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James Comey Testifies: Open Thread

I daresay these are the most explosive congressional hearings since Anita Hill’s testimoy.

I don’t think we need to pretend that there’s anything other than James Comey’s testimony on top of the headline page today. Consider this an open thread to discuss Director Comey’s testimony and the implications thereof.

For reference, here’s a link to his prepared remarks submitted in writing before the oral testimony.


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292 thoughts on “James Comey Testifies: Open Thread

  1. There’s actually nothing all that dramatic in this whole thing, aside from maybe some Sessions underbussing. (Which itself has interesting timing, given all the media trial balloons on Sessions’s job in jeopardy)

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    • Well yeah. Trump tried to kill the investigation of Flynn. That isn’t new. All the claims about Trump’s wrongness were out there. It’s like the dreaded MSM reports were all sort of true. The only question is the R evasions, as in “of course it was wrong, but he just didn’t know it was wrong so we’ll take a mulligan on this. Thanks.”

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    • There shouldn’t be. As there is an ongoing investigation, nobody should be prying into the details of that — and I’d imagine Comey would refuse to answer. Same with anything classified.

      In short, the entire discussion is limited to, well, what we already knew. Just under oath, and with some clarifications.

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      • And of course, if you’re not a hardcore Trump fan, it’s already pretty clear that he tried to kill the Flynn investigation. If you are a hardcore Trump fan, this is just more evidence that he didn’t try to kill the Flynn investigation and there’s a massive conspiracy of media, government, the pod people, and perhaps ((others)) to make Trump fail.

        But it’s still interesting to watch. We sure are living through a lot of history right now.

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    • There’s actually nothing all that dramatic in this whole thing,

      The nature of the testimony was not set up for dramatic outcomes, but there were some interesting nuggets. Comey implied that Sessions has more dirt on him that we’re aware of right now; he implied that Lynch’s alliance with Clinton campaign goes deeper than we’re aware of; he indicated that the FBI has been looking at Kushner’s connection to the Russian bank as mediated by meetings with Kislyak which Flynn was present at.

      No bombshells regarding Trump’s effort to obstruct the investigation into Flynn. But that’s already obvious for folks who can see what’s right in front of their nose. Even Trump admitted it.

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      • Also we get a chance to weigh Comey’s credibility and demeanor as a witness and we get to see how particular Senators are going to assert themselves in response to the information. The standout performance, IMO was Burr’s cross-examination of Comey at the very start of the back-and-forth, taking full advantage of his ability to go first and thus to put a fence around the possible impact of the testimony to follow.

        We also learned that “But her emails” and the Tarmac Conference are not dead political letters yet. Which leads me to join one of our distinguished alumni in this opinion:

        https://twitter.com/JasonKuznicki/status/872854047790858246

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        • One other interesting nugget: Comey said he informed Rosenstein of Trump’s pattern of behavior re: isolating the FBI director for private conversations a couple months before he was fired. Which brings Rosenstein back into some questionable loops, one of which is that he didn’t give Mueller complete independence in the course of the investigation. When pressed on the issue yesterday by Sen. Harris Rosenstein looked like cornered rat, offering assurances that he wouldn’t interfere based on his promise not to. IT was a really strange exchange, and Rosenstein looked bloody after it. Adding it all up, including R’s letter ostensibly justifying Comey’s firing, I tend to think there’s a lot more goiing on there than we’re aware of as well.

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  2. Trump’s approval ratings are getting lower and lower but I am still an ur-cynic that this matters for the GOP. A lot of my more optimistic liberal friends (who possibly read too much Louise Mensch and the Palmer Report) think that Trump’s impeachment is coming any day now.

    I disagree and for reasons that Chait largely laid out in a column yesterday. The Republicans control Congress and we are more partisan than we were during Watergate. Plus Trump has proven himself to be very willing to pursue a Grover Norquist fantasy of a budget with deep slashes to funding nearly everything including the State and Defense department not to mention social programs.

    I was born in 1980 and always knew the GOP as the party of “Government is the Problem” but they seem to be marching more and more to the right and see Trump as possibly their last chance to destruct all aspects of the Social safety net and have the minimalist government of their dreams no matter how unpopular. Look at how the AHCA collapses and revives, collapses and revives. All the reports show that it is deeply unpopular, will take 26 million people off insurance, and might even mess with Employer based insurance in unknown ways.

    There is still the fact that Trump hasn’t appointed hundreds if not thousands of positions to the Federal Government especially in Defense and State (and Rex Tillerson seems dandy about it. Mattis is a harder read). Sessions offered to resign is something we found out this week. I feel like this is an experiment in how bad things can get and whether the U.S. will not have a functioning government at some point. Will there come a time when people just don’t get mail, passports, airports take forever to get through, etc. Authoritarianism by incompetence more than anything else.

    The other big thing is Erik Trump denying the humanity of Democrats in a conversation with Hannity. It is easy to commit violence against people if you deny them their humanity.

    The Kansas GOP finally overrode Brownback’s deep tax cuts after six or so years. The question I have is whether something similar can happen on a national scale.

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    • I think impeachment will become possible when Trump hits 70 percent disapproval. That’s a long slog, if it ever gets there. His supporters, and R’s in general, are dug in. They made a choice and are doing the human thing, which is doubling down on it.

      Nevertheless, I hold to my prediction that Trump will not serve out his term. There are a lot of ways that can happen besides impeachment.

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      • The question is which is the least bad:

        a) Trump serves out his term, someone else elected in 2020.
        b) Trump is impeached and removed from office before that can happen.
        c) Trump resigns before either of those things can happen.
        d) Trump dies before any of that can happen.

        I’m old enough to remember when a President 139 days into his term would be presumed to be destined to finish the term. This is simply awful.

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          • Oh, I think there’s a much longer list of things way above trumps tweets that are “corrosive to our democratic institutions”, assuming, you know, that those actually exists.

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          • Here’s the problem I see: Trump will not willingly leave the office of POTUS and because of that, given everything we know about him at this point, he will attempt to destroy every institution or person compelling him to do so. Which is what he’s already doing anyway. So either way we’re sorta fucked as a nation.

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          • Somebody has started taking all of Trump’s tweets and formatting them as official releases from the Office of the President of the United States, complete with seal and marked “for immediate release.”

            It’s both hilarious and extraordinarily sad at the same time.

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          • Don,
            He’s incompetent. Getting him out of office is the LAST thing a Democrat should hope for. Plus, um, riots. Why the HELL do you think he hasn’t been removed already?

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        • In order of probability, I’d put:

          1) Trump serves out his term.
          2) Trump resigns to kill investigations that are getting too deep into other stuff he did before was POTUS.
          3) Trump dies before any of that can happen.

          N) Osama bin Laden turns out to be alive, mounts a successful conquest of USA and begins a ten thousand year Caliphate, executing the entire US government.
          N+1) The Republicans decide to impeach Trump.

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          • 2) isn’t going to happen. I really don’t believe the investigations end simply because he resigns. He’s pot-committed at this point, so he’s got to win (in his sociopathic understanding of what that word means).

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            • I don’t think the investigations actually *will* end, but Trump seemed to think that firing Comey would get rid of the Flynn investigation. If he has a bunch of genuinely illegal ugly stuff from his pre-POTUS days, he might think resigning was his only out.

              He could also be thinking he’ll get a blanket pardon for everything, which probably isn’t out of the question as it could be justified on the basis that “getting past” the situation is in the country’s best interests.

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      • My prediction remains that he will die in office. He is after all 70, doesn’t exercise, and shows every sign of working himself up into sleep-deprived stress frequently. (though it’s also possible someone will not be willing to wait for his health to give out).

        It may not be in the next four years, or even the next eight or ten. But I predict he will die in office.

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      • Trump’s health is a reasonable reason to think we won’t serve out his term. Though President Pence doesn’t thrill me either. I wonder if raging and incompetent Trump is better than President Pence.

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      • There will be hell to pay in the Republican Party if Trump is impeached.

        That will mean that they did not get the hint with the Tea Party insurgence.

        And also didn’t get the hint when the party favorites were looked over in favor of Trump.

        Impeachment means that the house-cleaning at the Republican Party needs to step it up a notch, consequences be damned.

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    • Trump’s approval ratings are getting lower and lower but I am still an ur-cynic that this matters for the GOP. A lot of my more optimistic liberal friends (who possibly read too much Louise Mensch and the Palmer Report) think that Trump’s impeachment is coming any day now.

      As various people have pointed out, the Democrats must not impeach Trump, or it will be the new Lost Cause of the Confederacy.

      We have to demand the *Republicans* do it. Or at least in some manner that can reasonably be called bipartisan, not ‘barely enough Republicans defect’.

      The Republicans control Congress and we are more partisan than we were during Watergate. Plus Trump has proven himself to be very willing to pursue a Grover Norquist fantasy of a budget with deep slashes to funding nearly everything including the State and Defense department not to mention social programs.

      Here’s the interesting fact about political bribery and lying: When you don’t have power, you can *pretend* to your donors and voters that you’re trying to slash every ounce of spending. And you can claim it to shoot down primary opponents.

      When you do have power, you suddenly look around and go ‘Erm, wait, if I cut this, my voters will hate me. It doesn’t really matter what I’m being paid to do.’.

      And suddenly all your motivations disappear. In fact, because the best case scenario is you never having to vote on it, it suddenly becomes incredibly difficult for such things to make it to the floor.

      We already saw this with the AHCA.

      There are basically two ways to act as an elected official. You can act within the possible, or you can claim you’re acting within the impossible but being foiled. The possible is where most people have to be located, doing the things that actually have to get done, making compromises, etc. The impossible, which can *only* be done by the powerless, is partisan signaling and deliberately impotent nonsense, stuff that people *do not actually want*, but donors and extremist voters think they do.

      This has happened on *both sides*, for quite some time, in politics. It’s how politics works. It’s the reason the minority party often doesn’t vote to raise the debt ceiling. At a more individual level, bills get introduced all the time that cannot pass, and *the person pushing them doesn’t want them to pass*, but wants to able to claim they ‘introduced a bill to…’ to their voters.

      Everyone in politics is *normally* some mix of the possible and the impossible. They use the possible to get things done, and the impossible to signal.

      The problem is that Republicans, thanks to the media, found the impossible more profitable than anything, and ramped it up to 300 (on a scale of 1 to 10). And they *also* forgot how to do anything else, at least in the House. And a few of them honestly don’t appear to understand how this works…there are Republicans in the House who *honestly* think they will be praised as a hero for taking away social security.

      But don’t confuse their impossible rhetoric for what will actually happen. I know we’ve been reducing our sanity check points that will veto obviously nonsensical ‘impossible’ bills, but we still have the Senate, which is already pretty damn iffy with the AHCA, and isn’t going to let insane budgets pass. A *conservative* budget, yes, but not an insane one.

      Edit: Of course, when I say the impossible ‘can *only* be done by the powerless’, I was not including Trump, who has, rather stupidly, attempted to do the impossible repeatedly, and thus, being technically powerful, has lost fights not against other politicians, but either against the courts…or has technically succeeded (like in firing Comey), resulting in crippling public opinion turns. I’m generally talking about the rules for *plausibly competent* politicians.

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      • This is pretty much how I’ve come to understand politics. The “anti-flag-burning” amendments are a show. They know it can’t happen, but the pass it anyway and make a lot of noise, and let the opposition sweat about being on the side of flag burners.

        Or, to invoke BSDI, you introduce a bill to deny gun ownership to people on the terrorist watch list. As a political move, fantastic. As policy, bloody awful. I hate the terrorist watch list, which was the point, I think.

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      • I largely but don’t completely agree.

        From what I’ve read, it looks like there is now a 50/50 chance that the AHCA passes in the Senate. Even if it fails that drags us into another attempt where something goes through the House and then to the Senate. Since the GOP spent nearly ten years bashing the ACA and crippling it, they need to replace it. They can’t just let repeal Obamacare die. And a lot of GOP Congresscritters seem to live in constant fear of being primaried from the far right even the rock-solid conservatives ones.

        I largely agree with you that politics is the art of the possible but this usually requires a very centrist outlook. The thing that strikes me about the GOP and the right-wing in general is that they have become the party of true believing ideologues and might not care about political popularity. Whether this is admirable or not is another question. But they honestly don’t believe that the government should have a welfare state and are willing to go for it on hell or highwater. They have also become the party of rolling coal/Cleek’s Law and too many of them are equally animated by “what will piss off a liberal?”

        I don’t know what marches the GOP back from this brink but as Lee points out, many European conservatives made their peace with the welfare state and the social changes of the 1960s. They might limit funding but no Tory or even UKIP member would dream of throwing out the NHS. Our conservatives still think they can roll back the clock to the Harding administration and nothing can stop them from believing this.

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        • Even if it fails that drags us into another attempt where something goes through the House and then to the Senate.

          Tactically, though, they need to finish before the end of September. They only get to do one reconciliation bill per fiscal year, and McConnell already has an understanding with Ryan that the FY18 bill will be tax cuts. Once reconciliation is not an option, a Senate health care bill needs 60 votes and McConnell has given no indication that he’s willing to kill the legislative filibuster over Obamacare repeal.

