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Archive for May, 2017

Rex Tomb: President Shows ‘No Class Whatsoever’ in The Firing of FBI Director Comey

Rex Tomb served in the FBI from 1968 until his retirement in 2006. For most of his career he served in the Office of Public Affairs, retiring as Chief of its Investigative Publicity and Public Affairs Unit. His column addresses the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

By Rex Tomb

Rex Tomb

Rex Tomb

The timing and handling of this was shocking.

Also, a President who has a courier deliver a termination letter to someone of Comey’s station (who wasn’t even there to receive it) has no class whatsoever.

As to why he was sacked, I’m going to wait and let the dust settle. A couple of things kinda stand out for me, though:

    1. If Mr. Comey knows/has a lot of incriminating information about the President, it would seem to me that the President would want to handle him with kid gloves. As Lyndon Johnson once said about Mr. Hoover – “I’d rather have him inside the tent pissing out, than on the outside the tent pissing in.”
    2. I’ll be watching to see who Trump nominates to replace Comey. What kind of person will he choose? If the nominee is highly respected and of good character that’s a signal to me that Comey’s dismissal might be motivated by something other than a cover-up.
    3. Subpoenas were issued re the Russian probe I believe as late as yesterday, so things are not slowing down. Regardless of who is appointed, the FBI is relentless in their investigations & will not allow ANYONE to stand in their way. They certainly proved that during Mrs. Clinton’s email probe… The Watergate investigation was also relentlessly persued.
    4. I’m always suspicious of historical comparisons. Many times they turn out to be hysterical comparisons. Another Watergate? Comparing Trump to Hitler? Way too early to tell & history never really repeats itself, though there have certainly been historical variations on a variety of them.

This is one story I plan to follow, and I don’t rule out ANY possibility.

What I will try to resist, however, is allowing my emotions to take control of my brain. I’ve done that before & have almost always regretted it… I had & have a lot of respect for Mr. Comey. They gave him an impossible job and  he surely knew it might end this way, but did his duty, nevertheless.

Wonder what I’d do, or for that matter, any of the rest of us?

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, The Canary in the Coal Mine, Already Gasping for Air

Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general.

Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, a former U.S. Attorney from Baltimore, is the canary in the coal mine for the Justice Department. In very short time, in that role, he’s already gasping for breath, having been put smack in the middle of the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

The phrase “canary in the coal mine” refers to caged canaries miners would carry down into the mine tunnels. If dangerous gases collected, the gases would kill the canaries before killing the miners. In this case, the dangerous gases could be the dubious demands by President Donald Trump that could compromise the Justice Department, and ultimately kill the canary’s government career.

Skeptics of the Trump administration have always expected that Attorney General Jeff Sessions would play politics and try to please his boss, the president.  But Rosenstein, a career prosecutor who has worked under both Republican and Democratic administrations, has a reputation as a straight shooter. The expectation is that he’ll stand up and say no if Trump tries to compromise the department. If Trump pushes too far and won’t back off, everyone assumes he’ll get fired or quit.

But very quickly, he’s already gasping for air.

Rosenstein authored a letter for the president detailing how Comey acted inappropriately during the Hillary Clinton email probe and implied he should be fired, but never said it outright. Trump then shot off a letter to Comey, saying he was going by the recommendation of Rosenstein and Sessions to fire him. Skeptics found it hard to swallow that Trump had concerns for Clinton.

Yellow canary - Serinus canaria on its perch in front of a white background

Rosenstein apparently felt duped, or at least that’s how it’s being portrayed in the press.

The Washington Post reported that Rosenstein threatened to “resign after the narrative emerging from the White House on Tuesday evening cast him as a prime mover of the decision to fire Comey and that the president acted only on his recommendation, said the person close to the White House, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.”

People will be closely observing, paying close attention to see if  the chirping continues to come from Rosenstein’s new office at Justice, or whether at some point, it’s silenced.

 

Timeline Highlights Trump’s Dysfunctional, Love-Hate Relationship with Comey

FBI Director James Comey.

FBI Director James Comey.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Just two days after Donald Trump was inaugurated as president of the United States in January, the bombastic billionaire blew a playful kiss at FBI Director James Comey and the two bro-braced in an awkward exchange that appeared to suggest the powerful pair had buried the hatchet.

