Saturday, June 17, 2017

Does Sessions have a legal basis for refusing to answer questions about his conversations with the president?

In his sworn testimony in an open hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions repeatedly invoked what he insisted was a long-standing policy of the Justice Department not to speak about any conversation he had with the president -- even extended to something as mundane as whether the president asked him to leave the room so he could talk to James Comey alone.

Sessions acknowledged that the president had not invoked executive privilege and that only the president can do that.   Still, he insisted that he was refusing to discuss his conversation to preserve for the president the option to do so in the future.    Sessions was repeatedly challenged to cite the legal authorization for this claim, since he was under oath to "tell the whole truth."   He could not.

Therefore Sean Illing, writing for news service has consulted ten legal experts about this.  He writes:

"All but one of the experts rejected Sessions’s argument on its face, insisting that Sessions is legally permitted to discuss conversations with the president, provided the president hasn’t yet invoked executive privilege (which he hasn’t). One expert believes there is a precedent for Sessions’s actions, but that Congress can — and should — compel him to answer their questions."

No one accepted the vague Justice Department "policy" or "regulations" that Sessions referred to but couldn't say for sure that there is actually a written regulation on it.   Even if there were, the legal experts said it would not override the right of an oversight committee hearing to have him answer the questions, as long as the president has not exerted executive privilege.

Even the tenth legal expert would not go further than saying there is precedent for doing what Sessions did.   But then he offered this suggestion:   the committee should give the president a date certain by which he would exert privilege, or else the committee could recall Sessions and compel him to testify fully.

But how do you compel Sessions to testify?    He would have to be held in contempt of congress.  This would then lead to a court trial -- with all the delays built into that.   So it's probably not worth going that route.

Trump and Sessions may have finessed this, for now.   By not evoking privilege, Trump avoided the outrage and charges of "cover-up" that would ensue.   By taking this middle ground of "preserving the right to invoke privilege," even though it won't hold up, Sessions tested the waters.   If the committee decided to push it -- like beginning contempt proceedings -- then Trump can always step in and invoke the privilege.

So the best way forward is probably what that tenth expert, Ohio State law professor Peter Shane suggested:   demand an answer from the president by a certain date;  if he does not then invoke privilege, bring Sessions back -- and question him again, without allowing his phony "preserve the president's options" excuse.

Beyond whether there is legal justification, however, is the political and practical effect of Sessions' stonewalling.  First, he may have restored himself at least temporarily in the good graces of the president, who has been angry that he recused himself in the first place.   Second, it appeared that he evoked frustration and probably anger in all of the Democrats on the committee and even some of the Republicans.  And finally he made himself the object of ridicule.  Steven Colbert had a field day mimicking him and heaping scorn on his performance.

But even beyond that, at least to me, he showed himself unfit for the office of Attorney General.   Here we have all of our intelligence and national security agencies in agreement that the Russians hacked into our political process.   And the Attorney General has largely ignored this;  he even seemed uninterested enough even to read reports about it.   We can't count on him to do anything to protect us in the future.   Fortunately there are other agencies that will.   Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III should be fired -- if only we had a president that wasn't in Russia's debt somehow.


Friday, June 16, 2017

Pres. Trump speaks out on witch hunts

President Donald J. Trump is being investigated by the FBI for possibly attempting to obstruct justice.   He has responded, characteristically, by tweet:

You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history - led by some very bad and conflicted people! #MAGA

*     *     *
If we could time travel back to the 1690s, we would find 20 people, hanged for witchcraft, who might disagree about which is the GREATEST witch hunt in U.S. history.

The Guardian suggests possible perjury in Sessions' testimony

In the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday, Senator John McCain asked a very pointed question of Jeff Sessions:  whether he ever had "any contacts with any representative, including any American lobbyist or agent of any Russian company" during the 2016 campaign.   Sessions replied:  "I don't believe so."

Two days later, The Guardian reporter Stephanie Kirchgaessner wrote that:  "An American lobbyist for Russian interests. who helped craft an important foreign policy speech for Donald Trump, has confirmed that he attended two dinners hosted by Jeff Sessions during the 2016 campaign, apparently contradicting the attorney general’s sworn testimony given this week."

Richard Burt, who was ambassador to Germany in the Reagan administration, has more recently worked as a lobbyist in Washington representing Russian interests
He volunteered the above about his personal contacts with Sessions.   "I did attend two dinners with groups of former Republican foreign policy officials and Senator Sessions,” he told the reporter.   He also said that he did not know whether Sessions knew about his work for the Russians, although it was disclosed in public records and was widely known in Washington circles.