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            • Who knows? We don’t know what the bill looks like yet. We do know that it will be written by McConnell’s Gang of 13, instead of in committee. We know that it has to be scored by the CBO in order to be considered under reconciliation rules. We know that some of the (R) Senators are getting an earful from the (R) governors of their states in cases where Medicaid was expanded (I assume variations on the theme of “Don’t you dare hang me out to dry by killing the expansion.”). We know that two (R) Senators have said they won’t vote for a bill that defunds Planned Parenthood. Will all of those give in when the Whip comes calling?

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              • They’re treating this legislation like they’re running hooch during prohibition: work up a secret plan in committee, get clearance from the CBO boss, drive like maniacs to deliver it in the dead of night to a prearranged drop in the House, muscle anyone who interferes on the floor vote, pocket the cash.

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                • There’s legislating done the way they teach in civics class, and then there’s legislating in real life. A session or three on the staff of a state legislature is a very educational experience (I wouldn’t wish a Congressional staff job on anyone.)

                  Thought for Will Truman: During your exercises drafting a potential WSA constitution, give consideration to imposing restrictions on the rules for legislative bodies. From my time with the Colorado General Assembly, I’m fond of: (1) every bill goes through the committee process; (2) every bill gets a full hearing in at least one committee; and (3) every member is entitled to introduce at least one amendment when a bill is debated on the floor.

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        • From what I’ve read, it looks like there is now a 50/50 chance that the AHCA passes in the Senate. Even if it fails that drags us into another attempt where something goes through the House and then to the Senate.

          Truth be told, I’m not actually that worried about the AHCA. Here’s the question no one has been asking themselves about the AHCA: What happens when it passes?

          Or, more to the point, how do *insurance companies* react?

          They already are *extremely* unhappy with how the Republicans are acting. I can see a lot of them simply refusing to offer any plans. Huge areas of the country without any insurance at all.

          Seriously, it’s like everyone forgot the ACA and the AHCA are laws that, to work, require private insurers to sell insurance.

          *ONE* of those got insurance company sign-on before becoming law. One of them…uh…didn’t. Everyone is just *assuming* insurance companies will go along with it.

          Why the hell would they do that? The Republicans have *constantly* been undermining the plan they did sign on to, and, hell, *filed a lawsuit* to try to not pay them. And then forced this thing on them.

          The insurance companies are just going to say ‘Nope. We’re walking. We’re back to just corporate insurance. Have fun.’

          Alternately, they might troll Republicans by offering plans for a million dollars a year. (Yes, *technically* they can only keep 20% of premiums not used for medical care, so they’d have to pay it all back at the end of the year, if anyone signed up…but the point is to troll them.)

          And we get a meltdown of the GOP, and some sort of emergency fix. This fix will almost certainly require *Democrats*, and working with insurance companies, which means…tada.

          You know how people talk about how some people can be ‘ten steps ahead’ of other people? The AHCA is, strangely, an example of the GOP being about five steps behind *themselves*. Like, their plans for that don’t even make sense *from where they are standing*, much less based on what the obvious end result will be.

          Since the GOP spent nearly ten years bashing the ACA and crippling it, they need to replace it.

          Well, yes, they *need* to, but that doesn’t mean they *can*, or that doing so *also* won’t be extremely harmful to them.

          The guy who painted himself in a corner may *need to* go to the restroom. That doesn’t mean he *can*, or that he is going to accomplish it through sheer willpower.

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      • McConnell and Boehner went all in on what was termed “fake fighting” against Obama, and the result was that the Republican base got fed up and made Trump the nominee, and then made him President.

        The reason is that we saw Trump as General Grant. He may be uncouth, hard drinking, and the bane of polite Washington circles, but by God he fights. Unlike all the other generals we’d tried, who kept demanding more and more supplies and troops but eschewed an actual all-out bloody battle that would produce a decisive outcome, Grant fights. That’s all we needed.

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          • Back during the primaries I wrote a more detailed version which got very good responses from conservatives who suddenly “got it”. McConnell, Boehner, and the rest told the Republican base that they could stop Obama if they won the House. So we gave them the House and they didn’t stop anything, just turned around and told us they needed to win the Senate to stop Obama. So we gave them the Senate. They still didn’t stop Obama because they wouldn’t fight, only fake fight. They’d give Obama whatever Obama wanted as long as they could set up a pointless stand on the floor where they could speak against it.

            They were like generals McClellan. Buell, and Halleck, unwilling to fight no matter how great their advantages. Like the Union public in the first year of the Civil War, we were fed up and disgusted at providing all the instruments of victory to people who didn’t have the spunk to actually try and achieve a victory. We were fed up with armchair generals who could talk about the principles of Napoleonic maneuvers on the DC cocktail circuit (or Sunday talk shows), but wouldn’t charge into the mud and bloody clash required to actually defeat an enemy, and who weren’t willing to break their polished tin soldiers to achieve an objective.

            And then came Trump, or Grant. A loud mouthed buffoon, a joke to the experienced, well-heeled generals, a failed store clerk from nowhere – who would lead his army into hell and back because he wanted to crush the enemy, anywhere and any time.

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        • Grant was a master tactician. (Read his memoirs; the guy knew what he was doing at every step.) Trump likes to stay up all night and Tweet.

          Grant knew that the enemies were the Confederate armies and Northerners who wanted to settle instead of win. Trump thinks the enemy is anyone who’s mean to him.

          Grant was a West Point graduate. Trump is a moron.

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          • Grant graduated in the bottom half of his class. His first name was literally chosen from a hat. He eventually made captain but was forced to resign from the military for drinking. He supported Douglas in the 1860 election and only rejoined the Army after the war started, again being made a captain. Since he’d been in the Army before, they promoted him, and then he started kicking ass, attacking on his own initiative. The rest is history.

            Trump went to a military school and then got an economics degree from Wharton. Then he began beating everyone at their own game, eventually taking on the top brains in the both the Republican and Democratic parties, and in the media, and beat them like bongo drums.

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              • Grant was considered a drunken idiot with no knowledge of tactics or strategy. The New York Times was viciously denouncing him in 1863 for being an antisemitic ass, after he committed the most blatant antisemitic act of the entire century. Shortly after, general McClernand and other generals kept leaking stories about Grant and his drinking. An Ohio paper lamented “”Our whole Army of the Mississippi is being wasted by a foolish, drunken, stupid Grant.” A lot of people, especially in DC, utterly despised him.

                Sound familiar?

                But Lincoln responded to the constant call to relieve Grant with “I can’t spare him. He fights.”

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            • Q: What do you call the West Point graduate at the very bottom on his class?
              A: If you’re enlisted, you’d better call him “sir.”

              I disagree with the notion that Trump is a “moron” or otherwise dumb. He’s “foolish.” “Unwise.” There is obviously intellectual capacity there, but some sort of cloud or miswiring between that and what he actually does. I hesitate to make armchair diagnoses but the “dementia” hypothesis is tempting indeed — the Donald Trump of 20 years ago was brash, egoistical, sarcastic, and opportunistic like today’s Trump, but back then he conducted himself in interviews much much better: he answered the questions he was asked, for sentences at a time. Today’s Trump doesn’t seem able to sustain that sort of mental focus.

              At minimum, Trump is somehow out of his element in politics and therefore stressed in a way that someone experienced with this sort of pressure would not be. Perhaps (if the various guesses about cognitive impairment are wrong, as we all should hope they are) he will eventually learn the sorts of emotional and intellectual skills that other politicians have drawn upon to handle the stresses of serving as President.

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              • You’re right. He’s very astute at understanding people’s motivations, as well as how they might respond to events or actions. And he’s structured his business career around that.

                He doesn’t impose his will by maneuvering through big bureaucracies. He manages his relationships of maybe a dozen people at a time, and everything else through them. He does that because he can’t ingest information by reading the way the rest of white collar America does. It wouldn’t surprise me if he had a reading disability actually.

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        • I read this and it makes me want to cry. Donald Trump is a weakness of the political representation of Greater Red State America, not a strength.

          And that comment is about as clear an expression of that weakness as you could hope for. Mitch McConnell has ran circles around Dems for 30 years and George wants to go to the fcuking mattresses for Donald Fcuking Trump.

          I think it’s useful to note one thing that everybody should be able to agree on. Donald Trump intimidates nobody. The antifas, the Demos in Congress, the judiciary, James Comey, everybody else who opposes Trump really. There’s barely a couple of solitary examples that I can think of where somebody ended up the worse in their personal or professional circumstances for getting on the other side of Trump politically.

          Yet we still have some conservatives/populists/nationalists/whatever who want nothing else other than to buy the idea that Donald Trump is John Wayne in a suit.

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          • I think I may agree with this comment more than any other comment of yours that I have ever read. It’s the tragedy of Trump: Liberals and centrists hate him, but he’s not going to give conservatives that much of what they want either.

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          • The reason people don’t fear Trump is that he’s an extremely nice man. Hillary, on the other hand, is feared more than a mafia don.

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    • The Internet in general exposed a lot of people to concepts like minarchism and anarcho-cap in the 1990s. If you’d read the better writers on that subject, most of those were pretty careful to caveat the things they were saying. The hardcore Murray Rothbard devotees just got more and more shrill until they went off the air.

      By the time the Weekly Standard became the base camp for the “get the Clintons” movement, most of that was pretty much over. In order to get the message out over cheap (mis)communications channels, that message had to be reduced in information – in essence Bowdlerized – to where it could be widely disseminated, even TWS was too high-brow for it. William Kristol had an on-camera “what will I do now?” thing at the end of the 2016 Republican convention. Ann Coulter was making “we had a good run” noises.

      The thing I find stunning still is that also during the ’90s, Newt Gingrich ran it all on term limits. So there’s very little long-term leadership in the Republican Party any more. Meanwhile, people still have to get elected and that process has expanded to occupy all the available bandwidth.

      Meanwhile, all forms of debt mount, employment is much worse[1] and we can’t maintain GDP. The present Tea Party looks a lot like a one-time demographic anomaly and we begin to understand that people sort of *like* all these programs after all.

      [1] or something something blah blah.

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    • Still another 4 hours or so until the polls close, and my understanding is that they do most of the counting by hand.

      (Iirc, the end result of the Brexit vote didn’t come out until midday eastern US time the next day)

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              • I have had a number of jobs that made me sign pieces of paper that said “if the press comes to talk to you about any event in the past, present, or future, you agree to say that you cannot comment and you will direct the press to the appropriate media person”.

                “How often does the media talk to us?”, I tend to ask. “Never, as far as I know”, I tend to get answered.

                But I have signed such pieces of paper at my last few jobs.

                It wouldn’t surprise me to hear that the FBI has a similar policy. I’d actually be shocked if they didn’t, honestly.

                Of course, I’m pretty sure that Comey will be able to get away with violating the policy given that he didn’t break any laws. What can they threaten him with? Firing?

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                  • I’m only assuming that one exists, based on nothing more than the fact that my IT jobs have one (and all of the IT jobs I’ve had have had once since the 90’s).

                    So I don’t know if the FBI has one.

                    Let me google it! BRB.

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                    • Oooh, jeez! Top link!

                      From the middle:

                      The FBI policy overhaul is intended to underscore that media contacts are limited to those managers in charge of the field offices, in addition to designated public relations employees and others given specific authorization, the officials said.

                      I’d say that Comey is definitely covered under the umbrella of “managers in charge of the field offices” and, even if he’s not, he’s well under “specific authorization” because he’s the top guy who could possibly provide specific authorization.

                      So he didn’t even break the rules when he gave that info out.

                      Something to tell Snowden, I suppose.

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                      • I’m really surprised you had to look it up to realize that if there is a policy saying “Thou shalt not talk to the press without authorization”, that the people doing the authorizing were, by default, not subject to it.

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                        • Hey, I was asked if the policy existed and I had to admit that I didn’t know for sure, one way or the other.

                          I knew that it was *PROBABLE* that such a policy existed (I mean, *I* had to sign such pieces of paper) but I didn’t *KNOW*.

                          I’m pleased to have found that it not only existed but even have evidence that I can offer to say “it doesn’t apply to Comey, though”.

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                          • You’re missing the point. It should be immediately obvious that even IF there is such an FBI policy, it wouldn’t apply to the head of the FBI.

                            For the same reason that he policy against users having admin access on their PC’s doesn’t apply to the system admins.

                            I’m just shocked that you didn’t immediately realize that.

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                          • In this case, you had material that was never classified being told to people. It was a “leak” in the traditional Washington sense (that is it was unclassified info someone wanted into circulation, but without a name attached) not in the Snowden sense.

                            What gets me is Trump and the WH clearly never thought Comey might have created a paper trail. You threatened his job, and not subtly, and couldn’t imagine he wouldn’t make a few contingencies?

                            And out of all the stuff Comey could have leaked to make Trump look bad, he did so with…”Things Trump said to my face”.

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                      • I’d say that Comey is definitely covered under the umbrella of “managers in charge of the field offices” and, even if he’s not, he’s well under “specific authorization” because he’s the top guy who could possibly provide specific authorization.

                        This sort of thing also makes a claim by the right kinda moot. A few of them are like ‘If Comey had evidence of obstruction of justice, he was required to notify someone, not keep it secret. Ergo, Comey broke the rules!’.

                        Ignoring the fact that there doesn’t appear to be any such mandatory reporting requirement that anyone can really point to, the obviously correct people to notify about obstruction of justice would be…the FBI. That’s who you would tell.

