James Comey says that Trump asked him to drop the investigation into Flynn’s contact with Russians

Is this obstruction of justice or not? CNN has printed former (and fired) FBI director James Comey’s opening testimony that he’ll proffer tomorrow to the Senate Intelligence Committee on the connection between former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russian officials. If you can’t hear it live, read it here.

A small part of what Comey will say before he’s interrogated:

The President then returned to the topic of Mike Flynn, saying, “He is a  good guy and has been through a lot.” He repeated that Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong on his calls with the Russians, but had misled the Vice President. He then said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” I replied only that “he is a good guy.” (In fact, I had a positive experience dealing with Mike Flynn when he was a colleague as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency at the beginning of my term at FBI.) I did not say I would “let this go.”

. . . The President returned briefly to the problem of leaks. I then got up and left out the door by the grandfather clock, making my way through the large group of people waiting there, including Mr. Priebus and the Vice President. I immediately prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation about Flynn and discussed the matter with FBI senior leadership. I had understood the President to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December. I did not understand the President to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign.

Read more of the CNN report here.

Since Trump denies he said that, one of these men is lying. It is surely the President.  Does this amount to obstruction of justice? I think it does, as Trump was pressuring the FBI director to drop an investigation. Will Trump be impeached for this? I’m guessing not because there’s no way of determining the truth for sure (absent the “tapes” that Trump once said existed).

98 Comments

  1. Barry Lyons
    Posted June 7, 2017 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    It sounds like obstruction of justice to me!

  2. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted June 7, 2017 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Is that impeachable? Technically, it is yes if true. But is testimony enough to bring on such a grave outcome? I am not sure on that. A Republican congress moving to impeach a Republican pres. would be a hard sell even if there were tapes of the conversation.

    Rather than impeachment, another possibility is to issue a rebuke to the president. It is not just a matter of ‘to impeach or not to impeach’. There are other options, I think.

    • Curt Nelson
      Posted June 7, 2017 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      But it’s obstruction of justice regarding investigation into whether he helped the Russians screw with an election in which he was a contender – and won. That’s not run-of-the-mill OOJ!

      • Posted June 7, 2017 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

        Emphasis on a Republican controlled Washington. Other Repub presidents have done far worse, and walked away from it.

    • Filippo
      Posted June 8, 2017 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

      “But is testimony enough to bring on such a grave outcome? I am not sure on that. A Republican congress moving to impeach a Republican pres. would be a hard sell even if there were tapes of the conversation.”

      I gather that some sort of testimony was enough to prompt a Republican congress to bring about the grave outcome of impeaching a Democratic president, Bill Clinton. So far as I know, no Russians were involved in that. 😉

  3. rickflick
    Posted June 7, 2017 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    The level of incompetence at the White House makes me think it will eventually catch up to Trump and he will be removed from office. Comey’s testimony may not snare him, but something surely will.

    • Posted June 12, 2017 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      I suspect two things are keeping Trump in office: The Republicans lawmakers have their own agenda to push past him, before Pence takes over, and the Democrats wonder whether giving Pence the presidency is like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

      — sigh–

      And if Pence could be impeached, then Paul Ryan would step in. I think Ryan is next. Anyway, it isn’t pretty.

      But Trump is that bad, that something has to be done.

  4. Heather Hastie
    Posted June 7, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s attempted obstruction of justice rather than actual because Comey didn’t stop his investigation.

    Also, I suspect Trump may not understand just how wrong what he did was. He thinks these guys work for him, and that he should be able to tell them what to do. My guess is it’s simply another example of Trump’s ignorance.

    He didn’t want anyone to suspect there was anything to the Russia story, so he did this in private, but beyond that it’s just ignorance, arrogance, and incompetence.

    • Posted June 7, 2017 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      It’s still obstruction even if the attempt to influence failed. The crime lies in the attempt, not the outcome.

      …which is all irrelevant, as this is a political matter, not a legal one.

      But you’re spot on at just how idiotically ignorant this demonstrates Drumpf to be.

      It’s that ignorant idiocy that’s most likely to do in Drumpf, but only indirectly. Nobody can control him, and fewer are even trying every day. The Republicans in Congress may well soon decide that he’s more of a liability than an asset, especially if they start to read tea leaves that say how badly they’ll be clobbered in the midterms.

      There’s a very narrow window of opportunity for their legislative agenda, and Drumpf in his stupidity is doing more to close it faster than anybody else….

      Cheers,

      b&

      • Posted June 7, 2017 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

        But this has to be considered in conjunction with Trump firing Comey because of the Russian things. Taken together, he DID obstruct the investigation by firing its head.

        • Posted June 7, 2017 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

          Yup.

          As others have suggested…imagine if either Clinton or Obama had fired the director of the FBI explicitly because said director hadn’t dismissed an active investigation into collusion between election campaign members and a foreign nation that conducted an active disinformation campaign to influence the election results. Does anybody seriously doubt that Republicans would dismiss that as much ado about nothing?

