Tag Archives: James Comey

The word ‘lie’ becomes part of the debate

There once was a time when Donald J. Trump would spout an untruth that the media would virtually ignore it.

I cannot remember the precise reason why the newly minted presidential candidate was getting a pass from the media. I just recall that the media didn’t hang the “lie” word on his prevarications.

Maybe it had something to do with the media refusing to take his candidacy as seriously as they should have in those early days. The media viewed Trump’s candidacy as a sideshow, a joke, a publicity stunt.

Then as the one-time reality TV celebrity began winning primaries and knocking off the 16 other Republican Party primary opponents — all of whom were more qualified than Trump — the media began taking notice.

These days, now that Trump is president of the United States — the media have caught on with the reality of this individual. He is a liar. His lying is pathological. He cannot tell the truth.

He has lied continually. He speaks, sound comes out of his mouth, his lips move — and he lies.

As I listen to the TV commentary and read the media reports about the untruths he tells, I keep hearing the words “lie,” “lying” and “liar” attached to the message he delivers and to the man who delivers it.

His most recent spate of lies occurred on the White House driveway. Trump sauntered toward media representatives and appeared to launch into a spontaneous media availability. It wasn’t spontaneous by any stretch of the imagination.

For nearly an hour, the president lied to our face. He told untruths about all manner of things relating to the Justice Department’s inspector general report on James Comey and the Hillary Clinton e-mail controversy, on Paul Manafort’s role in the 2016 Trump campaign and all kinds of other matters.

The media have taken specific note of his lying. They are telling us the truth about Trump’s lies.

Unless it’s happened beyond my earshot, I haven’t heard the president’s defenders actually call him a man who tells the truth.

So, here we are. The man few of us took seriously enough to deserve the title of “liar” has emerged as the Liar in Chief.

But … some of us still insist he is “telling it like it is.”

Shocking.

IG report steers clear of ‘collusion’ probe

Donald John Trump’s fantasy land journey has taken him down yet another curious, bizarre path.

The U.S. Department of Justice inspector general issued a report this week that blasts the daylights out of former FBI director James Comey’s handling of the Hillary Rodham Clinton e-mail controversy. The IG calls Comey “insubordinate” in flouting DOJ protocol in his probe of Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail server while she was secretary of state.

The president’s response? It was weird in the extreme. He walked onto the White House driveway after the report became known and said the 500-page report absolves him of any “collusion” with Russians who meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

Except for this little detail: The IG report didn’t say a single word about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into collusion, obstruction of justice and whatever else might be connected in any way to that bizarre political episode.

What’s more, the Liar in Chief tossed out the “liar” epithet against Comey, whom Trump fired in May 2017 over “the Russia thing.” The inspector general’s report doesn’t challenge Comey’s credibility, only his judgment and his failure to follow DOJ policy.

Will the president’s diatribe do any damage to his standing among the Republican Party “base” that continues to hang on his every lie, prevarication and misstatement of fact?

Umm. Nope.

IG takes former FBI boss to the woodshed

The FBI’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, has laid it out there.

James Comey, the FBI director during the 2016 presidential campaign, messed up royally. He broke with Justice Department protocol by failing to consult with Attorney General Loretta Lynch when he called a press conference to say he had no hard evidence to prosecute Hillary Clinton over the use of her personal e-mail account.

That press conference in July 2016 brought out allegations of “rigged election” from Donald J. Trump.

There’s more. The IG also said Comey messed up when, 11 days from the election, he sent a letter to Congress revealing that he was looking once again at Clinton’s e-mail matter.

The Clinton camp said the latter announcement swung the election in Trump’s favor.

Oh … brother.

This investigation by Horowitz is likely to grow dozens of legs. The president no doubt is going to seize on some element of the IG’s findings to demonstrate that the FBI was biased against him.

Except that the IG has said that he found no evidence of politicization at the July 2016 news conference or when he announced in October of that year that he was looking again at the e-mail matter.