                        So, uh, if we assume that Comey had an obligation to tell the FBI of the obstruction of justice….erm, didn’t he do that? What was he supposed to do? Look in a mirror and tell himself that?

                        I guess he could have written a memo to himself…hey, wait a second!

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                    • Practically any government job that gets you in contact with classified documents should have it. I signed something like that when I joined the army. I would be surprised if Comey didn’t have to sign something like that.

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                • I have had a number of jobs that made me sign pieces of paper that said “if the press comes to talk to you about any event in the past, present, or future, you agree to say that you cannot comment and you will direct the press to the appropriate media person”.

                  Did the CEO routinely sign such paperwork? In fact, wouldn’t the CEO be the one responsible (although I’m sure he delegated most of it) for determining what should and shouldn’t be released to the press?

                  Comey wasn’t a low-level staffer, he was, you know, the head of the organization.

                  NASA employees aren’t supposed to talk to the press without permission, but I know for a fact that doesn’t apply to the head of NASA. Nor the head of various branches. Or the PR staff….

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    • Comey admitted to leaking an unclassified document he wrote himself on his own initiative about an unprivileged conversation he had between himself and one other person.

      Snowden continues to be Putin’s useful idiot.

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        • Laura Ingraham was rolling with, “It was illegal for Comey to fail to report the crime Trump didn’t commit.”

          That’s a great line if you’re Captain Kirk and you need to blow up an evil computer.

          As a defense of Trump, it leaves something to be desired.

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          • As David, I believe, pointed out — the proper person to report it to was….Comey. :)

            It’s a bit of a stretch, but I’m pretty sure he learned about it almost instantly. He even wrote it down, shared it with a few other people.

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        • Come on, you know how it works on the internet: half the people you talk to take one angle, half the other. It’s the fallacy of composition to assume that the group holds both views.

          I forget which fallacy it is to cite Laura Ingraham, but it’s one of the bad ones.

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          • At least one prominent Republican is trying to have it both ways.

            Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication…and WOW, Comey is a leaker!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 9, 2017

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      • *Most* of the stuff that Trump keeps calling ‘leaks’, and the media keeps going along with, are not classified.

        Apparently ‘leaking’ now means ‘People telling other people about conversations that Trump had with them’.

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        • Wait, a “leak” has to be classified info to be called a leak?

          That’s honestly something that I didn’t know.

          My familiarity with the term was that it was a staffer telling stuff that was insider info. Secret in the “this information stays in this room, let’s keep this a secret” sense of the term and not the “government classification” sense of the term.

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          • Wait, a “leak” has to be classified info to be called a leak?

            No, it doesn’t. It would be perfectly fine to call any information that gets out a leak. Classified leaks could be called just that, ‘classified leaks’.

            The problem is that *Trump* has been constantly demanding someone investigate ‘leaks’, and a lot of the right-wing media has picked that up

            And none of them are making any distinction between the *illegal* leaks of classified information, which have been few and far between, and perfectly legal leaks, which not only are not criminal, but it would be inappropriate to use Justice Department resources to investigate to find out who to fire.

            Trump, of course, could investigate those himself, or use his own staff to do so. But he, of course, is calling for others to do so.

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        • Blame the media for letting Trump get away with that. Most people hear the word “leak” and think classified or otherwise protected information is being illegally promulgated and the media feeds that confusion by calling anything anyone in Washington says a “leak”.

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      • Those are leaks, and have always been called leaks – things that people in government tell reporters anonymously about what’s going on outside public view. Up until a few minutes ago, apparently, all those constant rumors about what was going on in Trump’s inner circle were being called leaks by the entire main stream media, opining that the stream of leaks would doom Trump. Did they decide to change that narrative today by redefining the word “leak”?

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  3. One thing I wish was better fleshed out in public instead of theit closed session:

    Comey’s pretty emphatic that the Russians interfered with the election. But he seem to dismiss any stories (or maybe just one in particular) about collusion between GOP & Trump campaign officials and the Russians.

    Which does fit into my notion that *no way* the Republicans were the smart ones last year with a well oiled data analytic machine – and no way Reince is a Supergenius, to borrow a term.

    But it’s still also a little baffling to me how the Russians were able to pull it off, if the integrity of the mechanics of the election was sound, and all they did was fake news and social media bots.

    Hard to beleive a voting population in the hundred millions would be succeptible to that much misinformation – and also kinda destroys the theories about the wisdom of crowds

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    • But it’s still also a little baffling to me how the Russians were able to pull it off, if the integrity of the mechanics of the election was sound, and all they did was fake news and social media bots.

      The investigation, as they say, is ongoing. More to come. But there are reports of Russians contacting and coordinating with GOP PACs and operatives for purposes of disseminating propaganda. They’re Googleable.

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    • Microtargeted advertising, is in fact very powerful. Injected into a social media stream, it’s more powerful. Linked with feedback data on what the target engages with makes it even more powerful.

      Part of what makes the whole thing so valuable is so much of the stuff goes without any rebuttal, because the whole thing is invisible to even people who know you pretty well.

      It’s like a whispering campaign, only it’s been treated with whatever Hank Pym used to make Ant Man so gigantic.

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    • Also, stealing and disseminating campaign information is criminal tampering. I’ve seen already at least one report of a R operative contacting “Guccifer 2.0” for DNC data for a Congressional race, and using the data to tune their campaign.

      That’s criminal collusion, with, it turns out, a foreign agent. But it wasn’t the Trump campaign.

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      • Also, stealing and disseminating campaign information is criminal tampering. I’ve seen already at least one report of a R operative contacting “Guccifer 2.0” for DNC data for a Congressional race, and using the data to tune their campaign.

        Yes. Aaron Nevins.

        Fun fact: Aaron Nevins also attempted to shut down a major highway, through black communities, on election day, exactly the hours of the election, for a ‘car race’, apparently under the impression that a 1905 law allows people to randomly shut down whatever road they want for ‘races’ as long as they just give notice and pay deputies $2 a day to police the race.

        http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/broward-politics-blog/sfl-disgrunted-gop-voter-aaron-nevins-threatens-to-shut-down-u-s-441-for-car-race-on-election-day-20161014-story.html

        Spoiler alert: Florida Man might be known for all sorts of dumb things, but Florida law is *nowhere near* that stupid. Yes, there’s a law saying you have to notify the sheriff if you are holding a car race, but you also *have to get permits* and all sorts of permission to actually shut down roads, as the law *also* says. Although the fact the rate is still set at $2 a day per deputy for public-road car races is kinda funny…I wonder if anyone ever remembers to collect and distribute that on top of the fees and stuff that the permits cost? (Does anyone even *hold* car races on public roads?)

        That’s criminal collusion, with, it turns out, a foreign agent. But it wasn’t the Trump campaign.

        But it’s pretty important, nevertheless, because it made it obvious that ‘Guccifer 2.0’ was, in fact, willing to work with US political operatives.

        As I said, if someone were to ask me to place a bet on this entire thing, my money is on ‘Roger Stone was in communication with Guccifer 2.0 and worked out their release schedule’. That’s my bet. It’s exactly the sort of thing he would do.

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    • Well, like many, I was going to vote for Clinton until I got into the polling booth. Then this guy with a funny accent leaned in and said “Comrade, machine is broken. To vote Clinton you must hit Trump button.” I said, “Thanks!” and hit the Trump button.

      It wasn’t until much later that I suspected that the Old World guy in the Putin T-shirt might have been lying.

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    • A few thoughts:

      1) Collusion would be part of the investigation, and not something Comey would talk about period.
      2) Comey also got fired as they were still working through who else was in contact with the Russians.
      3) Comey was pretty keen on explaining how counter-intelligence operations work and how they are ‘targeted’. They are not, at the outset, criminal investigations. (Foreign agents foreign agent. That’s what they do). They exist to determine the extent of the operation, the fallout, and who was involved — and how they got involved. And how, in the future, to guard against it.

      So the FBI investigation proper is a counter-intelligence one: What did the Russians do, where did they do it, how did they do it, etc. As such, it targets not a person but a thing (the Russian influence). Crimes by citizens committed as part of this operation, if discovered while mapping out the full parameters of the event, would be a different matter. (Still under Mueller’s and the FBI’s bailiwick, but more akin to finding additional crimes to the one you’re investigating).

      So Flynn, Manafort, Page — whether or not they committed crimes (and the criminal investigations thereof) would be secondary to the counter-intelligence investigations.

      So the short version: Comey made it very clear that his investigation (and now Mueller’s) was a counter-intelligence one focused on the Russian interference. The subtext of which is “If Americans committed crimes in furtherance of this, we will of course open a criminal investigation into them running parallel to the main investigation”. Non-partisan, not aimed at the President or a party, but aimed at intolerable interference by a foreign power.

      (Not that, if I were Flynn, Page, or Manafort, I would be comforted by this distinction. Nor Trump, for that matter. The FBI will map out the parameters of this operation, to the fullest extent they can. They’re not going to ignore any lawbreaking they find along the way, even if “Looking for criminals” isn’t their primary goal).

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  4. This is feels like kind of the core of it right here:

    Sen. James Risch: Words matter. You wrote down the words so we can all have the words in front of us now. There’s 28 words now in quotes. It says, quote, I hope — this is the president speaking — “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.” Now, those are his exact words, is that correct?

    James Comey: Correct.

    Risch: You wrote them here and put them in quotes.

    Comey: Correct.

    Risch: Thank you for that. He did not direct you to let it go?

    Comey: Not in his words, no.

    Risch: He did not order you to let it go?

    Comey: Again, those words are not an order.

    Risch: He said, I hope. Now, like me, you probably did hundreds of cases, maybe thousands of cases, charging people with criminal offenses and, of course, you have knowledge of the thousands of cases out there where people have been charged. Do you know of any case where a person has been charged for obstruction of justice or, for that matter, any other criminal offense, where they said or thought they hoped for an outcome?

    Comey: I don’t know well enough to answer. The reason I keep saying his words is I took it as a direction.

    Risch: Right.

    Comey: I mean, this is a president of the United States with me alone saying I hope this. I took it as, this is what he wants me to do. I didn’t obey that, but that’s the way I took it.

    So yes, this information came out in the leak — a leak we now know that Comey engineered, in a move he intended to force the appointment of a special counsel, which then actually happened — and that’s now part of the record.

    It looks to me like whether obstruction of justice took place or not depends on whether one believes that Comey’s interpretation of Trump’s words, in context, were reasonably interpreted as an instruction.

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      • That’s my take. Maybe the legalities would align such that convicting Trump of obstruction would be difficult or impossible.

        But politically, this is the kind of defense that accomplishes nothing but making the person advancing it look like a brain-damaged weasel.

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      • That’s exactly it. “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest” or something like that. I thought I was the only one who caught it, because it’s not in the media. Henry 2?

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    • Yes. If your editor’s boss invites you to dinner, and at some point sends the other guests from the room, and then says to you, “I really hope that Cuban boa story doesn’t get finished,” every adult with the sense God gave a garden slug knows what is meant. Whether it would be actionable is open to question, but everyone knows what the message was.

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    • It looks to me like whether obstruction of justice took place or not depends on whether one believes that Comey’s interpretation of Trump’s words, in context, were reasonably interpreted as an instruction.

      If you want to instruct your subordinate to do something, you send a memo. Otherwise, you just send all of the witnesses out of the room so you’re alone with that subordinate and idly mention hopes and dreams that they could potentially fulfill. That’s what I do whenever I don’t want one of my subordinates to take any action.

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        • I’ve found that if you fire people who don’t make those things happen, you can experience the surprise of having your employees do stuff even more often.

          I can’t put my finger on the mechanism, but the correlation is there.

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    • Burt: Trump did follow up the “hope” conversation by actually firing Comey, and he has admitted that he fired Comey because of the status of the Russia investigation.

      So it’s not someone else getting rid of the meddlesome priest. The king himself swung the axe.

      Put another way, let’s say that the hope conversation never came out. Instead the only evidence is that Trump fired Comey and admits doing so because Comey refused to drop the Flynn investigation. Obstruction?

      The meta-question, as noted above, is that obstruction of justice is that which can get the necessary impeachment/removal votes in the House and Senate. There’s no statute or case law as to when the President obstructs justice.

      (Crim law analysis: When the gangster says that he hopes you take care of something, that may or may not be a criminal threat. When he follows the conversation by shooting you when you don’t perform, I think that most juries would have their thinking about the speech act influenced by the later action. Defense counsel are not going to succeed in keeping the shooting out of the trial on the threat; it’s directly probative as to what the speaker meant.)

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    • We’re treating the word “obstruction” here the same as we’re treating “leak” above. The word can refer to a non-criminal or a criminal action, and we’re not paying enough attention to which definition we’re implying.

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      • I don’t think whether or not it meets the legal definition of obstruction is relevant here (although I think it’s open-and-shut at this point). E question is whether or not it’s an abuse of power by the President.

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        • I don’t know if most of the comments have been wrong, but they’ve been messy. I’m not sure what some people mean. But no one should use the term “obstruction of justice” in a non-legal sense.

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    • It looks to me like whether obstruction of justice took place or not depends on whether one believes that Comey’s interpretation of Trump’s words, in context, were reasonably interpreted as an instruction.

