Comey memo: Is Trump finished?

The events of yesterday may have given Trump’s presidency a fatal blow. First, it’s come to light that former FBI director James Comey wrote a memo to himself in February, noting that Trump had asked him to stop the FBI’s investigation into Michael Flynn. Flynn, you’ll recall, was Trump’s national security advisor, but resigned when it came out that he likely had improper contact with Russian officials before the election.

The New York Times story below (click on picture to access) suggests, if Comey’s memo is authentic (and it seems to be), that Trump engaged in obstruction of justice. That’s a crime. And it’s an impeachable offense. Here’s what Comey reported when sources read parts of the memo to newspaper reporters (it hasn’t been seen by any of them):

Mr. Comey shared the existence of the memo with senior F.B.I. officials and close associates. The New York Times has not viewed a copy of the memo, which is unclassified, but one of Mr. Comey’s associates read parts of it to a Times reporter.

“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey, according to the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey that Mr. Flynn had done nothing wrong, according to the memo.

Mr. Comey did not say anything to Mr. Trump about curtailing the investigation, replying only: “I agree he is a good guy.”

Trump, of course, could claim he never said any such thing. And that’s his line:

In a statement, the White House denied the version of events in the memo.

“While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn,” the statement said. “The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.”

Further malfeasance by the President: we now know that he shared intelligence about ISIS with Russian officials in the Oval Office, intelligence that apparently came from Israel and was conveyed to the U.S. confidentially, as part of our intelligence-sharing operations. It was certainly not intended to go to Putin, who could in turn hand it over it to some of his unsavory allies, like Iran. What this will do, of course, is make our allies more reluctant to share secret information with the U.S., for Trump is untrustworthy and capable of giving that information to anyone on the spur of the moment.

It’s barely four months into Trump’s Presidency, and I hope that those who voted for our Chief Moron realize what they voted for.

My question to readers: Will this have any effect on Trump’s presidency; that is, will he be impeached for obstructing justice? Or will he show his Teflon-like nature again, and slough it off?

The down side of impeaching Trump, of course, is that we’d get Pence as President, but even that’s better than The Donald.

Here’s a tw**t from the “Fire the Fool” site, courtesy of Grania:

 

124 Comments

  1. Steve Zeoli
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    I don’t think it is a question of Trump being Teflon. I think it is, rather, a GOP Congress which finds the buffoon a convenient smoke screen while they dismantle 50 years of social and environmental progress. The GOP clearly has an “our corporate sponsors before our nation” approach to doing (or not doing) their jobs.

    • Harrison
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      The GOP also knows there’s going to be a lot of public backlash over the failure of things like Trumpcare (assuming they can ever get it passed). They’re hoping the First Useful Idiot will be the one to take most of the blame. After all his name’s on it.

    • DrBrydon
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      If Trump goes, they still have a GOP president. I think the issue will be that they will want a big enough reason to be onboard with an impeachment so that they don’t completely lose his base or make the US look like a banana republic. I have no doubt (as a conservative) that if getting rid of Trump could be done with little or no political impact congress would be ready today.

  2. Posted May 17, 2017 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    I’m skeptical whether it goes to impeachment. But even people like Jason Chaffetz are concerned with this event/story.
    Here’s Chaffetz’s letter to FBI:
    https://oversight.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/2017-05-16-JEC-to-McCabe-FBI-Memos.pdf

    • Martin X
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      There’s no evidence that Chaffetz is concerned from an ethics perspective…it would just be too big of a change from his previous craven behavior. He likely wants to know what’s coming in order to better prepare a Trump defense.

      • Posted May 17, 2017 at 11:19 am | Permalink

        I don’t think Chaffetz is somehow concerned with ethical implications or the public. I know that he’s a son of a bitch. All I’m saying that he requested those documents from FBI, evidence, and the rest of us may get a chance to see it.

  3. mickeyc
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    I think he’ll survive this – impeachment and conviction will require significant Republican help. I don’t see that happening yet. If this were after the 2018 midterms the memo might be enough on its own.

    He is skating on very thin ice with his party though, so even if he survives this, it’ll get harder next time – and with Trump there will be a next time.

  4. Randy schenck
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    You can stick a fork in him. He is done.

  5. carpevita
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    No, such evidence will not change a supporter’s mind. The same way we cannot rid our culture of many clearly false beliefs. The backfire effect. https://youarenotsosmart.com/2011/06/10/the-backfire-effect/

    • Mark Perew
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      In the era of the “double down”, it’s unlikely that anything will pry him out of office. This is the same person who said “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

    • Harrison
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      There are ways around the Backfire Effect. Look into Peter Boghossian’s “street epistemology.”

      The only issue is it really only works one person at a time, and slowly.

  6. Stephen Barnard
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    I don’t think the Comey firing and his memos alone will bring Trump down. What will bring him down is what Comey was getting too close to — evidence of treason. A likely scenario is that Trump resigns and Pence pardons him.

    • Harrison
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      This will only happen if Pence is sure he won’t be able to win a 2020 term, as it would otherwise be political suicide.

      Which may happen as he’s not a popular figure, although even he could have a chance if Hillary decides to run again.

      • Stephen Barnard
        Posted May 17, 2017 at 10:11 am | Permalink

        There’s a precedent.