I am one American who is reluctant to say categorically that Comey’s second announcement on the cusp of Election Day was decisive in determining the outcome. However, it appears to look as though there might have been some tangible impact. Clinton’s momentum stopped dead. Journalists covering the campaign reportedly said in the moment that Comey’s letter to Congress effectively ended Clinton’s chances of winning.

In the period since that amazing, tumultuous episode, Trump has sought to turn Comey into a villain. Trump fired Comey over the “Russia thing,” and has vilified the former FBI director, calling him a liar, a showboat and everything short of being the son of Satan himself.

Of course, the president has turned his big guns on special counsel Robert Mueller, who’s looking into the Russian meddling in our electoral process.

A detailed IG report by all rights should add clarity to a complicated investigation. I fear that Michael Horowitz’s report has made it cloudier than ever.

Yes, POTUS can ‘obstruct justice’

I am not a lawyer, but you know that already.

However, I know enough about history to understand this basic truth: Presidents of the United States can “obstruct justice.” Indeed, two of them — Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon — were accused of obstructing justice. One of them got impeached partly on that accusation; the other came within a whisker of being impeached before he resigned the presidency.

Thus, I am baffled in the extreme by lawyers serving the current president who says he cannot obstruct justice because, well, he’s the president. They are saying in effect that Donald J. Trump is above the law.

I beg to differ. I offer a strenuous objection to the notion that the special counsel, Robert Mueller, cannot determine that Trump obstructed justice in the hunt for the truth behind “the Russia thing.”

I don’t quite understand the logic being offered by Trump’s legal team that suggests Mueller cannot accuse the president of obstructing justice. Trump himself has acknowledged on network television that he fired FBI Director James Comey because of “the Russia thing”; then he told Russian visitors to the Oval Office that his dismissal of Comey had relieved him of pressure from the Russia probe and whether the Russian government meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

To my way of thinking, that constitutes at the very least circumstantial evidence of obstruction, but I know that Mueller’s team doesn’t operate on circumstance; it needs hard evidence. Whether it comes up with anything actionable remains to be seen.

As the nation watches this investigation lurch toward some conclusion, many of us are conflicted about the argument being offered that the president can do anything he wants — because he is the president.

Richard Nixon famously told David Frost that very thing, that the president cannot break the law simply by virtue of his office. The U.S. House Judiciary Committee eventually saw it quite differently when it approved articles of impeachment against the president.

I am pretty sure the law hasn’t changed since the 1970s. The current president took the same oath to follow the law that all of his predecessors took. The law in my view allows for presidents to be accused of obstructing justice.

Another Trump allegation proving false?

I am not a betting man, but if I were I might be willing to wager some real American money that Donald John Trump’s allegation of spying within his 2016 presidential campaign is going to go the way of earlier allegations that flew out of his guy’s mouth.

You know … that Barack Obama wiretapped his office; that millions of undocumented immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton; that thousands of Muslims cheered the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11; that Sen. Ted Cruz’s father might have been complicit in President Kennedy’s murder; that Obama was born in Africa and not in Hawaii and, thus, was ineligible to run for president in 2008.

It’s all crap. Now the latest.

He accuses the FBI of planting a “spy” in his campaign. He says the deed was done for “political purposes.” He has produced as much actual evidence of this latest assertion as he did for all the others.

None. Zilch.

Even some congressional Republicans are backing the FBI in the face of these allegations from Trump.

The president is reaching deep into his bag of tricks to discredit the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller, who the Justice Department appointed in 2017 to look into the “Russia thing,” meaning whether Trump might have worked with Russians who meddled in our election.

The FBI has become one of Trump’s preferred bogeymen. He fired the former FBI director, James Comey, because of the Russia investigation. He is calling Comey a liar; he is disparaging the reputation of former CIA boss John Brennan, former director of national intelligence James Clapper and, yes, also Robert Mueller.

Where, though, is the evidence to back up the allegation of “spying” within his campaign? No one has seen it.

