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Lengel: Comey Gets Kudos For Speaking Out, But Still No Free Pass For Doing Wrong Thing in Some Instances

Former FBI Director James Comey on A?BC’s 20/20.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-FBI Director James Comey delivered some damaging blows to the Donald Trump presidency during his Sunday night interview on ABC, calling Trump unfit for office and suggesting Trump obstructed justice when he asked that the Michael Flynn probe be dropped.

It was a welcome interview, and a candid one, that was needed under the circumstances with a president who has so little respect for boundaries, the truth and the rule of law.

But I still don’t buy Comey’s defense for saying far too much when he issued a statement in 2016 that there would be no charges in the Hillary Clinton case. Ditto for his explanation for sending the letter to Congress that he was re-opening the Clinton investigation. I don’t buy it.

Comey was a popular director beloved by many inside the FBI. He was a modern-day G-man, articulate and smart. But he did have an ego, as many in official Washington have,  and sometimes he was a little too concerned about his boy scout image above all else.

First off, let’s get to the statement he made about the Clinton investigation in 2016. In Sunday’s interview he says:

“My view was– and this is a longstanding practice of the Department of Justice, that in rare cases, you should offer transparency so the American people can take a look at what you did and know that it was done in an honest, competent, independent way.”

There were certainly people inside the FBI, particularly in New York, who assumed the agency had enough to criminally charge Clinton. So, yes it’s understandable that Comey wanted to be transparent, defend himself and explain why he wasn’t charging. But right is right. Any federal prosecutor or agent knows you can’t announce that you’re not charging someone, then go on and trash them as if you just had.

It’s improper.

Then there’s the letter to Congress days before the election. The Justice Department policy is not to influence an election when at all possible.

Comey is asked by George Stephanopoulos: “If you knew that letter would elect Donald Trump, you’d still send it?”

Comey responds: “I would. I would. In fact, that was a question asked by one of my best people– a deputy general counsel in the FBI who is a very thoughtful and quiet person, who didn’t speak a lot. And that– that morning we were making that decision, she asked, ‘Should you consider that what you’re about do to may help elect Donald Trump president?’

“And I paused, and then I said, ‘Thank you for asking that question. That’s a great question. But the answer is not for a moment because down that path lies the death of the FBI as an independent force in American life. If I ever start considering whose political fortunes will be affected by a decision, we’re done. We’re no longer that group in America that is apart from the partisans, and that can be trusted. We’re just another player in the– in the tribal battle.”

Comey indicates his honor and the FBI’s honor was on the line and he had to tell Congress that there was a new development in the Clinton probe.

That being said, so too, on the line, was the integrity of the election.

He decided his image was more important than the election.

Plus, truth be told,  he had a cover. The Justice Department told him not to send the letter, and technically, the Justice Department is his boss.

If he had gotten grief from members of Congress about not notifying them of the new development before the election, he could have said he wanted to but the Justice Department told him not to.

All that being said,  Comey gets kudos for helping bring more transparency to a troubled presidency.

Comey: Trump Morally Unfit to Be Prez; Russians Could Have Something on Trump

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Fired FBI Director James Comey, in a much-awaited interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Sunday evening, said President Donald Trump is morally unfit to be president, and accused Trump of urging him to drop the investigation into National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

Comey also said Trump might be compromised by the Russians.

“I think it’s possible. I don’t know,” Comey said of the Russians. “These are more words I never thought I’d utter about a president of the United States, but it’s possible.”

To read the transcript of the interview click here. 

Belows are snippets of the interview: Video 1: Comey Talks about Trump being unfit to be president. Video 2: He says he thinks the Russians may have something on Trump. Video 3:  He talks about Trump demanding loyalty. Video 4: Comey says firing Mueller would be an attack on the rule of law.



Weekend Series on Crime History: Interview with Jay Dobyns: Undercover ATF agent who infiltrated the Hells Angels

White House Hatches Risky Plan to Oust Rosenstein Amid Escalating Federal Probes

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifying before a House committee in December 2017.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The FBI raid on the law office and hotel room of Donald Trump’s personal attorney has spurred the White House to build a case for firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is the biggest obstacle standing in the way of president pulling the plug on the special counsel investigation.