        • Harrison
          Posted May 17, 2017 at 11:04 am | Permalink

          Of course, but for an event as rare as impeachment I think precedent does us little good. We have to look at the particular circumstances of today.

          Ask yourself: Does the Republican Party have any loyalty to Donald Trump that would extend past his ability to rubber-stamp their agenda? I think the answer is an emphatic no. Once he’s out of the White House, he’ll be nobody to them.

          • Stephen Barnard
            Posted May 17, 2017 at 11:33 am | Permalink

            Trump could say to Pence, “For the good of the country, I’ll resign if you agree to pardon me.” I strongly suspect that’s the deal Nixon made with Ford, and it’s an obvious out to avoid the humiliation of impeachment and the threat of imprisonment.

            • Randy schenck
              Posted May 17, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

              I kind of doubt that Ford made a deal like that. Goldwater and others that went to Nixon and convinced him it was time to go had no pardon in mind. Also, and remember Ford saying, “our long nightmare is over”. But mostly, Ford knew that giving the pardon was the end of his political career, but he thought it was in the best interest of the country, certainly for the republicans to move on.

          • Posted May 19, 2017 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

            Your question about loyalty goes right to something that’s been nagging me and only just crystalized a short while ago.

            Drumpf rather pointedly demanded that Comey give him his personal loyalty. Not loyalty to the Country nor Constitution; not even loyalty to the Executive Branch as an institution…but loyalty to Donald John Trump.

            Comey demurred, and is out of a job.

            It’s near certain that all who remain, or at least all who remain at some point in the not-distant future, have personally pledged loyalty to Donald John Trump.

            It seems likely, as well, that many in Congress might have done so.

            And that’s perhaps the most frightening bit about all this.

            Cheers,

            b&

            >

            • Jeff Lewis
              Posted May 19, 2017 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

              Thanks for scaring the shit out of me.

  7. Charles Sawicki
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    This will have little immediate effect. Republicans taking action would require admitting their stupidity and irresponsibility. The more this continues the more stupid they will look. The disasters will continue! Hopefully with many in the FBI pissed off at Trump, as in the case of Watergate, the cover-up will fail and an FBI source (as in Watergate) will reveal the truth.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      Since you mention Watergate, I would recommend all those who did not live through that saga or did not pay attention, this is now almost like the Watergate moment. When they finally got the tape of Nixon in the oval office with his associate, just a few days after the break in, discussing the fact that Haldlenman, I believe it was, should get over to the CIA and get them to stop the FBI from the investigation. That was the clincher because that was obstruction. What do you think Trump did in the February meeting? It is the same thing only worse because you can pile on all these other events that match up perfectly.

  8. Posted May 17, 2017 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    I said when he got in, on WEIT somewhere, vote Trump, get Pence… whichever, sorry for you USA… 😦

    • Posted May 18, 2017 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      I prefer evil of the incompetent, rather than competent, variety. So I hope Trump doesn’t get booted. But if there were an impeachment vote, and it was close … that could help.

  9. Posted May 17, 2017 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Unless he was stupid enough to tape the conversation, like Nixon, it will be treated as hearsay, and the Republican Congress will continue to refuse to act.

    I love the mafia-like request. I hope you can see your way clear…

    • Carey
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      Brings to mind Henry II and Becket

    • DrBrydon
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 10:21 am | Permalink

      There was an article in Bloomberg (I think) the other day, by an author of one of Trump’s bio. He said that Trump was always threatening that he was taping their conversations. Later, when they wound up in court, Trump admitted (claimed?) that that was just talk.

  10. Patrisck Flannery
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    David Frum has made a most salient comment on all this. He points out that we know what Trump is and have got to shift our focus to the Republicans in Congress who are shielding him. Venting our outrage at Trump is pointless…he’s just glad to see his name in the news. Each new misdeed should entail an immediate pivot to the Republican leadership to demand they do something to stop this and prevent further misrule.

    • Taz
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      The good thing is, this should hurt Republicans in the midterms no matter what they do. Democrats need to be heavily involved in “get out the vote” activities. Republican turnout is usually higher than Democrats in midterms.

    • GBJames
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      I agree. Trump is a bad problem but the Republican Party is a much bigger problem.

  11. Rasmo carenna
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Trump’s career has been considered doomed so many times before (remember ‘pussygate’) that I hesitate to think it will be his end. As much as I would like to see it, I don’t think it will happen.

    • somer
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      I bet none of this makes a dint on his supporters in the electorate – altho he is beginning to really disturb some republicans. From what I heard on the radio this morning under the constitution, if theres a court finding on the Flynn affair that he refuses or he refuses to testify or hand over papers regarding it to a Court then he can be impeached.

      • Posted May 17, 2017 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

        “I bet none of this makes a dint on his supporters in the electorate”

        Because they barely know about it. Two nights ago when the caption of CNN and MSNBC was “Trump gives russia top secret information”, Fox had “Trump meets with Erdogan”. And the first 10 minutes of Hannity, which was all I could stomach watching, didn’t have a word about it. When and if he finally did get around to it it was likely framed as the continuing campaign by liberals to make Trump look bad.

        • somer
          Posted May 17, 2017 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

          Good point – Im don’t have access to Fox news 😰 Im only saying from Aust but I suspect that even more than Fox – most Trump supporters look at Facebook for their “news”

      • Posted May 19, 2017 at 11:23 am | Permalink

        The President can be impeached for scratching his nose, should a majority of the House decide that presidential nose-scratching is a misdemeanor.

