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Comey Confirms Trump Investigation During Intelligence Committee Hearing

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Comey Confirms Trump Investigation During Intelligence Committee Hearing

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Comey testifies on Trump investigation

From his first tweeted accusation of “wiretapping,” Donald Trump has thrown up a screen of chaff to obscure what he and his cronies seem to fear most: a thorough, transparent investigation of the multiple connections between the Kremlin and his presidential campaign. Self-destructive as his ploy was, he succeeded in distracting attention from the deeply troubling questions that surround his election.

But at yesterday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing, FBI director James Comey and NSA director Mike Rogers finally disposed of that phony “tapp” claim, in all its permutations (including the British variation he heard on Fox News). That topic merits no further discussion except whether and how the president should be sanctioned for this offensive prevarication.

While Republicans on the committee didn’t endorse Trump’s wiretapping fantasy, they attempted to spin up a slightly different sideshow, demanding prosecution of the leaks that exposed Michael Flynn’s contacts with the Russian ambassador. Of course those same leaks eventually revealed that as national security adviser, Flynn lied about his Russian contacts, leading to his dismissal.

Now we know that Flynn was also acting as the paid agent of another foreign government while he advised Trump. Yet for reasons only they can explain, “conservatives” like Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) seem more disturbed by the leaks than what those leaks disclosed about the former national security adviser. Of course, Gowdy’s Benghazi committee leaked profusely and lawlessly whenever that served his party’s political aims, without protest from a single Republican. So their current indignation about leaking is bogus and deserves no response except laughter. The same can be said for White House press secretary Sean Spicer, whose effort to shift attention away from the Trump investigation to “wiretaps” and then to “leaks” at his press briefing was so obvious, so clumsy — and so instructive.

When all the chaff is blown away, what remains is a simple fact that should arouse this endangered republic. Since last summer, the President of the United States and several of his disreputable associates have been embroiled in an ongoing investigation of crimes against the American political system by a foreign adversary. During the hearing, Comey deflected almost every specific question about the case, but what he confirmed was stunning. It was not “fake news,” but an announcement by the nation’s top law enforcement official that Trump’s presidency, only eight weeks old, is in deep peril.

Much as the White House continues to insist there is “no evidence” of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, the circumstantial evidence has been piling up for months: the abruptly dismissed, Kremlin-linked campaign manager Paul Manafort (whose role Spicer comically attempted to minimize); the contacts between Trump dirty trickster Roger Stone, Wikileaks, and Guccifer 2.0, the “cutouts” used by the Russians to veil their attacks on the Democrats; the various contacts between the Russians and Trump advisers, including Flynn, Carter Page, and Jeff Sessions, which they attempted to conceal; and the curious shaping of the Republican platform on Ukraine to mollify Vladimir Putin.

After reciting some of the troubling facts, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the committee’s ranking Democrat, observed that the likelihood of all these connections being merely coincidental is extremely small. Former White House counsel John Dean, whose 1973 testimony helped to break Nixon’s Watergate defense, went further, saying that he sees the Trump White House in a familiar “cover-up mode.”

Unfortunately, the conduct of the Republicans at Monday’s hearing inspired no confidence in their ability to complete the Trump investigation. Not only do most of them lack the necessary integrity and courage, but their leader doesn’t seem sufficiently engaged to master the material. Devin Nunes, the California Republican who chairs the committee, told David Corn of Mother Jones that he has no idea who Roger Stone and Carter Page are, even at this late date. He has been too busy blathering about leaks to learn the basic facts about the probe he is supposed to oversee.

That leaves America’s fate in the hands of Comey, whose stumbling and biased performance during the election was underlined by his own testimony — and the bureau he leads, which remains disgraced by a partisan clique that misused law enforcement for political purposes last year. We must hope that the FBI director has realized he made a terrible mistake and that he can muster honest agents to complete this historic investigation. It is the only way he can redeem himself, his agency, and his country.

