Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Reach Your Own Conclusion

After James B. Comey, Jr. (above right) – FBI Director – spent hours testifying before a Senate judiciary committee hearing covering questions that included a major inquiry over possible connections between Russian puppet-masters and the Trump political campaign, he was fired by the President. The discharge the letter, provided below (along with the underlying memoranda and an additional dismissal letter from the Attorney General, all found in the May 10th New York Times), went so far specifically to reference that Russian investigation, which – so far – has not led to any direct, publicly-disclosed evidence of Trump’s personal complicity, despite the rather clear connection with his now-fired national security advisor, Michael Flynn.
But wait, there’s more: “Days before he was fired, James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, asked the Justice Department for a significant increase in money and personnel for the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election, according to three congressional officials who were briefed on his request.
“Mr. Comey asked for the resources last week from Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who wrote the Justice Department’s memo that was used to justify the firing of Mr. Comey this week, the officials said.” NY Times. Was Comey’s May 9th firing merely a coincidence?
“White House press secretary Sean Spicer reportedly hid behind bushes on the White House grounds for several minutes Tuesday [10/9] evening, as staffers sought to respond to the frenzy of media questions over President Donald Trump's abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey…
“Spicer eventually spoke with reporters for roughly 10 minutes, reportedly standing in the dark between two hedges as he answered and dodged various questions on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's role in the probe into Comey, the timing of Comey's firing, and the grand-jury subpoenas that were reportedly issued in an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.”, May 10th. Reports from inside the Trump White House suggest that top advisors did not think the Comey firing would remain big news for very long. Really?
“Trump also met with Russian [Foreign Minister] Sergey Lavrov [and the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak] on Wednesday [5/10] to discuss Syria and other foreign policy issues. The meeting was closed to all U.S. media, but Russian photographers from the state-run TASS of Russia were reportedly allowed in and present.” Interesting coincidence? Bad timing or “who cares?”
Some pretty important people, like Republican Senator John McCain (along with the entire leadership of the Democratic Party) are calling for an independent investigation into that Russian connection Mr. Trump is seeking to avoid: “I have long called for a special congressional committee to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The president’s decision to remove the FBI director only confirms the need and the urgency of such a committee,” McCain said in a statement to the press.
Indeed, the actual firing of the head of the agency, which was once thought of as an independent, non-partisan governmental police force, has drawn some very nasty reactions from many policy experts, including these I pulled from The Cipher Brief (May 10th):
General Michael Hayden, former NSA and CIA Director: “I’m very surprised and stunned as anyone. And I was puzzled by the public explanation of the firing. The explanation was what he did last summer with regard to the Hillary Clinton email investigation. If that was really the cause, the time to release him would have been in January during the transition. So I’m puzzled why we’re doing this now. The thought I had is that Comey is his own man - his critics would say to a fault.  Maybe there was some fear that—like he did last summer, acting independent of the Attorney General—there was fear from the Administration that he might do the same thing with regard to the Russia investigation…
“I have already got an email from a foreign friend, asking me what’s going on: ‘It does seem like your institutions are melting down.’ That’s a lone email, but he’s a very astute observer… [So] far, in 110 days, we have fired the National Security Advisor, the Acting Attorney General, and the Director of the FBI.” 

James Jeffrey, former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq and Turkey: This action will appear and will be perceived by FBI as an order from on-high to deep-six any investigation. As we have seen in the last few days of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn revelations, there is likely really incriminating information on the broader campaign—not just Flynn, but possibly up to Donald Trump. This is a Watergate moment!... [A] blatant attempt to undercut rule of law, the mother of democracies.”
Michael Leiter, former Director, National Counter Intelligence Center: “Like most, if not all, I’m in shock. Jim Comey has been a great public servant, and this is a sad way for his public service to come to a close. I certainly didn’t agree with all that Jim did over the past year, but I also appreciate how tough his job was.  
“Much more importantly, I fear that his firing—in the midst of near constant partisan battles and a hugely important investigation into Russian involvement in our election—will undermine faith in the FBI and its critical work. Ensuring that our national security and law enforcement professionals can operate in a non-partisan way, with the trust and faith of the American people, is one of the most vital aspects of our democracy. We are, based on all that has gone on over the past year and with this firing, entering very treacherous waters.” 
But to the man in charge of the Senate, the Comey firing was, well, not relevant to amping-up the deep-dive into that Russian connection. “President Donald Trump’s oddly timed decision to fire James Comey from the FBI hasn’t seemed to faze Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said he sees no need for a special prosecutor or independent commission to review Russia’s influence in the 2016 election.”, May 10th. Like Trump, he believes pursuing that issue further is neither necessary nor productive. Sorry John McCain, but your party does not seem to want to dig deeper.
Is this a Watergate moment? Is Donald Trump, with the assistance of his partisan appointees in the Department of Justice, trying to cover up a deeper, darker secret? A “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” possibility of that direct and unholy connection with Russia and its political masters… or simply a discharge of an F.B.I. director based on his failings against former political rival, Hillary Clinton, and her notorious email debacle? Even assuming justification for that firing, what do you think about the timing? What would like to see happen now?
I’m Peter Dekom, and you tell me.

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