Early in James Comey’s testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Mark Warner asked one of the questions raised by Comey’s written statement. After Comey’s first meeting with Donald Trump, at which he briefed Trump on the Steele dossier, “What was it about that meeting that led you to determine that you needed to start putting down a written record?” Comey’s answer was a bombshell:
With the nation’s attention Thursday morning focused on live coverage of fired FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, fresh calls for impeachment of President Donald Trump are reverberating after the director’s “extraordinary” prepared statement was released Wednesday.
And it needs to be asked about by Democrats in tomorrow’s hearing. Comey’s direct testimony can be found here (or near anywhere). It obviously has been carefully crafted and edited. Re-reading it, I realize that it very strongly suggests that Comey’s initial alarm and distrust about Trump — the instance that originally sparked him to write down their conversations — concerns a different, as yet undisclosed matter. But it is right there and upfront, begging to be asked about during Comey’s testimony.
Read Comey’s testimony and it begins with a meeting with President-Elect Trump on January 6th, which required, in part, Comey to advise Trump about the infamous Russian dossier. After the meeting, Comey abruptly and somewhat alarmingly reveals his urgency and need to document what he just heard from Trump:
I felt compelled to document my first conversation with the President-Elect in a memo. To ensure accuracy, I began to type it on a laptop in an FBI vehicle outside Trump Tower the moment I walked out of the meeting. Creating written records immediately after one-on-one conversations with Mr. Trump was my practice from that point forward. This had not been my practice in the past.
For all of us steeped in this Russian-obstruction of justice saga, it is natural to read this as involving the same thing and, in particular, as involving the Russian investigation detailed in Comey’s subsequent testimony and Trump conversation memos. But . . . go back and read this section of his testimony. There is no suggestion that this memo was inspired by anything to do with the Russian investigation that we are discussing now.
Instead, Comey does not identify at all what is the specific problem encountered during this meeting. He describes the “January 6 Briefing” as called for by the FBI and the Inteligence Community. Comey attends with other high level intelligence officers, the FBI decides that Comey should also meet separately and alone with Trump, there is no description of Trump saying, doing or asking anything that is objectionable, Comey is described as anticipating Trump’s questions and having prepared an official response for them, and Comey admits to volunteering information about Trump’s role in the Russian investigation without Trump asking the question. In short, there is no disclosed or identified criticism — implied or otherwise — concerning Trump’s conduct at this meeting.
Indeed, unlike the rest of his testimony, Comey does not detail any statements by Trump on any matter, and only refers briefly to “President-Elect Trump’s reaction to the briefing” (again, alone with Comey). Then, out of the blue, Comey writes this in his testimony:
I felt compelled to document my first conversation with the President-Elect in a memo. To ensure accuracy, I began to type it on a laptop in an FBI vehicle outside Trump Tower the moment I walked out of the meeting.
There simply is no explanation in the preceding paragraphs as to why Comey is running out of the Trump Tower to type down his conversation with Trump in the backseat of an FBI car — and, specifically, there is no suggestion that Trump said or did anything relevant in this meeting to the current inquiry regarding the Russian/Trump campaign investigation. Instead, the episode appears to be included to explain why Comey started writing memos after every meeting with Trump without disclosing what it is that Trump said.
This curious omission, obviously, could be hugely important. I hope that the Democratic members are aware of this glaring question that demands to be asked: “Mr. Comey, what did Mr. Trump say or do at your January 6 Briefing that so greatly alarmed you and made you begin to memorialize every conversation with President Trump since then?”
Col. Lawrence Wilkerson is never one to hold back his criticism of his party, the Republican Party. However, his current excoriation of Donald Trump and the recourse he believes the nation should take was striking.
Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, was blunt in describing the Trump administration as a mafia family.
All-In Chris Hayes asked Wilkerson for his opinion about the statement James Comey will read at the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Wilkerson said he was not at all surprised in this excerpted video.
Col. Lawrence Wilkerson shocks Chris Hayes with his comments on the Trump
“Chris my reaction to for what Comey wrote in his prepared statement for his hearing tomorrow,” Wilkerson said. “I am not stunned at all because this seems to be indeed probably is the nature of the Trump administration. It’s like a mafia family. And what Comey’s prepared testimony read like to me was someone from the outside with some integrity commenting on the nature of a Mafia family. That is essentially the way I view President Trump now, as a godfather, as the member that orchestrates everything within his team and expects loyalty, honest or otherwise. It just seems like that is the way it is. And it is going to take a while for my political party because they think as the other spokesman just said, they are going to accomplish all these goals while this guy is running around the White House because he is a Republican. It is going to take a while for them to realize that they aren’t going to accomplish a thing — that what they are doing is hurting the country.”
But Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson was not done. He openly suggested Donald Trump should face impeachment.
“I think our founding fathers would have thought that they afforded us in the Article Two Impeachment Clause, the ability to throw some scurrilous dude out about every generation. And I think every one of them, every single one of them would be utterly surprised that we had not done so and that on most attempt to impeach, we have been rather feckless, Bill Clinton, Andrew Johnson. And the only successful one we have had is when the articles of impeachment were so strong against Richard Nixon, he chose to resign. I don’t think it is catastrophic for the country to take that action. I think it is healthy for the country to take that action.”
Donald Trump’s fate lies with his party sticking with him. Comey’s live testimony could change all of that if he comes across as the aggrieved straight shooter.
Eric Trump, who apparently listens to his father through a hatred-removing filter, has hurt fee-fees that people are being mean to daddy … or are they?
“I’ve never seen hatred like this,” Eric Trump said. “I mean, to me, they’re not even people.”
Eric, you are the son of the birther-in-chief, the mocker of disabled reporters, the pussy-grabber, the Muslim-banner, and you say you’ve never seen hatred like this? While, in the next breath, denying the very humanity of people who criticize your hatred-filled father?
Consider the parade of women Donald Trump has trashed in the crudest sexual terms. Consider his litany of insults to immigrants, especially Mexican ones. But hey, people-who-are-not-even-people pointed out that you have to be scum to profit off your son’s child cancer charity.
According to Qusay, “morals have flown out the window” thanks to opposition to his father, which … can he hear himself? Is he this stupid, is he in this much denial about his father, or is he that much like his father that all he cares about is smearing his enemies, not saying anything remotely believable?
Ranking House Intelligence Democrat Adam Schiff said Wednesday that former FBI Director James Comey’s written statement on the Russia probe was “certainly evidence” of obstruction of justice on the part of President Donald Trump.
“It is certainly evidence of interference or obstruction,” Schiff said during an interview with the Washington Post’s David Ignatius, adding, “The question I think is where does this action fit in with other actions of the president.”
In a written statement submitted a day prior to his Thursday testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill, Comey said that the president had described the Russia investigation to him during an oval office meeting as a “’a cloud’ that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country.” Comey said Trump then asked what the FBI “could do to ‘lift the cloud.'”
On one level, this could be a breaking story on the cover of Duh Magazine — OF COURSE this is evidence of obstruction by Trump. But it is newsworthy that the Ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee says this.
According to Chris Hayes, moments ago on MSNBC – Jeffrey Toobin, Benjamin Wittes and Lawrence Tribe all basically arrived at the same conclusion — Comey’s statement today is clear-cut proof of obstruction of justice by Trump.
1.) Comey had nine separate private conversations with Trump during a span of only four months. Compare and contrast this with two conversations with Obama in eight years and one of them was just to say goodbye, in late 2016, because Obama is a gentleman. The other conversation was in 2015 and was a general conversation on law enforcement policy issues. On the other hand, the nine separate conversations with Trump included a demand for a pledge of fealty and a request for the FBI Director to do something illegal and unethical, namely drop the Flynn investigation.
2.) Trump told Comey repeatedly that he “expected loyalty” — and wouldn’t easily take “no” for an answer. In a dinner on January 17th Trump said that he “needed” and “expected” loyalty. Comey says that he sat mute and there was an awkward silence. My personal opinion is that Trump made the request because his handler, Vladimir Putin, instructed him to get Comey in the Trump-Putin camp for reasons which are obvious. Trump apparently dropped the subject but repeated it at the end of dinner (and didn’t get the response he wanted.) It’s no wonder Comey shot to the top of Trump’s hit list.
3.) Trump specifically told Comey that he had no involvement with Russian prostitutes. “He said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia.” “We have nothing to do with Russia,” is the familiar refrain of the entire Trump family, being sung most recently by Eric and Donald Jr. Carter Page even came up with a delightful comment the other day, “the meeting was about nothing,” in response to an MSNBC host prodding for details about Page’s Russian involvement. Of course, Carter, people have meetings about nothing all the time.
4.) Despite this, Trump asked Comey if he could somehow prove that the “golden shower” incident never happened. Still on the topic of non-existent Russian ties and equally non-existent prostitutes, Trump actually asked the Director of the FBI to prove a negative, i.e., that the alleged golden shower incident never happened.
”He said he was considering ordering me to investigate the alleged incident to prove it didn’t happen,” Comey wrote. “I replied that he should give that careful thought because it might create a narrative that we were investigating him personally, which we weren’t, and because it was very difficult to prove a negative.”
5.) Trump admitted the possibility that “satellite” associates might have done something wrong. Wow, Trump actually admitted the possibility that Paul Manafort, with his $12Million Russian payment, or Carter Page, who used to live in Moscow and was investigated as early as September on campaign interference, might actually have done something illegal?
