The Comey Memo

This one may really do it.
“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.”…
It's only obstruction if he threatened to fire Comey to get him to drop the investigation, says Richard Painter, George W. Bush’s former chief ethics lawyer; but he went beyond threats and actually fired Comey.

And then he explained why he did: because of this Russia probe.
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.... Look, I want to find out if there was a problem with an election having to do with Russia. Or, by the way, anybody else. Any other country. And I want that to be so strong and so good. And I want it to happen. I also want to have a really competent, capable director. He's not. He's a showboat.
He was competent enough to keep memos on his conversations with an unpredictable President, apparently. Or so we shall discover if the Congressional subpoena produces this alleged memo.


Dad29 said...

I have yet to see ANY evidence of Russian "tampering" with the election done in collusion with Trump or any of his retinue or camp-followers. Not a sous of evidence.

What we are seeing now is the Revenge of the Deep State, and Comey happens to be a fine example of same. These are people who think that THEY are in charge, and that the elected schmecks should do as CIAFBINSA tell them to. Comey decided that Hillary's accomplices and co-conspirators would not be prosecuted for their Espionage Act violations, and he made damned sure that they could not be pursued through his various commissions and omissions.

CIANSA do the same, I'm sure--but we don't hear about it. Yet.

One more thing: whether Trump asked for this or not, only a damn fool would believe that canning Comey would 'halt' investigations of Trump people.

And only another damn fool would believe that NSACIAFBI is not monitoring every conversation they want to or feel like, any day, any time.

Grim said...

I don't think there is any evidence of that. The Prince story in the Seychelles established that there was no relationship; the Trump people were using that meeting, well after the election, to feel out the potential for a relationship.

Nevertheless, there could still be obstruction of justice even if Trump isn't guilty of anything else at all. Even if he was just trying to do a favor for a friend, Flynn; or just trying to kill a stupid story in the press; or whatever else. If he asked the FBI director to drop the case against Flynn, and then fired him when he didn't, and then admitted on the record that he fired Comey because of that very Russia probe...

Well, you still have to get it through Congress. But as an honest observer, I'd have to say that the charge of obstruction is at least not a foolish way of characterizing those actions.

Anonymous said...

Trump is a "damn fool." His own circle of aides pretty much are claiming that in relation to his sharing of info with Russians. That's their defense. He was unaware and did not know the seriousness of what he was sharing.

And, this is way beyond election issues. This is now about Flynn, the trouble he's in, the fact that Trump fired Yates not long after her letting Trump know about Flynn, the fact that Trump waited 18 days to let him go, the fact that the original story on why Flynn was fired was BS, etc., etc.

WAKE UP. Trump is not innocent, or smart, or any sense of the word.

Grim said...

You need to sign your comments, Anonymous. House rules. I don't care how you sign them, as long as you stick to the name you use. Otherwise we would quickly have no way of telling people apart, and conversation would become impossible.

Eric Blair said...

Its just all fake news. This will blow over by the weekend. There will be something else.

Grim said...

We'll see.

The thing is, Trump could have just pardoned Flynn and that would have been fine. I mean, it would have caused screaming, but the screaming would have been empty and wasted. Pardoning is a completely constitutional power. It would have accomplished the thing Trump wanted, if this memo proves to exist and this depiction of it is accurate.

So making this go away was completely within his power. Now, though, it looks as if he may have committed a crime by taking this route to stopping the investigation, instead of using the power he was specifically granted to stop it.

E Hines said...

Potful of things wrong with this NYT story. A few:

First, the paper doesn't have the memo; it was read to them. By a deliberately unidentified source. If the memo exists.

Second, it's likely that some such memo exists. Every participant in that sort of meeting (and phone call, come to that) writes up their notes in some form of MFR--those are great memory joggers as well as necessary records. Comey "the note taker" is not unusual in that regard. It's the sort of thing I did when I was in the USAF. It's the sort of thing every officer does after an important meeting. Waiting on formal minutes didn't happen for most of us.

