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eMail Security

In current environment, and especially on cloud servers, emails are never private, nor do they disappear when you delete them. They forever remain as permanent evidence of a temporary lack of judgment

News

Potemkin Villages of Computer Security

Recommended Links Social Sites as intelligence collection tools Hillary Clinton email scandal Phishing
Mail Scams Debt Relief Scams Nigerian Scam and its derivatives Spam Cyberstalking Email etiquette
Strategies of Defending Windows against Malware Fighting Spyware Softpanorama Malware Defense Strategy Non-Scanner AntiSpyware Tools Research Materials on Nicholas Carr's "IT Does not Matter" Fallacy Shadow IT
Authentication Writing Passwords Down Password Policy Application password security SecurID Password synchronization
      History Humor Etc

Introduction

E-mail is neither private, nor temporary. E-mail messages persist long after you may think you have deleted them forever. In the event of litigation, relevant e-mails are discoverable, potentially providing investigators with evidence of a less-than-exemplary behavior. Emails that are sent to foreign country are recorded as a matter of national security.

The major point that we need to made before starting any detailed discussion is that email is a very dangerous tool that has tremendous potential of compromising your privacy. Assume that everything you wrote by email is recorded and stored for the duration of your life. Use it sparingly. It does not replace real human contact. In many cases it's better to call a person by phone or, if the matter is really important, to talk privately.

Please separate your multiple email accounts into two categories: private and public. Never use gmail and other major web mail providers for private messages. But this is perfect account for registering for sites, newspapers and magazines providing to you world your "public email address".

Private mail should generally be POP based. If you need private Web based account it is better to get a domain and website at some ISP. It cost $5-$7 a month and you can control it much better then services such as Webmail, gmail, etc. For example, you can encrypt all your old emails on the server.  And you can really delete those mails that you do not want. It is difficult or may be even impossible in providers such as hotmail and, especially, gmail. Google has a tendency to store information forever.  Facebook is even worse.  See Privacy is Dead – Get Over It

Generic webmail interface work with smartphones pretty well and you get rid of annoying things gmail enforces on the users.

Password security is also important: never use the same password on multiple sites.  And change password each, say, six months (twice a year) putting the dates of such changes in your calendar. One useful trick is to do it on your birthday and birthday of one of your "significant other" that is approximately six months from yours.

Individualize passwords for each site. Never use the same password for multiple sites and, especially, for some sites AND your email account. One way to individualize passwords among multiple sites and still being able to remember them is to make some derivative of the name of the site (but never the exact name of domain, like Google or Yahoo) a part of password

Never send anything by email about which you can later regret

Assume that any email message is stored forever and can be used against you in the most inopportune moment.  People working in large corporation routinely use email to send various information and jokes to colleagues mistaking email for private bulletin board for friends and colleagues. Half or even 80% of those email usually should never be send. They will never, and I repeat, never, be deleted. People often forward such emails to their friends creating a chain letter effect. As some of persons to whom your email was eventually forwarded  can be outside of corporation, it does not help if corporation deletes email for employees accounts that are more the six months old as a matter of policy. You can never be sure that somebody did not forward them to Yahoo or Gmail account where they stored much longer or saved it on disk as a part of emails archive.  This is especially true about "juicy" emails.

It is much better to walk to a colleague or call him/her by phone and talk to him then to send problematic email. One important feature of email is that it tend to exaggerate conflicts.

The fact that emails are stored forever despite corporation efforts to purge them in, say, six month, means that you can never predict how in the future this email can be used against you.  So nasty jokes which today seems to be so funny, might be not so funny in a year later if they surface during your performance review.

Another important rule is never send any email in the heat of the moment. If the subject in hot, let the email cool down for 24 hours in your draft folder.

Make yourself a rule that any "fresh email" should go to draft folder first, cool down in the folder for some time (say, 24 hours) and only then on second reading (preferably after reading printed text,  as many things that are easily seen in printed text escape you on the screen) can be send.

If email is worth to be sent, it definitely worth to be printed and read attentively

Make yourself a rule that any "fresh email" should go to draft folder first, cool down in the folder for some time (at least 24 hours) and only then on second reading (preferably reading printed text, not screen-based, as many things that are easily seen in printed text escape you on the screen) can be send. Printing email also greatly helps as you will probably spot more errors and inconsistencies. Typos are also visible in printed text much better then on the screen.

Printing email also greatly helps as you will probably spot more errors and inconsistencies.  Typos are also visible in printed text much better then on the screen.

No matter how many steps you take to secure your email,
 it will never be foolproof

It is prudent to destroy or offload to offline (not network connected) storage such as flash drive, USB drives, etc  any (and I mean ANY) sensitive emails. In case you store email on the third party servers such as hotmail, Gmail, etc, the weakest link might be third party software that hackers can breach and this way get to your mailbox. Weak, or rarely changed password also can help intruders. 

And your mailbox is an interesting target not only for hackers. Government is sincerely interested in your emails too and generally you can assume that they have direct access to all mailboxes at major cloud providers. At least to meta-data (mail envelope files, such as from, to, subject and date fields). See Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs

Also there might be people in cloud company staff that might cooperate with intruder. For them you just a stranger. If you are a public figure, a high level executive or is engaged is some kind of hot political debate, then attempts to breach your email box are to be expected and you better be prepared...

The less information you trust to your email, the better are your chances to avoid some kind of SNAFU in the future. 

In case of Webmail pay attention to setting unique password
 and periodically (say each quarter or half a year) change it

It is better not to store anything confidential in webmail servers such as Hotmail, yahoo mail, and especially Gmail. Use them mostly for "junk mails". Remember that in case of Web mail it is prudent to assume that not only you are reading those emails.

Even in this case password security is important. See Password Policy. And BTW Writing Passwords Down is not such a bad idea. It just can to be pen and paper; instead of writing password 'as is" you can provide hints instead of full passwords. For example "standard four" might means 7456.  "Short oldie" might means string 'bzz', Blue door can mean 71G. Prius can mean jvm9328. And so on and so forth.

Casio databank watches are also OK (and they have 10 years battery) , but any smart watches connected to the smartphone are not a good idea.

Recent stories about password stolen by hackers and posted on the Net from sites such as Linkedin, make it important that each password contains a "site-specific" part so disclosure of password on one site affected only this site not all your sites (including, God forbid,  your email and  financial sites). Financial sites usually provide a secure token for minimal price, or, if you have enough money with them, for free. Please use this opportunity to make your account more secure. 

Make each password "site-dependent" by associating the first or second word with the particular site

Never use password used for one of shopping or news sites for your email account or God forbid  your financial sites or other important accounts. Make them unique. It is easier to use a memorable phrase of regular words (or first letters of a phase from popular song or poem), not some difficult to memorize sequence of symbols. In case of phrase please replace spaces with some delimiter. The main requirement here is length, not complexity.  Length of the password is much more important them complexity

!

  Length of the password is much more important them complexity. Easily memorizable passwords are preferable

Passwords consisting of two (AOL-style passwords) or more words (possible an easily remembered phrase) connected by some delimiter are inherently more secure and are pretty easy to memorize.  For example:

Make each password "site-dependent" by associating iether the first or second word with the particular site. For example you can use as the last word of the "two word password" the word derived from the site name:

Never use the same password for all your sites. Passwords tend to be stolen "en-mass" from major retailers, and cloud provider sites. Each year we read fascinating stories about several thousand or even million passwords (and sometimes credit card numbers too) stolen from some major site.

Never use the same password for all your sites. Passwords tend to be stolen "en-mass" from major retailers, and cloud provider sites. Each year we read fascinating stories about several thousand or even million passwords (and sometimes credit card numbers too) stolen from some major site.

See Password Policy for more details. Again length is much more important then complexity. All Web mail services allow for long passwords.

If you mail service allow to reset password using security questions you need to chose custom questions and for standard question non evident answers

In case of questions about your identity (what high school did you attended, etc) obscure the answers to your security questions by using some other identity (for example, the identity of your favorite writer or actor).  Avoid "honest" answers to questions answer to which can be found in your online profile in Facebook and similar services (your birthday, name of your spouse, etc. Those are generally public information in modern times.  Assume that intruder has access to your Facebook page, if you have one, or any other your social site page,

Sarah Palin account was breached because of this vulnerability ( Palin's personal email account hacked, contents leaked - SC Magazine Sarah Palin E-mail Hack Suspect Indicted  )

Always behave in your Webmail account in such a way,
as if it is readable by your friends
 

There should no exceptions to this rule as confidentiality of your emails is a myth, especially if they are stored in Web mail storage.  Avoid sending too much photos, or other self-revealing information. The current preoccupation with selfies is really narcissistic and unhealthy. It might be difficult to suppress this pervert desire to splurge all the information about yourself, that is often stimulated and encouraged by social networks, and especially Facebook,  but you need to think about possible consequences. Now a lot of hiring interviews involve questions of your Facebook account. So make it boring and safe.  Cooling down any "hot" email for 24 hours in the draft folder prevents many blunders.

Regularly patch your computer but do it yourself

Patches are far from being a foolproof defense, but they do somewhat lower the number of exploits that can be used against you. On windows computers most of tasks can be done from a regular account, not administrator account or equivalent. It is much more difficult to breach such an account and steal your data including smtp email. See  Strategies of Defending Microsoft Windows against Malware.

But you can apply patches periodically yourself, I would not  enable automatic patching as this obscure changes on your OS at random times and make diffing important directories more difficult. If you apply patches yourself that you know that outside patch window abrupt changes of your OS behaviour might be due to hacking. Also sometime in Microsoft Windows 7 patches reboot your PC without warning, if you are working on non-privileged account. 

Disable automatic updates for applications too.  You need a controlled, predictable environment, not some mess that a half dozen of doing God knows what patching programs possibly snooping on you (thank you Microsoft for completely destroying people trust in Windows).  Adobe with his infamous Acrobat reader is a real offender in this respect. And making a backup before applying patches is always a good idea.

Use high security setting in IE browsing your emails in Web mail providers like Hotmail, Gmail

If you are computer savvy, use a separate virtual machine with separate instance of browser and create this instance from a stored image each time you start reading email. This way you can limit the damage of opening an attachment with malware. Or use your tablet or chromebook, which with the exception on Surface-Pro and similar  tablets uses different CPUs then PC and (as such) is a more secure environment, as malware is usually PC oriented. 

Phone is generally safer channel for sensitive communication, especially if you speak foreign language or speak English with strong accent ;-)

Unless you are using Skype, recording of you call requires pretty sophisticated software on your sell home and generally is out of question for your landline phone. You are not recoded on the other end,  no easily retrievable copy of this phone call exists after the conversation (this is not completely true, but still close).

 Think twice before sending sensitive information via email. The less emails with important information your send the better. Think about consequences of the email getting in wrong hands...

Use different email accounts for different types of email messages

A good rule of thumb for an average email user is to keep three email accounts:

If you are targeted

If you are targeted, the most common way to breach your email is to install a Trojan on your home computer. This is typically done by constructing carefully socially engineered email coming from one of your trusted friends or relatives. Such a email contain either an attachment  or a link to the Web site that has a Trojan.  If you are concerned about safety of your POP3 mailboxes on C Drive, store it on other (possibly encrypted) partition. That simplify periodic wiping and replacing with safe copy of content of your C drive which is the most effective measure against installing Trojans on your computer (idea of disposable drive). This also serves as an instant recovery solution if  you  have the misfortune of succumbing to some social engineering attack against you.

That means that safety of your computer and, especially, safety of your Web browser have direct impact on safety of your email.

My personal experience convincingly demonstrated that usage of "disposable C drive" and keeping most data on D drive is a pretty effective defense strategy even against sophisticated malware. 

To prevent infection of computer via Web browsers the best way is to run Web browser of a separate computer (virtual or real) to which to connect  using an excellent Windows Desktop Connection or  VNC. For laptop it is easy to install a virtual machine and run Web browser from it (Windows 7 Windows XP box is OK for the purpose, those who can use Linux can use it within VMware player or Microsoft Virtual machine). As virtual machine image is disposable you can wipe is out after each session. This provides much higher level of security that any web filters. On Linux AppArmor is a perfect tool for preventing hacking of your computer, but generally most attacks are directed to Windows so using Linux is a good defense by itself. If email security is important for you consider this option. You can go one step further and run Email in one virtual machine and your Web browsers in another but that option requires some training and real interest in virtual machine capabilities.

If you main web browser is IE it is important  to use high security setting for internet browser. Then you can visit sites that require lower security by temporary lowering it or, better, by using the second browser, say Firefox.  In Firefox you can  use NoScript extension to prevent script running on most "grey zone sites" but please remember that Firefox is generally less secure browser then IE9 in high security mode on Windows. It is OK on Linux. 

Please note that Google search in "grey areas" consistently presents sites designed for penetration into computers.  So it is prudent to set Google as untrusted site and think before clicking on any site that have suspicious DNS name. If you for example made search "keygenerator for Acronis" expect that some results will be sites specifically containing Trojan scripts designed to exploit some recent vulnerability in order to break into your computer.

Advanced users are recommended to configure their own home Web proxy. See Configure Squid. This is not difficult to do and it provides log of all Web accesses that you can later use to detect the extent of the breach. Often the hacking attempt is not detected immediately. See Proxy server trail leads FBI to Palin email hacker | TG Daily. Also proxy server presents almost unlimited capabilities for restricting running scripts from obnoxious, snooping sites like Facebook ("like you in Hell"), etc.

After using a public terminal, it is important that you remember to delete the browser cache, history, and passwords. Most browsers automatically keep track of all the web pages that you have visited, and some keep track of any passwords and personal information that you enter in order to help you fill out similar forms in the future.  It's prudent to change password each time after you use it from public computer as such computer sometimes can contain keyloggers -programs that record you keystroke and extract passwords. For the same reason it make sense to make and correct a couple of mistakes when entering your password on public computer.

Always print emails before sending; when sending email to multiple recipients think about whether it will be welcomed

If you send email to multiple addresses use BCC instead of CC, especially if you are not sure that this information will be welcomed by all recipients. Also list of your contacts is an important information that you should not reveal without necessity. When you put a person's email addresses in the BCC: rather than the CC: window, none of the recipients can see the addresses of the other email recipients.

Print all emails before sending.  If email is not worth printing it is not worth sending. Remember that each your email can still be around in 10 years from now.

Forwarding emails can be a great way to quickly bring someone up to speed on a subject without having to write up a summary email, but it provides a perfect trail for spammers. .

Regularly clean your voicemail and think about it as unsecure as regular email. Here is one telling post from Slashdot:

Press charges against Murdoch and Brooks (Score:5, Interesting)

by G3ckoG33k (647276) writes: on Monday July 11, @11:45AM (#36721148)

Published: September 1, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/05/magazine/05hacking-t.html [nytimes.com]

IN NOVEMBER 2005, three senior aides to Britain’s royal family noticed odd things happening on their mobile phones. Messages they had never listened to were somehow appearing in their mailboxes as if heard and saved. Equally peculiar were stories that began appearing about Prince William in one of the country’s biggest tabloids, News of the World.

 As Scotland Yard tracked Goodman and Mulcaire, the two men hacked into Prince Harry’s mobile-phone messages. On April 9, 2006, Goodman produced a follow-up article in News of the World about the apparent distress of Prince Harry’s girlfriend over the matter. Headlined “Chelsy Tears Strip Off Harry!” the piece quoted, verbatim, a voice mail Prince Hary had received from his brother teasing him about his predicament.

The palace was in an uproar, especially when it suspected that the two men were also listening to the voice mail of Prince William, the second in line to the throne

The ones in charge, Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks, have known about this for years and approved of it. They are the ones who should be charged, not the pianists, i.e. the reporters. They did what they were told to do.

Read more at http://www.observer.com/2010/media/new-york-times-goes-after-murdoch-and-news-world-phone-hacking-scandal [observer.com]

"When The Times reporters asked one veteran News of the World reporter how many people in the offices knew about the hacks, the reporter said “Everyone knew The office cat knew."

and

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/12/world/europe/12hacking.html?_r=1&ref=world [nytimes.com]
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/11/world/europe/11britain.html?ref=world [nytimes.com]

The evidence is there, and everywhere, Murdoch and Brooks are scum.


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Old News ;-)

[Jul 17, 2017] CIA sought to hack Apple iPhones from earliest days

Notable quotes:
"... Efforts to break into Apple products by government security researchers started as early as 2006, a year before Apple introduced its first iPhone and continued through the launch of the iPad in 2010 and beyond, The Intercept said. ..."
Mar 10, 2015 | The Intercept/Reuters

CIA researchers have worked for nearly a decade to break the security protecting Apple (AAPL.O) phones and tablets, investigative news site The Intercept reported on Tuesday, citing documents obtained from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The report cites top-secret U.S. documents that suggest U.S. government researchers had created a version of XCode, Apple's software application development tool, to create surveillance backdoors into programs distributed on Apple's App Store.

The Intercept has in the past published a number of reports from documents released by whistleblower Snowden. The site's editors include Glenn Greenwald, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his work in reporting on Snowden's revelations, and by Oscar-winning documentary maker Laura Poitras.

It said the latest documents, which covered a period from 2006 to 2013, stop short of proving whether U.S. intelligence researchers had succeeded in breaking Apple's encryption coding, which secures user data and communications.

Efforts to break into Apple products by government security researchers started as early as 2006, a year before Apple introduced its first iPhone and continued through the launch of the iPad in 2010 and beyond, The Intercept said.

Breeching Apple security was part of a top-secret program by the U.S. government, aided by British intelligence researchers, to hack "secure communications products, both foreign and domestic" including Google Android phones, it said.

Silicon Valley technology companies have in recent months sought to restore trust among consumers around the world that their products have not become tools for widespread government surveillance of citizens.

Last September, Apple strengthened encryption methods for data stored on iPhones, saying the changes meant the company no longer had any way to extract customer data on the devices, even if a government ordered it to with a search warrant. Silicon Valley rival Google Inc (GOOGL.O) said shortly afterward that it also planned to increase the use of stronger encryption tools.

Both companies said the moves were aimed at protecting the privacy of users of their products and that this was partly a response to wide scale U.S. government spying on Internet users revealed by Snowden in 2013.

An Apple spokesman pointed to public statements by Chief Executive Tim Cook on privacy, but declined to comment further.

"I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services," Cook wrote in a statement on privacy and security published last year. "We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will."

Leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron have expressed concern that turning such privacy-enhancing tools into mass market features could prevent governments from tracking militants planning attacks. The CIA did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

[Jul 14, 2017] Peter W. Smith, GOP operative who sought Clinton's emails from Russian hackers, committed suicide, records show by Katherine Skiba, David Heinzmann, Todd Lighty

Notable quotes:
"... Days earlier, the financier from suburban Lake Forest gave an interview to the Journal about his quest, and it published stories about his efforts beginning in late June. The Journal also reported it had seen emails written by Smith showing his team considered retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, then a top adviser to Republican Donald Trump's campaign, as an ally. Flynn briefly was President Trump's national security adviser and resigned after it was determined he had failed to disclose contacts with Russia. ..."
"... The Journal stories said it was on Labor Day weekend in 2016 that Smith had assembled a team to acquire emails the team theorized might have been stolen from the private server Clinton had used while secretary of state. Smith's focus was the more than 30,000 emails Clinton said she deleted because they related to personal matters. A huge cache of other Clinton emails were made public. ..."
"... Smith told the Journal he believed the missing emails might have had been obtained by Russian hackers. He also said he thought the correspondence related to Clinton's official duties. He told the Journal he worked independently and was not part of the Trump campaign. He also told the Journal he and his team found five groups of hackers - two of them Russian groups - who claimed to have Clinton's missing emails. ..."
"... Investigations into any possible links between the Russian government and people associated with Trump's presidential campaign now are underway in Congress and by former FBI chief Robert Mueller. He is acting as a special counsel for the Department of Justice. Mueller spokesman Peter Carr declined to comment on the Journal's stories on Smith or his death. Washington attorney Robert Kelner, who represents Flynn, had no comment on Thursday. ..."
"... Smith's death occurred at the Aspen Suites in Rochester, records show. They list the cause of death as "asphyxiation due to displacement of oxygen in confined space with helium." ..."
"... The employee, who spoke on the condition he not be identified because of the sensitive nature of Smith's death, described the tank as being similar in size to a propane tank on a gas grill. He did not recall seeing a bag that Smith would have placed over his head. He said the coroner and police were there and that he "didn't do a lot of looking around." ..."
"... Peter Smith wrote two blog posts dated the day before he was found dead. One challenged U.S. intelligence agency findings that Russia interfered with the 2016 election. Another post predicted: "As attention turns to international affairs, as it will shortly, the Russian interference story will die of its own weight." ..."
Jul 13, 2017 | www.msn.com
A Republican donor and operative from Chicago's North Shore who said he had tried to obtain Hillary Clinton's missing emails from Russian hackers killed himself in a Minnesota hotel room days after talking to The Wall Street Journal about his efforts, public records show.

In a room at a Rochester hotel used almost exclusively by Mayo Clinic patients and relatives, Peter W. Smith, 81, left a carefully prepared file of documents, which includes a statement police called a suicide note in which he said he was in ill health and a life insurance policy was expiring.

Days earlier, the financier from suburban Lake Forest gave an interview to the Journal about his quest, and it published stories about his efforts beginning in late June. The Journal also reported it had seen emails written by Smith showing his team considered retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, then a top adviser to Republican Donald Trump's campaign, as an ally. Flynn briefly was President Trump's national security adviser and resigned after it was determined he had failed to disclose contacts with Russia.

At the time, the newspaper reported Smith's May 14 death came about 10 days after he granted the interview. Mystery shrouded how and where he had died, but the lead reporter on the stories said on a podcast he had no reason to believe the death was the result of foul play and that Smith likely had died of natural causes.

However, the Chicago Tribune obtained a Minnesota state death record filed in Olmsted County that says Smith committed suicide in a hotel near the Mayo Clinic at 1:17 p.m. on Sunday, May 14. He was found with a bag over his head with a source of helium attached. A medical examiner's report gives the same account, without specifying the time, and a report from Rochester police further details his suicide.

In the note recovered by police, Smith apologized to authorities and said that "NO FOUL PLAY WHATSOEVER" was involved in his death. He wrote that he was taking his own life because of a "RECENT BAD TURN IN HEALTH SINCE JANUARY, 2017" and timing related "TO LIFE INSURANCE OF $5 MILLION EXPIRING."

One of Smith's former employees told the Tribune he thought the elderly man had gone to the famed clinic to be treated for a heart condition. Mayo spokeswoman Ginger Plumbo said Thursday she could not confirm Smith had been a patient, citing medical privacy laws.

The Journal stories said it was on Labor Day weekend in 2016 that Smith had assembled a team to acquire emails the team theorized might have been stolen from the private server Clinton had used while secretary of state. Smith's focus was the more than 30,000 emails Clinton said she deleted because they related to personal matters. A huge cache of other Clinton emails were made public.

Smith told the Journal he believed the missing emails might have had been obtained by Russian hackers. He also said he thought the correspondence related to Clinton's official duties. He told the Journal he worked independently and was not part of the Trump campaign. He also told the Journal he and his team found five groups of hackers - two of them Russian groups - who claimed to have Clinton's missing emails.

Smith had a history of doing opposition research, the formal term for unflattering information that political operatives dig up about rival candidates.

For years, Democratic President Bill Clinton was Smith's target. The wealthy businessman had a hand in exposing the "Troopergate" allegations about Bill Clinton's sex life. And he discussed financing a probe of a 1969 trip Bill Clinton had taken while in college to the Soviet Union, according to Salon magazine.

Investigations into any possible links between the Russian government and people associated with Trump's presidential campaign now are underway in Congress and by former FBI chief Robert Mueller. He is acting as a special counsel for the Department of Justice. Mueller spokesman Peter Carr declined to comment on the Journal's stories on Smith or his death. Washington attorney Robert Kelner, who represents Flynn, had no comment on Thursday.

Smith's death occurred at the Aspen Suites in Rochester, records show. They list the cause of death as "asphyxiation due to displacement of oxygen in confined space with helium."

Rochester Police Chief Roger Peterson on Wednesday called his manner of death "unusual," but a funeral home worker said he'd seen it before.

An employee with Rochester Cremation Services, the funeral home that responded to the hotel, said he helped remove Smith's body from his room and recalled seeing a tank.

The employee, who spoke on the condition he not be identified because of the sensitive nature of Smith's death, described the tank as being similar in size to a propane tank on a gas grill. He did not recall seeing a bag that Smith would have placed over his head. He said the coroner and police were there and that he "didn't do a lot of looking around."

"When I got there and saw the tank, I thought, 'I've seen this before,' and was able to put two and two together," the employee said.

An autopsy was conducted, according to the death record. The Southern Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner's Office declined a Tribune request for the autopsy report and released limited information about Smith's death.

The Final Exit Network, a Florida-based nonprofit, provides information and support to people who suffer from a terminal illness and want to kill themselves.

Fran Schindler, a volunteer with the group, noted that the best-selling book Final Exit, written by Derek Humphry in 1991 and revised several times since, explains in detail the helium gas method.

"Many people obtain that information from his book," Schindler said. "It's a method that has been around for many years and is well known."

Smith's remains were cremated in Minnesota, the records said. He was married to Janet L. Smith and had three children and three grandchildren, according to his obituary. Tribune calls to family members were not returned.

His obituary said Smith was involved in public affairs for more than 60 years and it heralded him as a "quietly generous champion of efforts to ensure a more economically and politically secure world." Smith led private equity firms in corporate acquisitions and venture investments for more than 40 years. Earlier, he worked with DigaComm, LLC, from 1997 to 2014 and as the president of Peter W. Smith & Company, Inc. from 1975 to 1997. Prior to that, he was a senior officer of Field Enterprises, Inc., a firm that owned the Chicago Sun-Times then and was held by the Marshall Field family, his obituary said.

A private family memorial was planned, the obituary said. Friends posted online tributes to Smith after his death. One was from his former employee, Jonathan Safron, 26, who lives in Chicago's Loop and worked for Smith for about two years.

Safron, in an interview, said he was working for a tutoring firm when Smith became his client. His job entailed teaching Smith how to use a MacBook, Safron said. At the time Smith was living in a condominium atop the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago. Safron said Smith later employed him at Corporate Venture Alliances, a private investment firm that Smith ran, first out of the same condo and later from an office in the Hancock Building.

Safron, who said he had a low-level job with the Illinois Republican Party in 2014, said he had no knowledge of Smith's bid to find hackers who could locate emails missing from Clinton's service as secretary of state. In his online tribute to his former employer, he called Smith the "best boss I could ever ask for ... a mentor, friend and model human being."

Safron said he worked part-time for Smith, putting in about 15 hours a week. But the two grew close, often having lunch together at a favorite Smith spot: the Oak Tree Restaurant & Bakery Chicago on North Michigan Ave. He called Smith a serious man who was "upbeat," "cosmopolitan" and "larger than life." He was aware Smith was in declining health, saying the older man sometimes had difficulty breathing and told work colleagues he had heart problems. Weeks before he took his life, he had become fatigued walking down about four or five flights of stairs during a Hancock Building fire drill and later emailed Safron saying he was "dizzy," he said.

Smith's last will and testament, signed last Feb. 21, is seven pages long and on file in Probate Court in Lake County. The will gives his wife his interest in their residential property and his tangible personal property and says remaining assets should be placed into two trusts.

He was born Feb. 23, 1936, in Portland, Maine, according to the death record.

His late father, Waldo Sterling Smith, was a manufacturer's representative for women's apparel firms, representing them in department stores in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, according to the father's 2002 obituary. The elder Smith died at age 92 in St. Augustine, Fla., and his obit noted that he had been active in St. Johns County, Fla. Republican affairs and with a local Methodist church

Peter Smith wrote two blog posts dated the day before he was found dead. One challenged U.S. intelligence agency findings that Russia interfered with the 2016 election. Another post predicted: "As attention turns to international affairs, as it will shortly, the Russian interference story will die of its own weight."

Skiba reported from Washington, Heinzmann reported from Rochester and Lighty from Chicago. Lauren Rosenblatt of the Tribune Washington Bureau and Dan Moran of the Lake County News-Sun contributed to this story.

[Jun 27, 2017] Loretta Lynch, the ex-Justice Minister, appearing to be becoming a target based on her defence of the Harpy from criminal liability for the email server during the 2016 campaign.

Notable quotes:
"... The fact that the Hersh piece was published in one of Germany's ueber-establishment organs, Die Welt, is significant. It means that Germany is no longer on board, and I don't see Macron, though he is an empty suit, doing a 180 like some fear, since he takes many of his orders from Merkel. ..."
www.unz.com

exiled off mainstreet | Jun 27, 2017 10:33:18 AM | 25

I go along with comments 14 and 15 and see it actually as a response intended to defend against the inference from the Hersh piece that Trump revealed himself to be a moron for succumbing despite the evidence to media propaganda.

I think that the problem is that Trump is less than fully in control of elements of his government, possibly even Spicer, as evidenced by the failure to inform the state dept, military and others of the statement, which may not have been fully vetted. I wouldn't be surprised if Spicer's time as press secretary is limited.

The fact that the Hersh piece was published in one of Germany's ueber-establishment organs, Die Welt, is significant. It means that Germany is no longer on board, and I don't see Macron, though he is an empty suit, doing a 180 like some fear, since he takes many of his orders from Merkel.

It is seriously disconcerting that the neocons still seem to be able to rule the roost. If any "chemical" attack occurs within a few days or longer away, it will be extremely suspect. Meanwhile, the Russia conspiracy stories in the US seem to be in the early stages of blowing up, with a CNN official being exposed as admitting it was all propaganda, and Loretta Lynch, the ex-Justice Minister, appearing to be becoming a target based on her defence of the Harpy from criminal liability for the email server during the 2016 campaign.

In light of these facts, I think the whole thing more likely shows weakness and disarray, not a serious conspiratorial threat of armageddon, though it could end up blowing up in that direction.

[Jun 15, 2017] Was Comeys second thought announcement after Hillary email investigation a naked political gambit?

Notable quotes:
"... And what about his very strange announcement about Wiener computer containing Hillary classified emails? ..."
Jun 11, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Libezkova, June 11, 2017 at 06:07 PM

"When you have a former head of the FBI, a deeply respected person"

That's funny. Can you spell 9/11. He served as President George W. Bush's deputy attorney general (D.A.G.), in the aftermath of 9/11. So he is the the one who got Saudi officials off the hook.

Former Democratic Sen. Bob Graham, who in 2002 chaired the congressional Joint Inquiry into 9/11, maintains the FBI is covering up a Saudi support cell in Sarasota for the hijackers. He says the al-Hijjis' "urgent" pre-9/11 exit suggests "someone may have tipped them off" about the coming attacks.

Graham has been working with a 14-member group in Congress to urge President Obama to declassify 28 pages of the final report of his inquiry which were originally redacted, wholesale, by President George W. Bush.

"The 28 pages primarily relate to who financed 9/11, and they point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principal financier," he said, adding, "I am speaking of the kingdom," or government, of Saudi Arabia, not just wealthy individual Saudi donors.

Sources who have read the censored Saudi section say it cites CIA and FBI case files that directly implicate officials of the Saudi Embassy in Washington and its consulate in Los Angeles in the attacks - which, if true, would make 9/11 not just an act of terrorism, but an act of war by a foreign government.

– From the New York Post article: How the FBI is Whitewashing the Saudi Connection to 9/11

Was Comey's "second thought" announcement after Hillary email investigation a naked political gambit?

And what about his very strange announcement about Wiener computer containing Hillary classified emails?

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/03/politics/james-comey-hearing-huma-abedin-forwarding-classified-information/index.html

[Jun 09, 2017] BREAKING Social Media Reacts to Loretta Lynch Being IMPLICATED

Jun 09, 2017 | truthfeed.com
A key takeaway of today's Comey hearing is the bombshell revelation that former DOJ head Loretta Lynch tried to encourage James Comey to minimize the investigation into Hillary Clinton.

From NYPost

Ousted FBI Director James Comey said Thursday that he suspected former Attorney General Loretta Lynch was in cahoots with the Hillary Clinton campaign last summer.

Lynch, he said, told him not to refer to the probe into Clinton's private email server as an "investigation."

"She said just call it a matter. That concerned me because that language tracked how the campaign was talking about the FBI's work," he said.

Former President Bill Clinton's surprise meeting with Lynch at an Arizona airport also prompted him to go public with results of the FBI probe into the email server .

"That was the thing that capped it for me, that I had to do something separately to protect the credibility of the investigation, which meant both the FBI and the Justice Department," Comey said.

Comey announced last July that criminal charges were not warranted, angering Republicans.

[Jun 09, 2017] Emailgate had shown staggering incompetence and arrogance of Hillary and her close circle

Notable quotes:
"... It had shown staggering incompetence and arrogance of Hillary and her close circle. You can argue about the level of criminality, but it is impossible to argue about staggering level of incompetence and arrogance. "Bathroom server" was essentially "shadow IT" installed by Hillary for her nefarious purpose to hide transactions benefitting Clinton foundation and generally to remain out of control, while in government. ..."
"... All-in-all vividly demonstrated that Obama administration as whole was a dysfunctional mess with corruption and clique infighting inside major departments (Meeting of Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch; Comey granting immunity to everybody, suppressing the investigation and then having the second thoughts; Obama greed after he left the office). ..."
Jun 09, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
libezkova, June 09, 2017 at 11:20 AM
"The email scandal was a big nothing."

I disagree. It had shown staggering incompetence and arrogance of Hillary and her close circle. You can argue about the level of criminality, but it is impossible to argue about staggering level of incompetence and arrogance. "Bathroom server" was essentially "shadow IT" installed by Hillary for her nefarious purpose to hide transactions benefitting Clinton foundation and generally to remain out of control, while in government.

Attempts to suppress investigation now also can be proved. Much better then Trump collision with Russians.

All-in-all vividly demonstrated that Obama administration as whole was a dysfunctional mess with corruption and clique infighting inside major departments (Meeting of Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch; Comey granting immunity to everybody, suppressing the investigation and then having the second thoughts; Obama greed after he left the office).

If this was a big nothing, then dementia is not a problem :-)

mulp, June 09, 2017 at 11:39 AM
"I disagree. It had shown staggering incompetence and arrogance of Hillary and her close circle. yo can argue about the level of criminality, but it is impossible to argue about staggering level of incompetence and arrogance."

OK, Clinton was not 1000% perfect.

So, that justifies giving the job to Trump because 5% competency from a man is better than a 98% competent woman?

Only men are allowed to be both arrogant and incompetent!

[Jun 09, 2017] Whether the Russians did it or not, the USA has the dismal failure by the leading political party to secure their digital communications

The USA opened this can of works with Flame and Stixnet. Now it needs to face consequences of its reckless actions.
Both Hillary staff and DNC staff behaves like complete idiots, taking into account the level of mayhem the USA caused in other countries, including Russia. Blowback eventually came and bite their ass. In addition Hillary "private" staff was definitely incompetent.
Notable quotes:
"... The validity of outrage anyway vis-a-vis the Russians, is, to some extent, misplaced ( ..everyone's doin' it aren't they? For starters, recall the Time cover of' '96: ..."
Apr 28, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

This is all really becoming exasperating!

Incessantly reporting 24/7 on whether the Russians did it or not doesn't take into account the critical failure by a leading political party of the "free world" – a nation supposedly at the forefront of technology – to appropriately secure their digital communications along with those of a potential POTUS.

This is a question of how US government, or a potential one, works, and how it should work in the future.

The validity of outrage anyway vis-a-vis the Russians, is, to some extent, misplaced ( ..everyone's doin' it aren't they? For starters, recall the Time cover of' '96:

http://content.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,19960715,00.html )

[Jun 09, 2017] Tucker Carlson Lays Waste to Comeys Testimony and Democrat Attempt to Unseat the President

Notable quotes:
"... Everything about Comey is wrong. The fact that he felt the need to 'take notes' because the President asked for loyalty is fucking absurd. What sort of example did he make for fellow G men when he referred to his dealings with his commander in chief as being 'slightly cowardly'? The whole thing is rot, helping to fuel a bogus investigation spearheaded by a broken democratic party who have lost their fucking mind. ..."
"... He also touched upon the mercenary media's fake news about Trump, provided by bad sources, which was confirmed by Comey today. ..."
"... Don't forget it was McCain who took the 'pee' dossier that had been floating around DC which was so phoney even the media wouldn't touch - and told Comey to investigate. ..."
"... This is nothing less than a coordinated overthrow of the government by the deep state, media and uniparty ..."
"... So what do we need special counsel Mueller for in light of all this? Everyone knows the whole Russia collusion affair is politically motivated BS and deflection. ..."
"... Not to mention Comey handing out immunity deals like Christmas candy on Hillary's email investigation. Why would he do that? ..."
"... Comey took notes because he planned to blackmail Trump in the future just like J Edgar Hoover did when he ran the FBI. ..."
"... "Politicized" by the global central banks who own and operate virtually all world governments. I believe we need to keep the players very CLEAR in our minds. It's all of us; humanity, against the globalists who want us dead. Politicians, our institutions... all are aligned with the globalist psychopaths. It's that simple. ..."
"... Comey makes a memo, because that is the M.O. of the FBI. He fully expects gullible sheeple to believe any written statement by an FBI agent is truth, rather than a manipulating fake. ..."
"... Comey has admitted to a number of criminal acts ..."
"... Comey and his FBI partner should be legally charged by the Justice Department for releasing his FBI Memo to NY Times. His FBI partner should be fired and charged. They had no authority to release private government information and breach confidentiality with the president of the United States. The memo proved nothing and meant nothing but releasing it by a fired employee and FBI partner is a breach to FBI and the office of the president of the USA. ..."
"... Not one coward on that Senate committee had the balls to ask about the Seth Rich investigation........disappointing ..."
"... Comey also stated as 100% undisputed fact that Russia had "meddled" with the election. Again, no proof was cited, yet not a single Republican asked for such proof, nor has Trump managed to articulate a similar request. This is somewhat disturbing. ..."
"... The threat of being "Clintoned" is a powerful force. ..."
Jun 08, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
Content originally published at iBankCoin.com

There will come a day when the city square will be packed with gibbets filled with swinging heads of traitorous bastard commies -- most readily found in leftshit cities. The degeneracy must end. Today's testimony by Comey was a farce, a transparent attempt by a spent and bitter bureaucrat trying to hurt a sitting President.

Everything about Comey is wrong. The fact that he felt the need to 'take notes' because the President asked for loyalty is fucking absurd. What sort of example did he make for fellow G men when he referred to his dealings with his commander in chief as being 'slightly cowardly'? The whole thing is rot, helping to fuel a bogus investigation spearheaded by a broken democratic party who have lost their fucking mind.

Tucker chimes in and reviews the day's events, pointing out the hypocrisy of Comey and his dealings with AG Lynch, who asked for Comey to word the investigation of Hillary Clinton's email scandal as a 'matter.' If that's not collusion and political pressure on the FBI, nothing is.

He also touched upon the mercenary media's fake news about Trump, provided by bad sources, which was confirmed by Comey today.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/tHtP2gQIoCE

rosiescenario , Jun 9, 2017 12:31 PM

After watching this political circus it is very clear that no one should be re-elected from either party, with the single exception of Paul.

Looks like what we really need is a new political party that actually serves the public tax payers, unfortunately it may take a major financial depression and its accompanying turmoil to bring that about.

Blazing in BC , Jun 9, 2017 12:25 PM

He seems to have blown his lead, I mean load, to no avail.

mary mary , Jun 9, 2017 12:14 PM

IMHO, the Comey hearing was John McCain's chance to redeem himself, and he blew it. I think his idea to go after Comey's interactions with the Obama regime was a great idea, but he came unprepared and unrehearsed. McCain had an opportunity to display leadership, but he failed to lead.

SummerSausage - mary mary , Jun 9, 2017 12:38 PM

Don't forget it was McCain who took the 'pee' dossier that had been floating around DC which was so phoney even the media wouldn't touch - and told Comey to investigate.

It's time 81 year old McCain - last in his Naval Academy class - shuffled off to an assisted living center in Arizona.

Tortuga , Jun 9, 2017 11:39 AM

These paris, comey, collusion, russki hoaxes are for 1 reason only; distraction to delay the "hanging".

http://skylarkutilities.com/video/watch/vid01SzjDOwbt8S8

SummerSausage , Jun 9, 2017 11:03 AM

Great post, as usual, Fly.

Comey created a memo because it's hard to leak to multiple sources at one time in person.

We're living history folks. This is nothing less than a coordinated overthrow of the government by the deep state, media and uniparty dominated by leftojihadis. The Gang of 8 is composed of 4 dimocrites and 4 rinos. The rinos had a duty to come forward and not only refute the lies in the media but to reveal it all as a hoax. Only Nunes told President Trump what was going on and he was forced to recuse himself from the intelligence committee investigation.

Even an atheist has to admit there's divine intervention at work here. Flawed though he admits to be, Trump is being guided and protected by a force more powerful than the swamp.

markar , Jun 9, 2017 10:22 AM

So what do we need special counsel Mueller for in light of all this? Everyone knows the whole Russia collusion affair is politically motivated BS and deflection.

Jim in MN - markar , Jun 9, 2017 10:34 AM

So he can quietly wander over and start pulling the illegal wiretap files that the Obama Stasi were compiling. Other than that, no point.

SummerSausage - Jim in MN , Jun 9, 2017 10:43 AM

But Mueller won't. He & Comey are besties of 25 year standing. All Mueller will do it find no direct links between the Russians and Trump or his administration but justify Comey's investigation by saying the Russians are bad, evil people who were trying to co-opt naive and inexperienced Trump colleagues.

If they wanted an honest and truthful investigation they would not have selected a retired swamp general.

ClowardPiven2016 - PitBullsRule , Jun 9, 2017 10:49 AM

It scares me that people actually believe this shit. I guess we are doomed considering how many morons like PitBullsRule are lapping up the koolaid with their heads in the sand

barysenter - PitBullsRule , Jun 9, 2017 10:18 AM

Reality doesn't conform to your expectations much? HA HA

Northern Flicker , Jun 9, 2017 9:44 AM

Not to mention Comey handing out immunity deals like Christmas candy on Hillary's email investigation. Why would he do that?

Comey's (limited hangout) strategy: Say a few things to look honest, so he could sell "the Russians did it (hack)" - despite showing no evidence. Otherwise, there would be no need for a Special Counsel and he knows Mueller will forment more troubles for Trump, perhaps for years. Trump needs to end this Russian hack nonsense ASAP.

Tachyon5321 , Jun 9, 2017 8:51 AM

Comey took notes because he planned to blackmail Trump in the future just like J Edgar Hoover did when he ran the FBI.

Kayman - Tachyon5321 , Jun 9, 2017 9:47 AM

Comey wouldn't state, "We are not investigating you, Mr. President." Yet....

Downtoolong , Jun 9, 2017 8:44 AM

I'd like Loretta Lynch to show me where in the FBI handbook it explains the proper procedure for conducting "matters".

They just make shit up to suit their needs. The Comey incident is another sad example of how every branch of government and every agency has become politicized by both sides, to the point they can no longer perform their intended function.

SummerSausage - Downtoolong , Jun 9, 2017 10:55 AM

The law does not allow subpeonas or grand juries based on "matters" - only valid "investigations".

Tell me how that is not Lynch & Comey colluding to interfere in the election and obstruct justice. I'm willing to listen with an open mind.

adanata - Downtoolong , Jun 9, 2017 9:51 AM

"Politicized" by the global central banks who own and operate virtually all world governments. I believe we need to keep the players very CLEAR in our minds. It's all of us; humanity, against the globalists who want us dead. Politicians, our institutions... all are aligned with the globalist psychopaths. It's that simple.

SoDamnMad - Downtoolong , Jun 9, 2017 9:26 AM

"how every branch of government and every agency has become politicized by both sides, to the point they can no longer perform their intended function" and should therefore be disbanded. Fixed it for you.

GotAFriendInBen , Jun 9, 2017 8:26 AM

Repeat lies often enough and they become the truth

https://www.yahoo.com/news/trumps-lawyer-cites-questionable-timeline-dis...

Reaper , Jun 9, 2017 8:24 AM

Comey makes a memo, because that is the M.O. of the FBI. He fully expects gullible sheeple to believe any written statement by an FBI agent is truth, rather than a manipulating fake. Trump's possible recording constrained Comey's M.O..

scoutshonor , Jun 9, 2017 7:43 AM

Nobody will do anything about any of this. Time to shitcan the lot of them. I hope not a single doofus up for re-election goes back to D.C. in '18.

It's hard to know which to slap first, those that break the law out in the open--or those that turn a blind eye to the flagrant lawlessness of the trangressors.

This is some weak-ass tea.

Thom Paine , Jun 9, 2017 7:35 AM

Comey has admitted to a number of criminal acts I think.

There are a few crimes there that I gather the DOJ has no option but to prosecute, how can it not? Since they are also prosecuting Winner for the exact same thing?

Jim in MN - Thom Paine , Jun 9, 2017 10:31 AM

He stole government property (the memos).

boattrash - Thom Paine , Jun 9, 2017 8:04 AM

All good points you listed, yet the fucker didn't see the need to take notes during the 4th of July weekend interview of Hillary? WTF?

Kayman - boattrash , Jun 9, 2017 9:45 AM

Why would Comey make notes of receiving payment from the Clinton Foundation?

SummerSausage - Kayman , Jun 9, 2017 11:07 AM

It's all here http://stateofthenation2012.com/?p=72788

Comey got rich covering up for the Clintons and swamp rats.

SithApprentice , Jun 9, 2017 7:23 AM

Comey thought he would be the next J Edgar Hoover and now he is unemployed and hopefully a pariah. Two-faced ass.

New_Meat - SithApprentice , Jun 9, 2017 8:40 AM

with a $10MM book advance

gregga777 , Jun 9, 2017 6:52 AM

Feral Bureau of Weasels Head Weasel James Comey said that he behaved 'slightly cowardly'. Well, that is the sort of behavior one expects from a Weasel.

[No insults intended to the small mammals grouped together in the weasel family.]

DarkestbeforeDawn , Jun 9, 2017 6:25 AM

Tucker distills gale wind force BS into an easily digestible summary. I'd watch him live every night, but I don't watch TV anymore

alphasammae , Jun 9, 2017 12:17 AM

Great review Tucker Carlson! Comey is a disgruntled loser like Killary. Comey never followed up on Seth Rich murder, a more serious matter than playing stupid politics.

Comey and his FBI partner should be legally charged by the Justice Department for releasing his FBI Memo to NY Times. His FBI partner should be fired and charged. They had no authority to release private government information and breach confidentiality with the president of the United States. The memo proved nothing and meant nothing but releasing it by a fired employee and FBI partner is a breach to FBI and the office of the president of the USA.

gregga777 - alphasammae , Jun 9, 2017 6:55 AM

Feral Bureau of Weasels Head Weasel James Comey was actively covering up for the murderers who murdered Seth Rich and the people who hired them. He should be shitting whole goats knowing that Attorney General Sessions seized everything in his office while he was in LACALIFUSA. Comey will probably be joining Obama shortly wherever it is that he is hanging out overseas.

Bytor325 - alphasammae , Jun 9, 2017 5:59 AM

Not one coward on that Senate committee had the balls to ask about the Seth Rich investigation........disappointing

francis_the_won... - Bytor325 , Jun 9, 2017 9:27 AM

Comey also stated as 100% undisputed fact that Russia had "meddled" with the election. Again, no proof was cited, yet not a single Republican asked for such proof, nor has Trump managed to articulate a similar request. This is somewhat disturbing.

Got The Wrong No - Bytor325 , Jun 9, 2017 6:17 AM

The threat of being "Clintoned" is a powerful force.

[Jun 08, 2017] Comey apparently admit leaking stuff to New York Times

Notable quotes:
"... Except for the fact that Comey admitted he is a leaker, has a network through which he has leaked information designed to harm President Trump. ..."
"... Oh, and that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and other Obama administration officials may have engaged in serious misconduct worthy of further investigation–which Comey testified about today. ..."
Jun 08, 2017 | www.breitbart.com

UPDATE 12:50 P.M. As the public part of the hearing adjourned, and Comey has completely vindicated Trump ahead of a later closed session hearing where he and senators are likely to discuss classified information he could not bring up during the televised hearing, the whole thing turned out exactly like Breitbart News Network told you it would: A giant nothing-burger.

Except for the fact that Comey admitted he is a leaker, has a network through which he has leaked information designed to harm President Trump.

Oh, and that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and other Obama administration officials may have engaged in serious misconduct worthy of further investigation–which Comey testified about today.

UPDATE 12:37 P.M. Their hopes and dreams dashed by Comey completely vindicating Trump in this open hearing, and instead implicating ex-Obama administration officials like Loretta Lynch–and implicating himself as an anti-Trump leaker with a network through which he has leaked damaging information against the president–the left and media are pinning everything on a last ditch line of questioning from Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).

This line of questioning from @SenKamalaHarris regarding the Attorney General is extraordinarily important – not to be overlooked

- Matt House (@mattwhouse) June 8, 2017

Here's video of her comparing Trump to an armed robber though, so take whatever she says with a grain of salt:

Sen. Kamala Harris seems to compare Trump to an armed robber saying "I hope you will give me your wallet" #ComeyTestimony pic.twitter.com/2yjfV3UyIM

- Mike Ciandella ن (@MikeCiandella) June 8, 2017

Meanwhile, anti-Trump Never Trumper Max Boot is in an alternate reality, saying Comey was fantastic as a witness.

Bottom line for #ComeyDay : Comey a highly credible witness. Trump isn't. Comey makes damning accusations. Trump denials unconvincing.

- Max Boot (@MaxBoot) June 8, 2017

Flashback, though, to when Comey was fired and Boot with some bold predictions back on May 9:

Congress needs to ask Comey to testify & he needs to tell all he knows about Kremlingate. If he does Trump may regret firing him.

- Max Boot (@MaxBoot) May 10, 2017

Don't tell Max Boot about the black helicopters coming for him. Seriously. "KREMLINGATE"? What is wrong with these people? Anyway, another wonderfully fantastic flashback of this Never Trumper from when Comey was fired in May:

Prediction: If Democrats take control of Congress in 2018, the firing of Comey will form one of the articles of impeachment.

- Max Boot (@MaxBoot)

Senators should ask Comey the name of the Columbia professor and then subpoena the memos from him.

- Alan Dershowitz (@AlanDersh) June 8, 2017

UPDATE 12:21 P.M. Loretta Lynch is in serious trouble right now. Looks like the Democrats' efforts may have backfired.

Loretta Lynch is having a surprisingly bad day in the Comey testimony

- Chris Cillizza (@CillizzaCNN) June 8, 2017

If it wasn't for Trump becoming president, the corruption with Obama's Department of Justice would be a major story.

- Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) June 8, 2017

Comey also just testified that he did not believe that Lynch could "credibly deny" the Hillary Clinton email scandal investigation, and that she had a serious conflict of interest. He also testified in exchange with Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the Senate Majority Whip, that it is possible a special prosecutor was needed for the email scandal. He said he considered calling for appointing a special counsel in the scandal, but decided against it.

UPDATE 12:08 P.M. Oh my. Now confirmed leaker James Comey's leak network has been outed, or at least part of it has:

Only in Washington: Someone nursing a pint of beer shouts out to a crowded bar: "Daniel Richman of Columbia" https://t.co/hNXVbfBe8r

- Alexander Panetta (@Alex_Panetta) June 8, 2017

So the collusion involves former FBI director, mainstream media, and the left-wing academy to bring down the elected president #ComeyHearing https://t.co/sVWKpajWw9

- Joel B. Pollak (@joelpollak) June 8, 2017

And now Comey's anti-Trump leak network is confirming to the media that Comey is a leaker:

Columbia Law Prof Daniel Richman confirms to @ZCohenCNN that he is the friend that provided excerpts of the Comey memo to reporters.

- Ryan Nobles (@ryanobles) June 8, 2017

UPDATE 12:05 P.M. There are now serious questions being raised as to whether Loretta Lynch, the former Attorney General from the Obama administration, will be subpoenaed to testify after this hearing where Comey has implicated her.

Legit question: is Loretta Lynch going to be subpoenaed as a result of this testimony?

- Mike Shields (@mshields007) June 8, 2017

Meanwhile, Comey's admission he is a leaker serious hurts him. Jonathan Turley of George Washington University Law School makes the case Comey may be in serious trouble:

Comey admits that he leaked the internal memo through a Columbia law professor in order to force Special Counsel. Yet, that raises questions

- Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) June 8, 2017

Comey is doing well but leaking info runs against Comey's image, particularly in light of the leak controversy hoiunding the Administration

- Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) June 8, 2017

The memos could be viewed as gov't material and potential evidence . Leaking to a friend for disclosure can raise serious questions.

- Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) June 8, 2017

UPDATE 12:02 P.M. Donald Trump, Jr., highlights an excellent question from Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) to Comey. Comey did not have a great answer.

Sen Blunt: If you told Sessions you didn't want to be alone with Trump again, why did you continue to take his calls?

- Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) June 8, 2017

UPDATE 12:01 P.M. From our RNC friends, here's video of Sen. Rubio crushing another leftist media narrative during his questioning of Comey.

Basically, Comey was so concerned about President Trump's conversations with him that he alerted exactly nobody who could do anything about it. In other words, this whole thing is a giant nothing-burger. Except for Comey implicating himself as a leaker.

UPDATE 11:58 A.M. Comey is in big trouble after this hearing. He admitted he's a leaker, and has an actual network through which he leaks information to the press. In addition, he withheld from leaking information that would have vindicated President Trump weeks ago. White House social media director Dan Scavino captures it clearly and concisely on Twitter:

Because if it was leaked that @realDonaldTrump was personally not under investigation- it would have crushed the entire narrative. pic.twitter.com/drFcCxin5M

- Dan Scavino Jr. (@DanScavino) June 8, 2017

President Trump still has yet to Tweet, so no free drinks yet here at Union Pub. Looks like the owners here made a smart decision since this place is standing room only right now.

UPDATE 11:54 A.M. Oh, man, this keeps getting better and better. Comey just shredded the Democrats AND now the fake news media.

Oh Boy. Comey says there have been many many stories based on classified information about Russia that are just "dead wrong"

- Maeve Reston (@MaeveReston) June 8, 2017

I wonder if any of the media outlets that have printed repeated stories on these matters will check their reporting again or correct it if they're wrong. Not holding my breath.

UPDATE 11:50 A.M. Comey has emerged throughout this hearing before the American people looking very much like a drama queen. One of the more memorable lines is when he says when Trump called him to ask him if he was free for dinner, he had to break a date with his wife.

Comey says Trump called him at his desk. "Free for dinner tonight?"
"I said yessir I had to call my wife and break a date with her."

- Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) June 8, 2017

That's not the only drama-filled Comey testimony:

COMEY JUST QUOTES HENRY 11 on what he thought Trump meant: 'Will no one rid me of this toublesome priest"

- Trip Gabriel (@tripgabriel) June 8, 2017

Meanwhile, even CNN's Jim Acosta–a vehemently anti-Trump media figure in the heart of the opposition party's mothership CNN–is joining in on the anti-Comey fun.

Giving info to media "like feeding seagulls at the beach?" Fact check: True.

- Jim Acosta (@Acosta) June 8, 2017

UPDATE 11:48 A.M. The leaky Capitol Hill GOP swamp aides are attacking Trump, despite the fact Comey has vindicated the president and implicated himself in potentially illegal leaks.

Senate R aide: Holding nose and defending Trump is taking a lot out of these GOP senators - and they will demand some kind of repayment

- Glenn Thrush (@GlennThrush) June 8, 2017

The fact that Swamp Creatures on the "Republican" side on Capitol Hill are throwing shade on their own president, and party, as the GOP and Trump likely emerge from today's masquerade mostly out of the woods is simply incredible but unsurprising. Swamp Things are going to Swamp.

UPDATE 11:45 A.M. Comey's open admission he orchestrated a potentially illegal leak puts him in serious potential trouble, the New York Times people note. That's the story folks. He vindicated Trump, and implicated himself. Wow, what a day.

Can't remember the last time someone in DC openly acknowledged orchestrating a leak - and without any senator having even asked.

- Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) June 8, 2017

UPDATE 11:39 A.M. CNN's Dan Merica says that President Trump's personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz will make a statement at the end of Comey's public testimony.

Marc Kasowitz, Trump's lawyer outside the White House, will make a statement at the end of James Comey's Senate testimony

- Dan Merica (@danmericaCNN) June 8, 2017

UPDATE 11:35 A.M. As Comey continues vindicating Trump and throwing Democrats like Lynch, Obama, and Clinton under the bus–presumably accidentally–the Washington, D.C., daydrinking party scene is in full swing:

Spotted at Duffy's Irish Pub in North DC:
"Comey is my homey." pic.twitter.com/kvGuaqEqsd

- Sharon Nunn (@sharonmnunn) June 8, 2017

Her "homey" James Comey, meanwhile, has actually admitted he is a leaker.

Flag: Comey says he had a friend of his leak the content of his memo to a reporter to hopefully prompt the appointment of a special counsel. pic.twitter.com/qICnQhI2te

- Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 8, 2017

Comey admits to @SenatorCollins that he asked a friend to leak the contents of his memo to NYT to prompt the appointment of Special Counsel.

- Joel B. Pollak (@joelpollak) June 8, 2017

Here's video of Comey admitting he has been leaking information to the media:

Here's how I leaked my Trump memo after Trump's "tapes" tweet

by: James Comey pic.twitter.com/9Z1QPPdcKD

- Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) June 8, 2017

UPDATE 11:32 A.M. While obstruction is now off the table for Trump, as Breitbart's Joel Pollak detailed, Breitbart's John Hayward notes that obstruction is back on the table for several leading officials from now former President Barack Obama's administration. Hayward says Congress needs to investigate Loretta Lynch, the former Attorney General, as well as Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton–the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee–for obstruction of justice.

Big takeaway from the Comey hearing: urgent need to investigate Loretta Lynch, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton for obstruction

- John Hayward (@Doc_0) June 8, 2017

UPDATE 11:29 A.M. Our very own Joel Pollak is out with another bombshell piece detailing how this hearing has shattered the media's and the Democrats' efforts to taint President Trump with "obstruction of justice."

"Democrats have hinged their hopes for impeachment - and reversing the 2016 elections - on the idea that Trump committed obstruction of justice. That case has now been smashed beyond repair," Pollak writes, pointing to a Comey exchange with Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID).

Read his whole story here .

[Jun 08, 2017] The Six Most Important Revelations from the Comey Hearing - Breitbart

Notable quotes:
"... Breitbart News Daily ..."
"... Colin Madine is a contributor and editor at Breitbart News and can be reached at cmadine@breitbart.com ..."
Jun 08, 2017 | www.breitbart.com
One thing is for sure, Comey's testimony was anything but boring. 1) Trump was not under investigation by the FBI

When questioned by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Comey answered that President Donald Trump was not under investigation by the FBI. It was also revealed that congressional leaders had previously been briefed on this fact.

This morning Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton joined Breitbart News Daily and predicted this fact. Fitton called allegations against Trump "gossip" and "a nothing burger."

2) James Comey leaked documents to the media

Comey admitted to orchestrating leaks from the investigation to the media using a network of friends. Reponse was swift on social media:

Senators should ask Comey the name of the Columbia professor and then subpoena the memos from him.

- Alan Dershowitz (@AlanDersh) June 8, 2017

So the collusion involves former FBI director, mainstream media, and the left-wing academy to bring down the elected president #ComeyHearing https://t.co/sVWKpajWw9 June 8, 2017

Columbia Law Prof Daniel Richman confirms to @ZCohenCNN that he is the friend that provided excerpts of the Comey memo to reporters.

- Ryan Nobles (@ryanobles) June 8, 2017

Senator Rubio pointed out the interesting fact that one of the few things not to leak out was the fact that Trump was not under investigation himself.

Because if it was leaked that @realDonaldTrump was personally not under investigation- it would have crushed the entire narrative. pic.twitter.com/drFcCxin5M

- Dan Scavino Jr. (@DanScavino) June 8, 2017

President Trump's personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, issued a blistering statement after the hearing on the subject of Comey's leaks.

3) The obstruction of justice case against Trump just went up in smoke

Senator James Risch (R-ID) questioned Comey early in the hearing about the possibility of obstruction of justice regarding the investigation of General Michael Flynn. Risch repeatedly questioned Comey about the exact wording used by President Trump to him in private, which Comey recorded in his much-discussed memo .

The exchange leaves Democrat's hopes of impeachment for obstruction of justice considerably dimmed:

Comey : I mean, it's the 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.

Risch : You may have taken it as a direction, but that's not what he said.

Risch : He said, "I hope."

Comey : Those are exact words, correct.

Risch : You don't know of anyone that's been charged for hoping something?

Comey : I don't, as I sit here.

Risch : Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

4) Comey says the New York Times published fake news

James Comey had a few things to say about the reporting of the New York Times which reported on collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Senator Risch questioned Comey about the Times, asking "So the American people can understand this, that report by the New York Times was not true, is that a fair statement?"

"It was not true," Comey said. "Again, all of you know this, maybe the American people don't. The challenge - I'm not picking on reporters about writing stories about classified information [the challenge is] that people talking about it often don't really now what's going on and those of us who actually know what's going on are not talking about it."

5) Loretta Lynch meddled in the Clinton investigation

Comey discussed the involvement of President Obama's Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, in the investigation of Hillary Clinton. He stated that Lynch made an odd request for how the FBI investigation should be described.

"At one point the attorney general had directed me not to call it investigation, but instead to call it a matter, which concerned and confused me," Comey said.

Comey added that Lynch's infamous tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton during the campaign was the reason he decided to make a statement when the decision was made not to prosecute Hillary Clinton.

"In a ultimately conclusive way, that was the thing that capped it for me, that I had to do something separately to protect the credibility of the investigation, which meant both the FBI and the Justice Department," Comey said.

6) James Comey sounds like every disgruntled former employee ever

Comey had quite a bit to say about his firing, which leaves him looking like a disgruntled former employee . Comey accused President Trump and his administration of lying about him, and "defaming him and more importantly the FBI."

Comey also explained that his discomfort with the President and the belief that Trump would lie about him led to the creation of his memo on the meeting. "I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting, so I thought it really important to document," Comey said. "I knew there might come a day when I might need a record of what happened not only to defend myself but to protect the FBI."

... ... ...

Colin Madine is a contributor and editor at Breitbart News and can be reached at cmadine@breitbart.com

[Jun 08, 2017] Loretta Lynch meddled in the Clinton investigation

Comey deflated under Loretta Lynch pressure and wrapped the investigation of favorable to Hillary terms. He assigned close to Hillary Person to lead the investigation, which suggest cover up from the very beginning of the investigation. Then he has the second thought and issued his famous statement, in which he usurped the role of justice Department official.
marknesop.wordpress.com

Comey discussed the involvement of President Obama's Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, in the investigation of Hillary Clinton. He stated that Lynch made an odd request for how the FBI investigation should be described.

"At one point the attorney general had directed me not to call it investigation, but instead to call it a matter, which concerned and confused me," Comey said.

Comey added that Lynch's infamous tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton during the campaign was the reason he decided to make a statement when the decision was made not to prosecute Hillary Clinton.

"In a ultimately conclusive way, that was the thing that capped it for me, that I had to do something separately to protect the credibility of the investigation, which meant both the FBI and the Justice Department," Comey said.

[Jun 08, 2017] Pot. Kettle. Black. Hilarious.

Jun 08, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com
et Al , June 8, 2017 at 4:10 am
So, "While Trump had done nothing illegal in requesting Comey to drop the investigation, there is still the question of 'political interference' and the optics.".

29 June 2016

CNN: Bill Clinton meeting causes headaches for Hillary
http://edition.cnn.com/2016/06/29/politics/bill-clinton-loretta-lynch/index.html

#####

Pot. Kettle. Black. Hilarious.

[Jun 07, 2017] Hillary was so corrupt and her judgment and actions so bad, that there was a never-ending stram of bad news about her. In no way they were fake news

Notable quotes:
"... I posted 99% anti-Hillary material. It consisted mostly of newspaper articles about many issues, ranging from her support for a right wing coup in Honduras that resulted in an escalation of violence, to her massive pay to play at the State Dept, to her disastrous regime change attempts in Libya and Syria (not to mention her support for the coup in Ukraine and the installation of a Neo Nazi regime). There were also many articles about her numerous campaign promise betrayals, such as her support for bad trade deals with Colombia, South Korea, and Singapore, despite her promises to oppose these (her change of position re: Colombia was after getting a $10 million donation). These articles were all from mainstream sources, including The Nation, The Hill, even the NYT. ..."
"... The thing is, Hillary was so corrupt and her judgment and actions so bad, that there was a seemingly never-ending wealth of bad things to post about her. It wasn't fake news, it was the actual historical record of her dastardly deeds. It wasn't just I who did this. This is what folks on FB and other social media sites did throughout. She probably would refer to what we all posted as "fake news" because she psychopathically denies the truth on a continual basis. ..."
"... Keep in mind that I had not mentioned where I'd gotten my information; I simply said I had done broad research of St. Hillary's history and found it bore little to no resemblance to what the media said about her. ..."
"... When I patiently explained this (and added my journalist's credentials), the attack-cultist then switched to their second favorite: I support Trump, and am guilty of his election. I don't know how long she kept on posting her foam-mouthed mantras, because I departed using my standard response: I no longer engage in battles of facts with unarmed opponents. ..."
Jun 07, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Anonymous , June 5, 2017 at 9:30 pm

Lots of people, including myself, created FB accounts solely to post material related to the 2016 Democratic Primary and the election. I have just under 5,000 friends on FB, all of whom are "friends in Bernie."

I posted 99% anti-Hillary material. It consisted mostly of newspaper articles about many issues, ranging from her support for a right wing coup in Honduras that resulted in an escalation of violence, to her massive pay to play at the State Dept, to her disastrous regime change attempts in Libya and Syria (not to mention her support for the coup in Ukraine and the installation of a Neo Nazi regime). There were also many articles about her numerous campaign promise betrayals, such as her support for bad trade deals with Colombia, South Korea, and Singapore, despite her promises to oppose these (her change of position re: Colombia was after getting a $10 million donation). These articles were all from mainstream sources, including The Nation, The Hill, even the NYT.

The thing is, Hillary was so corrupt and her judgment and actions so bad, that there was a seemingly never-ending wealth of bad things to post about her. It wasn't fake news, it was the actual historical record of her dastardly deeds. It wasn't just I who did this. This is what folks on FB and other social media sites did throughout. She probably would refer to what we all posted as "fake news" because she psychopathically denies the truth on a continual basis.

kimsarah , June 5, 2017 at 11:18 pm

So please tell us your Russian connections.

Elizabeth Burton , June 6, 2017 at 3:24 pm

It consisted mostly of newspaper articles about many issues, ranging from her support for a right wing coup in Honduras that resulted in an escalation of violence, to her massive pay to play at the State Dept, to her disastrous regime change attempts in Libya and Syria (not to mention her support for the coup in Ukraine and the installation of a Neo Nazi regime).

Funny you should mention. I responded to yet another episode of Russian hysteria yesterday and was immediately attacked by a Clinton cultist. Understand, this woman had no idea who I am and clearly didn't bother to find out. I said something against St. Hillary, and was therefore the enemy. Of course, the basis of her attack was that my sources of information were all "fake news."

Keep in mind that I had not mentioned where I'd gotten my information; I simply said I had done broad research of St. Hillary's history and found it bore little to no resemblance to what the media said about her.

When I patiently explained this (and added my journalist's credentials), the attack-cultist then switched to their second favorite: I support Trump, and am guilty of his election. I don't know how long she kept on posting her foam-mouthed mantras, because I departed using my standard response: I no longer engage in battles of facts with unarmed opponents.

[May 23, 2017] Trumped-up claims against Trump by Ray McGovern

Notable quotes:
"... Truth is, President Trump had ample reason to be fed up with Mr. Comey, in part for his lack of enthusiasm to investigate actual, provable crimes related to "Russia-gate" -- like leaking information from highly sensitive intercepted communications to precipitate the demise of Trump aide Michael Flynn ..."
"... we suspect Mr. Comey already knows who was responsible.) ..."
"... In contrast, Mr. Comey evinced strong determination to chase after ties between Russia and the Trump campaign until the cows came home. In the meantime, the investigation (already underway for 10 months) would itself cast doubt on the legitimacy of Mr. Trump's presidency and put the kibosh on plans to forge a more workable relationship with Russia -- a win-win for the establishment and the FBI/CIA/NSA "Deep State"; a lose-lose for the president. ..."
"... So far, it has been all smoke and mirrors with no chargeable offenses and not a scintilla of convincing evidence of Russian "meddling" in the election. The oft-cited, but evidence-free, CIA/FBI/NSA report of Jan. 6, crafted by "hand-picked" analysts, according to then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper , is of a piece with the "high-confidence," but fraudulent, National Intelligence Estimate 15 years ago about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. ..."
"... On March 31, 2017, WikiLeaks released original CIA documents - ignored by mainstream media - showing that the agency had created a program allowing it to break into computers and servers and make it look like others did it by leaving telltale signs like Cyrillic markings, ..."
"... It is altogether possible that the hacking attributed to Russia was actually one of several "active measures" undertaken by a cabal consisting of the CIA, FBI, NSA and Mr. Clapper - the same agencies responsible for the lame, evidence-free memorandum of Jan. 6. ..."
"... Mr. Comey displayed considerable discomfort on March 20, explaining to the House Intelligence Committee why the FBI did not insist on getting physical access to the Democratic National Committee computers in order to do its own proper forensics, but chose to rely on the those done by DNC contractor Crowdstrike. Could this be explained by Mr. Comey's fear that FBI technicians not fully briefed on CIA/NSA/FBI Deep State programs might uncover a lot more than he wanted? Did this play a role in Mr. Trump's firing of Mr. Comey? ..."
"... President Trump has entered into a high-stakes gamble in confronting the Deep State and its media allies over the evidence-free accusations of his colluding with Russia. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, publicly warned him of the risk earlier this year. "You take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you," ..."
May 17, 2017 | www.baltimoresun.com
Donald Trump said he had fired FBI Director James Comey over "this Russia thing, with Trump and Russia." The president labeled it a "made-up story" and, by all appearances, he is mostly correct.

A few days before his firing, Mr. Comey reportedly had asked for still more resources to hunt the Russian bear. Pundit piranhas swarmed to charge Mr. Trump with trying to thwart the investigation into how the Russians supposedly "interfered" to help him win the election.

But can that commentary bear close scrutiny, or is it the " phony narrative " Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn of Texas claims it to be? Mr. Cornyn has quipped that, if impeding the investigation was Mr. Trump's aim, "This strikes me as a lousy way to do it. All it does is heighten the attention given to the issue."

Truth is, President Trump had ample reason to be fed up with Mr. Comey, in part for his lack of enthusiasm to investigate actual, provable crimes related to "Russia-gate" -- like leaking information from highly sensitive intercepted communications to precipitate the demise of Trump aide Michael Flynn . Mr. Flynn was caught "red-handed," so to speak, talking with Russia's ambassador last December. (In our experience, finding the culprit for that leak should not be very difficult; we suspect Mr. Comey already knows who was responsible.)

In contrast, Mr. Comey evinced strong determination to chase after ties between Russia and the Trump campaign until the cows came home. In the meantime, the investigation (already underway for 10 months) would itself cast doubt on the legitimacy of Mr. Trump's presidency and put the kibosh on plans to forge a more workable relationship with Russia -- a win-win for the establishment and the FBI/CIA/NSA "Deep State"; a lose-lose for the president.

So far, it has been all smoke and mirrors with no chargeable offenses and not a scintilla of convincing evidence of Russian "meddling" in the election. The oft-cited, but evidence-free, CIA/FBI/NSA report of Jan. 6, crafted by "hand-picked" analysts, according to then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper , is of a piece with the "high-confidence," but fraudulent, National Intelligence Estimate 15 years ago about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

But what about "Russia hacking," the centerpiece of accusations of Kremlin "interference" to help Mr.Trump?

On March 31, 2017, WikiLeaks released original CIA documents - ignored by mainstream media - showing that the agency had created a program allowing it to break into computers and servers and make it look like others did it by leaving telltale signs like Cyrillic markings, for example. The capabilities shown in what WikiLeaks calls the "Vault 7" trove of CIA documents required the creation of hundreds of millions of lines of source code. At $25 per line of code, that amounts to about $2.5 billion for each 100 million code lines. But the Deep State has that kind of money and would probably consider the expenditure a good return on investment for "proving" the Russians hacked.

It is altogether possible that the hacking attributed to Russia was actually one of several "active measures" undertaken by a cabal consisting of the CIA, FBI, NSA and Mr. Clapper - the same agencies responsible for the lame, evidence-free memorandum of Jan. 6.

Mr. Comey displayed considerable discomfort on March 20, explaining to the House Intelligence Committee why the FBI did not insist on getting physical access to the Democratic National Committee computers in order to do its own proper forensics, but chose to rely on the those done by DNC contractor Crowdstrike. Could this be explained by Mr. Comey's fear that FBI technicians not fully briefed on CIA/NSA/FBI Deep State programs might uncover a lot more than he wanted? Did this play a role in Mr. Trump's firing of Mr. Comey?

President Trump has entered into a high-stakes gamble in confronting the Deep State and its media allies over the evidence-free accusations of his colluding with Russia. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, publicly warned him of the risk earlier this year. "You take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you," Mr. Schumer told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Jan. 3.

If Mr. Trump continues to "take on" the Deep State, he will be fighting uphill, whether he's in the right or not. It is far from certain he will prevail.

Ray McGovern (rrmcgovern@gmail.com) was a CIA analyst for 27 years; he briefed the president's daily brief one-on-one to President Reagan's most senior national security officials from 1981-85. William Binney (williambinney0802@comcast.net) worked for NSA for 36 years, retiring in 2001 as the technical director of world military and geopolitical analysis and reporting; he created many of the collection systems still used by NSA.

truth_will_set_you_free Newcomer 4day(s)ago
The public owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to both Mr. McGovern and Mr. Binney, who are substantial individuals with sterling reputations, for putting themselves forward and informing the public of the crimes that are taking place in DC behind closed doors.

The fact that paid shills and trolls would make the effort to post content free criticisms of this article only serves to underline the article's importance to a thoughtful reader. The people who sponsor these posters obviously have complete contempt for the public. However, each day, thanks to articles like this and the idiotic attempts to criticize them, more and more people are becoming aware of the fraud that is DC.

[May 23, 2017] Are they really out to get Trump by Philip Girald

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Ray suggests that Brennan and also Comey may been at the center of a "Deep State" combined CIA-NSA-FBI cabal working to discredit the Trump candidacy and delegitimize his presidency. Brennan in particular was uniquely well placed to fabricate the Russian hacker narrative that has been fully embraced by Congress and the media even though no actual evidence supporting that claim has yet been produced. As WikiLeaks has now revealed that the CIA had the technical ability to hack into sites surreptitiously while leaving behind footprints that would attribute the hack to someone else, including the Russians, it does not take much imagination to consider that the alleged trail to Moscow might have been fabricated. If that is so, this false intelligence has in turn proven to be of immense value to those seeking to present "proof" that the Russian government handed the presidency to Donald Trump. ..."
"... Robert Parry asked in an article on May 10 th whether we are seeing is "Watergate redux or 'Deep State' coup?" and then followed up with a second Piece "The 'Soft Coup' of Russia-gate" on the 13 th . In other words, is this all a cover-up of wrongdoing by the White House akin to President Richard Nixon's firing of Watergate independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox and the resignations of both the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General or is it something quite different, an undermining of an elected president who has not actually committed any "high crimes and misdemeanors" to force his removal from office. ..."
"... Parry sees the three key players in the scheme as John Brennan of CIA, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and James Comey of the FBI. Comey's role in the "coup" was key as it consisted of using his office to undercut both Hillary Clinton and Trump, neither of whom was seen as a truly suitable candidate by the Deep State. He speculates that a broken election might well have resulted in a vote in the House of Representatives to elect the new president, a process that might have produced a Colin Powell presidency as Powell actually received three votes in the Electoral College and therefore was an acceptable candidate under the rules governing the electoral process. ..."
"... Yes, the scheme is bizarre, but Parry carefully documents how Russiagate has developed and how the national security and intelligence organs have been key players as it moved along, often working by leaking classified information. ..."
"... anyone even vaguely connected with Trump who also had contact with Russia or Russians has been regarded as a potential traitor. Carter Page, for example, who was investigated under a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant, was under suspicion because he made a speech in Moscow which was mildly critical of the west's interaction with Russia after the fall of communism. ..."
"... Parry's point is that there is a growing Washington consensus that consists of traditional liberals and progressives as well as Democratic globalist interventionists and neoconservatives who believe that Donald Trump must be removed from office no matter what it takes. ..."
"... The interventionists and neocons in particular already control most of the foreign policy mechanisms but they continue to see Trump as a possible impediment to their plans for aggressive action against a host of enemies, most particularly Russia. ..."
"... Ray has been strongly critical of the current foreign policy, most particularly of the expansion of various wars, claims of Damascus's use of chemical weapons, and the cruise missile attack on Syria. Robert in his latest article describes Trump as narcissistic and politically incompetent. But their legitimate concerns are that we are moving in a direction that is far more dangerous than Trump. A soft coup engineered by the national security and intelligence agencies would be far more dangerous to our democracy than anything Donald Trump can do. ..."
"... Brennan is a particularly unsavory character. There has been some baying-at-the-moon speculation that he is a Moslem convert! ..."
"... The coup, if successful, would probably mean the end of what would traditionally be considered to be a republican form of government in the US and its replacement by a deep state dictatorship. ..."
"... The USA is not different from other western countries, such as GB, France, Austria, Italy, Greece, Netherlands. In each of these countries the battle is going on between the establishment, and those who want to rid themselves of this establishment. ..."
"... The battle is between trying to dominate the world, neoliberalism, destruction of nation states, power of money, on the one hand, and nationalism, more or less certain jobs, rejection of wars, power of governments, on the other hand. ..."
"... What is amazing is that Mr Giraldi still believes the USA is a democracy. Maybe if one compares it with China. Anyway, "a soft coup" has already happened in you history -- Kennedy's assassination by the deep state- and life just went on in the "greatest democracy" in the earth. ..."
"... Perhaps this is the indication of where Trump and DOJ are going: Monday during the 10 p.m. ET news broadcast on Fox's Washington, D.C. affiliate WTTG, correspondent Marina Marraco said an investigation by former D.C. homicide detective Rod Wheeler found that the now-deceased Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich had been emailing with WikiLeaks. ..."
"... Despite the TV image, it is rare for a CEO to outright sack one of his top executives. The story of dinners where Comey made his pitch to stay rings true to what I have seen in real life. Trump probably asked Comey if he wouldn't be happier returning to private business where he made a boatload more money, and Comey, drunk on the power of high public office just wouldn't pull the trigger for him. ..."
"... Having just noticed the latest by-line in Antiwar.com, I am forced to raise the question we should all be asking ourselves "Was it Russia or was it .. Seth Rich ? " ..."
"... If there was indeed a "soft coup" in our country, did it not occur at the DNC convention when our back room oligarchs decided to "putsch" Bernie Sanders out of the race, and gift the nomination to Hillary ? ..."
"... Was it not Bernie Sanders who was igniting the young progressive liberal base by the tens of millions ? Was it not Bernie who was gaining enormous momentum as the race for the nomination went on ? Was it not Bernie's "message" that began to ring true for so many voters across the country ? ..."
"... The homicide detective hired by the family , also pointed out, after doing some rudimentary due diligence, that word had come down through the DC mayor's office to stymie its own detectives in the murder investigation of Mr. Rich. Strange thing, especially when we are dealing with a homicide .No, Mr Giraldi ? If the Seth Rich murder was a "botched robbery" as is claimed, why won't the DC police release Seth's laptop computer to his family ? ..."
"... I would be very interested in your take on the latest impeachable "scandal", that Trump revealed unrevealable top secrets to Lavrov and Kislyak during their recent White House meeting. Among other things, how would the Washington Post know the specifics of the Trump-Lavrov conversation? Is the White House bugged? And if an intelligence source was somehow really compromised, is advertising that fact in the Washington Post (presumably on the front page) really the wisest course? ..."
"... "A soft coup engineered by the national security and intelligence agencies would be far more dangerous to our democracy than anything Donald Trump can do." Until further notice, that is absolutely correct. It needs to be recalled – ad nauseam – that Russia-gate, or whatever rubbish its called, is a LIE. There is NO, repeat NO evidence of ANY wrong-doing by Trump re the Russians. The MSM & various elements of the "establishment" should suicide NOW from pure SHAME. ..."
"... Trump was right in firing Comey. An open ended investigation that hasn't yielded a scintilla of evidence of collusion with Russia after one year is not acceptable. Such an investigation would not have been tolerated if the target was a Marxist mulatto by the name of Barack Hussein Obama. Blacks would have rioted in response while the media cheered them on. ..."
"... If there's a Constitutional crisis then it's that the deep state apparatus in the form of the various alphabet soup intelligence agencies have the power to plot a coup against a duly elected president. They need to be stripped of much of their power and reformed but it's probably already too late for that. ..."
"... I thought since Trump went from advocating a humble, non-interventionist foreign policy to loud and proud neo-conservative (in less than 100 days) that that would buy him protection from deep state machinations and endear him to the corrupt Washington, D.C. establishment. ..."
"... The only thing I can think of is that even though Trump's picking up where Dubya and Obama left off on foreign policy, the deep state knows that Trump can be totally unpredictable and change on a dime. So he could go off the establishment reservation at a moment's notice which makes them apoplectic. Hence, their attempts to get him out of the way and install someone more pliant and predictable like Tom Pence. ..."
"... Deepstate has been sustaining and expanding its conspiracies for 100 years. (There is always a 'deep state' of some kind, but the current well-organized structure was created by Wilson.) A conspiracy AGAINST Deepstate is hard to sustain because Deepstate owns and monitors all public communications. ..."
"... While the collusion story is an obvious canard there is another level to this "Russian thing" which may prove to be extremely damaging to Trump. And that is Trump's participation in a money-laundering operation with the Russo-jewish mafia going back decades. ..."
"... The money-laundering angle is already all over the Web (ex. google: Bayrock Trump) and, one must assume, in the hands of various intelligence agencies. .This may be the basis for Trump's increasingly frantic attempts to shut down the "Russian thing" investigation.(Comey firing??) ..."
"... I don't think, however, the notion of the "establishment" is a problem in itself. Our country has always had powerful elites, so have many other countries. The problem which presents itself today is our elites seem determined to perpetuate endless wars that cost obscene amounts of money, and do not seem to produce positive results in any of the places the wars are being fought. ..."
"... The short answer is yes! March 31, 2017 The Surveillance State Behind Russia-Gate. Although many details are still hazy because of secrecy – and further befogged by politics – it appears House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes was informed last week about invasive electronic surveillance of senior U.S. government officials and, in turn, passed that information onto President Trump. ..."
"... The people pushing the big lie about Trump and Russia are legion. And they are not stupid. They are evil. They are the same people who are preparing a preemptive nuclear attack against Russia and China. They are the globalists who would institute a universal Feudalism from which there would be no escape. I have no further use for Trump. But his enemies remain enemies of the people. ..."
May 16, 2017 | www.unz.com
And what if there really is a conspiracy against Donald Trump being orchestrated within the various national security agencies that are part of the United States government? The president has been complaining for months about damaging leaks emanating from the intelligence community and the failure of Congress to pay any attention to the illegal dissemination of classified information. It is quite possible that Trump has become aware that there is actually something going on and that something just might be a conspiracy to delegitimize and somehow remove him from office.

President Trump has also been insisting that the "Russian thing" is a made-up story, a view that I happen to agree with. I recently produced my own analysis of the possibility that there is in progress a soft, or stealth or silent coup, call it what you will, underway directed against the president and that, if it exists, it is being directed by former senior officials from the Obama White House. Indeed, it is quite plausible to suggest that it was orchestrated within the Obama White House itself before the government changed hands at the inauguration on January 20 th . In line with that thinking, some observers are now suggesting that Comey might well have been party to the conspiracy and his dismissal would have been perfectly justified based on his demonstrated interference in both the electoral process and in his broadening of the acceptable role of his own Bureau, which Trump has described as "showboating."

Two well-informed observers of the situation have recently joined in the discussion, Robert Parry of Consortiumnews and former CIA senior analyst Ray McGovern of the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. McGovern has noted, as have I, that there is one individual who has been curiously absent from the list of former officials who have been called in to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. That is ex-CIA Director John Brennan, who many have long considered an extreme Obama/Hillary Clinton loyalist long rumored to be at the center of the information damaging to Team Trump sent to Washington by friendly intelligence services, including the British.

Like Parry, I am reluctant to embrace conspiracy theories, in my case largely because I believe a conspiracy is awfully hard to sustain. The federal government leaks like a sieve and if more than two conspirators ever meet in the CIA basement it would seem to me their discussion would become public knowledge within forty-eight hours, but perhaps what we are seeing here is less a formal arrangement than a group of individuals who are loosely connected while driven by a common objective.

Parry sees the three key players in the scheme as John Brennan of CIA, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and James Comey of the FBI. Comey's role in the "coup" was key as it consisted of using his office to undercut both Hillary Clinton and Trump, neither of whom was seen as a truly suitable candidate by the Deep State. He speculates that a broken election might well have resulted in a vote in the House of Representatives to elect the new president, a process that might have produced a Colin Powell presidency as Powell actually received three votes in the Electoral College and therefore was an acceptable candidate under the rules governing the electoral process.

Yes, the scheme is bizarre, but Parry carefully documents how Russiagate has developed and how the national security and intelligence organs have been key players as it moved along, often working by leaking classified information. And President Barack Obama was likely the initiator, notably so when he de facto authorized the wide distribution of raw intelligence on Trump and the Russians through executive order. Parry notes, as would I, that to date no actual evidence has been presented to support allegations that Russia sought to influence the U.S. election and/or that Trump associates were somehow coopted by Moscow's intelligence services as part of the process. Nevertheless, anyone even vaguely connected with Trump who also had contact with Russia or Russians has been regarded as a potential traitor. Carter Page, for example, who was investigated under a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant, was under suspicion because he made a speech in Moscow which was mildly critical of the west's interaction with Russia after the fall of communism.

Parry's point is that there is a growing Washington consensus that consists of traditional liberals and progressives as well as Democratic globalist interventionists and neoconservatives who believe that Donald Trump must be removed from office no matter what it takes.

The interventionists and neocons in particular already control most of the foreign policy mechanisms but they continue to see Trump as a possible impediment to their plans for aggressive action against a host of enemies, most particularly Russia. As they are desirous of bringing down Trump "legally" through either impeachment or Article 25 of the Constitution which permits removal for incapacity, it might be termed a constitutional coup, though the other labels cited above also fit.

The rationale Trump haters have fabricated is simple: the president and his team colluded with the Russians to rig the 2016 election in his favor, which, if true, would provide grounds for impeachment. The driving force, in terms of the argument being made, is that removing Trump must be done "for the good of the country" and to "correct a mistake made by the American voters."

The mainstream media is completely on board of the process, including the outlets that flatter themselves by describing their national stature, most notably the New York Times and Washington Post.

So what is to be done? For starters, until Donald Trump has unambiguously broken a law the critics should take a valium and relax. He is an elected president and his predecessors George W. Bush and Barack Obama certainly did plenty of things that in retrospect do not bear much scrutiny. Folks like Ray McGovern and Robert Parry should be listened to even when they are being provocative in their views. They are not, to be sure, friends of the White House in any conventional way and are not apologists for those in power, quite the contrary. Ray has been strongly critical of the current foreign policy, most particularly of the expansion of various wars, claims of Damascus's use of chemical weapons, and the cruise missile attack on Syria. Robert in his latest article describes Trump as narcissistic and politically incompetent. But their legitimate concerns are that we are moving in a direction that is far more dangerous than Trump. A soft coup engineered by the national security and intelligence agencies would be far more dangerous to our democracy than anything Donald Trump can do. Are They Really Out to Get Trump? Sometimes paranoia is justified

Philip Giraldi May 16, 2017 1,600 Words

Dan Hayes , May 16, 2017 at 4:18 am GMT

Brennan is a particularly unsavory character. There has been some baying-at-the-moon speculation that he is a Moslem convert!

exiled off mainstreet , May 16, 2017 at 5:26 am GMT

The coup, if successful, would probably mean the end of what would traditionally be considered to be a republican form of government in the US and its replacement by a deep state dictatorship.

In light of what is being used, a phony claim of Russian interference with the US political system, the danger that nuclear war might be the outcome of this coup is real.

utu , May 16, 2017 at 5:36 am GMT

I don't know who Robert Parry is but to me this Colin Powell stuff is pure nonsense. At the same time my answer to the question "Are They Really Out to Get Trump?" is affirmative. Republicans and Democrats want Trump out and Pence in. The operation with Flynn who allegedly deceived Pence was part of this plan. That Trump fired Flynn was his greatest mistake in this game. It was not fatal yet. This was Their plan since the election or even earlier since Republican convention: have Trump step down and have Pence take over. After April 4th it seemed that They got Trump where They wanted him to be. Trump even became presidential. The escalation of rhetoric against North Korea over following weekend and week reinforced this perception until it turned out that it was all fake. There was no fleet steaming to Korea. Media realized they were played by Trump. During this time Trump and Tillerson in particular got some breathing space. The pre-April 4 policy of agreeing with Russia on Syria continued. Apparently Russia understood that the missile attack on Syria was just part of the game. It was not personal. More recently the US agreed to safe zones plan by Russia, Syria, Iran and Turkey. One should expect a false flag of gas attack or accidental bombing by US air force of Syrian forces to happen soon – broadcasted all night before the start of the US media news cycle by BBC, so US media, all talking heads memorize all talking points.

While it is possible that Trump behaves erratically w/o well thought out plans we must give him a benefit of doubt and assume that there is a deep reason for firing Comey. Trump is fighting for his life. While he would prefer to be presidential and enjoy easy going times and provide peace and safety for his family by know he knows that nothing will satisfy Them. They want him out! Erratic Trump and confused and chaotic WH is a meme which They and Their media want to plant and reinforce. That's why we hear about it all the time. But how to explain the firing of Comey? I would look for the answer at DOJ. Initially their hands were tied up but slowly they showed that there is new leadership at DOJ that was working for Trump for a change. Their independence of the Deep State was demonstrated by forcing Israel police to arrest Mossad operative/patsy for the wave of world wide anti-semitic hoaxes that were meant to undermine and compromise Trump. This is the proof that DOJ and part of FBI finally is strong enough and working for Trump. What next do they want to do? If they want to squash this "collusion with Russia" false narrative that is paralyzing the administration and in fact all belt way they must hit at those who originated this narrative, meaning Hillary Clinton and Obama. To do it they need to have a full control of FBI. Comey is gone. McCabe must go next. Will DOJ and new FBI go after Susan Rice, Sally Yates and Loretta Lynch? If they do this will lead to Obama. Will they go after Hillary Clinton and her emails? Will they secure Anthony Weiner computer? Does it still exist? Who will be nominated to replace Comey? What Trump will have to promise GOP to have him approved?

The bottom line is that Trump is fighting for his life.

jilles dykstra , May 16, 2017 at 5:51 am GMT

Of course they are. The USA is not different from other western countries, such as GB, France, Austria, Italy, Greece, Netherlands. In each of these countries the battle is going on between the establishment, and those who want to rid themselves of this establishment.

GB is the first country where maybe this succeeded, but, as in the USA, the GB establishment and the EU establishment do anything to prevent that things really change.

The battle is between trying to dominate the world, neoliberalism, destruction of nation states, power of money, on the one hand, and nationalism, more or less certain jobs, rejection of wars, power of governments, on the other hand.

In France one sees that once again the establishment won, 60% of the French still support the establishment, 40% rejects it.

In other countries more or less the same.

The opposing views make governing increasingly difficult, two months after the Dutch elections the efforts to contrue a government are a failure. Belgium was more than a year without a government. In Spain one government after another. The establishment now fears that Austria will turn around. Until now Brussels, by threats and cajoling, prevented a rebellion against Brussels in Poland and Hungary. The Greek rebellion failed completely.

Anon , May 16, 2017 at 6:05 am GMT

White House Leaks and the "Muh Russia" Seesaw

utu , May 16, 2017 at 6:08 am GMT

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had sought to sneak a recording device into the White House during last week's visit.

John Brown , May 16, 2017 at 6:09 am GMT

"A soft coup engineered by the national security and intelligence agencies would be far more dangerous to our democracy than anything Donald Trump can do" concludes the writer.

What is amazing is that Mr Giraldi still believes the USA is a democracy. Maybe if one compares it with China. Anyway, "a soft coup" has already happened in you history -- Kennedy's assassination by the deep state- and life just went on in the "greatest democracy" in the earth.

A "soft coup" against Donald Trump will be in fact an improvement. The "narcissist" president won't be killed. It will be a soft clean coup. Progress.

utu , May 16, 2017 at 6:52 am GMT

Perhaps this is the indication of where Trump and DOJ are going: Monday during the 10 p.m. ET news broadcast on Fox's Washington, D.C. affiliate WTTG, correspondent Marina Marraco said an investigation by former D.C. homicide detective Rod Wheeler found that the now-deceased Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich had been emailing with WikiLeaks.

http://www.breitbart.com/video/2017/05/15/report-investigator-says-evidence-showing-deceased-dnc-staffer-seth-rich-emailing-wikileaks/

But the Deep State respond with: Deep State Leaks Highly Classified Info to Washington Post to Smear President Trump

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/05/15/deep-state-leaks-highly-classified-info-to-washington-post-to-smear-president-trump/

The Alarmist , May 16, 2017 at 8:23 am GMT

Despite the TV image, it is rare for a CEO to outright sack one of his top executives. The story of dinners where Comey made his pitch to stay rings true to what I have seen in real life. Trump probably asked Comey if he wouldn't be happier returning to private business where he made a boatload more money, and Comey, drunk on the power of high public office just wouldn't pull the trigger for him.

Comey was a goner in November he just wouldn't go quietly and on his own accord, no doubt for the reasons suggested in this piece a so-called higher calling and his own inflated sense of service to his country.

alexander , May 16, 2017 at 8:52 am GMT

Dear Mr. Giraldi,

Thanks for another fine article.

Certainly writers like Robert Parry and Ray Mcgovern, as well as yourself, have earned the highest of marks from internet readers around the globe, anxious for some integrity of analysis , as they seek to understand our nation's policy decisions. As long as gentlemen like you, as well as others, keep writing , you will find your readership growing at an exponential rate.

Having just noticed the latest by-line in Antiwar.com, I am forced to raise the question we should all be asking ourselves "Was it Russia or was it .. Seth Rich ? "

If there was indeed a "soft coup" in our country, did it not occur at the DNC convention when our back room oligarchs decided to "putsch" Bernie Sanders out of the race, and gift the nomination to Hillary ?

Was it not Bernie Sanders who was igniting the young progressive liberal base by the tens of millions ? Was it not Bernie who was gaining enormous momentum as the race for the nomination went on ? Was it not Bernie's "message" that began to ring true for so many voters across the country ?

Was it not Bernie Sanders who may well have swept the DNC nomination, were it not for the "dirty pool" being played out in the back room ?.

According to the retired homicide detective, hired by the family of Seth Rich to investigate their son's bizarre murder, it was Seth Rich who WAS in contact with Wikileaks.

(For all those who don't know who Seth Rich was , he was the 27 year old "voter data director" at the DNC, shot to death on july 10, 2016, in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington D.C.)

In an interview three days after Seth Rich was found dead, Julian Assange intimated, too, that Seth Rich HAD contacted Wikileaks .NOT Russia.

The homicide detective hired by the family , also pointed out, after doing some rudimentary due diligence, that word had come down through the DC mayor's office to stymie its own detectives in the murder investigation of Mr. Rich. Strange thing, especially when we are dealing with a homicide .No, Mr Giraldi ? If the Seth Rich murder was a "botched robbery" as is claimed, why won't the DC police release Seth's laptop computer to his family ?

We are all aware there were "shenanigans" going on in the DNC that put the kibosh on the Bernie nomination.(we all know this)

This makes sense too, given the fact that the DNC party bosses and their oligarchs, wanted Bernie running in the general election against the Donald like they wanted a "hole in the head". What we "cannot" see ..is how decisive Bernie's margin of victory might have been, Nor can we see what "crimes" were committed to ensure Hillary's run at the W. H. It is not much of a stretch to assume Seth Rich had hard evidence, perhaps of multiple counts of treasonous fraud and other sorted felonies that would have brought down "the back room" of the DNC.

Not good for the party..not good for its oligarchs .and not good for their Hillary anointment.

"Russia-gate" may prove to be the most concerted effort, by the powers that be, to DEFLECT from an investigation into their OWN "real"criminality .

How savvy and how clever they are to manipulate the public's perceptions, through Big Media, by grafting the allegations of the very crimes they may well have committed .onto Russia, the Donald, and Vladimir Putin.

Clever, clever, clever.

Can any of us imagine, how cold a day in hell it will be before Rachel Maddow(or any MSM "journalist") asks some basic questions about the Seth Rich laptop .or what was on it ?

Sub zero.

for-the-record , May 16, 2017 at 8:53 am GMT

Mr. Giralidi,

I would be very interested in your take on the latest impeachable "scandal", that Trump revealed unrevealable top secrets to Lavrov and Kislyak during their recent White House meeting. Among other things, how would the Washington Post know the specifics of the Trump-Lavrov conversation? Is the White House bugged? And if an intelligence source was somehow really compromised, is advertising that fact in the Washington Post (presumably on the front page) really the wisest course?

mp , May 16, 2017 at 9:29 am GMT

Trump has turned out to be very weak. Maybe he just doesn't believe in anything, so it doesn't matter to him. Or maybe he has some ideas, but has no clue about implementation. He's going to see the Tribe next week. That will tell us a lot, I'm thinking. But it's a lot that we probably already know or at least can guess.

animalogic , May 16, 2017 at 10:10 am GMT

"A soft coup engineered by the national security and intelligence agencies would be far more dangerous to our democracy than anything Donald Trump can do."
Until further notice, that is absolutely correct. It needs to be recalled – ad nauseam – that Russia-gate, or whatever rubbish its called, is a LIE. There is NO, repeat NO evidence of ANY wrong-doing by Trump re the Russians. The MSM & various elements of the "establishment" should suicide NOW from pure SHAME.

geokat62 , May 16, 2017 at 11:08 am GMT

A soft coup engineered by the national security and intelligence agencies would be far more dangerous to our democracy than anything Donald Trump can do.

For more dangerous to American democracy has been the ZOG engineered by the "Friends of Zion," but, unfortunately, there is little chance there will ever be a Zion-gate investigation.

KenH , May 16, 2017 at 11:10 am GMT

Trump was right in firing Comey. An open ended investigation that hasn't yielded a scintilla of evidence of collusion with Russia after one year is not acceptable. Such an investigation would not have been tolerated if the target was a Marxist mulatto by the name of Barack Hussein Obama. Blacks would have rioted in response while the media cheered them on.

If there's a Constitutional crisis then it's that the deep state apparatus in the form of the various alphabet soup intelligence agencies have the power to plot a coup against a duly elected president. They need to be stripped of much of their power and reformed but it's probably already too late for that.

I thought since Trump went from advocating a humble, non-interventionist foreign policy to loud and proud neo-conservative (in less than 100 days) that that would buy him protection from deep state machinations and endear him to the corrupt Washington, D.C. establishment. For a time he was even making "never Trumper" little (((William Kristol))) coo with delight which is no small feat. Moreover, he's a lickspittle of Israel which seems a prerequisite for a presidential candidate.

The only thing I can think of is that even though Trump's picking up where Dubya and Obama left off on foreign policy, the deep state knows that Trump can be totally unpredictable and change on a dime. So he could go off the establishment reservation at a moment's notice which makes them apoplectic. Hence, their attempts to get him out of the way and install someone more pliant and predictable like Tom Pence.

jilles dykstra , May 16, 2017 at 11:32 am GMT

@animalogic "A soft coup engineered by the national security and intelligence agencies would be far more dangerous to our democracy than anything Donald Trump can do."

Until further notice, that is absolutely correct.

It needs to be recalled - ad nauseam - that Russia-gate, or whatever rubbish its called, is a LIE. There is NO, repeat NO evidence of ANY wrong-doing by Trump re the Russians.

The MSM & various elements of the "establishment" should suicide NOW from pure SHAME.

polistra , May 16, 2017 at 11:56 am GMT

Conspiracies are NOT hard to sustain. That's an absurd statement. Deepstate has been sustaining and expanding its conspiracies for 100 years. (There is always a 'deep state' of some kind, but the current well-organized structure was created by Wilson.) A conspiracy AGAINST Deepstate is hard to sustain because Deepstate owns and monitors all public communications.

Hobo , May 16, 2017 at 12:16 pm GMT

While the collusion story is an obvious canard there is another level to this "Russian thing" which may prove to be extremely damaging to Trump. And that is Trump's participation in a money-laundering operation with the Russo-jewish mafia going back decades.

Some of the investigations have expanded their scope to include careful scrutiny of Trump's business dealings in relation to Russia. Recently FinCEN, which specializes in fighting money laundering, agreed to turn over records to the Senate Intelligence Committee in this regard. Even Sen. Linsey Graham recently stated he wanted to know more about Trump's business dealings with Russia. The possibility that this may result in a criminal investigation cannot be ruled out. The money-laundering angle is already all over the Web (ex. google: Bayrock Trump) and, one must assume, in the hands of various intelligence agencies. .This may be the basis for Trump's increasingly frantic attempts to shut down the "Russian thing" investigation.(Comey firing??)

Dutch Public Broadcasting has recently broadcast a two part series exploring some of the connections involving Trump's business dealings with Russia.

THE DUBIOUS FRIENDS OF DONALD TRUMP: THE RUSSIANS

More detail and background is provided in this informative article by James S. Henry, a reputable investigative journalist:

The Curious World of Donald Trump's Private Russian Connections

https://www.the-american-interest.com/2016/12/19/the-curious-world-of-donald-trumps-private-russian-connections/

p.s.: Regarding the term Russo-jewish mafia, should you watch the videos and read the article you will find the players involved are almost exclusively of a certain 'tribal' persuasion. (A number have direct links to the infamous Mogilevich crime syndicate (top 10 FBI's most wanted list) and one of the principals of Bayrock was named as a major Israeli organized crime figure by the Turkish media following his arrest there.)

Chris Bridges , May 16, 2017 at 12:39 pm GMT

Phil,

As you know, Brennan is an extreme liberal Democrat, a creature of both Clinton and Obama. He is an utterly unprincipled old fool. He failed as a CIA operations officer and went back to Langley with his tail between his legs to become analyst. Nothing wrong with that but he nursed bitter resentment at the Clandestine Service during his whole career. He was finally allowed to go out as chief in, of all places, Riyadh. He promptly destroyed the station with his incompetence, though he earned the praise of the ambassador, as such toadies usually do. Brennan is perfectly capable of the things you describe. Washington is awash in these kinds of traitors. If Trump does not have a plan to arrest them all some dark night then he is a fool himself.

MEexpert , May 16, 2017 at 1:19 pm GMT

And President Barack Obama was likely the initiator, notably so when he de facto authorized the wide distribution of raw intelligence on Trump and the Russians through executive order.

I repeat, why hasn't Trump issued an executive order cancelling Obama's executive order? He needs to stop this information sharing if he expects to remain President.

Phil, is there any one who has Trump's ear? The mainstream media are hell bent in destroying anyone close to Trump. First, Flynn, then Steve Bannon and now Kellyanne Conway. Trump must stop these leaks from the White House. He should fire all Obama holdovers.

utu , May 16, 2017 at 1:21 pm GMT

@Hobo While the collusion story is an obvious canard there is another level to this "Russian thing" which may prove to be extremely damaging to Trump. And that is Trump's participation in a money-laundering operation with the Russo-jewish mafia going back decades.

... ... ... ...

p.s.: Regarding the term Russo-jewish mafia, should you watch the videos and read the article you will find the players involved are almost exclusively of a certain 'tribal' persuasion. (A number have direct links to the infamous Mogilevich crime syndicate (top 10 FBI's most wanted list) and one of the principals of Bayrock was named as a major Israeli organized crime figure by the Turkish media following his arrest there.)

Sam Shama , May 16, 2017 at 1:39 pm GMT

I recently produced my own analysis of the possibility that there is in progress a soft, or stealth or silent coup, call it what you will, underway directed against the president and that, if it exists, it is being directed by former senior officials from the Obama White House. Indeed, it is quite plausible to suggest that it was orchestrated within the Obama White House itself before the government changed hands at the inauguration on January 20th. In line with that thinking, some observers are now suggesting that Comey might well have been party to the conspiracy and his dismissal would have been perfectly justified based on his demonstrated interference in both the electoral process and in his broadening of the acceptable role of his own Bureau , which Trump has described as "showboating."