But that wouldn’t be the case. Comey, who was three years into his 10-year term, was not backing down from an investigation of the Trump campaign’s alleged collaboration with Russian operatives to influence the presidential election.

Two days before the FBI director was set to testify about the investigation in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee today, Trump abruptly fired Comey, prompting dumbfounded Democrats and some Republicans to question whether the president was trying to disrupt a federal investigation into his inner circle. Some called Trump’s actions “Nixonian.”

Here’s a look at the rocky, often toxic relationship between the fiery political newcomer and an FBI director who was trying to reestablish his reputation as an independent investigator who operated without regard to politics. The timeline created by Tickle the Wire also raises serious questions about Trump’s insistence that he fired Comey because of his handling of the Clinton investigation. 

A timeline of the love-hate relationship between the two powerful men:

July 5, 2016: Comey announced he was not recommending  criminal charges against Clinton.

“The system is rigged,” Trump tweeted. “General Petraeus got in trouble for far less. Very very unfair! As usual, bad judgment.”

Oct. 13, 2016: Trump suggested on Twitter that Comey was hiding critical evidence in the Clinton investigation.

“Hillary Clinton is guilty, of all the things that Director Comey stated at his press conference and congressional hearings, and far more. He stated many things, but it’s far more and he knows that. And yet, after reading all of these items, where she’s so guilty, he let her off the hook,” Trump said at a campaign event in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Oct. 27, 2016: Just two weeks later, Trump suggested with no evidence that Comey and the FBI were up to something nefarious.

“He made a mistake, or whatever,” Trump told ABC News. “I don’t even call it a mistake. I think something happened. Look, something happened.”

Trump added that “there’s something going on.

Oct. 31, 2016: Trump’s attitude toward Comey took another big shift after the FBI director told Congress in a letter that the FBI was investigating new Clinton emails just two weeks before the presidential election.

“I have to give the FBI credit,” Comey said at a rally in Grand Rapids, Mi., on Oct. 31. “that was so bad what happened originally, and it took guts for Director Comey to make the move that he made, in light of the kind of opposition he had, where they’re trying to protect her from criminal prosecution, you know that. It took a lot of guts, I really disagreed with him, I was not his fan. But I’ll tell you what he did, he brought back his reputation — he brought it back.”

Nov 6, 2016: On the eve of the election, Comey announced that a review of a new batch of Clinton emails produced nothing of legal substance.

“They went through 650,000 emails in eight days – yeah right,” Trump told supporters in North Carolina. “So sad what’s going on.”

Jan. 22, 2016: Two days after a chipper Trump was inaugurated, he once again wildly shifted his rhetoric, blew Comey a kiss and hugged the FBI director in what appeared to be an uncharacteristic act of reconciliation by the new president.

“He’s become more famous than me,” Trump said of Comey to a crowd at a reception.

Feb. 24, 2017: Trump blasts the FBI for failing to prevent national security “leakers” from revealing to the media that the president tried to persuade the FBI to publicly refute the allegations that his campaign had ties to Russia, despite the ongoing investigation. 

“The FBI is totally unable to stop the national security ‘leakers’ that have permeated our government for a long time. They can’t even find the leakers within the FBI itself. Classified information is being given to media that could have a devastating effect on U.S. FIND NOW,” Trump tweeted.

A Tickle the Wire analysis found that Trump has complained about the Russia investigation more than 40 times since the November election, often blaming the “fake news” and the intelligence community. 

April 12, 2017: Trump expressed some confidence in Comey in an interview with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo. 

“It’s not too late, but, you know, I have confidence in him. We’ll see what happens. You know, it’s going to be interesting,” Trump said, adding, “We’ll see what happens.”

May 2, 2017: In a stark demonstration of Trump’s quick, unpredictable temperament, the president less than a month later called Comey the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton,” even though the president himself suggested that he wasn’t interested in pursuing charges against Clinton.

“FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds! The phony Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election. Perhaps Trump just ran a great campaign?” Trump wrote in a tweet, speaking about himself in the third person.

May 9, 2017: Trump fires Comey on the advice of the attorney general and deputy attorney general.

“While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau,” Trump wrote in Comey’s dismissal letter.

May 10, 2017: In typical fashion, Trump cast blame on Democrats and “Fake News” in yet another name-calling tweet.

Dems have been complaining for months & months about Dir. Comey. Now that he has been fired they PRETEND to be aggrieved. Phony hypocrites!” Trump tweeted.