          Let’s not forget…Drumpf bragged that he fired Comey because of the “Russian thing.” There’s no question about whether or not Drumpf fired Comey, or the reasons why he did it. That act alone with Drumpf’s proudly-proclaimed justification for it should have been more than enough to prompt an emergency session of Congress to impeach the asshole…

          …save, of course, for the minor little detail that the same asshole has also bragged of violent sexual assault, is a known child sexual predator (his treatment of teen beauty pageant contestants), and on and on and on and on.

          Talk about “Slick Willie” as the teflon president…he might as well have been made of superglue compared to Drumpf….

          Cheers,

          b&

          >

  5. Stephen Barnard
    Posted June 7, 2017 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    In my opinion, it’s a crystal clear case of obstruction of justice, but that’s not what will do him in. What will sink Trump is proof of treasonous collusion with Russian hacking to influence the election. Wait for it.

    • Posted June 8, 2017 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      Very much looking forward to it.

  6. Marty Lonn
    Posted June 7, 2017 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Not being a lawyer makes it hard to know if this would meet the legal requirements of obstruction of justice. One thing I notice is at this point it’s one man’s word versus another’s word. I think most thinking people would probably find Comey’s word more reliable, but is that enough for charges? If this is true I think it is an obstruction of justice in spirit, if not legally

    • DrDroid
      Posted June 7, 2017 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      Ya think “most thinking people would probably find Comey’s word more reliable”?? Trump has lied repeatedly in situations where what he said is manifest BS that is demonstrably false. Trump has shot his credibility so full of holes by now that the only mystery left is how some significant portion of the population can continue supporting him!

      • Marty Lonn
        Posted June 7, 2017 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

        Thinking is the qualifier that I think eliminates many , if not most. of these people.

  7. Posted June 7, 2017 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    It sounds like obstruction to me; if your boss tells you to do something you feel rather compelled to do it even if, in the end, your better nature prevents you.

    But I am not a lawyer.

    • Posted June 7, 2017 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      When Comey didn’t do it, his boss fired him. Seems like obstruction to me.

  8. Posted June 7, 2017 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    What part of “I hope you can see your way…” do you not understand? By no stretch is that ordering or even pressuring Comey to do anything.

    • Posted June 7, 2017 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      You’re joking, right?

      Mafia goon; “Nice business you have here. Be a shame if anything should happen to it”.

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted June 7, 2017 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      Trump started off the conversation by asking Comey if he wanted to keep his job.

    • Posted June 7, 2017 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, but that’s not the way it works.

      The President isn’t even permitted the luxury of expressing an opinion on this sort of thing — especially not when he’s known for being a stickler for personal loyalty coupled with his catchphrase of, “You’re fired!”

      To spell it out, Drumpf was letting it be known to Comey that personal loyalty to Drumpf meant letting Flynn off the hook criminally for what they agreed was, at the least, a firing offense. And this, in Drumpf’s own words, was because Drumpf was worried that people thought fingers were pointing at him as well.

      That right there is bad enough, but it is literally zero stretch of the imagination to suspect that the reason he’s worried about fingers pointing at him is because he’s got something to hide. And, whether he does or not, because that’s so obviously something one might suspect, and because he’s President (and has no credible defense for cluelessness), one has to assume that he knew how bad it would look to ask the head of the FBI to drop an investigation into him personally…because that is over-the-top Nixon-level obstruction of justice.

      I can actually believe that Drumpf is enough of an idiot that it never occurred to him just how fucking stupid it was to privately ask Comey to drop the Flynn investigation right after demanding personal loyalty of him. But, again, as President, he doesn’t have the luxury of cluelessness as a defense; whether he realized what he did or not, it’s a firing offense.

      And, if he does have something to hide, as it seems pretty obvious he does…well, that would literally be a firing squad offense.

      (Note: I vehemently oppose the death penalty in all forms for all reasons, Presidential treason emphatically included; our legal system, however, to our great shame, is nowhere near as civilized, compassionate, nor enlightened as that of basically the rest of the developed world.)

      Cheers,

      b&

      >

    • Mark R.
      Posted June 8, 2017 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      He said it after telling everyone in the oval office to leave. Comey was alone with him. This would be a very intimidating situation where “hope” means “stop the investigation”. If your boss says “I hope you don’t steal anything when you leave tonight” it’s implicit what that means.

    • Filippo
      Posted June 8, 2017 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

      Right. “The Art of the Hint, Hint, Wink, Wink, Nudge, Nudge!”

  9. Posted June 7, 2017 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    What part of “I hope you can see your way…” do you not understand? In no way is that ordering, interfering or pressuring.

    • Nicholas K.
      Posted June 7, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      Comey goes on to say, “I had understood the President to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December.”

    • Posted June 7, 2017 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      Is there an echo in here?

    • Christine
      Posted June 7, 2017 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      I think it’s either an echo or a Trump supporter.

    • Filippo
      Posted June 8, 2017 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

      Well, perhaps Comey should have merely and solely responded, “I respectfully and congenially acknowledge that you have made that statement. Thank you.”

      • Posted June 12, 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

        Hindsight is 20/20. I think Comey was shocked speechless by the situation in which he found himself.