It's quite difficult to accept this line of thought when Comey practically scuppered Hillary's bid, something strongly endorsed by Obama. Going with this narrative requires Obama to have engineered Hillary's departure followed by a concerted plan to unseat Trump as well, both objectives utilizing Comey! To what end? Paint chaos on the American political canvas?

RadicalCenter , May 16, 2017 at 2:07 pm GMT

@Colleen Pater This " theory " isnt a theory its not debatable and its clear both parties and every power node in the world are signalling they will do whatever they can to help. Its really a good thing they are not fooling anyone but some maroon prog snowflakes. Trump was the howard beale last option before civil war candidate, he won fair and square , actually despite massive cheating by the other side and now they are overthrowing him in full view of the american people.Its good as long as idiots on the right still believed in democracy, that getting their candidate in would change war was averted. after thirty years of steady leftism no matter who was in power they voted trump now trumps being overthrown. They will see we dont live in a democracy we live in the matrix democracy is diversionary tactic to prevent us from killing them all. And kill them all is what we must do.

jilles dykstra , May 16, 2017 at 2:28 pm GMT

@alexander Some fine points here, Mr, Dykstra,

I don't think, however, the notion of the "establishment" is a problem in itself. Our country has always had powerful elites, so have many other countries. The problem which presents itself today is our elites seem determined to perpetuate endless wars that cost obscene amounts of money, and do not seem to produce positive results in any of the places the wars are being fought.

The "establishment" does not seem to care. It is now wholly unthinkable for our "establishment" to consider "making peace"and ending our wars. There is an addiction to "war spending" and "war profiteering" which has consumed the Deep State Apparatus, especially since 9-11, and operates almost completely independently of any administration in office.

Its an insatiable appetite...that grows larger every year. Any President, elected by the people today,to end our wars will simply not be tolerated by the establishment class and the deep state it lords over. The problem is not that we have an "establishment", the problem is our establishment is addicted to war.

Only "war" will do for them, full time, all the time..... end of story. Today, any President is given two choices once in office....make WAR..... or be impeached.

anonymous , May 16, 2017 at 2:33 pm GMT

@Anon Trump Heads to Saudi Arabia - Target Iran and Iraq?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIYy10NJcMI

Agent76 , May 16, 2017 at 2:33 pm GMT

The short answer is yes! March 31, 2017 The Surveillance State Behind Russia-Gate. Although many details are still hazy because of secrecy – and further befogged by politics – it appears House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes was informed last week about invasive electronic surveillance of senior U.S. government officials and, in turn, passed that information onto President Trump.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-surveillance-state-behind-russia-gate/5582211

Mar 9, 2017 BADA BING! NSA Whistleblower Confirms Trump Was Tapped!

They're wire tapping President Trump, and Kim Kardashian, and Hulk Hogan, and you and EVERYBODY!

https://youtu.be/tWOCLMJRQ7I

John Jeremiah Smith , May 16, 2017 at 2:33 pm GMT

It is now wholly unthinkable for our "establishment" to consider "making peace"and ending our wars. There is an addiction to "war spending" and "war profiteering" which has consumed the Deep State Apparatus, especially since 9-11, and operates almost completely independently of any administration in office.

Precisely. Frankly, I suspect 90% of the daily brouhaha of conspiracies and collusion theories is a product solely of tawdry greed. The rich will do anything for money . anything.

John Jeremiah Smith , May 16, 2017 at 2:41 pm GMT

Reopening the investigation in a dramatic public manner (I guess we do tell who is under investigation) and then coming back to announce, "We were correct the first time; there is no case" might convince a few thousand staggling doubters. It was very close.

Quite so. Comey's election-eve announcement was a calculated risk, with the intention of making the "investigation" of Clinton look legitimate and professional, not just lip service to troublesome legalities. It was intended to produce a public reaction like "Oh, they double-checked like good investigators, and sure enough, Hillary's email operation was completely legit."

Done clumsily, and it backfired.

Aaron Burr , May 16, 2017 at 2:55 pm GMT

At what point does political infighting cross the line into treason?

There's a line somewhere between the two, obviously. Perhaps its when you break the law? Perhaps its when you leak classified documents? Or details of a key diplomatic meeting?

John Jeremiah Smith , May 16, 2017 at 2:56 pm GMT

@utu There will be no open coup. Trump will resign for health reason or in the worst case scenario will be declared unfit for health reasons. And Pence will give a speech how great Trump was and how great his ideas were and that now he as president will continue his vision. And many people will believe it.

Sam Shama , May 16, 2017 at 2:56 pm GMT

@iffen It's quite difficult to accept this line of thought when Comey practically scuppered Hillary's bid

There is reason to believe that Clinton's email troubles were having a major impact. Many were unconvinced by Comey's first pronouncement that there was no case there. (I thought this was the prosecutor's job anyway. People would have been skeptical of a compromised Lynch saying that there was no case, but might be persuaded by Comey.)

Reopening the investigation in a dramatic public manner (I guess we do tell who is under investigation) and then coming back to announce, "We were correct the first time; there is no case" might convince a few thousand staggling doubters. It was very close.

Philip Giraldi , May 16, 2017 at 3:33 pm GMT

@Sam Shama I need to understand why Phil Giraldi thinks she was considered a flawed candidate from the Deep State's perspective .

In the minds of non-mainstream writers who constantly viewed her as the embodiment of the Establishment, one wouldn't have wagered "their" perfect candidate to be marked for removal.

Joe Hide , May 16, 2017 at 3:42 pm GMT

It looks to me as though the "deep state" is getting progressive dementia. While inhabited by many high I.Q. players, their moves are increasingly insane. They had assumed their "Surveillance State" would become all intrusive, giving them ever greater control over us peasants. The reverse has happened, where most of the 7 billion of us have cell phones that record and display all their nefarious deeds. We have a million times more high I.Q. people than them, that increasingly are waking up and exposing those psychopaths for the pieces of garbage that they are.

iffen , May 16, 2017 at 3:59 pm GMT

@Sam Shama I need to understand why Phil Giraldi thinks she was considered a flawed candidate from the Deep State's perspective .

In the minds of non-mainstream writers who constantly viewed her as the embodiment of the Establishment, one wouldn't have wagered "their" perfect candidate to be marked for removal.

John Jeremiah Smith , May 16, 2017 at 4:03 pm GMT

@utu

Comey's election-eve announcement was a calculated risk, with the intention of making the "investigation" of Clinton look legitimate and professional, not just lip service to troublesome legalities.
No. They knew then that election could not be stolen (for whatever reasons) for Clinton. The 28th October announcement by Comey was the signal to press to change the fake narrative of huge advantage in polls by Hillary and prepare the eventual excuse for Hillary why she lost.
Boris M Garsky , May 16, 2017 at 5:03 pm GMT

Comey was abruptly and unceremoniously fired after he stated that Clinton had forwarded thousands of e-mails containing classified information on an unsecured server to wiener and friends. Hardly covering Clintons back. The FBI investigates -- it does not prosecute -- that is the function of the attorney generals office. The AG solely has the power to convene a grand jury, not the FBI. The deputy attorney general Rosenstein writes a scathing report and recommendation to fire Comey. Trump, probably on Kushner's urging fires Comey. Comey redacts his prior statement.

My guess is that the FBI were very close to the neocons hidden secret -- Clinton and its foundation are foreign assets and not of Russia, hence, we have the Russia-gate diversion. Unfortunately, Comey;s replacement will be toothless, merely a shelf ornament. And what happened? We hear no more of Kushners? omitting his relationship to the Rothchilds enterprises. Flynn was fired for far less. Is/ are Kushner? and/ or Rosenstein the leak(s)?

WorkingClass , May 16, 2017 at 5:52 pm GMT

The people pushing the big lie about Trump and Russia are legion. And they are not stupid. They are evil. They are the same people who are preparing a preemptive nuclear attack against Russia and China. They are the globalists who would institute a universal Feudalism from which there would be no escape. I have no further use for Trump. But his enemies remain enemies of the people.

[May 19, 2017] Global Cyberattack Are Private Interests Using States: The global cyberattack, the NSA and Washingtons war propaganda against Russia by Bill Van Auken

Notable quotes:
"... Thus, amid the hysterical propaganda campaign over Russian hacking, Washington has been developing an array of cyber-weapons that have the capability of crippling entire countries. Through the carelessness of the NSA, some of these weapons have now been placed in the hands of criminals. US authorities did nothing to warn the public, much less prepare it to protect itself against the inevitable unleashing of the cyber weapons it itself had crafted. ..."
"... There was no question then of an investigation taking months to uncover the culprit, much less any mystery going unsolved. Putin and Russia were declared guilty based upon unsubstantiated allegations and innuendo. Ever since, the Times ..."
"... Since Trump's inauguration, the Democratic Party has only intensified the anti-Russian propaganda. It serves both as a means of pressuring the Trump administration to abandon any turn toward a less aggressive policy toward Moscow, and of smothering the popular opposition to the right-wing and anti-working class policies of the administration under a reactionary and neo-McCarthyite campaign painting Trump as an agent of the Kremlin. ..."
May 16, 2017 | www.defenddemocracy.press

The cyberattack that hit some 200,000 computers around the world last Friday, apparently using malicious software developed by the US National Security Agency, is only expected to escalate and spread with the start of the new workweek.

The cyber weapon employed in the attack, known as "WannaCrypt," has proven to be one of the most destructive and far-reaching ever. Among the targets whose computer systems were hijacked in the attack was Britain's National Health Service, which was unable to access patient records and forced to cancel appointments, treatments and surgeries.

Major corporations hit include the Spanish telecom Telefonica, the French automaker Renault, the US-based delivery service Fedex and Germany's federal railway system. Among the worst affected countries were reportedly Russia, Ukraine and Japan.

The weaponized software employed in the attacks locks up files in an infected computer by encrypting them, while demanding $300 in Bitcoin (digital currency) to decrypt them and restore access.

Clearly, this kind of attack has the potential for massive social disruption and, through its attack on institutions like Britain's NHS, exacting a toll in human life.

This event, among the worst global cyberattacks in history, also sheds considerable light on issues that have dominated the political life of the United States for the past 10 months, since WikiLeaks began its release of documents obtained from the hacked accounts of the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

The content of these leaked documents exposed, on the one hand, the DNC's machinations to sabotage the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, and, on the other, the subservience of his rival, Hillary Clinton, to Wall Street through her own previously secret and lavishly paid speeches to financial institutions like Goldman Sachs.

Read also: Obama Warned to Defuse Tensions with Russia

This information, which served to discredit Clinton, the favored candidate of the US military and intelligence apparatus, was drowned out by a massive campaign by the US government and the corporate media to blame Russia for the hacking and for direct interference in the US election, i.e., by allegedly making information available to the American people that was supposed to be kept secret from them.

Ever since then, US intelligence agencies, Democratic Party leaders and the corporate media, led by the New York Times , have endlessly repeated the charge of Russian hacking, involving the personal direction of Vladimir Putin. To this day, none of these agencies or media outlets have provided any probative evidence of Russian responsibility for "hacking the US election."

Among the claims made to support the allegations against Moscow was that the hacking of the Democrats was so sophisticated that it could have been carried out only by a state actor. In a campaign to demonize Russia, Moscow's alleged hacking was cast as a threat to the entire planet.

Western security agencies have acknowledged that the present global cyberattack-among the worst ever of its kind-is the work not of any state agency, but rather of a criminal organization. Moreover, the roots of the attack lie not in Moscow, but in Washington. The "WannaCrypt" malware employed in the attack is based on weaponized software developed by the NSA, code-named Eternal Blue, part of a bundle of documents and computer code stolen from the NSA's server and then leaked by a hacking group known as "Shadow Brokers."

Read also: The End of Freedom? Secret Services developing like a Cancer

Thus, amid the hysterical propaganda campaign over Russian hacking, Washington has been developing an array of cyber-weapons that have the capability of crippling entire countries. Through the carelessness of the NSA, some of these weapons have now been placed in the hands of criminals. US authorities did nothing to warn the public, much less prepare it to protect itself against the inevitable unleashing of the cyber weapons it itself had crafted.

In its report on the global cyberattacks on Saturday, the New York Times stated: "It could take months to find out who was behind the attacks-a mystery that may go unsolved."

The co-author of these lines was the New York Times chief Washington correspondent David E. Sanger, who, in addition to writing for the "newspaper of record," finds time to lecture at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, a state-connected finishing school for top political and military officials. He also holds membership in both the Council on Foreign Relations and the Aspen Strategy Group, think tanks that bring together capitalist politicians, military and intelligence officials and corporate heads to discuss US imperialist strategy.

All of this makes Sanger one of the favorite media conduits for "leaks" and propaganda that the CIA and the Pentagon want put into the public domain.

It is worth contrasting his treatment of the "WannaCrypt" ransomware attack with the way he and the Times dealt with the allegations of Russian hacking in the run-up to and aftermath of the 2016 US presidential election.

There was no question then of an investigation taking months to uncover the culprit, much less any mystery going unsolved. Putin and Russia were declared guilty based upon unsubstantiated allegations and innuendo. Ever since, the Times, serving as the propaganda outlet of the US intelligence services, has given the lead to the rest of the media by endlessly repeating the allegation of Russian state direction of the hacking of the Democratic Party, without bothering to provide any evidence to back up the charge.

Read also: Political Coverup of Iraq Atrocities

With the entire world now under attack from a weapon forged by Washington's cyberwarfare experts, the hysterical allegations of Russian hacking are placed in perspective.

From the beginning, they have been utilized as war propaganda, a means of attempting to promote popular support for US imperialism's steady escalation of military threats and aggression against Russia, the world's second-largest nuclear power.

Since Trump's inauguration, the Democratic Party has only intensified the anti-Russian propaganda. It serves both as a means of pressuring the Trump administration to abandon any turn toward a less aggressive policy toward Moscow, and of smothering the popular opposition to the right-wing and anti-working class policies of the administration under a reactionary and neo-McCarthyite campaign painting Trump as an agent of the Kremlin.

SOURCE www.wsws.org

[May 16, 2017] Mark Ames: The FBI Has No Legal Charter But Lots of Kompromat

Notable quotes:
"... Today, it seems, the best description of the FBI's main activity is corporate enforcer for the white-collar mafia known as Wall Street. There is an analogy to organized crime, where the most powerful mobsters settled disputes between other gangs of criminals. Similarly, if a criminal gang is robbed by one of its own members, the mafia would go after the guilty party; the FBI plays this role for Wall Street institutions targeted by con artists and fraudsters. Compare and contrast a pharmaceutical company making opiates which is targeted by thieves vs. a black market drug cartel targeted by thieves. In one case, the FBI investigates; in the other, a violent vendetta ensues (such as street murders in Mexico). ..."
"... The FBI executives are rewarded for this service with lucrative post-retirement careers within corporate America – Louis Freeh went to credit card fraudster, MBNA, Richard Mueller to a corporate Washington law firm, WilmerHale, and Comey, before Obama picked him as Director, worked for Lockheed Martin and HSBC (cleaning up after their $2 billion drug cartel marketing scandal) after leaving the FBI in 2005. ..."
"... Some say they have a key role to play in national security and terrorism – but their record on the 2001 anthrax attacks is incredibly shady and suspicious. The final suspect, Bruce Ivins, is clearly innocent of the crime, just as their previous suspect, Steven Hatfill was. Ivins, if still alive, could have won a similar multi-million dollar defamation lawsuit against the FBI. All honest bioweapons experts know this to be true – the perpetrators of those anthrax letters are still at large, and may very well have had close associations with the Bush Administration itself. ..."
"... Comey's actions over the past year are certainly highly questionable, as well. Neglecting to investigate the Clinton Foundation ties to Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments and corporations, particularly things like State Department approval of various arms deals in which bribes may have been paid, is as much a dereliction of duty as neglecting to investigate Trump ties to Russian business interests – but then, Trump has a record of shady business dealings dating back to the 1970s, of strange bankruptcies and bailouts and government sales that the FBI never looked at either. ..."
May 16, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Mark Ames, founding editor of the Moscow satirical paper The eXile and co-host of the Radio War Nerd podcast with Gary Brecher (aka John Dolan). Subscribe here . Originally published at The Exiled

I made the mistake of listening to NPR last week to find out what Conventional Wisdom had to say about Trump firing Comey, on the assumption that their standardized Mister-Rogers-on-Nyquil voice tones would rein in the hysteria pitch a little. And on the surface, it did-the NPR host and guests weren't directly shrieking "the world is ending! We're all gonna die SHEEPLE!" the way they were on CNN. But in a sense they were screaming "fire!", if you know how to distinguish the very minute pitch level differences in the standard NPR Nyquil voice.

The host of the daytime NPR program asked his guests how serious, and how "unprecedented" Trump's decision to fire his FBI chief was. The guests answers were strange: they spoke about "rule of law" and "violating the Constitution" but then switched to Trump "violating norms"-and back again, interchanging "norms" and "laws" as if they're synonyms. One of the guests admitted that Trump firing Comey was 100% legal, but that didn't seem to matter in this talk about Trump having abandoned rule-of-law for a Putinist dictatorship. These guys wouldn't pass a high school civics class, but there they were, garbling it all up. What mattered was the proper sense of panic and outrage-I'm not sure anyone really cared about the actual legality of the thing, or the legal, political or "normative" history of the FBI.

For starters, the FBI hardly belongs in the same set with concepts like "constitutional" or " rule of law." That's because the FBI was never established by a law. US Lawmakers refused to approve an FBI bureau over a century ago when it was first proposed by Teddy Roosevelt. So he ignored Congress, and went ahead and set it up by presidential fiat. That's one thing the civil liberties crowd hates discussing - how centralized US political power is in the executive branch, a feature in the constitutional system put there by the holy Founders.

In the late 1970s, at the tail end of our brief Glasnost, there was a lot of talk in Washington about finally creating a legal charter for the FBI -70 years after its founding. A lot of serious ink was spilled trying to transform the FBI from an extralegal secret police agency to something legal and defined. If you want to play archeologist to America's recent history, you can find this in the New York Times' archives, articles with headlines like "Draft of Charter for F.B.I. Limits Inquiry Methods" :

The Carter Administration will soon send to Congress the first governing charter for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The proposed charter imposes extensive but not absolute restrictions on the bureau's employment of controversial investigative techniques, .including the use of informers, undercover agents and covert criminal activity.

The charter also specifies the duties and powers of the bureau, setting precise standards and procedures for the initiation ,and conduct of investigations. It specifically requires the F.B.I. to observe constitutional rights and establishes safeguards against unchecked harassment, break‐ins and other abuses.

followed by the inevitable lament, like this editorial from the Christian Science Monitor a year later, "Don't Forget the FBI Charter". Which of course we did forget-that was Reagan's purpose and value for the post-Glasnost reaction: forgetting. As historian Athan Theoharis wrote , "After 1981, Congress never seriously considered again any of the FBI charter proposals."

The origins of the FBI have been obscured both because of its dubious legality and because of its original political purpose-to help the president battle the all-powerful American capitalists. It wasn't that Teddy Roosevelt was a radical leftist-he was a Progressive Republican, which sounds like an oxymoron today but which was mainstream and ascendant politics in his time. Roosevelt was probably the first president since Andrew Jackson to try to smash concentrated wealth-power, or at least some of it. He could be brutally anti-labor, but so were the powerful capitalists he fought, and all the structures of government power. He met little opposition pursuing his imperial Social Darwinist ambitions outside America's borders-but he had a much harder time fighting the powerful capitalists at home against Roosevelt's most honorable political obsession: preserving forests, parks and public lands from greedy capitalists. An early FBI memo to Hoover about the FBI's origins explains,

"Roosevelt, in his characteristic dynamic fashion, asserted that the plunderers of the public domain would be prosecuted and brought to justice."

According to New York Times reporter Tim Wiener's Enemies: A History of the FBI , it was the Oregon land fraud scandal of 1905-6 that put the idea of an FBI in TR's hyperactive mind. The scandal involved leading Oregon politicians helping railroad tycoon Edward Harriman illegally sell off pristine Oregon forest lands to timber interests, and it ended with an Oregon senator and the state's only two House representatives criminally charged and put on trial-along with dozens of other Oregonians. Basically, they were raping the state's public lands and forests like colonists stripping a foreign country-and that stuck in TR's craw.

TR wanted his attorney general-Charles Bonaparte (yes, he really was a descendant of that Bonaparte)-to make a full report to on the rampant land fraud scams that the robber barons were running to despoil the American West, and which threatened TR's vision of land and forest conservation and parks. Bonaparte created an investigative team from the US Secret Service, but TR thought their report was a "whitewash" and proposed a new separate federal investigative service within Bonaparte's Department of Justice that would report only to the Attorney General.

Until then, the US government had to rely on private contractors like the notorious, dreaded Pinkerton Agency, who were great at strikebreaking, clubbing workers and shooting organizers, but not so good at taking down down robber barons, who happened to also be important clients for the private detective agencies.

In early 1908, Attorney General Bonaparte wrote to Congress asking for the legal authority (and budget funds) to create a "permanent detective force" under the DOJ. Congress rebelled, denouncing it as a plan to create an American okhrana . Democrat Joseph Sherley wrote that "spying on men and prying into what would ordinarily be considered their private affairs" went against "American ideas of government"; Rep. George Waldo, a New York Republican, said the proposed FBI was a "great blow to freedom and to free institutions if there should arise in this country any such great central secret-service bureau as there is in Russia."

So Congress's response was the opposite, banning Bonaparte's DOJ from spending any funds at all on a proposed FBI. Another Congressman wrote another provision into the budget bill banning the DOJ from hiring Secret Service employees for any sort of FBI type agency. So Bonaparte waited until Congress took its summer recess, set aside some DOJ funds, recruited some Secret Service agents, and created a new federal detective bureau with 34 agents. This was how the FBI was born. Congress wasn't notified until the end of 1908, in a few lines in a standard report - "oh yeah, forgot to tell you-the executive branch went ahead and created an American okhrana because, well, the ol' joke about dogs licking their balls. Happy New Year!"

The sordid history of America's extralegal secret police-initially named the Bureau of Investigation, changed to the FBI ("Federal") in the 30's, is mostly a history of xenophobic panic-mongering, illegal domestic spying, mass roundups and plans for mass-roundups, false entrapment schemes, and planting what Russians call "kompromat"- compromising information about a target's sex life-to blackmail or destroy American political figures that the FBI didn't like.

The first political victim of J Edgar Hoover's kompromat was Louis Post, the assistant secretary of labor under Woodrow Wilson. Post's crime was releasing over 1,000 alleged Reds from detention facilities near the end of the FBI's Red Scare crackdown, when they jailed and deported untold thousands on suspicion of being Communists. The FBI's mass purge began with popular media support in 1919, but by the middle of 1920, some (not the FBI) were starting to get a little queasy. A legal challenge to the FBI's mass purges and exiles in Boston ended with a federal judge denouncing the FBI. After that ruling, assistant secretary Louis Post, a 71-year-old well-meaning progressive, reviewed the cases against the last 1500 detainees that the FBI wanted to deport, and found that there was absolutely nothing on at least 75 percent of the cases. Post's review threatened to undo thousands more FBI persecutions of alleged Moscow-controlled radicals.

So one of the FBI's most ambitious young agents, J Edgar Hoover, collected kompromat on Post and his alleged associations with other alleged Moscow-controlled leftists, and gave the file to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives-which promptly announced it would hold hearings to investigate Post as a left subversive. The House tried to impeach Post, but ultimately he defended himself. Post's lawyer compared his political persecutors to the okhrana (Russia, again!): "We in America have sunk to the level of the government of Russia under the Czarist regime," describing the FBI's smear campaign as "even lower in some of their methods than the old Russian officials."

Under Harding, the FBI had a new chief, William Burns, who made headlines blaming the terror bombing attack on Wall Street of 1920 that killed 34 people on a Kremlin-run conspiracy. The FBI claimed it had a highly reliable inside source who told them that Lenin sent $30,000 to the Soviets' diplomatic mission in New York, which was distributed to four local Communist agents who arranged the Wall Street bombing. The source claimed to have personally spoken with Lenin, who boasted that the bombing was so successful he'd ordered up more.

The only problem was that the FBI's reliable source, a Jewish-Polish petty criminal named Wolf Lindenfeld, turned out to be a bullshitter-nicknamed "Windy Linde"-who thought his fake confession about Lenin funding the bombing campaign would get him out of Poland's jails and set up in a comfortable new life in New York.

By 1923, the FBI had thoroughly destroyed America's communist and radical labor movements-allowing it to focus on its other favorite pastime: spying on and destroying political opponents. The FBI spied on US Senators who supported opening diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union: Idaho's William Borah, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee; Thomas Walsh of the Judiciary Committee, and Burton K Wheeler, the prairie Populist senator from Montana, who visited the Soviet Union and pushed for diplomatic relations. Harding's corrupt Attorney General Dougherty denounced Sen. Wheeler as "the Communist leader in the Senate" and "no more a Democrat than Stalin, his comrade in Moscow." Dougherty accused Sen. Wheeler of being part of a conspiracy "to capture, by deceit and design, as many members of the Senate as possible and to spread through Washington and the cloakrooms of Congress a poison gas as deadly as that which sapped and destroyed brave soldiers in the last war."

Hoover, now a top FBI official, quietly fed kompromat to journalists he cultivated, particularly an AP reporter named Richard Whitney, who published a popular book in 1924, "Reds In America" alleging Kremlin agents "had an all-pervasive influence over American institutions; they had infiltrated every corner of American life." Whitney named Charlie Chaplin as a Kremlin agent, along with Felix Frankfurter and members of the Senate pushing for recognition of the Soviet Union. That killed any hope for diplomatic recognition for the next decade.

Then the first Harding scandals broke-Teapot Dome, Veterans Affairs, bribery at the highest rungs. When Senators Wheeler and Walsh opened bribery investigations, the FBI sent agents to the senators' home state to drum up false bribery charges against Sen. Wheeler. The charges were clearly fake, and a jury dismissed the charges. But Attorney General Dougherty was indicted for fraud and forced to resign, as was his FBI chief Burns-but not Burns' underling Hoover, who stayed in the shadows.

"We want no Gestapo or Secret Police. FBI is tending in that direction. They are dabbling in sex-life scandals and plain blackmail This must stop."

With the Cold War, the FBI became obsessed with homosexuals as America's Fifth Column under Moscow's control. Homosexuals, the FBI believed, were susceptible to Kremlin kompromat-so the FBI collected and disseminated its own kompromat on alleged American homosexuals, supposedly to protect America from the Kremlin. In the early 1950s, Hoover launched the Sex Deviates Program to spy on American homosexuals and purge them from public life. The FBI built up 300,000 pages of files on suspected homosexuals and contacted their employers, local law enforcement and universities to "to drive homosexuals from every institution of government, higher learning, and law enforcement in the nation," according to Tim Weiner's book Enemies. No one but the FBI knows exactly how many Americans' lives and careers were destroyed by the FBI's Sex Deviants Program but Hoover-who never married, lived with his mother until he was 40, and traveled everywhere with his "friend" Clyde Tolson .

In the 1952 election, Hoover was so committed to helping the Republicans and Eisenhower win that he compiled and disseminated a 19-page kompromat file alleging that his Democratic Party rival Adlai Stevenson was gay. The FBI's file on Stevenson was kept in the Sex Deviants Program section-it included libelous gossip, claiming that Stevenson was one of Illinois' "best known homosexuals" who went by the name "Adeline" in gay cruising circles.

In the 1960s, Hoover and his FBI chiefs collected kompromat on the sex lives of JFK and Martin Luther King. Hoover presented some of his kompromat on JFK to Bobby Kennedy, in a concern-trollish way claiming to "warn" him that the president was opening himself up to blackmail. It was really a way for Hoover to let the despised Kennedy brothers know he could destroy them, should they try to Comey him out of his FBI office. Hoover's kompromat on MLK's sex life was a particular obsession of his-he now believed that African-Americans, not homosexuals, posed the greatest threat to become a Kremlin Fifth Column. The FBI wiretapped MLK's private life, collecting tapes of his affairs with other women, which a top FBI official then mailed to Martin Luther King's wife, along with a note urging King to commit suicide.

FBI letter anonymously mailed to Martin Luther King Jr's wife, along with kompromat sex tapes

After JFK was murdered, when Bobby Kennedy ran for the Senate in 1964, he recounted another disturbing FBI/kompromat story that President Johnson shared with him on the campaign trail. LBJ told Bobby about a stack of kompromat files - FBI reports "detailing the sexual debauchery of members of the Senate and House who consorted with prostitutes." LBJ asked RFK if the kompromat should be leaked selectively to destroy Republicans before the 1964 elections. Kennedy recalled,

"He told me he had spent all night sitting up and reading the files of the FBI on all these people. And Lyndon talks about that information and material so freely. Lyndon talks about everybody, you see, with everybody. And of course that's dangerous."

Kennedy had seen some of the same FBI kompromat files as attorney general, but he was totally opposed to releasing such unsubstantiated kompromat-such as, say, the Trump piss files-because doing so would "destroy the confidence that people in the United States had in their government and really make us a laughingstock around the world."

Imagine that.

Which brings me to the big analogy every hack threw around last week, calling Trump firing Comey "Nixonian." Actually, what Trump did was more like the very opposite of Nixon, who badly wanted to fire Hoover in 1971-2, but was too afraid of the kompromat Hoover might've had on him to make the move. Nixon fell out with his old friend and onetime mentor J Edgar Hoover in 1971, when the ailing old FBI chief refused to get sucked in to the Daniel Ellsberg/Pentagon Papers investigation, especially after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the New York Times. Part of the reason Nixon created his Plumbers team of black bag burglars was because Hoover had become a bit skittish in his last year on this planet-and that drove Nixon crazy.

Nixon called his chief of staff Haldeman:

Nixon: I talked to Hoover last night and Hoover is not going after this case [Ellsberg] as strong as I would like. There's something dragging him.

Haldeman: You don't have the feeling the FBI is really pursuing this?

Nixon: Yeah, particularly the conspiracy side. I want to go after everyone. I'm not so interested in Ellsberg, but we have to go after everybody who's a member of this conspiracy.

Hoover's ambitious deputies in the FBI were smelling blood, angling to replace him. His number 3, Bill Sullivan (who sent MLK the sex tapes and suicide note) was especially keen to get rid of Hoover and take his place. So as J Edgar was stonewalling the Daniel Ellsberg investigation, Sullivan showed up in a Department of Justice office with two suitcases packed full of transcripts and summaries of illegal wiretaps that Kissinger and Nixon had ordered on their own staff and on American journalists. The taps were ordered in Nixon's first months in the White House in 1969, to plug up the barrage of leaks, the likes of which no one had ever seen before. Sullivan took the leaks from J Edgar's possession and told the DOJ official that they needed to be hidden from Hoover, who planned to use them as kompromat to blackmail Nixon.

Nixon decided he was going to fire J Edgar the next day. This was in September, 1971. But the next day came, and Nixon got scared. So he tried to convince his attorney general John Mitchell to fire Hoover for him, but Mitchell said only the President could fire J Edgar Hoover. So Nixon met him for breakfast, and, well, he just didn't have the guts. Over breakfast, Hoover flattered Nixon and told him there was nothing more in the world he wanted than to see Nixon re-elected. Nixon caved; the next day, J Edgar Hoover unceremoniously fired his number 3 Bill Sullivan, locking him out of the building and out of his office so that he couldn't take anything with him. Sullivan was done.

The lesson here, I suppose, is that if an FBI director doesn't want to be fired, it's best to keep your kompromat a little closer to your chest, as a gun to hold to your boss's head. Comey's crew already released the piss tapes kompromat on Trump-the damage was done. What was left to hold back Trump from firing Comey? "Laws"? The FBI isn't even legal. "Norms" would be the real reason. Which pretty much sums up everything Trump has been doing so far. We've learned the past two decades that we're hardly a nation of laws, at least not when it comes to the plutocratic ruling class. What does bind them are "norms"-and while those norms may mean everything to the ruling class, it's an open question how much these norms mean to a lot of Americans outside that club.

Huey Long , May 16, 2017 at 2:33 am

Wow, and this whole time I thought the NSA had a kompromat monopoly as they have everybody's porn site search terms and viewing habits on file.

I had no idea the FBI practically invented it!

3.14e-9 , May 16, 2017 at 3:04 am

The Native tribes don't have a great history with the FBI, either.

https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/culture/thing-about-skins/comey-fbi-destructive-history-native-people/

voteforno6 , May 16, 2017 at 6:06 am

Has anyone ever used the FBI's lack of a charter as a defense in court?

Disturbed Voter , May 16, 2017 at 6:42 am

The USA doesn't have a legal basis either, it is a revolting crown colony of the British Empire. Treason and heresy all the way down. Maybe the British need to burn Washington DC again?

Synoia , May 16, 2017 at 9:46 pm

Britain burning DC, and the so call ed "war" of 1812, got no mention in my History Books. Napoleon on the other hand, featured greatly

In 1812 Napoleon was busy going to Russia. That went well.

Ignim Brites , May 16, 2017 at 7:55 am

Wondered how Comey thought he could get away with his conviction and pardon of Sec Clinton. Seems like part of the culture of FBI is a "above and beyond" the law mentality.

Watt4Bob , May 16, 2017 at 7:56 am

Back in the early 1970s a high school friend moved to Alabama because his father was transferred by his employer.

My friend sent a post card describing among other things the fact that Alabama had done away with the requirement of a math class to graduate high school, and substituted a required class called "The Evils of Communism" complete with a text-book written by J. Edgar Hoover; Masters of Deceit.

JMarco , May 16, 2017 at 2:52 pm

In Dallas,Texas my 1959 Civics class had to read the same book. We all were given paperback copies of it to take home and read. It was required reading enacted by Texas legislature.

Watt4Bob , May 16, 2017 at 4:47 pm

So I'd guess you weren't fooled by any of those commie plots of the sixties, like the campaigns for civil rights or against the Vietnamese war.

I can't really brag, I didn't stop worrying about the Red Menace until 1970 or so, that's when I started running into returning vets who mostly had no patience for that stuff.

Carolinian , May 16, 2017 at 8:35 am

We've learned the past two decades that we're hardly a nation of laws, at least not when it comes to the plutocratic ruling class. What does bind them are "norms"

Or as David Broder put it (re Bill Clinton): he came in and trashed the place and it wasn't his place.

It was David Broder's place. Of course the media play a key role with all that kompromat since they are the ones needed to convey it to the public. The tragedy is that even many of the sensible in their ranks such as Bill Moyers have been sucked into the kompromat due to their hysteria over Trump. Ames is surely on point in this great article. The mistake was allowing secret police agencies like the FBI and CIA to be created in the first place.

Katharine , May 16, 2017 at 8:37 am

Sorry, my initial reaction was that people who don't know the difference between "rein" and "reign" are not to be trusted to provide reliable information. Recognizing that as petty, I kept reading, and presently found the statement that Congress was not informed of the founding of the FBI until a century after the fact, which seems implausible. If in fact the author meant the end of 1908 it was quite an achievement to write 2008.

Interesting to the extent it may be true, but with few sources, no footnotes, and little evidence of critical editing who knows what that may be?

Carolinian , May 16, 2017 at 9:12 am

Do you even know who Mark Ames is?

Petty .yes.

Katharine , May 16, 2017 at 10:08 am

Who he is is irrelevant. I don't take things on faith because "the Pope said" or because Mark Ames said. People who expect their information to be taken seriously should substantiate it.

Bill Smith , May 16, 2017 at 12:00 pm

Yeah, in the first sentence

Interesting article though.

Fiery Hunt , May 16, 2017 at 9:21 am

Yeah, Kathatine, you're right .very petty.

And completely missed the point.

Or worse, you got the point and your best rejection of that point was pointing out a typo.

Katharine , May 16, 2017 at 10:13 am

I neither missed the point nor rejected it. I reserved judgment, as I thought was apparent from my comment.

sid_finster , May 16, 2017 at 10:50 am

But Trump is bad. Very Bad.

So anything the FBI does to get rid of him must by definition be ok! Besides, surely our civic-minded IC would never use their power on the Good Guys™!

Right?

JTMcPhee , May 16, 2017 at 9:21 am

Ah yes, the voice of "caution." And such attention to the lack of footnotes, in this day when the curious can so easily cut and paste a bit of salient text into a search engine and pull up a feast of parse-able writings and video, from which they can "judiciously assess" claims and statements. If they care to spend the time, which is in such short supply among those who are struggling to keep up with the horrors and revelations people of good will confront every blinking day

Classic impeachment indeed. All from the height of "academic rigor" and "caution." Especially the "apologetic" bit about "reign" vs "rein." Typos destroy credibility, don't they? And the coup de grass (sic), the unrebuttable "plausibility" claim.

One wonders at the nature of the author's curriculum vitae. One also marvels at the yawning gulf between the Very Serious Stuff I was taught in grade and high school civics and history, back in the late '50s and the '60s, about the Fundamental Nature Of Our Great Nation and its founding fathers and the Beautiful Documents they wrote, on the one hand, and what we mopes learn, through a drip-drip-drip process punctuated occasionally by Major Revelations, about the real nature of the Empire and our fellow creatures

PS: My earliest memory of television viewing was a day at a friend's house - his middle-class parents had the first "set" in the neighborhood, I think an RCA, in a massive sideboard cabinet where the picture tube pointed up and you viewed the "content" in a mirror mounted to the underside of the lid. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5onSwx7_Cn0 The family was watching a hearing of Joe McCarthy's kangaroo court, complete with announcements of the latest number in the "list of known Communists in the State Department" and how Commyanism was spreading like an unstoppable epidemic mortal disease through the Great US Body Politic and its Heroic Institutions of Democracy. I was maybe 6 years old, but that grainy black and white "reality TV" content had me asking "WTF?" at a very early age. And I'd say it's on the commentor to show that the "2008" claim is wrong, by something other than "implausible" as drive-by impeachment. Given the content of the original post, and what people paying attention to all this stuff have a pretty good idea is the general contours of a vast corruption and manipulation.

"Have you stopped beating your wife? Yes or no."

Katharine , May 16, 2017 at 10:19 am

It is the author's job to substantiate information, not the reader's. If he thinks his work is so important, why does he not make a better job of it?

Edward , May 16, 2017 at 9:22 pm

I think the MLK blackmail scheme is well-established. Much of the article seems to be based on Tim Wiener's "Enemies: A History of the FBI".

nonsense factory , May 16, 2017 at 11:16 am

Interesting article on the history of the FBI, although the post-Hoover era doesn't get any treatment. The Church Committee hearings on the CIA and FBI, after the exposure of notably Operation CHAOS (early 60s to early 70s) by the CIA and COINTELPRO(late 1950s to early 1970s) by the FBI, didn't really get to the bottom of the issue although some reforms were initiated.

Today, it seems, the best description of the FBI's main activity is corporate enforcer for the white-collar mafia known as Wall Street. There is an analogy to organized crime, where the most powerful mobsters settled disputes between other gangs of criminals. Similarly, if a criminal gang is robbed by one of its own members, the mafia would go after the guilty party; the FBI plays this role for Wall Street institutions targeted by con artists and fraudsters. Compare and contrast a pharmaceutical company making opiates which is targeted by thieves vs. a black market drug cartel targeted by thieves. In one case, the FBI investigates; in the other, a violent vendetta ensues (such as street murders in Mexico).

The FBI executives are rewarded for this service with lucrative post-retirement careers within corporate America – Louis Freeh went to credit card fraudster, MBNA, Richard Mueller to a corporate Washington law firm, WilmerHale, and Comey, before Obama picked him as Director, worked for Lockheed Martin and HSBC (cleaning up after their $2 billion drug cartel marketing scandal) after leaving the FBI in 2005.

Maybe this is legitimate, but this only applies to their protection of the interests of large corporations – as the 2008 economic collapse and aftermath showed, they don't prosecute corporate executives who rip off poor people and middle-class homeowners. Banks who rob people, they aren't investigated or prosecuted; that's just for people who rob banks.

When it comes to political issues and national security, however, the FBI has such a terrible record on so many issues over the years that anything they claim has to be taken with a grain or two of salt. Consider domestic political activity: from the McCarthyite 'Red Scare' of the 1950s to COINTELPRO in the 1960s and 1970s to targeting of environmental groups in the 1980s and 1990s to targeting anti-war protesters under GW Bush to their obsession with domestic mass surveillance under Obama, it's not a record that should inspire any confidence.

Some say they have a key role to play in national security and terrorism – but their record on the 2001 anthrax attacks is incredibly shady and suspicious. The final suspect, Bruce Ivins, is clearly innocent of the crime, just as their previous suspect, Steven Hatfill was. Ivins, if still alive, could have won a similar multi-million dollar defamation lawsuit against the FBI. All honest bioweapons experts know this to be true – the perpetrators of those anthrax letters are still at large, and may very well have had close associations with the Bush Administration itself.

As far as terrorist activities? Many of their low-level agents did seem concerned about the Saudis and bin Laden in the late 1990s and pre-9/11 – but Saudi investigations were considered politically problematic due to "geostrategic relationships with our Saudi allies" – hence people like John O'Neil and Coleen Rowley were sidelined and ignored, with disastrous consequences. The Saudi intelligence agency role in 9/11 was buried for over a decade, as well. Since 9/11, most of the FBI investigations seem to have involved recruiting mentally disabled young Islamic men in sting operations in which the FBI provides everything needed. You could probably get any number of mentally ill homeless people across the U.S., regardless of race or religion, to play this role.

Comey's actions over the past year are certainly highly questionable, as well. Neglecting to investigate the Clinton Foundation ties to Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments and corporations, particularly things like State Department approval of various arms deals in which bribes may have been paid, is as much a dereliction of duty as neglecting to investigate Trump ties to Russian business interests – but then, Trump has a record of shady business dealings dating back to the 1970s, of strange bankruptcies and bailouts and government sales that the FBI never looked at either.

Ultimately, this is because FBI executives are paid off not to investigate Wall Street criminality, nor shady U.S. government activity, with lucrative positions as corporate board members and so on after their 'retirements'. I don't doubt that many of their junior members mean well and are dedicated to their jobs – but the fish rots from the head down.

Andrew Watts , May 16, 2017 at 3:58 pm

As far as terrorist activities? Many of their low-level agents did seem concerned about the Saudis and bin Laden in the late 1990s and pre-9/11 – but Saudi investigations were considered politically problematic due to "geostrategic relationships with our Saudi allies" – hence people like John O'Neil and Coleen Rowley were sidelined and ignored, with disastrous consequences.

The Clinton Administration had other priorities. You know, I think I'll let ex-FBI Director Freeh explain what happened when the FBI tried to get the Saudis to cooperate with their investigation into the bombing of the Khobar Towers.

"That September, Crown Prince Abdullah and his entourage took over the entire 143-room Hay-Adams Hotel, just across from Lafayette Park from the White House, for six days. The visit, I figured, was pretty much our last chance. Again, we prepared talking points for the president. Again, I contacted Prince Bandar and asked him to soften up the crown prince for the moment when Clinton, -- or Al Gore I didn't care who -- would raise the matter and start to exert the necessary pressure."

"The story that came back to me, from "usually reliable sources," as they say in Washington, was that Bill Clinton briefly raised the subject only to tell the Crown Prince that he certainly understood the Saudis; reluctance to cooperate. Then, according to my sources, he hit Abdullah up for a contribution to the still-to-be-built Clinton presidential library. Gore, who was supposed to press hardest of all in his meeting with the crown Prince, barely mentioned the matter, I was told." -Louis J. Freeh, My FBI (2005)

In my defense I picked the book up to see if there was any dirt on the DNC's electoral funding scandal in 1996. I'm actually glad I did. The best part of the book is when Freeh recounts running into a veteran of the Lincoln Brigade and listens to how Hoover's FBI ruined his life despite having broken no laws. As if a little thing like laws mattered to Hoover. The commies were after our precious bodily fluids!

verifyfirst , May 16, 2017 at 12:53 pm

I'm not sure there are many functioning norms left within the national political leadership. Seemed to me Gingrich started blowing those up and it just got worse from there. McConnell not allowing Garland to be considered comes to mind

lyman alpha blob , May 16, 2017 at 1:14 pm

Great article – thanks for this. I had no idea the FBI never had a legal charter – very enlightening.

JMarco , May 16, 2017 at 2:59 pm

Thanks to Mark Ames now we know what Pres. Trump meant when he tweeted about his tapes with AG Comey. Not some taped conversation between Pres. Trump & AG Comey but bunch of kompromat tapes that AG Comey has provided Pres. Trump that might not make departing AG Comey looked so clean.

[May 16, 2017] The Real Meaning of Sensitive Intelligence by Philip Giraldi

Notable quotes:
"... what astonished me was how quickly the media interpreted its use in the hearings to mean that the conversations and emails that apparently were recorded or intercepted involving Trump associates and assorted Russians as "sensitive contacts" meant that they were necessarily inappropriate, dangerous, or even illegal. ..."
"... The Post is unfortunately also providing ISIS with more information than it "needs to know" to make its story more dramatic, further compromising the source. ..."
"... McMaster described the report as "false" and informed the Post that "The president and the foreign minister reviewed common threats from terrorist organizations to include threats to aviation. At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly." Tillerson commented that "the nature of specific threats were (sic) discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods, or military operations." ..."
"... The media will no doubt be seeking to magnify the potential damage done while the White House goes into damage control mode. ..."
"... In this case, the intelligence shared with Lavrov appears to be related to specific ISIS threats, which may include planned operations against civilian aircraft, judging from Trump's characteristically after-hours tweets defending his behavior, as well as other reporting. ..."
"... The New York Times , in its own reporting of the story, initially stated that the information on ISIS did not come from an NSA or CIA operation, and later reported that the source was Israel. ..."
"... And President Trump has one more thing to think about. No matter what damage comes out of the Lavrov discussion, he has a bigger problem. There are apparently multiple leakers on his National Security Council. ..."
"... You have McMaster himself who categorically denies any exposure of sources and methods – he was there in person and witness to the talks – and a cloud of unknown witnesses not present speculating, without reference to McMaster or Tillerson's testimony, about what might have happened. This is the American Media in a nutshell, the Infinite Circle Jerk. ..."
"... I am more disturbed how this story got into the press. While, not an ally, I think we should in cooperation with other states. Because the Pres is not familiar with the protocols and language and I doubt any executive has been upon entering office, I have no doubt he may be reacting or overreacting to the overreaction of others. ..."
"... Here's a word. We have no business engaging n the overthrow of another government that is no threat to the US or her allies, and that includes Israel. Syria is not. And we should cease and desist getting further entangled in the messes of the previous executive, his Sec of State and those organizations who seem to e playing with the life blood of the US by engaging if unnecessary risks. ..."
"... And if I understand the crumbs given the data provided by the Post, the Times and this article, if one had ill will for the source of said information, they have pretty good idea where to start. ..."
"... In general I agree with you, but the media was NEVER concerned about the treatment of sensitive material from HRC! ..."
"... I think he needs to cut back on intelligence sharing with Israel. They do just what the hell they want to do with anything. ..."
May 16, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com
Intelligence agencies and senior government officials tend to use a lot of jargon. Laced with acronyms, this language sometimes does not translate very well into journalese when it hits the media.

For example, I experienced a sense of disorientation two weeks ago over the word "sensitive" as used by several senators, Sally Yates, and James Clapper during committee testimony into Russiagate. "Sensitive" has, of course, a number of meanings. But what astonished me was how quickly the media interpreted its use in the hearings to mean that the conversations and emails that apparently were recorded or intercepted involving Trump associates and assorted Russians as "sensitive contacts" meant that they were necessarily inappropriate, dangerous, or even illegal.

When Yates and Clapper were using "sensitive" thirteen times in the 86 page transcript of the Senate hearings, they were referring to the medium rather than the message. They were both acknowledging that the sources of the information were intelligence related, sometimes referred to as "sensitive" by intelligence professionals and government insiders as a shorthand way to describe that they are "need to know" material derived from either classified "methods" or foreign-liaison partners. That does not mean that the information contained is either good or bad or even true or false, but merely a way of expressing that the information must be protected because of where it came from or how it was developed, hence the "sensitivity."

The word also popped up this week in a Washington Post exclusive report alleging that the president had, in his recent meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, gone too far while also suggesting that the source of a highly classified government program might be inferred from the context of what was actually revealed. The Post describes how

The information Trump relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said. The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said that Trump's decision to do so risks cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State.

The Post is unfortunately also providing ISIS with more information than it "needs to know" to make its story more dramatic, further compromising the source. Furthermore, it should be understood that the paper is extremely hostile to Trump, the story is as always based on anonymous sources, and the revelation comes on top of another unverifiable Post article claiming that the Russians might have sought to sneak a recording device into the White House during the visit.

No one is denying that the president discussed ISIS in some detail with Lavrov, but National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, both of whom were present at the meeting, have denied that any sources or methods were revealed while reviewing with the Russians available intelligence. McMaster described the report as "false" and informed the Post that "The president and the foreign minister reviewed common threats from terrorist organizations to include threats to aviation. At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly." Tillerson commented that "the nature of specific threats were (sic) discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods, or military operations."

So the question becomes to what extent can an intelligence mechanism be identified from the information that it produces. That is, to a certain extent, a judgment call. The president is able on his own authority to declassify anything, so the legality of his sharing information with Russia cannot be challenged. What is at question is the decision-making by an inexperienced president who may have been showing off to an important foreign visitor by revealing details of intelligence that should have remained secret. The media will no doubt be seeking to magnify the potential damage done while the White House goes into damage control mode.

The media is claiming that the specific discussion with Lavrov that is causing particular concern is related to a so-called Special Access Program , or SAP, sometimes referred to as "code word information." An SAP is an operation that generates intelligence that requires special protection because of where or how it is produced. In this case, the intelligence shared with Lavrov appears to be related to specific ISIS threats, which may include planned operations against civilian aircraft, judging from Trump's characteristically after-hours tweets defending his behavior, as well as other reporting.

There have also been reports that the White House followed up on its Lavrov meeting with a routine review of what had taken place. Several National Security Council members observed that some of the information shared with the Russians was far too sensitive to disseminate within the U.S. intelligence community. This led to the placing of urgent calls to NSA and CIA to brief them on what had been said.

Based on the recipients of the calls alone, one might surmise that the source of the information would appear to be either a foreign-intelligence service or a technical collection operation, or even both combined. The Post claims that the originator of the intelligence did not clear its sharing with the Russians and raises the possibility that no more information of that type will be provided at all in light of the White House's apparent carelessness in its use. The New York Times , in its own reporting of the story, initially stated that the information on ISIS did not come from an NSA or CIA operation, and later reported that the source was Israel.

The Times is also reporting that Trump provided to Lavrov "granular" information on the city in Syria where the information was collected that will possibly enable the Russians or ISIS to identify the actual source, with devastating consequences. That projection may be overreach, but the fact is that the latest gaffe from the White House could well damage an important intelligence liaison relationship in the Middle East while reinforcing the widely held impression that Washington does not know how to keep a secret. It will also create the impression that Donald Trump, out of ignorance or hubris, exhibits a certain recklessness in his dealing with classified information, a failing that he once attributed to his presidential opponent Hillary Clinton.

And President Trump has one more thing to think about. No matter what damage comes out of the Lavrov discussion, he has a bigger problem. There are apparently multiple leakers on his National Security Council.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

This article has been updated to reflect news developments.

Thymoleontas, says: May 16, 2017 at 12:33 pm

" The latest gaffe from the White House could well damage an important intelligence liaison relationship in the Middle East "

On the other hand, it also represents closer collaboration with Russia–even if unintended–which is an improvement on the status quo ante and, not to mention, key to ending the conflict in Syria.

Dies Irae , says: May 16, 2017 at 12:38 pm
You have McMaster himself who categorically denies any exposure of sources and methods – he was there in person and witness to the talks – and a cloud of unknown witnesses not present speculating, without reference to McMaster or Tillerson's testimony, about what might have happened. This is the American Media in a nutshell, the Infinite Circle Jerk.
MM , says: May 16, 2017 at 12:44 pm
Out of my depth, but was Trump working within the framework, maybe a bit outside if the story is true, of the Joint Implementation Group the Obama administration created last year with Russia?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/r/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2016/07/13/Editorial-Opinion/Graphics/terms_of_reference_for_the_Joint_Implementation_Group.pdf?tid=a_inl

Also, I recall reading that the prior administration promised Russia ISIS intel. Not sure if that ever happened, but I doubt they'd have made it public or leak anything to the press.