      IANAL disclaimer up front, but I don’t think it’s quite that simple. The limited, narrow context of that single statement may not suffice for a determination of obstruction, but other evidence could. Eg., that Trump approached DNI and head of NSA to ask them if they could do anything to ramp down the investigation; the expectation of personal loyalty (if that could be corroborated); that Trump asked everyone in the room to leave, including the AG; and of course the fact, often lost in this discussion, that Comey was in fact fired and Trump himself said he was fired to end the Russia investigation.

      I’m certainly not arguing that all this evidence and more suffice to convict of obstruction but doesn’t it strike you as a prima facie case of obstruction, one in which charges would be entirely justified? (Leaving aside sticky issues about charging the President.)

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    • Whether you believe obstruction of justice took place also depends on the fact that Comey’s investigation was a witch hunt. He was using it to imply that the government was in league with witches and consorting with Satan. He was leaking information to keep the witch hunters fired up, little tidbits that said “We are going to burn the witches!”

      Trump was saying the nonsense needs to stop. There was no underlying crime. Collusion with Russia, if it did occur, still wouldn’t be a criminal offense. The whole things was just probably started by Hillary and Podesta to deflect attention from Seth Rich being the person who actually sent the DNC’s documents to Wikileaks.

      Should a President be impeached for trying to end an out-of-control witch hunt?

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      • Well, whether it was a “witch hunt” or not depends on whether or not there is a reasonable suspicion that actual crimes were being, or had been, committed. Note that the theoretical criminal in that case might be Trump or might be some other person. Note also that it’s not necessary for a law enforcement agency to be able to prove that a crime has taken place before initiating an investigation.

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        • Collusion with Russia isn’t covered by any criminal statute. If it was, Hillary would be in jail. Well, actually she wouldn’t because laws don’t apply to her.

          Her husband was paid $500,000 by the Russians for giving a speech in Moscow. Her foundation got over a hundred million dollars by the person who arranged the sale of US uranium to Russia. Tony Podesta was being paid $170,000, by the Russians, to get US sanctions dropped against Putin and his croanies.

          Was Hillary being paid by the Russians? Yes, she was being paid millions. Was she being black mailed by the Russians who she claimed hacked her server? We don’t know, but why else would they hack it?

          Was any of that being investigated? Perhaps in theory, but that’s not what the media or Comey was relating. They were relating information about a witch hunt, in which Putin wanted Trump to win because he wanted the US to plummet the price of oil and natural gas, spread fracking into Europe, bankrupt his government, deploy anti-missile defenses all around him, and do all the other things that Putin hates.

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          • Collusion with Russia isn’t covered by any criminal statute.

            Depending on the nature of the “collusion” it is a legitimate target for FBI investigation for counterintelligence purposes. And since we don’t really know the nature of it–just the fact that everybody involved in it is doing a lot of work to cover it up–it seems like the FBI has a pretty legitimate interest in laying its suspicions to rest.

            To put it a different way, if you’re a peon with a security clearance and it turns out one of your best friends works for Iranian Intelligence, people are going to have very legitimate questions. Especially if, say, you never mentioned that on your SF86. Sure, maybe you’re just friends. Being somebody’s friend isn’t illegal. In fact, it’s probably not illegal to be friends with an Iranian Intelligence agent. But that doesn’t mean that when the FBI knocks at that peon’s door that it’s some sort of witch hunt. There are serious questions to be answered.

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            • And yet Comey said there wasn’t any evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

              Even Chris Mathews said it was dead, dead, dead.

              And of course every President colludes with foreign leaders to help their re-election. Obama did it continually. It’s not a crime. It’s not even abnormal.

              “criminal collusion” refers to price fixing, not elections.

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              • And yet Comey said there wasn’t any evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

                Which of course means that there’s nothing else that might be illegal going on. If the Trump campaign didn’t collude with Russia, it follows logically that Flynn couldn’t have left information off of his SF-86 or misled investigators about the existence or nature of his contacts with Russian agents. I mean, as long as my Iranian Intelligence peon wasn’t involved in any election rigging, he’s in the clear, right?

                This whole thing would be a lot less creepy if Flynn was the only person with ties to Russia that he wanted to keep under wraps. But there’s a weird theme that has been developing since the Paul Manafort debacle last summer.

                Fortunately for all of these guys, since they didn’t rig the election, it’s not possible that anything else illegal is going on.

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                • There’s also the fact that the investigation hadn’t completed and then, of course, after failing to shut it down the President fired the FBI director and then told Russians he’d dealt with it.

                  So, you know, maybe there’s no collusion. But for some reason, the President really didn’t want the investigation to continue, and bragged that he’d shut it down to the the very party’s he’s being investigated for colluding with.

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            • It seems like you are trying to give a serious answer to the words “Collusion with Russia isn’t covered by any criminal statute. ” That is the problem, you are trying to answer crazypants with sense. Like somehow colluding with another country to sway our elections is just ducky. The excuse is damning in itself.

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              • It’s not illegal. Obama did it – constantly. He promised Russia things if they’d wait till “after the election.” Obama also blatantly interfered with other countries elections, including those of our allies. He sent money and his campaign teams to Israel to try an unseat Netanyahu. He inserted himself into the Brexit campaign. Hillary intervened all over the place, including Central America.

                Hillary also got millions of dollars from her dealings with the Russians. She was for sale to the highest bidder, and we now have statements from a foreign prime minister that she used diplomatic pressure while at the State Department to try to illegally benefit Clinton Foundation donors.

                She committed actual crimes, crimes punishable by years in federal prison.

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                • At core, this is a political question, not a legal one.

                  You believe Seth Rich handed over the data, notwithstanding testimony from highly credible sources to the contrary. Very well, then, hypothetically, let us imagine that someone, a state actor from a rival government, had stolen the data, and then handed it over to political opponents.
                  Suppose you knew that they (the foreign state) were motivated to tip the election away from someone they didn’t like?

                  Hypothetically, would you be ok with that?

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          • Making a living is not covered by any criminal statute, but people do, from time to time, break criminal statutes while trying to make a living.

            Russian interference into the election was not, after all, entirely lawful. Given that at least some of what the Russians did to interfere was illegal, if Trump or his “satellites” were colluding with the Russians, they may also have done some illegal things.

            Hence the investigation.

            Your argument is very silly, and you should feel silly for making it.

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      • Should a President be impeached for trying to end an out-of-control witch hunt?

        As I have pointed out to you before, attempting to end an out-of-control witch hunt being done by the justice system IS STILL OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE.

        This is *spectacularly* stupid line of defense you are making.

        Saying ‘I obstructed that investigation because the investigation was made up bullshit’ is, to repeat, *still a criminal act* even if your claim is 100% true!

        It’s akin to someone saying he shot that cop because the drugs the cop ‘found’ on him were actually planted by the cop. Well, if true, that’s a good defense for the *drug charges*, but it also is a confession of murder!

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        • No, it’s not. Ending an investigation is not obstruction of justice or every single DoJ and FBI director would be in jail, because investigations are ended all the time. Many because they were witch hunts. Comey himself testified that what Trump told him was not obstruction, and that Trump would have been within his powers to stop an investigation.

          To qualify as obstruction of justice under 18 USC 1510, Trump would have had to have offered Comey a bribe.

          How are all those investigations into Hillary’s e-mail server going? Who ended them? The possible answers are Comey, Lynch, and Obama, and we know they weren’t properly concluded.

          We know Hillary obstructed justice because she couldn’t stop bragging about wiping her server. She also obstructed justice by tampering with evidence being sought by Congress (They e-mails she turned over had been altered). You could toss in witness tampering and lying to investigators. She probably or likely violated some or all of 18 USC 1505, 1509, 1510, 1512, 1513.

          And Comey said he was pressured by Lynch to lie about the nature of the Hillary investgation. And then Comey decided to stop it.

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          • It’s very easy to see, reading this, why the right and you so desperately want to believe that Hillary Clinton is going to run again in 2020. I bet you could re-type that second to last paragraph blindfolded with muscle memory.

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          • To qualify as obstruction of justice under 18 USC 1510, Trump would have had to have offered Comey a bribe.

            Yes, 1510 is where the *bribery* rules are.

            You might want to notice that ‘Obstruction of Justice’ is not actually a specific statute (The thing in 1510 is ‘Obstruction of criminal investigations’), but is instead the *blanket term* for everything under 18 U.S. Code Chapter 73, which is titled ‘Obstruction of Justice’.

            That means everything from 1501 to 1521 can be properly called ‘Obstruction of Justice’, although presumably if there are going to be charges the people filing them would cite the exact statute.

            The statute you want to take note of is ’18 U.S. Code § 1505 – Obstruction of proceedings before departments, agencies, and committees’. Specifically, the second part:

            Whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication influences, obstructs, or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper administration of the law under which any pending proceeding is being had before any department or agency of the United States, or the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any inquiry or investigation is being had by either House, or any committee of either House or any joint committee of the Congress—

            https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1505

            Note that’s ‘threats *or* force’. (Easy to misread that as ‘threats of force’.) Threatening someone’s job is, indeed, a threat.

            BTW, before you dispute the idea that Trump threatened Comey’s job if he didn’t drop the investigation, which I’m sure you’re about to do, please note you literally just made the claim that he *did* fire Comey *because* of the investigation. The easiest threat in the world to prove is one in which the person who made the threat *followed through on it*.

            This is why, as I pointed out, that was an *incredibly* stupid defense.

            Comey himself testified that what Trump told him was not obstruction, and that Trump would have been within his powers to stop an investigation.

            Weirdly, you are for some reason reduced to *paraphrasing* Comey, instead of citing the actual transcript or his prepared statement.

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            • This is a true comment but also irrelevant. There is zero, literally zero, chance that the DOJ would ever indict and prosecute a sitting President for conduct that arose within the scope of the performance of his duties. (Even if they tried, I can’t believe that a court would allow such a case to go forward.) That is a political question to be resolved by Congress.

              Obstruction, for a President, is defined by votes in Congress. Congresspersons may choose to rely on the statute and case law in making their decision (or not), but there’s no judge instructing them on the law.

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              • This is a true comment but also irrelevant. There is zero, literally zero, chance that the DOJ would ever indict and prosecute a sitting President for conduct that arose within the scope of the performance of his duties. (Even if they tried, I can’t believe that a court would allow such a case to go forward.) That is a political question to be resolved by Congress.

                I didn’t say they would.

                I said that if President Trump threatened to fire Comey unless he ended the investigation, it is clearly, *legally*, obstruction of justice. (Or, yes, technically it’s ‘Obstruction of proceedings before departments, agencies, and committees’, one of the many forms of Obstruction of Justice.) That doesn’t mean he will be *charged*, but it clearly fits the legal requirements.

                (Which is why asserting, as a matter of fact, that he *actually* carried out this threat…is a very dubious ‘defense’ of anything.)

                However, to your point, I actually *do* think if the DoJ indicted him on obstruction, the courts would go along with it…except I think he could fire any district attorney who was prosecuting him. So it’s not going to happen.

                The reason impeachment exists is that a president *can make investigations disappear*. There’s nothing in the constitution that says investigations and even trials *can’t* move forward if he doesn’t do that! As far as I can tell, he can be convicted of crimes while president.

                Although, as president, he could probably order his jailers to release him. It’d be kind of a stupid solution all around to have a supposed-to-be imprisoned president.

                Could, paradoxically, 25th him, I guess….they file that paperwork, and now he *can’t* order his jailers to release him, so he *actually can’t* fulfill the duties of the presidency.

                But what I would like to see here is impeachment, removal, and an actual trial afterward.

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                • Well, what if President Trump took Comey into the Oval Office and shot him in the forehead? We could then impeach him for murder and obstruction!

                  We can discuss all kinds of things Trump didn’t do, and according to Comey, threatening to fire Comey was one of those things he didn’t do.

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                  • George has insisted, repeatedly, that Trump fired Comey because Comey refused to end the investigation.

                    George also insists, now, that Trump did not threaten to fire Comey unless Comey ended the investigation.

                    And all those conversations with Comey where he asked Comey to drop it should not, under any circumstances, be understood as threats. Especially not the one on Jan. 27 where he also asked if Comey wanted to keep his job.

                    Everyone got that? Trump did not threaten to do anything…he just did it. Completely different, and surely entirely legal.

                    Except, erm, wait. That would be a very very stupid law, forbidding someone from threatening to do something, but allowing them to actually do it. That surely can’t be right, let’s check the law again:

                    Whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication influences, obstructs, or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper administration of the law under which any pending proceeding is being had before any department or agency of the United States, or the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any inquiry or investigation is being had by either House, or any committee of either House or any joint committee of the Congress—

                    Let’s get some of those clauses out of the way: ‘Whoever corruptly endeavors to impede the due and proper administration of the law under which any pending proceeding is being had before any department or agency of the United States…’

                    And right now you’re wondering what ‘corruptly’ means there. It…really just means ‘with the intent of’. Here, have some jury instructions: http://www3.ce9.uscourts.gov/jury-instructions/node/590

                    ‘As used in § 1503, “corruptly” means that the act must be done with the purpose of obstructing justice. United States v. Rasheed, 663 F.2d 843, 851 (9th Cir.1981).’

                    (Yes, that’s for 1503 which is influencing a jury, but it’s literally the same phrasing so ‘corruptly’ presumably means the exactly same thing in 1505.)

                    So the question is ‘Did Trump intentionally endeavor to obstruct or impede the due and proper administration of the law under which any pending proceeding is being had before any department or agency of the United States?’