If I were inclined to place a bet on this one, my hunch is that there is no evidence to be found. Why? Because it didn’t happen.

Which brings me to the question: How in the name of political sanity does this guy, the president, get away with lying at this level?

Why, indeed, did POTUS fire Comey?

Matthew Yglesias asks a perfectly legitimate question in his article posted online by Vox.com: Why did Donald J. Trump fire James Comey as head of the FBI?

We haven’t heard anything specific about why in May 2017 the president tweeted his decision to fire Comey, which the FBI boss heard about as he was preparing to deliver remarks in California to a group of federal agents.

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has said that Trump is under no obligation to explain himself, that he can fire anyone he wants whenever he wants for whatever reason he wants.

But as Yglesias points out in his article, Trump is no longer just a CEO of a business empire, he’s an “elected president of the United States” who is answerable — according to the U.S. Constitution he took an oath to uphold — to the people of this country.

Trump indeed is obligated to explain his actions with regard to Comey.

The Vox article points out that in its 80-plus years of existence, the FBI has had eight directors. Only one other director, William Sessions, was fired. Sessions got canned after a thorough ethics investigation into allegations of spending irregularities; he had been appointed by President George H.W. Bush, but President Clinton gave Sessions the boot when he took office in 1993. The president was clear at the time, in the moment, about why he let Sessions go.

Therefore, the current president needs to explain to the people in a voice loud enough for special counsel Robert Mueller to hear him why he decided James Comey no longer was doing the job he signed on to do. Was it the “Russia thing,” or was it something else?

If it was based on the investigation into whether Russians meddled in our 2016 election, well, then we need to hear it. Yes? Yes!

If it’s something else, then tell us what spurred the sudden dismissal, Mr. President. Millions of your bosses out here want to know.

Talk to us. Now!

Tell the whole story about GOP findings, Mr. POTUS

Donald J. Trump keeps leaving out a critical portion of a U.S. House Intelligence Committee report on the ongoing Russia meddling investigation.

This really matters. Honest. It does.

The president once again thanked the Intelligence Committee for concluding “there was no collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives who meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

Except for one little thing. The “exoneration” came from committee Republicans. Intelligence panel Democrats are having none of it. The GOP members drafted the 250-page report all by themselves, with no comment, input or contribution from Democrats who serve on the committee.

According to RealClearPolitics: “No collusion, which I knew anyway. No coordination, no nothing, it is a witch hunt,” the president said. “The report was very powerful, very strong. There was no coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian people.”

“With that all being said, we can get along with Russia. That is a good thing, not a bad thing,” he added.

With that the House Intelligence Committee has wrapped up its work.

However, there’s more work to be done. It’s occurring at the other end of the U.S. Capitol Building, by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Perhaps when the Senate panel finishes its work it will issue a report that includes all its members, not just one side whose only interest is to provide cover for the president.

I should note, too, that former FBI Director James Comey — who’s on a speaking tour promoting his new book — has said that “collusion” isn’t covered specifically by federal statute. If there are indictments to come from, say, special counsel Robert Mueller, they will involve charges of conspiracy or attempts to defraud the government, according to Comey.

Is this investigation nearing an end?

I, um, do not believe that’s the case — no matter what House Intelligence Committee Republicans might think.

Why all the fuss over Comey memos?

I just read the memos that James Comey wrote after meeting with Donald Trump shortly after the president took office.

I’ll attach the link from which I read them to this post, so you can see the memos for yourself.

Here it is.

Maybe someone else can find it, but for the life of me I cannot detect a single overtly hostile passage in any of it. Comey, of course, is the former FBI director whom the president fired over “the Russia thing.” As one might expect, Trump has since backed off that stated reason for firing Comey, although he hasn’t yet denied he told Russian visitors to the Oval Office that he called Comey a “nut job.”

But throughout the memos, there are references to the compliments that the president laid on Comey, how he thought the FBI director was doing a good job, how the president had heard good things about Comey, how he wished him well.

