himself in Donald Trump’s sights.

This is the fellow the president appointed to lead the FBI after firing his immediate predecessor, James Comey. Now it’s Director Wray who is receiving criticism from the president of the United States.

Why is that? Oh, let’s see. He declines to use the word “spying” when describing how the FBI conducts “intelligence-gathering” operations. Trump likes to use the words “spy” and “spying” when describing what he alleges occurred during the final months of the Obama administration, which he said involved illegal “spying” on the Trump presidential campaign.

Wray also has declined to endorse the idiocy promoted by Trump that suggests that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged “collusion” and “obstruction of justice” was an attempted “coup” by the FBI to “overthrow the president.”

No one has sought to launch a “coup” against Donald Trump. No one has sought to “overthrow” the president. That’s never happened. It won’t ever happen. We have this document called the U.S. Constitution that serves as a bulwark for this representative democracy that governs us.

Wray also has declared that Russia continues to interfere in our electoral process, just as it did during the 2016 presidential campaign. He smacks Trump squarely in the proverbial puss when he says what Trump continues to deny has occurred: that the Russians are supremely bad actors intent on sowing discord within this nation.

Christopher Wray is a seasoned professional. He runs the nation’s top law enforcement agency. He — just like Comey and Mueller, two former FBI directors — also possesses a first-class legal mind.

Donald Trump once again is attacking the agency led by someone he selected. He said over the weekend in yet another Twitter tidal wave that the FBI “has no leadership.”

Actually, the FBI does have competent leaders at the top of its chain of command. The lack of “leadership” exists inside the White House.

Russia still poses existential threat

Even though Donald Trump and his grifter son-in-law, Jared Kushner, continue to downplay the threat Russia poses to our electoral system, FBI director Christopher Wray is telling us something profoundly different.

I choose to heed the words of Christopher Wray.

Wray calls the Russian threat a “365-days-a-year threat. And that has absolutely continued.”

Yes, the Russians hacked into our electoral system in 2016. They sowed discord among American voters. They spread “opposition research” material designed to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy.

The Russians are the baddest of a whole cast of bad actors.

Donald Trump just can’t bring himself to say it out loud. Neither can Kushner, who recently said that Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged “collusion” posed a greater threat to our democratic system than “a couple of Facebook ads.”

Memo to Kushner: Shut your mouth. And to Trump? Start defending our Constitution, which you pledged to do when you took the presidential oath.

The FBI director is among the cadre of national intelligence and counterterrorism experts who have confirmed what all of us know: The Russians are chiefly responsible for the cyber attack on our system. Mueller said so, too, in his voluminous report on collusion and obstruction of justice.

It simply amazes me that Donald Trump could appoint such a serious grownup to be FBI boss after firing another adult, James Comey. I’m glad he did give Christopher Wray this platform. What’s more, I am delighted to hear the FBI boss use that platform to speak the truth about what he believes happened in the 2016 presidential election, the 2018 midterm election and what likely will occur when we go to the polls again in 2020.

If only the commander in chief would pay attention.

‘Fake news’ a product of Trump himself? Well, golly!

This is getting good.

As more details come out about special counsel Robert Mueller’s long-awaited report into collusion, obstruction and other matters, the more we learn about the “fake news” hoax that Donald Trump keeps alive.

Mueller seems to have concluded that the “fake news” Trump kept criticizing was quite true. The only fake news was coming from the Trump administration.

Imagine that, will ya?

Those of us who know better likely aren’t terribly surprised to hear this kind of thing from the special counsel. Trump is the godfather of “fake news,” given his own penchant for lying and as well as his defamation of others, such as lie he perpetuated about Barack Obama’s place of birth.

The matter about why he fired FBI director James Comey is a shining example of “fake news” originating from within the White House. White House press flack Sarah Sanders said Comey had lost confidence of his key aides within the FBI. Wrong! He was fired because of the Russia investigation.

Fake news!

Will any of this sink into Donald Trump’s thick, but vacuous skull? Heavens no! It still remains worthy of note.

