Thursday, May 11, 2017

Some loose ends on the Comey firing

1.  Multiple reports from reliable sources confirm that the Trump team did not anticipate a negative reaction to the firing of FBI Director Comey.   They believed that, because Democrats have been so resentful and critical of Comey about his handling of Clinton's email investigation, they would only be happy about this.

Boy, did they misjudge, probably from projecting what their own reactions would be, if things were reversed.   Only the political implications would matter to them.  Here's how one Democrat put it in a tweet:  "We aren't defending Comey.   We're defending DEMOCRACY."  Robby Mook, Clinton's campaign manager, said that he was sad and frustrated by the news of Comey firing, like everybody else;  but that it also terrified him.

I am proud to say that Democrats are more concerned about the foundations of our democracy, the balance of powers that allow us to keep that democracy, and the vital principle that no one is above the law.   Even Donald Trump.

2.  The Justice Department's Inspector General is already conducting an ongoing investigation of Comey's judgment and conduct in handling the Clinton email investigation.   Wouldn't it have made sense to complete that;  and then, if indicated, fire him based on that?  It would have avoided the inevitable inference that the real reason for his firing was the investigation of the Trumpsters' relationships with Russians.   The obvious answer to that is that the real reason actually was to remove Comey from that investigation and intimidate the other investigators.

3.  The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes division for any documents they have that connect any of Trump associates with Russia.   Sen. Mark Warner, senior Democrat on this committee, made the request, citing the investigative dictum:   follow the money.   This is considered a sign of heating up of that committee's work.  Warner has also recently hired a top investigative staff member.   In addition, CNN reported Tuesday night that documents that Michael Flynn refused to give to the Senate Intelligence Committee have now been subpoened.  Associates of Flynn were also getting subpoenas, looking for financial records linking them and Flynn to Russia.   This news broke just hours before the Comey firing.

4.  On Wednesday morning, Trump had a scheduled meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Oval Office (bad timing, following the Comey firing).   Lavrov had just met with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.  Accompanying Lavrov was the Russian ambassador Kislyak.  But, as the website RawStory pointed out, US media was not allowed in;  we have pictures of the meeting only because a Russian photographer was allowed in the Oval Office and published them on Russian propaganda TV.

Now how is that for optics?   One day after firing the FBI Director who is investigating him and his associates for improper connections with Russians, he hosts in the Oval Office the Russian Foreign Minister and the Russian Ambassador to the US -- and doesn't allow the US media to cover the meeting.

5.  Here's an idea that is circulating.   The Senate should refuse to confirm a nominee for a new FBI Director until the Justice Department appoints an independent prosecutor for the Trump-Russia investigation.

6.  And while we're on the subject:   My first choice for that prosecutor would be Sally Yates.  It won't happen, because in a situation like this, both sides should feel that the prosecutor is impartial.   But Yates' integrity and professionalism is exactly what we need.


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