God help us all.
The president of the United States told the FBI director he “hoped” the director could stop an investigation into one of the president’s top lieutenants. The president asked if he was under investigation. Then the president fired the FBI director abruptly, and issued contradictory statements about why he did so. Over the last few days, as reporting from papers like the New York Times has uncovered his ethically shady conversations with James Comey, journalists, legal experts, and social media busybodies of all stripes have been wondering the same thing: Does all this add up to Trump obstructing justice? And if it does, does that make it time to impeach him?
Impeachment talk has been circulating since before Trump took office, but this week at least a few elected Democrats have begun openly musing about it, with Texas Congressman Al Green preparing to take to the House floor Tuesday to officially call for impeachment. But that’s an empty gesture. Republicans control the House and Senate; it’s Republicans who will ultimately decide whether to run Trump out of town, or live with the orange man in the White House. That’s going to be a pretty big decision, and one that is likely to be more concerned with politics than the law.
A US Senate panel investigating possible Russian interference in US elections and possible collusion with President Donald Trump’s campaign team has requested that James Comey, the sacked FBI director, testify before its members.
The Senate Intelligence Committee’s Republican chairman and Democratic vice chairman sent a letter to Comey “seeking his appearance before the [committee] in both open and closed sessions”, the panel said in a statement on Wednesday.
The statement also said the panel had asked Andrew McCabe, the acting FBI director, to send any notes or other memos prepared by Comey about communications he may have had with senior White House and Department of Justice officials in relation to the investigation into Russia and the 2016 election.
Democratic Senator Mark Warren told US media he believed “the American people will get a chance to hear from Comey shortly”.
President Trump is facing yet another major scandal. The New York Times is reporting Trump personally asked FBI Director James Comey to end the agency’s investigation into Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. The New York Times reports President Trump made the extraordinary request to James Comey during an Oval Office meeting on February 14—one day after Trump fired Flynn for lying both publicly and privately about his contacts with Russian officials. Trump reportedly asked Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to leave the room before making the request to Comey. After the meeting, Comey wrote a memo quoting the president saying, “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.” We speak to John Kiriakou, who spent 14 years at the CIA as an analyst and case officer. He was jailed for 23 months after he became the first CIA official to confirm publicly the Bush administration’s use of waterboarding.Democracy Now
WHEN DONALD TRUMP asked FBI Director James Comey in February to drop the investigation of former National Security Advisor (and then-unregistered foreign agent) Michael Flynn, the president apparently didn’t realize that Comey would behave like one of his more than 13,000 special agents.
As the New York Times reported from a source close to Comey, the FBI director went back to his office and wrote down from memory a summary of his conversation with Trump.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Trump told Comey, according to a memo the FBI director wrote. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
About three months after Trump allegedly said this, the president fired Comey.
Had this been a normal criminal investigation, and had Comey been a special agent in the field, the memo he would have written would have been known, in the FBI’s parlance, as an FD-302. The FBI does not record conversations with subjects related to criminal investigations. Instead, FBI agents, using their memory and sometimes handwritten notes, draft memos that summarize the conversations and include purportedly verbatim quotes. Federal judges and juries have consistently viewed these memos as indisputable fact. For this reason, Comey’s memo is no normal government memo. It could do lasting damage to Trump’s presidency, if not contribute to costing him the nation’s highest office altogether.
While Comey is now positioned for history to remember him as the cop who took down Trump, or tried to at great professional expense, there should be wariness about lionizing Comey in the way the news media have in recent days. Under Comey, the FBI pushed investigative and surveillance powers to new and controversial limits and employed tactics that were morally and ethically bankrupt.
In short, Comey’s FBI did some terrible things.
Chelsea Manning, the army private who released a vast trove of US state secrets and was punished by the US military for months in penal conditions denounced by the UN as torture, has been released from a military prison in Kansas after serving seven years of a 35-year sentence.