Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Comey Firing Brouhaha Masks Trump Ransom Note

Doomed FBI Director Robert Comey testifying before Congress Monday.

Note:  We interrupt our scheduled post—the tale of the arrest of on-the-lam Jeff Davis, late President of the defunct Confederate States and most wanted traitor who may or may not have been cross-dressing in an attempt to disguise himself.  Great stuff. Maybe next year.  But today current events have intervened…Are there new traitors in the woodpile?
Almost all of the considerable uproar erupting in the regular media, blog-o-sphere, and social media over the Cheeto in Charge’s abrupt dismissal of FBI Director Robert Comey late yesterday has focused on the timing and suspicions that it was meant to derail further investigation into the connections between erstwhile National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, Vladimir Putin and the Russians, the Trump Presidential campaign, and maybe—just—maybe, the old wheeler-dealer himself.  And why not?  It seems as obvious as a turd on a State Dinner Plate.
That was especially evident after two days of Senate testimony by Flynn and especially by fired former interim Attorney General Sally Yates.  Despite clumsy Republican attempts to deflect the issue, the toothpaste can no longer be squeezed back into the tube.  Investigations will go on, widen, and deepen.  So Trump had every motive to try to rein in or derail the investigation being conducted by the FBI—the only agency with the manpower, scope, and expertise to deeply pursue the far flung international threads and connections of the case.  And it fit with his already established pattern of panic firing others—case in point Sally Yates herself—who might get too close and intimidating others.
On top of that Trump knew something neither the Senate or the American people yet knew—that a Federal District Court in Mayland had already that day issued subpoenas to people around Michael Flynn in the search of business records—an indication the FBI investigation was seriously ramping up.
But, of course, that is not what Trump claimed was the reason for the sudden dismissal.  Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren was one of the first to note that he was tying it to Comey’s role in the infamous Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation and his leak-from-the-top of ultimately empty evidence of an odd link between her Muslim aide Huma Abedin and the lap top of her disgraced husband, former Rep. Anthony Weiner. As recently as last week Clinton attributed her stunning and unexpected  election defeat to Comey’s unusual announcement and to Russian meddling.  Shortly after the announcement of the firing Warren took to twitter:
But does anyone seriously believe @realDonaldTrump fired the top person investigating his ties to Russia because he was unfair to Hillary?
But that is exactly what he said.  Of course it harkened back to the familiar GOP/Fox News diversion tactic of screaming Obama/Benghazi/E-mails no matter what reeking pile of manure was steaming on the front lawn for all to see.  It was so transparently ridiculous  that the pundit herd  simply ignored it and pounded on the admittedly sensational Russian connection and the sheer ham handedness of the action.  The press was so busy falling all over themselves coming up with Nixon/Watergate parallels and metaphors that they failed to take much notice that there was something going on beyond Trump’s ham handed and seemingly impulsive actions.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Cheeto in Charge--both touched and tainted by Russian connections and eager to shift the conversation and blackmail Democrats with an implied threat to go after Hillary Clinton.

In his letter to the President Attorney General Sessions, who was himself burned by the Russian campaign connections and had to publicly recuse himself from any role or oversight in ongoing investigations of the matter, heavily relied on a memo from brand new Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who cited three points, all of them concerning the alleged Clinton e-mail scandals.
  1. “The Director was wrong to usurp the Attorney General's authority on July 5, 2016, and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution. It is not the function of the Director to make such an announcement. At most, the Director should have said the FBI had completed its investigation and presented its findings to federal prosecutors.”
  2. “…the Director ignored another longstanding principle: we do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation. Derogatory information sometimes is disclosed in the course of criminal investigations and prosecutions, but we never release it gratuitously.”
  3. “…the goal of a federal criminal investigation is not to announce our thoughts at a press conference. The goal is to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to justify a federal criminal prosecution, then allow a federal prosecutor who exercises authority delegated by the Attorney General to make a prosecutorial decision, and then—if  prosecution is warranted—let the judge and jury determine the facts.”
Rosenstein emphasized that there was bi-partisan criticism of Comey and asserted he had “lost the confidence” of the FBI rank and file and the Department of Justice.
There is truth in all of those claims, of course.  But it has been true for months under President Obama, who could not act against Comey for fear that it would look like he was interfering in an investigation and trying to cover up for Clinton, and under Trump, who heaped praise on Comey for smearing “Dirty, Crooked Hillary” during the campaign. 

During the Presidential campaign thought that Coney's unprecedented and premature announcement of reopening the Clinton e-mail investigation was a great patriotic service. 
His letter announcing the firings was not so much a simple declaration as it was a  blackmailer’s hostage note.  It was his signal to Democrats and any Republicans with unusual temptations to put country over party that he was prepared to have the FBI re-open the whole e-mail can of worms and hand over “evidence of wrong doing” to Sessions and his minions who would leap at the opportunity to bring an indictment against Clinton.  If I go down, Trump was threatening, so does Clinton and maybe even Obama somehow.
Plus, by repeatedly stressing he was acting at the urging of Sessions and Rosenstein he was setting them up as patsies to take the blame if the whole scheme blows up in his face.  Which seems likely.
Will it work?  Apparently Democrats are united in calling for a special prosecutor and special Senate investigation a la Watergate.  The Republicans, not so much.  Few of them are willing to take the principled stands that Howard Baker and Hugh Scott, for instance, played back then.  Sometime mavericks Lindsey Graham and John McCain have made some noises in that direction, but Mitch McConnell and leadership sneering dismissed calls for special investigations this morning and seem to be ready to stand with Trump in a stonewall defense.

Don't hold your breath waiting for a tidy, bloodless end to the drama this time.
This is not 1973 and just because things worked out just short of a full Constitutional crisis back then does not mean a deranged would-be despot will let that happen again.
Stay tuned for more developments.

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