        Studies show authority is often subconsciously granted to tall people over short ones, men over women, prime of life over either age extreme, and then, rank has its privilege, too. Outside of the Attorney General and the President, Comey was probably used to seeing himself in the position of relative power.

        Trump probably turned Comey’s empowered self-image upside down in a mind-jarring way. Comey seems to have been taken by surprise and dumbstruck, when the shorter, older, stupider, self-discredited Trump rubbed Comey’s nose in the fact that Trump held the Presidential position of power over him and was quite willing and so quick to abuse that power, too.

        • rickflick
          Posted June 12, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

          A quick google shows Trump and 6-2, Comey 6-8. That’s a significant difference. In an office setting, the “boss” will generally be sitting in a higher chair than the subordinate.

  10. Randall Schenck
    Posted June 7, 2017 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Well, I believe the interfering with FBI investigations into the Russian connection is obvious. He repeatedly asks Comey to get it out that he personally is not being investigated but that is not possible. If you are investigating the Trump campaign how do you separate Trump completely from that. He also asked that he drop the investigation of Flynn. That is direct interference with the Russian investigation. So obstruction is a given.

    Pledging loyalty is also a serious and wrong action for the president to be taking with the director of the FBI. It is also quite likely that he was fired because he would not pledge the loyalty.

    I think Comey screwed up by admitting to Trump that he was not under direct investigation. I would also want to ask if Comey requested unmasking of any of Trumps officials.

    I would also ask Comey why he went public on the Clinton investigation? His reasoning on that just makes no sense and the question needs to be asked.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted June 7, 2017 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      I should also say that this is just a start and this is just one person. The more serious problem of collusion will eventually come from other investigations of the individuals within the Trump organization. His Attorney General would be at the top of that list along with Flynn and several others.

    • Filippo
      Posted June 8, 2017 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

      “I think Comey screwed up by admitting to Trump that he was not under direct investigation.”

      Was Trump at that time in fact under investigation by Comey? Certainly, that he was not then under investigation did not make it impossible that new facts might prompt a future investigation.

  11. Nicholas K.
    Posted June 7, 2017 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    “What part of “I hope you can see your way…” do you not understand? By no stretch is that ordering or even pressuring Comey to do anything.”

    Wrong. The context is a conversation about Comey and whether he wishes to keep his job. The intent is clear (the law does not require Trump to be explicit).

    Which one is lying? Well, Comey will testify under oath.

    A clear case of obstruction of justice.

  12. Posted June 7, 2017 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    What I gathered as a non-American is that the US citizens put up with virtually everything, and are powerless. My impression is that in the US, if you have money and influence, “anything goes”, while small people go to jail for a lifetime for minor offenses.

    Americans (foremost) are being looted and fooled left and right, and cannot do anything about it.

    A president this incompetent as Trump, this mired in scandal, should have near zero approval and probably belongs behind bars. He might have a historical low approval of thirty-something percent, but it is a complete mystery to me how he got this far, especially as it would be a stretch to call his business practice “legal”.

    He still owns a business empire; there’s there tax record issue; and a seemingly endless list of things — each would break anyone else’s neck — and he’s still enjoying his golf every weekend.

    I have no reason to believe that Trump will be brought to any form of justice, ever. In the utterly unlikely event that he is held accountable, I consider this sheer dumb (bad) luck. This is like him trashing an appartent, and puking into every room and the owner does nothing, but then he spits into a corner and the owner suddenly exclaims “enough is enough!” — possible, but this would be rather mad, too.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted June 7, 2017 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

      Your comments on nearly all levels is so off the wall and wrong, it would be very hard to correct them all. Let me just say you have almost no knowledge of the American system and apparently little idea of what is going on. As someone said long ago, when others have doubt about your knowledge, best to say nothing than speak and remove all doubt.

      • nwalsh
        Posted June 7, 2017 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think Aneris is that far off the mark. There are many,many things the American system could learn from it’s friends in the west, but that will not happen.

        • Adam M.
          Posted June 7, 2017 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

          I agree. When you see the treatment of celebrities who commit crimes, it’s absurd to say they’re treated the same way as people without money and power. When celebrities get jailed for drug possession rather than just going to rehab for the Nth time, maybe I’ll believe we don’t have a two-tier justice system in this country…

        • Posted June 7, 2017 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

          I understood that the US legal system makes it ruinous to go to court. The one with the deeper pocket can hold out until their opponent either gives up, or settles. Hence, “justice” in the US can be simply bought with money. If you are poor, you have to take the settlement money, justice be damned. It looks like only when the case is lucrative, good PR for the lawyers, you have a chance of quality representation.

          I had in mind cases with Trump, where he’d hire someone to do architecture, building, etc. but he wouldn’t pay afterwards. The people could either go to court, potentially forever, bleeding money, or cut their losses and accept much less than what was agreed upon beforehand. Somehow he always got away with it.

          There’s a tendency that rich people always have an advantage before a court, better lawyers, holding out longer, lower psychological costs etc. but it seems especially pronounced in the US.