6.) In their final conversation before Comey’s firing, Trump implored Comey to publicly state that he was not under investigation. Here’s the grand finale. You may recall Trump saying, “I was told three times by the FBI Director that I wasn’t under investigation.” Trump kept nagging Comey to publicly state that he was not under investigation, which was technically true at the time, but Comey was reluctant to state such a thing in the event that the investigation did in fact expand to include Trump. Comey was being prudent by not making definitive statements about an issue in an ongoing investigation which had yet to be fully resolved.
So it’s Comey’s fault Trump can’t do his job. If it’s not HIlary’s or Obama’s, well, by default it must be Comey’s. The countdown clocks are ticking and Capital Hill will soon be a rockin’. Stay tuned.
If you marveled at Donald Trump giving Saudi Arabia an unusually warm embrace during a foreign trip in which he flipped the middle finger to all our of usual allies, there may be a very good reason for all that affinity. It amounts to $270,000 the Saudis dropped at Trump’s Washington hotel as they lobbied against a controversial terrorism bill. The Wall Street Journal writes:
The payments—for catering, lodging and parking—were disclosed by the public relations firm MSLGroup last week in paperwork filed with the Justice Department documenting foreign lobbying work on behalf of Saudi Arabia and other clients.
As part of a lobbying effort against the bipartisan Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, or JASTA, Saudi Arabia’s Washington lobbyists and consultants spent about $190,000 on lodging, $78,000 on catering, and $1,600 on parking at the Trump International Hotel. The Daily Caller website first reported on the payments.
JASTA is legislation that lets American citizens sue foreign governments for acts of terrorism, making Saudi Arabia vulnerable to lawsuits from family members of 9/11 victims. The Saudis made the payments to Trump’s hotel between Nov. 2016 and Feb. 2017, after Trump had been elected.
So when you think back on the Saudis’ red carpet treatment, Trump reveling in the sword dance, and his assertion that he wasn’t there to “lecture” about human rights, his motivations take on more of a transactional quality than a genuine shift in U.S. doctrine.
Under normal times politicians need to choose their words carefully. I’ve heard many Democrats express their “concern”, or they’re “disturbed” by the evidence of the Russian attack on our democracy, and I hear even less about the Republican collaboration to cover up this attack. These are not NORMAL times! We continue to be under attack from Russia and the Republicans continue to stonewall our efforts to protect ourselves.
Democrats need to step up their game, and they can do it by learning a lesson from Ted Lieu when it comes to talking tough about this attack. Here are a few tweets from Representative Lieu in the last couple of weeks.
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) June 7, 2017
Ã¢ÂÂ Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) June 7, 2017
Jeff Sessions lied under oath to Congress in order to get confirmed. He should have resigned months ago.
Great OpEd on the lawless presidency. As a former prosecutor, I believe Trump’s disrespect for the Rule of Law is a danger to our Republic.
Dear @realDonaldTrump: Identity of 3rd London terrorist & your recent tweets mean you need to add Italy, Morocco & Qatar to your dumb BAN.
Dear White House Staff: Very clear by now you don’t speak for @realDonaldTrump. You also lie a lot.
Dear Senator Cornyn: The problem is not Trump’s habit of tweeting. It’s what his tweets say that horrifies many.
Dear @POTUS: Worst terror attack in US on 9/11 came mostly from terrorists from Saudi Arabia, which shows irrationality of your stupid BAN.
My #SaturdayMorning thought: Chairman Devin Nunes can make history by sending a subpoena to himself.
#Kushner lied on his SF86 form by omitting meetings w/ Russians. Now he may be lying about purpose of meeting.
The reason, Mr. Vice President, is called “science.” A synonym would be “facts.” The concept called “truth” would also work. #ParisAgreement
Is this coincidence number 97 in #TrumpRussia saga, or is it further evidence of perjury by #Sessions? I’m going with perjury & concealment.
Now why is it so hard for Democrats to say words like “lying”, “perjury”, “stupid”…? Words matter, and when a public refuses to be responsible citizens and inform themselves with real facts, you need to talk in a way that will grab their attention. You can be civil to your Republican “colleagues” while still repeatedly pointing out they are not staffing the investigative committees with the numbers and quality of people we need to do a real job of investigating this attack and cover up. And why can’t Democrats point out the Republicans are deliberately trying to distract the public when they keep talking about “unmasking” or “leaks”.
I believe our only chance of really exposing what happened between Russia and the Trump/GOP regime will be to win back either the house or senate in 2018, and we won’t do it by being timid and “normal” when it comes to the way the Republicans are covering up the attack on our democracy.