        And Flynn’s actions really were criminal — the such-and-such law requires disclosure of meetings with foreign actors in certain circumstances; Flynn met with Kislyak and failed to disclose. And then the idiot dug his grave even deeper by trying to cover up, even going so far as to hang both Drumpf and Pence out to dry….

        Cheers,

        b&

        >

  12. Historian
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    The Republicans in Congress are only concerned with retaining their offices and pushing through tax cuts for the rich. To retain their jobs, they need to have the support of the Republican base, which as of now still supports Trump. If this support significantly erodes (not likely), they will then move against Trump with the hope of getting him to resign. If this fails, they could then move to impeachment, which they would be loath to do, since it would be unprecedented for an impeachment effort to be initiated against a president of the same political party as the congressional majority. Thus, the congressional Republicans are between a rock and a hard place – damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Congressional Republicans would love to have Pence as president – a conventional politician and also an ultra-conservative tool and religious fanatic, who fully supports the Republicans’ far-right agenda. However, there is no easy way for this to come about. In the meantime, the up-to-now unthinkable is happening for the Democrats – a fighting chance to retake the House in 2018. This scares the Republicans more than anything.

  13. Carey
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    I agree with the Douthat op ed that the 25th Amendment is the most appropriate way to remove Trump from office. He has shown that he is incompetent and unfit for office. It’s unlikely Trump will finish his term whether through impeachment or the 25th amendment. For the sake of country and the world, I hope he is out of office ASAP.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      I don’t buy that one at all. Never been done before and not going to happen now. It is criminal action that will do in Trump and that is where we are now. If incompetence was going to get anywhere, they could have done that after one week.

  14. docbill1351
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    How many “final blows” has Trump had to his campaign or his presidency? Every day brings another “final blow.”

  15. Posted May 17, 2017 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    It is difficult to know what exactly it would take for some Republicans to acknowledge Trump’s wrongdoings.

    On the BBC’s World At One this lunchtime, Trump supporter and former CIA office Michael Scheuer denied there was anything wrong with Trump saying to Comey “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go”. He said it was up to Comey to respond to Trump’s words “No I can’t” or “Yes I can”, “there was no ‘I order you to stop this’, it was phrased as a question.”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08q313r
    (at c.14:00)

    This is an absurd defence, since Trump did *not* phrase it as a question, but as a desire (“I hope…”) and, even it were a question, it would *still* be wrong to pose that question to the head of an investigation into one of your lieutenants!

    One despairs.

    • Posted May 18, 2017 at 6:24 am | Permalink

      You could interpret a question as an “imperative question”. My mother used to say to me “are you going to tidy your room?” which really meant “you are going to tidy your room”. If I answered yes (never answer no) and didn’t immediately go and tidy my room, she would ask “when are you going to tidy your room?” which really meant “go and tidy your room [i]now[/i]”.

      Claiming that something was phrased as a question is a bullshit defence, especially if the person of whom the question is asked knows you might fire them for giving them the wrong answer.

  16. Posted May 17, 2017 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Impeachment isn’t a criminal matter; it’s political.

    Politically, this is a disaster…but it’s not yet so bad that the Republicans will turn on him.

    What is pretty clear, though, is that Drumpf is in a death spiral. It’s not going to get better, only worse — and his legislative agenda is dead in the water as a result.

    Most rational actors would recognize that the Republicans are hopelessly lost in the Sunk Costs Fallacy, and that they’re long past the point where the costs for remaining invested in Drumpf far outweigh any benefits they might even merely hope to gain.

    But cognitive dissonance is a powerful, merciless master, and it likely won’t be until after actual, visible casualties start to emerge that they’ll abandon ship.

    Cheers,

    b&

    P.S. The optics of Putin’s offer this morning to provide Congress with a transcript of Drumpf’s Oval Office conversation with the Russian spymaster are, perhaps, even worse than the optics of the meeting itself…. b&

  17. Stephen Barnard
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    What makes the Comey memo so damning is its contemporaneous nature. To believe it’s a false accounting of the conversation you’d have to believe that Comey meticulously planned a dishonest conspiracy to bring Trump down.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      Good comment. And considering all other events in combination – lets just see who has the credibility, Trump or Comey.

    • Posted May 17, 2017 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      “What makes the Comey memo so damning is its contemporaneous nature.”

      Yes I was reading somewhere that courts tend to give such memo’s/notes by FBI agents nearly as much credibility as tape recordings.

  18. Posted May 17, 2017 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure that this is obstruction of justice because there needs to be a crime that is being investigated. Was the FBI investigating Flynn for a specific crime he was charged with? Or was this more part of a larger investigation of intelligence leaks to Russia, and not a criminal investigation*. If the former, “obstruction of justice” may not apply.

    So on that technicality he may escape impeachment, but I agree with many posters here that this is more a question of when, not if, with Trump.

    * I am not a lawyer so I could be 100% wrong about this.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      The omnibus clause of the federal obstruction of justice statute, 18 USC section 1503(a), requires only that a person corruptly “endeavors to … interfere with … the due administration of justice.” There need not be an underlying crime proved, only that there was an ongoing criminal investigation. There certainly was such an investigation in this case, both of Michael Flynn (as well as others associated with the Trump campaign officials) and of the Russian hackers themselves.