Third, any obstruction of justice was committed by Comey. As a law enforcement officer and as an officer of the court, Comey is legally bound to advise law enforcement--in his case his chain of command up the DoJ as well as his seconds in the FBI--of any suspicion of criminal activity. If he didn't think Trump was interfering with his investigation, there's no problem. If he did think so, it's Comey who's committed a crime.

Fourth, however intimidated Comey might have felt over his job security or the sanctity of his investigation--assuming the meeting went down as the NYT claims--that's all gone now, with Comey free and clear. And he's still not reporting a possible crime.

Fifth, assuming the memo exists in substantially the claimed form, it's important to keep in mind the integrity of the leaker, who's speaking out of turn, releasing stuff he has no authority to release and who hasn't bothered with his own chain of command or complaint system--including his IG system that the Left thinks is so important in other matters. How is such a leaker himself believable?

It's highly suspicious, coming as it does a day after WaPo's equally carefully unsubstantiated, equally hysterical claims about Trump's handling of classified information in a meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister and a notorious ambassador.

Neither paper is even pretending to journalistic standards of reporting--stuff like corroborating anonymous sources' claims with two or more on the record, named sources saying substantially the same thing. At least National Enquirer and Globe have some minimal entertainment value.

Eric Hines

Grim said...

Obstruction of justice is itself a crime.

Two things need to happen for this to become actionable. First, the subpoena -- which has now been issued -- has to produce the memo, and that memo needs to be substantially as characterized in the press. Second, Comey needs to testify under oath that he authored the memo and that it accurately represents the facts as he remembers them.

If that happens, articles of impeachment are warranted. Trump can present a defense at the trial in the Senate. I think you should prepare yourself for President Mike Pence, though, if in fact those things do happen. And if they do happen, President Mike Pence might be the best thing for everyone. Even Donald Trump.

12:34 AM Delete

Cassandra said...

Wow. I think you need to be careful about setting such a low bar for impeachment, Grim. This isn't a trivial thing. By the standard you're setting, all that needs to happen to impeach the President of the United States is:

1. A public servant takes notes of a meeting with the President for his own use.

2. Somehow... (how?) those notes are obtained by third parties, who in turn leak the contents to a journalist without actually showing the journalist the memo. This is done *anonymously* (Why? Perhaps because they don't actually have the legal right to access/leak that information? Perhaps because they are violating the terms of their own employment - as federal employees - by doing this?).

3. The journalist goes public with accusations of wrongdoing, on the strength of anonymous sources whose motives and legal right to access (much less leak!) the supposed memo are at best unclear.

4. All kinds of people start accusing the President of obstruction of justice... based on a third party characterization of an unseen memo, leaked by anonymous sources who are likely anonymous precisely because they know they're doing something wrong, and something that could rightly get them fired. Notably, these people almost never actually compare the allegations to the actual legal definition of obstruction. They just throw the term out there.

When you read the statutes, you see words like, "violence", "threats", "bribery", "extortion", "intimidation", "harassment", "destruction of evidence". The offense requires *proof* that the accused intended to impede the investigation, which seems sorely lacking, here.

5. Meanwhile, Comey himself, who was *legally* obligated to report any attempts to subvert his investigation (if he really believed this was obstruction, and certainly the head of the FBI ought to recognize obstruction when he sees it) should not be prosecuted in any way for dereliction of duty.

Now you bypass all of these disturbing aspects by saying (somewhat breezily, IMO), "Well, of course all this would only happen if the people involved - well, actually not the anonymous leakers! - produced the actual memo and Comey, who was just fired, testified that this was *his understanding* of what was discussed!

IOW, you are suggesting that we should take any anonymously sourced story seriously enough to launch a federal investigation and possibly impeach the president of the United States.

I would suggest that's not sound policy. It actively rewards people for breaking the law and places immense power in the hands of people who have - by their own actions - demonstrated their untrustworthiness.