                    And, as I said, you have been *literally arguing* that he did that! (To be fair, *he* is also arguing he did that!) You have been, absurdly, arguing he committed an obstruction of justice…but it’s okay, because that that investigation was a bogus investigation making up stuff to damage him.

                    And, as I *keep pointing out*, there is absolutely no ‘unless the investigation is made-up bullshit’ exception to obstruction of justice. None whatsoever. There is literally no such thing as obstructing an investigation in self-defense or whatever you think should be a valid defense.

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                    • Did he threaten Comey? No, he did not. Comey says he did not.

                      He was completely within his powers to fire Comey for all the reasons listed by the Assistant AG.

                      Everyone in Washington would have fired Comey.

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                      • And thus we reach the point where George has finally realized that Trump firing Comey over the investigation into Trump would really, legally, be obstruction of justice, regardless of how unjustified the investigation is.

                        Finally.

                        Despite me repeatedly pointing it out every time he tries that excuse.

                        So he instead attempts to rewrite history into pretending he was arguing it was legal for Trump to fire Comey over the handling of the Clinton stuff.

                        The problem is, dude, we really can see the last couple of hours of your posts. Some relevant quotes:

                        Whether you believe obstruction of justice took place also depends on the fact that Comey’s investigation was a witch hunt.

                        Should a President be impeached for trying to end an out-of-control witch hunt?

                        Ending an investigation is not obstruction of justice or every single DoJ and FBI director would be in jail, because investigations are ended all the time. Many because they were witch hunts.

                        Gee, George, it sure looks like you spent hours arguing that Trump fired Comey because Comey refused to shut down an out-of-control witch-hunt investigation into Trump. Oh well. Maybe you’ll stop now.

                        I will also point out that your brand new claim that it was entirely about the Clinton investigation announcements…uh…suffers a bit from your previous apparent complaints that Comey hasn’t said more about the Clinton investigation. You can’t argue that Comey should have been fired for disclosing information about an investigation while also arguing he should have disclosed more information about that same investigation!

                        And that’s basically the same problem that both the Attorney General and Trump have, in that they praised Comey for releasing that information at the time, so deciding to fire him for that, months later, seems a bit dubious.

                        That, along with the fact that Trump has explicitly to Lester Holt said he was going to fire Comey regardless of the reasons given by the Assistant AG, along with Trump seeming to indicating that he did fire Comey because of the investigation (Although he is vague enough in talking about it that there is enough wiggle room to deny he was saying he fired him to impede the investigation.), along with Trump talking to the Russians about how he fired Comey and now the pressure of the investigation is now off…means that is a tough defense.

                        That’s all in addition to what we learned yesterday/today, that Trump behaved in ways that seem to be trying to pressure Comey about that investigation. (1)

                        It’s not an impossible defense, but it’s a tough one. If Trump was indicted for this, he might make it through. Or maybe not. Of course, that’s not how this works.

                        But it is, finally, an actual defense from you. At least, you are now attempting to argue that Trump’s behavior was comprised of legal things, instead of arguing it was ‘illegal but had a good reason!’, which you didn’t seem to notice was…still illegal!

                        1) And, weirdly, these discussions never once seem to touch upon the behavior that Trump claims was the firing offense. Instead, both Trump and Sessions praised him for it months earlier, and then left it entirely alone when they became his bosses. They didn’t ever say ‘Hey, you get that that was a political statement we were making, right? And we actually don’t approve of that, and if you do it again you’re getting fired…in fact, we might fire you anyway!’.

                        Nope! They just left him with the entirely wrong impression they wanted him to make statements on active investigations, and then went and fired him for one he already made month earlier that they had apparently been okay with at the time!

                        Ah, the joys of Trump: When you state the most hypothetical legal and justified explanation of his behavior, he sounds like a complete asshole and a horrible boss.

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                        • he [Trump] sounds like a complete asshole

                          This is not new information. Even to the people who voted for him, it’s not new information.

                          He gets a pass on that if he can be reasonably viewed as making things better.

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        • It will get worse as she proceeds through the 2020 primaries.

          You didn’t think Felonia von Pantsuit and her cronies would just go away, did you?

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        • “They said if I voted for Hillary, I would be subjected to four more years of deranged Clinton conspiracy theories… and they were right.”

          Heh, that thar’s just plain funny.

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  5. Does anyone else want to be a fly on the wall of a GOP Rep or Senate office? Surely there has to be some of them that realize Trump is bad, bad news. Are they talking about it? Are there orders to keep mum and pretend someone else is in the Whitehouse? Are they in deep denial?

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    • The problem is, if they had that conversation, they had it by this time last year.

      The conventional wisdom (myself included) *was* that the Trump clinching the nomination would be a serious down ticket drag making a Dem Senate a sure thing and putting many House seats in jeopardy.

      That turned out…not to be the case.

      So warnings of Trump being bad news are almost certainly being ignored, like a fire alarm that keeps on going off without a traceable cause.

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  6. Kasowitz (sp?) pushing the line that Comey “leaked” “privileged” communications with Trump, implying that doing so was a violation of the law. He then fails to say what law was violated or why conversations with the President are privileged in the absence of invoking executive privilege. Also leaves it up to “authorities” to determine whether they’ll investigate whether a law was broken.

    This is an excellent example of how Trump-logic demands/compels turning everything upside down. Words have no meaning, reality is not what it seems.

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    • He then fails to say what law was violated or why conversations with the President are privileged in the absence of invoking executive privilege.

      As far as I know, literally *nothing* is ‘privileged’ to the extent of the government not *allowing* you to tell it to the government. ‘Privileged information’, as a concept, is that the government cannot *force* someone to testify, or punish them if they refuse. Privilege is when someone has the *privilege* not to testify about something…it’s right there in the name.

      This isn’t just ‘cite the law’, this is ‘a clear *utter misunderstanding* of what the law could even possibly mean’. That isn’t even vaguely how privilege works. Privilege is about Congress’s inability to punish people for what they *refuse* to tell Congress, not forbidding people from telling Congress stuff they *do* want to tell.

      Even with various professions, like doctors and lawyers, they have professional ethics that forbid that, but *legally*, if a doctor or lawyer wanted to testify in violation of their oath…they could. They’d lose their license or be disbarred, and perhaps be subject to fines and lawsuits, but they *could* testify, strictly speaking. Right? I’m not 100% sure about that…but even if I’m wrong and there is some sort of ‘tainted tree’ doctrine about incorrect testimony from lawyers and doctors…that doesn’t apply to *Congress*, which is not trying a criminal case. (And doesn’t apply here anyway. Comey was not operating as the Administration’s lawyer, or as anyone’s lawyer.)

      So I’m having troubling figuring out how the President can legally stop any employees of the Executive from telling Congress *anything they wanted*, at all, in any circumstances, with the obvious requirement of classified information only being told in a closed session. I don’t mean ‘I don’t see the law’, I mean ‘I do not understand how such a law or rule could exist’

      It would be, like, *super*-unconstitutional to have a rule that let the president stop people from speaking to Congress. It’s a free speech violation, it’s a petition-the-government-for-a-redress-of-grievances violation, it’s a Each-House-may-determine-the-Rules-of-its-Proceedings violation (Man, that’s a weird constitutional violation.), and it’s a fundamental violation of the separations of powers.

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    • Another thing I just saw about the Kasowitz statement: he categorically asserted that Trump never mentioned loyalty to Comey. Comey made that statement under oath, so he accused Comey of perjury. Which is pretty fucking ballsy, if you ask me. Without a tape, the natural response would be to put Trump on the stand. They’re seriously playing with fire, seems to me. Really amazing.

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      • Especially since, let’s be honest, the tape exists.

        Stupid Watergate indeed, where Nixon-analogue actually tweets out that objective evidence exists rather than denying it.

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        • Ooooh, shit just got realer! Trump willing to testify under oath before Mueller that Comey perjured himself. Trump is playing a very dicey game here.

          Also, two things about the tapes assuming he has them: first is that if he does and they corroborate his story there must be a reason to not agree to provide them right now to prevent Trump either having to go on stand or fabricate a reason not to. What would that reason be? Hmmm…. Why…..

          Second, again, if he does have tapes, will they be doctored? Is that why the delay in definitively saying they exist/don’t exist? Hmmmm…..

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            • That part is obvious. The interesting bit is that he’s inviting is an invitation from Mueller. Accusing the ex-FBI Director of perjury is a big deal, one Mueller won’t take as lightly, and one Trump will have a harder time getting away from by doing his usual “threat, bluff called, retreat” strategy. He just upped the ante, and is now pot-committed to appearing, seems to me. One way or the other.

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              • We’ll see. I expect a lot of the people involved who ultimately have the power to bring Trump to heel (i.e., Congressional Republicans) are used to this, and are either craven, fully committed themselves, or just in the grip of learned helplessness. As such, they’ll hem and haw, someone will leak a bunch more damaging crap about the WH, Trump will bleed another half a point in the polls, and it will get that much more likely that the Dems retake the House in 2018.

                That’s when it’s gonna get really nuts, I think.

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          • Ooooh, shit just got realer! Trump willing to testify under oath before Mueller that Comey perjured himself. Trump is playing a very dicey game here.

            Am I the only person who things, if Trump ends up under oath, answering questions, he almost certainly will perjury himself solely with his own testimony?

            Like, he will say one thing, and then contradict it. And not in the ‘Okay, I’m going to stop lying now’ way (Which generally isn’t treated as perjury if you admit you were lying in the same session.), but just because he doesn’t register the concept of lying exists.

            I read an article recently that really made me suddenly start wondering abut Comey….it pointed out that Comey seemed to go to extreme lengths to stop Trump from crossing the line into obstruction of justice.

            This is a weird thing for the FBI to do! Normally, when you have something like that happening, you with the FBI agent up and send him back in, and have him wait for the person to do something illegal.

            But Comey seemed to treat the president as some sort of mentally-challenged person, someone who isn’t fully responsibly for their actions, so the nice police officer carefully guided him away from committing crimes…

            I’m pretty sure that was a mistake.

            (Yes, I am aware I have specifically stated, in the past, that it is the job of law enforcement to prevent crime, not to allow crime to happen in front of them so they can arrest people for it. But that concept really doesn’t apply when it’s someone trying to commit obstruction of justice via the police.)

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  7. Another interesting tidbit floating out there:

    Comey mentioned that he expected Sessions to have recused himself. That’s a bombshell. Unexploded, so far. But very, very interesting.

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    • If there’s one impression I never get from this administration, it’s, “Well, that’s the last detail. All the dirty laundry is surely out in the open now.”

      I keep going back to David Frum saying, “With Trump, there are many secrets but there are no mysteries.” I think that’s why we get revelation after revelation but nothing seems like anything more than confirmation of what we already know. These things would be big deals under any other circumstances, but they feel like nothing interesting now.

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  8. Well, I would call this a “Nothing Burger” but it doen’t even rise to that level, so “Nothing Fishwitch” it is. “Hope” is not an order. Could it be a suggestion that Comey drop it? Sure, but it is deniable. Which is the game in DC. We did find out that Comey has all the integrity of a wet paper towel, but lets be honest, we figured that out during the election, what with all the pressers about HRC’s investigations. Though, we did find out that Lynch was shaky ethically, not that it matters at this point. Or not, as she might have hoped also (for a change…) We may have found out that POTUS was never under investigation, but again, integrity.

    So, no silver bullet, no impeachment, no “high crimes and misdemeanors.” If there was something, than POTUS covered it adroitly, using the preferred weasel speech of DC. Which is interesting, as we have been told that he is such a dunce… But then again, he is polling better that Bill Clinton did at this point in his presidency.

    But your just a big ol’ Trump Head!

    No, I am indifferent to the Cheetoh Jesus. I know that people think he is the worst thing since sliced cheese and Republicans combined, a veritable younger cousin to Pol Pot. You might hate how he is running amok in the institutions you care so much about, but if he is doing damage, its because the institution was not built on solid ground, nor were they as universally beloved as you think. But there isn’t a secret trick to getting rid of presidents you don’t like, just the old fashioned way.

    Watching the left and others reenact the idiocy of the Repubs in the depths of the birther days has been sad.

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        • What is reality here?

          I’m going through various tidbits and trying to figure out whether this will result in Trump’s impeachment (willing to bet no at this point), whether this will result in Trump’s approval ratings going down (probably 2-3%, but I don’t see minds changed by this stuff), whether it will harm Republicans In General (it seems like a bloodbath in 2018 is a little bit more likely than it was this time last week), and what actually changes due to the revelations from this hearing.

          I’m seeing a lot of suspicions confirmed but not a lot of minds changed.

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          • What’s the reality?

            A. Trump is not going to be impeached in the next two years and unlikely to be impeached thereafter. The Dems are quickly going to figure out that having him in office is preferable to Pence for their electoral chances.

            B. Norms of government really do matter. No govt organization is perfect, but it really is preferable to have a nominally independent FBI to one that openly serves the current President. GT’s Hillary-is-worse is really off-point; the question is what precedent this President is setting and how future politicians will use that precedent. It seemed to me that (McCain excepted) a lot of the Republicans on the panel understand the importance of backing the FBI as an institution against direct presidential interference.

            What are the breaches of norms of govt so far?