Brian W , says: May 16, 2017 at 12:57 pm
Apr 21, 2017 Ike and McCarthy: Dwight Eisenhower's Secret Campaign against Joseph McCarthy

Author David A. Nichols reveals how President Dwight D. Eisenhower masterminded the downfall of the anti-Communist demagogue Senator Joseph McCarthy.

https://youtu.be/FAY_9aQMVbQ

EliteCommInc , says: May 16, 2017 at 12:57 pm
Avoiding the minutia.

I think it should go without saying that intelligence is a sensitive business and protecting those who operate in its murky waters is important to having an effective agency.

Of course the Pres of the US has a duty to do so.

I have not yet read the post article. But I am doubtful that the executive had any intention of putting anyone in harms way. I am equally doubtful that this incident will. If the executive made an error in judgement, I am sure it will be dealt wit in an appropriate manner.

I do wish he'd stop tweeting, though I get why its useful to him.

I am more disturbed how this story got into the press. While, not an ally, I think we should in cooperation with other states. Because the Pres is not familiar with the protocols and language and I doubt any executive has been upon entering office, I have no doubt he may be reacting or overreacting to the overreaction of others.

Here's a word. We have no business engaging n the overthrow of another government that is no threat to the US or her allies, and that includes Israel. Syria is not. And we should cease and desist getting further entangled in the messes of the previous executive, his Sec of State and those organizations who seem to e playing with the life blood of the US by engaging if unnecessary risks.

Just another brier brushfire of a single tumble weed to add to the others in the hope that setting fires in trashcans will make the current exec go away or at least engage in a mea culpa and sign more checks in the mess that is the middle east policy objective that remains a dead end.

__________

And if I understand the crumbs given the data provided by the Post, the Times and this article, if one had ill will for the source of said information, they have pretty good idea where to start.

Cachip , says: May 16, 2017 at 1:12 pm
How do you know it wasn't intended as pure misdirection?
Brian W , says: May 16, 2017 at 1:20 pm
January 10, 2014 *500* Years of History Shows that Mass Spying Is Always Aimed at Crushing Dissent

No matter which government conducts mass surveillance, they also do it to crush dissent, and then give a false rationale for why they're doing it.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/500-years-of-history-shows-that-mass-spying-is-always-aimed-at-crushing-dissent/5364462

Johann , says: May 16, 2017 at 1:54 pm
Politics is now directly endangering innocent civilians. Because of the leaks and its publication, ISIS for sure now knows that there is an information leak out of their organization. They will now re-compartmentalize and may be successful in breaking that information leak. Innocent airline passenger civilians, American, Russian, or whoever may die as a result. Russia and the US are both fighting ISIS. We are de facto allies in that fight whether some people like it or not. Time to get over it.
EliteCommInc. , says: May 16, 2017 at 2:44 pm
Having read the article, uhhh, excuse me, but unlike personal secrets. The purpose of intel is to use to or keep on hand for some-other date. But of that information is related to the security of our interests and certainly a cooperative relationship with Russia is in our interest. Because in the convoluted fight with ISIS/ISIL, Russia is an ally.

What this belies is the mess of the intelligence community. If in fact, the Russians intend to take a source who provided information that was helpful to them, it would be a peculiar twist of strategic action. The response does tell us that we are in some manner in league with ISIS/ISIL or their supporters so deep that there is a need to protect them, from what is anybody's guess. Because if the information is accurate, I doubt the Russians are going to about killing the source, but rather improving their airline security.

But if we are in fact attempting to remove Pres Assad, and are in league with ISIS/ISIL in doing so - I get why the advocates of such nonsense might be in a huff. So ISIS/ISISL our one time foe and now our sometimes friend . . .

Good greif . . .

Pres Trump is the least of muy concerns when it coes to security.

Some relevant material on intel:

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/the-administration/327413-how-the-intel-community-was-turned-into-a-political

http://www.lexingtoninstitute.org/intelligence-failures-more-profound-than-president-admits/

But if I were Pres Trump, I might steer clear of Russia for a while to stop feeding the beast.

Kurt Gayle , says: May 16, 2017 at 3:28 pm
Philip, back on July 23, 2014, you explained in "How ISIS Evades the CIA" "the inability of the United States government to anticipate the ISIS offensive that has succeeded in taking control of a large part of Iraq." You explained why the CIA had to date had no success in infiltrating ISIS.

You continued: "Given U.S. intelligence's probable limited physical access to any actual terrorist groups operating in Syria or Iraq any direct attempt to penetrate the organization through placing a source inside would be difficult in the extreme. Such efforts would most likely be dependent on the assistance of friendly intelligence services in Turkey or Jordan. Both Turkey and Jordan have reported that terrorists have entered their countries by concealing themselves in the large numbers of refugees that the conflict in Syria has produced, and both are concerned as they understand full well that groups like ISIS will be targeting them next. Some of the infiltrating adherents to radical groups have certainly been identified and detained by the respective intelligence services of those two countries, and undoubtedly efforts have been made to 'turn' some of those in custody to send them back into Syria (and more recently Iraq) to report on what is taking place. Depending on what arrangements might have been made to coordinate the operations, the 'take' might well be shared with the United States and other friendly governments."

You then describe the difficulties faced by a Turkish or Jordanian agent trying to infiltrate ISIS: "But seeding is very much hit or miss, as someone who has been out of the loop of his organization might have difficulty working his way back in. He will almost certainly be regarded with some suspicion by his peers and would be searched and watched after his return, meaning that he could not take back with him any sophisticated communications devices no matter how cleverly they are concealed. This would make communicating any information obtained back to one's case officers in Jordan or Turkey difficult or even impossible."

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/how-isis-evades-the-cia/

Notwithstanding how "difficult or even impossible" such an operation would be - and using the New York Times as your only source for a lot of otherwise completely unsubstantiated information – and admitting that "this is sheer speculation on my part" – you say that "it is logical to assume that the countries that have provided numerous recruits for ISIS [Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia] would have used that fact as cover to carry out a seeding operation to introduce some of their own agents into the ISIS organization."

Back to the New York Times as your only source, you say that "the Times is also reporting that Trump provided to Lavrov 'granular' information on the city in Syria where the information was collected that will possibly enable the Russians or ISIS to identify the actual source, with devastating consequences."

But having ventured into the far reaches of that line of speculation, you do admit that "that projection may be overreach." Indeed!

You go on to characterize the events of the White House meeting with the Russians as "the latest gaffe from the White House" – even though there is absolutely no evidence (outside of the unsubstantiated reports of the Washington Post and the New York Times) that anything to do with the meeting was a "gaffe" – and you further speculate that "it could well damage an important intelligence liaison relationship in the Middle East."

That is, again, pure speculation on your part.

One valuable lesson that you've taught TAC readers over the years, Philip: That we need to carefully examine the sources of information – and the sources of dis-information.

KennethF , says: May 16, 2017 at 3:33 pm
Yet again from Giraldi: the problem isn't that the POTUS is ignorant and incompetent; we should all be more concerned that the Deep State is leaking the proof.
collin , says: May 16, 2017 at 4:12 pm
In general I agree with you, but the media was NEVER concerned about the treatment of sensitive material from HRC!
charley , says: May 16, 2017 at 4:51 pm
I think he needs to cut back on intelligence sharing with Israel. They do just what the hell they want to do with anything.
Brad Kain , says: May 16, 2017 at 5:03 pm
Trump has now essentially confirmed the story from the Post and contradicted the denials from McMaster – he shared specific intelligence to demonstrate his willingness to work with the Russians. Moreover, it seems that Israel was the ally that provided this intelligence. The author and others will defend this, but I can only see this as a reckless and impulsive decision that only causes Russia and our allies to trust the US less.

[May 16, 2017] Trump facing shark tank feeding frenzy from military industrial media

Notable quotes:
"... What's your take on it? Is the media on to something big here? ..."
"... "sources and methods" ..."
"... 'Deep State' ..."
"... The mainstream media is going on little more than 'anonymous sources.' Could it have a hidden agenda here? ..."
"... "drain the swamp." ..."
"... "I am moving forward with my program." ..."
"... Do you think mainstream media is a part of something big and controlled all over from the top? ..."
"... The media has run with this. Are they on to something big here? ..."
"... Trump attacked Hillary Clinton as being unreliable with state secrets. Can the same now be said of him? ..."
"... The mainstream media is going on little more than 'anonymous sources'... could it have a hidden agenda here? ..."
May 16, 2017 | www.rt.com
There are elements of the 'Deep State' here who are very opposed to the things Donald Trump said during the campaign. They don't want to cooperate with Russia, Jim Jatras, former US diplomat, told RT. Political analyst John Bosnitch joins the discussion. US President Trump said his White House meeting last week with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov ranged from airline safety to terrorism. A Washington Post story, however, has accused the American leader of revealing classified information to Russian officials.

RT: What's your take on it? Is the media on to something big here?

Jim Jatras: To start with, again, this is from the Washington Post and an unnamed source. So you do have to doubt the accuracy of the information knowing the vendetta the Washington Post and other mainstream media have against the Trump administration and against President Trump personally and how much they want to disrupt any kind of cooperation with Russia against the terrorist threat. I would say that was the first thing.

'I was in the room. It didn't happen' - National Security Advisor H.R. #McMaster https://t.co/gVIHigqXaT

- RT America (@RT_America) 15 мая 2017 г.

Second, as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Deputy of National Security Adviser Dina Powell, who were both in the meeting, have stated since the Washington Post article appeared – there was nothing discussed with Mr. [Sergey] Lavrov and Mr. [Sergey] Kislyak that compromised what they call "sources and methods" that would lead to any kind of intelligence vulnerability on the part of the US. But rather this was all part of a discussion of common action against ISIS. Those are the first things to be noted

Let's remember that there are elements of what we call the 'Deep State' here who are very opposed to the things Donald Trump said during the campaign. They don't want to cooperate with the Russians; they don't want improved relations with Moscow. And let's be honest, they have a very strong investment in the various jihadist groups that we have supported for the past six years trying to overthrow the legitimate government in Damascus. I am sure there are people – maybe in the National Security Council, maybe in the Staff, maybe in the State Department – who are finding some way to try and discredit the Trump administration. The question is where is the investigation into these leaks? Who is going to hold these people accountable?

RT: The mainstream media is going on little more than 'anonymous sources.' Could it have a hidden agenda here?

JJ: Of course. In fact, I would even go further. I wouldn't be at all surprised if President Trump timed his firing with the FBI Director James Comey – what some people even pointed out – he himself in one of his tweets says "drain the swamp." One of the first elements was getting rid of the principals of the Deep State who have been trying to hijack his policy; that he did this precisely because he was meeting with Mr. Lavrov and Mr. Kislyak the next day. He's shoving it in their face, saying: "I am moving forward with my program." And I think that's the reason we're getting this hysteria building around the Russians, the Russians, the Russians when what we need is to move forward on an America First national security policy.

'US policy today: Aircraft, where co-pilots try to override pilots' (Op-Edge) https://t.co/x153yPtqVS

- RT (@RT_com) 16 мая 2017 г.

RT: Do you think mainstream media is a part of something big and controlled all over from the top?

JJ: Absolutely. There is a whole structure of what people call the 'Deep State' establishment, the oligarchy – whatever you want to call it. Of course, the mainstream media is part of this. It includes all the Democrats, who were very easy on the Soviet Union when it was Communist. But now that it is not Communist under Russia, they have a deep, very deep hatred of Russia, and they don't want any kind of rapprochement with Russia. And unfortunately, there are Republicans who sympathize with this agenda, as well. I think we can say at this point that Mr. Trump is only partially in control of the apparatus of government. He does not yet have complete control and that there is a frantic effort by these elements to make sure he is not able to get control of the American government and carry out the policies he talked about.

#Trump says he had 'absolute right' to share data on flight safety & terrorism with Russia https://t.co/U6h9FW2ZKy pic.twitter.com/eFBIRhVaI3

- RT (@RT_com) 16 мая 2017 г.
The 'military industrial media'

The mainstream media of the US is owned lock, stock, and barrel by the military industrial complex. If you want to call it anything, you can call it the 'military media,' John Bosnitch , political analyst, told RT.

RT: The media has run with this. Are they on to something big here?

John Bosnitch: I wouldn't say so. I've worked in this field for three decades. I don't see a scrap of evidence here. But I do see like a shark tank of media feeding – no evidence.

RT: Trump attacked Hillary Clinton as being unreliable with state secrets. Can the same now be said of him?

JB: Trump is the chief executive officer of the United States of America. As the chief executive officer of the country, he has full legal and constitutional authority to use state secrets in the conduct of diplomacy. He's also the chief diplomat of the country. So there is a big difference between the chief executive officer deciding what information he can share in conducting of state policy, and Hillary Clinton deciding as a cabinet minister which laws she chooses to obey, and which ones she doesn't.

'You cannot reset:' No way for US & Russia to start over 'with clean slate' – #Tillerson https://t.co/vC71YbLpQL

- RT (@RT_com) 15 мая 2017 г.

RT: The mainstream media is going on little more than 'anonymous sources'... could it have a hidden agenda here?

JB: I don't see any other possibility, whatsoever. Let's not play the game of dividing the so-called mainstream media from its owners. The mainstream media of the US is owned lock, stock, and barrel by the military industrial complex. If you want to call it anything, you can call it the 'military media.' The military makes money by making war; they buy the media to promote war. They use the media to promote propaganda in favor of war. And that is where we get into the mess we're in today. Because we have a president who is a businessman and would prefer to make money, and would prefer to put people to work in any industry other than war. The military industrial media in the United States is depending on being able to speak to a captive audience of uninformed viewers The military controls the media because they own them.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

[May 16, 2017] Comey and Hypocrisy - Crooked Timber

Notable quotes:
"... I just visited the several newspapers and my own take away is that Democrats must be weeping with joy at their good fortune. The firing of Comey is being construed as the desperate act of a criminal about to be indicted. Which is remarkable given the fact that senior Democrats in the intelligence and judiciary committees confirmed they've yet to see any evidence connecting Russia and the GOP candidate as recently as last week. ..."
"... One problem with the claim that the president firing Comey is in any way a subversion of the rule of law, is that firing by the president of any official in the executive branch (with the exception of independent agency officials) is as legal as church on Sunday. That's a foolish feature of our system, but it is a feature of our system. The Senate failed by one vote to impeach Andrew Johnson for firing Stanton as Secy of War, and partly as a way to rationalize that failure, but mostly because the presidency was always going to evolve towards an elected monarchy, we later passed a law clarifying that the president has the power to fire cabinet members and their subordinates. ..."
"... But hypocrisy is a moral charge, and so this is not a politically important issue. It's good that Republican and Democratic hypocrisy might get Trump impeached, even if the state of the souls on both sides are extremely impure. ..."
"... There is not much use in being outraged by something one can in no way affect, such as the outcome of the struggle between rogue capitalist Trump, now thrashing about randomly, and the Deep State or Established Order or whatever you want to call it. However, as the struggle intensifies, and stuff begins to come loose and flap in the wind, we may be able to learn something about the current power structure of the U.S. ..."
"... "A few seconds googling reveals numerous explicit statements from prominent Democrats that Comey is incompetent and untrustworthy and should no longer be in the job. I'm afraid that's quite textbook hypocrisy." ..."
"... "It is not that the president does not, in the abstract, have the power to fire the FBI director–it's that it is inappropriate to do so when the FBI is investigating the president." This from rea is the perfect summary: And the fact that no-one in the White House who knew that, had enough power to do anything about it, is why this particular move worries me at least as much as anything else Trump has done thus far. ..."
"... Comey's public statement two weeks before the election that the Clinton email investigation had found new evidence which might yet (at long last) turn out to be incriminating was an outrageous act – particularly since a potentially more serious investigation of Trump was in progress and not similarly mentioned. ..."
"... Trump seems to have quite a few problems understanding appropriate timing. He held on to Flynn for 18 days after he was informed of Flynn's ties to the Russians and his lies about that. ..."
"... If Comey is unfit to hold the office, as many top Democrats have said outright or at least strongly implied, it is plainly ridiculous to trust him with an investigation which you consider so important. ..."
"... The honest response from Dems would then be, "it's great you fired Comey, now appoint a special prosecutor." ..."
"... "Are the State Dept's own computers underperforming, - or else compromised? Are gov't communications of all sorts OVER-classified?" – Lee Arnold @7 ..."
"... As someone familiar – far too familiar – with civil service bureaucracies (albeit not US ones) I would bet money that the answer to both questions is a resounding YES. ..."
"... bureaucrats consistently over classify because they like to believe they're insiders, privy to important and successful conspiracies. ..."
"... You can use these HTML tags and attributes: ..."
May 16, 2017 | crookedtimber.org

by John Holbo on May 10, 2017 It is not hypocritical in the least for Democrats to be outraged about Comey over the Clinton business and also to be outraged over Trump's firing of Comey, apparently to hinder FBI investigations of Trump and his associates. (One presumes Trump has a motive for the firing and the official reason is obviously not the real one.)

If Republicans try to troll Democrats – and I see that they already are – here's the short, sharp response: we all agree that someone may deserve to be punished, but also that proper procedures for punishing them need to be observed. This is not hypocrisy. It's the rule of law. If I say Smith should be arrested for capital crimes, and then I am outraged when Smith dies in custody in a suspicious manner, suggesting the police might be covering their own crimes, I am not a hypocrite. The firing is like that. If you care about the rule of law, you are outraged that Comey was fired today. If you care about the integrity of US elections, you are outraged he wasn't fired before. There is no tension in the view that the rule of law is good, yet the integrity of elections is also good. If Republicans want to make the case that one or both of these are bad, or that it's wrong to want both, let them make their case openly and honestly.

Raven 05.10.17 at 5:50 am ( 1 )

Of course Trump's firing of Comey had nothing at all to do with this other headline just out: " Grand jury subpoenas issued in FBI's Russia investigation - Federal prosecutors have issued grand jury subpoenas to associates of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn seeking business records ."
faustusnotes 05.10.17 at 6:13 am ( 2 )
This is surely going to encourage a whole new level of counter-Trump activity in the security state. Holder's tweet was basically telling FBI staff to have at it
nastywoman 05.10.17 at 6:59 am (
– but as the reasoning for firing the FBI-Dude is such awesome classical 'Comedy Gold' – we have to admire the lawyers -(and even the F faces humor)
And I just see them sitting somewhere and chuckling:
'Let's use the Clinton Inquiry'!
'Oh – that woulld be hilarious'
'Even the writers of SNL can't beat that'!
'Take that Colbert'!
'And it will show even Kimmel with his Baby- what 'real' comedy in our homeland is all about.

– and all what's left is roaring laughter.
And for everybody who reall wants to discuss seriously some 'laweful' aspect of 'Trumpland' we might have to wait until Von Clownstick has departed again?

bluicebank 05.10.17 at 8:16 am (
In a nutshell, Comey committed suicide-by-cop+mobsters. Rarely done if ever, even in film noir. First you piss off the cops. Then you piss off the mobsters. Then you get between them, hoping none of the bullets hit you and you come out a hero like in "L.A. Confidential." Yeah, never works that way.
kidneystones 05.10.17 at 10:43 am (
Hi John. I've no complaint with the OP.

I just visited the several newspapers and my own take away is that Democrats must be weeping with joy at their good fortune. The firing of Comey is being construed as the desperate act of a criminal about to be indicted. Which is remarkable given the fact that senior Democrats in the intelligence and judiciary committees confirmed they've yet to see any evidence connecting Russia and the GOP candidate as recently as last week.

So, if the new Nixon (who I thought was Obama – record secrecy, spying on journalists, and prosecuting whistle-blowers) isn't impeached, convicted, and pilloried it won't be because there's no evidence. Better still, Putin – Trump's Russian master – is now running America through his Manchurian candidate in the White House. Historians are going to have a field day with the denunciations. I can't wait.

Daragh 05.10.17 at 11:27 am (
I think this may be the GOP engaging in projection again. They divide the world into 'good' and 'bad' guys, the latter of whom are fair game. Proceduralism is just the formalities. Look at how massively they abused Congressional investigative powers to try and make Benghazi a scandal. That other people might have principles above 'crush mine enemies' isn't really a thought they've spent much time trying to grasp.
Lee A. Arnold 05.10.17 at 11:35 am ( 7 )
From Trump's letter of termination, it looks like Comey was fired because he refused to say in public, at the Senate hearing, whether Trump himself was under investigation about the Russians, thus leaving it appear that Trump could be under investigation, or that the investigation might lead to Trump.

Here is the beginning of Trump's second paragraph in the termination letter: "While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau."

This seems to have little to do with Comey's performance in the Clinton email "scandals". It looks instead like the Russian story is getting too close, & Trump found a convenient premise to fire Comey, that premise being the need to correct Comey's public misunderstanding of the scope of Clinton's emails on Weiner's computer in Comey's statements, at the Senate hearing last week - a rather minor error, at that.

I imagine that Comey may have divided feelings right now: relieved to be off the hot seat, but alarmed that history may abuse him. Because last year Comey was sandbagged by the GOP, twice:

1. In the last hour of the July 7 hearing about the State Dept. emails, you can see Comey's visible discomfort and his growing frustration that he was being manipulated into saying something untrue about Hillary Clinton, in a witch hunt, under the repetitious badgering by Gowdy and Chaffetz who were trying different legalistic locutions. Their intended effect was to make much of the public believe that the FBI let Clinton off the hook.

As Comey had already explained in that same hearing, the facts are that dozens or hundreds of State employees, all the way back to Colin Powell's days, were using private servers without the "classified" status printed on the emails, and there was technically no law broken, therefore none prosecutable - though it was careless and sloppy, as Comey stated. So far as I know, the big questions have never been asked in the media: Why were they all doing this? Why didn't the State Dept. provide a secure server? Are the State Dept's own computers underperforming, - or else compromised? Are gov't communications of all sorts OVER-classified?

2. Various published reports could be construed to narrate a "dirty-tricks" story: that in October, an anti-Clinton faction in the FBI's NY office leaked the Abedin-Weiner non-story bullcrap to Rudy Giuliani, and possibly to Republicans in Congress. This threatened Comey to come out and say something about it IN PUBLIC, before it was blown up in headlines in another way - with the added bogus suggestion of the Bureaus' involvement in a new coverup to protect Hillary. So Comey found himself in another no-win situation.

Indeed Rudy just came up, again. From the hearing last week, May 3:

SENATOR LEAHY: Let me ask you this. During your investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails, a number of surrogates like Rudy Giuliani claimed to have a pipeline to the FBI. He boasted that, and I quote, numerous agents talk to him all the time. (Inaudible) regarding the investigation. He even said that he had - insinuated he had advanced warning about the emails described in your October letter. Former FBI agent Jim Kallstrom made similar claims.
Now, either they're lying, or there's a serious problem within thebureau. Anybody in the FBI during this 2016 campaign have contact with Rudy Giuliani about - about the Clinton investigation?
COMEY: I don't know yet. But if I find out that people were leaking information about our investigations, whether it's to reporters or to private parties, there will be severe consequences.
LEAHY: Did you know of anything from Jim Kallstrom?
COMEY: Same answer. I don't know yet.
LEAHY: Do you know any about - from other former agents?
COMEY: I don't know yet. But it's a matter that I'm very, very interested in.
LEAHY: But you are looking into it?
COMEY: Correct.
LEAHY: And once you've found that answer, will you provide it to us?
COMEY: I'll provide it to the committee in some form. I don't whether I would say publicly, but I'd find some way to let you know.

Reading the full transcript of this hearing will show you just how serious the Russian connections are, to both sides of the aisle in the Senate.

On the Rudy story, see also Reuters, Nov. 3: "FBI fear of leaks drove decision on emails linked to Clinton: sources"
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-fbi-leaks-idUSKBN12Y2QD

And a detailed overview as of Dec. 22: "Was Rudy Giuliani At The Center Of An FBI-Trump Campaign Conspiracy To Steal The Election?"
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/was-rudy-giuliani-at-the-center-of-an-fbi-trump-campaign_us_585ad14ce4b014e7c72ed993

Mario 05.10.17 at 11:42 am ( 8
Here is the letter where Comey gets fired (link goes to the New York Times).

In these weird times its the original sources which one should read, if possible.

nastywoman 05.10.17 at 11:47 am ( 9 )
– and @5 stop this nonsense about 'Trump's Russian master' – as by now everybody is aware that Von Clownstick only has ONE 'master' – the most nasty, dangerous and demented of them all: 'Himself'.

But – still – Historians are going to have the absolute and total 'field day' for how little dough one could in Trumps erection – buy a real 'campaign manager' – or for what an amazing tiny budget price you were able to get a real US national security advisor – and I really understand that lots and lots of US politicians are angry – how Manafort and Flynn went for such small change in order to help – of all Creeps one of the nastiest dudes of them all.

I mean I it would have been France -(or even better Italy) trying to buy themselves into the US government in order that Von Clownstick would do some promotion for them -(and Paris or Rome) – that would have been some kind of acceptable – and ME and my friends already thought: If a buy in – into the US government is 'that' cheap – why leave it to countries like Russian – why not getting it for ourselves? – and then when Ivanka comes by get some of her clothes a lot cheaper too?

Glen Tomkins 05.10.17 at 1:36 pm
One problem with the claim that the president firing Comey is in any way a subversion of the rule of law, is that firing by the president of any official in the executive branch (with the exception of independent agency officials) is as legal as church on Sunday. That's a foolish feature of our system, but it is a feature of our system. The Senate failed by one vote to impeach Andrew Johnson for firing Stanton as Secy of War, and partly as a way to rationalize that failure, but mostly because the presidency was always going to evolve towards an elected monarchy, we later passed a law clarifying that the president has the power to fire cabinet members and their subordinates.

So, sure, we had the president fire the head of the FBI because he was leading an investigation into the wrongdoings of the president and his associates. But however much that outrages common sense and common decency, it clearly is not an outrage to the law and what we have let our system become. That's our system. We've put the presidency above the law by letting the office control the prosecutors.

The legal recourse now, within our system, is to appoint an independent counsel, a prosecutor to lead the investigation into administration wrong-doing who cannot be fired by the president or his Atty-Genl. Trump, though, is no Clinton. There is zero prospect that he would let public pressure squeeze him into approving an independent counsel.

The prevention, and now cure, of the pathology Trump presents, is a political matter. The Republican party should never have let him have their nomination. That they failed to stop such an obvious threat to all of us, including themselves, is the final proof that there is no longer a party capable of acting even in self-preservation. Now that prevention failed, the only recourse is for Congress to investigate him by impeaching him, or to use the 25th to just get him out of office.

I suspect that we're about to have fairly definitive proof that the US no longer has a Congress capable of acting, even in self-preservation.

Yan 05.10.17 at 3:34 pm
Hypocrisy is not a charge about reasons but about motives.

The question is not: are there good reasons for Democrats to hold different positions about Comey in each case? (There are.) The question is: are they in fact motivated by those good reasons? (That seems less obvious.)

Imagine if Comey had been fired with equally improper procedure after the Clinton email scandal. Do you really think many Democrats would have been outraged?

This is particularly an ironic defense given that it applies equally well to Trump himself. Trump claims he's firing Comey for mishandling the Clinton email investigation. Of course, no one believes that's his real motive. But it is a sound reason, a reason that exists and is available to him, and by this logic, inures him from the charge of hypocrisy.

What's astonishing is that the OP even presents the case in a cynical way that almost short-circuits the post: "if Republicans try to troll Democrats here's the short, sharp response." In other words: hey, people on my team, in case anyone tries to impugn your motives and you need help coming up with a good motive, here's one.

But hypocrisy is a moral charge, and so this is not a politically important issue. It's good that Republican and Democratic hypocrisy might get Trump impeached, even if the state of the souls on both sides are extremely impure.

Manta 05.10.17 at 3:52 pm (
12 )
I am not American, so I am not positive about how the proper procedure is.

However, I tend to agree with Tomksin @10.

If I understand correctly, John Holbo is complaining that the Democrat were asking to follow the "proper" legal procedure to fire the head of FBI, but Trump did not follow it.

So, what is this proper procedure? I was under the impression that the procedure was the president (maybe after consulting with the AG) writing a letter with "YOU ARE FIRED!" written on it. If I am right, and the rule of law was followed, the whole post is bullshit; if I am wrong, I would appreciate a clarification on what is the procedure: more precisely, what would be the legitimate way to follow the requests of the Democrats and fire Comey? (By the way, I think his firing was a tragic loss for US democracy: he proved to be a fiercely independent public official, willing to make powerful enemies from both sides of the aisle).

bianca steele 05.10.17 at 3:55 pm ( 13 )

If Republicans want to make the case that one or both of these are bad, or that it's wrong to want both, let them make their case openly and honestly.

They are never going to make their case openly and honestly. They will continue to equivocate and to give lip service to principles they don't even bother to cover up anymore. The only question is whether they rest complacent in their hypocrisy, or whether they begin to argue that "rule of law" mean something different from what it does (or more likely, to hypocritically insist that we use their use of the word in inappropriate ways is correct, while giving lip service to the idea of shared meanings, traditional definitions, and so on). Which of these would be preferable (not that we have a say in the matter) seems to be less clear than we might wish.

Anarcissie 05.10.17 at 4:18 pm ( 14
There is not much use in being outraged by something one can in no way affect, such as the outcome of the struggle between rogue capitalist Trump, now thrashing about randomly, and the Deep State or Established Order or whatever you want to call it. However, as the struggle intensifies, and stuff begins to come loose and flap in the wind, we may be able to learn something about the current power structure of the U.S.

The fact that the E.O. did not stop Trump long before he got anywhere near the presidency shows serious, Weimar-reminiscent incompetence, whose consequences will continue to develop. The E.O. also lacks foot soldiers among the proles, which Trump still seems to have. It may be we have entered Interesting Times.

Heliopause 05.10.17 at 4:30 pm (
A few seconds googling reveals numerous explicit statements from prominent Democrats that Comey is incompetent and untrustworthy and should no longer be in the job. I'm afraid that's quite textbook hypocrisy.

The alternative to that reading would be that it's not hypocritical because I want this incompetent individual to continue his incompetent work investigating my political rival. That would not be hypocritical but would be an inane position to take.

The public reasons Trump gave for the firing are broadly assumed to be correct assessments of Comey's performance. If you're worried that he had unstated ulterior motives you can relax, the "Saturday Night Massacre" didn't help Nixon and if there's anything to all this Russia Trutherism there are phalanxes of anti-Trump people in the government and elite media to bring it out.

rea 05.10.17 at 4:58 pm (
It is not that the president does not, in the abstract, have the power to fire the FBI director–it's that it is inappropriate to do so when the FBI is investigating the president.
Frank Wilhoit 05.10.17 at 5:46 pm ( 17 )
" let them make their case openly and honestly."

You are neglecting the fact that conservatives have a total emotional block against honesty (at least outside their own closed community). To tell someone a true thing grants the hearer equal status: this a conservative cannot do, not under any manner of duress.

Chris "merian" W. 05.10.17 at 5:50 pm ( 18
Yan, if you want to find a hypocritical Democrat, I'm sure you can find one. However, I think that your criterion, that a Democrat's reaction is only not hypocritical if they also would have been not hypocritial in the event of a similarly shoddy firing under Obama or Clinton, is not proper. I absolutely believe that the people around me who are shocked are genuinely shocked.

Also, given recent precedent, it is quite absurd to think it is likely that a Democratic administration would have proceeded in this way. Obama gave Democrats ample reason to expect that whatever would be done, it would be done in a way to protect institutional integrity. (Indeed, before the inauguration, internal affairs announced they'd start to look into Comey - an investigation the result of which was not yet available yesterday.) So for someone who does NOT have this internal insight into what the options and their trade-offs are to say "get rid of Comey!" is perfectly appropriate - that's why we have specialists who know how to implement a goal properly.

Scott P. 05.10.17 at 6:18 pm (
"A few seconds googling reveals numerous explicit statements from prominent Democrats that Comey is incompetent and untrustworthy and should no longer be in the job. I'm afraid that's quite textbook hypocrisy."

Not at all. You can think Comey should be replaced with someone more competent, and to also believe that Trump fired Comey not to replace him with someone more competent but to cover up an ongoing investigation.

Similarly, I think Trump is woefully incompetent and should be removed from office, but I would be violently opposed to the Chinese government assassinating him.

Sebastian H 05.10.17 at 6:55 pm (
20 )
"It is not that the president does not, in the abstract, have the power to fire the FBI director–it's that it is inappropriate to do so when the FBI is investigating the president." This from rea is the perfect summary: And the fact that no-one in the White House who knew that, had enough power to do anything about it, is why this particular move worries me at least as much as anything else Trump has done thus far.
oldster 05.10.17 at 7:10 pm ( 21
I think John Cole explains the case rather well:

https://www.balloon-juice.com/2017/05/10/the-part-of-james-comey-will-be-played-by-a-pizza-a-balloon-juice-explainer/

JimV 05.10.17 at 7:45 pm ( 22 )
My reading of the OP was that (filling in some background as I see it):

1. Comey's public statement two weeks before the election that the Clinton email investigation had found new evidence which might yet (at long last) turn out to be incriminating was an outrageous act – particularly since a potentially more serious investigation of Trump was in progress and not similarly mentioned.

2. Trump's firing of Comey, in order to put someone else in his place who would shut down the Trump investigation, was also an outrageous act – the act of a tyrant.

3. Both these acts are censurable, with or without hypocrisy; and one should not let 2) pass for fear of being called a hypocrite.

Assuming that is, in fact, the sense of the OP, the firing procedure was not being questioned but rather the motive behind it; and I agree with the OP (as I read it).

Mario 05.10.17 at 9:00 pm ( 24 )
And so it begins.

One thing I don't like about all of this is that the liberal / progressive voices are uniting behind the wrong flag. Folks, this is an enemy firing a broadside at another enemy. Instead of taking sides in this harrowing spectacle, let's make sure they take turns at that until little is left.

A more interesting question is: what can be done to take advantage of the situation? What can be done to advance the common good?

Sebastian H 05.10.17 at 11:04 pm (
"If this is an inappropriate procedure for firing the director of the FBI, what would be the appropriate procedure for firing the director of the FBI?"

Well step one might be to disclose the actual reasons for deciding to fire the director of the FBI in the middle of his term instead of transparently false ones.

If you, surprisingly, believe the disclosed reasons for deciding to fire the director of the FBI, step two would be to disclose the reason for firing him now, instead of in January, or February, or March, or April.

Trump seems to have quite a few problems understanding appropriate timing. He held on to Flynn for 18 days after he was informed of Flynn's ties to the Russians and his lies about that.

J-D 05.10.17 at 11:52 pm (
27
Sebastian H

Well step one might be to disclose the actual reasons for deciding to fire the director of the FBI in the middle of his term instead of transparently false ones.

That's an issue of substance, not an issue of procedure.

If you, surprisingly, believe the disclosed reasons for deciding to fire the director of the FBI,

I'm not sure what you mean by 'believing the reasons'. The reasons given in the Deputy Attorney-General's memo appear, on the face of it, to constitute an adequate justification for the decision; but official justifications are only sometimes actual motives; sometimes they are not motives, but pretexts.

step two would be to disclose the reason for firing him now, instead of in January, or February, or March, or April.

The President's official notification, the memo from the Attorney-General, and the memo from the Deputy Attorney-General all bear the same date, so this question reduces to the question of why the Deputy Attorney-General compiled his memo when he did. Obviously he couldn't have submitted a memo as Deputy Attorney-General before he became Deputy Attorney-General, but aside from that, there's nothing in his memo to explain why he wrote it when he did, or indeed why he wrote it at all. It doesn't begin (as it could so easily have begun) 'You have asked me to report on ' or 'My attention has been drawn by ' or 'I have become concerned because ' or 'In the bath today, I suddenly began to wonder whether the Director of the FBI should be fired ' (okay, that last one he would never have actually written).

So if anybody's looking for a procedural flaw, I think that has to be it. There's no explanation, on the part of the Deputy Attorney-General, for why he has taken this action (written this memo). That's a reasonable procedural requirement, for a memo of this importance to include background information that explains how the preparation of the memo came to be initiated. Once the memo had been submitted, I can't figure how there's any procedural fault in the Attorney-General endorsing it or the President acting on it (I can figure how it could be argued that there are substantive faults, but not procedural ones).

Heliopause 05.11.17 at 12:43 am ( 29 )
@19
If Comey is unfit to hold the office, as many top Democrats have said outright or at least strongly implied, it is plainly ridiculous to trust him with an investigation which you consider so important.
Heliopause 05.11.17 at 1:11 am (
@25
1. Trump effected the result that Democrats said they wanted, i.e. Comey out of office.
2. Trump's publicly stated reasons were the same reasons as those of the Dems.
3. Dems have also said they'd like a special prosecutor.

The honest response from Dems would then be, "it's great you fired Comey, now appoint a special prosecutor."

Can I also point out while I'm here that a very prominent Democrat recently identified Comey as the main cause for Trump's being in office in the first place and that it is facially absurd for a Democrat to want such an individual to continue in office under any condition?

derrida derider 05.11.17 at 4:30 am (
"Are the State Dept's own computers underperforming, - or else compromised? Are gov't communications of all sorts OVER-classified?" – Lee Arnold @7

As someone familiar – far too familiar – with civil service bureaucracies (albeit not US ones) I would bet money that the answer to both questions is a resounding YES.

My experience is that successful conspiracies of any sort are almost impossible, not because there aren't plenty of would-be conspirators but because secrets are almost impossible to keep in the modern world; truth really will out. And bureaucrats consistently over classify because they like to believe they're insiders, privy to important and successful conspiracies.

John Holbo 05.11.17 at 9:42 am ( 36 )
Heliopause asks an apparently reasonable question to which there is a reasonable response: "If Comey is unfit to hold the office, as many top Democrats have said outright or at least strongly implied, it is plainly ridiculous to trust him with an investigation which you consider so important."

The trouble with trying to keep things short is it is not conducive to nuance. In Comey's case, there is a need for nuance because questions of motive and procedure get pretty fine. The following things seem to me likely true.

Comey, in a mistaken attempt to protect the reputation of the FBI by forestalling pro-Trump leaks concerning Hillary's case, did something that was in-itself inappropriate and thereby threw the election to Trump. That's pretty outrageous even though Comey almost certainly intended no such effect. The fact remains: outrage at this circumstance is fully justified and it really isn't good to have an FBI director who – however inadvertently – took inappropriate actions that threw a US Presidential election (in a 'but for X, Y wouldn't have happened' sense.) Nevertheless, it's hard to say when it would have been appropriate to fire Comey. Obama could have, but it would have looked real bad and partisan. Trump might have, before the point where Comey testified that there was an investigation of Trump's campaign but even then it would have looked real bad and partisan because it isn't believable that Trump is Hillary's white knight, concerned that someone called her 'crooked' in an unfair way. It would be obvious he was replacing Comey to install some crony (probably.) Worst of all, of course, is what actually happened.

Now this is sort of annoying; it's outrageous that Comey is still director, but there wouldn't have been an acceptable way to remove him at any point. But that's life. Sometimes there's no good procedural way to do something. But even if we disagree about that, we can all agree that, if you are going to fire Comey, you shouldn't do it in what looks to me the most inappropriate possible way, i.e. with intent to obstruct an ongoing investigation.

kidneystones 05.11.17 at 10:44 am ( 37
The principal reason Comey spoke out in the first place was because candidate Clinton's husband decided to pay an unscripted visit to his friend and long-time confident, the AG of the United States, at precisely the same time the Justice department was debating whether to open a criminal investigation into the handling of government documents by the Democratic nominee, also named Clinton. Comey's decision not greeted with universal applause. The partisan press has spent the last 8 years polishing the myth of the scandal-free Obama administration so that the gullible and the cynical can promulgate the myth among the masses. This rather good Wapo piece on AETNA's plan to walk away from Obama's signature program does more to explain why Trump is president and Clinton is not than any parsing of statements. The long and short of is that this election should never have been close. It was principally because of the broken promises and failed policies of the Obama administration.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/aetna-exiting-all-aca-insurance-marketplaces-in-2018/2017/05/10/9dedbeea-35d4-11e7-b373-418f6849a004_story.html?utm_term=.73cecd86b1f4 )

The principal reason Comey spoke out in the first place was because candidate Clinton's husband decided to pay an unscripted visit to his friend and long-time confident, the AG of the United States, at precisely the same time the Justice department was debating whether to open a criminal investigation into the handling of government documents by the Democratic nominee, also named Clinton. Comey's decision not greeted with universal applause. The partisan press has spent the last 8 years polishing the myth of the scandal-free Obama administration so that the gullible and the cynical can promulgate the myth among the masses. This rather good Wapo piece on AETNA's plan to walk away from Obama's signature program does more to explain why Trump is president and Clinton is not than any parsing of statements. The long and short of is that this election should never have been close. It was principally because of the broken promises and failed policies of the Obama administration.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/aetna-exiting-all-aca-insurance-marketplaces-in-2018/2017/05/10/9dedbeea-35d4-11e7-b373-418f6849a004_story.html?utm_term=.73cecd86b1f4

Bill Benzon 05.11.17 at 10:50 am ( 38
Over at Lawfare, a post on procedural issues in the firing:

The Administration, in short, has shown little regard for thoughtful process in law enforcement that is key to the maintenance of the integrity of the legal system, and of public confidence. Mr. Trump and his DOJ leadership have jumped ahead of the Inspector General's inquiry, moving suddenly to put their views on record on the same issues the IG is addressing. They have failed to explain why they did so, when the alleged misconduct to which they appeal is no different from that which generated the IG inquiry and was widely known when the President took office. The AG was involved in this decision when recused from any matter involving the Russia investigation-again with no explanation. The Deputy AG could not have weighed the matter carefully in 14 days, some part of which he spent writing the short memorandum: which means he reached his conclusion in less than those two weeks. So with whom did he consult-and on what factual record, developed in what way and by whom, did he depend? Again: no explanation.

https://lawfareblog.com/how-it-was-done-problem-not-only-trump-fired-comey-how-he-did-it

Lee A. Arnold 05.11.17 at 10:51 am ( 39
It looks even more like Comey was cashiered because he wanted to expand the investigation into Trump's Russian connections.

Trump screamed at Comey on the TV during the Senate hearing last week, then called Sessions & Rosenstein to the White House, said "Get rid of Comey".

Rosenstein went back to his office & dutifully wrote a letter to give some reasons why.

But then Trump used Rosenstein as the pretext, claiming that the Rosenstein letter INITIATED Comey's firing!

Washington Post top headline this morning: "Deputy attorney general threatened to quit after being cast as impetus of dismissal".

I had been wondering about Rosenstein's participation in Comey's sudden cashiering, because it didn't make sense. Rosenstein seems like the reasonable sort, but the reasons in his letter are last year's stories. Rosenstein must know (as everybody in D.C. does, including FBI rank-and-file) that Comey is a decent guy, not a politician, and that he was dirty-tricked into smearing Hillary in two different ways in July & October. So the command to write the letter must have seemed like a call to scribble some perfunctory bureaucratise, however unfair to a fellow.

But now it looks like Rosenstein is being sandbagged, too. And he doesn't like it.

Not good for Trump. Both Rosenstein & Comey can both be called up to the Hill for testimony.

Firing Comey was Trump's second big unforced error. A hyoooge error, even bigger than his shallow claim in a tweety pique that Obama wiretapped him.

Despite the Democrats' apparent indignation & hypocrisy at Comey's sacking, you can forget it, they are tickled to death.

J-D 05.11.17 at 11:21 am ( 40
John Holbo

Now this is sort of annoying; it's outrageous that Comey is still director, but there wouldn't have been an acceptable way to remove him at any point. But that's life. Sometimes there's no good procedural way to do something.

Sometimes, if there's no good procedural way to do something, that's a system flaw. There should be a good procedural way to remove the FBI director, and if there isn't, that a flaw in the system; although, now that I've got on to the subject, not nearly as big a flaw as the lack of a good procedural way to remove the US President. Yes, I know there's a procedure for removing the President, but it's not a good one, and there should be a good one.

But even if we disagree about that, we can all agree that, if you are going to fire Comey, you shouldn't do it in what looks to me the most inappropriate possible way, i.e. with intent to obstruct an ongoing investigation.

That still seems to me to be an issue of substance, not of procedure.

Cranky Observer 05.11.17 at 11:40 am ( 41 )

= = = John Holbo @ 9:42 am: The following things seem to me likely true.
Comey, in a mistaken attempt to protect the reputation of the FBI by forestalling pro-Trump leaks concerning Hillary's case, did something that was in-itself inappropriate and thereby threw the election to Trump. That's pretty outrageous even though Comey almost certainly intended no such effect. = = =

The difficulty is that there is an equally likely explanation that fits the facts and is no more complicated than this one and perhaps less complicated: there is a faction within the FBI that actively dislikes Hillary Clinton and took specific intended actions to damage her Presidential campaign, with the deliberate intention of seeing a candidate elected who was more congenial to their worldview. In this scenario whether Comney was a member of that faction or simply took no action to identify and fire/prosecute them, he was complicit in their actions.

[I saw a transcript yesterday in which Senator Schumer specifically asked Comney about Giuliani's magical ability to predict FBI announcements up to 36 hours in advance. Comney did his best to deflect but admitted he might have to look into that. I think we can assume that won't happen now. ]

If a large number of Democrats accept the fell scenario, then it becomes harder to disagree with Helipause: there is no justification for a law enforcement official not only violating the Hatch Act but actually throwing an election using law enforcement resources to remain in office regardless of what else he might be investigating.

Cranky Observer 05.11.17 at 11:45 am ( 43 )

= = =Lee A. Arnold @ 11:35 am: So far as I know, the big questions have never been asked in the media: Why were they all doing this? Why didn't the State Dept. provide a secure server? Are the State Dept's own computers underperforming, - or else compromised? Are gov't communications of all sorts OVER-classified? = = =

I was working in the technology sector at the time and perhaps it was covered in more detail by the technology press, but yes: Hillary's Clinton's first employee town hall meeting as Secretary of State turned into a 2-hour gripe session about how bad State Dept. computer and communication technology was, why State employees were forced to use only Internet Explorer 4 and forbidden to install Mozilla/Firefox despite the latter's vastly superior security record, etc. The answer from State's CIO was: because that's what our outsourcing contractor gives us and we are not allowed to complain or deviate from that.

Manta 05.11.17 at 11:52 am (
In other words: if "you" (a professional politician) demand that the presidents does X, you are implicitly claiming that there is an acceptable way to do X.
Otherwise, you are a buffoon.
John Holbo 05.11.17 at 12:23 pm (
45 )
"If you think so, what would make of the demands by the Democrats to do exactly that?"

Well, it's a dilemma. But again, just because whatever you do there's something bad about it doesn't mean you should haul off and do something obviously worse.

It's true that in the post I take the 'Comey should have been fired' line, which honestly is a bit strong, given my view that really there wasn't a good way to do.

Manta 05.11.17 at 12:35 pm (
Also, motives are not important.
For instance, whether the Democrats elected official motives for asking Comey's head were sincerely felt outrage or simply a way to embarrass the president, is irrelevant.

What is important is that they asked X, and got X: now they cannot complains "but he did it for the wrong reasons!" (especially since the stated official reasons are the same that they claimed).

Mind you, procedure and rule of law *are* important, but it's pretty clear that
1) the rule of law was followed (i.e.: the President can fire the head of FBI)
2) no procedure would have been satisfactory (by your own admission).

The whole mess seems like a unruly kid, that first asks mommy for a toy, and then complains that he got what he asked for.

John Holbo 05.11.17 at 12:42 pm (
47 )
"Also, motives are not important.
For instance, whether the Democrats elected official motives for asking Comey's head were sincerely felt outrage or simply a way to embarrass the president, is irrelevant."

I think you are confusing motives and procedures. As you yourself admit, those need to be kept distinct.

Also, just because no procedure would be satisfactory for dealing with Comey, it does not follow that all procedures are equally unsatisfactory. That's a fallacy. You can still have a worse option among bad options.

Katsue 05.11.17 at 12:48 pm (
Re: the Russia investigation, didn't Comey reveal during the Senate hearings that he didn't know what Gazprom was, and then go on to talk about Putin's motives? Surely a "What is a leppo?" moment if ever there was one.
Daragh 05.11.17 at 1:07 pm (
49 )
I would argue there is an acceptable procedure for firing Comey. Trump could announce that due to Comey's intervention, the results of the election are clearly tainted and his own presidency is illegitimate. Pence could then resign, and be replaced by Hillary Clinton as VP. Trump could then fire Comey for cause, before handing his own resignation to the Secretary of State, and making Clinton president in accordance with the will of a plurality of the American people.

Will this ever happen? Of course not. But the arguments above seem to boil down to 'one cannot hold the opinion "Comey is unfit to be director of the FBI and, ceteris paribus, should be fired" and "Comey is unfit, but whoever Trump replaces him with will be far worse, so we must tolerate him" at the same time.' if there is no satisfactory procedure to remove him available. So consider this the possible, but wildly improbable, satisfactory procedure.

kidneystones 05.11.17 at 1:55 pm ( 50 )
Thanks, John, for remaining relatively level-headed over this. There are some sensible comments and fair push-back to the OP. There's also an unhealthy amount of wishful thinking.

Trump just imploded! For the last two years we have we been forced to endure countless convoluted LARGE CAP!!! assertions that THIS. IS. IT!!!! GAME OVER!!!!! Done, toast, finished, stick-a-fork-in-him MARK THIS DAY!!!!

I watched a fantastic sequence with a middle-aged female voter who, when informed that May had just called the UK election, reacted with NO! No more. Not another election, not more politics. She refused to even offer much of a comment beyond stating that she was sick to death of politics.

If Dems think that six months to six years of conspiracy theories is going to win back the voters, I'd suggest they think again. Yes, a large number of Americans would like to see an investigation of some sort. But that investigation probably concerns them less than taxes, jobs, education, health care, national security and a host of other issues. Trump supporters stopped listening to the media long ago, and I'm not convinced independents believe Comey matters much, much as the NYT wishes otherwise.

The Doctorow series was very good, btw. Enjoy!

John Holbo 05.11.17 at 1:58 pm ( 51

John Holbo 05.11.17 at 1:58 pm

One thing Manta may be getting at is that it is possible – no doubt actual – for some on the left to be rank hypocrites about Comey. But my point isn't that it's impossible for anyone to hold inconsistent positions about this (obviously that's possible.) Rather, it's possible – and actual – to hold consistent positions. One ought to hold a consistent position about this.

One thing I could be wrong about is this: have prominent Democratic elected officials (not just some dude on Twitter) called for Comey's head since he testified about the ongoing Trump-Russia investigation two months ago (or whenever exactly it was)? If so, then it's rank hypocrisy. Granted. But my impression is that Dems have 1) done most of their griping back in Nov-Dec. And why shouldn't they have griped? 2) not called on Trump (or Obama) to fire him but simply expressed that the situation is outrageous – which it is. I just did a quick search and here's the worst the Washington Examiner came up with from Schumer.

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/schumer-too-lost-confidence-in-comey-in-november/article/2622608 )

One thing Manta may be getting at is that it is possible – no doubt actual – for some on the left to be rank hypocrites about Comey. But my point isn't that it's impossible for anyone to hold inconsistent positions about this (obviously that's possible.) Rather, it's possible – and actual – to hold consistent positions. One ought to hold a consistent position about this.

One thing I could be wrong about is this: have prominent Democratic elected officials (not just some dude on Twitter) called for Comey's head since he testified about the ongoing Trump-Russia investigation two months ago (or whenever exactly it was)? If so, then it's rank hypocrisy. Granted. But my impression is that Dems have 1) done most of their griping back in Nov-Dec. And why shouldn't they have griped? 2) not called on Trump (or Obama) to fire him but simply expressed that the situation is outrageous – which it is. I just did a quick search and here's the worst the Washington Examiner came up with from Schumer.

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/schumer-too-lost-confidence-in-comey-in-november/article/2622608

It's not evidence of hypocrisy. Nothing that Schumer has said is inconsistent with him saying that it's outrageous for Trump to transparently interfere with an ongoing investigation by summarily firing its head.

John Holbo 05.11.17 at 2:07 pm (
Thanks, kidneystones, glad you like the Doctorow. The OP has problems. My point is fine but the capital crimes analogy is bad and misleading. The simple way to put it would be: if Dems have actually been calling for Comey's firing the last 2 months, since he testified about the ongoing investigation, then they are flagrant hypocrites. Otherwise, if they just complained about how outrageous the election interference was – especially if they did it back in November-Dec, but even more recently – well, they didn't ask for THIS. Not hypocrites.
Cranky Observer 05.11.17 at 2:13 pm (

kidneystones: If Dems think that six months to six years of conspiracy theories is going to win back the voters, I'd suggest they think again. Yes,

Alternate view: the Republicans managed to keep the EBOLA drumbeat going for 6 months even while the Liberian Health Service got the spread under control and the US health services stayed in top of it. You and your Republican allies are just surprised and set back on your heels to find out that Democrats can pull the same trick on you – and you know they have a real scandal to work with in the Trump case.