Finally, the notion that the President can never fire the head of the FBI so long as ANY investigation is ongoing that involves his administration in any way, however tangential, is IMO, just plain nuts. The standard is unworkable, and I trust you can see the unintended consequence (every FBI director would launch an investigation against the current admin - instant job security!).

As you say, we'd have to actually see the memo. But saying, "I hope you can see your way clear to drop" an investigation is not obstruction by any definition I've ever read. If Trump did more than that, then why didn't Comey report it?

We are headed into dangerous waters here.

E Hines said...

Second, Comey needs to testify under oath that he authored the memo and that it accurately represents the facts as he remembers them.
If that happens, articles of impeachment are warranted.

Certainly charges of obstruction of justice and suppression of evidence would be warranted against Comey. After all, if the memo exists, Comey wrote it, and he testifies under oath that it's an accurate description of the conversation as he understands it, he will have confessed to both crimes since he's sat on that evidence of a crime for all this time, unless he also can prove that he took the matter to the relevant law enforcement authorities.

Which he hasn't done, and about which, with no job security or other threat in the offing, he's remained silent.

Eric Hines

Dad29 said...

Germane but unrelated: Trey Gowdy avers that Comey is a knight in shining armor vis-a-vis the Clinton email-server thing.

Anonymous said...

1. Not for his own, personal use--to accurately and officially record a meeting in his role as the Director of the FBI.

2. Leaking this may not be illegal because these memos are not necessarily classified.

3. If not for journalists there are all kinds of scandals and information the public would never know about. They are protected by the 1st Amendment; they have the freedom and right to share this information. Comey clarified this in his hearings before he was fired. If leakers leak classified info they are legally responsible/accountable. Journalists are free to share that information without legal accountability because of the 1st Amendment.

4. Read the Lawfare Blog. They have several posts up about the legal definition of obstruction of justice and it's not looking good for Trump.

5. We don't know that Comey didn't report this. Obviously others knew. Yates, the acting attorney general had been fired. Flynn had resigned. Sessions recused himself. Who above him was Comey going to report this to? Sessions who Trump had asked to leave the room when this conversation tool place? Also, if this was relevant to the ongoing investigation which may involve Sessions as a part of Trump's team, he wouldn't/couldn't/shouldn't share information with someone who might actually be a subject of the Russia investigation.

This is huge. It is not minor. And, these are only the things we know about so far. There will probably be more that happens because Trump is an intemperate, immature, not very smart person. Just wait til some of his aides resign/get fired and start talking.

-G (the anonymous poster from above)

Grim said...

I don't mean to set any bar, high or low, for impeachment. The Constitution does that. I'm merely expressing an opinion on whether or not this set of actions can reasonably be said to meet that standard.

On the other hand, I'm not troubled by the idea that we might start holding elected officials to closer tolerances. Obstruction of Justice was a regular feature of the last administration, both in the IRS investigation and the Clinton investigation. If Clinton had been elected, it would have been standard operating procedure (and I'd have had a very similar opinion about it as a justification for impeachment).

As usual, the standards only apply to Republicans. On the other hand, the alternative may be having the standards apply to no one. I don't think that's a good road for us to go down.

Grim said...

Also, I don't think the anonymously sourced story justifies the investigation. Trump's clear public statements and actions are an important aspect of what justifies a subpoena for this memo. If he hadn't fired the FBI director, these comments wouldn't meet the standard. If he hadn't then gone on to give an interview in which he explained that he was thinking about the Russia probe in making his decision to fire the FBI director, proving intent would have been impossible.

It's only in the context of what is clear and public that the memo becomes potentially damning.

MikeD said...

It's a real shame Comey has died, so we will never know if he believed he was being ordered to obstruct justice. I mean, if he were still alive, he might be able to verify that it was clearly obstruction.

Wait... he IS alive? Huh. And he's not said he believes he was being ordered to drop a criminal investigation? Gee, you think that'd be germane to the discussion, wouldn't you.