      • Posted May 17, 2017 at 11:39 am | Permalink

        “There need not be an underlying crime proved, only that there was an ongoing criminal investigation.”

        Has Flynn been charged with a crime and is this a criminal investigation, as opposed to a different type of investigation? It’s the adjective “criminal” that is tripping me up, as I have heard from (mainly right wing) sources that what the FBI was doing with Flynn and other associates was an “intelligence-gathering” investigation and therefore the chief executive could interfere with that without necessarily obstructing justice.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted May 17, 2017 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

          There was, as I understand it, a counter-intelligence investigation, as well as a criminal investigation of Michael Flynn (probably for crimes including making a false statement to the FBI, violations of the Logan Act, and perhaps other potential offenses). At some point while Trump was haranguing Comey, parallel federal criminal grand jury investigations were begun by the US Attorney’s offices for the District of Columbia and the Eastern District of Virginia. Local FBI agents were working on those investigations, too.

    • Posted May 19, 2017 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      Flynn failed to disclose meetings with Kisylak that the law demands he disclose. And then he went on to try to cover it up. That’s criminal, even skirting close to the line of treasonous.

      Cheers,

      b&

      >

  19. jwthomas
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Trump might resign in order to spend more time with his family :)once he’s signed a tax cut bill benefitting himself and received Pence’s assurance of a pardon but nobody’s going to bring him down. Trumps still polls 84% confidence among Republican voters.

  20. GBJames
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Personally, I don’t think tRump will last though the summer. But then again, I didn’t see him in office at all. So grains-of-salt…

    • Randy schenck
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      Yes, nothing in government happens quickly and again, the Nixon story is a good example. It took around two years for that helicopter ride to take place. This one has been moving faster because so much of it is self-inflicted. Trumps mouth moves quickly. As the republicans in so-called leadership positions begin coming around it will happen. The only thing left to see will be — Is Trump going to go quietly like Nixon or is he going to hang in there for an impeachment and trial?

      • GBJames
        Posted May 17, 2017 at 11:13 am | Permalink

        On the other hand, todays catastrophe is happening at light speed compared to Watergate. It took years to get to the place that tRump has gotten in just a few months.

        • Randy schenck
          Posted May 17, 2017 at 11:22 am | Permalink

          The main thing always in the Watergate/Nixon even was — what did he know and when did he know it. With Trumpgate we just line up the evidence as it comes in and that is it. Also note that journalism plays a very large role in both cases. Without it, we live with these guys.

      • Posted May 19, 2017 at 11:57 am | Permalink

        There’s a third option…he could try to fire Congress….

        Cheers,

        b&

        >

  21. Christopher Bonds
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Do I hear the fat lady singing yet?

  22. Posted May 17, 2017 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Trump’s unpopularity is spiking up on FiveThirtyEight. But I think the Republican Congress and the deplorables who voted for him will stick by him until the bitter end.

  23. Nicholas K.
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    The fact that Hillary would have been crucified if she had done one tenth of what Trump has done makes me shake with rage. The hypocrisy is astounding.

    He revealed classified intel to the Russians in the oval Office!

    What was all that fuss about Hillary’s emails again?

    • Posted May 17, 2017 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      As I’ve said many times online since 9-Nov-2016: Hypocrisy* is a Core GOP Value.

      Especially rich was McConnell calling for Democrats to cooperate with the new Prez.

      “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” — Mitch McConnell in an interview with the National Journal, 23-Oct-2010.

      (* Or as my Drumpf-supporter interlocutors generally spell it: Hypocrasy.)

      • Posted May 17, 2017 at 11:48 am | Permalink

        I have no love of the Democrats, but there’s a general rule with federal Republicans – if they accuse the Democrats of doing something (even correctly) they are doing it too.

  24. Posted May 17, 2017 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    I don’t know what to think. I’ve heard that the big donors are upset and want action and THAT might make this Congress a bit more “patriotic”.

    But I don’t have a good feel for it.

    AND: Trump would be replaced by someone who has less baggage and more political skill, hence more of their agenda will have a better chance of passing.

    BUT, the threat of POTUS starting a nuclear war would go down.

    • Jeff Lewis
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      That’s the tradeoff I see, as well. Pence will be more harmful in getting legislation passed, which will have real world consequences. But Pence would also be much less likely to have his actions result in anything catastrophic, and he wouldn’t cause anywhere near the damage to America’s reputation. And besides, when Trump & Congress actually are getting legislation done, Trump has been towing the standard conservative line, so he’s been harmful in that regard as well, just at a slower pace than a competent politician would have been.

  25. David Jorling
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    I hope he is not impeached until 2019. If the Democrats can pull themselves together to take back Congress (an open question) they could stop the GOP agenda. If Pence becomes president before then, I fear he will stabilize the situation enough for the GOP agenda to be passed and the GOP will retain control of Congress.
    The healthcare bill should be labeled GOPcare – not Trumpcare.
    Finally, I wonder why Trump just doesn’t issue blanket pardons for all his staff for the “Russian thing”. He would take some heat for a few weeks, but the constant drip, drip would be over.