        • Posted June 8, 2017 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

          The American system does not function well. The mere fact that Trump is in office proves this. However, I do not see other Western democracies working better. Maybe Australia and New Zealand, but I know little of them. Also Japan and South Korea, I consider them honorary Western countries.

      • Posted June 8, 2017 at 7:39 am | Permalink

        The US president doesn’t seem to know how to tell the truth. He has five bankruptcies under his belt and two failed marriages. His business practices verge on illegal especially with respect to his treatment of subcontractors. He’s admitted on camera that he likes sexually assaulting women. He appoints unqualified people to significant government jobs. He’s interfered with an FBI investigation and it’s looking increasingly likely he is guilty of treason.

        I think somebody’s remarks are off the wall, but it is not Aneris.

        • Mark R.
          Posted June 8, 2017 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

          I consider his current marriage a failure too. So he has three failed marriages. 😉

    • Posted June 7, 2017 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      I also have to stand up for what Aneris said. Americans today ARE putting up with anything. In contrast, in almost any western European nation, a Trump-like president would have been ousted many times over by now. Look at what happened to German president Wulff for much less.

      • Posted June 7, 2017 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

        Thanks! (also to the others)

        Keep in mind that the German president is a very different role than the American one, more comparable to the british Queen. It’s formally the highest office, but has mosty representative function and is the last guardian to sign laws (but does not decide anything). The active protagonist similar to the US president is the chancellor, Ms Merkel. She has her doctor degree in quantum chemistry. I can only imagine how it is to put up with Trump. Maybe because the role is mostly representative, a moral authority, presidents in Germany need to have their reputation intact to be effective. Also, replacing the president does not plunge the political system into chaos, as it would be if Trump (or Merkel) was replaced mid-term.

        However, it’s correct that the mere appearance of shenagigans, and a few gaffes ended Wulffs career, fortunately. This guy re-ignited my anti-theism and played a significant role why I’m around here today.

        More on point, Trump has such a long list of scandals and dubious activity around his person, and still became president, and is still golfing it, that I cannot quite believe how this is even possible.

      • Posted June 8, 2017 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

        But Merkel, who has presided over the migration crisis and is now censoring left and right, has stayed in power for over a decade and is likely to be reelected. Maybe she wishes to beat the record of Gaddafi.

    • Filippo
      Posted June 8, 2017 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

      “My impression is that in the US, if you have money and influence, “anything goes”, while small people go to jail for a lifetime for minor offenses.”

      Well, after all, U.S. founding father John Jay (that good Christian, I assume) is alleged to have said, “Those who own the country ought to govern it.”

  13. Posted June 7, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    I can’t see Comey saying anything that will dent his popularity or outlast the next news cycle. Trump has given classified itel to Russian spies, and still has 80% support among R voters. Nothing will change that, and no Republican is ever going to try convincing them he should be impeached.

    He could easily be returned with an increased majority in 2020.

    (If stupidity and ignorance somehow do cause him to crash and burn, I think it could get very dangerous indeed as he’s going down.)

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted June 7, 2017 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      This is not a popularity contest they are in now. What makes you think it is. His base of republicans will not be voting on this matter.

      • Posted June 7, 2017 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

        As I understand it, the only thing at issue for Trump is whether or not Republicans will decide to impeach him. There seems to be be plenty of grounds for that if they wanted, but that would mean admitting to everyone they were wrong to back him in the first place, and then facing a backlash from their base.

        • Randy schenck
          Posted June 7, 2017 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

          If someone did illegal things that you did not know he had done, why would you be responsible for those illegal actions? There are currently several official investigations going on and none of us knows even half the details and we have no idea where all the information will lead. Would you make your conclusions on the first page of a book?

          Nixon was re-elected in 1972 soon after the Watergate break in. His involvement and all the details were not clear for at least a year or more and dozens of people testified. And also, what Nixon did was to lie and attempt to cover up. These things were impeachable. Not nearly as serious as what Trump may have done in connection with the Russians. If he did these things and it comes out in the investigations, he will be gone and it does not matter how many republicans are in congress or how anyone voted in 2016.

          • Posted June 7, 2017 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

            I’m happy to be contradicted about all this and hope I’ve got it wrong.

            But it will be difficult, as I understand, it to find anything that Trump did that was incontrovertibly illegal. His abuses of office are blatant, but haven’t bothered his base, and I can’t imagine many Republicans wanting to take on the task of convincing his base that their guy is a crook. At this point, anything short of a knock out will deemed by his supporters as a vindication of him.

            • Posted June 7, 2017 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

              I’d generally agree with you except for the “illegal” bit. He’s done plenty that’s clearly illegal, done more that would be illegal for anybody but the President, and bragged of yet more that is incontrovertibly illegal.

              Just one example: “grab ’em by the pussy” is violent sexual assault, the sort of thing that often results in multi-year prison sentences. And, if word got out to the prison population that “grab ’em by the pussy” guy had also repeatedly barged in on underaged undressed employees of his, he’d find himself a repeated victim of our prison rape culture, and often otherwise brutalized.