Anonymous said...


Are you sure you want to definitively say that?

He hasn't said it....YET. It's only been just over a week since he was fired and a day since news of the memo circulated. Give it time.

Comey tries to do things by the book. He isn't the type to simply go on Morning news shows and blab whatever. Even when he broke protocol by speaking out on Clinton, he said he did it because he was trying to avoid the appearance of impropriety because of the whole Lynch/Bill Clinton thing. He didn't tell Lynch what he was going to say because he wasn't sure she was impartial. This may also be why he didn't share that memo. He wasn't sure Trump's DOJ was any more impartial than Obama's.

He has made missteps, but they have been made as a direct result of him trying to do the right thing.

Trump has made missteps as a direct result of trying to do the wrong thing.


Cassandra said...

It's a real shame Comey has died, so we will never know if he believed he was being ordered to obstruct justice. I mean, if he were still alive, he might be able to verify that it was clearly obstruction.

Well played, sir :p

Cassandra said...

Comey tries to do things by the book.

Ummm... except all the times he pretty much ripped the book up and threw it away.

And then there's this:

Andrew McCarthy in particular has done a great job of explaining just how bizarrely this whole Clinton investigation was conducted.

Grim said...

I did say that I thought obtaining Comey's formal testimony was a necessary aspect of the process. The memo needs to be produced, not just reported on but entered into formal evidence. Then, Comey needs to testify about the matter.

E Hines said...

If not for journalists there are all kinds of scandals and information the public would never know about.

Certainly. But with WaPo and NYT as exemplars, we don't have journalists; all we have are rumor mongers. We don't even have a free press in general; it's indentured itself to its own naked bias.

Who above him was Comey going to report this to?

His own Deputy, McCabe, to spread things around. DoJ's Office of Legal Policy, Office of Legal Counsel, US Marshalls Service, National Security Division. Just about any Federal prosecutor. Except that since last summer he's arrogated to himself the responsibility of speaking for prosecutors.

The House and Senate Judiciary Committees. Oh, wait; Comey has already refused to testify voluntarily.

This is huge.

It is huge, if it happened. It's also huge if it didn't: the NLMSM would stand exposed, even before much of the Left's base, as a partisan hack rather than a true free and independent press.

...he explained that he was thinking about the Russia probe in making his decision to fire the FBI director....

As part of that explanation, Trump said he wanted the investigation done competently and efficiently, not that he didn't want it done, and that he'd lost confidence in Comey's ability to do that. Certainly partisans on either side are going to take that explanation at face value: weasel words to rationalize the firing or a reasonable firing. In the event, all of the investigations--the FBI's and Congress'--are moving along apace and unimpeded. of the memo circulated.

What news? All we have are WaPo's deliberately unsubstantiated claims. What memo? All we have are WaPo's deliberately unsubstantiated claims, this time about a piece of paper that an anonymous caller claimed was a memo that this anonymous caller--if he exists--only read to the paper.

Chaffetz and Gowdy are on the right track. Subpoena the memo and Comey and interrogate them. Until then, all we have is the yapping of newspapers who have long been exposed as #NeverTrumpNoWay. The papers can't possibly be taken at their word.

Eric Hines

Anonymous said...

E HInes

Do you think Trump and his administration can be taken at their word?


Cassandra said...


I doubt you and I will ever agree. Your stance seems (to me) to be based on assumptions about what might happen rather than on the law as it's written and the actual way these departments work.

What bothers me about this is what Eric alludes to: allowing appearances and leaks of unseen documents (rather than actual laws and facts) to dictate whether investigations get launched and documents are subpoena'd.

My concern is that lowering the standards here allows hysteria (deliberately fomented) and emotion to drive the proverbial ship of state. I don't care for Trump one way or another. I do care about my country, and about not allowing deeply unprincipled people this much power over our lives.

