Comey Testifies on Trump, Clinton, and Russia

Former FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate yesterday to speak on Trump, Clinton, email servers, Russia, and the leaked “Comey Memo”. For the left, the highly anticipated testimony was supposed to produce the smoking gun against Trump and his administration’s collusion with the Russians. Instead, what we got was three hours with very little new information.

It seems that Comey’s testimony has succeeded in confirming everyone’s biases. If you are apt to believe that Trump is lying and colluding with the Russians, then him saying he hoped Comey could “see clear to letting [Flynn’s investigation] go” sounds like a threat approaching obstruction of justice. If you believe that Trump isn’t working with the Russians and just wants to story to stop negatively effecting own executive agenda, then his words seem like a good faith effort to put the issue to rest. That’s why today you see Trump supporters claiming vindication and the anti-Trump crowd calling for impeachment.

So what did we actually find out during Comey’s three hour long testimony?

1. Comey himself leaked the now infamous “Comey Memo”

Per the Hill:

“I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter,” Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday. “I didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.” 

Apparently, Comey decided to leak the memo after Trump tweeted that “there better be no tapes of our [Trump and Comey’s] meeting before he [Comey] starts leaking to the press” as a way to get ahead of the story. Ironically, he didn’t want to do the leaking himself, though, because of the media feeding frenzy. How dense can this guy be? It doesn’t matter who physically leaked the information, this is Donald Trump, the media feeding frenzy was coming no matter what.

2. Loretta Lynch told Comey to call Hillary Clinton’s email server investigation a “matter”, not an investigation.

Per the Washington Times:

“At one point, [Ms. Lynch] directed me not to call it an ‘investigation’ but instead to call it a ‘matter,’ which confused me and concerned me,” Mr. Comey said of Ms. Lynch. “That was one of the bricks in the load that led me to conclude I have to step away from the department if we are to close this case credibly.”

Mr. Comey said the language suggested by Ms. Lynch was troublesome because it closely mirrored what the Clinton campaign was using.

Acknowledging that he didn’t know whether it was intentional, Mr. Comey said Ms. Lynch’s request “gave the impression the attorney general was looking to align the way we talked about our investigation with the way a political campaign was describing the same activity.”

Though certainly a new piece of information, this only confirms what we already know: both parties in Washington are more than willing to participate in the game of using the FBI as a tool of political influence.

Whether President Trump was attempting to obstruct justice during his meetings with Comey or not is a matter for the special prosecutor to decide. As it stands, even Comey confirmed that he didn’t believe Trump’s behavior was obstruction of justice. He also told the Senate that Trump is not personally under any investigation and that there is no credible evidence that suggests Trump and the Russians colluded on anything, even taking time during his testimony to smack down a New York Times article claiming repeated meetings between Trump’s campaign and Russian government.

Special Counsel Appointed to Investigate Trump-Russia Ties

Former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller has been appointed as special counsel to oversee the ongoing investigation into alleged ties between the Russian government and the Trump administration. The announcement came from deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein just days after the termination of FBI director James Comey and the subsequent news of the “Comey Memo”, notes taken by Comey in February that allege President Trump asked him to end the federal investigation into national security advisor Michael T. Flynn.

Mueller’s appointment as special prosecutor seeks to alleviate some of the concern from Democrats and Republicans alike over the agency’s ability to carry out the investigation properly and impartially.

Per the New York Times:

“Mr. Mueller’s appointment was hailed by Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, who view him as one of the most credible law enforcement officials in the country.

Senator Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican and a member of the Judiciary Committee, said Mr. Mueller’s “record, character, and trustworthiness have been lauded for decades by Republicans and Democrats alike.”

Specifically, Mueller is tasked with overseeing the investigation into:

  1. Any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and
  2. Any matters that arose or may directly arise from the investigation; and
  3. Any other matters within the scope of the special counsel. These include any federal crimes pertaining to the investigation, such as: obstruction of justice, perjury, witness tampering, etc.

It needs to be said that so far there is no evidence of any collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. To this point, only a lot of conjecture, circumstantial evidence, and accusations have been leveled.

The “Comey Memo”, if its allegations are true (and if it even exists), provides evidence that President Trump at least attempted to interfere with a federal investigation into one of his close advisors. It can certainly be argued that is an impeachable offense. The question will be whether Trump telling Comey, “I hope you can let this go”, constitutes asking the FBI director to end the investigation. I’m no lawyer, but personally, that sounds like a hard sell; saying you hope an investigation ends is not the same thing the same as telling him to end the investigation.

It is also interesting to note that the memo is supposedly from February, three months before Comey was terminated. If the FBI director had evidence that the President attempted to interfere with an ongoing federal investigation and didn’t report it in a timely manner, then the FBI director would also have committed a crime.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has requested Comey appear at both open and closed sessions, as well as to provide any memos he has related to the investigation by May 24.

Trump Fires FBI Director James Comey

In a surprising move, President Trump fired FBI director James Comey on Tuesday. This marks just the second time in history that a president has fired the FBI’s chief, the other time was in 1993 when then President Clinton terminated William Sessions over alleged ethics violations.  Trump’s decision has unleashed a firestorm of political criticism. The biggest of which is the issue of timing. The FBI director, who was appointed in 2013 by then president Obama, had been leading an investigation of close Trump advisors and associates and their dealings with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential campaign.

That Comey had been involved in the investigation led many Democrats, and even some Republicans, namely Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), to consider having a special independent counsel take over the investigation into Trump-Russian collusion. For the record, though political opponents of the president have been tossing around innuendos, circumstantial evidence, and accusations for months, there remains zero hard evidence of any collusion between Trump, his campaign, and the Russian government.

