Tag Archives: James Comey

Trump keeps savaging DOJ, law enforcement

I don’t know why this continues to nag me, annoy me, bother me to no end. It just does and I have to vent a bit.

Donald J. Trump went off on another Twitter tirade against one of his favorite targets: the federal law enforcement network headed by the Department of Justice.

He said in Nevada that he has gotten rid of some of the people he believes needed to go: FBI Director James Comey, deputy FBI boss Andrew McCabe, FBI agent Peter Strzok.

Then the president refers to a “stench” in the Justice Department that needs to go. By association, he disparages and denigrates — yet again! — the many fine career prosecutors, agents and mid-level staffers who do the job they took an oath to do. Which is protect Americans against those who would do us harm.

The president just can’t bring himself to say out loud that he is proud of those individuals, that they are doing great work on behalf of the nation they serve.

Oh, no. Instead, he concentrates his remarks exclusively on those at the top of the chain of command who he thinks are doing the country a disservice. How are they doing that? By continuing to look carefully, meticulously and with tremendous detail the many questions that continue to swirl around the Trump administration.

The president keeps tossing the word “disgrace” around. The real disgrace, as I see it, occurs with the conduct of the president.

He is trying to bully the head of the Justice Department, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the head of the FBI, Christopher Wray, and all the intelligence pros who do their jobs with diligence and dedication.

Right there is the disgraceful behavior of a president who doesn’t know what the hell he is doing.

Loyalty to what … not to whom

We’re hearing a lot these days about the word “loyalty.”

As Donald Trump fumes and seethes over the publication of an anonymous op-ed in the New York Times, the president and his allies keep talking about the “disloyalty” exhibited in the essay from a “resistance movement” inside the White House that seeks to protect the nation from Trump’s more dangerous impulses.

I am aware of the oaths that all these individuals take when they assume their public service jobs. The loyalty they pledge isn’t to the man, but to the law, to the U.S. Constitution and there’s an implied loyalty to citizens of the country.

Trump’s insistence of personal loyalty is misplaced and is the result of a man with no experience in public service.

It’s been reportedly widely for more than a year that the president fired FBI Director James Comey when he couldn’t extract a personal loyalty pledge from Comey. Attorney General Jeff Sessions seems to have been held to the same standard when he took the job as AG; when he recused himself from probe into “the Russia thing,” the president took that as an act of personal disloyalty.

A president who worked exclusively in the private sector prior to becoming a national politician doesn’t understand the implications of the oath he and his lieutenants take.

Once more, with feeling: These men and women pledge loyalty to the nation, its laws and the Constitution — not to the man at the top of the executive branch chain of command.

Comey ratchets up partisan battle cry … weird

James Comey these days is a private citizen — more or less — and, thus, is entitled to speak his mind about any issue under the sun.

Except that he’s not just an ordinary private citizen, such as, say, I am. He’s a former FBI director who is near the center of a raging firestorm relating to the man who fired him, Donald Trump, and a special counsel who is looking at whether Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russians who attacked our electoral system.

So, when he puts out a tweet that calls for Democrats to win the midterm election, let’s just say it gives me some pause. Comey writes: Democrats, please, please don’t lose your minds and rush to the socialist left. This president and his Republican Party are counting on you to do exactly that. America’s great middle wants sensible, balanced, ethical leadership.

Comey’s entry onto the partisan battlefield seems oddly out of place and it borders on unseemliness.

His obituary will include the words “FBI director,” and that means he will be identified forever as the head of the nation’s top law enforcement agency. He’s not a politician and shouldn’t be considered as such.

Comey is a legal and law enforcement pro who ought to leave the partisan rhetoric to the politicians who have practiced it far longer than the former FBI director.

Bizarre.

Comey joins the partisan political fray

Oh, my. There’s something vaguely weird about a former FBI director becoming a partisan warrior on the eve of this year’s midterm congressional election.

James Comey, whom Donald J. Trump fired as FBI boss in May 2017, now says the following: “All who believe in this country’s values must vote for Democrats this fall,” he wrote. “Policy differences don’t matter right now. History has its eyes on us.”