As The Guardian reports:  Burt "is managing director of the Europe and Eurasia practice" at his lobbying firm and "served as a lobbyist for the New European Pipeline AG" which is owned by the Russian state-owned oil company Gazprom.  The pipeline he was lobbying for, which the Obama administration opposed, "is seen as making Europe more dependent on Russian energy exports."

Further, Burt not only attended the dinner but later worked on drafting Trump's first foreign policy speech, which Sessions also was intimately involved in producing.   The speech was delivered at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, the one that senators kept questioning Sessions about whether he had met with Ambassador Kislyak there.

The Guardian further reported that, more recently, Burt has played down the significance of his contribution to the Trump speech, telling the Daily Beast that he "had transmitted his counsel through a third party intermediary."  However, in May 2016, he told NPR that he had been "asked to provide a draft for that speech, and parts of that draft survived in the final [version]."

Whether this is what Burt wrote, I don't know, but in the speech Trump said that an “easing of tensions and improved relations with Russia – from a position of strength – is possible” and that “common sense says this cycle of hostility must end”.

So what we have here is another example of Sessions seeming to obfuscate and avoid his connections with Russian interests.   John McCain is obviously looking at this;  his question was too specific to think otherwise.  I just wish he had pushed him more and not let him get away with "I don't believe so."

At the least, Sessions is probably in for a lot more scrutiny by the Intelligence Committee.   The Judiciary Committee -- as the oversight committee for the Justice Department -- should look into Sessions' involvement.  And I think we can be sure that Robert Mueller will also.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

John McCain destroys Sessions' rationale for meeting with Russian ambassador

In my June 14th post, I mentioned John McCain's landing a "big body blow" on AG Sessions by asking him what he talked with the Russian ambassador Kislyak about -- i.e. since he claimed his position on the Armed Services committee as his rationale for the meeting, did he talk about related issues?

I had not realized how devastating that was until I read the transcript of that portion, supplied by Kerry Eleveld on Daily Kos.  Let me give you some of that here:

McCain:   Did you raise concerns about Russia's support for President Bashar al-Assad and his campaign of indiscriminate violence against his own citizens, including his use of chemical weapons?

Sessions:  I don't recall whether that was discussed or not.

McCain:  Did you raise concerns about Russia's interference in our electoral process or its interference in the electoral processes of our allies?

Sessions:  I don't recall that being discussed.

McCain:  At those meetings, if you spoke with Kislyak in your capacity as a member of the Armed Services Committee, you presumably talked with him about Russia-related security issues that you have demonstrated as important to you as a member of that committee.

Sessions:  Um, repeat that, Senator McCain.  I'm sorry.

McCain:  The whole Russia-related security issues that you demonstrated as important to you as a member of the committee -- Did you raise those with him?

Sessions:  No, I did not.

McCain:  In other words, Russian-related security issues in your capacity as the chairman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee -- what Russia-related issues did you hold hearings on or demonstrate a keen interest in?

Sessions:  We may have discussed that.  I just don't have a real recall of the meeting.  I was not making a report about it to anyone.  I just was basically willing to meet and see what he discussed.

McCain:  And his response was?

Sessions:  I don't recall.

In other words, Sessions had claimed that he met with the Russian ambassador, as he did with other ambassadors, to discuss issues related to his committee work on the Armed Services Committee.    But, in fact, McCain destroyed the idea that he had any keen interest in that committee, not holding any hearings by the subcommittee he chaired.   It's unlikely the meeting with the ambassador had anything at all to do with his committee work.  More likely, he had an entirely different reason for meeting with Kislyak.

So what was the reason, Mr. Attorney General?


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

NEWS BREAK: Trump now under criminal investigation for obstruction of justice

The Washington Post broke the story late Wednesday that President Donald Trump is now under criminal investigation for obstruction of justice.   The story has five sources and is not denied by Trump's lawyer, who focused his outrage on the leaks.

Of course, we should remember that being investigated does not automatically mean that the person is guilty.   But this is such a serious charge against a sitting president, that someone as experienced as Robert Mueller is unlikely to do so without solid reason to think he could back it up.   Most legal scholars, including Laurence Tribe, say that there is a good case for obstruction, although one notable dissenter is Alan Dershowitz.  Both are distinguished Harvard Law professors, although Dershowitz tends to be a bit more iconoclastic and bombastic.