            Russia’s interference in our election. That is a foreign intelligence matter that should be taken very seriously. Stealing and leaking campaign emails, launching bots and fake news and penetrating companies that providing election services are tactics that can be used by a foreign power against either side, so this shouldn’t be a partisan issue. The FBI should investigate and develop tools for blocking foreign interference.

            Firing the FBI director for refusing to suppress a legitimate investigation. My suspicion is that anyone who thinks that Trump did no harm would be taking a very different view if Hillary had won and directed the FBI to terminate any assistance that it was providing to the House and Senate regarding their ongoing investigations of her. Police departments really should be non-partisan.

            There are plenty of others: insulting allies, encouraging authoritarians, lying to Americans about health care policy, etc., but those didn’t come up today.

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            • What are the breaches of norms of govt so far?

              The list is probably a *LOT* longer than the list of stuff you gave. He’s taking norms and setting them on fire. He’s the proverbial bull in the proverbial china shop.

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              • Yeah. One reason, perhaps the reason, I’d be much less alarmed with President Pence is that, while he’d break a bunch of stuff, he wouldn’t break all the stuff we’d need to fix the stuff he’d break.

                Pence would, IMO, be a very lousy President.

                But he would be a President.

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              • But he’s not taking bags of Chinese cash from China. The Clinton’s quite literally did that. Charlie Trie went to jail for it, and Ng Seng, the source of the Clinton cash, was recently arrested for bringing in another $4.5 million in cash.

                Trump, on the other hand, doesn’t need money because he’s already a billionaire.

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                • Trump, on the other hand, doesn’t need money because he’s already a billionaire.

                  He sure runs a lot of petty scams for chump change for a guy who doesn’t need money.

                  The main difference between contributions to Clinton’s campaign or charity and contributions to Trump’s campaign or charity is that the latter will largely end up lining Trump’s pockets rather than just benefiting his campaign and or his ego.

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                  • Contributions to Clinton’s criminal syndicate masquerading as a charity all go to enrich the Clintons. That’s how she affords all her private jets and many mansions.

                    She has such a pathological need for money that she had her campaign pay her a salary for running.

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                    • Contributions to Clinton’s criminal syndicate masquerading as a charity all go to enrich the Clintons. That’s how she affords all her private jets and many mansions.

                      I’m interested in knowing the actual mechanics of this. It’s not exactly easy to take money out of a charitable foundation without people knowing about it. It shows up on paper if you do.

                      She has such a pathological need for money that she had her campaign pay her a salary for running.

                      Is that referring to this? Note the correction.

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                      • Interesting.

                        When the DNC documents leaked I was amused to find that one of their biggest recurring payments was to Donald J Trump. ^_^

                        “I’m going to knock down the blue wall, and Hillary is going to pay for it!”

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            • Aaaaaaand with Theresa May’s shellacking in England, “Republican Bloodbath” just moved up to “A Lot More Likely” (assuming the DNC learns the lesson that “going left” is not necessarily toxic).

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              • And that makes two times the people operating the British government have decided to hold a vote they did not have to hold, to try to make a point about Brexit that went the exactly opposite way it was intended, resulting in total chaos and confusion.

                Go home, Britain, you’re drunk.

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                • May was in a tough spot.

                  We forget that she became PM sort of by accident. It would be a little bit like President Orrin Hatch negotiating CalExit having become president because Trump got impeached, Pence was just in it for the pension, and Ryan resigned when he found out he’d have to travel.

                  …plus all the other stuff about votes of confidence and collapsing governments that a President Hatch wouldn’t have to worry about, but May does.

                  Good news, though, it appears that we can all switch to talking about how bad a candidate May was!

                  Or we could drag it out a bit and assign the class a compare and contrast paper between Clinton and May.

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                  • May was in a tough spot.

                    Well, yeah. She’s been tasked with doing something that is, basically, impossible.

                    Brexit is, like, the weird indictment of direct democracy I’ve ever seen.

                    Hey, dumbasses, don’t put politically impossible options up for a single nay/yea vote.

                    It turns out they can win. Oops.

                    Even if you think Brexit was a good idea, that wasn’t the way to do it. If Brexit was going to happen, it needed at least a decade of work.

                    And at least some thought of how to deal with both Scotland, which was already teetering on independence, and loves the EU, and Northern Ireland, which is really dangerous. Because closing the totally open border there will be disastrous, just for one. And, I should point out, unlike Scotland, Northern Ireland doesn’t need anyone’s permission to hold a vote to leave the UK and join the Republican of Ireland.(1) They can just call a vote, and if reuniting Ireland wins, they’re out. It’s part of the Good Friday Agreement.

                    Oh, and a realization Brexit would remove London as the financial hub of Europe. Which is, uh, important?

                    It needed cooler heads figuring out how to disentangle, and a realization that the EU was extremely unlikely to play along with any of this, and maybe making some secret trade agreements with other countries like the US that it can have at the ready.

                    Not some morons yammering about Polish plumbers taking all the jobs, and, then herp derp, let’s vote.

                    1) Weirdly, there are a lot of articles talking about if Northern Ireland leaves the UK and joins Ireland, will it be allowed to join the EU, and I’m like ‘Huh? How is that a question?’. Surely if you join a country that is part of the EU, you, yourself, are now part of the EU. How could only part of a united Ireland be in the EU? (Yes, I’m aware there are a few weird exceptions for countries that have European and non-European parts, but this…isn’t that.)

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                  • Look guys, the Tories haven’t lost yet. They could still form a coalition government with the Lib Dems. She still won a plurality of the votes and the standard procedure is that the party which got the plurality gets to try to form a coalition government first. Even if May gets no confidenced we might still end up with Cameron who was a fairly decent PM

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                    • No, the Queen will step in and appoint Simon Cowell as Prime Minister. He’s the only Brit who can stand up to Trump, because he is the British Trump. Then the press will discover that he’s the Reich Chancellor and the spawn of Satan, just as they did with Trump.

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              • I’m not worried. The British parliament has about 1050 seats. The conservatives have 253 members in the House of Lords and should retain about 314 in the House of Commons, for a total of 567, enough members to fill 54% of the seats. Unfortunately for the conservatives, the other parties have 883 members, enough to fill 84% of the seats.

                “Absurd” you think? The math must be wrong?

                Ha. You’re the victim of an unspoken assumption that Americans naturally have. You see, the United States can give each Representative and Senator a guaranteed government-provided seat because we’re a huge country with lots of space, a huge capitol building, and lots of wood for making furniture.

                Britain, in contrast, is a small island nation whose forests were cut down long ago. It does not have a lot of space or a lot of spare wood. So the House of Lords has 800 members but only about 400 seats, depending on how they pack them in. Thus getting an appointment or winning and election is a bit getting a ticket on the New York subway. It doesn’t guarantee that your butt will have a seat.

                They talk about their elections like we do, in terms of seats, but some of those seats are still at IKEA.

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      • Pretty much. Trump is being saved because we live in an age of extreme partisanship and ill-will towards the other side (see Trump, Erik and Democrats aren’t human) matters more. Trump seems to firmly be in the “He might be an arrogant, know-nothing, dishonest sleezebag but he is our arrogant, know-nothing, dishonest sleezebag,”

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        • Yeah, that, and he *just* won an unwinnable election.

          The GOP controls Congress, their voters elected Trump to be Trump, telling the voters to (something) off is a bad thing in general and poorly timed for right now.

          Trump apparently didn’t cross the line into “illegal” territory (at least according to NPR), he probably crossed the line of “Congress could throw him out if they wanted to” but they don’t.

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            • Obama did illegal or unconstitutional things just about every time he left the golf course. It’s no big deal.

              Why were we giving guns to Mexican drug cartels, and why did Holder hand blank pages to Congress when they tried to find the answer?

              Why did Obama hold that the War Powers Act doesn’t apply to bombing other countries because those are only kinetic military actions?

              Why did Obama allow the IRS to become a political weapon to wield against his enemies?

              Why did he unconstitutionally make appointments while the Senate was absent, but in pro-forma session?

              Why did he assert that he can take actions that should require Congress if Congress failed to take action? Does he have a different copy of the Constitution than everybody else?

              Why did he illegally use the NSA to spy on Republicans?

              He did these things because the President has unlimited powers, unbound by law.

              So if Congress tried to impeach Trump, Trump could just dissolve Congress and declare himself Emperor of the Galactic Republic, citing Obama’s flagrant disregard of the Constitution as precedent, and Star Wars as a really cool movie.

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              • Great start. You have no defense for Trump’s actions. Agreed. He is corrupt and tried to obstruct justice. He is your guy to destroy the enemy ( think those were your words). Nothing else matters. Agreed again.

                Nice Gish Gallop of throwing out many issues hoping a few of them will stick and each requiring more context or explanation or just the history. Heck in a few of those the issue went to the courts and Obama lost which is how law abiding republics work. One side pushed to far and the law stopped him. But you are giving Trump the power to do anything and fire anyone but yet that is wrong but you are for it. You got nothing but a shot gun blast of talking points and debate tactics but no moral center or intent to have a government of laws.

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                • Trump already had the power to fire the FBI director, as they serve at Trump’s discretion. Trump is the head of the executive branch. He can give orders to anyone in the executive branch. That’s his job – as head of the executive branch.

                  Did you know he can even fire generals?

                  He did not obstruct an investigation. In fact, as Comey said, he told Comey to dig harder on the Russia thing and wrap it up. However, Comey was staggeringly incompetent. He couldn’t even get an indictment of Hillary for felonies she’d repeatedly confessed to in public. He even found a completely incorrect reading of the law to absolve her, finding that “intent” was required in laws that specifically said negligence, or for any reason. With classified materials, even being foolish or sloppy is a felony.

                  So if Trump, as he said, wanted the Russian investigation to roll forwards, he would need to fire Trump so the investigations could be done competently. Comey would be the go-to guy for incompetent investigations.

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                    • But Trump can’t fire Trump. According to the Constitution, only Congress can fire a President, acting through both houses. He’s the only person in the executive branch that is safe from his famous line “You’re fired!”

                      And firing people is another reason Trump was elected President. Obama would never fire anyone for anything. His appointees would commit outrageous abuses and all that would happen was they’d get a paid leave of absence.

                      It was is if the Democrat ruling class was completely immune to the basic standards of behavior the rest of us have to abide by. Anyone who did a tenth of what Hillary and her cronies did would be in jail. They were above any punishment, above any laws. The lack of even firings was quite upsetting, a clear sign of an unaccountable government.

                      In contrast, ten years ago, shortly after joining the Trump organization, Ivanka Trump was on Letterman and related how she was watching Larry King when Larry King asked Donald if he’d fire Ivanka. Trump’s reply was “I would fire her like a dog!”

                      Youtube clip. The exchange starts at 4:40.

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                    • Of course, that’s ‘can’, not ‘did’. Congress can outlaw what he did, the question is if the statute does outlaw that.

                      But I see absolutely nothing in that statute that would appear to disallow that reading, and obstruction of justice is one of those laws that relies very heavily on intent, criminalizing otherwise legal thing.

                      It’s legal for the president to fire Comey, just like it’s legal for me to pay any random guy on the street $1000.

                      But it suddenly becomes illegal if I paid that guy in order to stop him from testifying in court. Likewise, it becomes illegal to fire Comey to attempt to stop a specific investigation, despite the fact it is generally legal to fire him.

                      George H. W. Bush, meanwhile, did what he did with the pardon power, which Congress cannot restrict, being a presidential power. And that is, really, the sole exception. If the president uses his presidential powers, Congress can’t make a law about that. (Although they could still impeach him for it.)

                      You’re probably thinking that firing people is a presidential power, but, no, it’s not. Congress not only can put limits on the firing of people in the Executive, but does, to a huge extent! They actually limited it for almost everyone, as the President cannot fire (or hire) members of the civil service, which is basically most of the government.

                      And, of course, Congress can forbid the president from firing agency heads, like the Director of the FBI. The head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, for example, cannot be removed except for cause.

                      And, putting it together: If Congress can make it illegal for the President to fire an agency head for anything but cause, they can also make it illegal for the President to fire an agency head with the intent of obstruction of justice….which they did, almost by accident, because they made it illegal for anyone to do basically any legal act with the intent of obstruction of justice.

                      Not that that is how the system actually works (He would actually be impeached, which does not need actual criminal charges.), but arguing ‘It’s not really obstruction of justice because he has the right to do it’ is gibberish. A good deal of things that are obstruction of justice are entirely legal…except they’re being done to obstruct justice, which makes it legal. Asserting that the underlying act is legal is a nonsense defense.

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                      • Except that Trump didn’t fire Comey to obstruct justice, he fired him for disloyalty and incompetence. Comey’s testimony proved gross disloyalty and incompetence. Trump wins.

                        And the President should have the power to fire government employees.

                        WSJ article

                        The Tyranny of the Administrative State
                        Government by unelected experts isn’t all that different from the ‘royal prerogative’ of 17th-century England, argues constitutional scholar Philip Hamburger.

                        What’s the greatest threat to liberty in America? Liberals rail at Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration and his hostility toward the press, while conservatives vow to reverse Barack Obama’s regulatory assault on religion, education and business. Philip Hamburger says both sides are thinking too small.

                        Like the blind men in the fable who try to describe an elephant by feeling different parts of its body, they’re not perceiving the whole problem: the enormous rogue beast known as the administrative state.