    • GBJames
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      The dripping wouldn’t stop. tRump is a drip-generation machine. Well-oiled.

  26. Posted May 17, 2017 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    “The down side of impeaching Trump, of course, is that we’d get Pence as President, but even that’s better than The Donald.”

    I would ask, in what way? You’ll get policies that are less republican? No. You’ll get more liberal Supreme Court justices? No. You’ll get more concern for the little guy, civil rights, and the environment? No, no, and no. Have you seen Indiana, right next door?

    Maybe you’ll get more separation of church and state? Not a chance. Better education policies? No.

    Exactly how is any of that better?

    Me, I want Trump for the full four years. Wreak havoc all he wants because getting Pence in their gives the Rs a chance to appear normal. Do you want things back to normal for the mid-terms? If Trump goes down, all that will do is inflame right wing hatred since it’s the crooked MSM that brought him down. If he leaves office before his term is up, it will not be his fault according to his supporters. I see nothing good happening if he’s out early.

  27. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Trump is unlikely to survive this. Comey, I’m sure, has detailed contemporaneous memoranda of all his meetings and conversations with Trump. As to the memo discussed in the Times, Trump has no good excuse for dismissing everyone from the White House meeting in question — including vice-president Mike Pence and AG Jeff Sessions — to address Flynn’s situation with Comey in private. You’ll notice that Trump, uncharacteristically, has not offered a detailed rebuttal, either through spokespersons or via his favorite medium, Twitter. He’s swinging in the wind, wondering what all Comey has memorialized. You’ll see Trump’s numbers plummet precipitously once Comey testifies in an open, public session before congress and the memos are released (if not even earlier).

    Congressional Republicans are like Moses looking down on the Promised Land from Mount Nebo, after having spent a decade in the legislative desert (first with congress controlled by Democrats, then with Obama having veto power). They have stood with Trump thus far only because they’ve seen him as their path for enacting their legislative program — the usual Republican fuck-the-needy and blight-the-environment agenda. 🙂 To abandon Trump meant to abandon hope for passing any laws from now until the 2018 midterms (when Republicans are likely to lose control of one or both houses of congress anyway).

    But the Republicans in congress have no personal loyalty or party allegiance to Trump; none of them endorsed him in the primaries, and he’s not even a legitimate Republican. If they could wiggle their noses like Samantha Stevens and be done with Trump, they’d replace him with VP Pence in a New York second. (Hell, they’d happily have done it on day one.)

    Trump has become more and more of a national embarrassment as his presidency progresses and now has the Russians laughing in our faces on the world stage. As it becomes evermore clear that his presidency is beyond repair, and that nothing will move through congress as long as he’s still in office, the Republicans will drop Trump like a searing spud. This scene could play out more quickly than we imagine.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      This is truly payback to all republicans for letting their bankrupt party and ideas sell themselves down the river for a carnival barker.

  28. Steve Gerrard
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    I think the main effect of it all so far is that Trump is being weakened as president. He can’t be trusted with secrets. He can’t stick to a story. He puts his foot in it at every opportunity. He tweets like a teenager.

    This renders him impotent and ineffective as president. The question is whether the GOP will decide they need an effective president, or want to stick with a loser for 4 years.

  29. Posted May 17, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Does no one else find it strange that Comey’s memo “surfaced” right after he was fired and not way back in February when the conversation took place. If Comey interpreted Trump’s remarks as an attempt to interfere with a Federal investigation, seems to me he was obliged to report it then and there. Since he didn’t, his integrity and motives are highly questionable–at least to any good defense lawyer. I don’t think this is going anywhere.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      I am certain James Comey will have an excellent explanation for how he handled those memoranda when he testifies before congress. I’m also sure he gave copies to the appropriate people, and to other trusted colleagues inside and outside the Justice Department, at the time they were written. It would have been inappropriate for him to spill to the press, or to anyone outside Justice, at that time.

      I suspect Comey will say he was uncomfortable about the meetings and phone calls Trump initiated, but that he did not believe they constituted a completed crime — or at least not until Trump demonstrated that he was willing to fire Comey for failing to follow Trump’s inveiglements. I suspect Comey will also say he considered their discussions at least arguably covered by “executive privilege” — until Trump himself self-servingly blabbed about them in his televised interview with Lester Holt.

      Trump is an even bigger lamebrain than anyone suspects if he thinks he can win a swearing contest with James Comey.

    • Posted May 19, 2017 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      On what planet do you live on that prosecutors do (or should) immediately blab to the press about every potentially incriminating comment made by high-profile witnesses in international criminal investigations?

      b&

      >

      • Posted May 19, 2017 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        Nobody said anything about blabbing to the press. Thing is, there’s no evidence that Comey reported this to anyone or that he ever would have if it hadn’t been leaked to the press. Judges have been suspended or removed from office for failing to report a bribe attempt at the time it happened, and I would think that something of this sort would apply to the head of a Federal investigation. If I’m wrong about this, which I well may be, enlighten me.

        Gary

        • Posted May 19, 2017 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

          Comey is (was) himself an investigative police officer. All officers have and are expected to exercise discretion over what is and isn’t suitable for prosecution and, if so, when to pursue it. Anybody who’s ever driven over the speed limit, saw a cop in the rearview mirror, slowed down, and felt relief when the cop passed, can attest to and understand this.