The plan involves Trump’s allies attacking Rosenstein, who appointed Robert Mueller in May and is overseeing the probe, to avoid the appearance that Trump is obstructing the investigation, the Wall Street Journal reports

Rosenstein’s firing is “a matter of when, not if,” one person who spoke with Trump said.

The plan to discredit Rosenstein comes after the deputy attorney general signed off on the FBI’s seizure of records between Trump and his longtime attorney Micahel Cohen on Monday.

Removing Rosenstein would allow Trump to replace his deputy attorney general with an ally willing to fire Mueller, a move reminiscent of President Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre” in which he fired Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox in 1973. The bold decision prompted Congress to begin talking about impeachment.

In private conversations, Rosenstein said he’s aware his firing may be imminent and that he’s at peace with it because he chose integrity over blind loyalty to the president, NBC News reported

Ex-FBI Director Comey Compares Trump to Mafia Boss, Calls Presidency a ‘Forest Fire’

Former FBI Director James Comey.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Fired FBI Director James Comey pulls no punches in his explosive new memoir, portraying Donald Trump as a dangerous, delusional, self-obsessed and chronically dishonest bully whose presidency is a “forest fire” that threatens to undermine the nation’s values and norms.

“This president is unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values,” Comey writes in “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership.” “His leadership is transactional, ego driven and about personal loyalty.”

Comey, who served as FBI director from 2013 until Trump abruptly fired him in May 2017, also explains his handling of the Hillary Clinton investigation and shares details about his upbringing and career at the bureau and Justice Department.

Here are five takeaways from the book, which is scheduled to be released Tuesday.

1. Trump like the mob

Comey likened the president to the mobsters he used to pursue as a federal prosecutor: “The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview. The lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and above the truth.” 

The president’s chronic dishonesty and bullying, Comey wrote, was central “to the entire enterprise of organized crime on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Comey warned: “We are experiencing a dangerous time in our country,” Comey writes, “with a political environment where basic facts are disputed, fundamental truth is questioned, lying is normalized and unethical behavior is ignored, excused or rewarded.”

2. Trump’s obsession with the “golden showers thing”

Comey wrote that the president asked him four times to discredit the salacious, but unverified dossier in which ex-British intelligence officer Christopher Steele alleged Trump watched prostitutes pee on each other in a Moscow hotel suite.

“‘I’m a germaphobe,'” Comey quoted Trump saying. “‘There’s no way I would let people pee on each other around me. No way.'”

Trump said the claims were distressing to his wife.

“For about the fourth time, he argued that the ‘golden showers thing’ wasn’t true,” Comey wrote, saying Trump asked, “‘Can you imagine me, hookers?'”

3. The president’s “expressionless blue eyes”

During his first in-person session with Trump, Comey recalled the president’s appearance with great attention attention to detail.

“His face appeared slightly orange, with bright white half-moons under his eyes where I assumed he placed small tanning goggles,” Comey wrote, describing Trump as having “expressionless blue eyes” and “impressively coifed, bright blond hair, which upon close inspection looked to be all his.”

Comey wrote that he never saw Trump laugh, which he suggested was a sign of the president’s “deep insecurity, his inability to be vulnerable or to risk himself by appreciating the humor of others, which, on reflection, is really very sad in a leader, and a little scary in a president.”

4. John Kelly calls Trump “dishonorable”

Just minutes after he was fired, Comey said he received “an emotional call” from John Kelly, then the head of Homeland Security and now the White House chief of staff.

During the call, Kelly said he intended to quit in protest because he didn’t want to work for dishonest people, referring specially to Trump. 

Comey wrote: “I urged Kelly not to do that, arguing that the country needed principled people around this president. Especially this president.”

5. Comey’s handling of the Clinton probe

In describing in controversial decision to publicly disclose the bureau was re-opening the Clinton investigation just 11 days before the election, Comey said he believed Clinton was going to win because of her favorable polls.

Comey wrote that he often questions whether that assumption influenced his decision to reveal the information.