Those known to have agreed to be interviewed as witnesses, concerning Trump's approach to them to assist in quashing the investigation, are:   Dan Coates, Director of National Intelligence and Admiral Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency.  In addition, Rogers' deputy at the time, Richard Ledgett, who apparently had knowledge at the time of the conversation between the president and Rogers, is also a potential witness.  And of course we've already heard James Comey's testimony before the Senate.

This is potentially very explosive and comes much sooner than I was expecting.  We know that Trump is said to have been considering firing Mueller.  But he cannot do it himself.  It would have to be the Attorney General;  and, since Sessions is recused from this case, it would be Deputy AG  Rod Rosenstein -- who said in his testimony to the Senate Intel Committee on Monday that he would not fire Mueller without good cause.   So Trump would have to fire Rosenstein and replace him with someone who would.   Shades of Nixon's "Saturday Night Massacre."  Beyond that, it would be political suicide for him to take that course.

Stay tuned.


Did we learn anything from the Sessions' testimony session?

That headline is a real question.  The answer:  No and Yes.

It was a very frustrating two plus hours of Sessions refusing to answer any question that touched on any conversation he ever had with President Trump.   He insisted that he was abiding by an unwritten custom of the Justice Department not to reveal private conversations with the president.

Yet, he admitted that the president had not invoked executive privilege, which he could have done.   Sessions' answer was to insist that he was not "stonewalling," as one senator accused him.  "I am protecting the right of the president to assert [executive privilege] if he chooses."   In other words, Trump gets to have it both ways:   he doesn't have to be accused of cover-up by invoking a blanket executive privilege;  but Sessions lets him pick and choose what he might permit to be said later.

There were two other problems with his testimony.  (1) his verbosity, which frustrated senators whose time was limited to five minutes;  and (2) his repeated use of "I don't recall" or the qualifier: "to the best of my recollection."    He stoutly denied that he had any memory of a third meeting with a Russian official, but he left open just the tiniest possibility that he just didn't remember it.   And he added nothing to the understanding of the firing of FBI Director James Comey or to what his "recusal" in the Russian investigation really meant.

Except that he really did.   To get anything from this testimony, you have to read between the lines and look at what is not said.  With so much evasiveness -- just as with so much smoke -- there's got to be something there.  Being so careful not to repeat anything Trump has said makes everyone even more curious about what Trump has said.

In addition, the story about firing Comey because of his handling -- last year -- of the Clinton announcement makes no sense.   First, if that was the reason, why did he wait until he had been in office for 3 months to fire him for something that he did last summer and fall?    Second, it happened just as the Russian connection leaks were heating up.   And also just after Comey indicated to Trump that he was not going to back off the investigation.

And third:   well, duh, Trump himself told the world in a tv interview with Lester Holt that he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation.   And then, on top of that, Trump told the Russian ambassador and the foreign minister, in their visit in the Oval Office, that getting rid of the "nut job" Comey had lifted a weight off him.  The weight, of course, being the Russian investigation -- which Trump was joking about with his Russian visitors.   And how do we know that?    The Russians were recording it and put it out on their propaganda tv station.   Nothing Sessions said comes even close to negating that.

Three conclusions:   (1)  Sessions is a master cover-upper;  but he did not change the narrative.  (2)  Sessions is not fit to be Attorney General.   But (3) is the big one.   One more coffin nail came through loud and clear:   the stupifying lack of interest by anyone on the Trump team of what Russia did to our election process -- or in preventing anything they might do in the future.

Sessions -- as the Attorney General -- acknowledged that he has not had any briefing from the intelligence community about our vulnerability to future cyber attacks.   Nor did he seem at all curious about what they did in our election last fall.   Nor was he concerned that President Trump never even brought it up with FBI Director Comey in any of the six private conversations he had with him. 

The line of questioning that came close to getting at this was asking Sessions what he talked with the Russian ambassador about when he did have that meeting in his office.   Sessions has previously claimed he met with Kislyak as a member of the Armed Services Committee.

Sen. John McCain, chair of the Armed Services Committee, subtly called his bluff by asking him what he talked with the ambassador about, even giving him a list of topics relevant to their committee.   Sessions leaped on one, claiming that's what they talked about;  but it was not convincing.   For someone following this closely, I think McCain landed a big body blow.

This, to me, is the most compelling question that everything seems to point to:   the lack of concern in the whole Trump orbit with Russia as an enemy of democracy.    And we should be asking them:   Why is that?


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Sessions testifies Tuesday at 2:30

Attorney Jeff Sessions will be testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, June 13th beginning at 2:30 pm.  It will be broadcast live on CSPAN3.