          And in high-stakes investigations like this…well, anybody who’s ever gone fishing understands that it’s very often in your best interests to let the line play out before reeling it in. As it’s turned out in this case; Drumpf almost certainly obstructed justice by asking Flynn to drop the investigation, but it’s arguable, especially if you have an a priori desire to see him exonerated. But he very clearly did obstruct justice when he fired Flynn and tweeted that it was over Russia — and Comey caught Drumpf on that hook only because he didn’t reel him in immediately.

          As to whether or not the reports are accurate representations of Comey’s notes…we’ll find out soon enough when he testifies to Congress. But he’s already had more than ample opportunity to “leak” a correction, and multiple outlets (even Fox) have themselves independently confirmed to their satisfaction that what’s being reported is genuine.

          Cheers,

          b&

          >

  30. Posted May 17, 2017 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    What is clear is that he is *far* too stupid to achieve what he wanted to — that is, to treat the US the way Putin treats Russia.

    He’s made a good start on the kleptocracy stuff, but he’s run aground trying to dismantle the rest of the system. He didn’t bother learning how it works. He must be baffled right now as to why Putin gets away with it and he doesn’t.

    He is really quite a lot stupider than I thought he was, and I always thought he was profoundly stupid.

    Plus, he only has two modes of behavior, both overt, and even openly proclaimed:

    1. dominating & bullying subordinates, while playing them off against each other;

    2. being submissive and licking the boots of more dominant males, while thinking he has equal status to them.

    He doesn’t have any other options in his behavioral vocabulary. So he is incapable of carrying out the required tasks of office. He doesn’t understand what they are anyway, so he doesn’t know how to pretend he’s doing it either. This is really the offense for which Republicans will never forgive him.

    (I’d also bet he has some genuine specific developmental disorders.)

    Here’s my prediction:

    Republicans will use the power they now have over him to make him choose: accept a strictly reduced role, or get impeached.

    He will be limited to ceremonial duties, attacking the media and random celebrities, and being wheeled out as a distraction whenever they need cover for the ongoing ransacking of the US and rest of the world.

    The Democrats will continue squabbling about who gets to run against him, and at the last moment, the Repubs will let Ivanka run instead, and the US will get its first woman president.

    • somer
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

      A president has too many exec functions under the constitution to ever have a “ceremonial” role and Trump would never accept a reduced role. That would be unconstitutional and there would be no line of authority. And also theres the “hot [nuclear] button” issue. Only a president can do that. The only choice is impeachment.

      Im only commenting from afar in Australia also but Republicans care a bit anyway about security even if they are pretty keen on starting wars. Also they would much prefer Pence as president to Trump – as the former represents where most Republicans are at these days.

      From what Ive read/heard increasing Numbers of Republicans are getting nervous about his national security missteps (and he still hasn’t filled 2,000 state defence department and state department, hasn’t fired loose cannon Bannon or Sessions, leaving the “adults” in his cabinet unsupported.
      So if there’s a constitutional reason to impeach him they might well do so.

  31. bric
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    But wait! There’s more!

  32. Denise
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    If it isn’t this, it will be something else. He’s not going to stop doing these things. He can’t. Wait a week, there’ll be more.

  33. Jeff Lewis
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Here’s a relevant article on Vox:
    https://www.vox.com/2017/5/15/15644826/trump-ryan-mcconnell-congress-impeach-end-presidency

    For this to be the end of Trump, it’s going to take congressional Republicans to do something, but there’s not strong motivation for them to impeach Trump. If they do impeach him, that’s a drawn out, time consuming affair, during which they’re not getting their legislation passed. Moreover, if the Republican President gets impeached going into the midterms, it could hurt Republican chances even more than the current scandals. On the other hand, if they just live with Trump, they can still get some legislation passed, and maybe not take as big of a hit in the midterms.

    On a personal level, while a handful of people I know who voted for Trump are having second thoughts now, the majority still support him. They either rationalize his scandals, or chalk it up to Fake News (how did they appropriate that term?). They don’t see anything wrong with what Trump has done. It’s maddeningly frustrating.

    • Rita
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      I did notice that the usual comments from Trump supporters defending him are absent from Facebook this morning.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      Your take and the article might be missing a couple of things but one would be this. Watergate and this current Trumpgate are different in one important way. What sent Nixon down the river on his helicopter ride involved domestic interference. Trumpgate is a more serious thing because it involved international misconduct. Screwing around with classified information and obstructing investigations into foreign influence is a hell of a lot more serious than a simply break in at your apponents office.

    • Harrison
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      Trump’s most diehard supporters are a problem for Republicans to deal with.

      All that really matters are the independents and Rust Belt voters who were persuaded to vote Trump but aren’t wedded to that decision. And we know they’re not because many of them went for Obama twice before.

  34. veroxitatis
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    The GOP controlled Senate and House have not yet reached “TINA” (there is no alternative) It’s like the Parliamentary Labour Party in Britain with respect to the “leadership” of the Marxist Corbyn. But sooner or later each will get there!

  35. revelator60
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Trump’s destruction will depend on enough Republican congressman turning on him. Unfortunately, thanks to gerrymandering there are many Republican House members whose districts support Trump and would continue doing so even if he was caught on tape offering Alaska to Putin.