Sebastian H 05.11.17 at 3:11 pm (
J-D "That still seems to me to be an issue of substance, not of procedure."

You keep saying that but you aren't exhibiting an understanding of what these types of procedures are for–to protect against corrupt or improper decision making. You are also improperly trying to create a sharp divide between substance/procedure which does not exist in improper influence cases.

Lets take an area I've worked in, and which is directly on point–employment law.

In California, and many states, employees are "at-will", which means from that point of view, literally any procedure is enough to fire them.

But if you drill down half a step, you find that you can fire them for any reason, with a few exceptions which count as illegal reasons. Things like discrimination against certain classes, or retaliation for doing a legally important thing that you didn't like.

So, half a step down, lots of employers put in procedural safeguards to show that they aren't letting improper reasons influence their decision to fire someone. And that is good, because lots of times it actually stops improper reasons from influencing their decisions.

But sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes the employers use these procedures in a pretextual way–they go through the some of the FORM of the procedures, but inject the improper reasons anyway. They do that by firing someone for reporting them to the FDA, but saying it was because they didn't fill out their timecard properly. Or they say that they screened the notorious anti-black bigot out of the decision making, but in reality he told one of the managers who was involved in the decision making that he wanted the nigger out of the office.

The purpose of the procedure is to screen out improper influence. If you purposely inject improper influence you aren't actually following the procedure .

A desire to avoid letting the Russia investigation get to the bottom of things would be obstruction of justice–one of the key things that procedures regarding the firing of the FBI director is supposed to avoid. So there are procedures to keep the improper influence away–like the Sessions 'recusing' himself (scare quotes to be explained in a moment).

So we examine the firing letter for pretext. We find that it claims to be firing Comey for things that were well known to the firing party for months. Things that the firing party in fact publicly praised Comey for. In any employment action this would be a clear sign of pretextual firing. Then you try to look beyond the pretext. Is there any evidence that there were other reasons for the firing? Yes there are–we have reports of Trump ranting about the Russia investigation (an improper motive). Is there any evidence of the procedure being subverted for an improper purpose–yes Rosenstein appears to have been ordered by Sessions (his boss and the very person supposedly recused from the investigation) and Trump (whose aides are being investigated) to draw up a memo with other reasons to fire Comey. All of those actions appear to subvert the procedural requirements.

What could Trump have done? He could have let the Inspector General finish his investigation into Comey and acted on his report. He didn't do that because Trump and Sessions weren't actually following the procedures to avoid improper influence.

Sebastian H 05.11.17 at 3:20 pm (
One thing I fail to mention above is that in a typical employment case with pretextual firing in retaliation for doing something legal (or legally mandated like reporting certain types of irregularities to the FDA) timing is almost always a factor. If you show that the legally mandated, but vexing to the employer, action is close in time to the firing, while the pretext is not close in time to the firing, you have gotten very far along to winning a lot of money.
Manta 05.11.17 at 4:40 pm (
John @51 & @52

I agree with your take there.
However, I remember (I hope correctly) that it was also the NYT and other news outlets to call for Comey's head: it's not "some dude on twitter", but it's also not prominent Dem official.

kidneystones 05.11.17 at 4:48 pm (
57 )
Just took a final look at the international and national press coverage of Comey. Bottom line – the probe continues and there may be a special prosecutor. So, if the firing was an attempt to derail the investigation – that's clearly failed. So, why did Trump do it?
Absent any other explanation I return to my original suppositions re: Trump.

No 1: He's no politician, but a damn effective reality TV producer and actor. He builds and markets brand Trump. Comey was fired because he wasn't generating the kind of ratings Trump wanted, the narrative was stale and the actor 'playing the part of the FBI director' was hated by every demographic of the president's 'audience.' Trump isn't running a government, he's casting a reality TV show. Comey' replacement must be competent, but more important she, or he, must win the trust of the public and the nation that Comey had clearly lost. Pretty much all the air goes out of the obstruction argument with the investigation going forwards as is surely seems to be doing. Any remaining goes out with the appointment of a special prosecutor. There may be some piece of spectacular evidence that eluded the CIA, NSA, FBI, and other security agencies (many of which are evidently staffed by individuals hostile to Trump) that will knock the president off stride. Within a week, or two, the news cycle will move on. Feinstein confessed there's no there, there – at least not yet. And until there is, Trump moves on.

Comey is gone. He'll be trotted out as a martyr, but in the end will regarded unsympathetically by pretty much everyone, rightly or wrongly. The folks who hate Trump still will, and those who don't aren't paying much attention to hyperbolic after-the-election moaning. Trump may yet hit a wall, but that will most likely come from some future blunder, and so far he hasn't made any significant enough to knock too far off stride.

Praying for the president to fail? That's what Republicans did for 8 years. How'd that turn out? Dems still have no persuasive economic argument to win back white voters. Few liberals are ready to make common cause with the 'mouth breathers,' and until they are Republican fortunes remain bright.

Orange Watch 05.11.17 at 7:23 pm (
kidneystones@56:

Pretty much all the air goes out of the obstruction argument with the investigation going forwards as is surely seems to be doing. Any remaining goes out with the appointment of a special prosecutor.

It only goes out if you assume that it would have necessarily succeeded if that was the motivation. Which is a pretty hard assumption to justify, especially with the actors involved.

Heliopause 05.11.17 at 9:04 pm (
@36
"Sometimes there's no good procedural way to do something."

Trump's fans like him because he is supposedly decisive, and if someone needs firing he's not going to wait around 142 days for the HR report, he's just going to do it. That's his schtick and that's what we should expect him to do. If he carefully deliberated his decisions he'd be Obama.

If that's the way it's going to be, that we're going to pull the Capt. Renault routine every time Trump doesn't follow "procedure" and acts like Trump, then it's going to be years of these histrionics in the foreground while god knows what goes on in the back. More Russia nonsense, more Trump doing Trump stuff, more alienation of the general public from the whole stinking pile. I would say that the one good thing to come out of this is that there won't be any more Comey dog-and-pony shows on TV, but, alas, my fear is that we haven't seen the last of him.

Maybe I should be more positive about the Democratic party as Resistance. Maybe I should ignore obvious hypocrisy when I see it. Maybe I should immerse myself in procedure and personality and put all the stuff that matters on the back burner. Maybe I should look forward to our choice in 2020 between Mark Zuckerberg and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

jack lecou 05.11.17 at 10:25 pm (
No 1: He's no politician, but a damn effective reality TV producer and actor. He builds and markets brand Trump.

We should be wary about underestimating Trump, but I wonder if this nevertheless gives too much credit.

What Trump does as a businessman promoting his "brand" is to self-aggrandize and act like a duplicitous, thin-skinned, imperious, tasteless jerk. What Trump does as an "actor" is to play a self-aggrandizing, duplicitous, thin-skinned, imperious, tasteless jerk. What Trump has done so far as both a candidate and a President is to behave like a self-aggrandizing, duplicitous, thin-skinned, imperious, tasteless jerk.

Which leads me to lean toward a hypothesis that he isn't so much an individual who is clever and talented at PLAYING a self-aggrandizing, duplicitous, thin-skinned, imperious, tasteless jerk - when the circumstances are appropriate - so much as that he IS a self-aggrandizing, duplicitous, thin-skinned, imperious, tasteless jerk. One who has simply been lucky enough to find himself (until now, perhaps) in circumstances where that more or less worked.

This might seem like a subtle distinction, and in a way it doesn't contradict the above statement. But it does put it in a different light.

It's kind of like how when a cymothoa exigua louse burrows into a red snapper's gills and attaches itself to its tongue. We don't say our louse is acting like a disgusting parasite because of talent, or because of a clever calculation that that's going to play well in the cable news cycle. Nope. Our C. exigua does so simply because it IS a disgusting parasite, and that's what it does. If and when the behavior works, it's only because it's found its niche on a susceptible fish.

kidneystones 05.11.17 at 11:02 pm (
@ 58 You put the pitfalls of focusing on bright, shiny objects – Trump's 'outrageous' 'unprecedented' actions (all as you note quite predictable) into sharp relief. Trump couldn't give a rat's behind about Comey and may actually respect him for all we know. I don't doubt for a second that Trump was going to dump him whatever the report said, or that many more former Obama officials will follow him out the door, a development which I hope comes as no surprise to anyone.

Who will be the first Dem to break ranks post-Comey and join the administration? That's an interesting question for the distant, or not too distant future. Media outlets are showing few signs of regaining any sense of balance, or focus and have devolved into click-bait camps for the shrill of various persuasions.

Faustusnotes 05.11.17 at 11:33 pm ( 62

Faustusnotes )

What's the point in talking about procedure in a political system where the entire civil service leadership changes hands every election and the current leader is an idiot who cares about nothing except his own grift? In any case trump has now helpfully stated in a tv interview that he had already decided to sack comey and didn't need reasons, just as everyone (rightfully) assumed. This won't sway the republicans of course because they're traitors and economic wreckers, and they don't care what orange shitgibbon does to violate norms so long as they can keep destroying the country.
Suzanne 05.11.17 at 11:47 pm (
58: "Maybe I should be more positive about the Democratic party as Resistance."

You should, actually. From the grassroots to the top the party has put up a quite spirited resistance and I think they can keep it up. Given the weakness of the Democrats' position, they can't stop much if the GOP gets it halfway together – they could not stop Gorsuch and they may not be able to stop "health care reform" if a bill actually gets out of the Senate or the "tax reform" that the Republicans also have planned. But they really are making things as difficult for the GOP as they responsibly can, with a powerful assist from the Toddler-in-Chief.

As for Comey, I'm willing to believe a considerable part of Trump's motivation was perfectly unserious. Comey had annoyed him by failing to support his claim that Obama tapped him, he had admitted the Russian investigation was underway, and apparently Trump took Comey's "nauseous" remark to mean that Comey wanted to puke at the thought that his actions might have elected Trump. Never underestimate personal spite when it comes to Trump.

J-D 05.12.17 at 1:49 am (
64 )
kidneystones

Praying for the president to fail? That's what Republicans did for 8 years. How'd that turn out?

A Republican got elected President. Did you not notice? How do you think it turned out?

Pavel A 05.12.17 at 4:22 am ( 65 )
Given that the next Director is probably going to be Chris Christie or Rudy Guilliani (or Cushner perhaps), it's perfectly reasonable to despise Comey for influencing the election and fully expect that whoever replaces him is going to be considerably worse. This isn't a complicated position to hold and implies no hypocrisy on the part of the holder.
John Holbo 05.12.17 at 4:59 am ( 66 )
"Maybe I should ignore obvious hypocrisy when I see it. Maybe I should immerse myself in procedure and personality and put all the stuff that matters on the back burner."

My suggestion would be that focusing on 'some Democrat is being hypocritical somewhere' does not typically equal 'paying attention to what really matters'. Why is sniffing out hypocrisy – which necessarily involves immersing yourself in procedure and personality – help you extricate yourself from mere procedure and personality?

bruce wilder 05.12.17 at 5:39 am (
I don't think whatever the partisan Democrats are playing at constitutes "hypocrisy" per se. I can see why one might think hypocrisy is involved, because there's an elaborate sham being used as a "narrative" by the Media in cooperation with partisans, but I think the major actors would have to have some moral compass in order to deviate from its direction before "hypocrisy" was apt.

I do not think for one moment that there is any substance at all to the allegations of a Russian Conspiracy that meddled decisively and subversively in the U.S. election, so though I think Trump is annoyed at being dogged by investigations into the Russian Conspiracy, I find it impossible to credit this annoyance as morally significant "obstruction". As far as I can tell, there are not even any actual allegations, let alone evidence to support them. There is just the pretence of allegation, innuendo ad infinitum. It is completely maddening - gaslighting a whole country. And, Comey has been an instrument for this kind of crap going back at least to the Clinton email investigation.

It is not like this is anything new in U.S. politics. The Whitewater scandal was kept in motion for years. Two of the leading journalists promoting the "if there's smoke there must be fire" queries thru the 1996 election (20+ years ago!) at the NY Times and Washington Post founded Politico.com and another Whitewater scandal monger incongruously switched sides and became a favorite contract attack dog for the Clinton Machine.

The journalists and manipulators of the narrative that infect U.S. politics do not even know they are malevolent forces. The U.S. invaded Iraq with a majority of the electorate believing Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and had something to do with 9/11. Yet, the U.S. has been at war for 15 years with no end in sight. Pundits with the records of Tom Friedman and Charles Krauthammer continue on.

This has become U.S. politics, it is institutionalized as U.S. political discourse and now it is reaching its crescendo, with a reality teevee star in his dotage playing the President.

It is hard to have much sympathy for Trump, who was happy enough to use birtherism with his characteristic shameless disregard for all fact and, of course, to draw attention to Comey, when Comey was using "FBI investigation" as the instrument of Clinton's discomfort.

Still, I look on in horror and fear for my country.

There is a barb of irony in the letter report of the Deputy Attorney General, citing Comey's misconduct in the Clinton email inquiry as a reason for firing Comey. That barb of irony does not obviate the observations made about Comey's failure to perform his role properly or the importance of doing so. It may be that these sensible observations of the Deputy Attorney General were merely there as part of the cover story to bait the Democrats, but it isn't "hypocrisy" when the Democrats refuse to take the bait and continue to escalate the effort to de-legitimize Trump and oust him on completely bogus grounds. (And, why on bogus grounds - with Trump, it is hard to believe that a real, grounded case could not be built, not that option is considered an option.)

The erosion of norms of conduct and the failure of institutions to enforce those norms when violated actually has a lot to do with this growing crisis of legitimacy. I do not see many journalists let alone partisan pundits question the wisdom of keeping this narrative of the Russian conspiracy going. It is not that many years ago that a Presidential election actually was stolen, and prominent partisan Democrats did not get this excited. Most of them, led by Gore, rolled over, rather than risk critically de-legitimizing the government - it was viewed by some responsible politicians as an extortion attempt that they should accede to.

Trump's letter to Comey was remarkably direct. "While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau." I read that as sarcasm. That might not be "the" correct reading, but if you cannot see the high plausibility of that interpretation, if you cannot read it as sarcasm, something has gone wrong with your reading comprehension. You have passed thru the looking glass into a political discourse conducted entirely in the subjunctive case ("as if") and a register of hyperactive albeit insincere and ungrounded outrage.

Trump is annoyed to be told repeatedly that he is not under investigation. Trump knows better than most the import of such negative messages. The whole narrative of the Russian Conspiracy is built on such empty non-allegation allegations and the conspicuous intent to never frame an investigation in terms that would bring it to a definite end and conclusion. Was there ever a final end to the Clinton email server investigation? Does any one ever investigate something with the intent of actually reaching a conclusion? There was that crazy dossier that floated about about Trump and golden showers in Moscow; did anyone, journalist or official investigator, ever confirm or disconfirm any of it? It was just another occasion for mindless, baseless speculation with no interest in judgment.

As Anarcissie @ 14 observed, one way to read these continuing events is as a struggle between a Deep State or Established Order and the rogue (but still billionaire elite) element represented by Trump. This is an E.O. that is remarkably careless about order itself.

faustusnotes 05.12.17 at 6:01 am ( 68

faustusnotes )

I'll care about Democrat hypocrisy when Republican "family values" crusading homophobes stop getting caught toilet trading. Until then, I don't think hypocrisy is the key issue in US politics.
J-D 05.12.17 at 6:03 am ( 69

J-D 05.12.17 at 6:03 am

Sebastian H )
Sebastian H

Is there any evidence of the procedure being subverted for an improper purpose–yes Rosenstein appears to have been ordered by Sessions (his boss and the very person supposedly recused from the investigation) and Trump (whose aides are being investigated) to draw up a memo with other reasons to fire Comey.

I agree absolutely. If Trump and/or Sessions asked Rosenstein to write the memo, that fact should be in the memo. On the other hand, if there was some other reason for Rosenstein to write the memo, that should be in the memo: for example, 'Immediately on being appointed Deputy Attorney-General, I set out to review the performance of all those reporting directly to my new office. As part of this process, I commenced a review of the performance of the Director of the FBI, who reports directly to the Deputy Attorney-General, and was concerned to find that ' and so on. There is nothing in the memo to explain why the memo is being written; that's a procedural flaw.

And then there's this report:

Rosenstein threatened to resign after the narrative emerging from the White House on Tuesday evening cast him as a prime mover of the decision to fire Comey and that the president acted only on his recommendation, said the person close to the White House, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-trumps-anger-and-impatience-prompted-him-to-fire-the-fbi-director/2017/05/10/d9642334-359c-11e7-b373-418f6849a004_story.html?tid=sm_tw&utm_term=.bcaac13ed219

Rosenstein's grievance (if that story is true) is self-inflicted. If he had begun his memo to the Attorney-General, as he could have, 'As you are aware, we have been instructed by the President to state the argument in favor of dismissing the Director of the FBI. This memo has been prepared accordingly for your consideration.', it would have prevented the emergence of the narrative to which (reportedly) he objected.

kidneystones 05.12.17 at 7:23 am ( 70 )
@ 60 There's a great deal of truth in your observations, cheers.

@ 67 Thanks, Bruce, for the sensible jolt of reality.

@ 64 First, US presidential elections are held every four years, not eight. Second, Trump the reality TeeVee star destroyed the entire Republican political establishment because praying for a president to fail was the best that gang of charlatans could dream up. The Republican primary voters recognized that the Republican elite offered nothing, and gambled on the rodeo clown. The battle in the White House is between the nationalist insurgents (Bannon et al) and Democrats (Ivanka and allies). The Republican party won big as they usually do at all other levels because Democrats manage to make themselves even more distant and unfeeling than Pence and pals. And therein lies the real problem.

Trump is no Republican – he's the consequence of all that's wrong in both parties, and as Bruce W. points out, with much of the rest of the establishment.

J-D 05.12.17 at 10:09 am ( 71

J-D 05.12.17 at 10:09 am

kidneystone )
kidneystone

US presidential elections are held every four years, not eight

Why, thank you so much for explaining that to me. But as it happens I did already know that, so the explanation was in fact unnecessary.

Trump the reality TeeVee star destroyed the entire Republican political establishment

After something has been destroyed, it's not there any more. The entire Republican political establishment is still very much there, so clearly it has not been destroyed.

The Republican party won big as they usually do at all other levels

I don't know what your idea of 'usually' is, but it's obviously not the same as mine.

Trump is no Republican

The evidence is against you on that point.

faustusnotes 05.12.17 at 10:55 am ( 72 )
Yes, if there's any salutary lesson to be drawn from Trump's ascension, it's the terrible way that Republican elites like Paul Ryan were cast out into the cold, unable to influence policy in any way.
kidneystones 05.12.17 at 11:12 am (
@71 You're entirely right on all counts – you spent over a year asserting that Hillary would win and she did. The Republican establishment love Trump, but the base found Donald's dogmatic fixation on GOP principles to be excessively doctrinaire and impractical. Jeb Bush secured the nomination, but lost to Hillary, who is now making the world safe for everyone, including bankers. Republicans do not have control over far more state and local governments than Democrats and never have. Trump is now back to holding beauty contests, but regularly participates in local GOP contests like the lifelong Republican he is.
Democrats are more popular than ever having re-elected a young and dynamic leadership with no leader over the age of fifty. Trump never visits New York, but hangs out with his GOP buddies, the Bush family in Texas and Florida, who all attended Trump's wedding to Melania some years ago. Trump will write a column for the Weekly Standard along with his good friend William Kristol, but will find time to join David Frum and the NRO gang on their cruises.

Or, how about this – the GOP allowed Obama to win in 2012 as part of their 'master plan' to make Donald Trump, 'the Republican's Republican,' the nominee in 2016. Mitt worked as hard as he could to get Donald elected and was shattered when the man he admires most was demolished by Hillary's masterful fifty-state sweep.

It's your world we just live in it.

Lee A. Arnold 05.12.17 at 11:32 am ( 74

Lee A. Arnold )

Sounds like an argument that one is perfectly justified in believing the lies of a con artist, because he won the election.
Layman 05.12.17 at 11:53 am (
kidneystones: "Pretty much all the air goes out of the obstruction argument with the investigation going forwards as is surely seems to be doing."

Yet Trump says he meant to obstruct the investigation:

"And, in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said: 'You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should've won.'"

You may be right that the obstruction won't work, but there's no reason to be optimistic about that. And, I'm pretty sure they prosecute bank robbers who fail in the attempt. Then there's Nixon, of course, who fired the special prosecutor who was investigating him. The investigation continued, carried on by others. Do you say Nixon wasn't obstructing justice, because the obstruction ultimately failed of its purpose?

Katsue 05.12.17 at 12:57 pm (
76 )
@49

I can't say I ever thought I would see the events of the 3rd season of Battlestar Galactica being held up as an acceptable procedure in real life, with the Blob standing in for Bill Adama.

Suzanne 05.12.17 at 3:53 pm ( 77 )
67: "Trump is annoyed to be told repeatedly that he is not under investigation. Trump knows better than most the import of such negative messages."

We don't know that any such exchanges between Trump and Comey ever took place. The reports we do have suggest that Trump was pissed because Comey admitted in a public forum that Trump was under investigation.

bruce wilder 05.12.17 at 5:02 pm ( 78 )
Suzanne @ 77

I think you would have a hard time finding such a statement. Google it and you will find a stream of propaganda from Think Progress, a Clinton organ, and endless regurgitation of claims and denials cleverly misconstrued by the Media to keep the controversy going.

Actual facts disappear into a dust cloud of deliberate and irresponsible misinterpretation often driven by the needs of a narrative chosen for its tactical convenience without any concern for consequences for public policy or democratic discourse.

Automatic Earth had an essay yesterday that looked at this issue.
https://www.theautomaticearth.com/2017/05/comey-and-the-end-of-conversation/

I would not even concede as Raul does at the link that something might turn up to confirm the narrative. Like WMD? Or semen on a blue dress?

This is a contest among skilled and irresponsible manipulators - Trump not least among them so no sympathy for that ahole - and the rest of us should do more to question the value of playing our assigned parts as eager consumers of their dog food.

Layman 05.12.17 at 5:47 pm (
bruce wilder: "I think you would have a hard time finding such a statement. Google it and you will find a stream of propaganda from Think Progress, a Clinton organ, and endless regurgitation of claims and denials cleverly misconstrued by the Media to keep the controversy going."

It's hard to understand what this means. The first sentence is simply wrong, as a quick google search shows that lots of media (WaPo, Reuters, WSJ, etc) are reporting what you say is only being reported by Think Progress. The second sentence renders the first pointless anyway, as you make it clear you won't believe it no matter who reports it. This is tin-foil hat stuff.

PGD 05.12.17 at 6:56 pm (
80 )
Layman, Bruce's basic point is that Trump can't be obstructing justice because the "Russian Conspiracy" is manifestly non-existent. I would say it is tin-foil hat territory to claim that Trump conspired with Russia to hack the election, but unfortunately the entire polity, media, and political system have been dragged into that territory.
Orange Watch 05.12.17 at 7:17 pm ( 81 )
@PGD #80:

Obstruction of justice does not require a finding that a crime was committed – it's a crime in itself, and more than a few people who could have walked away head unbowed have been convicted because they lied under oath or sought to influence legal proceedings. If you value rule of law and transparency, that's an entirely reasonable and just outcome.

Layman 05.12.17 at 7:29 pm (
PGD: "Bruce's basic point is that Trump can't be obstructing justice because the "Russian Conspiracy" is manifestly non-existent."

A conspiracy can be stupid, even hair-brained, and still be a conspiracy. And obstructing or interfering with an investigation is still obstruction, even if the conspiracy was stupid. There doesn't appear to be much doubt that some Trump team members were having conversations with Russians that, at least superficially, violate the law. And there is public evidence of collusion WRT the release of anti-HRC hacked material.

jack lecou 05.12.17 at 7:32 pm (
83 )

I do not think for one moment that there is any substance at all to the allegations of a Russian Conspiracy that meddled decisively and subversively in the U.S. election, so though I think Trump is annoyed at being dogged by investigations into the Russian Conspiracy, I find it impossible to credit this annoyance as morally significant "obstruction". As far as I can tell, there are not even any actual allegations, let alone evidence to support them.

I haven't been paying attention *that* closely, so perhaps I'm in error here, but isn't at least some level of "subversive Russian meddling" (i.e., the DNC hacking) already more or less established fact? ('Decisively' is a weasel word – whether those attempts were truly decisive or not, they were certainly unwelcome.)

The matter of at least some inappropriate contact between Trump staffers and Russian diplomats - and attempts to then lie about and cover up those contacts - has also been established. Not to mention a pile of indistinct but distinctively unseemly-looking business ties with various Russian interests.

Thus the "Russian Conspiracy" you blithely dismiss is at least in some ways already a matter of fact. The remaining questions and investigation are instead about its size and scope: what were the content of those secret conversations, and how many others occurred? Was there any kind of prior communication - perhaps even quid-pro-quo agreement - between Russian officials and the highest levels of the Trump campaign regarding the hacking attempts which did occur?

That is, I believe, the implied allegation. And if any evidence for any of it were to be uncovered, it would in fact be scandalous, and perhaps even establish a crime.

(There's also a question in my mind about whether the hacking was limited to email servers. I see no reason to assume that *attempts* weren't at least made on the voting infrastructure itself. That would be enormously scandalous. And while I haven't heard anyone more than whisper about the scenario, given the porous nature of most voting machine systems, it's not nearly as tinfoil-hat as I think we'd all prefer.)

jack lecou 05.12.17 at 7:47 pm (

I would say it is tin-foil hat territory to claim that Trump conspired with Russia to hack the election.

I'm sympathetic to the idea that the Russia stuff is a distraction from the actual policy catastrophes we should be worrying about.

At the same time, the variously corrupt and incompetent individuals who seem to inhabit all levels of the Trump campaign and the Trump White House sure look to me like so much stacked dry wood. And there is an awful lot of actual smoke swirling around.

So simply asserting forcefully that it's ludicrous on the face to entertain the possibility that some of that dry wood might have caught a spark at some point isn't actually doing a great deal to reassure me.

bruce wilder 05.12.17 at 8:02 pm (
I google, "Comey says Trump is under investigation" and I get a lot of links reporting back-and-forth on Trump "defending" his firing of Comey and noting Trump's claim that Comey told Trump Trump was not under investigation. I do not see any straight news report of Comey reporting on his own authority in a public forum that Trump was under investigation, which is what Suzanne claimed. I expect what Suzanne refers to was Comey's March 20 statement before Nunes' House Intelligence Committee about an ongoing FBI counterintelligence investigation.

A lot of the reporting on investigation of the Russia Conspiracy is tin-foil hat stuff - people in the Media adopt phrasing and tone that induce imagining stuff.

In a functional political system, institutions circumspect concerning their own integrity would police the boundaries, but that isn't happening. Consider what happens to people who disclose actual, verified facts. What happened to the CIA officer who sought to verify rumors that Niger had supplied uranium to Saddam Hussein? What happened to Wikileaks? What happens to Media figures who come too close to critical thought? Ashleigh Banfield, I am sure, learned an important lesson in 2003.

Meanwhile, we have official statements from the likes of James Clapper to entertain us with empty innuendo and Seth Meyer drawing conclusions from how happy Trump appears in official photos of a meeting with the Russian ambassador. oooh, breaking news.

jack lecou 05.12.17 at 8:38 pm (
86

jack lecou 05.12.17 at 8:38 pm

I do not see any straight news report of Comey reporting on his own authority in a public forum that Trump was under investigation

Maybe you're just really bad at google? Try this )

I do not see any straight news report of Comey reporting on his own authority in a public forum that Trump was under investigation

Maybe you're just really bad at google? Try this (@~34:00).

And here's a video from yesterday of the new acting FBI director talking about the effects of the firing on the "ongoing investigation of ties between Russia and the Trump campaign." I haven't watched the whole hearing – he may well never have occasion to flatly state "we are investigating X", but he certainly has plenty of opportunity to correct the apparent assumption of everyone else in the room that such an investigation in fact exists, and happily talks about, for example, how the investigation you say doesn't exist has enough resources in his opinion.

(Or is this a very clever word game we're playing, in which e.g., "investigation into links to the Trump campaign," is not the same thing as "investigation of Trump" .?)

Suzanne 05.12.17 at 8:41 pm ( 87

Suzanne 05.12.17 at 8:41 pm

@85: " I expect what Suzanne refers to was Comey's March 20 statement before Nunes' House Intelligence Committee about an ongoing FBI counterintelligence investigation."

Well, yes:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/us/politics/intelligence-committee-russia-donald-trump.html?_r=0 )

@85: " I expect what Suzanne refers to was Comey's March 20 statement before Nunes' House Intelligence Committee about an ongoing FBI counterintelligence investigation."

Well, yes:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/us/politics/intelligence-committee-russia-donald-trump.html?_r=0

"The F.B.I. is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government - and whether there was any coordination, Mr. Comey said."

If you want to make a distinction between investigating the Trump campaign and investigating Trump, fine by me. However, The Donald seems to have made no such distinction when it came to his displeasure at Comey's March testimony:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/05/09/trump-needed-a-really-good-excuse-to-fire-james-comey-comey-gave-it-to-him/?utm_term=.06abb6bb7eed

"A couple of weeks after Comey made those announcements in March, Trump talked about his job security at length in a pretty conspicuous way, re-litigating the FBI chief's handling of the Clinton investigation."

Layman 05.12.17 at 9:03 pm ( 88 )
@bruce wilder, that doesn't really support your original comment. You say the Russia conspiracy is fake news fanned by the establishment media, without addressing that

1) we know that Trump team members were discussing with Russians the content and timing of anti-Hillary propaganda (Stone), and

2) we know that Trump team members held illegal conversations with Russians and then lied about them (Flynn), and

3) we know that other Trump team members had contacts of an unknown nature with Russian officials, and then lied about those contacts (Sessions), and

4) we know that Trump fired the FBI Director at least in part because of the ongoing investigation (because Trump told us that.)

If, confronted with those facts, you claim there's nothing to be investigated, and that pro-Hillary media is responsible for ginning up this fake controversy, and that as a practical matter there is some substantial difference between an investigation into the Trump campaign team and one into Trump at this point in the process, and your support for this claim is what Seth Meyers says(!), then I think you're just shouting at passing traffic.

steven t johnson 05.12.17 at 9:14 pm ( 89 )
Yes, well, hypocrisy is indeed the opposite of sincerity. The thing is, sincerity is the cheapest of virtues, being available for the wee price of self-deception. It is beyond me how anyone can be sure someone truly is a hypocrite, or just kidding themselves. That is, absent the power to see into men's souls. Come to think of it, this power does seem to be standard equipment for pillars of rectitude. But if you're not a rectitudinous pillar, this accusation can border on charging someone with being human. Even worse, propriety is very much like beauty. (I suppose I could harden myself to charge a mother with hypocrisy for persisting in telling all and sundry her child is beautiful, but is it a worthwhile pursuit?)

The politics however I think are much clearer than the murky waters in the human consciousness: Convicting the Democrat Party of hypocrisy supports Trump. Insisting that Trump is effectively obstructing justice, does not. It will be the Republican Party that impeaches Trump, so the kerfuffle is noise and fury.

Layman 05.12.17 at 9:17 pm (
Suzanne @ 87, yes, and to state the obvious, Trump is a member of the Trump campaign team.
kidneystones 05.12.17 at 9:19 pm (
91 )
Bruce is right, we all have better things to do.

http://thefederalist.com/2017/05/11/one-screenshot-captures-everything-wrong-media-coverage-trump/

Cheers, John!

jack lecou 05.12.17 at 9:57 pm (

There was that crazy dossier that floated about about Trump and golden showers in Moscow; did anyone, journalist or official investigator, ever confirm or disconfirm any of it? It was just another occasion for mindless, baseless speculation with no interest in judgment.</blockquote

You cannot use the existence of speculation as evidence for a lack of interest in judgement. It's simply that speculation inevitably precedes conclusive judgement, often by quite some time. (In an Einsteinian universe where cause precedes effect, I'm not sure how else it could possibly work.)

Of course, the Steele dossier hasn't disappeared from the radar. Individual portions continue to appear in the news from time to time as they are confirmed (or not) by press investigations, isolated official comments, and so forth. If there is any unified official investigation, it's probably part of the whole Trump/Russia enchilada blini, and of course we aren't likely to hear any judgements there until they're officially good and ready - which, even unobstructed, might take a while.

bruce wilder 05.12.17 at 11:48 pm (
jack lecou @ 83,84

I mostly don't pay that much attention either - very few do. We rely on a division of labor and institutional reputation to provide focus and filter. I think we have seen that institutional bulwark break down almost completely after being under considerable stress for a long time.

Not trying to pick a fight or anything like that, but it seems to me that you are, in your comments above, illustrating my thesis about how this political discourse in the subjunctive is synthesized out of sweeping generalizations and "as if" speculation.

EX: "isn't at least some level of "subversive Russian meddling" (i.e., the DNC hacking) already more or less established fact?"

EX: "the "Russian Conspiracy" you blithely dismiss is at least in some ways already a matter of fact."

EX: "The matter of at least some inappropriate contact between Trump staffers and Russian diplomats - and attempts to then lie about and cover up those contacts - has also been established. "

EX: "That is, I believe, the implied allegation. And if any evidence for any of it were to be uncovered, it would in fact be scandalous, and perhaps even establish a crime."

EX: "There's also a question in my mind about whether the hacking was limited to email servers. I see no reason to assume that *attempts* weren't at least made on the voting infrastructure itself. That would be enormously scandalous."

EX: "simply asserting forcefully that it's ludicrous on the face to entertain the possibility that some of that dry wood might have caught a spark at some point isn't actually doing a great deal to reassure me."

To paraphrase Nixon, let me be perfectly clear about one thing: I do NOT want to reassure you about the competence of Trump or the people he has assembled about him. (I am not here to do the impossible ;-)

That said, the way your mind has gone forward into projections about hacking the actual vote count or a quid-pro-quo agreement between Russian officials and the highest levels of the Trump campaign is exactly the way this kind of propaganda is designed to work. No one ever reports such eventualities as accomplished facts, but you still somehow end up thinking them. Just like people thought Saddam brought down the World Trade Center. It is declaring "don't think of a pink elephant" to induce people to think of pink elephants or asking a man when he stopped beating his wife or reporting a false but lurid rumor in the hopes of forcing an enemy to deny it. Richard Gere is never going to have a normal relationship with a gerbil, that much I know.

I am not saying that Michael Flynn's early departure from the Trump Administration wasn't a boon to the country, but speaking to the Russian Ambassador is hardly inappropriate conduct - it's routine conduct to speak to ambassadors, that's what ambassadors are for. And, Flynn, being Flynn and by many accounts possessed of singularly poor judgement and impulse control for a general officer, may have said more than he should and wanted to cover it up; maybe Flynn just lies compulsively. There are always going to be dots on the page; you need a little more to justify connecting those dots into a constellation and then making the supreme leap of asserting that the constellation represents anything at all in the world outside your own dreamscape.

Was it ever verified that the DNC was hacked on behalf of the Russian government? Not exactly yes and not exactly no - that event and the official narratives about it are a great illustration of how official secrecy and "investigations" that involve only a minimal nod to methods of investigation seem to breed this shadowy smoky stuff that get us worried about Manchurian candidates elected by rigged vote counts. A private firm, CrowdStrike, with some dubious political links and self-promotional flair, did the only hands-on investigation at the DNC and issued in place of documentary evidence a press release. They identified the hackers as the shadowy group dubbed by security researchers, Fancy Bear, and widely but vaguely thought to be a frequent instrument of some not altogether definitively identified Russian intelligence agency. CrowdStrike also asserted that another shadowy Russian hacker group working for a different Russian intelligence agency had broken into the DNC email server nearly a year before Fancy Bear tried their hand. Neither the FBI nor any other police agency conducted any kind of forensic examination. The CrowdStrike report was disputed. A former British diplomat with ties to Julian Assange claimed he had been involved in getting the Podesta emails to Wikileaks and knew the leaker was an insider. Guccifer 2.0, still another hacker(s), claimed to have done the dirty deed and there's been back-and-forth among people who care about such things about whether Guccifer 2.0, who appears to be Romanian, is on good terms with official Russia. It is an endless tunnel of mirrors where people freely speculate and then weasel out "medium confidence" in a conclusion. And, this becomes the foundation for an intelligence assessment that might be nine-tenths reading Putin's mind for intentions.

I think the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment commissioned by President Obama on Russian interference illustrates another way official secrecy is used to manufacture hysteria and outrage. There was, first of all, the ceremonial gravity given to the proceedings by Obama threatening retaliation and actually carrying out a gesture of expelling some diplomats. There was lots of high-flown language framed in general terms about a "massive" cyber operation, but the actual de-classified report mostly whined about the Russian cable-news channel, RT America. I suppose one is supposed to surmise that they just couldn't tell everyone about the juicy stuff - source and methods don't cha 'no - but it kind of looks like they got nuthin'. Unless you think RT America is somehow illegitimate - I'm not one of the 14 people who watch regularly, but from what little I know of it, it has higher journalistic standards than MSNBC.

In the end, you are supposed to imagine almost involuntarily that the Russians hacked the voting machines and Trump insiders were conspiring with Putin's minions in a quid-pro-quo. And, there's absolutely no reason to think either of those things is true. Other than the incessantly repeated propaganda stream that substitutes for a political discourse.

jack lecou: " 'Decisively' is a weasel word – whether those attempts were truly decisive or not, they were certainly unwelcome. "

I wasn't trying to weasel so much as to draw attention to mechanisms. To make a case for Russian interference, you have to put it into a context of mechanisms for winning elections. It can't just be serial liar James Clapper's ungrounded and unexplained "massive" - it has to be proportional to the task. The U.S. has interfered in some elections historically, and the interference was proportional to outcomes; governments were overthrown by military force when the vote didn't work out. You cannot in total secrecy win an election in which millions publicly campaign and vote. Some large part of your effort will appear above the waterline. So what was the mechanism? That the Podesta emails revealed true information? That RT America, with its audience of 14, overwhelmed the propaganda resources of the billion-dollar Clinton campaign?

jack lecou @ 86: . . . is this a very clever word game we're playing, in which e.g., "investigation into links to the Trump campaign," is not the same thing as "investigation of Trump" .?

Yes, I think it is akin to a very clever word game, but it's not my game.

Psychological processes like semantic generalization and narrative incompleteness are being exploited to lead us along a path. Very vague formulas are used, so a possibly legitimate, routine and pedestrian counterintelligence investigation advances by almost imperceptible increments from examining the affairs of a relative nobody named Carter Page with distant and tenuous links to Trump into a surmised accusation that Trump is Putin's Manchurian Candidate.

Or, speculation about who hacked the DNC becomes a fear that the electoral count was hacked. And, so on.

Again, I feel like I have to end by re-asserting that I do not want to "reassure" anyone. That's a trick of the mind - your mind, not mine. Hysteria over a false threat doesn't mean there isn't a real threat. Paranoia is no guarantee that they are not out to get you. It is, in fact, evidence of a real threat: re-read Anarcissie @ 14 above.

J-D 05.13.17 at 1:03 am (
94

J-D 05.13.17 at 1:03 am

kidneystones )
kidneystones

You're entirely right on all counts

In accordance with your usual MO, you've obviously made up a fantasy version of me that bears no relation to me, just so you can sneer at it to prove your own superiority.

you spent over a year asserting that Hillary would win and she did.

I never made any such prediction, not even once.

The Republican establishment love Trump, but the base found Donald's dogmatic fixation on GOP principles to be excessively doctrinaire and impractical.

I have never made any of those assertions.

Jeb Bush secured the nomination, but lost to Hillary, who is now making the world safe for everyone, including bankers.

Again, not my predictions

and I could go on through your comment line by line, but you get the idea.

Anarcissie 05.13.17 at 5:18 am ( 95 )
John Holbo 05.11.17 at 9:42 am
' Comey, in a mistaken attempt to protect the reputation of the FBI by forestalling pro-Trump leaks concerning Hillary's case, did something that was in-itself inappropriate and thereby threw the election to Trump ..'

It is not possible to reason from evidence to the conclusion that Comey's actions, or Putin's for that matter, caused a particular outcome of the election, because if it were, the same reasoning could have been applied shortly before the election, and the result would have been a predominance of predictions that Trump was going to win.

Orange Watch 05.13.17 at 5:57 am (
@Anarcissie #95:

Your own comment shows why its conclusion is wrong: "the same reasoning could have been applied shortly before the election, and the result would have been a predominance of predictions that Trump was going to win" – just because someone could follow through with the reasoning does not mean they would, nor that they would give it the same weight as far as projected impact of conflicting factors (or their preexisting biases and conclusions) were concerned. You are narrowly correct that we do not, cannot, and never will have "exact reasons" why voters voted as they did during the election (just like every other election), but even if we did have it that in no way implies that the media would have en masse embraced and published it – and to further highlight the inherent meaninglessness of the sort of counterfactual you're proposing, the media concluding and predominantly predicting that these factors would tip the election to Trump could well have then prevented the election from going to Trump.

steven t johnson 05.13.17 at 9:55 am (
If Trump can't take Russian money, then gleefully stiff them, he's not the man I thought he was.

In other words, the old joke is, an honest politician stays bought, but Trump is not an honest politician.

Lee A. Arnold 05.13.17 at 11:30 am ( 98

Lee A. Arnold )

How can anyone maintain the ideas that there is a "Deep State or Established Order" which is being "opposed" by the "rogue capitalist Trump"? This a dramatic fantasy, worthy of a sword-and-sorcery TV miniseries.
Faustusnotes 05.13.17 at 12:30 pm ( 99

Faustusnotes )

Bruce, Flynn clearly broke basic rules on disclosure. He was working for Russia and turkey while advising trump on security. If you can think of an innocent reason for that I'd love to hear it. If you can explain why comeys sacking has nothing to do with the Russia inquiry when trump himself said that was the reason I would love to hear it.

Republicans are traitors and wreckers. That's the easiest explanation for their behavior.

JimV 05.13.17 at 1:39 pm ( 100

JimV 05.13.17 at 1:39 pm

"It is not possible to reason from evidence to the conclusion that Comey's actions, or Putin's for that matter, caused a particular outcome of the election, because if it were, the same reasoning could have been applied shortly before the election, and the result would have been a predominance of predictions that Trump was going to win."

Or, as actually happened at fivethirtyeight.com, the statistical predictions could have changed from a high probability that HRC would win to more of a toss-up. Trump was always going to be the worst candidate in most people's minds (e.g., see the popular vote), but with Comey's letter, and the big media play on it, Trump suddenly had a chance.

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-comey-letter-probably-cost-clinton-the-election/ )

"It is not possible to reason from evidence to the conclusion that Comey's actions, or Putin's for that matter, caused a particular outcome of the election, because if it were, the same reasoning could have been applied shortly before the election, and the result would have been a predominance of predictions that Trump was going to win."

Or, as actually happened at fivethirtyeight.com, the statistical predictions could have changed from a high probability that HRC would win to more of a toss-up. Trump was always going to be the worst candidate in most people's minds (e.g., see the popular vote), but with Comey's letter, and the big media play on it, Trump suddenly had a chance.

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-comey-letter-probably-cost-clinton-the-election/

Kudos to all those who presciently predicted that Comey would come through for their cause.

jack lecou 05.13.17 at 9:56 pm ( 101 )

That said, the way your mind has gone forward into projections about hacking the actual vote count or a quid-pro-quo agreement between Russian officials and the highest levels of the Trump campaign is exactly the way this kind of propaganda is designed to work. No one ever reports such eventualities as accomplished facts, but you still somehow end up thinking them.

But I don't think them. Or think they're true anyway. You're essentially making the claim that people are so foolish that statements like "there's reason to be suspicious this might have happened, we should check it out" are equivalent in their minds to "this definitely happened".

I'm the first guy to admit that the public can be pretty foolish, but I think that's underestimating even them. The subjunctive continues to be used over the indicative for a reason .

Just like people thought Saddam brought down the World Trade Center. It is declaring "don't think of a pink elephant" to induce people to think of pink elephants or asking a man when he stopped beating his wife or reporting a false but lurid rumor in the hopes of forcing an enemy to deny it. Richard Gere is never going to have a normal relationship with a gerbil, that much I know.

Which aren't really equivalent at all. All of those examples are instances of non sequitur accusations invented out of whole cloth. There's a difference between on the one hand, asking a man whether he has stopped beating his wife, and on the other hand, observing that a woman seems to be able to offer only weak explanations for the bruises she has all the time, so maybe it's worth looking into whether her husband - or someone else she knows - may be responsible.

What we have with the Trump/Russia nexus is a series of accidental and clumsy revelations of misbehavior. Ripples in the water. There are enough of them that I - and apparently not a few others - think there's sufficient suspicion there to merit turning on the fish finder and seeing if we can find out what's down there. Could be a little school of minnows. Could be a great white whale. Could just be the wind.

I'm unclear on *your* position. Unless it's just to assume it's the wind because considering any other possibilities would involve use of the dreaded subjunctive.

In the end, you are supposed to imagine almost involuntarily that the Russians hacked the voting machines and Trump insiders were conspiring with Putin's minions in a quid-pro-quo. And, there's absolutely no reason to think either of those things is true. Other than the incessantly repeated propaganda stream that substitutes for a political discourse.

You act as if some sinister force is directing this process. Was it that force which conducted the DNC hacking? Was it that force which engineered inappropriate contacts between Trump staffers and Russian interests? No. And yet absent those events, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

*NO* reason to think those things were true would be the conditions which prevailed in the Clinton, Bush or Obama administrations, in which there were no ripples in the water. No potentially Russian linked hacks and high-level campaign contacts with Russian agents were ever revealed.

So there is not NO reason to think those things are true. Not enough to conclude they are true? Sure. We're somewhere in between. Which is what investigations are for. To do the best we can to get out of that zone.

Psychological processes like semantic generalization and narrative incompleteness are being exploited to lead us along a path. Very vague formulas are used, so a possibly legitimate, routine and pedestrian counterintelligence investigation advances by almost imperceptible increments from examining the affairs of a relative nobody named Carter Page with distant and tenuous links to Trump into a surmised accusation that Trump is Putin's Manchurian Candidate.

"Relative nobody" is doing a lot of work for you there. You're writing as if Page were a refrigerator salesmen from Toledo, rather than well connected businessman and highly - if not top - placed adviser in Trump's presidential campaign. Any in-progress counterintelligence investigation which involves individuals close to a sitting President is by definition not a "routine and pedestrian" one. Which is perhaps the crux of the disagreement here.

jack lecou 05.13.17 at 10:37 pm ( 102 )

To make a case for Russian interference, you have to put it into a context of mechanisms for winning elections. It can't just be serial liar James Clapper's ungrounded and unexplained "massive" - it has to be proportional to the task.

No, it only has to be proportional to the expense. It's very plausible (YMMV) that Russian authorities running a live-fire exercise of some of their 'cyber' forces in an operation which could both dig up dirt on an individual they dislike (Clinton) while perhaps winning brownie points with her more easily manipulable competitor (Trump) would be [oh dear] basically win-win-win for them relative to the risk and resources expended. Potentially influencing the actual election on top of that is pure gravy.

Collin Street 05.13.17 at 10:50 pm (
Republicans are traitors and wreckers. That's the easiest explanation for their behavior.

Actually, the easiest explanation is that they all have undiagnosed or unmanaged empathy impairments, which sometimes manifests as a difficulty with understanding why different people have different experiences and want different changes made and sometimes emerges as a crippling, all-encompassing narcissism.

Noone wrecks or traits for fun. They're doing it for reasons that seem to them just and mete, and to understand and predict actions you need to know what those just-and-mete reasons are and why they hold them. "People other than me don't have genuine experiences" actually fits the observed phenomena pretty damned well; I mean, I'm open to alternative explanations. But yours is, fundamentally, "they are devils in human flesh", and I find that unsatisfying.

kidneystones 05.13.17 at 11:09 pm (
104

kidneystones 05.13.17 at 11:09 pm

@ 100 Stipulating first that I see no any additional reason not to waste countless mountains of money and energy engaging in 'connect-the-dots, duh' conspiracy theorizing beyond those all ready outlined up-thread, here's what Nate Cohen just wrote about the Comey effect.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/08/upshot/a-2016-review-theres-reason-to-be-skeptical-of-a-comey-effect.html?_r=0 )
@ 100 Stipulating first that I see no any additional reason not to waste countless mountains of money and energy engaging in 'connect-the-dots, duh' conspiracy theorizing beyond those all ready outlined up-thread, here's what Nate Cohen just wrote about the Comey effect.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/08/upshot/a-2016-review-theres-reason-to-be-skeptical-of-a-comey-effect.html?_r=0

"Most important, the polls taken before the letter were as bad for Mrs. Clinton as those conducted after it. Again, there aren't many of these polls, but taken at face value there's a case that Mrs. Clinton had nearly or even completely bottomed out by the time the Comey letter was released. Even if she had not, the trend line heading into the Comey letter was bad enough that there's no need to assume that the Comey letter was necessary for any additional erosion in her lead."

Cohen writes that he dismissed one poll that put Trump ahead in Florida before the Comey letter was released and others that reduced Clinton's lead to just 2 points. Cohen offers a solid critique of his own assumptions which will probably read like science fiction to many here.

Over 50 percent of the public believes the timing of the Comey firing to be problematic/suspect. The NYT suggested with 98 percent certainty that Hillary would win the night of the election. These two facts certainly support Bruce's arguments about the failure of the media.

My own confidence in the Trump victory was based (sorry, John) entirely on reading and accepting data that Cohen and others dismissed, with the key factor being enthusiasm and the lack there-of to predict actual turn out in key states. I also listened to and took seriously the warnings of African-American Democratic activists who others (ahem) tuned out and/or dismissed, Van Jones in particular.

Using a simply custom time search 7/1/2015 – 6/1/2016 with the key words "Clinton even with Trump in key states 40 to one" we get data confirming Hillary's problems in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2016/05/10/clinton-v-trump-swing-state-tie-obscures-deeper-divisions/

Here's Van Jones explicitly predicting exactly how Trump would win in May 2015. I just listened to Van getting it right – scroll down for the video: http://redalertpolitics.com/2016/05/02/van-jones-unexpected-warning-dems-trump-black-vote-video/

Anarcissie 05.13.17 at 11:34 pm ( 105

Anarcissie )

JimV 05.13.17 at 1:39 pm @ 100 -
I have another reason for not thinking that Comey's letter probably cost Clinton the election, besides that the outcome of the election was incomputable before it, and therefore opaque as to causes of its outcome after - a perception which seems so obvious to me that I am confounded that anyone disagrees. My other reason is that I have read that most voters do not vote according to lengthy chains of evidence-gathering and logical analysis, but according to intuition and emotion, and I believe this because it corresponds to my own observations. I do not believe the voters, in general, would be inclined to make the kind of extended analysis necessary to apportion blame for Clinton's improper email server and the circus (Anthony Weiner!) which surrounded it, in time to change their feelings and therefore their votes. Why would they?
kidneystones 05.13.17 at 11:47 pm (
One clarification, please John, and then I'm done. Trump is a vulgarian a-hole and possibly an entitled narcissist. Certainly that's what the media has led us all to believe and let's say the media is correct.

Bruce's point and my own is that the media isn't reliable. Period. What does that mean? It means whilst one of the two presidential candidates might well be an entitled narcissist, it means we can't trust the press to tell us. We are required to look at the evidence. The evidence as Van Jones outlines it is that one of the two presidential candidates recognized that victory would only/possibly come from hard work, that the outcome was not assured, that she/he was not entitled to the nomination, or the presidency because it was his, or her turn.

So, if we look at which candidate did more, worked harder – which one is entitled narcissist? Trump certainly sounds like an a-hole, but he almost never sounds like an entitled a-hole. He allowed that he could lose from the beginning right up to the end. He didn't spend much money, instead he reached out to voters who felt taken for granted by just about everyone. The other candidate did the opposite. Characterized as impulsive and undisciplined, the candidate crossed the nation speaking directly to crowds and virtually the entire media establishment mocked him and his supporters.

That doesn't mean Trump is a better person, in fact the opposite may be true. What it means is that offering a message that people want to hear works, if the candidate is willing to put the work in, and even then the outcome is far from certain.
There's a message of hope in Trump's example if critics are willing to learn. I suspect most aren't, which is why Trump is very likely to keep winning. And if you think he isn't you really aren't paying attention.