                        Sometimes called the regulatory state or the deep state, it is a government within the government, run by the president and the dozens of federal agencies that assume powers once claimed only by kings. In place of royal decrees, they issue rules and send out “guidance” letters like the one from an Education Department official in 2011 that stripped college students of due process when accused of sexual misconduct.

                        Unelected bureaucrats not only write their own laws, they also interpret these laws and enforce them in their own courts with their own judges. All this is in blatant violation of the Constitution, says Mr. Hamburger, 60, a constitutional scholar and winner of the Manhattan Institute’s Hayek Prize last year for his scholarly 2014 book, “Is Administrative Law Unlawful?” (Spoiler alert: Yes.)

                        “Essentially, much of the Bill of Rights has been gutted,” he says, sitting in his office at Columbia Law School. “The government can choose to proceed against you in a trial in court with constitutional processes, or it can use an administrative proceeding where you don’t have the right to be heard by a real judge or a jury and you don’t have the full due process of law. Our fundamental procedural freedoms, which once were guarantees, have become mere options.” ?

                        In volume and complexity, the edicts from federal agencies exceed the laws passed by Congress by orders of magnitude. “The administrative state has become the government’s predominant mode of contact with citizens,” Mr. Hamburger says. “Ultimately this is not about the politics of left or right. Unlawful government power should worry everybody.”

                        Defenders of agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Environmental Protection Agency often describe them as the only practical way to regulate today’s complex world. The Founding Fathers, they argue, could not have imagined the challenges that face a large and technologically advanced society, so Congress and the judiciary have wisely delegated their duties by giving new powers to experts in executive-branch agencies.

                        Mr. Hamburger doesn’t buy it. In his view, not only is such delegation unconstitutional, it’s nothing new. The founders, far from being naive about the need for expert guidance, limited executive powers precisely because of the abuses of 17th-century kings like James I.

                        James, who reigned in England from 1603 through 1625, claimed that divinely granted “absolute power” authorized him to suspend laws enacted by Parliament or dispense with them for any favored person. Mr. Hamburger likens this royal “dispensing” power to modern agency “waivers,” like the ones from the Obama administration exempting McDonald’s and other corporations from complying with provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

                        James also made his own laws, bypassing Parliament and the courts by issuing proclamations and using his “royal prerogative” to establish commissions and tribunals. He exploited the infamous Star Chamber, a court that got its name from the gilded stars on its ceiling.

                        “The Hollywood version of the Star Chamber is a torture chamber where the walls were speckled with blood,” Mr. Hamburger says. “But torture was a very minor part of its business. It was very bureaucratic. Like modern administrative agencies, it commissioned expert reports, issued decrees and enforced them. It had regulations controlling the press, and it issued rules for urban development, environmental matters and various industries.”

                        James’s claims were rebuffed by England’s chief justice, Edward Coke, who in 1610 declared that the king “by his proclamation cannot create any offense which was not an offense before.” The king eventually dismissed Coke, and expansive royal powers continued to be exercised by James and his successor, Charles I. The angry backlash ultimately prompted Parliament to abolish the Star Chamber and helped provoke a civil war that ended with the beheading of Charles in 1649.

                        A subsequent king, James II, took the throne in 1685 and tried to reassert the prerogative power. But he was dethroned in the Glorious Revolution in 1688, which was followed by Parliament’s adoption of a bill of rights limiting the monarch and reasserting the primacy of Parliament and the courts. That history inspired the American Constitution’s limits on the executive branch, which James Madison explained as a protection against “the danger to liberty from the overgrown and all-grasping prerogative of an hereditary magistrate.”

                        “The framers of the Constitution were very clear about this,” Mr. Hamburger says, rummaging in a drawer for a pocket edition. He opens to the first page, featuring the Preamble and Article 1, which begins: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress.”

                        “That first word is crucial,” he says. “The very first substantive word of the Constitution is ‘all.’ That makes it an exclusive vesting of the legislative powers in an elected legislature. Congress cannot delegate the legislative powers to an agency, just as judges cannot delegate their power to an agency.”

                        There’s a whole lot of things that Trump has to fix.

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                          • Keep your eye on the prize greg. Comey was fired to obstruct the Russia investigation. Trump admitted it. Everything else is an effort to distract attention from that basic fact.

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                            • Sorry, but Comey destroyed your line of argument with his sworn testimony.

                              Comey was fired for disloyalty and incompetence. The Russian investigation is proceeding under more competent leadership.

                              And according to Law Newz, Comey may be charged with perjury under 18 USC 1621.

                              He also may have started us down the path that ends with both Hillary and Obama rotting in federal prison, because he admitted that Loretta Lynch pressured him on the Hillary investigation. He had to end that because the trail would lead directly to Obama, who was using a pseudonym to contact her via her illegal server, the one she used to keep her illegal wheeling and dealing away from the federal government’s watchdogs.

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                              • Sorry, but Comey destroyed your line of argument with his sworn testimony.

                                Comey’s sworn testimony: “I take the president at his word — I was fired because of the Russia investigation.”

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                                • A fuller transcript is:

                                  Guess I don’t know for sure. I believe the — I take the president at his word, that I was fired because of the Russia investigation. Something about the way I was conducting it, the president felt, created pressure on him that he wanted to relieve.

                                  Again, I didn’t know that at the time, but I watched his interview, I’ve read the press accounts of his conversations. So I take him at his word there.

                                  Now, look, I — I could be wrong. Maybe he’s saying something that’s not true. But I take him at his word, at least based on what I know now.

                                  He was fired for his manifest incompetence to carry it forward and put it to bed, and turning it into a witch hunt that was harming the federal government.

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                                  • He was fired for his manifest incompetence to carry it forward and put it to bed, and turning it into a witch hunt that was harming the federal government.

                                    Man, you simply cannot stop yourself from circling back to ‘Trump fired Comey to end the investigation’.

                                    You keep trying to distance yourself ever since I pointed that out. You try to vaguely claim the president was trying to ‘move it forward’ or ‘make progress’ or ‘stop screwing it up’…but then, like a dog to his own vomit, you can’t stop yourself or forget or something and accidentally assert it was to end the investigation.

                                    Again, and I will repeat this every time you say it, that is literally the definition of obstruction of justice. Doesn’t matter how much a ‘witch hunt’ it is, your new claim that it was ‘damaging the government’ doesn’t matter, none of that makes it not obstruction of justice.

                                    You are literally asserting the president committed obstruction of justice in your claim the president…didn’t commit obstruction of justice.

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                              • And according to Law Newz, Comey may be charged with perjury under 18 USC 1621.

                                It’s probably worth nipping this in the bud before you keep repeating it anywhere. Here is the actual transcript:

                                HARRIS: What is your understanding of the parameters of General Sessions’ recusal from the Russia — Russia investigation?

                                COMEY: I think it’s described in a written release or statement from DOJ, which I don’t remember, sitting here, but the gist was he would be recused from all matters relating to Russia and the — and the campaign, or activities of Russia and the ’16 election, I think. Something like that.

                                HARRIS: Is — so is your knowledge of the extent of his recusal based on the public statements he’s made? Or the…

                                COMEY: Correct.

                                HARRIS: … OK. So was there any kind of memorandum issued from the attorney general or the Department of Justice to the FBI, outlining the parameters of his recusal?

                                COMEY: Not that I’m aware of.

                                I now point to the actual memo that the DoJ claims had ‘parameters’. (Which neither that article *or* the DoJ’s memo actually reprinted) Here it is:

                                https://www.emptywheel.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Jody-Email.pdf

                                Here is the important part:

                                “After careful consideration following meetings with career Department officials over the course of the past several weeks, the Attorney General has decided to recuse himself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States. The Attorney General’s recusal is not only with respect to such investigations, if any, but also extends to Department responses to Congressional and media inquiries related to any such investigations.”

                                The question to Comey was clearly trying to find out if the AG had issued any specific ‘parameters’ about the scope of his refusal other than what was in public press releases. She is asking if there were any internal-to-the-DoJ rules about it.

                                A memo that, literally, just repeats what the press releases says is, to me, pretty clearly not what she was asking for, and more importantly, Comey appeared to agree with her. Comey apparently did not think that email outlined ‘parameters of his recusal’ of the sort being asked about.

                                You are free to disagree, but weird fact, you do not get to define what ‘parameters’ means inside Comey’s head. If they had wanted a list of _all_ memos about the recusal, they were free to asked about that.

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                                • David TC,

                                  In two hearing on successive days Kamala Harris devoted almost the entirety of her allotted time to questioning first Rosenstein and then Comey about the limits and extent of formal barriers between DOJ decisionmakers and the independence of the Russia investigations.

                                  First, she grilled Rosenstein on why he failed to accord Mueller complete independence from the DOJ in conducting the investigation, a question he simply did not answer (after some game tries at filibustering). Next, Comey was asked whether he informed Rosenstein about Trump’s behavior, and Comey stated he had, in a conversation which obviously transpired some weeks before Rosenstein wrote a letter to Trump disparaging Comey’s conduct and leadership at the FBI.

                                  And yet another line of questioning (by Harris again) pertained to the scope of Sessions recusal wrt to the Russian investigations conducted by the FBI and/or special investigator. Comey said no memoranda clearly delineating the scope of the recusal were passed to him and Sessions (so far) hasn’t provided one. All this is interesting not only because Session’s permissible level of involvement in coordinating DOJ efforts with the SI are unclear, but also because Sessions wrote a letter advocating for Comey’s dismissal just as Rosenstein did. And those letters were written after Comey informed each of them of concerns he had about Trump’s conduct.

                                  Hmmm.

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                                  • Or: what I think Kamala’s worries are in a nutshell:

                                    T1: Trump makes overtures to Comey which Comey views as impinging on the FBI’s independence from the WH.
                                    T2: Comey tells Sessions of these worries.
                                    T3: Comey tells Rosenstein of these worries.
                                    T4: Both a recused Sessions and Rosenstein write letters to Trump advocating for Comey’s dismissal as head of FBI.
                                    T5: Trump fires Comey.
                                    T6: Rosenstein appoints Mueller to Ind Inv. position with less than full independence from DOJ breaking established precedent of prior special prosecutor appointments.

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                                    • That seems plausible, I will take your word for it. I still haven’t read the entire transcript, I just went and looked up what George was talking about.

                                      And I pretty immediately figured out ‘Oh, she wanted to know if the DoJ had explained the recusal stuff better internally than the public press releases’. It wasn’t rocket science, the only way to miss what is going on is to look at that singular question.

                                      Meanwhile, I think an interesting point keeps being slightly missed in all this…the recusal as stated was over ‘the _campaigns_ for President of the United States’.

                                      Campaigns. Plural. That would include the Clinton campaign.

                                      And yet Sessions supposedly advised Trump on the firing of Comey, and the justification given for that was…his handling of the Clinton investigation.

                                      Now, is the weasel point that the investigation of Clinton wasn’t over ‘her campaign’? But…the entire premise of Comey’s behavior being wrong was…he did it during the campaign.

                                      I have no idea if Kamala’s noticed that, but she also could be thinking about that. Wondering if, at any point, Sessions was explicitly supposed to be recused from the Clinton investigation. (And thus presumably recused from firing people for their behavior during the Clinton investigation.)

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                                      • I’ll shorter my earlier shorter: Kamala Harris is worried about and wondering whether the DOJ is compromised. And given the committee she sits on I don’t think she’s merely throwing darts in the dark.

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                              • The Law News piece says specifically

                                This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

                                It doesn’t say “stupid opinion”. You have to actually read the article to figure that out.

                                “Mr. Comey, you lied about their being no memo that gave the parameters of the recusal.”

                                “Sure, there’s that memo, but it doesn’t say A, B, or C, which are important parameters.”

                                “Well, you’re a poopy-face!”

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                              • The whole Russia hacking thing is a distraction. After a year of investigation, they have yet to show the public evidence of Russian hacking or interference, other than perhaps some trolls on Twitter tweeting the usual.

                                The whole Russian hacking witch hunt started to distract the fact that Wikileaks was publishing damning internal documents from Hillary, Podesta, and the DNC, and it was all related to her wildly illegal handling of classified intelligence and on her illegal server that was in a closet.

                                And it might have been to distract people from wondering who the real leaker was (murdered DNC IT employee Seth Rich).

                                But in their zeal to push the fake Russian angle, it’s been revealed that Obama had the NSA spying on Americans, with unredacted raw intelligence circulated widely and illegally across 13 different government agencies, with the stated intent of discrediting the incoming Trump administration. That’s all illegal. It’s also vastly worse than Watergate.

                                They also revealed obstruction of justice, with Lynch interfering in an investigation by pressuring Comey in a scheme by federal law enforcement to sway the election, and protect Obama from what was clear complicity in Hillary’s illegal handling of classified intelligence and the operation of an illegal server.

                                But now Trump is in charge of the Department of Justice, the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA, and he’s appointing people who collect heads as a hobby. Justice will be done.

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                          • I’d certainly fire someone for that. You can’t run an organization if the employees are bent on destroying the organization.

                            Comey was also disloyal to US law, rules of criminal procedure, and the US Constitution.

                            His only loyalty was to himself and his delusions. The 2016 election will always have an asterisk labeled “Comey”.

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    • “Hope” is not an order. Could it be a suggestion that Comey drop it? Sure, but it is deniable.

      Aaron, Trump himself admitted he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation. So it follows that when he said “hope” it was actually an instruction.