    The best case scenario is that Trump’s actions disgust enough moderate Republicans and Independents to flip enough House/Senate seats to give the Democrats a majority. Then the impeachment can start.

  36. Craw
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    All this is based on anonymous reports and partial information. I propose a bet with our host. Or several bets. Would you like to bet on this? What odds will you offer?

    I take the negative on all these bets:
    1. Trump is impeached within 6 months of today
    2 Trump is removed from office within 6 months of today
    3. Same as 1 but 12 months
    4. Same as 2 but 12 months

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      How about “Trump not to finish his four-year term”? I’ll take all the action you care to lay. We can let Jerry be the stakeholder (if he’s willing).

      (PS – The only “anonymous” sources at this point are the people Comey gave copies of his Valentine’s Day memo to and who have shared the contents with the Times. Do you really doubt those memos exist?)

      • Craw
        Posted May 17, 2017 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

        If we have to wait 3 years then the answer to Coyne’s question is no.

        • Randy schenck
          Posted May 17, 2017 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

          I do not understand why this discussion has to include time limits or include bets. Does that make it more important or conclusive? Just make the points you want to make and let others make theirs. This is a very serious issue with great affect on the country and some would like to keep it that way.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted May 17, 2017 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

            Easy, buddy, one of us is roping in a sucker here. (I’m just not sure yet who the sucker is, me or Craw. 🙂 )

          • Craw
            Posted May 18, 2017 at 9:07 am | Permalink

            It is a serious issue, but not in the way you think. Normally serious and thoughtful people have abandoned any skepticism or standards of evidence in their rush of confirmation bias. For example, no-one has seem this memo. The NYT report admits this, in some well buried paragraph. I object to group-think, evidence-shmevidence, rush to judgment stuff, and I am trying to highlight it, and extract a price for it. Not a monetary price primarily, and embarrassment price.

            This is, so far, a nothing burger. And for it to turn into something is quite a parlay.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted May 17, 2017 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

          OK, how about Trump will have been impeached, or have left office, at the time the 116th Congress is seated following the 2018 midterms?

          • Rick Graham
            Posted May 17, 2017 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

            I would like in on this action. Trump survives. The Left’s clutching of pearls continues for eight years.

            Twice during Comey’s resent testimony to Congress, and after the meeting with the President, the question of a special prosecutor came up. He never requested one.

            He was specifically asked recently by senators Grasley and Feinstein in briefings, Do we need a special prosecutor? Nope, said Comey.

            Further, he could have, and was required by law to report any obstruction of justice, told the President during his ‘meeting’ this is not appropriate. He did not.

            Comey is the J. Edgar Hoover type. Copious notes and files. Curiously awaiting the congressional subpoena and public release of his diary.

      • Posted May 19, 2017 at 10:24 am | Permalink

        I’m still leaning towards, “Drumpf will spend the rest of his life as Supreme Commander of the United States.”

        I wouldn’t care to make any bets as to how long that will be other than to note that actuarial statistics give him about a decade, plus or minus half a decade. Nor would I care to speculate as to the ultimate cause of his mortality — I’d simply note that, as Aristotle famously observed and Caeser was reminded, all men are mortal. And, though he may well resemble a cross between a donkey’s ass, a frightened mouse, and a meth-addled orangutan, he is, sadly, a man.

        Cheers,

        b&

        >

  37. Posted May 17, 2017 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  38. Stephen Barnard
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    I’m coming to the opinion that the best way to get rid of Trump isn’t impeachment and isn’t Article 25. It’s to make his life such a living hell of humiliation and defeat that he voluntarily resigns.

    • Posted May 17, 2017 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      That will be hard to do with his enormous ego as Marines salute him everytime he departs Airforce One. He’ll shrug everything else off.

    • Posted May 18, 2017 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      Trump is resistant to shame.

      • GBJames
        Posted May 18, 2017 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

        I agree. It would be nearly impossible to humiliate him into leaving. Like somer says above, there will always be some collection if supporters who will validate his delusions.

        • Posted May 19, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink

          What’s now becoming apparent is that, in addition to all his other moral failings, he’s a whiney little bitch who blows everything out of proportion and can’t take the heat. Drama queen to the max. “Help! Help! They’re hurting me like nobody’s ever been hurt before! I can barely stand it!”

          That has a serious chance of turning his supporters off of him….

          Cheers,

          b&

          >

          • Posted May 19, 2017 at 11:24 am | Permalink

            Well, it’s nice to be able to disagree with Ben again. LOL. I’m no Trump supporter, but on the question of his being treated unfairly, I think he’s got a valid point. The question you have to ask yourself is, “What would it take for you to think Trump is being treated unfairly?” If you can’t answer this, then you’re probably not qualified to judge one way or the other.

            Gary

            • Posted May 19, 2017 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

              Whether or not he is or isn’t being treated fairly is beside this particular point.

              What’s not up for debate is that he can’t stop whining about how mean everybody’s being to him.

              And that’s not merely un-Presidential, it’s something that any teenager can recognize is uncool — even if many lack the maturity to refrain from such childishness themselves.

              But, seriously — what do you expect? Never mind all the proud sexual predation before the election. He knew that Flynn was under criminal investigation for foreign collusion before he hired him anyway. Even if he was certain that Flynn was as pure as the driven snow, anybody can tell you that you wait for the official exoneration before hiring him even for something as trivial as a mail clerk. But he makes him the National Security Adviser?