More than enough said. See you in 3 months.

faustusnotes 05.14.17 at 5:44 am ( 107

faustusnotes )

I'd like to point out the subtle tenor of Bruce Wilder's denials of the Russia thing, in which he focuses on "hacking voting machines." We all know this is largely not the way it most likely happened – that it was a bunch of other stuff. Also the inquiry is not about whether the Russians hacked voting machines, it's about whether they own Trump. Even if they didn't help him at all, the possibility that they own him is a matter of serious concern. Yet Bruce is focusing on specific material allegations that likely aren't true, using the same strategy that the Republicans have been using in issuing denials. e.g. how they seized on Comey's statement that there was no evidence the Russians hacked voting machines as a way to say the whole thing is a witch hunt.

Once again, just as he did with the stories about the Clinton Foundation and Obamacare, Bruce Wilder is reproducing right wing disinformation.

Why do you always repeat right wing lies, Bruce? Is it because you're being played?

Layman 05.14.17 at 12:01 pm ( 108

Layman 05.14.17 at 12:01 pm

@anarcissie, I confess that "[it] seems so obvious to me that I am confounded that anyone disagrees" is a powerful argument, and you nearly had me with it. Nevertheless, I find Nate Silver's analysis of the impact far more convincing.

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-comey-letter-probably-cost-clinton-the-election/ )

@anarcissie, I confess that "[it] seems so obvious to me that I am confounded that anyone disagrees" is a powerful argument, and you nearly had me with it. Nevertheless, I find Nate Silver's analysis of the impact far more convincing.

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-comey-letter-probably-cost-clinton-the-election/

I suggest you read it.

JimV 05.14.17 at 12:56 pm ( 109 )
"I do not believe the voters, in general, would be inclined to make the kind of extended analysis necessary to apportion blame for Clinton's improper email server and the circus (Anthony Weiner!) which surrounded it, in time to change their feelings and therefore their votes. Why would they?"

Answer: there was a significant portion of voters who had not made up their minds – some leaning slightly one way or the other, others without any clue (and in fact something like a million voters handed in ballots with no selection or a write-in – often facetious – at the top). These voters did not have feelings or votes to change. Then they saw the front page of the NY Times after the Comey letter, or the cable news furor – the last supposedly significant thing before the election.

I don't know for certain, but it is equally if not more obvious to me that attributing a significant effect to the Comey letter is not a reach (and that the announcement itself turned out to be another red herring). Of course, it is always possible that I am indulging in motivated reasoning, the ill that all humanity is heir to.

bruce wilder 05.14.17 at 3:02 pm ( 110 )
faustusnotes @ 107: Why do you always repeat right wing lies, Bruce? Is it because you're being played?

lol

Anarcissie 05.14.17 at 3:06 pm ( 111

Anarcissie )

JimV 05.14.17 at 12:56 pm @ 109:
' Then they saw the front page of the NY Times after the Comey letter .'

Who, the people who voted for Trump in the Rust Belt? The Times? Come on.

Actually, I can see the Comey fandango producing a sympathy vote for Clinton. I am told most people hate email and prefer to communicate via texting and social media. What they get from email is mostly spam and messages from their bosses. That Clinton was having some kind of mysterious trouble with an email server in her basement would resonate favorably with them. Someone should look into this.

Layman 05.14.17 at 3:41 pm (
kidneystones: "Bruce's point and my own is that the media isn't reliable. Period. What does that mean?"

If true, it means that you can't know anything at all and should stop pontificating. I mean, without the media, you know nothing at all about any of the players.

Oddly, you don't stop. Instead, you quote the media(!) when it supports your preconceptions: "The evidence as Van Jones outlines it is "

So forgive me if I don't believe you actually think the media is unreliable, if in practice you do what many other people do, which is believe the media when they support your preconceptions and disbelieve them when they confound those preconceptions.

Layman 05.14.17 at 3:46 pm (
113 )
Anarcissie: "Actually, I can see the Comey fandango producing a sympathy vote for Clinton "

Of course you can! I mean, that's not at all at odds with what you said before, which is that people paid no attention to it, and that people can't reason from evidence to make voting decisions. Who needs data, after all, when we can just go along with whatever you find impossible to believe today, and are confounded that anyone disagrees?

jack lecou 05.14.17 at 5:03 pm ( 114 )

I'd like to point out the subtle tenor of Bruce Wilder's denials of the Russia thing, in which he focuses on "hacking voting machines." We all know this is largely not the way it most likely happened – that it was a bunch of other stuff. Also the inquiry is not about whether the Russians hacked voting machines, it's about whether they own Trump.

As someone who did mention voting machines, I'd like to apologize if that wasn't particularly helpful or relevant to the discussion. To be clear, I don't think there is any evidence that this occurred, that any is likely to come to light, or that this is a focus of any of the ongoing investigations. There's plenty of other stuff to investigate.

I brought it up mostly because it's irritating to me that large scale voting machine hacking tends to be dismissed by 'serious' people as somehow unpossible. I don't know what that judgement is based on, but it certainly can't be based on any sober consideration of the security record of voting machine systems (amateur and laughable almost to a one) the existence of secure, fully auditable paper or other record trails with which to cross check the results (nonexistent) or the obvious nonexistence of any hacking groups (whether state or non-state, foreign or domestic) with the requisite ambition and ability to pull off such an attempt (nope, surely none of those out there, nosir).

Ohio, for example, is still using flaky touch screen machines from ca. 2005. A ballot box literally made out of swiss cheese would be more secure. Other key states aren't really any better. Search "[state] voting machines 2016" and see if you feel reassured*.

But is there evidence anything actually happened? No. And the voting results were more or less consistent with the late polls, so if it did, it wasn't blatant. We wouldn't necessarily expect to find hard evidence though, given the lack of security involved. Many of the actual, demonstrated vulnerabilities leave no traces. It's an essentially unfalsifiable hypothesis. And it really, really shouldn't be. That's a problem. Probably an off-topic problem (sorry), but still: a problem.

-
* I just did Wisconsin and found one about a kerfuffle in which some observers were concerned that machine seals were broken. These turned out to just be warranty seals, and we are reassured that it's probably nothing because physical tampering isn't really a primary threat anyway - most security researchers are instead primarily concerned that the machines and counting infrastructure are hackable remotely. Ha ha! Nothing to worry about then. I laugh because this state of affairs is both idiotic and terrifying.

F. Foundling 05.14.17 at 5:16 pm ( 115 )
@88

>1)we know that Trump team members were discussing with Russians the content and timing of anti-Hillary propaganda (Stone)

Stone has only boasted of having talked to *Wikileaks*, not 'Russians' (not to mention that Wikileaks has denied even that). Equating Wikileaks and the Russians is what the McCarthyist establishment does, of course.

>2) we know that Trump team members held illegal conversations with Russians and then lied about them (Flynn)

Breaking formally an antique and mostly pointless law that had been dormant for centuries and that nobody involved was probably aware of. The content of that conversation (as reported by the leakers themselves) wouldn't have seemed obviously wrong or sinister to anyone unaware of the specific law, and Flynn's subsequent lies were just an attempt to avoid admitting that he had broken it.

>3) we know that other Trump team members had contacts of an unknown nature with Russian officials, and then lied about those contacts (Sessions)

AFAIU, he said that he hadn't spoken to them in the capacity of a member of the campaign; and as a US senator, it was perfectly normal for him to speak to foreign ambassadors all the time.

In sum, one can note that sinister-sounding general formulations are often more useful for a certain purpose than the actually available specifics.

Of course, I can't *exclude* the possibility that any of the accusations are true (and, at least, it's only too plausible that some in Trump's entourage are motivated by their business interests in Russia), but what does seem quite clear is that a lot of very weak evidence is being trumpeted and misrepresented deliberately and systematically in order to manufacture a controversy.

JimV 05.14.17 at 5:47 pm (
Anarcissie, for some reason you cherry-picked my actual statement, so as to imply that only NY Times readers would be affected. Here is the complete form:

"Then they saw the front page of the NY Times after the Comey letter, or the cable news furor – the last supposedly significant thing before the election."

It has been estimated that about 80,000 more votes for Clinton, total, in the swing states she lost, would have won her the election. I myself know that one of my nephews, a lifelong Republican, had been planning to vote for HRC, mainly out of disgust at Trump, but changed his mind at the last minute and wrote in his son's name. He doesn't subscribe to the NY Times, but heard about the Comey letter via a Facebook reference. I don't listen to Rush Limbaugh (voluntarily – a friend of mine at work used to play him on the radio most of the day, while drafting drawings), but I would bet he mentioned it, and that he has a lot of followers in the Rustbelt, and that these followers communicate with others.

My point about the NY Times was that what makes its front page (on the top) is usually considered big and important news, and a gloating point for conservatives when it is the sort of news they want to spread. To quote a previous poster, "a perception which seems so obvious to me that I am confounded that anyone disagrees."

bruce wilder 05.14.17 at 5:59 pm (
117 )
jack lecou @ You act as if some sinister force is directing this process. . . . So there is not NO reason to think those things are true. Not enough to conclude they are true? Sure. We're somewhere in between. Which is what investigations are for. To do the best we can to get out of that zone.

So, in your mind our Disinterested Solons and Media Tribunes of the People are responding almost involuntarily to "a series of accidental and clumsy revelations of misbehavior" by doing the right thing, investigating smoke spotted in the distance, to see if there's fire. This, now, is nothing like the Clinton Whitewater scandal or the run-up to the Iraq War. That was then, this is now. Those were "non sequitur accusations invented out of whole cloth". Not like now. This time is different.

Boy, do I wish I lived in your world! (Faustusnotes probably does too; there he'd occasionally be right about something.)

I don't know if I would say "sinister forces" are driving this process - I did use the word "malevolent" above but in the context of suggesting actors lacked awareness of consequences - but it doesn't happen by itself, sua sponte . Recasting it as the outcome of a vast conspiracy with central direction misses my main point entirely. (I expect you are trying to miss my main point, but I am going to reiterate just in case your misunderstanding is my fault.)

I am not saying there's a conspiracy and that's what's wrong here. The public discourse is being driven - there are actual drivers, people whose roles are to press forward particular narratives and critiques - but my complaint isn't so much about the drivers' course and conduct per se , as it is about the condition of the road. I am saying there has been an institutional degeneration that leaves the road the public discourse must travel, deeply potholed, badly marked or lighted and inadequately policed. This degeneration increases the danger that the drivers of the public discourse run democracy and the republic into the ditch or into a tree. Not intentionally - though their own blindness and irresponsibility play a part in increasing the risk of a wreck - but, rather, as a consequence of a deteriorating institutional "infrastructure".

In principle, the remnants of the Clinton Machine and the Democratic Establishment pushing the narrative that Comey's misconduct (and I agree it was misconduct which was misconduct precisely because it could affect the election outcome) and Russian interference in the election ("Russian Wikileaks") is just part of the perpetual political campaign, a normal driver of the political discourse in a representative democracy with rotation in office: it is what the loyal opposition does. If partisan critiques from those out of office for the moment are occasionally "hypocritical" - as the OP tries to discern in this case - is by-the-by. Politics ain't beanbag. Those out of power but seeking office are motivated to criticize those in power; that's what makes democracy go 'round. Two cheers for democracy!

What's gone very dangerously wrong here is the institutional degeneration. If the public discourse were travelling along a well-paved, well-marked road with vigilant traffic cops, there would be limits to what partisans would try, because there would be limits to what would work to partisan advantage.

You have said that suspicion should lead to investigation. It is very logical and I agree with the logic. We see what looks like smoke in the distance; we should send someone out to look to see if there is fire. Logical. But, I think you are being naive to the point of being obtuse to think that is the function of "investigation" in the present deteriorated state of our political system. Whitewater was investigated for years on end. Or, maybe, you'd like an investigation of Iraqi WMD?

I can almost hear you even as I type saying in tones of uncomprehending outrage: "So, is it your position that there should be no investigation!??" [Rolling my eyes.]

In a well-functioning political system, actual investigations employing effective methods of verifying facts and reaching balanced judgments in a finite length of time would put effective limits on what partisans and other actors could claim in accusing officials of misconduct. We do not have such a well-functioning system, and consequently there are no curbs on what suspicions can be raised and repeated as propaganda. In a well-functioning political system, a great newspaper covetous of its own reputation for integrity might be counted on to investigate and publish facts. In a well-functioning political system, great public agencies also covetous of their own reputations for integrity could similarly be counted on to arbitrate partisan bickering or bring miscreants to justice. We are not living within such a well-functioning political system.

"Investigation" in our political system means the farce Comey's FBI conducted regarding Clinton's email server. An "investigation" that continues indefinitely, stirring up suspicion but never really settling any facts or reaching any judgments, at least none that put limits on partisan accusation. And, it is not that "investigation" has degenerated in isolation - the whole ecology (I know I am mixing metaphors) is dragging "investigation" down into this dysfunctional generator of leaks. That the news media report the exciting headline of suspicion on Sunday's Page 1 and then walk it all back on Saturday's page A32 is part of the process, as is the public's retreat from the common public square into tribalist cul de sacs and echo chambers of aligned voices. (See there, I got back to the road metaphor for a second.)

And, the intelligence community gets to play a role. The well-funded 17(!) agencies can have their consensus judgments reported by trustworthy figures like Comey and Clapper without any verifiable reference to actual facts. So, another flavor of "investigation" is available to us, to stoke groundless suspicion, and not incidentally to block any actual investigation (I'm sorry, that part had to be redacted.)

For those who like concrete examples, here is one from a relic of the ancient blogosphere, The Daily Howler : the "revelation" breathlessly reported by the Washington Post and New York Times that suggested that Comey asking for more money for the Russia probe got him fired.
http://dailyhowler.blogspot.com/2017/05/days-of-excitement-and-scandal.html

Or, consider the example of James Clapper telling Meet the Press on March 5 that there is no evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, but doing it in such a way as to stir groundless suspicions. The discussion by PolitiFact is absolutely classic:
http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2017/may/12/donald-trump/trumps-mostly-false-claim-clapper-said-no-collusio/
It is almost enough to make me sympathetic to Trump - not really, he deserves it, but it doesn't give me much hope for the country.

Layman 05.14.17 at 6:39 pm ( 118

Layman 05.14.17 at 6:39 pm

F. Foundling: "Stone has only boasted of having talked to *Wikileaks*, not 'Russians' "

Who cares what he boasts about? We know he communicated on twitter with Guccifer2.0, which is believed to be a Russian front. We know he predicted who would be targeted by leaks, and refused to say how he knew.

"Breaking formally an antique and mostly pointless law that had been dormant for centuries and that nobody involved was probably aware of. The content of that conversation (as reported by the leakers themselves) wouldn't have seemed obviously wrong or sinister to anyone unaware of the specific law, and Flynn's subsequent lies were just an attempt to avoid admitting that he had broken it."

Yet he lied about it from the start. If he didn't know about the law, why did he hide the content of his discussion? If no one cared about the law, why did people lie for him?

"AFAIU, he said that he hadn't spoken to them in the capacity of a member of the campaign; and as a US senator, it was perfectly normal for him to speak to foreign ambassadors all the time."

You're quite poorly informed. Here's a good recap of Sessions' Russian contacts and statements about them:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2017/03/02/what-jeff-sessions-said-about-russia-and-when/?utm_term=.1fdbe6fe74da )

F. Foundling: "Stone has only boasted of having talked to *Wikileaks*, not 'Russians' "

Who cares what he boasts about? We know he communicated on twitter with Guccifer2.0, which is believed to be a Russian front. We know he predicted who would be targeted by leaks, and refused to say how he knew.

"Breaking formally an antique and mostly pointless law that had been dormant for centuries and that nobody involved was probably aware of. The content of that conversation (as reported by the leakers themselves) wouldn't have seemed obviously wrong or sinister to anyone unaware of the specific law, and Flynn's subsequent lies were just an attempt to avoid admitting that he had broken it."

Yet he lied about it from the start. If he didn't know about the law, why did he hide the content of his discussion? If no one cared about the law, why did people lie for him?

"AFAIU, he said that he hadn't spoken to them in the capacity of a member of the campaign; and as a US senator, it was perfectly normal for him to speak to foreign ambassadors all the time."

You're quite poorly informed. Here's a good recap of Sessions' Russian contacts and statements about them:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2017/03/02/what-jeff-sessions-said-about-russia-and-when/?utm_term=.1fdbe6fe74da

And here's a good discussion on how unusual it is for a Senator to have a private meeting with a foreign Ambassador:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/03/02/so-is-it-ever-appropriate-for-a-senator-to-meet-with-the-russian-ambassador/?utm_term=.fc0ae4311bd2

William Timberman 05.14.17 at 7:40 pm ( 119 )
First Act: You lie to gain an advantage. They lie to gain an advantage. Everybody lies to gain an advantage. Result: nobody believes anybody anymore, but they are confused.

Second Act: Lies get louder, smarter, and more expensive. Whole industries evolve to advance this or that quality of mendacity, and to produce it in blinding and deafening quantities. A significant percentage of GDP is sucked up in the process.

(Intermezzo)

Final Act: David Broder wannabes all over the developed world publish a flurry of suitably weepy and high-toned op-ed pieces about the tragedy of our intellectual commons. The curtain falls. The house lights come back up. People nervously check their twitter feeds as they shuffle toward the aisles.

(Yes, I know that everyone has already seen this play. It even won a Tony back in the 90s or something, didn't it? I only bring it up because I read somewhere - on Facebook, maybe - that they're bringing it back as a musical.)

Suzanne 05.14.17 at 7:57 pm ( 120

Suzanne 05.14.17 at 7:57 pm

@155: Leaving aside your discussion of Flynn for the moment, Sessions' fellow members of the Armed Services Committee were not taking such meetings. Sessions did not disclose those meetings during his hearings and volunteered that he had " no communications with the Russians," period. He also denied any Russian contacts in response to a written question. He even denied he was a Trump surrogate. It is quite fair to say that the man who is now the nation's leader of law enforcement is guilty of a serious act of perjury.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/sessions-spoke-twice-with-russian-ambassador-during-trumps-presidential-campaign-justice-officials-say/2017/03/01/77205eda-feac-11e6-99b4-9e613afeb09f_story.html?utm_term=.603cb4a7378d )

@155: Leaving aside your discussion of Flynn for the moment, Sessions' fellow members of the Armed Services Committee were not taking such meetings. Sessions did not disclose those meetings during his hearings and volunteered that he had " no communications with the Russians," period. He also denied any Russian contacts in response to a written question. He even denied he was a Trump surrogate. It is quite fair to say that the man who is now the nation's leader of law enforcement is guilty of a serious act of perjury.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/sessions-spoke-twice-with-russian-ambassador-during-trumps-presidential-campaign-justice-officials-say/2017/03/01/77205eda-feac-11e6-99b4-9e613afeb09f_story.html?utm_term=.603cb4a7378d

jack lecou 05.14.17 at 11:04 pm ( 121 )

So, in your mind our Disinterested Solons and Media Tribunes of the People

Painfully blatant strawman is painfully blatant.

This, now, is nothing like the Clinton Whitewater scandal or the run-up to the Iraq War. That was then, this is now. Those were "non sequitur accusations invented out of whole cloth". Not like now. This time is different.

I mean, yes, there are differences. And to the extent there are similarities, I don't think they really show what you seem to want of them. Let's take the Iraq war. There we had on the one hand, a virtually united front of US intelligence agencies saying e.g., 'there is no material cooperation between Iraq and Al Qaida and no reason to think they'd want to be allies - it's like cats and mice teaming up to steal cheese' and on the other, ad hoc 'intelligence' shops within the Bush administration run by such worthies as Dick Cheney saying, basically, 'Saddam totally did 9-11, trust us. Mumble mumble. Mohammed Atta. Something something. Prague. Mumble. Anthrax!'

Now, are the press and the intelligence services hyper-flawed and manipulable institutions? Yes. Were we therefore unable to reach the correct conclusions about the Iraq/Al-Qaida connection based on the statements relayed to press by the various actors? No.

What's gone very dangerously wrong here is the institutional degeneration. If the public discourse were travelling along a well-paved, well-marked road with vigilant traffic cops, there would be limits to what partisans would try, because there would be limits to what would work to partisan advantage.

I'm more or less in agreement with this much at least. My quibble would be to point out that this 'degeneration', if that's the right word at all, isn't particularly recent. The low quality of the press and official institutions of various kinds has in fact been evident for decades (and your passing references to Whitewater, Watergate etc. suggest you might agree). Not to mention 'Remember the Maine' - I'm a little skeptical that there ever was a golden age of uniformly high-functioning institutions.

But I'm reading all of this very carefully in search of the point you mention you have, and coming up empty.

You have said that suspicion should lead to investigation. It is very logical and I agree with the logic. We see what looks like smoke in the distance; we should send someone out to look to see if there is fire. Logical. But, I think you are being naive to the point of being obtuse to think that is the function of "investigation" in the present deteriorated state of our political system. Whitewater was investigated for years on end. Or, maybe, you'd like an investigation of Iraqi WMD?

I can almost hear you even as I type saying in tones of uncomprehending outrage: "So, is it your position that there should be no investigation!??" [Rolling my eyes.]

Which suggests you agree and so DO think there should be an investigation. Again, searching for the point

In a well-functioning political system, actual investigations employing effective methods of verifying facts and reaching balanced judgments in a finite length of time would put effective limits on what partisans and other actors could claim in accusing officials of misconduct. We do not have such a well-functioning system, and consequently there are no curbs on what suspicions can be raised and repeated as propaganda. In a well-functioning political system, a great newspaper covetous of its own reputation for integrity might be counted on to investigate and publish facts. In a well-functioning political system, great public agencies also covetous of their own reputations for integrity could similarly be counted on to arbitrate partisan bickering or bring miscreants to justice. We are not living within such a well-functioning political system.

Again. I may quibble with specific points, but not very forcefully. We can certainly wish and work for a better system.

That said, we also all have to do our best to find whatever thread of truth may be revealed by the system as it actually exists.

You know, deal with reality.

"Investigation" in our political system means the farce Comey's FBI conducted regarding Clinton's email server. An "investigation" that continues indefinitely, stirring up suspicion but never really settling any facts or reaching any judgments, at least none that put limits on partisan accusation.

I do not agree that these necessarily continue indefinitely. Perhaps they outlast your own patience, but it's my perception that they do eventually roll to a halt.

Whether the partisans find the conclusions satisfactory is a different matter, and I think here is where I'd raise another point of difference: you're wishing fervently for hypothetically unimpeachable intelligence and/or press institutions that you believe would serve as a check on endless partisan dispute of the facts, but that's not necessarily the way it would work.

It's chicken and egg, to be sure, but I think it is as least as much the case that partisan disputation of facts causes erosion in institutional trust and quality (via funding and autonomy mechanism) as the other way around.

Take the climate 'debate'. Science is a far more trustworthy institution than e.g., the NSA, and is even - in the abstract - far more trusted by the public. And yet all it takes is a relative handful of outspoken corrupt/partisan dissenters to raise 'questions' in the mind of a substantial portion of the public and policymakers, and thus successfully block meaningful action in the halls of power. (Not all of the public however - which is another point I'd make. Polls suggest that a substantial majority of the public are not actually fooled on the facts . Somehow despite all the effort spent clouding the water, and the generally atrocious coverage in the press, most people have managed to find a thread of truth.)

And, it is not that "investigation" has degenerated in isolation - the whole ecology (I know I am mixing metaphors) is dragging "investigation" down into this dysfunctional generator of leaks. That the news media report the exciting headline of suspicion on Sunday's Page 1 and then walk it all back on Saturday's page A32 is part of the process, as is the public's retreat from the common public square into tribalist cul de sacs and echo chambers of aligned voices. (See there, I got back to the road metaphor for a second.)

And, the intelligence community gets to play a role. The well-funded 17(!) agencies can have their consensus judgments reported by trustworthy figures like Comey and Clapper without any verifiable reference to actual facts. So, another flavor of "investigation" is available to us, to stoke groundless suspicion, and not incidentally to block any actual investigation (I'm sorry, that part had to be redacted.)

I think part of this is you appear to place far too much significance on leaks and other transient events. Perhaps even erroneously conflating leaks, or random comments by investigators, with the investigations themselves.

When substantial questions like this are outstanding, are we all going to collectively scrabble at whatever scraps of information, leaks and rumor are available and form our own preliminary conclusions? Yes, of course. That's just human nature.

Will the later release of firm-ish 'official' conclusions down the road have zero effect on these preliminary judgements, rendering such investigations pointless? No. They still matter, even in our fallen state.

I for one will accept whatever conclusions the FBI/Senate/etc. reach in due course. If the result is negative, will I occasionally grumble to myself, "well, maybe they didn't leave any incriminating memos lying around, but those bastards are still totally in bed with the Russians"? Maybe. But I'll certainly accept that THIS is not the thing Trump is impeached for and it's time to move on.

For those who like concrete examples, here is one from a relic of the ancient blogosphere,

But an example of what, in service to what point?

An example of the press being breathless and incautious and terrible? Yes, probably. An example of the 'remnants of the Clinton Machine' or whoever planting fake news? It seems less likely.

And again, it looks a lot like you're placing a lot of undue weight on small events. What exactly is the measurable effect of this 1/2 news cycle worth of possibly questionable material? In the middle of a news cycle with some pretty dramatic and less disputed events? (I mean, was this false fact the key evidence in the impeachment proceedings? What impeachment you say? Exactly.)

Or, consider the example of James Clapper telling Meet the Press on March 5 that there is no evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, but doing it in such a way as to stir groundless suspicions.

That's a weird reading.

Alternatively, the straight reading is that Clapper's a bureaucrat in a sensitive position trying to be very careful with how he words things, knowing they'll be read to death, one way or the other. Clapper says he hasn't seen such evidence. Contrary to Trump's claim, this really is not the same as either 'nobody has seen evidence' or 'there is no evidence to be found,' let alone 'there is no collusion'. I'm not sure what makes the Politifact link 'classic' – it seems to more or less get all of that straight.

OTOH, your reading is rather more strained - it only really works if we assume that Clapper knows Trump is innocent or at least knows no evidence exists, which in turn seems to require that Clapper be aware of the details and ongoing results within not only his own area of responsibility but also every other corner of the state investigatory & intelligence apparatus (implying in turn either that Clapper is a mastermind who has everyone under surveillance, or that the intelligence establishment is monolithic and shares information freely). It also requires Clapper to have malicious motive – less of a leap than the first, to be sure, but still assumes facts not in evidence.

Those seem like pretty big leaps to be making for someone throwing out accusations of hysteria at the rest of us for the high crime of making a few fairly mild-mannered preliminary inferences about the presence of all this smoke we're seeing.

Anarcissie 05.15.17 at 3:26 am ( 122

Anarcissie )

Layman 05.14.17 at 3:46 pm @ 113 -
Actually, the only alleged data I have seen about the effect of Comey's act on the election was that there wasn't any. I believe there is a cite up above somewhere. Of course I have no way of verifying or disproving this assertion, so it may be we are talking about 'data' with scare quotes, not plain old data. But that's what it said.

JimV 05.14.17 at 5:47 pm - Sorry, I couldn't resist making fun of the Times . 80,000 votes would be about 0.06% of the total electorate (unless I've lost a decimal point somewhere) and thus we are in the realm of noise and jitter, not reasonably computable behavior. Maybe 80,000 voters got out of the wrong side of the bed that morning, or it rained. (See Menand's article on what sort of events can affect an election.) Maybe it was just bad luck (or good luck if one is of the Trumpoids and Hell does not embarrass them with its bill before the end of his performance).

Peter T 05.15.17 at 5:13 am (
The issue of Trump and Russia is not one for legal standards of judgement than for intelligence assessment. It's worth remembering that the intelligence agencies and the UN assessed that Iraq very probably did not have WMD – something Cheney's smokescreens were designed to obscure.

On this issue, it would be odd if Russian and Chinese bureaucrats did not elevate loans to Trump and associates, or meetings, or trademark grants, to the political level. That is what they are trained to do. The impetus may not come from above, and the answer may be just an acknowledging nod, but surely the awareness is there. And that should be of concern to the US establishment – that foreign powers have purely personal ways of influencing a key player.

That it is not of serious concern to the Republicans exemplifies Bruce's point about broken processes. But surely the way to repair the process is to raise the issue and keep raising it.

Raven 05.15.17 at 8:27 am (
124 )
bruce wilder @ 117: "Or, consider the example of James Clapper telling Meet the Press on March 5 that there is no evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign ." - Except that Clapper made no such claim, and indeed could never have known that there was "no evidence" of that sort; all he could have known, and all he did in fact claim, was that he himself had not seen it (as the investigation and its evidence were and are classified, and he himself was and is not involved in it; "So it's not surprising or abnormal that I would not have known about the investigation, or even more importantly, the content of that investigation.") which meaning he later took care to clarify, after his original statement got taken and twisted into the misinterpretation you just repeated.
Layman 05.15.17 at 11:13 am ( 125 )
Anarcissie: "Actually, the only alleged data I have seen about the effect of Comey's act on the election was that there wasn't any "

Yet I offered you some, at #108. Did you read it?

Sebastian H 05.15.17 at 1:20 pm ( 126 )
The drop in the polls at the end appears to have started before Comeys last announcement. Also, the main characteristic of the polls being used to argue the letter had a big effect is the fact that a large percentage of the "undecideds" broke for Trump while in past elections we normally see a more even break. This would be strongervif we hadn't seen the exact same thing happen with the Brexit polls–which we can be fairly sure were not influenced by the Comey letter.
Katsue 05.15.17 at 1:42 pm (
To summarise the Russia hacking story as I understand it:

a) The evidence that APT 28 and APT 29 exist at all is only circumstantial – there is substantial doubt about whether the cybersecurity concept of "Advanced Persistent Threats" is of any use as a forensic or investigative tool
b) There is no evidence that, if they do exist, they are linked to any Russian intelligence agency – merely speculation
c) There is no evidence that, if they do exist and if they are linked to a Russian intelligence agency, that Vladimir Putin himself knew about and directed their activities – merely speculation
d) There is no evidence that if APT28 and APT29 do exist and are directed by Vladimir Putin, that Vladimir Putin directed their activities in order to get Donald Trump elected
e) There is no evidence that if APT28 and APT29 do exist and were directed by Vladimir Putin to elect Donald Trump, they were the source of the leaks to Wikileaks – Wikileaks could have obtained the leaks independently
f) There is no evidence that Donald Trump himself knew about, well, any of this

An alternative theory presents itself: Roger Stone, acting on behalf of Donald Trump, employed hackers to hack the DNC computers and passed the information on to Wikileaks, who published them. These hackers may have used some of the library of techniques associated with APT28.

Another alternative theory presents itself: a disgruntled DNC insider, perhaps a member of the IT staff, leaked the emails to Wikileaks, who published them.

It is also alleged that Michael Flynn met with the Russian ambassador after Donald Trump's election and asked him, on behalf of the President-elect, to convey a request to Vladimir Putin not to expel American diplomats from Russia in retaliation for Obama's expulsion of Russian diplomats for America. While obviously this can only be described as treason, treason to the Republic!, it seems like a minor treason in comparison to, say, Nixon sabotaging the Paris peace talks or Reagan sabotaging the Iranian hostage negotiations.

SusanC 05.15.17 at 3:37 pm (
128 )

5th March 2017, as reported by NBC:

CHUCK TODD: Yeah, I was just going to say, if the F.B.I., for instance, had a FISA court order of some sort for a surveillance, would that be information you would know or not know?

JAMES CLAPPER: Yes.

CHUCK TODD: You would be told this?

JAMES CLAPPER: I would know that.

CHUCK TODD: If there was a FISA court order–

JAMES CLAPPER: Yes.

CHUCK TODD: –on something like this.

JAMES CLAPPER: Something like this, absolutely.

CHUCK TODD: And at this point, you can't confirm or deny whether that exists?

JAMES CLAPPER: I can deny it.

But then on 12 May 2017, Clapper says this:

So it is not surprising or abnormal that I would not have known about the investigation or even more important, the content of that investigation

The switch between Clapper saying he was in a position to know about an ongoing investigation and can categorically deny it, to saying that he was not in a position to know, is suggestive that he was either lying or being deliberately misleading. (e.g. by failing to say something on the lines of "Well, if there was a FISA warrant I'd have known about it, but if the FBI was investigating Trump under some other authorization they wouldn't have told me about it, and I have no idea whether they were or were not."

steven t johnson 05.15.17 at 4:50 pm ( 129 )
The Trumpists had no problem with the media shilling phony stories hinting at treason for years about Benghazi, email servers, Clinton Foundation and pizzagate. It is hypocritical of them to object now to how that game is played now (if your idea of political analysis is moralizing about hypocrisy.) Trumpists may think that joining in with the decades old tradition of Hilary bashing gives them more gravitas, but I think it makes them trashier. Sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose, and everybody knows it.

The evidence that Comey influenced the election is much stronger than the evidence that Clinton or Trump are treasonous. A popsicle stick is stronger than a straw too, though, so you cannot honestly make of that what you will. The upshot is that Comey was fired because he couldn't be relied on to stay on message. Defending that with the childish claim that objecting to Comey's dismissal now is hypocritical is merely a way to defend Trump.

jack lecou 05.15.17 at 5:36 pm ( 130

jack lecou 05.15.17 at 5:36 pm

5th March 2017, as reported by NBC:

5th March 2017.

I wonder what could possibly be significant about that date that might provide context for the first quote. Hmm. Nope. Nothing comes to mind. )

5th March 2017, as reported by NBC:

5th March 2017.

I wonder what could possibly be significant about that date that might provide context for the first quote. Hmm. Nope. Nothing comes to mind.

So, since the first quote was obviously in the context of giving Chuck Todd a comprehensive briefing about how federal investigatory powers are delegated, rather than debunking a specific stupid tweet, you're right. It was incredibly misleading of Clapper to neglect to mention the obvious fact that other agencies might be conducting their own investigations down one or more of the dozens of other avenues which don't involve FISA warrants. /sarcasm.

In context, of course, his limited statements above seem reasonable. And if he HAD added ' but the FBI might still be investigating in other ways that I wouldn't be privy to' I can't help but wonder if some here feel that would have been unsolicited, out of context character assassination.

I'm no fan of James Clapper, but it does kind of seem like there's going to be something to complain about no matter what he says, doesn't it?

jack lecou 05.15.17 at 6:03 pm ( 131 )
Hell, there's plenty of context immediately above and below within the very interview transcript that above quote was mined from. For example:

Clapper: I can't say– obviously, I'm not, I can't speak officially anymore. But I will say that, for the part of the national security apparatus that I oversaw as DNI, there was no such wiretap activity mounted against– the president elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign. I can't speak for other Title Three authorized entities in the government or a state or local entity.

and:

[on the January hacking report] It did– well, it got to the bottom of the evidence to the extent of the evidence we had at the time. Whether there is more evidence that's become available since then, whether ongoing investigations will be revelatory, I don't know.

I'm really not sure what else Clapper could have said to satisfy you

Anarcissie 05.15.17 at 8:20 pm ( 132 )
Layman 05.15.17 at 11:13 am @ 125 -
I looked at the article, and the thing that caught my eye was the graph, which shows Clinton's lead declining sharply before the Comey letter. This data, if it was data, seemed redundant, in other words, not really information. However, I did get one interesting thing out of it, which I was hitherto unaware of. You will notice that shortly after Sept. 11, there was a dip in Clinton's numbers. What happened around then? One thing that was played up prominently in the media and was visual was that Clinton seemed to faint at the 9/11 memorial event; a picture of her being stuffed in a car by attendants, her feet askew and one shoe missing, was widely circulated. Clinton had shown physical weakness. Then the event was obfuscated in classical fashion, which added to its mystique and notoriety. Physical weakness makes people seem unfit for leadership; they're supposed to be ready to take the role of the alpha male baboon and go front and center in a crisis. Irrational as this thought may be, it is intuitively powerful. So I can assign the dip, Nate-Silver-in-explanatory-mode-wise, to the event, being careful to follow up the assertion with a disclaimer of certainty just as Mr. Silver would.

When you're talking about an electorate, this is the kind of thing you're dealing with. A trial lawyer will tell you that you can never tell what a jury is going to do, and that's just 12 people, not 130 million. I don't know what happened around October 16, and I don't want to look it up, but that's when Clinton's big slide began, not on October 28. That is, if the graph accurately and relevantly portrays reality, about which I have some doubts.

JimV 05.15.17 at 8:57 pm (
I don't think anything good is happening in this thread at this point, but one last comment here (by me) (I hope) on a possible misunderstanding, re:

"Sorry, I couldn't resist making fun of the Times. 80,000 votes would be about 0.06% of the total electorate (unless I've lost a decimal point somewhere) and thus we are in the realm of noise and jitter, not reasonably computable behavior."

Apology gratefully accepted. But the rest of the paragraph (not all of which is quoted above) seems to me to be assuming that 80,000 is an estimate of the number of voters who changed or made up their minds at the last minute (or so). It is not (see original comment). For a statistical estimate of the number of voters who changed their minds, see the Nate Silver analysis linked to previously by myself and repeated by Layman. It is bigger than 80,000. The point of the 80,000 was that even such a relatively minute effect of the Comey letter could have been enough to change the election result (and the Comey letter was the last big news before the election).

Raven 05.15.17 at 10:53 pm (
134 )
Katsue @ 127: b) – f) repeating "There is no evidence ." - This is blatantly more than you know or can know. Even James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence, took care to say of himself vs. that classified investigation: "So it's not surprising or abnormal that I would not have known about the investigation, or even more importantly, the content of that investigation." Are you claiming you have a more privileged inside view than he had?
Anarcissie 05.16.17 at 2:14 am ( 135 )
JimV 05.15.17 at 8:57 pm @ 133 -
Hence my belief that we are looking at 'noise and jitter', not a probable chain of causation from the Comey letter (or anything else).

Raven 05.15.17 at 10:53 pm @ 134 -
I imagine Katsue means that there is no evidence available to the public, that no evidence has been published. Of course we cannot know if there is some secret evidence hidden away in a cupboard somewhere with Vlad's guilty fingerprints upon it.

I wish, for the sake of my Social Security and Medicare if nothing else, that the Democratic Party leadership would stop blame-shifting and try to figure out how to win something in 2018.

Layman 05.16.17 at 3:09 am (
Anarcissie: "I looked at the article, and the thing that caught my eye was the graph, which shows Clinton's lead declining sharply before the Comey letter."

You read an analysis that specifically addressed the question of when the decline began, and what can be inferred by the data before and after the Comey letter, and what you took away from that analysis was the picture?

That's, something. I don't know what, but it's something.

Lee A. Arnold 05.16.17 at 11:40 am ( 137 )
One thing that everybody ought to be made aware of, is that the polls almost always tighten in the few months before a U.S. Presidential election. I'm not sure if anyone has bothered to tease that effect out of this last election however.
bruce wilder 05.16.17 at 1:31 pm ( 138

bruce wilder 05.16.17 at 1:31 pm

Raven @ 134: Are you claiming you have a more privileged inside view than he had?

Perhaps we should just elect Clapper, Dictator. I am sure he would enjoy that.

Clapper knew what he was doing when he went on Meet the Press . It wasn't informing the public.

Secrecy is a characteristic disease of a dysfunctional state. I do not mean the keeping of actual secrets, which by definition involves . . . well, secrets, or the keeping of confidences, which is a matter of trust. Actual secrets are rare in affairs of state, which is after all the public business, the confidential rather more common and routine. I refer to the gamesmanship of secrets and lies, where the pretence or conceit of "secret" knowledge is used strategically and tactically as a weapon of power.

That is what we are witnessing: the gamesmanship of secrets and lies in a politics gone senile. Leave a Comment

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[May 16, 2017] FBI Agents Say Comey 'Stood In The Way' Of Clinton Email Investigation

May 16, 2017 | www.eutimes.net
FBI agents say the bureau is alarmed over Director James Comey deciding not to suggest that the Justice Department prosecute Hillary Clinton over her mishandling of classified information.

According to an interview transcript given to The Daily Caller, provided by an intermediary who spoke to two federal agents with the bureau last Friday, agents are frustrated by Comey's leadership.

"This is a textbook case where a grand jury should have convened but was not. That is appalling," an FBI special agent who has worked public corruption and criminal cases said of the decision. "We talk about it in the office and don't know how Comey can keep going."

The agent was also surprised that the bureau did not bother to search Clinton's house during the investigation.

"We didn't search their house. We always search the house. The search should not just have been for private electronics, which contained classified material, but even for printouts of such material," he said.

"There should have been a complete search of their residence," the agent pointed out. "That the FBI did not seize devices is unbelievable. The FBI even seizes devices that have been set on fire."

Another special agent for the bureau that worked counter-terrorism and criminal cases said he is offended by Comey's saying: "we" and "I've been an investigator."

After graduating from law school, Comey became a law clerk to a U.S. District Judge in Manhattan and later became an associate in a law firm in the city. After becoming a U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, Comey's career moved through the U.S. Attorney's Office until he became Deputy Attorney General during the George W. Bush administration.

After Bush left office, Comey entered the private sector and became general counsel and Senior Vice President for Lockheed Martin, among other private sector posts. President Barack Obama appointed him to FBI director in 2013 replacing out going-director Robert Mueller.

"Comey was never an investigator or special agent. The special agents are trained investigators and they are insulted that Comey included them in 'collective we' statements in his testimony to imply that the SAs agreed that there was nothing there to prosecute," the second agent said. "All the trained investigators agree that there is a lot to prosecuted but he stood in the way."

He added, "The idea that [the Clinton/e-mail case] didn't go to a grand jury is ridiculous."

According to Washington D.C. attorney Joe DiGenova, more FBI agents will be talking about the problems at bureau and specifically the handling of the Clinton case by Comey when Congress comes back into session and decides to force them to testify by subpoena.

DiGenova told WMAL radio's Drive at Five last week, "People are starting to talk. They're calling their former friends outside the bureau asking for help. We were asked to day to provide legal representation to people inside the bureau and agreed to do so and to former agents who want to come forward and talk. Comey thought this was going to go away."

He explained, "It's not. People inside the bureau are furious. They are embarrassed. They feel like they are being led by a hack but more than that that they think he's a crook. They think he's fundamentally dishonest. They have no confidence in him. The bureau inside right now is a mess."

He added, "The most important thing of all is that the agents have decided that they are going to talk."

Source

[May 15, 2017] Trump fires FBI director James Comey, Swamp Goes Wild

May 10, 2017 | www.eutimes.net

In the political swamp that is Washington, and in the press swamp, motor boats began speeding every which way in the wake of Trump's decision to fire FBI Director Comey.

People in the boats are holding up signs to explain the reason for the firing.

The first sign was: COMEY LIED. Comey lied the other day. He lied in testimony before Congress, when he said Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton's long-time aide, had sent "hundreds and thousands" of emails to her husband, Anthony Weiner, some of which contained classified information. The truth was, the FBI says, contradicting Comey, a great many of those emails were merely "backed up" on Weiner's laptop via "backup devices." Huh? Does that actually mean something? Weiner obtained those emails out of the sky, delivered by a chariot, and not from Huma? Weiner's laptop was serving as a storage device, a personal little cloud? Somebody not connected to the Hillary campaign was using the social-media's porn star as a backup for classified data? Who would that be? Putin? Putin hacked the Hillary/DNC emails, and sent them to both WikiLeaks and Anthony Weiner? "Hi Anthony. Vlad here. Keep these thousands of emails for posterity."

The next motor boat running through the swamp featured a sign that said: COMEY SCREWED UP THE HILLARY INVESTIGATION. This sign can be interpreted several ways, depending on who is in the boat. One, Comey didn't press the investigation into Hillary's personal email server far enough last summer and fall. He stalled it. He didn't ask for an indictment. That's why Trump fired him yesterday. Trump didn't fire Comey right after he was elected president, when it would have been a simple bye bye. No, Trump waited five months and then lowered the boom. Sure.

The other meaning of COMEY SCREWED UP THE HILLARY INVESTIGATION is: Comey improperly told the world (last summer) that the FBI was investigating Hillary. His announcement influenced the election. The FBI is supposed to keep absolutely quiet about ongoing investigations. Comey didn't. Then he publicly closed the book on the investigation, opened it again, and closed it again. That's why Trump just fired him. Again, Trump waited five months after the election and then got rid of Comey. And of course, Trump was morally outraged that Comey exposed Hillary in the first place, when Comey should have remained silent. Sure. That makes a lot of sense.

The next motor boat speeding across the swamp held up a big sign that said, TRUMP FIRED COMEY TO STOP THE FBI FROM INVESTIGATING THE TRUMP-RUSSIA CONNECTION. You see, for five months, Trump happily left Comey in place, knowing Comey was investigating him, Trump, and yesterday Trump had enough of that, so he fired the FBI director. Right.

The next motor boat in the swamp held up a sign that said, THIS IS NIXON ALL OVER AGAIN, THIS IS TRUMP'S WATERGATE. The sign refers to the last sign, but ups the ante. And there is another sign that says, in the same vein, NOW WE CAN IMPEACH TRUMP. And another one that says, APPOINT AN INDEPENDENT COUNSEL TO INVESTIGATE THE TRUMP-RUSSIA CONNECTION.

I'm waiting for Bob Woodward of Watergate fame to step in and say, "It's all right, folks, I'm on the case. I'll handle it. I was just eating lunch and sipping a fine wine in my underground parking garage when a shadowy figure stepped out of the gloom and whispered, 'My throat is deep, and I'll spoon-feed you secrets for the next year, but you'll have to dig up the facts. Everybody is involved in the cover-up. Comey, Sessions, Pence, Bannon, Conway, Ivanka, Putin, Gorbachev, Yeltsin, Stalin."

So why did Trump fire Comey yesterday?

I don't know, but the short answer might be: Comey's boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, told Trump to get rid of Comey. Sessions made the call.

Sessions now has a specific plan to make the FBI over in the image he prefers. Sessions wants to shape the Bureau according to his agendas. Sessions has looked into the Bureau and he now knows which people he wants to fire. He wants to get rid of the Obama crowd. He wants loyalists. He doesn't want a Dept. of Justice that is going in one direction, while the FBI is going in another. Sessions wants a predictable FBI. His own.

Joel Pollak, writing at Breitbart, has a simpler answer to the question, why fire Comey now? Pollak writes :

"But why fire Comey now? The answer is simple. The day before, President Barack Obama's former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper repeated, under oath, what he told NBC News' Chuck Todd on Meet the Press on March 5 - that he had seen no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. That gave the Trump administration the breathing room to dismiss Comey - which it simply did not have before."

In other words, now Trump can't be accused of firing Comey to stop "the truth" emerging about a Trump-Russia collusion, because there isn't any collusion.

Theoretically, that might be the case-but the spin machine doesn't care about the truth or who is right and who is wrong. The machine keeps running. Those motor boats keep moving across the swamp. Signs come out. People yell and scream.

Chuck Schumer may soon compare Trump to Benedict Arnold.

For the past 65 years, the CIA has been infiltrating media and promoting many messages. In certain cases, an op involves promoting CONFLICTING messages, because the intent is sowing discord, chaos, and division. In this instance (Comey/Trump), it's a walk in the park (or a ride in the swamp). All sorts of people on both sides already have steam coming out of their ears, without any nudging or provocation.

A child could run this spin counter-spin op.

And we're just getting started.

Source

[May 10, 2017] Will Trumps Firing of FBI Director James Comey Be His Saturday Night Massacre? (Updated)

Notable quotes:
"... More specifically, whether true or not, the Democrats are likely to use this move to claim that Comey was fired for digging too hard into Trump-Russia connections ..."
"... The official story is that attorney general Jeff Session and his deputy attorney general Rosenstein wanted Comey's head. And since the FBI does report to the Department of Justice, Sessions is within his rights to demand the firing of the head of the FBI and expect the President to respect his request. So if this proves to have been a reckless move, it will reflect Trump's poor judgment in selecting Sessions as his AG, who was a controversial pick from the outset. ..."
"... I support the firing of Comey, and would have supported it if done by Clinton, Obama, Sanders or Trump. His actions wrt "intent" in handling classified information, and his unilateral (in public at least) decision on leveling charges against Clinton (which was not his job) render him unfit for office. ..."
"... Both the Right and the Left are disinclined to believe in or care about any scandal involving Russia. And it was actually the Clinton partisans who demanded Comey's head in the first place–and we all know the Clinton history with independent prosecutors. So the Democrats who whine about this or call for an independent prosecutor just end up looking like the partisan hypocrites they are. ..."
"... What this does, after a few days, is get the Russian hacking investigation out of the news, so everyone can focus firmly on debating how many people need to lose their health care to satisfy the tax-cut gods. ..."
"... I'm already seeing Twitter Dems doubling down on the Russia stuff. The Russia hysteria is setting us up so that there will be absolutely no political incentive for future Presidents to be friendly with Russia. I wonder if they don't know (or just don't care) that they aren't going to be able to put this genie back in the bottle after Trump is gone. ..."
"... All it does is reinforce existing bias. Dems are even more convinced about Russian ties, Reps are even more concerned the wheels are off, TrumpNation is even more convinced there's an evil plot out to get their guy. And the media has a click frenzy to drive ad rates. ..."
"... being anti Russian is in the very DNA of the repubs. Would the repubs turn on Trump because Trump isn't fervently anti Russian enough? I very much think so .they have a good repub vice president that I am sure ALL of them much prefer .. ..."
"... Its important to remember the disdain the country has for Versailles in general. Trump became President despite universal support for Hillary and to a lesser extent Jeb on the shores of the Potomac.The Republican Id is dedicated to hating Democrats. Bill Clinton and Obama could play Weekend at Bernie's with Reagan corpse and kill Social Security, and Republicans would still hate them. ..."
"... Communists and other boogeymen of the past are secondary to this drive. The Versailles Republicans, a different breed, could never deliver Republican votes outside of Northern Virginia for one simple reason their base despises Democrats more than they might hate Stalin. They will never give credit to a Democrat. Remember the liberal whining about how Republicans never gave Obama credit for his right wing policy pushes. ..."
"... The other key point to the GOP voter relationship is Trump WON. He beat Jeb and his sheepdogs and then he beat Hillary (Hillary and the Dems lost). Trump is the their winner so to speak. As long as Trump is denounced by the usual suspects for bizarre reasons, Trump will maintain his hold. ..."
"... fbi sorta sat on gulen charter school investigation and it would certainly help emperor trompe and prince erdo relationship if Fethu found his old self on an express flight to Ankara considering the bean "kurd" thing recently added on the takeout menu ..."
"... People are fed up. Savings & Loan mess & Iran Contra & & & & yawn Wall Street destroys the economy & no one goes to jail, Medical Industrial Complex management bloodsuckers insure that sickness leads to penury ..."
"... I am no fan of Comey. I think his self-righteousness makes him a dangerous FBI Director and a loose cannon. However, people who think this is going to hurt Trump are likely wrong. If Trump knows there's nothing in the Russia story, but he continues to string out the Democrats with it, then they're the ones who are going to look foolish after having invested so much political capital in it. ..."
"... Since you can't prove a negative, the innuendo can continue ad nauseam. ..."
"... I suspect the Democrats are unaware they are indirectly insulting the Trump voters by the Russian influence story.. They are in effect saying Trump voters were played by the "evil" Russians into voting for Trump, despite the 1Billion spend by Clinton and her considerable support in the US media. I don't imagine the Trump voters like this message. ..."
"... If Trump indirectly destroys both the Democratic and Republican parties, he might rank as one of our more important Presidents, quite unintentionally. ..."
"... Why doesnt he fire the top 10 layers of CIA instead? They are wreaking havoc for real everywhere domestically and abroad. ..."
"... If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology. ( ) ..."
May 09, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Posted on May 9, 2017 by Yves Smith Trump's sudden and unexpected firing of FBI director James Comey is likely to damage Trump. The question is whether this move will simply serve as the basis for sowing further doubts in the mainstream media against Trump, or will dent Trump's standing with Republicans.

Comey made an odd practice of making moves that were arguably procedurally improper in his handling of the Clinton e-mail investigation, but some favored Clinton while others were damaging, given an impression of impartiality to the general public via getting both parties riled with Comey at various points in time. And regardless of what one thinks of his political and legal judgment, Comey had a reputation of being a straight shooter.

And more generally, the director of the FBI is perceived to be a role above the partisan fray. Firing him is fraught with danger; it has the potential of turning into in a Nixonian Saturday Night Massacre, where the firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox led the press and public to see Nixon as desperate to stymie an investigation into Watergate charges. It was the archetypal "the coverup is worse than the crime".

To minimize risk, Trump's would have needed to have engaged in a whispering campaign against Comey, or least have notified some key figures in Congress that this was about to happen and give the rationale for the turfing out. And it appears he did do that to at least a degree, in that (as you will see below), Lindsay Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, made a statement supporting the firing. But given the surprised reaction in the press, it looks like any ground-sowing for this move was minimal. Caution and preparation don't rank high as Trump Administration priorities.