I've found Jonathan Turley to be one of the most sensible voices out there:

A good place to start would be with the federal law, specifically 18 U.S.C. 1503. The criminal code demands more than what Comey reportedly describes in his memo. There are dozens of different variations of obstruction charges ranging from threatening witnesses to influencing jurors. None would fit this case. That leaves the omnibus provision on attempts to interfere with the “due administration of justice.”

However, that still leaves the need to show that the effort was to influence “corruptly” when Trump could say that he did little but express concern for a longtime associate. The term “corruptly” is actually defined differently under the various obstruction provisions, but it often involves a showing that someone acted “with the intent to secure an unlawful benefit for oneself or another." Encouraging leniency or advocating for an associate is improper but not necessarily seeking an unlawful benefit for him.

Then there is the question of corruptly influencing what? There is no indication of a grand jury proceeding at the time of the Valentine's Day meeting between Trump and Comey. Obstruction cases generally are built around judicial proceedings — not Oval Office meetings.

The laws actually matter. We don't get to enforce laws that don't exist, and frankly I think people need to settle down a bit and ask some pointed questions. Turley sums things up well here:

Impeachment is not meant to be an alternative for criminal cases that cannot be submitted to a grand jury. It is also not meant to be politics by other means. Finally, it is not a vehicle to redo an election for those with morning-after regrets. Ironically, for those who charge that Trump has compromised the legal system, the same objection can be made over demands for criminal charges or impeachment based on his still undisclosed memo.

The same point can be made wrt to morons hyperventilating about how Trump supposed gave classified intel to the Russians whilst:

(a) ignoring all the times Obama did the same thing, and

(b) disclosing all sorts of sensitive info (under the guise of saving the Republic from unauthorized disclosures that - unless everyone who was actually in the room is lying - never happened).

Cassandra said...

One more thought. I don't know McMasters from a hole in the ground, but doesn't it bother you that the man is being smeared from pillar to post by the likes of Thomas Ricks?

This public hysteria (I can't think of a better word to describe what I'm seeing) is bizarre. McMasters is being called a liar and the word of anonymous leakers is being promoted over named public servants who were actually there and comment on the record, under their own names.

It's growing hard to believe my own eyes and ears. It's like someone has put PCP in the public water supply.

E Hines said...

Don't change the subject, G. It's the press' integrity on the line. Full stop.

The Trump administration officials haven't been shy about being on the record in addressing this thing. It's the press that's been concealing their sources (if they exist) and apparently manufacturing rumors, which other outlets take up and repeat because "it's been reported." In that regard, there's very d**n little original reporting going on anymore.

Eric Hines

Grim said...

I haven't said anything about the classified material matter one way or the other. It's a separate issue, I think.

I'm not arguing that the laws don't matter, or that Trump shouldn't be allowed to present a defense. Nor am I arguing that 'an investigation should get launched' due to nothing more than an anonymous report. Again, clear and public actions and statements by Trump himself are the only reason that the memo has a context that would make it damaging.

If Trump had said what the memo claims he said to Comey re: Flynn, it would not have been obstruction of justice if he had done nothing else. If he had not fired the FBI director after giving this opinion, it would still not be provably obstruction of justice given all the other reasons that Comey should have been fired.

But when you take the memo into the context of the firing and the interview in which Trump admitted that he made the decision because of the Russia probe, it does look like it's worth a subpoena and compelling Comey to testify. Those things could possibly produce grounds for impeachment, and it's responsible to ask for them.

In all the years I've known you, one constant has been your respect for the rules. I'm usually the one who cares less about the rules. But the one group of people I think need to be held tightly to the law are those empowered to enforce the law on others -- including the President, whomever he may be.

We've failed as a nation to do this in the last eight years. We came close to electing someone who would have spent her entire term engaged in obstruction of justice. But we have an opportunity, should the memo prove to be as described and should Comey testify in a way that justifies an article of impeachment, to enforce the standard -- even if the trial in the Senate accepts Trump's defense. It's not good to leave Presidents too long a leash, and certainly this particular President does not seem especially inclined to avoid misusing a long leash. At minimum, standards need to be enforced.