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      • Somebody tweeted something like:

        Comey: He obstructed justice.
        Democrats: He obstructed justice.
        Trump: I obstructed justice.
        Republicans: We’ll never really know what happened.

        I’ll be the first to predict that there’s no way this evidence goes far enough to get him impeached, but it seems like we’re way beyond the point where the question, “Did Trump try to shut down an investigation he didn’t like?” is an serious one.

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        • That’s great news. But obstruction of justice doesn’t have to be successful to be criminal.

          And it doesn’t have to be criminal to be an entirely improper abuse of power.

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          • But it kinda has to be successful to be political.

            This is Abuse of Power all right, but it is Power that is that is the victim.

            We should impeach him just for malpractice of Abuse of Power.

            Personally I’ve raised my Impeachometer from 10% to 45%… not because the little things will add up, but because he really can’t tell the little from the big, and he’ll actually get better at wielding his power, but not smarter about it.

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              • Speaking as someone with a spine and a firm belief that, if I were a Congressmen, the President (even of my own party) is neither my boss nor my master, my response would be “I’m not your little b*tch*. Send your own people out to cover your a**.”

                Seriously, if you want a favor — ask, not order. His staff works for him, not Congress.

                (Ha! I kid. For some reason I can’t fathom, a President at 35% approval six months into his term under constant scandal somehow IS the Boss of Congress. Despite the fact that he came from outside the party and holds no actual control over them. It’s not like he’s a key fundraiser or is owed favors by all the movers and shakers. The GOP, especially in the House, are fully-owned subsidiaries of TrumpCo).

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                • They fear primary challenges more than anything. Trump is still quite popular with the GOP, and the GOP primary electorate has shown it more than willing to turf out incumbents that cross it, even at the cost of an easy win in the general.

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                  • They fear not getting re-elected for sure, so they’ve got a finger to the political winds in their district. But the perverse result of Trump’s scandal ridden WH is that they’re quitely going about the business of passing legislative bits here and there. Big ticket items like the AHCA are flying way below normal radar and could conceivably be passed without any public awareness of the content of the bill. So in a weird way, Trump’s corruption and incompetence are a ticket to ride to deregulation tax cut heaven.

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                • [shrug] I fully expect the White House to order such a thing… I’ll judge the effect of that order by how many congressmen actually do.

                  I expect most will keep their heads down and wait for him to really falter… when he does, they will come out like jackals. That’s just how Washington works.

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            • Personally I’ve raised my Impeachometer from 10% to 45%… not because the little things will add up, but because he really can’t tell the little from the big, and he’ll actually get better at wielding his power, but not smarter about it.

              That’s basically my thinking.

              I don’t know if he’ll get *better* at anything, but he will *continue* to lash out at the people ‘attacking’ him, and, by sheer chance, some of that will be in violation of the law.

              Some of those attempts he will ‘succeed’ at (Like I said, he did ‘successfully’ fire Comey, and he did successfully get Nunes to run around like an idiot.) and some of he will *not* ‘succeed’ at (Like trying to sway Comey.). Some of those attempts will be obviously illegal, other of those attempts will just make him look stupid and guilty.

              But that doesn’t matter, because none of it will stop the investigation, and all of it will make things infinitely worse in the long run.

              The man literally does not understand that he cannot run around making backroom deals with the people who are coming after him. It’s how he’s behaved all his life, cutting deals with people, paying off people in court, threatening to come after others, etc, etc…and he doesn’t understand why it’s not working now.

              Trump basically works completely orthogonal to the concept of ‘law’.

              It’s why he’s so pissed at Sessions, in fact. The *entire point* of having Sessions there, in his mind, was to redirect away investigations, and then Sessions went and recused himself.

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              • The Clintons would just give people a bag of cash or send a private investigator to kill them or their pets, none of which is illegal because they’re Clintons.

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                • Yes, but they didn’t tweet about it, secretly record it (or if they do, they don’t tweet about *that*), or have their lackeys give one story only to contradict it on TV the next day.

                  And therein lies the difference.

                  One wag here said how they miss the quiet competence of George Bush. Well, can we not mourn the destruction of our norms of corruption?

                  But here’s what I don’t get George… why defend Trump? I might be the most conservative guy here… so conservative I’m downright liberal in some areas. But what ideas are we defending? What ideas is Trump putting forward that we’re hoping he doesn’t derail? Why spend energy on Trump, when he’s not even spending political capital on the things people elected him to do?

                  Stick to the ideas… Trump may or may not deliver, but judge him by how well he executes on the plan lest he drag down any idea associated with him in the future.

                  I can tell you are on Team Red, but having read many of your posts over the years, I couldn’t begin to say how you are a conservative.

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                  • I’m so right wing that when I eat a Mounds or Baby Ruth I throw the left half away.

                    It is true that Trump isn’t a traditional conservative, and until a few years ago was a Democrat who ran around with the Clintons.

                    However, he was an old-school Democrat, unafraid of success, with union ties, mob ties, bribes, profanity, and hot babes. He’s the personification of unapologetic, uncouth American greatness. When he wants something done, he does it, or tells someone else to snap to it. None of all these arcane rules and customs by entitled men in cuff links who think they’re British Lords in wigs and tube socks, and who are equally useless.

                    Trump was opposed by Comey, a Washington barnacle who glued himself to a desk. Trump pried him loose. The ship of state will sail faster without him adding drag to the hull.

                    Washington has become an impediment to the nation, a swamp full of leeches who do nothing but suffocate us with rules while rifling through our wallets. When the housing market crashed, the only place that continued growing was DC. Trump’s success should be judged on how well he collapses that Washington area housing market.

                    What brought this about was that only people who come from the elite bubble areas, coming through Ivy League schools, were getting lucrative jobs in Washington, whether in government or the thousands of think tanks and institutions that totally depend on access to levers of power. They’re all working for themselves as a class, not for the people. The people have noticed. Trump has noticed, bigly.

                    And that’s where Trump is extremely important to the nation’s health. If we kept electing leaders that only represent the elite class, while there’s a building groundswell of anger and disaffection, you get an ugly revolution like what happened to Louis XIV, the Czar, the Kaiser, the Shah, or any of the other countless leaders and upper class aristocrats who totally did not see it coming.

                    But some countries avoid those revolutions by having leaders who can sense the undercurrents and react to them, radically changing long-established customs and institutions in ways to make them acceptable to the broad public. King George V did that, and as a result his great great great grandchild will one day be King of England – instead of working at a car dealership in Miami.

                    The public isn’t going to long tolerate rule by a self-serving, self-entitled, closed-off group of aristocrats who are totally out-of-touch with reality, which had basically become the obvious existing situation. So the public said “F*** you!” and voted for Trump to shake things up and break the old order. He’s doing that, and the old order is screaming bloody murder. Their screams are like sweet music.

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                    • There you go… stick to the ideas. Those aren’t exactly my passel of policies, but other than making people you don’t like unhappy… how many of those things are in motion to pass into legislation?

                      “And that’s where Trump is extremely important to the nation’s health. If we kept electing leaders that only represent the elite class, while there’s a building groundswell of anger and disaffection,”

                      Keep your eye on the ball.

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                      • The legislation we want is a long list of repeals of the legislation we’ve got. We’re getting some of that, along with Congress striking down a lot of Obama’s late term executive orders and last minute government regulations.

                        From the Declaration of Independence:

                        But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

                        Contrary to what Sleepy Hollow depicted, the English government was not committing such abuses because they were in league with the forces of darkness and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. They were just acting like largely unaccountable governments act – in their own interests, to make sure the governed know they were governed good and hard, and to make their own job of governing easier.

                        Our government largely avoided repeating those mistakes fora very long time, really until the rise of the unelected administrative state under FDR. That found itself with the same pressures and rewards as King George III’s government.
                        One of the Declarations specific complaints was

                        He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

                        A government that acts like an enemy will be viewed as an enemy. We don’t need that. It’s an inefficient way to govern and pisses people off. We’d like it to stop, from out-of-control neighborhood associations to overreaching city councils to federal agencies staffed with bubble-headed Yale graduates that think they have the power and wisdom of God.

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                        • Sure, and Medicare / Medicaid / Social Security regularly poll at what number when voters are asked if the program is important?

                          83% / 77% / 63% (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2015)

                          Who’s we? You and Paul Ryan?

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              • Dear DTC:

                As a courtesy to your readers, please consider removing all the emphasis punctuation marks for a week and see how it goes.

                I very much enjoy reading your comments even when I disagree with them, but Ye Gods you make your work hard to read.

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                • Heh, I’ve slowly been weening myself off the asterisks because I realize that a lot of people read them as harsher than I intend. (I used to live in a world where they were the only available punctuation.)

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                  • DTC:

                    You tend to run about one pair of asterisks per two lines of comments. That’s a lot of emphasis.

                    Personally, I think emphases work best when they are drawn naturally from the text. Let your reader draw her own conclusion as opposed to forcing it.

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            • I don’t know. If you asked me in January, I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to see Trump removed from office one day. I still wouldn’t be stunned by it. But it feels to me like liberals are way over-extending themselves on this Comey thing. You can’t impeach someone simply on the basis of your indignation. You actually need a reason, and then you need some political skill, and some luck. I’ve got the Democrats currently at 0-for-3. If they take a shot and miss, they’ll make Trump untouchable.

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              • I think you’re wrong Pinky. The Russia scandal isn’t being driven by Democrats over-betting on a long shot, it’s driven by Trump, the WH and the actions of the campaign/transition team. Sure some Dems are overly excited at the prospects of impeachment, but who cares? And politically they don’t equal the number of conservatives willfully denying the facts sitting right in front of them.

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              • Well I agree that making John Oliver (who makes me laugh) and Samantha Bee (who doesn’t) heads of the Impeachment planning committee is a bad idea; I don’t think it will make Trump untouchable.

                Mostly because all the things they are indignant about aren’t what will trip him up. Increasingly I’m getting the feeling he’s doubling down on his doubled bets. Washington knows how to deal with over-extension.

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                • Has it begun? Karl Rove in the WSJ:

                  Increasingly it appears Mr. Trump lacks the focus or self-discipline to do the basic work required of a president. His chronic impulsiveness is apparently unstoppable and clearly self-defeating. Mr. Trump may have mastered the modes of communication, but not the substance, thereby sabotaging his own agenda.

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            • Aaron,

              Honest question. Assume President Obama fired the Director of the FBI for refusing his loyalty while President Obama’s campaign and executive staff were under investigation, and then stated that the reason he fired him was because of that investigation (after originally stating something completely different) and also that the firing would have the effect relieving the pressure of the investigation. Would you believe the person who replaced the Director, with at a minimum the implied blessing of Obama, if he said “the investigation is continuing just like it was. Nothing to see here”?

              I mean, I wouldn’t and I expect I’ve got a bit more faith in Obamas’s integrity than you do (not that i have a lot).

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              • If she (the new guy) testified that they did indeed have the resources, funding,etc. then yes, I would believe them. I do believe in the power of testimony, having sat on a few juries. When someone comes right out, confirms this when saying that they didn’t have these tools would give them a tremendous amount of firepower with both congress and the American public.

                This has nothing to do with which president I have faith in (shocker, I have no faith in either) nor does it have anything to do with faith in the Justice Dept./FBI. It is more that I have faith in the concept and execution of POLITICS.

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    • I read that the Intercept is also pretty dumb: they called the office she works in to corroborate that the info leaked from that office was legit. Doink!

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      • The Intercept is giving me less and less faith that they’re ideal stewards of that Snowden data dump. If Snowden went to Greewald on the assumption that the archive wouldn’t end up on The Pirate Bay through some idiocy, that may not have been a great assessment.

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      • No, worse than that — they sent a scanned copy of the document to them, which allowed them to work out it was printed and they checked their own print logs.

        They didn’t ask for a comment on the information, they didn’t retype it into a different format, or do anything to at all shield their source. They might as well have just forwarded the leaker’s email to them, complete with the leaker’s email address.

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            • Most leakers generally have, you know, zero experience at leaking.

              News organizations, however, do. I’m astonished at how little they tried to protect their source.

              I don’t mean “they didn’t try” I meant “they actively seemed to be helping out their source”.

              It’s like finding out your doctor added some feces into your wound before sewing it shut. Yeah, maybe you were gonna get an infection already from stupidly cutting yourself with that gunk-covered knife, but WTF is the doctor’s excuse?

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  9. Ryan is defending Trump asking Comey to back off on Flynn investigation as resulting from ignorance, which is belied by the fact that he asked everyone else to leave. More interestingly, he’s not disputing that Trump actually said it directly contradicting Trump’s own words on this, as well as the words of Trump’s lawyer.

    As an aside, listening to Ryan speak is like listening to fingernails on a chalkboard while wrapped in fiberglass insulation.

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    • Trump on President Clinton’s meeting with AG Lynch:

      “This is terrible and nobody can understand why nothing’s happened. You see a thing like this and, even in terms of judgment, how bad of judgment is it for him or for her to do this? I mean, who would do this?”

      Let’s dispel once and for all with the fiction that Donald Trump didn’t know what he was doing, he knew exactly what he was doing.

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  10. So the bottom line is that the NYT story about collusion was wrong and Trump “hoped” that Comey would do something about letting the Flynn investigation go. To use the words from folks about the Hillary email investigation, it’s a nothing burger.

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