Donald Trump is the King of Fake News. The media he loathes and calls the “enemy of the people” are doing what they need to do, which is expose Trump as the liar he has proven to be.

‘No obstruction’? Not true, Mr. President

Robert Mueller’s report on “collusion” and “obstruction of justice” says the following: ” . . . if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment.”

Donald Trump has declared, therefore, that the special counsel has determined “there was no collusion, no obstruction” of justice.

Yep. He said that. He also is mistaken.

Attorney General William Barr, though, agrees with the president, which I suppose isn’t surprising, given that Trump nominated him to the post.

The obstruction of justice door remains wide open, based on what I understand Mueller has determined.

It is true — and I accept his findings — that he didn’t have enough evidence to proceed with a complaint against the president or his 2016 campaign team.

Although . . .

Mueller does chronicle several instances where Trump sought to remove key individuals from investigative posts. One of them happened to Mueller himself. Go figure.

Trump fired FBI director James Comey because of “the Russia thing.” Then he bragged about getting rid of him during that infamous Oval Office meeting with Russian officials. He sought to get Justice Department officials to fire Mueller; they wouldn’t do it. Then-White House counsel Don McGahn also declined to carry out the order.

So there isn’t a case that can be prosecuted under the law, Mueller states. He doesn’t exonerate the president. He doesn’t clear him of obstruction. My reading of what he concluded simply is that he didn’t have enough solid evidence to file a formal complaint.

Ahh, but he does leave the door open for Congress to act as it sees fit.

I’m going to let the president crow about the “no collusion” matter. He won that fight. Mueller and his team have concluded that Trump and his campaign did not knowingly cooperate with Russians who hacked into our electoral system and dug up dirt on Hillary Rodham Clinton.

However, the obstruction matter is alive and kicking.

It ain’t over, Mr. President. Not by a long shot!

Obstruction of justice remains an open question

I get that special counsel Robert Mueller III has declined to declare that Donald Trump obstructed justice in the search for what happened when Russian attacked our electoral system in 2016.

I have pledged to accept the special counsel’s findings. And I do!

But . . . Americans need to see what made him make that determination. We need to be able to assess for ourselves why Mueller, a good man and a meticulous prosecutor, concluded that there was insufficient evidence to make a formal complaint that he obstructed justice.

Let’s look at what we know so far.

  • The president sought a statement of loyalty from former FBI director James Comey; he didn’t get it. He suggested that Comey should let go of his investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn; Comey didn’t swallow that bait, either. He then fired Comey.
  • Trump told NBC-TV’s Lester Holt that he fired Comey because of “the Russia thing.”
  • POTUS welcomed Russian diplomatic officials into the White House and told them in the Oval Office that firing Comey had removed the Russia matter from the table; he hurled assorted epithets at Comey.

I don’t know how one defines “obstruction of justice.” I certainly don’t know how Robert Mueller defines it, either.

We do know that Mueller — according to Attorney General William Barr — has not “exonerated” Trump from any obstruction of justice accusation. He didn’t have enough evidence, again according to the AG, to accuse him formally, either.

We need to see the special counsel’s findings for ourselves.

What have a record already of Trump saying things that suggest obstruction of justice. It well might fall on Congress ultimately to decide whether he intended to do that very thing when he canned the FBI director.

Show us the report, Mr. Attorney General.

Waiting for that proverbial big shoe to drop

While the nation — perhaps the world — awaits word on what Robert Mueller III concluded in his exhaustive investigation into alleged collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russians, it is good to understand what we do not yet know.

We don’t know whether special counsel Mueller found any sort of collusion between the Trump team and Russians who hacked into our election system. It’s good to understand that “collusion” is not a crime. Therefore, Mueller isn’t going to charge anyone with committing a criminal offense if they winked and nodded at Russians who claimed to have dirt on Hillary Rodham Clinton, Trump’s 2016 presidential opponent.