Yes, there is the reference to the president saying how he demanded “loyalty” among those who work for him. Comey chronicles in that memo that he didn’t respond to the president’s assertion; but again, he doesn’t offer any commentary about the nature of the statement. He merely said he didn’t respond.

Trump, quite expectedly, has denounced the memos. He calls them lies. He accuses Comey of being a serial liar — or words to that effect.

But as I perused the Comey memos I am struck by their tone.

Comey comes off according to my reading of his comments — which I understand were written “contemporaneously” — as a squeaky clean professional.

Maybe that’s why — now that I think about it — the president is so damn angry at the man he fired. James Comey is the kind of man that Donald Trump is not.

POTUS’s memory fails him?

Donald J. Trump boasts among other things about his steel-trap memory. It’s the “best,” isn’t that right, Mr. President?

Well, the president put out a tweet today saying that — despite what he said on national TV a year ago — he didn’t fire FBI Director James Comey over the “Russia thing.”

Ohhh, no! His firing of Comey had to do with the Hillary Clinton email matter and the way the FBI was handling it — or so he says at this moment.

Hold on! He told NBC News’s Lester Holt a year ago that he canned Comey because of the investigation he was leading into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians who meddled in our 2016 presidential election.

And don’t you remember what Trump told Russian government visitors to the White House? He said he fired Comey because he is a “nut job” and because he wanted to take pressure off from the Russia probe.

In some circles that could be construed as an obstruction of justice. Hmm. Who knows? Maybe the special counsel appointed to examine the “Russia thing” will make that determination. Or … maybe not!

But the president’s penchant for tweeting these issues gives many of us pause to wonder: Does he know what he’s talking about?

And is the president’s memory all that he cracks it up to be?

U.S. has set a new standard for morality

Call me old-fashioned. Maybe even a bit of a prude — when we’re talking about officials who hold high public office.

Thus, when I hear the former director of the FBI declare that the president of the United States is “morally unfit” to hold the office, I nod my head in agreement.

James Comey delivered a blistering attack on Donald Trump, saying that the president’s moral character doesn’t measure up to the office he won in the 2016 election.

Comey — whom Trump fired a year ago because of what he called “the Russia thing” — cited a couple of key examples: Trump’s willingness to place “moral equivalency” between KKK’men, Nazis and white supremacists and those who protested their march in Charlottesville, Va.; and the president’s history of treating women “like meat.”

To be honest, Comey is far from the first American to declare that Trump is “morally unfit” to be president. Many millions of others of us have been said that before he ever won the election.

And that brings me to the critical point: Americans have redefined morality and have exhibited a clear and present tolerance for the kind of behavior that would have disqualified a presidential candidate.

Let’s get real for a moment, OK?

Trump admitted on that “Access Hollywood” recording how he is able to grab women by their “pu***”; he has admitted publicly cheating on his first and second wives; Trump has stated out loud how he was able to walk into beauty pageant contestants’ dressing rooms while they were half-dressed.

We hear now that Trump’s lawyer paid $130,000 to a porn queen to keep her quiet about a sexual encounter she and Trump allegedly had a year after he married Wife No. 3. The president denies the tryst occurred, but … the lawyer paid the money!

Trump has lived an existence filled with excess and moral depravity.

And yet …

He won enough Electoral College votes in November 2016 to enable him to slip into the Oval Office and take the reins of government.

This is the height — or the nadir — of political confusion.

Trump’s base, which comprises a huge chunk of the evangelical Christian movement, gives this clown a pass on his litany of debauchery and infidelity. Why? Because he promises to appoint conservatives to the federal judiciary; and those judges will rule against issues that evangelicals find repugnant: gay marriage, abortion and the prohibition on preaching Scripture lessons in public schools.

James Comey is as correct as he can possibly be in assessing Donald Trump’s moral unfitness for the presidency.

Some of us out here in Voter Land still want officials elected to high public office to represent the best in us. Donald Trump represents damn near the very worst in us.

The man is a disgrace.