A part of me wants to embrace Comey’s view. However, I wish the embattled former FBI director would have stayed clear of direct partisan battling.

It’s widely known that Comey is a longtime Republican. He said he didn’t vote in the 2016 election, preferring to maintain some semblance of objectivity as he did his job as leader of the nation’s premier law enforcement agency.

Now, though, all bets are off.

Comey already is an inviting target among conservative mainstream media and die-hard Donald Trump loyalists. They have hurled a barrage of insults and accusations at Comey in the wake of his memoir in which he declares that Trump is “morally unfit” to serve as president of the United States.

So, get ready for the bombardment to resume. It won’t be pretty.

To what end will this investigation lead?

I’ve spent a good part of my day sitting in my study. My TV has been tuned to a cable news channel, which has been broadcasting a congressional hearing with a single witness: FBI agent Peter Strzok.

My question is this: For what purpose are they conducting this all-day marathon?

Strzok used to serve on Robert Mueller’s team that is looking at Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Then he and another agent, Lisa Page, were fired. Mueller canned them when it became known that they had exchanged anti-Trump messages via e-mail. Congressional Republicans allege a deep bias against the president. They are contending that the alleged bias taints the Mueller probe. They are seeking to undermine Mueller’s probe.

So, where is this investigation going? The U.S. House Oversight Committee is going to issue some kind of report. Then what? Suppose the report determines Mueller’s team has been biased and has conducted a corrupt investigation into whether the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russians who meddled in our 2016 election. Are they going to recommend an end to the probe?

Strzok has defended himself fiercely. He said he and the FBI did everything “by the book.”

I keep circling back to the man at the top of the investigation, Robert Mueller.

I remain quite convinced that Mueller’s integrity is intact. He is a former FBI director. He is known to be a meticulous lawyer. Mueller has assembled a top-tier legal team to probe deeply into the myriad issues surrounding the Trump campaign.

As for the president’s assertion — backed up by his GOP allies in Congress — that the Russia probe is being dominated by “13 Democrats,” this flies in the face of the fact that Mueller is a life-long Republican; so is the man who appointed him, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein; and … so is the man Trump fired as FBI director, James Comey.

Trump accuses Mueller of launching a “witch hunt” against him. I strongly suspect another type of “witch hunt” is under way. It ‘s occurring in Congress and the target is Mueller, who the GOP is targeting because he is inching closer to the White House in his probe into what happened during the 2016 presidential campaign.

House Oversight Committee Republicans have one of Mueller’s former team members — Peter Strzok — in their sights.

Where in the world is this congressional probe heading? I think it will end up in the ditch, right along with the Benghazi probe.

Comey has done the impossible: He has ‘pissed off’ everyone

James Comey once ran the FBI. Then he inserted himself into the climactic end of the 2016 presidential election.

He announced he was taking a fresh look at the email controversy that dogged Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign. He did so 11 days before the election that would send Donald Trump to the White House.

Democrats were enraged at Comey.

Then he declined to give the new president, Trump, a loyalty pledge. He was conducting an investigation into whether the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russians who meddled in our election.

Trump became very angry. In May 2017 he fired Comey.

The president has then launched into a Comey-basing campaign ever since.

As RealClearPolitics has reported: “Whether you agree with them or not, they were good decisions in the way that they were made and values that guided them,” Comey said. “I actually think in the long run people will see that… I really hope that in the long sweep of things, it will be clear that we weren’t on anybody’s side.”

“Most Republicans don’t talk to me anymore,” he also said, “I’ve succeeded in pissing off everyone.”

See Comey’s interview with the Aspen Ideas Festival here.

When I think about that, I liken the bipartisan anger at Comey to what journalists often encounter while they report the news. If both sides of an controversial issue are angry with the journalist, then he or she is doing his or her job.

Thus, James Comey feels as if he did his job.

“The long sweep of things” will make that determination … eventually.

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.