He will be responding to James Comey's testimony from last week, in which Comey supposedly told the committee in closed session that Sessions had had a third meeting with the Russians that he still has not acknowledged.  Perhaps someone will also ask him why, if he had recused himself from the Russian inquiry, he still participated in the firing of Comey.

Health care for all -- or tax cuts for the wealthy?

Mitchel McConnell and some of his cronies are said to be cooking up a replacement health care bill -- in secret.    Word is that they will hold not one single hearing on the bill, will not have it analyzed and scored by the OMB, and then they will spring it on the senate floor for a vote without much notice or time to debate it -- all of which they said they wouldn't do, after the House steamrolled its version.

It does not surprise me that McConnell would stoop to such a low maneuver.   We had been assuming that they could not craft a bill that both their party's right wing and its more moderates could agree on.  But they seem to think they've got some compromise that will pass.

They've been chanting this false narrative that "Obamacare is unsustainable" and that it's in a "death spiral," so they have to save health care.

That is false.  The Affordable Care Act has problems that could be easily fixed -- if the Republicans would cooperate with Democrats on a solution.   But they're not interested in that.   In fact, the main factor driving up premiums to unaffordable levels is the uncertainty created by Republicans dithering with it.

The worst uncertainty is whether the Trump administration will allow the federal subsidies to continue to help people pay their premiums.  They won't say, so the insurance companies don't know what's going to happen.   They have a responsibility to their shareholders, so they're pumping up premiums to cover whatever might be coming -- or else, in some cases, pulling out of markets all together.   The Republicans are doing this deliberately, building their self-fulfilling case that "Obamacare is in a death spiral."

Their whole purpose is to paint the picture of failure, so they can sweep in with their tax cut bill that's disguised as the health care bill.   They don't really want to provide people with health insurance;  it's an excuse to give wealthy people that huge tax cut.

Jared Bernstein wrote about this is the Washington Post back on May 30th.   After explaining what I've summarized, he posed the question of why the Republicans would do what they're doing.   Then he writes this:

"To answer that question, you must understand the fundamental myth and the fundamental flaw of conservative 'health-care reform.'

"The Fundamental Myth: Republicans are not interested in actual reform of the health-care system, one that would control costs and promote affordable, quality coverage. They want to cut taxes for wealthy people, for which “health-care reform” is a mere stalking horse.

"The Fundamental Flaw: Because hospitals must treat the sick, regardless of their ability to pay, health care is not a normal market good. Thus, market solutions alone cannot solve the health-care problem. Comprehensive coverage implies risk-pooling, which implies mandates, which implies subsidies and/or controls on market costs.  International comparisons show that no system achieves full coverage without some combination of these components.

"We can either shore up the ACA or give the resources needed to do so to the wealthy in the form of tax cuts. In the meantime, let’s hear less phony rhetoric about implosion and more straight talk about what’s really going on."

Paying for health care is a problem.   Costs have surged to 17% of Gross Domestic Product, and that doesn't even cover everyone.  We need to do something to increase the number of people covered and to control costs.   But, first, we have to fight the Republicans who are not interested in providing more health care;  they're perversely trying to use health care to give tax cuts to their wealthy donors.   So we have to focus on that first.

To do that, we have to stop them from enacting their "American Health Care Act," either the House version or whatever they're cooking up behind closed doors in the Senate.   The only way to do that is to mobilize a protest movement that floods senators' office with phone calls, demonstrations at their offices and in the streets.   But there may not be much time.   The vote may come this week.  If we fail on this now, and they pass their bill, then the next step is to defeat them in the midterm elections next year.

What they are doing is not supported by the people.  The latest poll shows that only 17% of people support the Republican bill passed by the House, while 62% oppose it.  We don't know whether the Senate version will be any more acceptable.  The fact that they're keeping it secret and aim to ram it through without any hearings suggests that they don't think it would be.

The long-range goal, in my view, is an expanded Medicare-for-All type of universal coverage, paid for through taxes, just as we senior citizens do now for Medicare.  I would hate for the country to have to go through it, but the shortest route to that may be -- if we can't stop them -- for the Republicans to pass this very bad thing they're trying to sneak through.   Then be swept out of office next year on a tidal wave of public resentment, so the Democrats can take control and get real health care reform.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Kansas' austerity budget a big failure; Republican legislature overrides veto

Seven years ago, Sam Browback was elected as the Republican governor of Kansas, having run on, and then put in place, a budget that he called "a real life experiment."  He was intent on using his state to prove that an austerity budget -- low taxes, low expenditures -- was the best way to stimulate economic growth.  (See ShrinkRap  6/17/15 and 12/31/16 for background.)