Senate Intelligence Committee is meeting today to discuss the Trump-Russia investigation. Check back for details.

Lengel: Rod Rosenstein, the Canary in the Coal Mine, Is Already Gasping For Air

Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general.

Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, a former U.S. Attorney from Baltimore, is the canary in the coal mine for the Justice Department. In very short time, in that role, he’s already gasping for breath, having been put smack in the middle of the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

The phrase “canary in the coal mine” refers to caged canaries miners would carry down into the mine tunnels. If dangerous gases collected, the gases would kill the canaries before killing the miners. In this case, the dangerous gases could end up being dubious demands by President Donald Trump, that could compromise the Justice Department, and ultimately kill the canary’s government career.

Skeptics of the Trump administration have always expected that Attorney General Jeff Sessions would play politics and try to please his boss, the president.  But Rosenstein, a career prosecutor who has worked under both Republican and Democratic administrations, has a reputation as a straight shooter. The expectation is that he’ll stand up and say no if Trump tries to compromise the department. If Trump pushes too far and won’t back off, everyone assumes he’ll get fired or quit.

But very quickly, he’s already gasping for air.

Rosenstein authored a letter for the president detailing how Comey acted inappropriately during the Hillary Clinton email probe and implied he should be fired, but never said it outright. Trump then shot off a letter to Comey, saying he was going by the recommendation of Rosenstein and Sessions to fire him. Skeptics found it hard to swallow that Trump had concerns for Clinton.

Yellow canary - Serinus canaria on its perch in front of a white background

Rosenstein apparently felt duped, or at least that’s how it’s being portrayed in the press.

The Washington Post reported that Rosenstein threatened to “resign after the narrative emerging from the White House on Tuesday evening cast him as a prime mover of the decision to fire Comey and that the president acted only on his recommendation, said the person close to the White House, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.”

People will be closely observing, paying close attention to see if  the chirping continues to come from Rosenstein’s new office at Justice, or whether at some point, it’s silenced.

 

Trump’s Bold Choice to Fire Comey May Lead to a Special Prosecutor

Donald Trump, via Wikipedia

Donald Trump, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

After Donald Trump boldly fired the FBI director in the middle of an investigation into his presidential campaign’s ties to Russia, Democrats said the only way to assure a fair investigation is to appoint a special prosecutor.

Democrats compared Trump’s actions to President Richard Nixon, who tried to obstruct a federal investigation into his inner circle before resigning in 1974.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the investigation must be led by someone independent of Trump, CNN reports

“This investigation must be run as far away as possible from this White House,” Schumer said.

Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, said he wants to hear what Comey knows about the investigation.

“I still want him to come and testify, even as former FBI director,” Warner said in an interview on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront.”

Sen. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, expressed an urgency to appoint a special prosecutor.

“We are careening ever closer to a Constitutional crisis, and this development only underscores why we must appoint a special prosecutor to fully investigate any dealings the Trump campaign or administration had with Russia,” said Sen. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, in a statement.

Firing Comey: 10 Strong Reactions from Congress on FBI Director’s Ousting

congress copyBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s sudden and brazen decision to fire FBI Director James Comey drew immediate and fierce criticism from both sides of the aisle Tuesday, with some comparing the bombastic Republican to Richard Nixon.

Here are 10 reactions from elected officials:

  1. “This is Nixonian,” said Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania. 
  2. “The only way the American people can have faith in this investigation is for it to be led by a fearless, independent special prosecutor,” said the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
  3. “I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Jim Comey’s termination,” said Sen. Richard M. Burr, R-N.C. 
  4. “What happened during the Nixon period, there were people of principle who stood up against some of then-President Nixon’s actions,” Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee. “I’m hoping in the coming days that we’ll see either out of the administration, and frankly from a lot of my colleagues, a willingness to rise above partisanship.”
  5. “The President’s sudden and brazen firing of the FBI Director raises the ghosts of some of the worst Executive Branch abuses,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi in a statement. “We cannot stand by and watch a coverup of the possible collusion with a hostile foreign power to undermine American democracy.”
  6. “Not since Watergate have our legal systems been so threatened and our faith in the independence and integrity of those systems so shaken,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut.  
  7. “I have long called for a special congressional committee to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. “The president’s decision to remove the F.B.I. director only confirms the need and the urgency of such a committee.”
  8. “We are careening ever closer to a Constitutional crisis, and this development only underscores why we must appoint a special prosecutor to fully investigate any dealings the Trump campaign or administration had with Russia,” said Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts.
  9. “The inescapable conclusion from the circumstantial evidence here is the President wanted to stop or stifle this investigation,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., told ABC News.
  10. “Russia attacked our democracy and the American people deserve answers. President Trump’s decision to make this move tonight is an attack on the rule of law and raises more questions that demand answers. Firing the FBI Director does not place the White House, the President, or his campaign above the law,” said Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.