              And then he fires the director of the FBI for not dropping the investigation?

              And he thinks that’s not going to attract YUGE attention and negative reactions?

              Dude’s as big an idiot as he is an ass — but we knew that already.

              What’s now coming out is how weak he is. Turns out his ability to withstand criticism is as strong as his big…hands. Maybe not even that strong — probably even weaker than his gigantic penis.

              Cheers,

              b&

              >

    • Posted May 19, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      What scares me is that I don’t think he’s constitutionally capable of admitting defeat like that or accepting the inevitably-resulting shame of failure. Worse, his pattern and habit is to up the ante with something even bigger.

      There will be a crisis of some sort before it comes to an head — a natural disaster, a terrorist attack, military action, something like that. Who here thinks Drumpf won’t at least try to use that as an excuse to declare a state of emergency and suspend / disband Congress and the courts?

      Remember, everybody who’s left in his administration by now has personally sworn loyalty to him, as he had earlier demanded (but not gotten) from Comey. And how many divisions has the Senate?

      Cheers,

      b&

      >

  39. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Breaking news: former FBI chief Robert Mueller has been named special counsel for the Trump-Russia investigation.

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

      Mueller and Comey have a history and no doubt know each other very well. Mueller, along with Comey when he was Deputy Attorney General under GWB, threatened to resign over a dispute about warrantless domestic surveillance.

    • veroxitatis
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

      According to BBC News the remit relates to the question of Russian interference in the Presidential election. It does however go on to say – “and related matters” (Interesting.).

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted May 17, 2017 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, I noticed that, too. But Mueller’s an absolute pro, and I’m sure he won’t settle for anything less.

        • Randy schenck
          Posted May 17, 2017 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

          Stock market also took a dive today. If someone tries to bring back Disco we might just replay the 70s. I don’t want to go back to school and get a job again.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted May 17, 2017 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

            Seems to call for some Barry White.

            Nixon’s resignation came in the middle of my college years. They say the past is another country — I don’t want to go live there, but I wouldn’t mind visiting for a few weeks vacation. 🙂

            The Nixon administration must line up with your years in the service, right?

            • Randall Schenck
              Posted May 17, 2017 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

              Yes and then some. My service time was Aug. 1968 to May 1972 and school came after. I think old Nixon is even the guy who signed my goodbye letter that tells you after 6 years from the time you went in that from now on it is women and children first. Maybe one of his last duties before taking that helicopter ride?

        • Rick Graham
          Posted May 17, 2017 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

          Where are the ebullient Democrats?

          I think Democrats are starting to ask themselves whether they’ve shot their independent counsel wad on an investigation that has pretty much run its course and gone nowhere. How many more independent counsels can they demand before their electoral fortunes are affected?

  40. veroxitatis
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    I listened to a news item where Trump told his supporters that no politician has ever been treated as badly and as unfairly as he has been. He just doesn’t get it, does he. “SAD”!

    • GBJames
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

      Abe Lincoln? John Kennedy?

      tRump is insane.

      • veroxitatis
        Posted May 17, 2017 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

        And closer in time, Nixon’s rebuke to the Press following his losing the California Gubernatorial election. (Nov. 1962) – “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore because gentlemen this is my last press conference.”

    • Posted May 17, 2017 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      I can think of two–Robert Bork and Barry Goldwater–but I think Trump has both of them beat. On the other hand, he’s certainly asked for it.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

      It sounded like a blend of Nixon’s 1962 California gubernatorial you-won’t-have-Nixon=to-kick-around-anymore “concession” speech … and Nixon’s 1974 White House farewell address.

  41. BJ
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 1:47 am | Permalink

    Much as I would like this to be the end of Trump — and to watch him have to walk away from the Presidency a small, humiliated, pathetic man, remembered by history as the most incompetent loser to ever hold office — I just don’t think it will happen.

    Unless evidence of serious *illegal* wrongdoing on Trump’s part is uncovered, there won’t be an impeachment. Remember, impeachment is a House process. There are far more extreme House Republicans than there are in the Senate, owing much to gerrymandering (something both parties do, it just so happens that Democrats don’t control most state-level governments because their political message and machine are incompetent). A lot of the people in the house on both sides get voted in by their rabid base, and that rabid base will continue to stand by Trump unless the evidence I suggested is uncovered and unassailable. Otherwise, this will be just another week or two of screw-ups from the Trump White House.

    • Posted May 19, 2017 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      I agree with Ben, which I think is a first. Short of unnatural causes, I have a theory that people die when they can no longer sustain their self-image. I predict a long life for Trump on that score, since nothing is likely to dent his armor.

      Gary

      • BJ
        Posted May 20, 2017 at 6:56 am | Permalink

        Haha well we’re both human, so we’re bound to agree on something eventually! As long as we respect each other, I’m happy to agree or disagree with you 🙂

  42. Stephen Barnard
    Posted May 19, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Trump has gotten away with more shit than anyone in politics by several orders of magnitude. A continual torrent of absurd, provable lies goes largely unchallenged because the media just can’t keep up with it. His corruption (violating the Emoluments Clause, for example) alone is unprecedented. He thinks he’s being treated “unfairly” when the media and the opposition state facts and point out his lies and his boorish behavior.


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