He steered Kansas in a hard-right turn, getting fiscal conservative Republicans elected to fully control both legislative houses, and instituted the largest income tax cuts in Kansas history --  which Brownback said would be "like a shot of adrenaline in the heart of Kansas' economy."   Instead, state tax revenue dropped $700 million in 2014.

This obviously required offsetting cuts in spending.   Public education suffered to the extent that the 2016 school year had to be ended early for lack of funds.  In March of 2017, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that spending on public education was unconstitutionally low, a distinct blow to the Brownback experiment.

Other state services were hard hit as well.   Further, the austerity didn't bring the promised economic recovery -- not even as much as neighboring states Nebraska and Minnesota, whose economies fared much better using different approaches that included stimulus spending.

The people of Kansas said:  "enough is enough."   Last fall, they elected more moderate Republicans to the legislature.  This spring they passed a budget with tax increases of $1 billion over two years.  Brownback vetoed it.   The Republican controlled legislature over-rode the veto -- with four votes more than the required 2/3 in the State House.  Even the Speaker of the House, who is usually aligned with Brownback ideologically, voted to over-ride the governor's veto;  and the tax increase bill was enacted.

The question now is this:   We know that Republicans usually do not pay attention to empirical data or things we call facts.  But this was set up by one of their own. to prove that their economic ideology worked.  And it failed, miserably -- demonstrably.  Furthermore, the people demanded an end to the "experiment."

So the question is:   Will the national Republicans listen?   Or will they just continue their mantra of "low taxes, smaller government"?  So far, the answer is "no, they won't listen."  Just glance at the budget that the Trump administration submitted to Congress.  It was more of the same:   tax cuts that mostly benefit the wealthy, draconian cuts not only to social safety net programs, including food stamps, but to science and medical research as well.  Only the military budget went up.   Sad.  Stupid.  Insane = "Doing the same thing again and again . . . and expecting different results."


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Trump's predatory abuse of power.

Nicole Seratore has written a powerful op-ed piece, published in the New York Times op-ed section on Friday.  She likens the uncomfortable position that Trump put James Comey in to the way a woman feels when her boss tries to intimidate her into submitting to what he wants.

It's my guess that Trump is not innocent in his use of intimidation, but that he does it so instinctively, and has used it tactically for so long, that it is more like an automatic reflex to him.    This contribution by Nicole Seratore builds on Ezra Klein's article that I quoted yesterday.   From her experience and as a woman, she emphasizes the similarity to sexual harassment and abuse.   You can make the same point simply by focusing on the power dynamic.   Here are Seratore's words:
"As I listened to . . .  [Comey] tell the Senate Intelligence Committee about his personal meetings and phone calls with President Trump, I was reminded of something:  the experience of a woman being harassed by her powerful, predatory boss.  There was precisely that sinister air of coercion, of an employee helpless to avoid unsavory contact with an employer who is trying to grab what he wants. . . . 

"[An earlier, tweeted account elicited responses from other women who had had the same experience.]  How recognizable . . . .  For a woman who has spent a lifetime wrestling with situations where men have power they can abuse, this was disturbingly familiar.

"On Jan. 27, Mr. Comey received a last-minute dinner invitation from the president, and then learned it would be 'just the two of us' . . .  Already, something about this 'setup' made him feel 'uneasy.'

"The central business of this intimate dinner was Mr. Trump's insistence:  'I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.'  Mr. Comey immediately recognized that this was a press for something he did not want to give.  He froze:  'I didn't move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed.'

"That reaction -- the choice of stillness, responses calculated to neither encourage nor offend that characterized so many of his dealings with Mr. Trump -- is so relatable for any woman.   During his testimony, Mr. Comey was asked why he had not responded more robustly, why he had not told Mr. Trump that he, the president, was acting inappropriately or reported his behavior immediately to others in authority.

"Mr Comey expressed regret that he had not been 'stronger' about it, but explained that it was all he could do to focus on not saying the wrong thing.  In other words, he wanted to avoid granting any favor while avoiding the risk of direct confrontation -- a problem so deeply resonant for women.

"During that interminable, awkward dinner, Mr. Comey struggled to convince Mr. Trump of the danger of 'blurring' boundaries.  But Mr. Trump was not deterred and returned to the subject of the loyalty he must have.   There you hear the eternal voice of the predatory seducer:  the man who knows how hard he can make it for a woman to refuse his needs.

