Someone is Not Telling the Truth

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Jame Comey (photo National Police of Colombia: CC BY-SA 2.0)

June 8, 2017

President Trump, the master of political shorthand, tweeted on May 12th just three days after firing former FBI director: “James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” I think it is clear that Trump’s tweet was an attempt to smother James Comey’s testimony this week before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Comey, no longer the head of the FBI, testified that he memorialized his conversations with President Trump in memos to his own personal file. This was the first time in his many years of service that he felt the need to go on record when meeting with a president. It is not clear what triggered this reaction, but the implication is clear. And given his recent firing, caution appears to have been warranted. He told the senators of his dedication to the FBI and to maintaining the traditional independent status of the bureau vis a vis the White House.  In early conversations, Comey said the President demanded his loyalty. His exact words were, “I need loyalty; I expect loyalty.”  Comey didn’t flinch when these words were spoken. It was just a profound moment of silence between a man who is sworn to maintain the law and a man who was apparently ultimately demanding loyalty before anything else. Later the President asked for “honest loyalty.” Comey decided it would be counter-productive to seek clarification of the meaning of the President’s words.

Later he met with the President and in something that sounds very much like something out of a Nancy Drew mystery story Comey testified, “when the door by the grandfather clock closed, and we were alone, the President began by saying, ‘I want to talk about Mike Flynn.’ Flynn had resigned the previous day. The President began by saying Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong in speaking with the Russians, but he had to let him go because he had misled the Vice President. He added that he had other concerns about Flynn, which he did not then specify.”

Then Comey recounted before the senators, “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.” And he said that he had discussed these presidential conversations with his FBI team of investigators and they agreed that he had nothing to corroborate his account. Also, there would be no mention of these conversations with the investigative team as he did not want to“infect” the investigative team with the knowledge of  “President’s request.”

Subsequent phone conversations between him and President Trump detailed how Trump had requested him to “lift the cloud” of the Russian allegations which was hanging over the White House and to inform the public that he was not personally under investigation.

The story told by James Comey reminds us of the tone of the admissions of another Watergate figure,  the whistleblower John Dean, who provided Congress an inside view into Nixon’s paranoid mindset and exposed many of the illegal White House activities in the Watergate scandal.

Where will this end? Can Donald Trump survive or is he on the road to political disaster? Will Trump’s tape recordings clear him of this apparent conflict of interest, or will they testify to the integrity of the former FBI director?


The Russians are Coming!

March 27, 2017

President Trump cannot shake the scandal surrounding his nascent administration. Michael Flynn was his pick for national security advisor—obviously a bad choice.  Last month Flynn resigned amidst a brewing scandal. It appears that before his appointment, he privately discussed the issue of sanctions with Russian ambassador Kislyak, but he misled Vice-President Pence regarding these conversations. After initially backing Flynn, the V.P. ended up back-tracking.  Flynn lasted 24 days in office. He is now under investigation by U.S. counterintelligence agencies.

Then we have Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who now says that he met with the Russian ambassador, but he failed to disclose those meetings when interviewed by the Senate. He has recused himself from any existing or future government investigations of any matters related to the campaigns for president.

Meanwhile, James Comey, the head of the FBI, whose continuing public appearances have made him a minor celebrity, has now confirmed before the House Intelligence Committee that the FBI is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

Washington is abuzz with rumors that President Trump has been attempting to muzzle Comey about the Russian interference story. President Trump has muddied these dangerous waters with his recent Tweet alleging that President Obama wire-tapped his phones in the Trump Tower last October just before the election calling Obama a “bad (or sick) guy!” The beat goes on. It’s one Russian doll inside another.

No one has been able to prove collusion with the Russians—yet. James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence in Obama’s reign, stated publicly about the NSA, that “there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president, president-elect or campaign.” Score one for Obama. But, he also has said he saw no evidence of collusion during his watch. Score one for Trump.

Most recently Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House intelligence committee said while there was some “incidental collection” of information related to the Trump team after the election, this didn’t mean that Obama wiretapped the Trump Tower. Maybe this is the source of the president’s erroneous Tweet.

‘Collusion’ is a conspiracy intended to cheat or deceive.

Was there collusion between the Russians and the Trump operatives? New reports in today’s New York Times indicates that the Senate Intelligence Committee intends to question Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a top adviser regarding meetings that he arranged with the Russian ambassador.

Almost every day, we receive new reports related to Russia and President Trump. Can it all be ‘fake news’? Remember, Hillary Clinton and several intelligence agencies agree that Russia has interfered with the election process. She claims that the Russians hacked the DNC email server and delivered them to Wikileaks damaging her campaign. Government officials are attempting to connect the dots between Russia and the Trump campaign. If the link is made to the Trump team, will Hillary ask Congress to void the election by impeaching Trump?