Nor do we know whether the president — in Mueller’s eyes — “obstructed justice” when he fired FBI director James Comey in the spring of 2017 because he was conducting a probe into that “Russia thing.” Again, there might not be any criminality involved with Comey’s firing, but there might be an intent that Mueller has identified.

Mueller has been mum on every aspect of his investigation. Thus, we don’t know if he’s going to give Trump the kind of tongue-lashing that Comey gave to Clinton when he concluded the FBI probe into her use of private e-mail servers while she was secretary of state. Do you recall how Comey said Clinton was guilty of “extreme recklessness”? It gave Republican opponents of Clinton plenty of fodder to toss at her while she sought the presidency in 2016. Will there be a similar scolding in store for the president when we see what Mueller has concluded?

It has been said in the past 24 hours that “We don’t know what we don’t know.” To put it another way, it is good to keep our traps shut and stop speculating about what Mueller has delivered to Attorney General William Barr.

Mueller had a narrow mandate when he accepted the special counsel job two years ago. It was to determine the extent — if any — of collusion between Trump’s team and the Russians. His work is done. We don’t know what he has concluded.

Is this the end of it? Does the president now slip/slide away out of the grasp of prosecutors? Umm. No. He’s still got Congress that will be hot on his trail. And let’s not dismiss those prosecutors in New York who are looking at other matters not connected to the Russians.

Mueller’s findings are still to be revealed.

Let’s just wait. Shall we?

Nothing ‘illegal’ about 25th Amendment

Former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe has gotten the nation’s attention.

“60 Minutes” interviewed McCabe; the program aired Sunday night. McCabe revealed that immediately after Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey, a senior Justice Department official — Rod Rosenstein — tossed out the notion of invoking the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This is the one that allows for the removal of a president if a majority of the Cabinet deems him unable to perform the duties of his office.

What was Donald Trump’s response to McCabe’s allegation? He called it “illegal”; he said McCabe was “treasonous’; he called McCabe a “disgrace” to the FBI and to the country.

Sheesh, already!

Let’s back up for just a moment.

Trump fired Comey over “the Russia thing”; Trump said so himself in a 2017 interview on NBC. The “Russia thing” is the investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russians who interfered in our 2016 election.

He later said Comey’s firing was greeted with praise from within the FBI ranks. McCabe said Sunday that is false. He said Comey was highly respected by his staff, by field agents and everyone who knew him at the FBI.

As for the “illegality” of what McCabe said was discussed, there is nothing illegal about invoking an amendment to the nation’s governing document. A majority of Congress sent the amendment to the states; it was ratified in February 1967. It’s all legal!

There is some dispute over whether deputy AG Rosenstein actually proposed such a move.

However, the president is popping off with utter ignorance once again about the legality of an actual constitutional amendment.

FBI is not known to traipse off on wild-goose chases

This isn’t an original thought that comes from yours truly, but I want to share it anyway. It comes from a couple of friends we met tonight for dinner in Frisco, Texas.

The thought is this: The FBI isn’t known as an agency that launches investigations into individuals or groups without first putting a lot of thought and doing a whole lot of homework into what it has learned.

It is against that backdrop that our friends shared their utter horror at the notion that the FBI would investigate whether Donald Trump, the president of the United States, might be acting as an agent for the world’s most hostile, anti-U.S. power — Russia.

The New York Times dropped that live rhetorical grenade in our laps the other day. The newspaper reported that it launched an investigation after Trump fired James Comey as head of the FBI and then acknowledged on national TV that he did so because Comey was wrapped up in that “Russia thing” involving Trump and Russian efforts to undermine our 2016 electoral process; special counsel Robert Mueller is knee-deep in that investigation, too.

Why did Trump fire Comey at that time? Was Comey onto something involving alleged “collusion”? Are there other key characters close to Trump who are involved?

Our friends’ point is that the FBI has no history of launching these kinds of investigations without some fact-based cause to do so. What’s more, it involves the president of the United States. Holy crap, man!

My question is this: What do you suppose was the outcome of that investigation?

Our friends responded: We’ll likely know the answer when Mueller releases his report.