Anonymous said...

It's not changing the subject.

Your argument is predicated on whose word we can trust. Trump has shown himself to be a liar through his own words and actions.

If I ask myself who is most likely to be telling the truth, Trump is not high on that list and probably doesn't even make the list.

Things are still developing. We haven't gotten to public hearings or finished investigations, yet. If much of this turns out to be true, what will you say then? I am genuinely curious.


E Hines said...

Interesting. You seem to be willing to take a newspaper's rumor over the words of folks who are willing to be on the record with their claims.

If much of this turns out to be true, what will you say then?

The question is insulting. I won't dignify it further.

Eric Hines

raven said...

If there was the slightest actual concern for the welfare of this country behind the accusations,it might be worth pursuing. This is a witch hunt, period. The lefts actions over the last fifty years have shown they hate the American system of government, American freedoms, and strive at every opportunity to hurt this country. They will say anything, lie about anything, do anything, to rid themselves of their political enemy. And if they succeed, and send a message to the public that they can eliminate electoral results they don't like, then what, exactly, are we supposed to draw as a conclusion? If elections are the way we resolve our differences peaceably, and they refuse to accept them (and make no mistake, that is ALL this kerfuffle is about)then what remains as a dispute settling device?

jaed said...

But when you take the memo into the context of the firing and the interview in which Trump admitted that he made the decision because of the Russia probe, it does look like it's worth a subpoena and compelling Comey to testify. Those things could possibly produce grounds for impeachment, and it's responsible to ask for them.

Grim, that is uncharacteristically blind to the facts. Trump said that he fired Comey in part because he wants a thorough investigation and he thinks the FBI under Comey was incapable of conducting that thorough investigation. That's close to the opposite of your implication that he fired Comey because he didn't want an investigation.


1. There almost certainly is no such memo. "Well, Comey totally wrote this private CYA memo, and he totally gave it to this one guy, who totally wouldn't send us a copy but would read it over the phone to us. Sounds legit."

2. Let's assume, contrary to all reason, that this memo wasn't made up by either the Times or the conveniently anonymous source, who supposedly has it but wouldn't let them see it. If Comey thought Trump had committed a crime, he would have reported it as obligated by law. Did he report it? When? Where is the record of the report? Show me these things or get out of town.

3. Let's assume the memo exists again. From what it says, Trump didn't do anything close to ordering a prosecution dropped. He expressed that he hoped there wouldn't be a prosecution, in this fiction we are temporarily entering. He said, supposedly, that he didn't think Flynn hadn't done anything wrong.

4. Prosecutorial discretion is not obstruction of justice. Trump's Presidential powers include prosecutorial discretion in matters of federal law. The president can commit obstruction—by, for example, threatening witnesses, tampering with evidence, and so forth—but not by ordering a prosecution dropped.

In other words, even if we not only accept the memo as actually existing, but go farther and believe that Trump didn't just express a hope, but that he at some other time made it an order... it's still not a potential crime.

Why are we pretending that this nonsense has any relationship to reality at all? We all know that if this doesn't work, there will be another piece of nonsense along next week. Hey, maybe this time we can trash America's relationship with China! Or Britain! I mean, it's not like we'd be damaging anything important, right? It's just our country.

Grim said...


If your point 1 is correct, obviously there's nothing here. That's why I've held that all of this starts with a subpoena to obtain the memo, and then getting Comey to testify that he wrote it and that it's accurate.

The memo itself does not document a crime (and therefore there would be no reason for Comey to report it formally). As the GWB legal adviser mentioned in the OP notes, it's only obstruction if it's coupled with something else -- something not present on the occasion. One thing that would qualify is if Trump had threatened to fire Comey if he didn't back off the Russia probe and find a way to let Flynn go. Trump didn't make that threat at the time, or ever as far as we know, so there's no crime to report on the day Comey made the memo.

