Tag Archives: James Comey

FBI director might be headed for the exits … yes?

When the person who appoints you to an important job refers to you as the “current” individual doing that job, then you might want to consider your next career move.

So it might be with FBI Director Christopher Wray, to whom Donald Trump referred as the “current director.” Why the qualifier? Well, Wray has backed up the findings of the Justice Department inspector general who said that the FBI did not launch its probe into the Russia election interference with any political bias.

Here is what Trump said via Twitter about Wray: I don’t know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me. With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken despite having some of the greatest men & women working there!

Trump has alleged that former FBI Director James Comey was biased against him when he began examining allegations that Russia attacked our electoral system in 2016. He fired Comey in 2017. The IG was brought in to determine whether the probe began because of bias against Trump.

The IG, Michael Horowitz, said the FBI did not act with political prejudice, although he did scold the FBI for committing serious mistakes in seeking warrants involving one of Trump’s campaign aides. Political bias? Prejudice? Not there, said Horowitz.

And so now we are left to wonder whether Christopher Wray, whom Trump selected to succeed Comey, is headed for the proverbial political guillotine.

I have lived long enough to remember a lot of internal political battles. I’ve watched them from some distance. Even during Watergate, when the FBI got caught up in that hideous scandal, I don’t ever recall an embattled President Nixon refer to the FBI boss in terms that the current embattled president is using against Wray.

What does this do to morale among the troops in the trenches? How does it affect their performance? How do they concentrate on the myriad investigative duties required of them while the director is being singled out by the president?

The chaos persists. The bad news is that it is quite likely to worsen.

Trump misses irony of his anti-Biden tirade

I was stunned to hear Donald John Trump deliver a blistering and crass rebuke of Joseph Biden Jr., in which he said the only way he succeeded at being vice president was that he figure out “how to kiss Barack Obama’s a**.”

I want to offer a few examples.

My goodness, the irony of that statement is astonishing in the extreme. You see, the only thing that the president of the United States seems to demand from those who answer to him is for the underlings to kiss his own a**.

Trump demands loyalty from, say, the director of the FBI. When James Comey doesn’t deliver it, he gets fired. Attorney General Jeff Sessions wouldn’t take part in the Russia investigation because he recognized the obvious conflict of interest, given that he worked on Trump’s campaign and couldn’t investigate himself; he recused himself and then got fired by Trump.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson got canned because he challenged the president’s authority to enact certain policies; so did former national security advisor H.R. McMaster.

The list is seemingly endless.

Donald Trump wants his sycophants to kiss his backside. He demands fealty, blind loyalty. He doesn’t appear to tolerate dissent.

So, for the president to make such a suggestion about former Vice President Joe Biden is laughable on its face.

Except that it’s not funny.

Then and now: Clinton and Trump

First, I’ll stipulate that I agree with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s refusal to proceed with impeaching Donald J. Trump, at least for the time being.

She knows the political consequences can be difficult to overcome if such an event were to occur. The divisions would be deep. An acquittal by the Republican-controlled Senate could be devastating for the country.

Republicans are standing behind the president. They aren’t listening to the evidence that keeps mounting that Trump committed crimes while running for president and while serving as president.

Which brings me to the key point: How is it that Republicans today are so reluctant to proceed with their constitutional duties when two decades ago they were hellbent on impeaching a previous president for a whole lot less than the charges that are piling up against the current one?

In 1998, the GOP-led House impeached President Clinton. The reason was twofold: He lied to a grand jury that asked him about a relationship he had with a White House intern. Clinton took an oath to tell the truth; he reneged on the oath. The GOP said we cannot have a president who is “above the law.” Republicans threw in an obstruction of justice charge for good measure.

The House “manager” of the impeachment proceeding against Clinton was none other than a fresh-faced South Carolinian named Lindsey Graham, who said in effect that the House could impeach the president for damn near any reason it saw fit.

Today, that same Lindsey Graham is now a U.S. senator and he’s saying something dramatically different about Donald Trump. Despite what the special counsel, Robert Mueller III, said that he didn’t “exonerate” the president after his lengthy investigation into collusion with Russian election hackers, Graham keeps insisting that Mueller “cleared” Trump of obstruction of justice.

No. He did nothing of the sort.

Mueller only concluded that he couldn’t indict a sitting president, citing Justice Department policy; he also said such an indictment would be “unconstitutional,” although that terminology baffles me.

There is a huge mountain of evidence that suggests that Trump sought to obstruct justice by getting a former White House counsel to fire Mueller. That he canned FBI director James Comey to stop the FBI”s probe into the “Russia thing.” That he ordered the payment of hush money to a porn actress to keep her quiet about a fling she and Trump had in 2006, even though Trump denies it ever occurred.

I understand Pelosi’s predicament. I agree with her. However, for the life of me I cannot accept the Republicans’ refusal to budge on this president’s conduct when they were so anxious to pull the impeachment trigger on another president.

Oh, wait. Clinton is a Democrat; Trump is a Republican.

Gosh, do you think Republicans are putting their party over what’s good for the nation?

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.