“It is entirely possible that, because I was making decisions in an environment where Hillary Clinton was sure to be the next president, my concern about making her an illegitimate president by concealing the restarted investigation bore greater weight than it would have if the election appeared closer or if Donald Trump were ahead in all polls. But I don’t know.”

Comey, who told the Senate Judiciary Committee in May 2017 that he felt “mildly nauseous” at the prospect that the disclosure changed the outcome of the election, wrote that he hopes “very much that what we did — what I did — wasn’t a deciding factor in the election.”

About a week after the testimony, Trump fired Comey, prompting Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint special counsel Robert Mueller.

Trump Fires Back at Comey, Calling Ex-FBI Director an ‘Untruthful Slime Bag’

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump fired back at James Comey on Friday after the former FBI director in his new memoir likened the president to a mob boss – dangerous, dishonest and a bully.

Trump, as expected, lashed out on Twitter, calling Comey “a weak and untruthful slime ball who was, as time has proven, a terrible Director of the FBI.”

James Comey is a proven LEAKER & LIAR,” Trump tweeted shortly after 8 a.m. “Virtually everyone in Washington thought he should be fired for the terrible job he did-until he was, in fact, fired. He leaked CLASSIFIED information, for which he should be prosecuted. He lied to Congress under OATH. He is a weak and untruthful slime ball who was, as time has proven, a terrible Director of the FBI. His handling of the Crooked Hillary Clinton case, and the events surrounding it, will go down as one of the worst ‘botch jobs’ of history. It was my great honor to fire James Comey!”

Republicans have been planning on launching an attack campaign on Comey’s credibility before details of the book were released.

Trump fired Comey in May, prompting Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint special counsel Robert Mueller.

In the book, Comey described Trump’s presidency as a “forest fire” that threatens to undermine the nation’s values and norms.

Trump Allies Fear FBI Agents Seized Recorded Conversations in Raid

Longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was known to record conversations with his clients and associates, stoking fear among the president’s allies that digital audio files were seized in the FBI’s raid of Cohen’s offices and residences earlier this week.

Cohen often recorded phone conversations and replayed them for colleagues, the Washington Post reports

FBI agents seized Cohen’s computers and phones in a raid that sought, among other records, all communications between Cohen and Trump and his campaign aides.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Cohen taped conversations with Trump, who one associate said was aware of Cohen’s practice of recording phone calls because the attorney often played the recordings he had with other top Trump advisers.

“It was his standard practice to do it,” one source told the Post.

Legal experts said recorded conversations would be bad news for Cohen.

“If you are looking for evidence, you can’t do any better than people talking on tape,” said Nick Akerman, a former Watergate prosecutor.

Other Stories of Interest

Fugitive Drug Lord, Accused in DEA Agent’s Murder, Put on FBI’s Most Wanted List

Former Mexican drug lord Rafael Caro-Quintero

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Fugitive Mexican cartel boss Rafael Caro-Quintero, who disappeared underground after being sentenced in the torture and murder of DEA Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camerena, has been added to the FBI’s Most Wanted List.

Caro-Quintero, who is known as the “Godfather” of drug-trafficking, is the first DEA suspect to be added to the list, the Washington Post reports.

Caro-Quintero was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the 1985 murder of Camerena, who was tortured to death while investigating the Guadalajara Cartel. But a judge ordered the early release of the cartel boss, who escaped underground and has evaded Mexican and U.S. authorities since.

“Special Agent Camarena was devoted to stopping drug trafficking and breaking the cycle of drug-related crime,” said FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich in a statement Thursday. “It is because of his courage, and his selflessness, that we’re not going to stop looking for Caro-Quintero until we find him and put him back behind bars where he belongs.” 

Caro-Quintero, who is in his mid-60s, has since taken a leadership role in the Sinaloa gang, the world’s most powerful drug-trafficking organization.

DEA Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson praised the FBI’s commitment to track down Caro-Quintero “until the moment he is captured and returned to his rightful place in prison.

“Kiki Camarena holds a special place in our hearts and his sacrifice will always be remembered by the men and women of DEA who carry out our mission every day,” Patterson said.