              (Such injustices are unconscionable and should not be tolerated nor encouraged nor celebrated, but immediately condemned as barbaric and uncivilized. Nevertheless, it’s quite the commentary on Drumpf that, were he anybody else, he’d be the lowest, most despised of the criminal class.)

              But, that aside…you’re right that Republicans remain generally cheerfully happy to embrace this vile scum in hopes of “passing their legislative agenda.” Gives you a pretty good idea of the nature and depth of their moral character, eh?

              There is reason to hope, though: Drumpf isn’t all that good for their legislative agenda, as it turns out, and is looking likely to be its biggest liability. If Republicans decide that the catastrophe of impeachment will do their “legislative agenda” less harm than letting him continue to run loose, that’s when they’ll finally reign him in.

              …and the Twit in Chief may just make their worst nightmares come true….

              Cheers,

              b&

              >

              • darrelle
                Posted June 8, 2017 at 8:04 am | Permalink

                I don’t know. Most of the Rs and all of the R leadership in the House & Senate have never been and are not now Trump supporters. They are simply playing the cards they happen to have. Enough of the voters that have put them and are keeping them in power support Trump. The Rs only purpose is to retain as much power as they can. The only way they can impeach Trump and not lose significant control of government in the process is if a significant percentage of their Trump supporting voters change their minds about Trump. Whether that happens “naturally” or the Rs propaganda machine is used to help make it happen.

                The Rs won’t impeach Trump unless they believe the odds are good that they can retain control of government. Right now they see the odds favoring waiting the Trump presidency out. I think they are right about that. To be able to get rid of Trump the Rs will first have to execute a maskirovka that convinces enough of their voters, and Trump’s, that they are the good guys here to save the day and Trump is the bad guy. Given the loyalty of Trump supporters so far nothing Trump could do no matter how vile will convince them to abandon him.

                Throughout 2016 all of the analysts and talking heads were explaining how 2018 would be worse for Ds in the House & Senate than 2016 was. That because of the seats that were up for election in 2018 the odds strongly favored the Rs retaining or even gaining seats. Recent past history also supports that. More recently I hear people talking about how the Rs are likely to lose the House in 2018. I don’t believe it. I’d love to see it, but I don’t believe it. Not yet. If the Rs retain the House & the Senate in 2018 and Trump is still in the White House they are likely to continue to ride it out. They don’t give a shit about governing well. Their only goal is the maintenance of their power.

                I am not as confident as you, and much, much less so than Randy, that “The System” will save us from Trump. Right now enough of The System is in the hands of people that don’t give a shit what Trump does as long as they can retain as much power as possible.

              • Posted June 8, 2017 at 10:26 am | Permalink

                I am not as confident as you, and much, much less so than Randy, that “The System” will save us from Trump. Right now enough of The System is in the hands of people that don’t give a shit what Trump does as long as they can retain as much power as possible.

                That’s the root of the problem, of course. And why I don’t have much faith in “the system,” either.

                But the tea leaves (see fivethirtyeight.com) do seem to be pointing to Democrats taking the House, though the error bars on that are still more than fuzzy enough for it to be a wash (which would be a monumental victory for Republicans).

                It should be noted that the Russian disinformation campaign hasn’t really fired up yet for the midterms, and we already know that they’ve got firm control of the Republican party and their sympathizers. It’ll be very interesting to see how that plays out now that that particular card has been openly played….

                Cheers,

                b&

                >

      • Posted June 8, 2017 at 7:43 am | Permalink

        His base of Republicans will be voting in the mid-term elections though. What do you think they would do to a Republican congress that had removed their hero from power?

        I have predicted it before and I’ll stand by my prediction: there will be no impeachment before the mid-terms.

        • Posted June 8, 2017 at 10:20 am | Permalink

          I have predicted it before and I’ll stand by my prediction: there will be no impeachment before the mid-terms.

          A lot hinges on how the Republicans think they’ll fare in the midterms. If they’re certain they’ll get their clocks cleaned to the point that Democratic control of the House is likely, as we’re well on track to seeing…well, then the tough choice for them is between President Ryan and President Pelosi. And the former means impeachment after the rapidly-closing window for their “legislative agenda” slams shut but before the midterms.

          (Again: President Pence is a non-starter. That would be the biggest betrayal of Drumpf imaginable, and Drumpf would do everything in his power to drag Pence to Hell with him.)

          Cheers,

          b&

          >

  14. busterggi
    Posted June 7, 2017 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    We’ll settle all this by listening to the Donald’s tape of the meeting.

    Unless Rich Little and Frank Gorshin aren’t available to do the voices for them.

  15. Posted June 7, 2017 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    OT – in better news today I was reading the most recent edition of Nature and researchers have discovered the oldest known example of our species. They found the remains of H. sapiens in Morocco (note – the northiness of Morocco) and dated it at 315k (+/-35k) years!

    “The emergence of our species and of the Middle Stone Age appear to be close in time, and these data suggest a larger scale, potentially pan-African, origin for both.”