IMAGE: FBI Director James Comey testifies on Capitol Hill, March 1, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

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Joe Conason

A highly experienced journalist, author and editor, Joe Conason is the editor-in-chief of The National Memo, founded in July 2011. He was formerly the executive editor of the New York Observer, where he wrote a popular political column for many years. His columns are distributed by Creators Syndicate and his reporting and writing have appeared in many publications around the world, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Nation, and Harpers.

Since November 2006, he has served as editor of The Investigative Fund, a nonprofit journalism center, where he has assigned and edited dozens of award-winning articles and broadcasts. He is also the author of two New York Times bestselling books, The Hunting of the President (St. Martins Press, 2000) and Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth (St. Martins Press, 2003).

Currently he is working on a new book about former President Bill Clinton's life and work since leaving the White House in 2001. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, including MSNBC's Morning Joe, and lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

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40 Comments

  1. I of John March 21, 2017

    The GOP may try to ignore this but the shear weight of this is starting to become too big to wash away.

    Reply
    1. Gerry Francis March 21, 2017

      So true, but they wouldn’t even hold hearings for President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court even though it was their job. Seems as though they feel above the law and will do whatever they want no matter the damage they cause along the way to both their party and this (already) great country.

  2. Dominick Vila March 21, 2017

    Trump may survive the damage caused by his infamous tweet, even after the unambiguous condemnation inflicted on him yesterday by two intelligence professionals whose demeanor, competence, and pragmatism demonstrated the difference between the actions and statements of an apprentice to President, and mature – patriotic – individuals. In addition to settling, once and for all, that there is no basis for Trump’s allegation of wiretapping, in all its forms, real or imaginary, Directors Comey and Rogers also acknowledged that an investigation is ongoing into the ties of several campaign, and now staff members of the Trump Administration. Regardless of whether or not their business or professional dealings with the Russians amount to a crime, Trump’s repeated praise of Vladimir Putin, his encouragement to spy on us and share their findings with the American people, and by default the world, the close ties of so many Trump associates with the Kremlin, and the fact that so many pro-Russian individuals are now working in the White House is disturbing, to say the least. Trump’s credibility, the credibility of his associates, and the efforts by congressional Republicans to change the discussion from the bizarre claims made by an immature and irresponsible U.S. President, and the overt efforts made by an adversary of the USA to disrupt or influence our electoral process, to who had the audacity of leaking pertinent information to the media and the public, is likely to backfire on them. Not because there is no merit in protecting classified information, and doing everything possible to prevent leaks, but because the matters that are being discussed are so serious that the leak, which could have been done by WH operatives, seems almost trivial.
    Donald Trump, because of his narcissistic tendencies, arrogance, immaturity, incompetence, and eagerness to be on the spotlight, caused so much damage to himself and the GOP, that I would not be surprised if the balance of power shifts back to the Democrats in 2018 and 2020, at a time when everything seemed lost to many of us.

    Reply
    1. plc97477 March 21, 2017

      I think that if the repugs don’t step up and take care of business they are going to hurt their brand and their ability to win elections for years.

      1. Jan March 21, 2017

        One can only hope that is the consequence of their inaction. I would be happy enough to never see another Republican president or Republican majority in my lifetime….

      2. Virginiarhansen March 22, 2017

        Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !mj552d:
        On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
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      3. Jmz Nesky March 22, 2017

        Being threatened with their jobs unless they vote for ACA’s destruction ISN’T taking care of b’ness and contrary to Trump’s vindictiveness, any republican who has fought against Trumpcare will be favorites in 2018 if they stick to their guns.. If they value their jobs over their constituents and goose step in line it will be their waterloo just like the ones who salivate for that final win..

    2. stcroixcarp March 21, 2017

      I hope you are right.

    3. Gerry Francis March 21, 2017

      Hope you’re right – but I think he’ll fire both of them.

      1. Dominick Vila March 21, 2017

        He can’t fire the Director of the FBI on the basis that he is being investigated by the FBI.

        1. Gerry Francis March 21, 2017

          I think he kept him because of what he told Congress 3 weeks before the election.

          1. Budjob March 21, 2017

            That and the fact he is a republican!