More specifically, whether true or not, the Democrats are likely to use this move to claim that Comey was fired for digging too hard into Trump-Russia connections .

We'll know more in the coming hours and days. The official story is that attorney general Jeff Session and his deputy attorney general Rosenstein wanted Comey's head. And since the FBI does report to the Department of Justice, Sessions is within his rights to demand the firing of the head of the FBI and expect the President to respect his request. So if this proves to have been a reckless move, it will reflect Trump's poor judgment in selecting Sessions as his AG, who was a controversial pick from the outset.

From the Wall Street Journal :

In a letter to Mr. Comey, the president wrote, "It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission."

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a top member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in a statement thanked Mr. Comey for his years of service to the country but said that a change in leadership at the bureau might be the best possible course of action.

"Given the recent controversies surrounding the director, I believe a fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation well. I encourage the President to select the most qualified professional available who will serve our nation's interests," said Mr. Graham, a South Carolina Republican.

Note that Sessions himself had been fired from the attorney general's office in the Clinton Administration. Clinton's attorney Janet Reno, who was the first to engage in large-scale firings of attorneys in the Department of Justice, also fired the head of the FBI. From Bloomberg :

Comey, who has led an investigation into Russia's meddling during the 2016 election and any possible links to Trump aides and associates, is only the second FBI chief to have been fired. In 1993, President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno dismissed William Sessions.

Trump's decision means that he will get to nominate Comey's successor while the agency is deep into the Russia inquiry. The move quickly intensified Democratic calls for a special prosecutor.

Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, a member of the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement that Trump "has catastrophically compromised the FBI's ongoing investigation of his own White House's ties to Russia. Not since Watergate have our legal systems been so threatened, and our faith in the independence and integrity of those systems so shaken."

The Financial Times confirms that the Trump Administration didn't lay much groundwork with Congress :

Mr Comey's sudden dismissal shocked Republicans and Democrats. Brendan Boyle, a Democratic congressman, said the "stunning" action "shows why we must have a special prosecutor like our nation did in Watergate".

The proof of the pudding is whether Trump and Sessions will be able to ride out demands for a special prosecutor. Given how much noise and how little signal there has been, I would have though it was possible for Trump to tough this out. With the Democrats having peripheral figures like Carter Page as their supposed smoking guns, all they had was innuendo, amplified by the Mighty Wurlitzer of the media. But that may have gotten enough to Trump and his team to distort their judgment. Stay tuned.

Update 5/10, 12:15 AM . The Hill reports Dems ask Justice Dept, FBI to 'preserve any and all files' on Comey firing / Despite much howling for blood in the comments section, some readers there were able to provide what I was looking for, which is whether Congress had any basis for getting the info. Here are the two key remarks:

cm , May 9, 2017 at 7:42 pm

I support the firing of Comey, and would have supported it if done by Clinton, Obama, Sanders or Trump. His actions wrt "intent" in handling classified information, and his unilateral (in public at least) decision on leveling charges against Clinton (which was not his job) render him unfit for office.

Anyone opposing this firing should note they share opinions w/ John McCain, which ought to give any non-neocon pause

WeakendSquire , May 9, 2017 at 7:44 pm

Both the Right and the Left are disinclined to believe in or care about any scandal involving Russia. And it was actually the Clinton partisans who demanded Comey's head in the first place–and we all know the Clinton history with independent prosecutors. So the Democrats who whine about this or call for an independent prosecutor just end up looking like the partisan hypocrites they are.

What this does, after a few days, is get the Russian hacking investigation out of the news, so everyone can focus firmly on debating how many people need to lose their health care to satisfy the tax-cut gods.

Jim Haygood , May 9, 2017 at 8:01 pm

The Scream:

Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL) made the biggest impression, going to the Senate floor about an hour after the announcement to clearly outline the stakes.

"Any attempt to stop or undermine this FBI investigation would raise grave constitutional issues," he told colleagues.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/congress/article149589289.html#storylink=cpy

Constitutional issues ? HA HA HA HA

What is "Senator" Durbin doing about the war escalation in Afghanstan and Syria? My point exactly.

We've got a problem in politics
So few Richards, so many dicks

screen screamer , May 9, 2017 at 8:02 pm

Interestingly, Fed directors have a term of ten years and since Hoover, there has been only one to make it the full term. That would be Mr. Mueller who went twelve years as director directly following 911.

I must confess that I do not know why the others were let go or retired. I think it would make an interesting study.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Director_of_the_Federal_Bureau_of_Investigation

NotTimothyGeithner , May 9, 2017 at 11:02 pm

FBI Director is one of those jobs where if you do a good job you should suffer burnout regardless of who you are. A 10 year term is bizarre if you expect a quality job. I would expect resignation and early retirement if the job is being taken seriously. Then you have to consider the quality of staff and team work arrangements at any given time and how much workload a FBI Director or Cabinet Secretary has to deal with.

Matt , May 9, 2017 at 8:06 pm

I'm already seeing Twitter Dems doubling down on the Russia stuff. The Russia hysteria is setting us up so that there will be absolutely no political incentive for future Presidents to be friendly with Russia. I wonder if they don't know (or just don't care) that they aren't going to be able to put this genie back in the bottle after Trump is gone.

jo6pac , May 9, 2017 at 8:29 pm

Thanks I love it and they just don't care and hoping the lame stream corp. owned media will carry their propaganda. Demodogs message is we didn't fail but those looser didn't vote for us the party of corp. Amerika. Double down

John Zelnicker , May 9, 2017 at 9:51 pm

@Matt – I don't think the Twitter Dems can conceive of the notion that there is a genie or even a bottle in this situation. They are so caught up in the Russia!, Russia! hysteria that there is no room in their thinking for any kind of rational thought or any consideration of consequences.

Matt , May 9, 2017 at 10:39 pm

You're more hopeful that I am. I think the more militaristic among them are so cavalier about conflict with Russia because of the Hitler-level delusions many of them have about the military capacity of Russia.

"Just kick in the door, and the whole rotten structure will come down"

"We'll be greeted as liberators when we defeat the tyrant Putin!"

Just look at that SNL sketch that aired a few months ago. They think these people are frozen, ignorant peasants.

marym , May 9, 2017 at 8:08 pm

Nixon Library weighs in: https://twitter.com/NixonLibrary/status/862083605081862145

RichardNixonLibrary‏2Verified account? @NixonLibrary
FUN FACT: President Nixon never fired the Director of the FBI #FBIDirector #notNixonian

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , May 9, 2017 at 8:37 pm

Nixon was smart enough to avoid Russia and the USSR, and instead, worked with China that would help suppress US wages for decades.

AbateMagicThinking but Not money , May 9, 2017 at 8:39 pm

Personally I would be no good at power. My reading has led me to believe that you need a very strong stomach to endure what you have to deal with, whether it be human gore, hypocrisy, or the dark side of any civilization. I don't have that stomach, and if you take Comey's words at face value neither does he.

So I think you can take that as a thumbs-up.

JTMcPhee , May 9, 2017 at 10:40 pm

Nah, ask Obomber. Once you get past a little queasiness, getting "pretty good at killing folks" is a piece of cake. It's just business as usual. Ask any Civil War or WW I general officer, or Bomber Harris, or Lemay or the young guy, farm boy from Iowa who was a door gunner I knew on Vietnam. Just no problem killing gooks. His moral line was killing the water buffalo. "I know how I'd feel if someone blew away my John Deere."

AbateMagicThinking but Not money , May 9, 2017 at 11:39 pm

Re: The youg guy with the agricultural machinery sensibilities:

Although he was the manipulator of terrible power, I see him as a victim (in the scheme of things), not a member of the power-elite. And the other military you mention, were they in the power-elite? Eisenhower should have been on your list, as he straddled the divide.

Occasional Delurker , May 9, 2017 at 8:49 pm

I'm curious how this will be interpreted by people who get their news mostly via headlines. (I also wonder what proportion of the voting population that is.)

The headlines I've seen so far, if they give a reason, just make reference to the Clinton email investigation. I sort of think this will be interpreted by many mostly-headline news gatherers as meaning that Trump fired Comey because he did not, in fact, lock her up. Indeed, even those who dig deeper may still believe that this is the real reason.

So, like so many things raged about in the media, I'm not sure this really hurts Trump amongst his voters. Probably helps, really.

And for something completely different, Snowden is not a fan:

https://twitter.com/Snowden/status/862069019301601281

Art Eclectic , May 9, 2017 at 9:00 pm

All it does is reinforce existing bias. Dems are even more convinced about Russian ties, Reps are even more concerned the wheels are off, TrumpNation is even more convinced there's an evil plot out to get their guy. And the media has a click frenzy to drive ad rates.

Something for everyone.

fresno dan , May 9, 2017 at 8:54 pm

"Trump's sudden and unexpected firing of FBI director James Comey is likely to damage Trump."

How neutral or unconcerned with what the Establishment views as the requisite dogma regarding Russia is Trump? Articles about Trump being unhappy about McMaster gives the impression that Trump still believe he (Trump) is the boss.

Yes, the dems have ridiculous notions about Russians as an excuse for Hillary. But being anti Russian is in the very DNA of the repubs. Would the repubs turn on Trump because Trump isn't fervently anti Russian enough? I very much think so .they have a good repub vice president that I am sure ALL of them much prefer ..

Huey Long , May 9, 2017 at 9:00 pm

You're right, the red party is a virulently anti-red outfit. I can see the die hard GOPers turning on the Trumpster, but will his base stand for it? The Trumpster does have a bit of a cult of personality going on in some circles.

NotTimothyGeithner , May 9, 2017 at 10:25 pm

Its important to remember the disdain the country has for Versailles in general. Trump became President despite universal support for Hillary and to a lesser extent Jeb on the shores of the Potomac.The Republican Id is dedicated to hating Democrats. Bill Clinton and Obama could play Weekend at Bernie's with Reagan corpse and kill Social Security, and Republicans would still hate them.

Communists and other boogeymen of the past are secondary to this drive. The Versailles Republicans, a different breed, could never deliver Republican votes outside of Northern Virginia for one simple reason their base despises Democrats more than they might hate Stalin. They will never give credit to a Democrat. Remember the liberal whining about how Republicans never gave Obama credit for his right wing policy pushes.

The other key point to the GOP voter relationship is Trump WON. He beat Jeb and his sheepdogs and then he beat Hillary (Hillary and the Dems lost). Trump is the their winner so to speak. As long as Trump is denounced by the usual suspects for bizarre reasons, Trump will maintain his hold.

Carolinian , May 9, 2017 at 10:13 pm

They still have to have a case to make and there is none. Impeachment is just as much a fantasy as it was several months ago. In fact they no longer even have the argument that Trump must be stifled and prevented from doing all his crazy promises since they don't seem to be happening anyway.

Frankly I say good for Trump rather than letting Comey go all Janet Reno on him. If this country is going to be run by the NYT and the WaPo and CNN then we are truly sunk. He had it right when he was attacking this bunch rather than kowtowing to them.

Huey Long , May 9, 2017 at 8:57 pm

Although the Mighty Wurlitzer is going to take this firing and run with it, I wonder if anyone's really going to care outside of folks that watch a ton of CNN and MSNBC. I think scalping him at this point in his administration is likely to generate more protests and demonstrations than not scalping him.

Alex Morfesis , May 9, 2017 at 9:00 pm

Well don trumpioni may have stepped in it although, maybe this has less to do with russia perhaps fbi sorta sat on gulen charter school investigation and it would certainly help emperor trompe and prince erdo relationship if Fethu found his old self on an express flight to Ankara considering the bean "kurd" thing recently added on the takeout menu

Can easily imagine potus & his not ready for prime time players wanting to use the hoover building as a bludgeon against people who dont fall in line the blob counterforce

comey the straight shooter methynx is a bit of a "legend" but even the most slick and corrupt have certain lines they wont cross

Huey Long , May 9, 2017 at 9:39 pm

Can easily imagine potus & his not ready for prime time players wanting to use the hoover building as a bludgeon against people who dont fall in line the blob counterforce

The FBI would be the preferred outfit for this sort of thing due to their many decades of experience bludgeoning those who don't fall in line.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COINTELPRO

alex morfesis , May 10, 2017 at 1:49 am

oh come one now that stuff never happened all you have is proof how can that stand up to narratives

oho , May 9, 2017 at 9:18 pm

"Will Trump's Firing of FBI Director James Comey Be His Saturday Night Massacre?'

It would be interesting to take a poll on what percentage of citizens know that "Saturday Night Massacre" is not a horror film.

I'd be willing to bet a beer that this kerfuffle will be confined to the Beltway media and Sunday talk shows and will fade from the news cycle/Facebook feeds rather quickly.

People are tapped out mentally with political talk.

seabos84 , May 9, 2017 at 9:41 pm

People are fed up. Savings & Loan mess & Iran Contra & & & & yawn Wall Street destroys the economy & no one goes to jail, Medical Industrial Complex management bloodsuckers insure that sickness leads to penury

1973 was 28 years after 1945. 1973 was 44 years ago. The post WW2 psuedo consensus is looooooooong gone.

I thought we hated Comey cuz of what he did to HRC? Today we hate Trump cuz Comey was going after the Russians? Crap I hate missing the 2 minute hate.

rmm

Anonymous , May 9, 2017 at 10:23 pm

I am no fan of Comey. I think his self-righteousness makes him a dangerous FBI Director and a loose cannon. However, people who think this is going to hurt Trump are likely wrong. If Trump knows there's nothing in the Russia story, but he continues to string out the Democrats with it, then they're the ones who are going to look foolish after having invested so much political capital in it. It may be the Russian story will be proven to be nonsense about October, 2018.

DJPS , May 9, 2017 at 11:02 pm

Since you can't prove a negative, the innuendo can continue ad nauseam.

John Wright , May 10, 2017 at 12:30 am

I suspect the Democrats are unaware they are indirectly insulting the Trump voters by the Russian influence story.. They are in effect saying Trump voters were played by the "evil" Russians into voting for Trump, despite the 1Billion spend by Clinton and her considerable support in the US media. I don't imagine the Trump voters like this message.

It is truly remarkable, the Russians spend about 10% of what the USA does on "Defense" and are able to influence a US electorate that is largely unaware and unconcerned about world affairs.

I believe enough voters know that Clinton played fast and loose with the email server to avoid FOIA and the Clinton Foundation pulled in a lot of money from foreign governments as payment in advance to President Hillary Clinton..

The harping on the "Russia influenced the election enough to elect Trump" will bite the Democrats as they avoid the jobs, medical and economic issues that actually influenced the voters for Trump.

If Trump indirectly destroys both the Democratic and Republican parties, he might rank as one of our more important Presidents, quite unintentionally.

Loblolly May 10, 2017 at 1:11 am

That would require us to be rational actors rather than the cartoon idiots the media portrays us as.

djrichard , May 10, 2017 at 1:25 am

I've taken to using doge speak in my comments on Yahoo articles and WaPo articles. I figure that's about as much intelligence the publishers are investing into the articles and into the audience, that I therefore tune my intelligence accordingly.

Kim Kaufman , May 9, 2017 at 10:41 pm

CNN exclusive: Grand jury subpoenas issued in FBI's Russia investigation

By Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz and Pamela Brown, CNN

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/09/politics/grand-jury-fbi-russia/index.html

What seems to me to be most problematic for Flynn is not so much Russia but that he was getting paid by Turkey as a lobbyist while heading the NSA.

Art Eclectic , May 9, 2017 at 10:52 pm

Nice. Team Trump managed to get out ahead of that story with their own. That's some ninja level media mastery.

readerOfTeaLeaves , May 9, 2017 at 11:53 pm

The plot thickens.

juliania , May 9, 2017 at 11:04 pm

If it has to do with the Russian electorial witch hunt stupidity, then yes, I think Comey ought to have been fired. For crying out loud, enough already! Delicate matters are being attempted in the Middle East, and there is no sense in pursuing that craziness. I don't understand why that shouldn't be a perfectly acceptable reason to change direction and start attending to real issues with someone in the office who would support Trump's legitimate claim (and Putin's) that there was no there there.

Wrong Letters , May 9, 2017 at 11:12 pm

Why doesnt he fire the top 10 layers of CIA instead? They are wreaking havoc for real everywhere domestically and abroad.

Huey Long , May 10, 2017 at 1:26 am

I would imagine the CIA/Intel guys are way harder to get rid of. To quote the late, great Sen. Frank Church:

If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology. ( )

Toolate , May 9, 2017 at 11:27 pm

So not one poster here thinks the Russia story has any merit whatsoever? With those odds, the contrarian in me says hmmm

Yves Smith Post author , May 10, 2017 at 12:31 am

Because people here are smart enough to be skeptical of hysterical MSM headlines with no real goods, you act as if you are some sort of smart contrarian, when you are just echoing a Democratic party/media narrative?

You do not seem to recognize that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. The idea that billionaire, who was already famous in the US by virtue (among other things) of having a TV show that ran for 14 years and got billions of free media coverage during his campaign, is somehow owned by Putin, is astonishing on its face. Trump had to have been the focus of extensive Republican and Democratic party opposition research while he was campaigning.

And perhaps most important, the night he won, Trump clearly did not expect to win. His longstanding friend Howard Stern stated a view similar to ours, that Trump ran because it would be good PR and the whole thing developed a life of its own. And before you try saying politics doesn't work that way, the UK is now on a path to Brexit for the same reasons.

All the Dems and the media have come up with are some kinda-sorta connections to Russia. Trump as a very rich man who also has assembled a large team of political types in short order, would have people who knew people in all corners of the world. "X has done business with Y" is hardly proof o of influence, particularly with a guy like Trump, who is now famous for telling people what they want to hear in a meeting and backstabbing them the next day.

We've been looking at this for months. The best they can come up with is:

1. Manafort, who worked for Trump for all of four months and was fired. Plus his Russia connections are mainly through Ukraine. Podesta has strong if not stronger Russia ties, is a much more central play to Clinton and no one is making a stink about that. And that's before you get to the Clinton involvement in a yuuge uranium sale to Russia, which even the New York Times confirmed (but wrote such a weedy story that you have to read carefully to see that).

2. Carter Page, who was even more peripheral

3. Flynn, again not a central player, plus it appears his bigger sin involved Turkey

4. The conversation with the Russian ambassador, which contrary to the screeching has plenty of precedent (in fact, Nixon and Reagan did far more serious meddling)

5. The various allegations re Trump real estate and bank loans. Trump did have a really seedy Russian involved in a NYC development. One should be more worried that the guy was a crook than that he was Russian. Third tier, not even remotely in the oligarch class. There are also vague allegations re money laundering. The is crap because first, every NYC real estate player has dirty money in high end projects (see the big expose by the New York Times on the Time Warner Center, developed by the Related Companies, owned by Steve Ross). But second, the party responsible for checking where the money came from, unless it was wheelbarrows of cash, is the bank, not the real estate owner. Since the NYT expose there have been efforts to make developers/owners responsible too, but those aren't germane to Trump since they aren't/weren't in effect.

So please do not provide no value added speculation. If you have something concrete, that would be interesting, but I've been looking and I've seen nothing of any substance.

Huey Long , May 10, 2017 at 1:07 am

+1 on the Time Warner Center

Very few condos there are occupied for more than a few days per year, and most of the residents I encountered during my tenure there were not US citizens.

We were all very entertained when the Times broke the story.

Just FYI, Ross does not own the TWC outright, he only has a stake in the place albeit a sizable one since aquiring TIme Warner's office/studio unit.

LT , May 10, 2017 at 1:50 am

Trump a crook, but not any other oligarchs? The old saying goes something like behind every great fortune is a great crime.

They clean up the image with a few rewrites and something like public office or foundations. The Presidency is Trump's ca-ching. And the pauses on the promises and the falling in line (bombs away!). He'll be right in the club.

George Phillies , May 10, 2017 at 12:40 am

Mr Comey also made some statements recently about Clinton emails and Mr Wiener, statements that seemed to be in need of significant reinterpretation. That might also have been the cause.

VietnamVet , May 10, 2017 at 12:56 am

Corporate Government messaging has fallen apart. The description of Anthony Weiner's laptop went from "explosive" to "careless but not criminal" to "just several" Clinton e-mails on it.

Democrats are generally supported by Wall Street, GOP by military contractors; but, together they are one war party. The new Saturday Night Massacre shows that with Donald Trump's triumph, the government has split apart into nationalist and globalist factions. No doubt the James Comey firing buries the Russian interference investigation. However, with the wars in Syria and Afghanistan re-surging; this episode shows that nothing the government says or the media reports is near the truth.

Loblolly , May 10, 2017 at 1:25 am

This is ostensibly the full memo from Deputy AG Rosenthal recommending the removal of Director Comey.

Link is to an imgur album consisting of three images.

[May 10, 2017] FBI found email that Lynch would do everything she could to protect Hillary from CRIMINAL CHARGES

Notable quotes:
"... Fox News reporter Catherine Herridge says this is one of the biggest headlines out of the hearing today with the FBI director, pointing out that the FBI had found an email was obtained by Russian hackers that indicated that former DOJ hack Loretta Lynch would do everything she could to protect Hillary from prosecution: ..."
May 10, 2017 | therightscoop.com

Fox News reporter Catherine Herridge says this is one of the biggest headlines out of the hearing today with the FBI director, pointing out that the FBI had found an email was obtained by Russian hackers that indicated that former DOJ hack Loretta Lynch would do everything she could to protect Hillary from prosecution:

Of course Comey wouldn't reveal who sent the email and to whom it was sent. But it sounds like it was sent from someone who worked closely with Lynch, and sent to someone who was very worried about Clinton going down in flames, probably someone very close to Clinton.

At the end of the segment, Herridge pointed out that Comey suggested he was boxed in by Lynch and here is what she's talking about:

I don't think he's just talking about the meeting Lynch had with Bill Clinton. It sounds like she boxed him in – in more ways that just that meeting. If that new email is any indication, she very likely coerced him directly, pushing him to play the 'no intent' defense for Clinton and her aides.

[May 10, 2017] Why Was Comey Fired by Philip Giraldi

It sounds like Hillary Clinton boxed Comey in – in more ways that just that the meeting Lynch had with Bill Clinton. If that new email is any indication, she very likely coerced him directly, pushing him to play the 'no intent' defense for Clinton and her aides.
Notable quotes:
"... The first is Comey's unprofessional handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, where he first decided not to prosecute her over the mishandling of classified information and then subsequently revealed to the public that the investigation had been reopened shortly before the election, possibly influencing the outcome. This is a serious matter, as Comey broke with precedent by going public with details of bureau investigations that normally are considered confidential. One might argue that it is certainly an odd assertion for the White House to be making, as the reopening of the investigation undoubtedly helped Trump, but it perhaps should be seen as an attempt to create some kind of bipartisan consensus about Comey having overreached by exposing bureau activities that might well have remained secret. ..."
"... As for the Russians, we are still waiting for the evidence demonstrating that Moscow intended to change the course of the U.S. election. Further investigation will likely not produce anything new, though it will undoubtedly result in considerable political spin to explain what we already know. It is unimaginable that Michael Flynn, for all his failings, agreed to work on behalf of Russian interests, while other names that have surfaced as being of interest in the case were hardly in a position to influence what the Trump administration might agree to do. There is no evidence of any Manchurian Candidate here. ..."
"... I am surprised that Dir. Comey didn't resign on his own terms after the election. The only other issue is it would have been less media convulsive and polite to allow him a graceful resignation and some departure time. ..."
May 10, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com
The statements by the White House and Sessions cite two issues. The first is Comey's unprofessional handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, where he first decided not to prosecute her over the mishandling of classified information and then subsequently revealed to the public that the investigation had been reopened shortly before the election, possibly influencing the outcome. This is a serious matter, as Comey broke with precedent by going public with details of bureau investigations that normally are considered confidential. One might argue that it is certainly an odd assertion for the White House to be making, as the reopening of the investigation undoubtedly helped Trump, but it perhaps should be seen as an attempt to create some kind of bipartisan consensus about Comey having overreached by exposing bureau activities that might well have remained secret.

The second issue raised by both Sessions and the White House is Comey's inability to "effectively lead the Bureau" given what has occurred since last summer. That is a legitimate concern. When the Clinton investigation was shelved, there was considerable dissent in the bureau, with many among the rank-and-file believing that the egregious mishandling of classified information should have some consequences even if Comey was correct that a prosecution would not produce a conviction.

And the handling of "Russiagate" also angered some experienced agents who believed that the reliance on electronic surveillance and information derived from intelligence agencies was the wrong way to go. Some called for questioning the Trump-campaign suspects who had surfaced in the initial phases of the investigation, a move that was vetoed by Comey and his team. It would be safe to say that FBI morale plummeted as a result, with many junior and mid-level officers leaving their jobs to exploit their security clearances in the lucrative government contractor business.

There has been considerable smoke about both the Clinton emails and the allegations of Russian interference in last year's election, but I suspect that there is relatively little fire. As Comey asserted, the attempt to convict a former secretary of state on charges of mishandling information without any ability to demonstrate intent would be a mistake and would ultimately fail. No additional investigation will change that reality.

As for the Russians, we are still waiting for the evidence demonstrating that Moscow intended to change the course of the U.S. election. Further investigation will likely not produce anything new, though it will undoubtedly result in considerable political spin to explain what we already know. It is unimaginable that Michael Flynn, for all his failings, agreed to work on behalf of Russian interests, while other names that have surfaced as being of interest in the case were hardly in a position to influence what the Trump administration might agree to do. There is no evidence of any Manchurian Candidate here.

I believe that the simplest explanation for the firing of Comey is the most likely: Donald Trump doesn't like him much and doesn't trust him at all. While it is convenient to believe that the FBI director operates independently from the politicians who run the country, the reality is that he or she works for the attorney general, who in turn works for the president. That is the chain of command, like it or not. Any U.S. president can insist on a national-security team that he is comfortable with, and if Trump is willing to take the heat from Congress and the media over the issue he certainly is entitled to do what he must to have someone he can work with at the FBI.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

Brian, May 10, 2017 at 10:39 am

Jul 7, 2016 Justice Vs. "Just Us": Of Course the FBI Let Hillary off the Hook. The only thing that surprises me is that anyone is surprised by this.

https://youtu.be/tmcox43ErRA

Investment Watch Blog

"Mr. Comey's appointment will be for an initial three-year term which, subject to re-election by shareholders, will expire at the conclusion of the 2016 Annual General Meeting."

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/feb/10/hillary-clinton-foundation-donors-hsbc-swiss-bank

"Clinton foundation received up to $81m from clients of controversial HSBC bank"

It's like a revolving door of money and special projects that the bank and the CF are involved in.

https://www.clintonfoundation.org/search/node/HSBC

EliteCommInc. May 10, 2017 at 11:38 am

" . . . but there was a certain inevitability about it given the bureau's clear inability to navigate the troubled political waters that developed early last summer and have continued ever since."

I am surprised that Dir. Comey didn't resign on his own terms after the election. The only other issue is it would have been less media convulsive and polite to allow him a graceful resignation and some departure time.

But that he is gone, I think he was surprised only by the manner certainly not the inevitability.

Blind sided by the manner certainly not the course.

Mark Thomason, May 10, 2017 at 12:06 pm

True. But it is also true that NOBODY likes Comey much or trusts him at all. He has no defenders.

Trump has attackers. That is very different. They'd attack him for anything he does, they attack every day. This outrage is only the latest, and will be repeated at every hint of opportunity.

Here they agree the guy needed to be fired and said themselves that Hillary was going to do it. But Trump did it, and that is the problem.

Kurt Gayle, May 10, 2017 at 12:46 pm

Please consider the that the explanation for the Comey firing is simpler:

(1) The Deputy Attorney-General is the FBI Director's boss.

(2) Trump's nominee for the position of Deputy Attorney-General, Rod Rosenstein, although nominated on January 13th, was only confirmed by the Senate on April 25th. Rosenstein took the oath of office the following day, Wednesday, April 26th, two weeks ago today.

(3) Immediately upon assuming his duties as the Justice Department official directly responsible for the FBI, Mr. Rosenstein determined that there were major problems concerning the FBI. Rosenstein reported his finding in a letter to his boss, Attorney-General Sessions:

(4) "Over the past year the FBI's reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage, and it has affected the entire Department of Justice. That is deeply troubling to many Department employees and veterans, legislators and citizens."

(5) "The 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. It is not the function of the Director to make such an announcement. At most, the Director should have said the FBI had completed its investigation and presented its findings to federal prosecutors."

(6) "Compounding the error, the Director ignored another longstanding principle: we do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation. Derogatory information sometimes is disclosed in the course of criminal investigations and prosecutions, but we never release it gratuitously "

(7) "The goal of a federal criminal investigation is not to announce our thoughts at a press conference. The goal is to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to justify a federal criminal prosecution, then allow a federal prosecutor who exercises authority delegated by the Attorney General to make a prosecutorial decision, and then – if prosecution is warranted – let the judge and jury determine the facts."

(8) "Concerning his letter to the Congress on October 28, 2016, the Director cast his decision as a choice between whether he would 'speak' about the FBI's decision to investigate the newly-discovered email messages or 'conceal' it. 'Conceal' is a loaded term that misstates the issue. When federal agents and prosecutors quietly open a criminal investigation, we are not concealing anything; we are simply following the longstanding policy that we refrain from publicizing non-public information. In that context, silence is not concealment."

(9) "My perspective on these issues is shared by former Attorneys General and Deputy Attorneys General from different eras and both political parties."

(10) "I agree with the nearly unanimous opinions of former Department officials. The way the Director handled the conclusion of the email investigation was wrong. As a result, the FBI is unlikely to regain public and congressional trust until it has a Director who understands the gravity of the mistakes and pledges never to repeat them. Having refused to admit his errors, the Director cannot be expected to implement the necessary corrective actions."

With respect to Deputy Attorney-General Rosenstein's heading of the investigation into possible Russian interference in the November election, the fact that Mr. Rosenstein would head the investigation (Attorney-General Sessions having recused himself) was known to the Senate - and the Senate committee questioned him on his views on the matter - for a full week before the Senate confirmed Mr. Rosenstein by a 94-6 vote.

MM, May 10, 2017 at 1:00 pm

I'm pleased to see this vociferous call by high-level Democratic officials for a U.S. Independent Counsel to investigate this matter. It's a relief that these same officials are taking this stance from a position of principled consistency, as they were the loudest in calling for independent investigations of the previous administration's questionable activities.

For example: NSA mass domestic surveillance, gun-running and associated false statements to Congress, IRS targeting of conservative groups, and influence peddling in the State Department under Secretary Clinton, all of which the Justice Department at the time was either directly involved in or responsible for burying any serious inquiries

Ellimist000, May 10, 2017 at 2:55 pm

MM,

"NSA mass domestic surveillance, gun-running and associated false statements to Congress, IRS targeting of conservative groups, and influence peddling in the State Department under Secretary Clinton "

You're not wrong, but the reason nothing happened was that stuff of this nature has gone on from both sides since the Cold War started (different names and techniques, of course). If you really wanted the Dems to suddenly see the light, under the 1st black president no less, then I hope you are awaiting the GOP's ethics censure on Trump with great anticipation

Otto Zeit, May 10, 2017 at 4:02 pm

What baffles me is, why would the Democrats want the "Russiagate" inquiry to be left in the hands of a man who has already shown himself to be blown by the winds of political partisanship?

MM, May 10, 2017 at 4:17 pm

Ellimist000,

I'd love to see any President censured by Congress, for anything, especially by his or her own party. But even that won't cause the Hypocritical Old Party to see the light. The universal philosophy in a 2-party system like this one is to 1) never admit any wrongdoing of one's own nor hold any objective ethical standard of behavior; and 2) declare the other party pure evil, all the time.

[May 10, 2017] Trump Fires FBI Boss James Comey - Its About Time

Notable quotes:
"... But the political dimension of the dismissal is not about the Clinton email affair at all. It is about the "Russia interfered with the election" nonsense Clinton invented as excuse for her self-inflicted loss of the vote. The whole anti-Trump/anti-Russia campaign run by neocons and "Resistance" democrats, is designed to block the foreign policy - detente with Russia - for which Trump was elected. The anti-Russia inquisition is dangerous groupthink . ..."
"... He could have been sacked early on while the media's attention was focused on Trump's choices to fill the various Cabinet posts. ..."
"... It's likely the world will witness the POTUS get his wings clipped. Mr. Trump has never been confronted with existential adversity, his wealth has always protected him from that prospect. He is now captive in a golden cage of political power and has neither the personal experience, resources nor the capacity to conduct governance. Be prepared to watch Trump's Götterdämmerung. Put a fork in, Trump is done. ..."
"... Curiously I've come to the opposite conclusion: Hillary Clinton is done. Mark my words. ..."
"... This sort of stuff barely registers with me any more, since the one fact we can all rest assured isn't fakey is that long before an apparatchik such as Comey gets anywhere near the top trough, they will have been 'vetted' to ensure that they aren't the type of person to ever place principle ahead of self interest. ..."
"... But The Demorats -> Schumer in tears , Warren in war paint, et al and Snowden! - all have selective memories and are exceptional hypocrites. ..."
"... President Clinton today dismissed William S. Sessions, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who had stubbornly rejected an Administration ultimatum to resign six months after a harsh internal ethics report on his conduct. ..."
"... Who said it will make such a difference who sits in the FBI? A new guy will just show up saying the same stuff Comey have said. Just look at the new leaders at CIA, NSA, same warmongering hysterical stuff as under Obama. ..."
"... Fox News reporter Catherine Herridge says this is one of the biggest headlines out of the hearing today with the FBI director, pointing out that the FBI had found an email was obtained by Russian hackers that indicated that former DOJ hack Loretta Lynch would do everything she could to protect Hillary from prosecution: (VIDEO) ..."
"... Of course Comey wouldn't reveal who sent the email and to whom it was sent. But it sounds like it was sent from someone who worked closely with Lynch, and sent to someone who was very worried about Clinton going down in flames, probably someone very close to Clinton. At the end of the segment, Herridge pointed out that Comey suggested he was boxed in by Lynch and here is what she's talking about:[..] ..."
"... Reminds me of a little passage I read somewhere about a dish served cold. ..."
"... Some wonder why a guy like Trump, who made his bones telling people mano a mano that they were fired on prime time TV, wouldn't have picked up a phone to advise Comey he was done. Comey learned of his dismissal while giving a speech in LA. Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley says that was done so the president's people could access Comey's documents in his office while he was safely out of town. ..."
"... The assault on the wealth of the working classes will continue unabated. Mr. Trump is here to represent the wealthy elites, and is doing a fine job at that. Welcome to the new age of feudalism. ..."
"... Comey also gave immunity to 5 of Hillary's closest aids, including Huma. This insulated Hillary as these people could not be pressured to testify against her. ..."
"... Not to mention, jackrabbit, Hillary was never sworn in during her Saturday interview with the FBI. ..."
"... Trump fires Comey due to his political meddling but ... Trump won't prosecute Clinton about her email server. ..."
"... Clinton's Benghazi was treasonous covering up for Islamic terrorist/email means espionage not electronic mail/Clinton Foundation is treason for hire by the Secretary of State (who ruled America during the Great Interregnum when there was no President, 2009-2117, except when John Kerry was Secretary of State but it was still actually Clinton running things because everyone knows the Secretary of State doesn't make foreign policy) fake scandals were kept alive by Comey to intervene in the US election. (Whether it was his eager doing or he was pressured is irrelevant. ..."
"... Regarding "impromptu meeting b/w Clinton and Lynch on the tarmac", Comey was giving cover "to" Lynch, IMO. "no reasonable prosecutor". He was protecting the deal Lynch had already made with Clintons. ..."
"... Did you by chance listen/watch his testimony last week? If not, I recommend it as must watch especially after his being fired. He added more detail to the email investigation and his thinking at the time. ..."
"... The BBC running a live on Comey's end-of-contract?! Color revo any? Lavrov in Washington, guns for the Kurds, the US going for al-Nusra's head scalp... ..."
"... so treasonable Obama's scumbucket FBI director Comey gets fired. wowie zowie. nevermind the perjury, the obstruction of justice, the accessory to Clinton's sedition... ..."
"... Does Russia interfere in U.S. politics more than Israel does? ..."
"... Yes, caught part of the hearings. Just proved to me that deal was in stone before any tarmac meeting took place. And I bet Comey might not have even known Lynch would expose them so stupidly, how dumb was that. Did a FBI person leaked the meeting to the press?? ..."
"... I've been surprised that Russia doesn't release "white papers" that show what the NED and IRI have done including in places like Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia. ..."
May 10, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org
President Trump dismissed the Director of the FBI James Comey on recommendation of the Deputy Attorney General, who had served under Obama, and the Attorney General. The dismissal and the recommendation memos can be read here.

Comey is accused of usurping the Attorney General's authority on several occasions. In July 2016 Comey decided and publicly announced the closing of the Clinton email-investigations without a recommendation of prosecution. He publicly announced the reopening of the investigation in October only to close it again a few days later.

At the first closing of the investigation Comey held a press conference and said:

"our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case."

That, by far, exceeded his competency, Since when can a police officer decide how "reasonable" a prosecutor may or may not be, and make public announcements about that? Clinton's running of a private email server broke several laws. Anyone but she would have been prosecuted at least for breaching secrecy and security regulations.

It is not the job of the police to decide about prosecutions. The police is an investigating agent of the public prosecutors office. It can make recommendations about prosecutions but not decide about them. Recommendations are to be kept confidential until they are decided upon by the relevant authority - the prosecutor. There are additional issues with Comey. His agents used sting or rather entrapment to lure many hapless idiots into committing "ISIS terror acts". A full two third of such acts in the U.S. would not have been though about without FBI help. Comey himself had signed off on Bush's warrantless wiretapping program.

The formal dismissal of Comey is, in my view, the right thing to do. It should have been done earlier.

But the political dimension of the dismissal is not about the Clinton email affair at all. It is about the "Russia interfered with the election" nonsense Clinton invented as excuse for her self-inflicted loss of the vote. The whole anti-Trump/anti-Russia campaign run by neocons and "Resistance" democrats, is designed to block the foreign policy - detente with Russia - for which Trump was elected. The anti-Russia inquisition is dangerous groupthink.

There is no evidence - none at all - that Russia "interfered" with the U.S. election. There is no evidence - none at all - that Russia colluded with the Trump campaign. The Democratic Senator Dianna Feinstein, who sits on the Judiciary Committee as well as the Select Committee on Intelligence, recently confirmed that publicly (vid) immediately after she had again been briefed by the CIA:

Blitzer mentioned that Feinstein and other colleagues from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence had visited CIA headquarters on Tuesday to be briefed on the investigation. He then asked Feinstein whether she had evidence, without disclosing any classified information, that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.

"Not at this time," Feinstein said.

Jen | May 10, 2017 4:52:32 AM | 1
It would be interesting to know why James Comey was sacked now and not earlier before the "Russia interfered in the elections" narrative had much chance to damage Trump's presidency. He could have been sacked early on while the media's attention was focused on Trump's choices to fill the various Cabinet posts.
Formerly T-Bear | May 10, 2017 5:32:00 AM | 4
It's likely the world will witness the POTUS get his wings clipped. Mr. Trump has never been confronted with existential adversity, his wealth has always protected him from that prospect. He is now captive in a golden cage of political power and has neither the personal experience, resources nor the capacity to conduct governance. Be prepared to watch Trump's Götterdämmerung. Put a fork in, Trump is done.

Had Madam Clinton won the election, this would not have been possible. The organisation she headed would have taken immediate control of all available power bases and would not have created such opportunity for attack.

Quentin | May 10, 2017 5:53:23 AM | 5
@ 4

Curiously I've come to the opposite conclusion: Hillary Clinton is done. Mark my words.

Anon | May 10, 2017 5:59:52 AM | 6
The next one will be "Operation Gaslight ". The storyline will be that Trump is unstable and needs to be removed by his cabinet. Trumps many enemies will never stop. There is too much at stake.
Debsisdead | May 10, 2017 6:01:23 AM | 7
All this appointments soap opera is just distraction for the masses. The next appointee will just like Comey, do as he/she is told.

This sort of stuff barely registers with me any more, since the one fact we can all rest assured isn't fakey is that long before an apparatchik such as Comey gets anywhere near the top trough, they will have been 'vetted' to ensure that they aren't the type of person to ever place principle ahead of self interest.

If perchance there was any motive other than inspiring yet more vapid chatter, we can be equally certain that is not going to rate a mention from any of the hack pols or their media enablers until long after this storm in a teacup has subsided.

A | May 10, 2017 6:04:42 AM | 8
Put a fork in, Trump is done.

Out of curiosity: does anyone know the very first time this was said about Trump? I'm sure we can all agree this much though: don't hold your breath on it being the last time it's said about Trump..

likklemore | May 10, 2017 6:23:54 AM | 11
@FTB 4 and thank you A @ 8

I endorse b. Excellent.

Recall Trump was written off through the Primaries as he offed 16 candidates. In the election cycle down to the wire HRC had a 90% chance. Newsweek published edition cover page Madame President. (Dewey anyone?) I dislike that the Trump presidency is a family affair -- Jared Kushner will be the stick and fork; the second high profile firing that should have been done.

But The Demorats -> Schumer in tears , Warren in war paint, et al and Snowden! - all have selective memories and are exceptional hypocrites.

Flashback: New York Times - July 19, 1993 -> President William J. Clinton fires FBI Director

WASHINGTON, July 19- President Clinton today dismissed William S. Sessions, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who had stubbornly rejected an Administration ultimatum to resign six months after a harsh internal ethics report on his conduct.

Mr. Clinton said he would announce his nominee to replace Mr. Sessions on Tuesday. He was expected to pick Judge Louis J. Freeh of Federal District Court in Manhattan; officials said Judge Freeh had impressed Mr. Clinton favorably on Friday at their first meeting.

Mr. Clinton, explaining his reasons for removing Mr. Sessions, effective immediately, said, "We cannot have a leadership vacuum at an agency as important to the United States as the F.B.I. It is time that this difficult chapter in the agency's history is brought to a close." Defiant to the End

But in a parting news conference at F.B.I. headquarters after Mr. Clinton's announcement, a defiant Mr. Sessions -- his right arm in a sling as a result of a weekend fall -- railed at what he called the unfairness of his removal, which comes nearly six years into his 10-year term.

"Because of the scurrilous attacks on me and my wife of 42 years, it has been decided by others that I can no longer be as forceful as I need to be in leading the F.B.I. and carrying out my responsibilities to the bureau and the nation," he said. "It is because I believe in the principle of an independent F.B.I. that I have refused to voluntarily resign."

Mr. Clinton said that after reviewing Mr. Sessions's performance, Attorney General Janet Reno had advised him that Mr. Sessions should go. "After a thorough review by the Attorney General of Mr. Sessions's leadership of the F.B.I., she has reported to me in no uncertain terms that he can no longer effectively lead the bureau

Despite the President's severe tone, he seemed to regret having to force Mr. Sessions from his post. He said he had hoped that the issue could be settled at the Justice Department without the necessity of using his authority to dismiss the Director, who has a 10-year term but may be removed by the President at any time.

But Mr. Sessions's intransigence had festered into an awkward situation for Mr. Clinton.

A Republican stranded in a Democratic Administration, Mr. Sessions was appointed to head the F.B.I. by President Ronald Reagan in 1987 amid the turmoil of the Iran-contra affair. Mr. Sessions arrived as a respected judge from San Antonio, but after five and a half years in office, he leaves with his star fallen, his agency adrift and his support at the F.B.I. all but drained away. Troubled Tenure."[.]

in lieu of the "fake-news" rag content at the fly

Anon | May 10, 2017 6:47:39 AM | 13
Who said it will make such a difference who sits in the FBI? A new guy will just show up saying the same stuff Comey have said. Just look at the new leaders at CIA, NSA, same warmongering hysterical stuff as under Obama.

Trump has a bad temper and demonstrates erratic behavior, like Hillary. The handlers keep it covered up until they no longer keep it covered up. They let it slip that Hillary frequently blew up and used the F word vigorously as she berated her underlings (which are everyone including Clenis). Trump is, likewise, a genuine asshole. He's not faking that part.

Marko | May 10, 2017 7:30:14 AM | 16
If McCabe is next to go , as he should be , this could represent a significant swamp-draining accomplishment for Trump. Depending on who replaces them , of course.

The Rosenstein letter provided considerable legitimacy to Trump's move , considering the bipartisan support Rosenstein achieved. It wouldn't be a bad move for Trump to choose a replacement for Comey that comes with Rosenstein's strong endorsement. A Sessions endorsement would be about one-half as valuable.

jfl | May 10, 2017 7:46:50 AM | 17
did, 'All this appointments soap opera is just distraction for the masses. ... '

well, amend that to are pushed as a distraction for the masses and i'll certainly agree. there are so many levels at "arms' length" now that they're really just filling in the alibis for the 'historians' ... schlesinger types who'll connect all the dots once the deeds are done and show us the tragi-comedy in five acts. the masses are undistracted. people know it's all pure bullshit. that they're being played and sold down the river. it would be really great if we did something about it. just for the hell of it.

ProPeace | May 10, 2017 8:10:27 AM | 18
Interesting: Inside Trumps War with Robert David Steele

Also White House Petition for Unity Act Against the Deep State, Meeting with Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, Cynthia McKinney, & Robert Steele

Hoarsewhisperer | May 10, 2017 8:32:02 AM | 19
Obama and Hillary, however, addressed us in whole sentences and presented clearly structured concepts and arguments. Trump spits out 140-character tweets at us from the early hours of the morning.
I see a keen distinction there.
Posted by: ralphieboy | May 10, 2017 7:23:56 AM | 15

... forgetting, of course, that most politicians (and an only slightly smaller proportion of ordinary folks) start talking, or writing, or dialing, before they've decided precisely what they intend to say.Trump, and probably Putin, thinks before he communicates. And if the result isn't worth saying, he shuts up. Same as Putin.

Anon | May 10, 2017 8:34:53 AM | 20
ralphieboy

Then you are naive if you belive that Trump fire people through Twitter. Sure the stupid anti-Trump MSM want us to believe that.

likklemore | May 10, 2017 8:51:26 AM | 21
Marko @ 16

Agree. McCabe should follow Comey out the door. Patience grasshopper, one-at-a- time. If I were Hillary, (thank G-d for small mercies), after reading Rosenstein's Memo for the Attorney General, I 'd be lawyering up with my wet work gang.

This excerpt is a tell; confirming indeed there was some simmering mutiny within the FBI house. Judge Nap called it.

[..] As you and I have discussed, however, I cannot defend the Director's handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton's emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept nearly universal judgement that he was mistaken. Almost everyone agrees that the Director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives.[.]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

full Memo deserves a re- read. OMG, someone is setting the table for dinner. Comey was cleaning the Clintons' cess-pool and he was helpfully assisted by the not so honorable, Obama's Attorney General, Lowrenta Lynch

Under-reported: May 03, 2017

Fox News reporter Catherine Herridge says this is one of the biggest headlines out of the hearing today with the FBI director, pointing out that the FBI had found an email was obtained by Russian hackers that indicated that former DOJ hack Loretta Lynch would do everything she could to protect Hillary from prosecution: (VIDEO)

Of course Comey wouldn't reveal who sent the email and to whom it was sent. But it sounds like it was sent from someone who worked closely with Lynch, and sent to someone who was very worried about Clinton going down in flames, probably someone very close to Clinton.
At the end of the segment, Herridge pointed out that Comey suggested he was boxed in by Lynch and here is what she's talking about:[..]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

in the district of criminals, (aka D.C.), we find not only a swamp, but a few deep cess-pools.

Morongobill | May 10, 2017 9:19:59 AM | 22
Reminds me of a little passage I read somewhere about a dish served cold.
peter | May 10, 2017 9:49:52 AM | 23
So Trump includes in his firing letter that he appreciates the fact that Comey told him personally on three separate occasions that he was not the subject of investigation. What's that doing there?

Some wonder why a guy like Trump, who made his bones telling people mano a mano that they were fired on prime time TV, wouldn't have picked up a phone to advise Comey he was done. Comey learned of his dismissal while giving a speech in LA. Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley says that was done so the president's people could access Comey's documents in his office while he was safely out of town.

The Senate investigation just got started. This business about six months of investigation failing to produce a shred of evidence and therefore the whole matter should be dropped isn't going to fly. The same people who natter on about how we masses, like mushrooms kept in the dark and nurtured with bullshit, should disregard all this bafflegab about impropriety also say we should accept their conclusion that there's nothing to see here and that it's time to move on. That ain't happening.

Senator Al Franken, who's insipid alter-ego George Smiley on Saturday Night Live was the epitome of insecurity, has turned out to be a formidable poser of very tough questions to anyone unfortunate to be summoned before the senate panel. These senate guys don't fuck around and will not be stonewalled. We're in for some very interesting television.

BRF | May 10, 2017 10:00:13 AM | 25
Comey will land on his feet in some corporate gig, from whence he came. The only interesting aspect is whether or not his replacement will restore any smidgen of credibility to the FBI by acting on a basis of law or if the political games will continue. My guess would be that the plutocracy will see that their candidate is installed as FBI Director and at a minimum this person will remain at least neutral to the plutocracy's rule, silence being consent. That would be the big big silence on the Clinton criminality as it is intertwined with plutocratic rule. More of the same only more so as the FBI and co-conspirators keep the plot to assassinate any public leaders dusted off in case another Martin Luther King, another Occupy movement or some such should arise.
ben | May 10, 2017 10:46:59 AM | 26
DiD @ 7 said: "All this appointments soap opera is just distraction for the masses. The next appointee will just like Comey, do as he/she is told."

Well said, an IMO, absolutely spot on.

I think there are people above the Law, history proves that. HRC AND Mr. Trump are part of that group. I fully expect that nothing will happen to either. As DiD said, " A distraction for the masses( sheep)."

The assault on the wealth of the working classes will continue unabated. Mr. Trump is here to represent the wealthy elites, and is doing a fine job at that. Welcome to the new age of feudalism.

lysias | May 10, 2017 10:54:14 AM | 27
Was a weekend fall the real reason why William Sessions's arm was in a sling?
WorldBLee | May 10, 2017 11:21:16 AM | 29
The musical chairs show in Washington is meaningless. The Democrats hated Comey but now that he's fired they love him because they can use it to attack Trump. It's all political theatre and should be regarded as such. As others have said, another chump willing to take orders will replace Comey and will surely carry out the same bad policies at the FBI.
Circe | May 10, 2017 12:25:57 PM | 31
Trump was just in the Oval Office with that imperial criminal punk, Kissinger, ironically, Nixon's NSA and Trump blurted out that he fired Comey because he wasn't doing a good job.

The pot calling the kettle black is an understatement.

I don't give a damn one way or another who Trumpster fires; what I do give a damn about is abuse of power and manipulation of the truth and Trump is repeatedly guilty of both.

No such dictatorial power should ever again be vested in that position and in a person who is prone to exceed his competencies. And that's exactly how I would describe Herr Drumpf, danke!

Here's a great example of integrity. Try it sometime!:

https://twitter.com/Snowden/status/862069019301601281

https://twitter.com/Snowden/status/862067649748119553

Tinpot Trump:

https://theintercept.com/2017/05/10/after-james-comeys-firing-who-will-stop-trumps-tinpot-dictatorship/

This has nothing to do with Comey incompetence or the man himself. This is only about Trump abusing power as he's been doing since DAY ONE. He just took it to the next level...that's all!

Willy2 | May 10, 2017 12:44:39 PM | 32
- Wolf Blitzer was once employed by AIPAC.
- Comey simply stepped on too many (sensitive) toes, both Republican & Democratic. In that regard it was a matter of time that he was fired. It would have happened as well if Hillary Clinton had been elected to become the new president.
- But I also fear that a new FBI director (as appointed by one Jeff Sessions) will be as rightwing as one Jeff Sessions or even worse.
SlapHappy | May 10, 2017 1:12:56 PM | 33
@BRF #25

I'd add Aaron Swartz, Pat Tillman, and the DC Madam to the list of people who threatened the cabal and were assassinated for their efforts.

h | May 10, 2017 1:37:10 PM | 34
Great post, b, and likklemore, your comments are appreciated.

What is troubling to me with all of this is how politicized Obama's Cabinet/team became. It is becoming more and more obvious his appointments were made to serve him NOT the country and the public is witnessing the fallout from such authoritarian style of leadership.

Comey is both a victim and beneficiary of this politicization. His testimony last week was more forthcoming than in previous hearings, but what spoke volumes was his reaction to the impromptu meeting b/w Clinton and Lynch on the tarmac in Arizona. He suggested his concerns about Lynch being compromised regarding the Clinton email investigation were confirmed during that meeting while stating it was the last straw so to speak.