Trump didn't make the threat, but he did fire Comey. And yes, he said that he wanted someone who'd do a better job with the investigation -- after he said that 'this Russia thing is all made up.' So what does a better job look like? It looks like 'finding a way to let it go,' right? Why would you do anything else if it's all made up?

What is maddening is that there probably really isn't anything to the Russia probe. They may eventually find that Flynn took some money he shouldn't as a retired military officer; that Manafort had some questionable ties. But I doubt very seriously that Trump himself was tied into anything. The Prince story convinces me that there's nothing to the conspiracy talk; it's an argument against interest by the conspirators, in fact, because it lays out that even the basic groundwork of a quid pro quo had not been explored before that meeting. Plus, Trump himself is far too impulsive and unpredictable for any intelligence service to have built a major plot around.

So if Trump had just outright pardoned Flynn -- or even just issued a blanket pardon to himself and everyone associated with him, for the express purpose of 'ending all this Russia nonsense' -- I wouldn't think it was an issue. That would have been explicitly legal and constitutional.

I'm convinced that these facts suggest something not legal or constitutional, something that warrants further exploration. If the facts turn out to be as you suppose (e.g., that there's no memo at all), then fine: in that case, this is just a slander. But if it turns out that the facts are as suggested, then there's a need to get testimony from Comey; and depending on the content of that sworn testimony, other actions may become proper. So I think, anyway.

E Hines said...

Well, a special counsel has been appointed to run the investigation into the question of Russian influence in the 2016 election. Presumably that would include the FBI's investigation of Flynn's role in any Russian connection, if there was one (I agree with Grim that most likely they'll find that Flynn screwed vis-avis the Russians, perhaps egregiously or perhaps just stupidly), and by extension from that perhaps a look into attempts, if any, by Trump to influence the FBI's investigation into Flynn, although given the original DOR (if I understand it correctly), that might be a stretch of the mission.

The talking heads are saying this will quiet things down for a bit, give breathing room to the White House, etc, etc, etc. My own estimation is that the press will continue to hype this while excoriating Republicans and Trump, for the sake of click bait and because #NeverTrumpNoWay, and the Progressive-Democrats will continue to hype this in the same way (Schumer has already been on the Senate floor crowing over the victory) in order to keep their base excited. (On the other hand, Pelosi, to her credit, has already been on the House floor telling her caucus to cut out the impeachment nonsense; there aren't any facts, yet.)

So what does a better job look like? It looks like 'finding a way to let it go,' right? Why would you do anything else if it's all made up?

No, it doesn't necessarily look like "finding a way to let it go." It looks like getting after the investigation instead of dragging it out. Comey had nothing important on Flynn, Trump's estimation might have gone; Comey knew it and was dragging his feet on finishing up; and Trump wanted the investigation done correctly and efficiently instead of dragged out. We've--not just Trump--already seen the level of Comey's integrity and sense of his own importance, after all.

Eric Hines

ColoComment said...

The timing is very odd.
1/24/2017: The Hill reports that FBI clears Flynn of collusion with Russia(ns). (Note: Flynn's failure to report Russian-sourced income for his security clearance = separate issue, jurisdiction, etc.)
2/13/2017: Flynn resigns.
2/14/2017: Comey meets w/Trump & others at WH; meets w/Trump after others leave.
2/14?-15?/2017: Comey writes memo?

The FBI had already cleared Flynn after investigation of his phone calls with the Russian guy.

The quote from the alleged memo is "“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,” Trump told Comey, according to the memo, adding that Flynn had done nothing wrong."

The Flynn investigation was over. Flynn was cleared. Flynn was gone, resigned. There was nothing to obstruct. Trump could likely have been trying to say, in his clumsy way, that he hoped that Flynn could now see the light at the end of the tunnel of all the controversy.

Also: from what I've been reading & as others have written above, if indeed Comey was of the opinion that Trump was trying to intervene in an FBI investigation (which?), then COMEY had a legal obligation, under applicable law, to report that up-channels.

