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Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Trump fires Comey. Clinton indictment likely?

Just when you think there are no more surprises possible...
President Trump has fired the director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey, over his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, the White House said on Tuesday.
The abrupt firing raised questions over whether Mr. Trump was trying to influence the Russia investigation. But he said he was following recommendations from the Justice Department, which criticized how Mr. Comey concluded the investigation into Mrs. Clinton.
I have said it all along. The Trumpers really do plan to lock her up. My hunch is that they are going to use the entire mechanism of government to find some reason to attack Obama as well.

The "recommendation from the Justice Department" refers, of course, to a memo from Jeff Sessions, as reproduced here. (Scroll to the bottom.) Many people are misreading that letter. In short and in sum, Sessions says that Comey erred not when he told the public about the emails on the Weiner/Abedin laptop, but when he recommended closing the investigation without prosecution.

I can imagine your reaction: "Whaaaaaaaa...?"

These events cannot be appreciated unless you understand that this government does not inhabit the reality that you and I share. This government lives in the alternative reality of Fox and Breitbart and Infowars. In that universe, Comey sinned not when he ruined Hillary's chances of becoming president but when he did not join the mob chanting "lock her up."

(In his initial reaction, Josh Marshall writes: "In other words, they are saying that they are firing Comey, in essence, for unfairness to Hillary Clinton." No. As noted above, many people are not reading the memo carefully enough.)

Let's peek at some quick Twitter reactions. The most remarkable comes from Ed Snowden:
This FBI Director has sought for years to jail me on account of my political activities. If I can oppose his firing, so can you.
David Corn:
How can anyone Trump hires to be FBI director now handle an investigation that involves Trump and/or his associates??????
Today is the day Donald Trump finally became autocrat of the United States?
Claude Taylor sounds an optimistic note which I hope is justified (but I suspect is not):
Everyone who is panicking right now-Comey anticipated this. A dozen or more indictments have been handed down. Comey's firing stops nothing.
Watergate netted 48 indictments. Trump is going to blow past that record. Bigley
Let me offer a word -- actually, three words -- about the instantly-ubiquitous Watergate comparison: Stop kidding yourselves.

That was a different era and a different political reality. Nixon faced a Democratic Congress. His own party had not yet hardened into the vicious, rabid, bloodthirsty killing machine that it now is. In the early 1970s, the alternative reality media machine consisted of a handful of publications put out by the John Birch Society and similar organizations, along with a few on-air ranters like Wally George. If Nixon possessed the armaments that Trump has, not only would he have survived Watergate, he would have been able to lock up Ted Kennedy and proclaim himself President For Life, as in Watchmen.

Back to the tweets. Eddie Elfenbein, previously not on my radar:
Welcome to the FBI, Director Baio.
John Schindler, whom I politely assailed in the previous post, says all of the right things:
Firing your secret police chief because he's investigating you is the stuff of banana republics. America as I knew it is gone.
At this point:

1. Let Congress know your view. Now.
2. Pray.
3. Stockpile ammunition, food, water & non-perishable goods.
Trump has either BIGLY Saturday Night Massacred himself here...or he's consolidated power & is beyond any law.

We'll know soon which it is.
I favor option 2, Mr. Schindler. See my comments above re: The Watergate comparison.

As I see it, only the UK can save us now. Spill everything you know about Trump, my British friends, and we will consider the whole Lend-Lease thing more than squared. Yet I can't place much hope in a rescue from Bond, James Bond: As noted in the post below, a faction within the UK's right-wing Establishment played an under-discussed role in getting us into this fix in the first place.

There's another possibility. People like Comey, people in the know, can finally get it into their skulls that some secret truths are so damned important, so in need of airing, that they supercede even a security oath. Of what value is an oath given to a usurper?

I read the letter from Sessions (is he related to William Sessions, who was canned by Clinton for ethical breaches?), and from Rosenstein. Rosenstein makes clear that the complaint is the unfairness to Hillary. Nobody is buying that as the reason.
No, oaths have to be inviolable so that those who betray them can be punished.

Sooner or later three Republican senators will flip, and that's when you'll know things are intolerable.

@joseph -- the other joseph, I assume -- i don't read Rosenstein's letter as saying the complaint was unfairness to Hillary Clinton; instead, he explicitly states "[t]he Director was wrong to usurp the Attorney General's authority on July 5, 2016, and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution." (*Other* other Joseph: That would be the initial investigation, no, rather than the last-minute Weiner/Abedin revelations?) This is Rosenstein's central concern; he doesn't even try to pretend it has anything to do with fairness or partisanship.

I can understand your mistake, though, given the way he seemingly distorts the "nearly unanimous" opinions of former DOJ officials. Judging from the excerpts of he cites, I would guess a number of former officials were actually commenting upon Comey's inappropriate bandying about of Clinton's name in the weeks prior to the election. Instead, Rosenstein carefully chops and slices his predecessors' words to imply all were universally opposed to Comey's announcing there was insufficient evidence to prosecute. It's a bravura, cynical performance. (I was also amused by his suggestion that Attorneys General on occasion choose to bring charges even when they know there's insufficient evidence for a valid prosecution -- which one hopes would qualify as prosecutorial misconduct.)
Lend-Lease required Britain to liquidate foreign investments, open imperial markets to American goods, hand over advanced technical knowledge on radar and jet engines and to provide raw materials including the Canadian uranium and Tube Alloys knowledge used in the Manhattan Project. And the pay for the privilege.

So I think we're even.

Canadium uranium ~ Rothschilds. Just saying. Funny how in these huge state-to-state debt deals that family tends to take a huge cut.
Take a look at the Psychometrics Centre at the Cambridge Judge Business School, part of Cambridge University.
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