This pattern of politicization was obviously meant to continue under Hillary's leadership by cementing a permanent political class in DC who would serve the president rather than all of us outside of Washington. Some term this as the 'UniParty' - a majority of R and D's working in tandem to re orient DC machinations into a global governing body.

The neo's - libs and cons - are giddy over resigning the U.S. Constitution and the rest of America's founding papers into the trash heap of history. Their march toward globalization is hindered by those pesky documents. But what these globalists never counted on was a Trump win and, more importantly, conservatives gaining power in 28 states, six states shy of holding a Constitutional Convention.

Now that Hillary lost, Obama and team are pulling together an organizational structure to stave off wins in those six states while also trying to peel away those few who turned red in 2016.

This is the new political battleground - conservatives fighting for a constitutional convention and neo's fighting to remain relevant. With Comey being gone, and soon McCabe and et al, the FBI has a shot at shedding the politicization of the department and returning to its investigative roots.

This is the reason for Robby Mook's 'terrified' comment when learning of Comey's firing. He and his globalist cohorts should be concerned, but it's Hillary who really needs to be terrified.

From The Hague | May 10, 2017 1:37:54 PM | 35
#15 ralphieboy
Obama and Hillary, however, addressed us in whole sentences and presented clearly structured concepts and arguments.

Oh, that's your definition of lying and warmongering, idiot.

Jackrabbit | May 10, 2017 1:40:00 PM | 36
Comey also gave immunity to 5 of Hillary's closest aids, including Huma. This insulated Hillary as these people could not be pressured to testify against her.
h | May 10, 2017 1:46:44 PM | 37
Not to mention, jackrabbit, Hillary was never sworn in during her Saturday interview with the FBI.
Jackrabbit | May 10, 2017 1:54:06 PM | 38
Trump fires Comey due to his political meddling but ... Trump won't prosecute Clinton about her email server.
xor | May 10, 2017 2:07:46 PM | 41
I read that he was fired while giving some speech in Los Angeles or so and when he was asked to comment he thought it was a joke. Now that's funny!
Anon | May 10, 2017 2:09:54 PM | 42
Why is it such a big thing? Some people here seems to take talking points from neocon media. He was fired because Trump didnt have confidence in him, simply as that.
RUKidding | May 10, 2017 2:32:04 PM | 45
Not sad to see Comey go. I didn't think he was doing a good job, albeit he was put in a position where he had to tread carefully. I guess he did "ok" with that careful treading. Unsure of Trump's motivations to fire him but not that surprised. As others have posited here, Clinton would have done the same. Comey was probably at least partially prepared and possibly has a sinecure lined up as I type this.

IMO, this isn't the worst of Trump's alleged "offenses" by a long shot. It certainly does provide a distraction from all the other sh*t swirling around Trump, like Kushner selling US citizenships to high priced Chinese gangsters, like Trump's various cabinet picks arresting citizens for questioning them the "wrong way" or laughing at them, like Trump's decisions to ruin the environment and give away public lands to his rich pals, like the travesty of TrumpDon'tCare AHCA (which could end up even worse after the Senate gets done with it - No women on the Senate committee, just great).

Yes a nifty distraction while Trump and his plutocrat cronies rob us all blind. Duly noted the Democrats engage in their own dog 'n pony sideshow distractions re russia, Russia RUSSIA hysteria. All to avoid having to, you know, DO something about their own disaster of a corporate-bought-off "party" and avoid having to do one d*mn thing that benefits their traditional constituents, as opposed to ensuring that their Plutocratic masters are happy.

Like Comey's my biggest "concern" du jour... not.

steven t johnson | May 10, 2017 2:48:34 PM | 46
Every analysis of any current US political events that says anything about Clinton losing the election is deranged or dishonest. There are no exceptions.

Clinton's Benghazi was treasonous covering up for Islamic terrorist/email means espionage not electronic mail/Clinton Foundation is treason for hire by the Secretary of State (who ruled America during the Great Interregnum when there was no President, 2009-2117, except when John Kerry was Secretary of State but it was still actually Clinton running things because everyone knows the Secretary of State doesn't make foreign policy) fake scandals were kept alive by Comey to intervene in the US election. (Whether it was his eager doing or he was pressured is irrelevant.) The thing for Comey, and his natural human need to at least pretend to be a genuine human being, is, the Russia hacks the election is exactly the same kind of fake scandal, something arcane with dark, dark hints of treason! treason! Comey can't suddenly discover sanity when the BS is flying at Trump, after having vociferously claimed those were really Clark bars for the years prior.

The OP doesn't quite have the nerve to explain clearly how the supposed loser has the clout to make Comey dish on Trump. Or the effrontery to clearly avow Benghazi/email server/Clinton cash/pizzagate were all gospel. Nonetheless it is still Trumpery.

sl | May 10, 2017 3:39:47 PM | 49
@ h:

Regarding "impromptu meeting b/w Clinton and Lynch on the tarmac", Comey was giving cover "to" Lynch, IMO. "no reasonable prosecutor". He was protecting the deal Lynch had already made with Clintons.

Just read about Comey history with Clintons. He has been giving them cover a long time.

h | May 10, 2017 4:01:37 PM | 50
sl - Yep, I concur. And I think he had to protect whatever deal was agreed to b/w Lynch, Obama and Clinton. I'm not even sure I'd call it a deal, but rather an order. I'm sure if he didn't adhere there would have been some hefty consequences to pay.

Did you by chance listen/watch his testimony last week? If not, I recommend it as must watch especially after his being fired. He added more detail to the email investigation and his thinking at the time.

ProPeace | May 10, 2017 4:04:59 PM | 51
SlapHappy | May 10, 2017 1:12:56 Add to the long list:

Seth Rich, sen. Paul Wellstone, JFK jr, princess Diana, Michael Hastings, mysterious deaths of 9/11 witnesses, Phillip Marshall with family, Michael Connell, that policeman from the WTC 1993 bombing investigation, Clinton body count, that German press insider, Gary Webb ...

Mina | May 10, 2017 4:25:10 PM | 52
The BBC running a live on Comey's end-of-contract?! Color revo any? Lavrov in Washington, guns for the Kurds, the US going for al-Nusra's head scalp...
john | May 10, 2017 4:40:17 PM | 55
so treasonable Obama's scumbucket FBI director Comey gets fired. wowie zowie. nevermind the perjury, the obstruction of justice, the accessory to Clinton's sedition...

there's probably a multi-million dollar book deal in the pipeline. - Trump DOES have some very "interesting" connections to Russia and some shady Russian persons. But this is the result of his own "wheeling & dealing".

SlapHappy | May 10, 2017 5:04:12 PM | 60

Does Russia interfere in U.S. politics more than Israel does?
sl | May 10, 2017 5:09:13 PM | 61
@ h. Yes, caught part of the hearings. Just proved to me that deal was in stone before any tarmac meeting took place. And I bet Comey might not have even known Lynch would expose them so stupidly, how dumb was that. Did a FBI person leaked the meeting to the press??
h | May 10, 2017 7:14:03 PM | 66
Hey sl - here's a link to a post by RightScoop titled - FBI found email that Lynch would do everything she could to protect Hillary from CRIMINAL CHARGES - Catherine Herridge reported recently on this find - http://therightscoop.com/revealed-fbi-found-email-that-lynch-would-do-everything-she-could-to-protect-hillary-from-criminal-charges/

Yep, Rosenstein is a law man. I won't be the slightest bit surprised to learn Grand Jury indictments handed down sometime in the coming months for Hillary's arrest. Mr. Comey served as an obstacle to the DOJ to prosecute. Now that Sessions/Rosenstein, both law men, are heading the DOJ nothing will surprise me. Nothing.

Curtis | May 10, 2017 7:47:42 PM | 68
SlapHappy 60

Does Russia interfere in the elections and governing institutions of others as much as the US does?

I've been surprised that Russia doesn't release "white papers" that show what the NED and IRI have done including in places like Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia.

[Apr 01, 2017] Obstruction of justice by Hillary and her close associates and first of all Cheryl Millls

The is question about whether that information was classified was really important, but if take classification at face value Clinton and her associated are guilty in obstruction of justice...
Apr 01, 2017 | www.youtube.com

Trey Gowdy to James Comey "We Need The Truth! STOP F**CKING LYING!"

Looks like "Obstruction of justice" is provable offence.

m peeps 6 days ago

obvious Comey is either being blackmailed or paid.
THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH !!! 6 days ago (edited)
DAAAAAMMMNNN ... IT ... COMEY IS A LIAR ... DAMN IM SICK OF THIS BASTARD LYING !!! ... HE HAS BROKEN THE LAW BIG TIME ... HES GOING TO BE UNDER THE JAIL !!! ... SON OF BITCH ... LET ONE OF US EVEN TRY TO THINK ABOUT BREAKING ONE OF THOSE CRIMES WE WOULD BE IN GITMO ... WHAT THE F
Anjie Wittu 2 days ago
Please write to the DOJ fellow Trump Supporter.. Here is a link you send the request to Attorney General.. I have been asking for a Special Prosuctor to look into Hillary/Comey Hillary Clinton Foundation/Podesta / Russia (He had ties to Russia) And Obama Hello They are all so damn corrupt.
Kimberly Hasty 6 days ago
This is seriously PISSING ME OFF!!!!!!!!!! James Comey is a lying bastard and needs to be fired immediately!!! He is either involved or completely paid off!
Joyce Yancey 6 days ago
Russia is NOT the enemy! Corrupt politicians and bureaucrats in Washington DC are! And believe me, the American people are aware of that!
john bounds 6 days ago
AMERICANS JAMES COMEY WORKED FOR THE CLINTON FOUNDATION BEFORE HE WAS DIRECTOR OF FBI . DOES THIS EXPLAIN ANYTHING IN THAT NOGGIN ? I AM TALKING TO THE LIBTARDS . I WONDER HOW HE GOT HIS PROMOTION ? HHHHHMMMM
okitzme 6 days ago
Comey's entire testimony and the whole of this investigation is a complete farce and he's made a mockery of one of the highest and most elite law enforcement agencies in our nation as a result. WHY he is still the director of the FBI is beyond me... his credibility was obliterated with this ONE case and he will NEVER regain it. As far as most Americans are concerned, everything that comes out of the FBI and/or Comey's mouth is as worthless as shit on the bottom of your shoe.
Mary Mclocke 2 days ago
+Brian Cunningham -- President Trump is doing HIS OWN job.. running the country. THIS is the job of the Justice department. IF Comey is "committing perjury", then the Justice Department - NOT the President - will deal with him. Meanwhile, the hearings have to be completed first . QUIT saying that Trump "isn't doing his job, as he IS. Not every function of our government is *President TRUMP'S job!!*
rlmccullough 6 days ago
Gowdy, is what we need. But this is a circus
Mary Mclocke 2 days ago (edited)
*I give up*. Clueless....... +Brian Cunningham , PLEASE learn how our government works. Stay in school - or use the Internet in front of you to learn something - like, how our government works, for example... that's a start... Please. Please!
Frank Marshall 3 days ago
Your title suggests that Trey Gowdy stated the quotation. Trey Gowdy would not stoop to such language and should be shown more respect
Mary Mclocke 2 days ago
+Frank Marshall -- Exactly -- I reported the title as misleading.. Go up above where it says "more"..click, and "report" comes up. The click bait false titles (and this one is slanderous towards Congressman Gowdy) will NOT stop until enough people get to reporting them and the uploader is warned to stop it by You Tube themselves... things like that and the filthy language people use in comments in general. It's ALL out of hand..thus I started reporting it all. It HAS to start somewhere to shut it down. Take care, have a good week!
Revelation 12:11 6 days ago
President Trump! LEAD! Have Comey arrested immediately under Title 18, U.S. Code violations. Sedition and Treason for starters!
Brian Cunningham 4 days ago
Or, perjury, if he lied under oath. But just like that special prosecutor, for Hillary, Trump won't do shit!
MrDrmillgram 6 days ago
In 2015 the Clinton Foundation had $225 million and 2000 employees. The decision to suspend future operations is blamed on (mostly foreign) unfulfilled donor pledges . I wonder why? The layoff of 22 employees recently made headlines. Gonna be a lot of screaming for termination bonus' from the rest. Any wagers they'll fall on deaf ears?
444age 6 days ago

1. HSBC was embroiled in money laundering and tax evasion in 2012

2. HSBC funded several Clinton Foundation projects

3. HSBC is fined $19 Billion in 2012. AG is Eric Holder. Prosecuting Attorney is Loretta Lynch. All executives are exonerated.

4. HSBC appoints James Comey as non-executive director in 2013

5. Confirmation hearings of Loretta Lynch as AG in 2015 do not reference her role in HSBC case

6. James Comey's brother's firm does the auditing for Clinton Foundation

KILL SHILL'S 6 days ago
Are you kidding me. They and that is the Clintons,Comey should be put in prison then the will follow. Different strokes for different folks that is what is destroying this country. The big shoots can do whatever they want. If it was the regular Joey they would have been imprisoned long ago.......thats why this country is crumbles. No rule of law. Well there is for the regular citizens but not are voted in politicians they can do whatever they want why Illinois sucks.

[Mar 31, 2017] New Emails Release Hillary Clinton Still Haunted by #Emailgate

Mar 31, 2017 | sputniknews.com
Judicial Watch, the US conservative watchdog, has recently released 1,184 pages of State Department records including previously undisclosed Hillary Clinton emails. The emails shed further light on Clinton's mishandling of top secret information, as well as potential conflicts of interest. US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton arrives at Burke Lakefront airport in Cleveland, Ohio US, October 21, 2016. © REUTERS/ Carlos Barria #LockHerUp: Hillary Clinton Gradually Losing Veneer of Being 'Too Big to Jail' Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton insists that the US Department of Justice should launch an independent investigation into the Clinton email case.

On Wednesday the American conservative non-partisan watchdog group released 1,184 pages of State Department records including "previously unreleased" Hillary Clinton emails.

The watchdog specified that the emails were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

Judicial Watch's press release published on its website reveals that the records include 29 previously undisclosed Clinton's emails "of a total of which is now at least 288 emails that were not part of the 55,000 pages of emails that Clinton turned over to the State Department."

"This further appears to contradict statements by [Hillary] Clinton that, 'as far as she knew,' all of her government emails were turned over to the State Department," the watchdog said.

WikiLeaks Logo and Hillary Clinton © Twitter: RT_America Emailgate: Untold Story of Clinton Foundation's Ties With Defense Contractors The exposure has once again shed light on Clinton's mishandling of classified information.

For instance, back in February 2010, Jake Sullivan, then-Deputy Chief of Staff to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, sent information concerning former Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed to Clinton's and deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin's unsecure email accounts.

This email exchange has been classified by the State Department as information "to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy; foreign relations or foreign activities of the US, including confidential sources."

Yet another email containing classified information was forwarded by Hillary Clinton to Abedin's unsecure email account April 8, 2010.

The original email addressed to Sid Blumenthal and entitled "Change of Government in Kyrgyzstan," apparently discloses the US State Department's role in the Kyrgyz regime change in April 2010.

Blumenthal's source informed him that he/she had "worked in the Kyrgyz Republic continuously since 1991" and "became acquainted with each of the three Kyrgyz leaders" including Kyrgyz diplomat Roza Otunbayeva. The source provided Blumenthal with detailed characteristics of Otunbayeva, explaining why she was "selected" by the Kyrgyz opposition.

U.S. aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson arrives for an annual joint military exercise called Foal Eagle between South Korea and U.S, at the port of Busan, South Korea, March 15, 2017. © REUTERS/ Yonhap Clinton's #Emailgate: The Dangerous Militarization of the Asia-Pacific Region The email was sent at the beginning of the Second Kyrgyz Revolution, which resulted in the ousting of Kyrgyz president Kurmanbek Bakiyev and appointment of Otunbayeva as the country's interim leader and then the country's president.

The source cited the opposition's doubts that Otunbayeva "can be a successful candidate for president especially given her weak performance in prior elections to parliament."

"It is stressed that her prospects increase as relations with foreign powers are seen as problematic, since she alone among the opposition figures is viewed as having the stature and skills necessary to cope with difficult foreign affairs problems," the source wrote.

In conclusion the redacted email reads that "all of this suggests the necessity for the State Department to assert itself and take the lead in developing relations with the new government."

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during the third and final 2016 presidential campaign debate with Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump (not pictured) at UNLV in Las Vegas, Nevada, US, October 19, 2016. © REUTERS/ Carlos Barria Flynn's RT Case: What About Hillary Clinton Taking Fees From Foreign Gov'ts? Meanwhile, an email exchange dated March 15, 2010, indicates that numerous accusations against Hillary Clinton, which cited possible conflicts of interest, were not completely unjustified.

The emails exposed that Doug Band, a former adviser to ex-president Bill Clinton forwarded Abedin a request for help from Philip Levine, presumably the mayor of Miami Beach. What is more interesting is that Levine had reportedly been a fundraiser for the Clintons since the 1990s, the watchdog remarked.

In his interviews with Sputnik investigative journalist and Wall Street analyst Charles Ortel, who is currently involved in a private inquiry into the Clinton Foundation's alleged fraud, highlighted that Hillary Clinton has long been criticized for her apparent use of "pay-for-play" schemes.

"These emails are yet more evidence of Hillary Clinton's casual and repeated violations of laws relating to the handling of classified information. The Justice Department should finally begin an independent investigation into the Clinton email matter," Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton stated.

[Feb 26, 2017] What she did with bathroom email server is worse then a crime. It is a blunder. Which disqualifies Hillary (and her close entourage) for any government position.

Feb 26, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
ilsm -> geoff ... February 25, 2017 at 01:00 PM , 2017 at 01:00 PM
Clinton should have been prosecuted.

The GOP need not worry as long as the news is Russia!

im1dc -> ilsm... , February 25, 2017 at 02:16 PM
"Clinton should have been prosecuted."

I repeat to you this umpteenth time 'no mens rea' = no prosecution.

ilsm -> im1dc... , February 25, 2017 at 05:12 PM
The conclusion from 'no mens rea' implies "simple negligence", simple negligence only applies to GS 3's. The managers and the experience are held to a higher standard.

If it was 'no mens rea' then she was neither qualified nor experienced, she is no accountable.

Which may be okay for crooks in the swamp needing drained.

libezkova -> ilsm... , February 25, 2017 at 06:13 PM
ilsm,

What she did with "bathroom email server" is worse then a crime. It is a blunder. Which disqualifies Hillary (and her close entourage) for any government position.

The level of incompetence and arrogance demonstrated is just astounding. Actually it is not astounding. It is incredible. I can't believe that a person with Yale law degree can be so hopelessly stupid and arrogant.

geoff -> ilsm... , February 25, 2017 at 02:16 PM

Clinton should have....not been the dem nominee. The Russia fixation is all yours.

[Feb 21, 2017] My Kaspersky Internet Security blocked the No Hesitations link for phishing. I trust Kaspersky more between the two.

Feb 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
RC AKA Darryl, Ron : , February 20, 2017 at 04:09 AM
My Kaspersky Internet Security blocked the No Hesitations link for phishing. I trust Kaspersky more between the two.
cm -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , February 20, 2017 at 11:04 AM
Probably a false positive, or the site may run ads/third party code that was flagged, which are not controlled by the author. Ads with their intrusiveness have been well-known malware vectors. Ad funded sites (or which "monetize" their brand by selling ad space) typically outsource the mechanics of inserting ads, user tracking etc. to third parties, and necessarily give them control over what content is delivered to readers. In part due to high overheads and low margins, there is not a lot of "vetting" what content gets on the page.

And of course intrusive tracking code may be legitimately viewed as malware in itself, even if it doesn't try to "infect" your system.

No reason to distrust the authors.

cm -> RC AKA Darryl, Ron... , February 20, 2017 at 11:25 AM
Even if you use an ad blocker, the schemes they use are necessarily heuristic and reactive in nature - basically block/avoid accessing content by known domain name, URL patterns, common "standard" image sizes and other tells, known suspicious patterns in programmable content, etc.

It comes with the usual heuristic-detection/classification problem - you can increase the result rate only by increasing the error, and you can only choose whether you want to err on the side of more false positives or false negatives (misses). This is because of the forced binary outcome (block/let through, or flag/don't flag).

Usually the algorithm computes some sort of confidence score that is used to detect (and possibly reject) "inconclusive" results. If the algorithm is any good, there is a region where it accurately detects (presence or absence of the targeted feature) with high confidence. To simplify, the choice is then to map low confidence scores to "detect" (more security) or "not detect" (more convenience).

[Jan 14, 2017] Whether Hillary really damaged national security with her bathroom server

Jan 14, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
ilsm : January 13, 2017 at 06:45 PM

I do not know Logan, I know federal records act. Clinton is a felon!

You all got to be careful, after Friday those of us who still have a duty from our oaths have to protect Trump.

im1dc -> ilsm... January 13, 2017 at 08:14 PM
From Wikipedia

The Logan Act (1 Stat. 613, 18 U.S.C. § 953, enacted January 30, 1799 ) is a United States federal law that forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments having a dispute with the U.S. It was intended to prevent the undermining of the government's position.

libezkova -> ilsm... , -1 January 13, 2017 at 09:06 PM
"I know federal records act. Clinton is a felon!"

Good summary, but now, with some time passed, and Hillary out of Presidential race we can create a more detailed summary. Actually for me it is unclear whether she is a felon, but she is definitely a moron (along with all her close entourage).

The key question here is the actual level of damage to national security achieved by her actions (or inactions). It might be great, but it might be nothing at all.

There is no question that Hillary Clinton "private" (aka bathroom) email server violated a lot of regulations and her NDA. So formally she is guilty as hell and as a felon should go to jail, like a lot of common folks do for similar, or even lesser, violations.

But she belongs to the "masters of the universe' and as such is above the common law. So let's limit ourselves to the question whether she really damaged national security

First of all what Hillary did is the not just creation of her private email server. She created her "Shadow IT" Department within State Department staffed with people, who are probably OK or even good for running IT in non-profits and charities, but not above this level. And that even abstracting from formalities such as security clearance, presence of classified mail in her mail stream, wiping the evidence, etc creation of Shadow IT is a a big "No-no". Clearly severely punishable "career-limiting" move. I now understand why Mills advised Hillary not to run. So why she survives after such a move. That's mystery.

In corporate environment the creation of "Shadow IT" is a very serious, typically fatal charge that usually leads to immediate termination. For federal government it is even worse, as it smells with treason. That means that all senior level IT staff of State Department is fully complicit, and needs to be investigated and probably persecuted for their cowardice. They understood well the level of danger and choose to ignore it "hiding their head in the sand, like an ostrich"

But there are a lot of strange thing in this story. Both the behavior of NSA, and, surprise, surprise White house IT staff was very strange. They definitely knew about this setup. They did not directly or indirectly reported to Hillary, unlike IT staff of State Department. And still they did nothing. Obama himself also knew about it. Did nothing. That tells us something about this president. Although interception of domestic communication were never in NSA charter, still this is what they do for living, and that means the NSA also played very strange, unexplainable to me role in this story. NSA staff also knew about the setup from Hillary request to provide a specially secured version of Blackberry (similar to what Obama used). Which surprisingly was denied. Looks like NSA did not like Hillary much, is not it.

Now about the security. On the level required to create State Department infrastructure the setup used was completely childish. It was not even incompetent, it was childish. Probably IT people responsible never saw any other type of IT infrastructure then cash poor non-profits and never ever read NIST recommendations for setup of this type of servers, to say nothing about more serious staff.

Even on my rather primitive understanding of computer security all those men and women involved in Clinton bathrooms mail server drama look like complete and utter morons. But this is a real life and such situations do happen in very large corporations, but not that often. So again what was the real damage?

Any discussion of whether the server was "open" for hacking to state or non state actors or not simply does not make any sense. My impression is that the level of security in Hillary's Shadow IT server infrastructure (which includes internet modem (they were using regular ISP, like any non-profit), router and other staff like networked printer(s)) was much lower that is required for this question to make sense.

Still miracles happen and may be some foreign agencies thought that this is a trap, a "honeypot" in "security-speak". So being utter moron might be a good security protection measure in its own right, as paradoxical as it is.

But it is unclear at what point the traffic was intercepted if it was. People usually concentrate of "bathroom server". But what about internet router and modem?

If traffic was intercepted on the router level in real time (it was not encrypted) then the damage was very real and Hillary can be viewed as a traitor. If not, and only dumps of old emails were obtained after she left her position of State Secratary, the question about real damage is more complex and here the situation is alot similar with the situation with Manning. An old staff (assuming that it was more the a year old) may be embarrsing, may be danaging, bit it is what it is "old". Played cards. Even if some of them were classified it is unclear what useful info can extracted for such emails. Compromising information probably yes. Tactical information that preempts some US actions probably .no.

Also we need to take into account that Huma Abedin was a completely computer illiterate person, who did her own set of blunders (including creating a hidden channel that copied emails to her home server). And that Hillary herself looks like reckless sociopath, concerned only about her personal power and money, not the interests of the state. Not to understand the level of danger she exposed State Department communications is unconceivable for any lawyer, forget about Yale graduate at the top of her class. That increase the damage.

Please note that whether the idea was to hide her activities was connected with "pay for pay" involving Clinton foundation, paranoia, or something else is a completely separate topic.

IMHO Comey proved to be a "despicable coward" who first decided not to derail Clinton run (probably not without pressure from Obama and/or Bill Clinton via Attorney General Loretta Lynch), but then, when he discovered "Abedin channel" it well might be that he has had a second thought. That's how I read his controversial behavior. Nothing honorable in this interpretation of his behavior too.

The whole set of events looks like literally taken from pages of the famous novel "The Good Soldier Svejk: and His Fortunes in the World War". And we know what eventually happened to Austro-Hungarian empire.

[Jan 14, 2017] Comey Letter on Clinton Email Is Subject of Justice Dept. Inquiry

NYT tries to hide one interesting nuance: whether emails in Huma computer contained the set of emails deleted by Hillary from her.
Notable quotes:
"... The inspector general's office said that it was initiating the investigation in response to complaints from members of Congress and the public about actions by the F.B.I. and the Justice Department during the campaign that could be seen as politically motivated. ..."
"... Republicans, who made her use of a private email server a centerpiece of their campaign against Mrs. Clinton, attacked Mr. Comey after he decided there was not sufficient evidence she had mishandled classified information to prosecute her. ..."
"... In the end, the emails that the F.B.I. reviewed - which came up during an unrelated inquiry into Anthony D. Weiner, the estranged husband of a top Clinton aide, Huma Abedin - proved irrelevant to the investigation's outcome. ..."
"... Inspectors general have investigated F.B.I. directors before, but rarely. The most high-profile example was the investigation of William S. Sessions, who was fired by President Bill Clinton after an internal inquiry cited him for financial misconduct. In recent years, the inspector general has investigated accusations of wrongdoing by the F.B.I. involving some of its most sensitive operations, including a number of surveillance and counterterrorism programs. ..."
"... Mr. Horowitz said he would also investigate whether the Justice Department's top congressional liaison, Peter Kadzik, had improperly provided information to the Clinton campaign. A hacked email posted by WikiLeaks showed that Mr. Kadzik alerted the campaign about a coming congressional hearing that was likely to raise questions about Mrs. Clinton. ..."
"... Investigators will be helped in gathering evidence by a law that Congress passed just last month, which ensures that inspectors general across the government will have access to all relevant agency records in their reviews. ..."
"... Mr. Trump has not indicated whether he intends to keep Mr. Comey in his job. When he cleared Mrs. Clinton of criminal wrongdoing during the campaign, Mr. Trump accused him of being part of a rigged system. ..."
Jan 14, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Peter K. : January 13, 2017 at 06:17 AM

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/12/us/politics/james-comey-fbi-inspector-general-hillary-clinton.html

Comey Letter on Clinton Email Is Subject of Justice Dept. Inquiry

By ADAM GOLDMAN, ERIC LICHTBLAU and MATT APUZZO
JAN. 12, 2017

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department's inspector general said Thursday that he would open a broad investigation into how the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, handled the case over Hillary Clinton's emails, including his decision to discuss it at a news conference and to disclose 11 days before the election that he had new information that could lead him to reopen it.

The inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, will not look into the decision not to prosecute Mrs. Clinton or her aides. But he will review actions Mr. Comey took that Mrs. Clinton and many of her supporters believe cost her the election.

They are: the news conference in July at which he announced he was not indicting Mrs. Clinton but described her behavior as "extremely careless"; the letter to Congress in late October in which he said that newly discovered emails could potentially change the outcome of the F.B.I.'s investigation; and the letter three days before the election in which he said that he was closing it again.

The inspector general's office said that it was initiating the investigation in response to complaints from members of Congress and the public about actions by the F.B.I. and the Justice Department during the campaign that could be seen as politically motivated.

For Mr. Comey and the agency he heads, the Clinton investigation was politically fraught from the moment the F.B.I. received a referral in July 2015 to determine whether Mrs. Clinton and her aides had mishandled classified information. Senior F.B.I. officials believed there was never going to be a good outcome, since it put them in the middle of a bitterly partisan issue.

Whatever the decision on whether to charge Mrs. Clinton with a crime, Mr. Comey, a Republican former Justice Department official appointed by President Obama, was going to get hammered. And he was.

Republicans, who made her use of a private email server a centerpiece of their campaign against Mrs. Clinton, attacked Mr. Comey after he decided there was not sufficient evidence she had mishandled classified information to prosecute her.

The Clinton campaign believed the F.B.I. investigation was overblown and seriously damaged her chances to win the White House and resented Mr. Comey's comments about Mrs. Clinton at his news conference. But the campaign was particularly upset about Mr. Comey's two letters, which created a wave of damaging news stories at the end of the campaign, when Mrs. Clinton and her supporters thought they had put the email issue behind them.

In the end, the emails that the F.B.I. reviewed - which came up during an unrelated inquiry into Anthony D. Weiner, the estranged husband of a top Clinton aide, Huma Abedin - proved irrelevant to the investigation's outcome.

The Clinton campaign said Mr. Comey's actions quite likely caused a significant number of undecided voters to cast ballots for President-elect Donald J. Trump.

F.B.I. officials said Thursday that they welcomed the scrutiny. In a statement, Mr. Comey described Mr. Horowitz as "professional and independent" and promised to cooperate with his investigation. "I hope very much he is able to share his conclusions and observations with the public because everyone will benefit from thoughtful evaluation and transparency," Mr. Comey said.

Brian Fallon, the former press secretary for the Clinton campaign and the former top spokesman for the Justice Department, said the inspector general's investigation was long overdue.

"This is highly encouraging and to be expected, given Director Comey's drastic deviation from Justice Department protocol," he said. "A probe of this sort, however long it takes to conduct, is utterly necessary in order to take the first step to restore the F.B.I.'s reputation as a nonpartisan institution."

Mr. Horowitz has the authority to recommend a criminal investigation if he finds evidence of illegality, but there has been no suggestion that Mr. Comey's actions were unlawful. Rather, the question has been whether he acted inappropriately, showed bad judgment or violated Justice Department guidelines. It is not clear what the consequences would be for Mr. Comey if he was found to have done any of those things.

The Justice Department and the F.B.I. have a longstanding policy against discussing criminal investigations. Another Justice Department policy declares that politics should play no role in investigative decisions. Both Democratic and Republican administrations have interpreted that policy broadly to prohibit taking any steps that might even hint at an impression of partisanship.

Inspectors general have investigated F.B.I. directors before, but rarely. The most high-profile example was the investigation of William S. Sessions, who was fired by President Bill Clinton after an internal inquiry cited him for financial misconduct. In recent years, the inspector general has investigated accusations of wrongdoing by the F.B.I. involving some of its most sensitive operations, including a number of surveillance and counterterrorism programs.

As part of the review, the inspector general will examine other issues related to the email investigation that Republicans have raised. They include whether the deputy director of the F.B.I., Andrew G. McCabe, should have recused himself from any involvement in it.

In 2015, Mr. McCabe's wife ran for a State Senate seat in Virginia as a Democrat and accepted nearly $500,000 in political contributions from Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a key ally of the Clintons. Though Mr. McCabe did not assume his post until February 2016, months after his wife was defeated, critics both within the agency and outside of it felt that he should have recused himself.

The F.B.I. has said Mr. McCabe played no role in his wife's campaign. He also told his superiors she was running and sought ethics advice from F.B.I. officials.

Mr. Horowitz said he would also investigate whether the Justice Department's top congressional liaison, Peter Kadzik, had improperly provided information to the Clinton campaign. A hacked email posted by WikiLeaks showed that Mr. Kadzik alerted the campaign about a coming congressional hearing that was likely to raise questions about Mrs. Clinton.

Investigators will be helped in gathering evidence by a law that Congress passed just last month, which ensures that inspectors general across the government will have access to all relevant agency records in their reviews.

The law grew out of skirmishes between the F.B.I. and the Justice Department inspector general over attempts by the F.B.I. to keep grand jury material and other records off limits. The new law means Mr. Horowitz's investigators should have access to any records deemed relevant.

Mr. Trump has not indicated whether he intends to keep Mr. Comey in his job. When he cleared Mrs. Clinton of criminal wrongdoing during the campaign, Mr. Trump accused him of being part of a rigged system.

Although the president does not need cause to fire the F.B.I. director, a critical inspector general report could provide justification to do so if Mr. Trump is looking for some.

[Jan 12, 2017] I read all my email on via SSH on a shell server

Jan 12, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Matthew G. Saroff , January 12, 2017 at 2:56 pm

I read all my email on via SSH on a shell server.

If someone can hack my machine through a text window, they deserve to control my machine.

[Nov 21, 2016] Belgiums Dutroux Pedophile, Child Rape Affair A Road Map for Deep-State Criminality

Nov 20, 2016 | www.newnationalist.net
Strong, credible allegations of high-level criminal activity can bring down a government. When the government lacks an effective, fact-based defense, other techniques must be employed. The success of these techniques depends heavily upon a cooperative, controlled press and a mere token opposition party.

1. Dummy up . If it's not reported, if it's not news, it didn't happen.

2. Wax indignant . This is also known as the "how dare you" gambit.

3. Characterize the charges as "rumors" or, better yet, "wild rumors." If, in spite of the news blackout, the public is still able to learn about the suspicious facts, it can only be through "rumors."

4. Knock down straw men . Deal only with the weakest aspect of the weakest charges. Even better, create your own straw men. Make up wild rumors and give them lead play when you appear to debunk all the charges, real and fanciful alike.

5. Call the skeptics names like "conspiracy theorist," "nut," "ranter," "kook," "crackpot" and, of course, "rumor monger." You must then carefully avoid fair and open debate with any of the people you have thus maligned.

6. Impugn motives . Attempt to marginalize the critics by suggesting strongly that they are not really interested in the truth but are simply pursuing a partisan political agenda or are out to make money.

7. Invoke authority . Here the controlled press and the sham opposition can be very useful.

8. Dismiss the charges as "old news."

9. Come half-clean . This is also known as "confession and avoidance" or "taking the limited hang-out route." This way, you create the impression of candor and honesty while you admit only to relatively harmless, less-than-criminal "mistakes." This stratagem often requires the embrace of a fall-back position quite different from the one originally taken.

10. Characterize the crimes as impossibly complex and the truth as ultimately unknowable.

11. Reason backward , using the deductive method with a vengeance. With thoroughly rigorous deduction, troublesome evidence is irrelevant. For example: We have a completely free press. If they know of evidence that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) had prior knowledge of the Oklahoma City bombing they would have reported it. They haven't reported it, so there was no prior knowledge by the BATF. Another variation on this theme involves the likelihood of a conspiracy leaker and a press that would report it.

12. Require the skeptics to solve the crime completely.

13. Change the subject . This technique includes creating and/or reporting a distraction.

[Nov 14, 2016] Bernie Sanders Indicting Hillary Would Be An Outrage Beyond Belief

Nov 14, 2016 | www.zerohedge.com
by Submitted by Stefanie MacWilliams via PlanetFreeWill.com,

In his first post-election interview , Bernie Sanders has declared to should-be-disgraced Wolf Blitzer that Trump seeking to indict Hillary Clinton for her crimes would be "an outrage beyond belief".

When asked if President Obama should pardon Hillary Clinton, Sanders seems almost confused as to why a pardon would even be needed.

Blitzer notes that Ford pardoned Nixon before he could be charged, to which Bernie seemed again incredulous as to the comparison was even being made.

He goes on to state:

That a winning candidate would try to imprison the losing candidate – that's what dictatorships are about, that's what authoritarian countries are about. You do not imprison somebody you ran against because you have differences of opinion. The vast majority of the American people would find it unacceptable to even think about those things.

Either Senator Sanders is a drooling idiot, or he is being willfully obtuse.

No one wants to imprison Hillary Clinton because of her opinion.

They want to imprison Hillary Clinton because she has committed criminal actions that any other person lacking millions of dollars and hundreds of upper-echelon contacts would be imprisoned for.

Apparently, according to progressive hero Bernie Sanders, holding the elites to the same level of justice as the peons is undemocratic, authoritarian, and perhaps even dictatorial!

Enough with the damn emails?

Enough with any hope that the Democrats have retained a minute shred of credibility.

You can watch the full interview below:

[Nov 13, 2016] We were told confidently by Clinton surrogates like Krugman and DeLong that Brexit wouldnt happen again

By John Cassidy conviniently forget that Hillary was/is a neocon warmonger, perfectly cable of unleashing WWIII. Instead he pushes "Comey did it" bogeyman"...
Nov 13, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com

Peter K. : November 13, 2016 at 03:48 AM

EMichael and im1dc would rather have their head in the sand. We were told confidently by Clinton surrogates like Krugman and DeLong that Brexit wouldn't happen again.

http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/media-culpa-the-press-and-the-election-result

MEDIA CULPA? THE PRESS AND THE ELECTION RESULT

By John Cassidy , NOVEMBER 11, 2016

Since Tuesday night, there has been a lot of handwringing about how the media, with all its fancy analytics, failed to foresee Donald Trump's victory. The Times alone has published three articles on this theme, one of which ran under the headline "How Data Failed Us in Calling an Election." On social media, Trump supporters have been mercilessly haranguing the press for getting it wrong.

Clearly, this was a real issue. It's safe to say that most journalists, myself included, were surprised by Tuesday's outcome. That fact should be acknowledged. But journalists weren't the only ones who were shocked. As late as Tuesday evening, even a senior adviser to Trump was telling the press that "it will take a miracle for us to win."

It also shouldn't be forgotten that, in terms of the popular vote, Clinton didn't lose on Tuesday. As of 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, a tally by CNN showed that Hillary Clinton had received 60,617,062 votes, while Trump got 60,118,567. The margin in her favor-now at 498,495-is likely to grow as the remaining votes are counted in California. At the end of the day, Clinton may end up ahead by two per cent of the total votes cast. If the United States had a direct system of voting, Clinton would have been the one at the White House on Thursday meeting with President Obama. But, of course, Trump won the Electoral College. If the final count in Michigan remains in his favor, Trump will end up with three hundred and six Electoral College votes, to Clinton's two hundred and twenty-six.

Still, as journalists and commentators, we all knew the rules of the game: if Trump got to two hundred and seventy votes in the Electoral College, he'd be President. Why did so few observers predict he'd do it? Many Trump supporters insist it was East Coast insularity and ideological bias, and many in the media are now ready to believe that. To be sure, it's easy to get sucked into the media bubble. But there are also strong professional incentives for journalists to get things right. Why did that prove so difficult this year?

It wasn't because journalists weren't legging it to Michigan or Wisconsin or West Virginia. In this magazine alone, a number of writers-including Larissa MacFarquhar, Evan Osnos, George Packer, and George Saunders-published long, reported pieces about the Trump phenomenon in different parts of the country. Many other journalists spent a lot of time talking with Trump supporters. I'd point you to the work of ProPublica's Alec MacGillis and the photojournalist Chris Arnade, but they were just two among many. So many, in fact, that some Clinton supporters, such as Eric Boehlert, of Media Matters, regularly complained about it on social media.

To the extent that there was a failure, it was a failure of analysis, rather than of observation and reporting. And when you talk about how the media analyzed this election, you can't avoid the polls, the forecasting models, and the organizing frames-particularly demographics-that people used to interpret the incoming data.

It was clear from early in the race that Trump's electoral strategy was based on appealing to working-class whites, particularly in the Midwest. The question all along was whether, in the increasingly diverse America of 2016, there were enough alienated working-class whites to propel Trump to victory.

Some analysts did suggest that there might be. Immediately after the 2012 election, Sean Trende, of Real Clear Politics, pointed out that one of the main reasons for Mitt Romney's defeat was that millions of white voters stayed home. Earlier this year, during the Republican primaries, Trende returned to the same theme, writing, "The candidate who actually fits the profile of a 'missing white voter' candidate is Donald Trump."

The Times' Nate Cohn was another who took Trump's strategy seriously. In June, pointing to a new analysis of Census Bureau data and voter-registration files, Cohn wrote, "a growing body of evidence suggests that there is still a path, albeit a narrow one, for Mr. Trump to win without gains among nonwhite voters." As recently as Sunday, Cohn repeated this point, noting that Trump's "strength among the white working class gives him a real chance at victory, a possibility that many discounted as recently as the summer."

Among analysts and political demographers, however, the near-consensus of opinion was that Trump wouldn't be able to turn back history. Back in March, I interviewed Ruy Teixeira, the co-author of an influential 2004 book, "The Emerging Democratic Majority," which highlighted the growing number of minority voters across the country, particularly Hispanics. Drawing on his latest data, Teixeira, who is a senior fellow at the Century Foundation and the Center for American Progress, offered some estimates of how many more white working-class voters Trump would need to turn out to flip states like Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin. "It's not crazy," he said. "But I think it would be very hard to pull off."

Trump managed it, though. He enjoyed a thirty-nine-point advantage among whites without college degrees, according to the network exit poll, compared to the twenty-six-point advantage Romney saw in 2012. "What totally tanked the Democrats was the massive shift in the white non-college vote against them, particularly in some of the swing states," Teixeira told me by telephone on Thursday. "And that by itself is really enough to explain the outcome."

In the lead-up to the election, the possibility of Clinton winning the popular vote while losing the Electoral College was well understood but, in hindsight, not taken seriously enough. In mid-September, David Wasserman, an analyst at the Cook Political Report, laid out a scenario in which turnout among white non-college voters surged and turnout among some parts of the Democratic coalition, particularly African-Americans, fell. "Clinton would carry the popular vote by 1.5 percentage points," Wasserman wrote. "However, Trump would win the Electoral College with 280 votes by holding all 24 Romney states and flipping Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa and Maine's 2nd Congressional District."

In the days and weeks leading up to the election, FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver also considered the possibility of Clinton winning the popular vote and losing the election. But he, Wasserman, and others who looked at the matter believed this was an unlikely outcome. On Tuesday, the FiveThirtyEight forecasting model estimated that the probability of such a scenario happening was about one in ten.

There was a straightforward reason for all the skepticism about Trump's chances: when you looked at the state-level polling, it looked like Clinton's "blue wall" was holding. Take Wisconsin, which turned out to be a state that Trump won. The Huffington Post's polling database lists the results of more than thirty polls that were taken in the Badger State since June: Trump didn't lead in any of them. Three of the final four surveys showed Clinton ahead by six points or more, and the Huffpollster poll average put her lead at 6.3 percentage points. Trump carried the state by one point. In other key states, the pattern was similar. The final Huffington Post poll averages showed Trump losing by nearly six points in Michigan, and by four points in Pennsylvania.

In a public statement issued on Wednesday, the American Association for Public Opinion Research said bluntly, "The polls clearly got it wrong this time." The organization announced that it had already put together a panel of "survey research and election polling experts" tasked with finding some answers. Several possible explanations have already been floated.

First, it's possible there was a late swing to Trump among undecided voters, which the state polls, in particular, failed to pick up. Another possibility is that some Trump voters didn't tell the pollsters about their preferences-the "shy Trump supporter" hypothesis.

A third theory, which I suspect may be the right one, is that a lot of Trump voters refused to answer the pollsters' calls in the first place, because they regarded them as part of the same media-political establishment that Trump was out railing against on the campaign trail. Something like this appears to have happened in Britain earlier this year, during the run-up to the Brexit referendum. Turnout wound up being considerably higher than expected among lower-income voters in the north of England, particularly elderly ones, and that swung the result.

Whatever went wrong with the polls in this country, they inevitably colored perceptions. "The reason it surprised me was because, like everyone else, I was taken in by those pesky polls," Teixeira told me. "It didn't look like, by and large, that he was running up as big a margin as he needed among non-college whites."

The prediction models didn't help things. On Tuesday morning, FiveThirtyEight's "polls-only" prediction model put the probability of Clinton winning the presidency at 71.4 per cent. And that figure was perhaps the most conservative one. The Times' Upshot model said Clinton had an eighty-five per cent chance of winning, the Huffington Post's figure was ninety-eight per cent, and the Princeton Election Consortium's estimate was ninety-nine per cent.

These numbers had a big influence on how many people, including journalists and political professionals, looked at the election. Plowing through all the new polls, or even keeping up with all the state and national poll averages, can be a time-consuming process. It's much easier to click on the latest update from the model of your choice. When you see it registering the chances of the election going a certain way at ninety per cent, or ninety-five per cent, it's easy to dismiss the other outcome as a live possibility-particularly if you haven't been schooled in how to think in probabilistic terms, which many people haven't.

The problem with models is that they rely so much on the polls. Essentially, they aggregate poll numbers and use some simulation software to covert them into unidimensional probabilistic forecasts. The details are complicated, and each model is different, but the bottom line is straightforward: when the polls are fairly accurate-as they were in 2008 and 2012-the models look good. When the polls are off, so are the models.

Silver, to his credit, pointed this out numerous times before the election. His model also allowed for the possibility that errors in the state polls were likely to be correlated-i.e., if the polls in Wisconsin got it wrong, then most likely the Michigan polls would get it wrong, too. This was a big reason why FiveThirtyEight's model consistently gave Trump a better chance of winning than other models did. But the fact remains that FiveThirtyEight, like almost everyone else, got the result wrong.

I got it wrong, too. Unlike in 2012, I didn't make any explicit predictions this year. But based on the polls and poll averages-I didn't look at the models much-I largely accepted the conventional wisdom that Clinton was running ahead of Trump and had an enduring advantage in the Electoral College. In mid-October, after the "Access Hollywood" tape emerged, I suggested that Trump was done.

Clearly, he wasn't. In retrospect, the F.B.I. Director James Comey's intervention ten days before the election-telling Congress that his agency was taking another look at e-mails related to Clinton's private server-may have proved decisive. The news seems to have shifted the national polls against Clinton by at least a couple of points, and some of the state polls-in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, and other places-also moved sharply in Trump's direction. Without any doubt, it energized Republicans and demoralized Democrats.

One thing we know for sure, however, is that in mid-October, even some of the indicators that the Trump campaign relied on were sending out alarm signals. "Flash back three weeks, to October 18," Bloomberg News's Joshua Green and Sasha Issenberg reported on Thursday. "The Trump campaign's internal election simulator, the 'Battleground Optimizer Path to Victory,' showed Trump with a 7.8 percent chance of winning. That's because his own model had him trailing in most of the states that would decide the election, including the pivotal state of Florida."

Of course, neither the Battleground Optimizer Path to Victory software nor I knew that fate, in the form of Comey, was about to take a hand.

[Nov 11, 2016] Abedin and her husband had money, or a source of income, above beyond what their salaries would indicate. The latter could be the former.

Notable quotes:
"... Abedin had top secret information on a laptop in her home that she never disclosed to FBI interviwers. She and her husband had money, or a source of income, above & beyond what their salaries would indicate. The latter could be the former. ..."
"... If military intelligence folk gave Trump his insider knowledge about Weiner's laptop, maybe they suspected the source of leaking intelligence. Dig? ..."
Nov 11, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
JSM November 10, 2016 at 3:51 pm

Willing to go out on a speculative limb. Some people want answers like Giuliani, and not because they're interested, as Holder shrilly claimed, in 'jail[ing] political opponents.'

Abedin had top secret information on a laptop in her home that she never disclosed to FBI interviwers. She and her husband had money, or a source of income, above & beyond what their salaries would indicate. The latter could be the former.

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/01/huma-abedin-hillary-clinton-adviser

If military intelligence folk gave Trump his insider knowledge about Weiner's laptop, maybe they suspected the source of leaking intelligence. Dig?

[Nov 07, 2016] Mike Pence Responds to FBI Mishandling Classified Information Is a Crime

I think email sandals essentially zeroed Hillary changes to win any traditional Republican states... But we will know for sure in two days. It also exposed such a level of incompetence by Hillary herself and her close entourage that is really staggering even after Bush II administration.
Notable quotes:
"... Pence was not having it. "Ladies and gentlemen, mishandling classified information is a crime." He reminded the audience that "Hillary Clinton said there's nothing marked classified on her emails, sent or received, and the FBI director told to Congress, that's not true." ..."
"... Separate emails also indicated that a top State Department official had attempted to offer the FBI quid pro quo if the bureau agreed to let Clinton alter the classified status of the documents found on her private server. ..."
www.breitbart.com

Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence tells New Hampshire residents that "mishandling classified information is a crime" and is discussing Hillary Clinton's ethical lapses.

During a rally in North Carolina on Sunday, Pence taled about FBI Director James Comey, shortly after news broke that Comey issued a written that the bureau had "not changed" its conclusions that Clinton should not face indictment over her raucous email scandal.

Speaking at the Hickory Regional Airport, Pence said, "You have a four-star general that might get five years in prison, before the end of this year, for mishandling classified information," of retired Gen. James Cartwright who was charged with lying to the FBI about discussing classified information with reporters about Iran's nuclear program, during a probe.

Pence continued, "you have a sailor that just went to jail for taking a half-a-dozen photographs in a classified area of a nuclear submarine. So let me say this, if only for their decades of self-dealing with the politics of personal enrichment, mishandling classified information and compromising our national security, we must ensure that Hillary Clinton is never elected president of the United States of America."

... ... ...

Comey wrote, "Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton."

Pence was not having it. "Ladies and gentlemen, mishandling classified information is a crime." He reminded the audience that "Hillary Clinton said there's nothing marked classified on her emails, sent or received, and the FBI director told to Congress, that's not true."

He also pointed out that Clinton said she did not email any classified information to anyone. "And the head of the FBI told to Congress, there was classified information that was emailed."

Separate emails also indicated that a top State Department official had attempted to offer the FBI quid pro quo if the bureau agreed to let Clinton alter the classified status of the documents found on her private server.

RNC chairman Reince Priebus issued a statement to Breitbart News, following Comey's announcement, making it clear that the FBI's public corruption investigation of the Clinton Foundation - which has raised billions of dollars - is ongoing:

The FBI's findings from its criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton's secret email server were a damning and unprecedented indictment of her judgment. The FBI found evidence Clinton broke the law, that she placed highly classified national security information at risk and repeatedly lied to the American people about her reckless conduct. None of this changes the fact that the FBI continues to investigate the Clinton Foundation for corruption involving her tenure as secretary of state. Hillary Clinton should never be president.


[Nov 07, 2016] Former House Intelligence Chairman Im 100 Percent Sure Hillarys Server Was Hacked

It is unclear whether it was actually hacked, but the server was so unprofessionally managed that hacking it is within the reach of medium qualification hacker. It violates the USA guidelines for setting government mail server in all major areas. The only thing that could saved it from hacking is that it looked very much as honeypot. On state level hacking there are no idiots or script kiddies. They would never attack the server directly. They would probably go first after 'no so bright" Bryan Paglian home network, or, better, after home network of completely clueless in computer security Huma Abedin. There are many ways to skin the cat, and after the USA developed Flame and Stixnet the gloves went off. At least for Iranians, who were targeted by those cyber attacks.
Notable quotes:
"... he is "100 percent confident" that Clinton's secret private email server was hacked by foreign enemies. ..."
"... Clinton could face espionage charges if FBI investigators find that she permitted national defense information to be "lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed" through "gross negligence," which includes dishonesty. ..."
"... Wouldn't we love to have in real time, the emails and the electronic communications of the Russian foreign minister, the Iranian foreign minister, and the Chinese? They're going to use that to exploit their advantage in their global strategy. That is what was going on. Our enemies were getting information on our national security issues, our economic security issues, in real time to plan their strategy for how they will thwart American interest. ..."
"... So what did we lose? Did she identify some of our sources? Some of the people that were working for the United States getting information. If we did, then we've got to go back and get those people out of the field. People might have died because of the information that she left and put onto her server. ..."