    Back to your regularly scheduled program.

    cite; Nature 546, 293–296 (08 June 2017)

  16. jwthomas
    Posted June 7, 2017 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Anything is good enough for impeachment if a majority of the House decides it is. The
    only question is whether the GOP House is ready to get rid
    of Trump now (and I’m sure they do want to get rid of him eventually.) But not now, not before another try at repealing the ACA, not until a Congressional budget is passed cutting the tax burden on the rich. Trump still has the support of 34% of those polled
    and they’re intensely invested in their supreme leader The Repubs need those people to back them in the midterms.

    • Posted June 7, 2017 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      But not now, not before another try at repealing the ACA, not until a Congressional budget is passed cutting the tax burden on the rich.

      …or until it becomes that Drumpf’s Residency is a bigger obstacle to doing so than his impeachment.

      No Republican in Congress would dare admit it out loud, but every Republican in Congress is thinking how desperately much they’d prefer President Ryan to Resident Drumpf, in pretty much every imaginable way. It’s just that the process of getting from here to there would create insane amounts of chaos. But would it be more or less chaos than Drumpf himself is causing?

      (President Pence isn’t a likely option; if Drumpf goes down, he’ll by all the gods drag Pence to Hell with him.)

      The other problem for Republicans…is that they’ve got until the midterms for President Ryan, because otherwise it’ll be President Pelosi…but, if they wait, President Pelosi is actually a rather likely outcome, as the Democrats are all but guaranteed to win the Senate and are in position to win the House.

      Decisions, decisions….

      Cheers,

      b&

      >

      • nicky
        Posted June 8, 2017 at 12:23 am | Permalink

        Ben, you mentioned more than once that Pence would be dragged down with Trump, how so? Is that not wishful thinking? I hope you are right, but could you elaborate more, give us something more specific?

        • Posted June 8, 2017 at 10:06 am | Permalink

          Drumpf is YUGE on personal loyalty, as we’re being again reminded of with Comey’s testimony to Congress today.

          For Pence to take Drumpf’s desk in the Oval Office would be the ultimate betrayal anybody could possibly do to Drumpf.

          Which means that Drumpf would do everything in his power to destroy Pence for such disloyalty.

          Indeed, knowing Drumpf, I’d be amazed if he offered Pence the position without already knowing the levers to pull to do away with him if the need arose. (Granted, Drumpf is incompetent enough that actually pulling said levers may well spectacularly backfire — but, at least in his mind, Pence is “safe enough.”)

          Cheers,

          b&

          >

          • nicky
            Posted June 8, 2017 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

            You may be right, but it does not really strike me as a certainty.
            I hope, but am way less convinced than you it won’t happen, never to see a Pence presidency.

  17. Nicholas K.
    Posted June 7, 2017 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Here’s how I know it is unquestionably obstruction of justice: just imagine if Obama had said what Comey is testifying Trump said.

    The calls for impeachment from Republicans would be immediate.

    • Posted June 8, 2017 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      Of course, if Obama had done any single one of Drumpf’s transgressions (“grab ’em by the pussy” anyone?) would have the GOP with their hair on fire. The fact that they are backing Drumpf, this amoral, immoral, incompetent, bumbling fool, will be a permanent blight upon the party.

  18. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 7, 2017 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    The private meetings Trump arranged with Comey, as well as Trump’s request that Comey drop the Flynn investigation, were grossly improper. Whether that request alone would constitute a prosecutable obstruction of justice is a close case. But Trump’s firing of Comey (after Trump had made clear that Comey’s job was on the line, despite Comey’s having several years left on his 10-year term of office) in retaliation for Comey’s not granting Trump’s requests closes the deal on an obstruction of justice, I think.

  19. Mark R.
    Posted June 7, 2017 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    I’m guessing not because there’s no way of determining the truth for sure (absent the “tapes” that Trump once said existed).

    The notes that Comey took will stand in court as evidence just like tapes would. At least there is precedent for FBI notes being considered evidence, esp. a director’s.

    • Mark R.
      Posted June 7, 2017 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

      Italics got reversed…oops

  20. Posted June 7, 2017 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Why doesn’t every official who has dealings with this POTUS tape their convos? He’s obviously going to try to manipulate people (that’s his MO), so they need to protect themselves.

    But maybe there’s some law that prevents that.

    • Posted June 8, 2017 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      Even the most well-known public figures have a reasonable expectation of privacy when they speak in their homes or other private retreats. Accordingly, courts and the government have made it illegal for information gatherers and others to engage in any of the following activities (Always keep in mind, however, that these prohibitions may not apply to law enforcement and other government officials):

      bugging a room, secretly monitoring telephone conversations (to which the recording subject is not a party) or intercepting computer communications (publishers may, however, disseminate illegally taped conversations if they are of great public interest and the publisher broke no law in acquiring them);

      hacking into telephone systems to acquire previously recorded conversations; and

      acquiring a person’s phone records from a phone company by posing as someone authorized to see the records.

      The law is generally more tolerant of participants who record their own conversations than of third parties who record conversations to which they are not a party. Even so, both federal and state statutes that govern such participant monitoring set forth situations where recording and disclosing participant communications can give rise to civil suits by the “injured” party, as well as criminal prosecution.