NYT: Trump’s Firing of Comey Jeopardizes Investigation of Russia

Former FBI Director James Comey

Former FBI Director James Comey

By Editorial Board
New York Times

The American people — not to mention the credibility of the world’s oldest democracy — require a thorough, impartial investigation into the extent of Russia’s meddling with the 2016 presidential election on behalf of Donald Trump and, crucially, whether high-ranking members of Mr. Trump’s campaign colluded in that effort.

By firing the F.B.I. director, James Comey, late Tuesday afternoon, President Trump has cast grave doubt on the viability of any further investigation into what could be one of the biggest political scandals in the country’s history.

The explanation for this shocking move — that Mr. Comey’s bungling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server violated longstanding Justice Department policy and profoundly damaged public trust in the agency — is impossible to take at face value. Certainly Mr. Comey deserves all the criticism heaped upon him for his repeated misstepsin that case, but just as certainly, that’s not the reason Mr. Trump fired him.

Mr. Trump had nothing but praise for Mr. Comey when, in the final days of the presidential campaign, he informed Congress that the bureau was reopening the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s emails. “He brought back his reputation,” Mr. Trump said at the time. “It took a lot of guts.”

With congressional Republicans continuing to resist any serious investigation, Mr. Comey’s inquiry was the only aggressive effort to get to the bottom of Russia’s ties to the Trump campaign. So far, the scandal has engulfed Paul Manafort, one of Mr. Trump’s campaign managers; Roger Stone, a longtime confidant; Carter Page, one of the campaign’s early foreign-policy advisers; Michael Flynn, who was forced out as national security adviser; and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself in March from the Russia inquiry after failing to disclose during his confirmation hearings that he had met twice during the campaign with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

To read more click here. 

Here’s Some Names That Popped Up in 2013 for FBI Director — And Then Some

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Back in 2013 we wrote about possible candidates to replace FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.

The list included Lisa Monaco, a career federal prosecutor, former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, then- Congressman Mike Rogers, former U.S. Attorney James Comey (scratch this name off)  and  Jana Monroe, the former FBI special agent in charge of the Phoenix division and former assistant director of the FBI’s Cyber Division.

Jana Monroe (l) Raymond Kelly (top) Mike Rogers (bottom)

Jana Monroe (l) Raymond Kelly (top) Mike Rogers (bottom)

The Washington Times on Tuesday mentioned Raymond Kelly and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as possible replacements for Comey. Other publications have mentioned former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Andrew McCabe, the acting director of the FBI.

Here’s what these folks are up to:

Patrick Fitzgerald: The former U.S. Attorney in Chicago is a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in Chicago.

Jana Monroe: Former head of the FBI’s Phoenix Division and former assistant director of the FBI’s Cyber Division, Monroe is VP of Global Security and Enterprise Risk Management for Herbalife, a global nutrition company.

Raymond Kelly: He was the New York City Police Commissioner up until 2013. In 2011, Sen. Chuck Schumer endorsed him to be the FBI director.

Lisa Monaco:  A former federal prosecutor who was  Homeland Security Advisor to President Barack Obama. She served in different roles in the Justice Department. She is currently a senior national security analyst for CNN.

Chris Christie: A former U.S. Attorney in New Jersey, his term as governor ends 2018. The Bridegate scandal and Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Cushner, could be impediments.

Mike Rogers: The former FBI agent and ex-Congressman, who was popular choice among many agents back in 2013, is a CNN national security commentator.

Rudy Giuliani — The former mayor of New York and ex-U.S. Attorney was a Trump loyalist during the campaign.  On January 12, 2017, President-elect Trump named Giuliani his informal cybersecurity adviser. His name came up as a possible secretary of state or attorney general, but he got neither.

Andrew McCabe: The acting director of the FBI was the deputy since February 2016. It would be an easy choice, but not a likely one. He’s associated closely with Comey.