President Trump has explained that the termination came from Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, as well as Department of Justice recommendations. Nevertheless, many in pundits and politicians in the beltway have accused President Trump of firing Comey simply to cover his tracks. Some of the more unhinged and hyperbolic pundits have even called for Trump’s impeachment over Comey’s termination.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as this plays out over the next few months.

Trump has full constitutional authority to terminate the FBI director for virtually any reason he wants

Let’s put aside the very reasonable question of the constitutionality of the FBI’s mere existence. It is certainly true that in a libertarian anarchist society there would be no federal government and thus no federal law enforcement, but private defense and intelligence agencies would no doubt exist. The fact is that the FBI is an executive branch department under the exclusive control and authority of the president. The firing of an FBI director is not a ‘constitutional crisis’. It’s a personnel decision. If congress wants to investigate the factors behind the decision to see if any wrongdoing occurred, they are free to, as is their role, but the firing in and of itself is not unconstitutional.

The FBI has always been political

The idea that the FBI was an apolitical, independent law enforcement group until Trump came along is ridiculous any way you look at it. The FBI has a long history of secrecy, lies, and corruption that date all the way back to its inception. From illegal wiretapping and running child porn and terrorist deep web sites to assassination, the FBI acts much more like a terrorist organization than just about any of the groups it investigates. It would be better for all Americans (and the world) if they FBI was abolished altogether.

The Left’s hypocrisy on Comey and his termination is staggering

You don’t have to look very far back in time to find a time when many Democrats wanted Comey’s head on a silver platter. After James Comey stated in early October during a press conference that his office would not seek an indictment for Hillary Clinton’s undocumented use of a private email server while she was serving as Secretary of State, Democrats everywhere cheered.

Then came October 28. It was on that date Comey announced that the Clinton investigation was being reopened due to new leads. The FBI had apparently incidentally uncovered thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails on the personal computer of Anthony Wiener as part of the investigation into his underage sexting. Wiener, a former New York congressman, was the current husband of close Clinton advisor Huma Abedin. Democrats everywhere used this opportunity to call for Comey’s termination due to the highly unprofessional timing and handling of the announcement. Many Democrats, including Hillary Clinton herself, said that Comey’s “October Surprise” cost her the election. What a difference a few months makes as Democrats are now lining up to praise Comey and condemn Trump for his termination.

It is too early to say what exactly the political fallout over Comey’s termination will be for Trump, or if congress will decide to pursue a special investigation, but one thing is sure: for politicians and beltway pundits, hyperbole and hypocrisy are always in style.

Hillary Clinton on Election Loss; Blames Russians, FBI, and Misogyny

Last year’s presidential election, which saw underdog Donald Trump defeat overwhelming favorite Hillary Clinton, was unique for multiple reasons. We saw the two most unpopular presidential candidates in history against each other, one being the first woman nominated by a major party. It was also only the fifth time the popular vote winner lost in the electoral college. Another factor adding to the unique nature of the race was the overwhelming underdog status of Trump. Virtually no pundits or prognosticators gave Trump even a puncher’s chance of winning. Huffington Post gave Hillary a 98.2% chance of winning the election. Renowned election statistician Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight, came under fire from other pollsters by giving Clinton only a 71.4% chance of winning, even to the point of being accused of “putting his thumb on the scales” in favor of Trump.

Then came election day.

In the aftermath of Trump’s shocking, albeit wide, electoral college win, many on the left were sent looking for answers as to how Clinton could have possibly lost. It is common for political parties to write a post-mortem in the aftermath of an election. These write ups, which often come from both sides, include statistical and demographical information, reasons for successes and failures, and an action plan moving forward. In other words, an election post mortem is a common ‘ex post facto’ organizational memo.

In the months following the election, we’ve heard a handful of reasons for Clinton’s loss, including: misogynistic voters, Russian spying and influence, Wikileaks revelations regarding the unflattering practices of the DNC, and FBI Director James Comey’s announcement about reopening the investigation into Clinton’s private email server, among others. The one place Democrats and the left seem to be placing no blame whatsoever is with Hillary Clinton herself. This is not universally true, as there have been some on the left willing to lay the blame at the feet of Clinton, but these are a clear minority.

Earlier today, while speaking at a Women for Women International event, Hillary Clinton made no bones about who, or what, was to blame for her stunning loss to Trump and, in case you were wondering, it isn’t her.

Per the Washington Post:

While Clinton said she takes “absolute personal responsibility” for losing to Trump, she did not assign any blame to her strategy or staff. Nor did she point to her own weaknesses as a candidate or the struggles by her and her team to understand the angry mood of key parts of the electorate.

Instead, Clinton said a range of external forces were responsible for her surprise defeat. She said she was a victim of misogyny and unfair treatment by the news media. And she said she was confident that she was on track to winning the election until two things reversed her momentum: the release of campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails, which were allegedly stolen by Russian hackers, and Comey’s Oct. 28 letter to Congress that he had reopened the bureau’s investigation into her use of a private email server.

More than three months of personal introspection by walking in the woods and Hillary Clinton still sees her election loss as no fault of her own. She may pay lip service to taking “absolute personal responsibility”, but in reality, she blames her election loss entirely on Russian boogeymen, Wikileaks, misogyny, and the FBI.

The problem is that Russian agent interference doesn’t explain why Clinton refused to step foot in the state of Wisconsin during the campaign. Also, blaming Wikileaks and the FBI for revealing that the DNC unfairly stacked the deck for Clinton against her popular primary challenger Bernie Sanders and the potential illegality of housing a private email server as Secretary of State, respectively, looks terrible. It’s like finding incriminating evidence of your spouse’s infidelity on their phone and being yelled at for looking at the phone in the first place. No apologies for the actual infidelity or wrongdoing, just manipulation and blame shifting. Perhaps that is a fitting election post-mortem for Hillary Clinton, after all.