      From: http://www.rcfp.org/browse-media-law-resources/digital-journalists-legal-guide/legal-limits-recording-conduct-and-conver

      • Posted June 8, 2017 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

        Thanks jblilie, that’s interesting, and I appreciate there are privacy concerns. I would have thought that in an information free society like the US (much more than the UK), recording of official meetings would be useful. I would recommend Gopros for FBI directors from now on :-).

        The danger is that you end up with sofa government (as we had with Blair), with the executive deciding what to do outside of official meetings. Trump’s version would perhaps be government à la Mar-A-Lago.

  21. Randy schenck
    Posted June 7, 2017 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    I would just remind all the conclusion grabbers and political speculators, this is one public testimony and in front of one of the investigative concerns. Why this seems to be the end all for some, I do not know. The committee that investigated Watergate lasted for months and was on Television for the entire summer. For people trained in the sciences I find all of this strangely premature.

  22. Rick Graham
    Posted June 7, 2017 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    There is no obstruction of justice.

    Special Counsel Robert Mueller cleared Comey to testify tomorrow. No prosecutor would send out his main witness go and get beat up by Congress if he thought there was obstruction of justice and would later need his testimony.

    The real “Inconvenient Truth” is that we found out Trunp was correct. He was not under investigation. Three times.

    • Posted June 7, 2017 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

      You should attach a dyno to that spin generator of yours — you’d generate enough electricity to power most of Foggy Bottom.

      Three times Drumpf demanded to know if he personally was under investigation; three times Comey told him that the investigation was of Drumpf’s inner circle but hadn’t yet expanded to include Drumpf. If you think that constitutes some sort of vindication, I’ve got some prime real estate in Manhattan to sell you….

      Cheers,

      b&

      >

      • Rick Graham
        Posted June 7, 2017 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

        “hadn’t yet expanded”. Wish think much? Step away from MSNBC and Maddow.

        Save this comment Ben. Read it in a year. Then cry oceans of tears because you were so wrong. The fact that you call him Drumpf is evidence that he lives rent free in your head.

        This whole thing is scandal in search of a crime.

        • Posted June 7, 2017 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

          Okay, so tell us.

          Imagine Obama or either Clinton, Bill or Hilary, had fired the FBI director and said in an interview that it was because the director was investigating ties between the president’s own campaign and a foreign psyops operation to sway the election in his / her favor.

          Would you still call it a scandal in search of a crime? Would you think it’s so much ado about nothing?

          Or do you dispute even that basic summary of the Comey affair? If so, what part — that there’s an ongoing investigation, that said investigation is Drumpf’s publicly-stated reason for the firing? Maybe you’d have us believe that Comey wasn’t even fired at all…?

          Cheers,

          b&

          >

          • Rick Graham
            Posted June 7, 2017 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

            Bill Clinton did fire his FBI Director.

            On July 7 of last year, I would bet dollars to donuts that you wanted Comey’s head. He had lost the confidence of the American people with his flip flopping and inappropriate grandstanding during the campaign.

            Trump is an amateur politician, unlike the empty suit B. Hussein Obama (see I can do that too). He’s uncouth and brash. I think he wanted the investigators to put up or shut up. They weren’t investigating him. He wanted them to say as much.

            I take Comey’s recollection as his version. I’m not naive enough to believe he’s not spinning.

            Comey was indeed fired. He serves at the pleasure of the president. The acting FBI director has not claimed any wrongdoing or obstruction. But you’re praying.

            • Posted June 7, 2017 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

              Yes, Clinton fired Mueller. Now tell the class why, and compare and contrast with the reasons Drumpf fired Comey.

              For bonus points, perform a similar comparison with Nixon’s firing of Cox.

              Cheers,

              b&

              >

              • Rick Graham
                Posted June 7, 2017 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

                Goren jumps the shark. Even Bob Woodward thinks your line of argument is hyperbole.

                Cox only job was as Watergate prosecutor.

                Most people thought Cox was doing a good job. Comey was polarizing.

                Nixon fired Cox to avoid subpoena. Trump is not under investigation. Three times.

                Even before Cox’s subpoena we knew Nixon was cooked. Lindy and McCord were already convicted.

                Ben, I’ve been reading this blog for over a decade. I really enjoy you humor. It’s in good form tonight. Step away from Koz and Maddow for a bit.

              • Stephen Barnard
                Posted June 7, 2017 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

                Clinton didn’t fire Mueller. Mueller wasn’t the FBI Director during Clinton’s administration. Clinton fired William Sessions, for cause, and it wasn’t even controversial.

              • Posted June 8, 2017 at 10:02 am | Permalink

                Oy! You’re right, of course…idiot me confusing my FBI directors. Should’ve just called him “Not Hoover” to be safe.

                And, also of course, it was the “it wasn’t even controversial” bit that was why I brought him up in the first place. Rick seems to think that, because Clinton fired Sessions and that was okay, Drumpf’s firing of Comey was just as okay….

                Just to be perfectly clear, this is what Drumpf said to Lester Holt about the matter:

                [Rosenstein] made a recommendation, but regardless of recommendation I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it. And, in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, “You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.