"Mr. Comey tried to wriggle out of the trap being set for him.  He offered his 'honesty,' hoping this would appease his insatiable host.  Mr. Trump countered with a demand for 'honest loyalty.'  Mr. Comey acquiesced.  Yet as he documented this 'very awkward conversation,' his concession of this phrase troubled him.  He hoped he had not been misunderstood by the president.

"The victim of sexual harassment is constantly haunted by the idea that she said or did something that gave her persecutor encouragement.  Serial harassers, of course, have an intuitive sense of this, and are skilled at manipulating and exploiting it.

"Mr. Comey, you are not alone.  How many of us have played over and over in our minds an encounter that suddenly took a creepy, coercisve turn?   What did I say?  Were my signals clear?   Did I do something ambiguous?   Did I say something compromising?

"At a White House ceremony on Jan 22, Mr. Comey reportedly tried to blend in with the curtains, so that he would not be noticed by the president.  Mr. Trump called to him and pulled him, unwilling, into a hug.  What woman has not tried to remain invisible from an unwelcome pursuer's attentions?

"To this series of bizarre interactions, in which he faced escalating pressure, Mr. Comey reacted with rising anxiety and distress.   Time after time, Mr. Trump reverted to his questionable agenda, and Mr. Comey, at each pass, tried to parry the president's unwanted advances.

"This dynamic with the president became so disturbing to Mr. Comey that, after an Oval Office meeting in February, he implored the attorney general Jeff Sessions, 'to prevent any future direct communication between the president and me.'  Mr. Comey did not want to be left alone with his boss again.   We've been there, Jim.

In their final exchange, on April 11, Mr. Trump told the FBI director, 'I have been very loyal to you, very loyal;  we had that thing you know.'   On May 9, having rebuffed the president, Mr. Comey was fired.

"'We had that thing.'  Once more, the seducer asserts a shared intimacy that was not really there, attempting to ensnare his victim with an imputed complicity.

"In the infamous 'Access Hollywood' tape, Mr. Trump said of any woman he wanted:  'I just start kissing them.   It's like a magnet.  Just kiss.   I don't even wait.  And when you're a star, they let you do it.  You can do anything'. . . .  With the power of the presidency at his disposal, Mr. Trump thought that he could use the psychology of coercive seduction on the nation's chief law enforcement officer.

"Victims of sexual harassment often face skepticism, doubts and accusations when they tell their story.  That's part of the predator's power.   Buy I'm here to tell James Comey, and all the women and men who have suffered at the hands of predators, I believe you."

Kelly Macias took a similar look at it on Daily Kos:
"James Comey did exactly what many abuse and harassment victims try to do when they have a lecherous, predatory boss they have to deal with but want to keep their jobs -- document everything and tell someone.   Still, he was fired.   And when he finally told, he was still asked [by senators on the panel] what he could have done differently to prevent the abuse.   This says so much about our culture of victim shaming and blaming.

"But let's keep our focus on the most pressing issue here:  Donald Trump is a serial sexual predator and abuser.   The behavior James Comey testified to experiencing is exactly the behavior of a rapist and a man who does not practice consent.  The behavior of a man who admits to grabbing pu**ies without permission.  A man that neither men nor women want to be left alone with.  This is exacetly what happens when a predator is elected president of the United States.

"How's that 'locker room talk' working out for the nation now?"

Let me repeat what I said at the beginning.  I disagree with sexualizing the discussion of what is essentially power dynamics between someone in a position of power and someone who is relatively powerless, or at least is subject to losing a job or some other valued asset.  Sex may also be involved in some instances;  but even then it is essentially a power play underneath.  This is about a predator using the power of his office to put those who answer to him in a position of being personally beholden to him to do his bidding.

Donald Trump learned from the master of these tactics.  His early mentor was Roy Cohn, the lawyer who helped J. Edgar Hoover do his dirty work.   So do not be naive in thinking that Trump doesn't know what he's doing.

And to the Republicans in Congress who are trying to put the blame on Comey for not having more robustly stood up to Trump:   (1)  Stop it.   You're blaming the victim.   If you don't get it, then read this blog again.  (2) Then ask yourself:  If there was an exact reversal and Hillary Clinton had won and tried to subvert her FBI Director to pledge loyalty to her, first and foremost, wouldn't you be screaming like banshees for an impeachment trial?   Be honest, now.