Pending disgorgement, authentication, and review of the actual documentation, and some resolution of these fairly wild accusations of obstruction & treason, and some dampening of the media hysteria, all of which may prove me wrong, I'll venture to say that describing WaPo as having fallen to National Enquirer level of journalism is doing a disservice to National Enquirer....

Finally, I don't doubt that Trump may have, again in his clumsy bull-in-china-shop manner of speech, expressed his frustration with the lingering odor of the "Russian investigation" that has been going on since... seems like forever. Were I Trump, given the fact of this no-evidence Russian investigation that fails to progress, I'd suspect Comey of deliberately extending the frivolous allegations for the purpose of their usefulness to the "enemy" media. ...but that last might just be my paranoia or wild imagination at work. ;-)

ColoComment said...

Oops, sorry. My bad. It was New York Post.

Cassandra said...

Apparently, Comey testified under oath on May 3rd that the administration had not tried to obstruct the investigation:

We have now reached peak idiocy. Unbelievable.

Dad29 said...

legal definition of obstruction of justice and it's not looking good for Trump.

Then it looks a LOT worse for Comey, who was a US prosecutor and presumably knows the law about obstruction--and was duty-bound to report it contemporaneously, not 90 days later.

And--by the way--it seems that Mr. Comey has a 20++ year history of treating the Clintons very..........ahhhhh.........nicely while Comey was a US prosecutor and FBI director.

Re-stating: Comey is a snake, no matter what Gowdy thinks.

Anonymous said...

That story only addresses the initial review of Flynn's calls with the Russian ambassador. That was before revelations about him being a paid foreign agent for Turkey, discovery of payment to him from Russia for speeches, etc. His lack of disclosure and registration. The investigation into Flynn goes much farther than just his calls. The story out tonight is that Trump and his transition team knew about Flynn's troubles well before Yates informed them.

This makes the whole reasoning provided by Trump about Flynn's resignation/firing questionable. If Flynn was lying to Pence, only Pence wasn't aware of it. That's IF Pence didn't know already that what he was saying in public about Flynn wasn't true.


douglas said...

G, investigations into Flynn's receiving funds from foreign powers goes back into the Obama administration (which did not see fit to pull his clearances, curiously), so you're a little off there.

"5. We don't know that Comey didn't report this." well, Cassandra posted a link- here's the relevant part of the transcript of
Comey under oath in front of Congress:

"HIRONO: So if the Attorney General or senior officials at the Department of Justice opposes a specific investigation, can they halt that FBI investigation?

COMEY: In theory yes.

HIRONO: Has it happened?

COMEY: Not in my experience. Because it would be a big deal to tell the FBI to stop doing something that — without an appropriate purpose. I mean where oftentimes they give us opinions that we don’t see a case there and so you ought to stop investing resources in it. But I’m talking about a situation where we were told to stop something for a political reason, that would be a very big deal. It’s not happened in my experience."

Grim: "As usual, the standards only apply to Republicans. On the other hand, the alternative may be having the standards apply to no one. I don't think that's a good road for us to go down."

That's a good point though my concern is that the only way we ever seem to be able to get the left to play by the same rules both ways is by lowering the bar. I wish there were another way, but if they're going to war with us, we have little choice in the matter at that point.

I'm just wondering if, when the Republicans subpoena the Comey memos, perhaps they might get all of them back to, oh I don't know, maybe August or September 2016- I bet there's some interesting stuff from the Hillary investigation days in there...

E Hines said...

Douglas, I hadn't heard about Flynn investigations during the Obama administration. Since Comey was Obama's FBI Director, too, Comey's MFRs from those investigations would be interesting as well.

It'll also be interesting to hear who cries Executive Privilege and on what grounds if all of those memos are subpoenaed.

And how quickly, absent EP assertion, the US Marshalls are sent to execute the subpoenas when they're less than fully answered. That's an action that isn't taken nearly often enough IMNSHO.

Eric Hines