                I’ll grant him a slip of the tongue for unintentionally saying that Democrats should have won the election…but firing Comey because Drumpf had already concluded that Comey’s investigation into connections between Drumpf and Russia was groundless…that is obstruction of justice, and it is why Nixon fired Cox.

                Cheers,

                b&

                >

        • Posted June 8, 2017 at 2:17 am | Permalink

          “This whole thing is scandal in search of a crime.”

          I’m not in the US, so it’s nothing to do with me especially, but legalities aside, it’s an obvious case of treason.

          It’s been obvious since sanctions were removed from the R platform and been confirmed at every turn since. Spin it how you want, but very world leader — autocrat or democrat — sees it to and behaves accordingly.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted June 7, 2017 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

      What makes you think this is Mueller’s main witness? This fellow, Comey was FBI director and the people he speaks to tomorrow is another investigative body in Congress. There are many other people to be grilled by Mueller and many of them would be the likely people directly involved in the possible crimes being investigated. Comey was hardly more than an investigator himself. Are we watching the same movie?

      • Rick Graham
        Posted June 7, 2017 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

        The question posed was: Was there obstruction of justice with regards to Comey? No.

        Was that not clear?

        Why is it a scandal to ask Comey to publicly declare what he personally told Trump three times?

        Instead the Democratic arm of the MSM wants to paralyze this president with anonymous sourced reporting of a fake scandal. Put up or shut up.

        I guess we’re not watching the same movie.

        • Randy schenck
          Posted June 7, 2017 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

          I was not commenting on the question Rick. I was specifically commenting on your statement about – No prosecutor would send his main witness to testify. Remember that Rick. You are the one making the conclusions not me. I am just trying to figure out where you went to law school? You seem to have a full conclusion before anyone actually says anything. What kind of science is that?

          • Rick Graham
            Posted June 7, 2017 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

            And you went to law school, so you know better. 😉

            • Randy schenck
              Posted June 7, 2017 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

              I was not talking as if I was a lawyer. I said that I was not the one coming to all these conclusions. Go back and read what was said in these exchanges. You declared there was no obstruction. You seem to conclude we can all go home and Comey has not even testified. Do Congress not get their day?

              And by the way, two directors of intelligence agencies where questioned today by the congressional committee and both of these guys refused to answer specific questions that they had no right to refuse. I don’t know, what is your conclusion? Listening to everyone here today on this posting reminds me of the guy who goes to the baseball game, watches the first pitch in the first inning and then says, okay, that’s it, going home.

              • Rick Graham
                Posted June 7, 2017 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

                Except, the first pitch was more than a year ago.

  23. Stephen Barnard
    Posted June 7, 2017 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    Basic syllogism:
    1. Trump told Comey he wasn’t involved with Russian hookers.
    2. Trump always lies.
    3. Trump was involved with Russian hookers.

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted June 7, 2017 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

      Trump is obviously incapable of impulse control. His early morning tweets that damage his case are clear proof of that. He’s a self-confessed pussy grabber. Is it remotely plausible that, confronted with a free-of-charge drop-dead gorgeous Russian hooker, he’d resist the temptation?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 7, 2017 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

      I believe “Muscovite women of negotiable micturition” is the preferred nomenclature, dude.

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted June 7, 2017 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

      By the way, I don’t think Trump’s dalliance with a Russian hooker is in and of itself and impeachable offense. The problem is that Putin probably has a video of it.

      • Posted June 8, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink

        …and even the video itself isn’t a problem; the problem is that Drumpf has to be living in utter terror of the possibility of the video being leaked — which it pretty much certainly eventually will be.

        Previous presidents have known how to preemptively disarm such kompromat…Bill Clinton “didn’t inhale,” and Shrub was a proudly recovering alcoholic whom everybody knew had done cocaine, too. Drumpf could have trivially self-innoculated against the Russian hooker by letting it get out there that he did that sort of thing. Especially considering the reactions to his pussy grabbing and barging in on nude teenage employees, nobody would have batted an eye.

        …but, if there’s one thing nobody ever accused Drumpf of, it’s competence….

        Cheers,

        b&

        >

  24. Posted June 8, 2017 at 3:27 am | Permalink

    “one of these men is lying. It is surely the President”

    Throws grenade, ducks!

  25. Posted June 8, 2017 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    I’m listening to the testimony now.

    The GOP Senators are definitely spinning Trump’s request to drop the Flynn investigation as “not an order”.

    GOP Sen. “He didn’t order you, did he?”

    Comey “I was alone with the POTUS, and I took his statement as what he wanted me to do.”

    “But it wasn’t an order, was it?”

    “No. Those are the exact words.”

    *** Reminds me of: It depends on what the definition of is, is. ***

    This crap is pathetic. How far does this have to go? How low will our government be brought by this POTUS?

  26. nicky
    Posted June 8, 2017 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    IANAL and naive in these matters, but does this tweet threatening Comey with (probably non-existent) ‘tapes’ not by itself constitute evidence of obstruction of justice?


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