    4. sigrid28 March 21, 2017

      I’m of two minds about this post: Do we just let Trump’s disruptive presidency run its course and take the GOP down with it in the 2018 and 2020 elections? Or are there some threats posed by the Trump administration that could be so destructive on a worldwide scale that waiting constitutes abdicating responsibility? Can the U.S. sustain mounting a military rebuke to North Korea? How long will our savvy NATO allies ignore Tillerson’s clumsy insults, like his decision to attend to his BFF Putin rather than honoring a meeting of his NATO colleagues? undermining the effectiveness of the Department of State and

      1. Dominick Vila March 21, 2017

        I think our position should be driven by the severity of the actions or circumstances that exist in each individual case, rather a blanket strategy to oppose anything proposed by Trump and Republican members of Congress. Doing the latter would turn Democrats into disciples of the McConnell doctrine. That is, reject everything the incumbent President proposes to ensure he is a one-term President. We can do better than that.

        1. sigrid28 March 21, 2017

          We can do better than that. But Trump and his cronies seem determined to defy the kind of politesse to which you refer, and they throw up their opposition to it at ever turn and at every opportunity. I’ll give one example: Refusing to read Democrats into the replacement plan for the ACA. Dems come up against this dilemma soon in the confirmation vote over Trump’s choice to take a place on the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuck. Watching the hearing today (part of it, anyway), Dems challenged him astutely and elegantly, and he responded in kind, deftly explaining when their arguments prevailed and pointing out the points of agreement where applicable. It was impressive. At the same time, Trump was acting like a buffoon and threatening Republicans who didn’t fall in line with Trumpcare with “being primaried.” Spicer was once again a total embarrassment during today’s press conference. They seem to be digging their own graves in terms of winning enough votes to get him elected for a second term.

      2. Jmz Nesky March 22, 2017

        The biggest threat is the longer Trump remains unscathed in office the sooner the larger masses forget his treachery and that’s on both sides. It’s happened many times before and the manipulators and their crooked mouth pieces know exactly how to work the system and the masses.

        1. sigrid28 March 22, 2017

          I know what you mean. This morning I caught up with an eye-opening piece in xxxx about Trump’s Winter White House, Mar a Lago, and Palm Beach, Florida. According to the article, Palm Beach, always an enclave of the hyper-rich, is now becoming a year-round billionaire hub with Trump at its center. Wherever Trump goes he is surrounded by his cronies in the top 1%-of-1%. Whatever he does, benefits them principally but advances Americans who are not billionaires only incidentally. The comment section is especially interesting. One post described Palm Beach as a little pendant hung on the neck of the pig that is the rest of Florida, where the poor and the working classes, even the middle class, stagnate. Florida is a microcosm of what Trump would like to do to all of the United States.

    5. FT66 March 21, 2017

      Trump lied in his tweet where he accused Pres. Obama ordered to wiretap his Tower during his campaign in 2016. Thats quite wrong and a BIG lie. It was from 2011 to 2013 when Trump harbored 30 Mafia Russians at his Tower and they were busy with money laundering from Russia and Cyprus to US. FBI did their job through the legal procedures, apprehended all except the ringleader who is still at large up to now. It is a shame and very annoying to see how Trump twisted the whole story in his tweet he sent out two weeks ago. This man is a really CROOK.

      1. latebloomingrandma March 21, 2017

        That’s why he accuses everyone else. He thinks everyone is just like him. Crooked. He would not recognize honesty.

  3. Mama Bear March 21, 2017

    My overwhelming feeling is….so what? So he’s an unhinged idiot who is most likely in early mid-stage dementia and completely inept. So what? With a minority in power we are not in the driver’s seat and the Repubs, equally inept seem very good at looking the other way. So…..nothing will come it this unless he is indicted for a crime. And isn’t POTUS immune?

    Reply
    1. Theodora30 March 21, 2017

      No, he is not immune. Just ask Nixon and Clinton.

      1. Mama Bear March 21, 2017

        not immune from impeachment but from indictment. An impeachment does not necessarily change anything. In answer to “can a sitting president be arrested?”
        “Technically, no. If the president commits a crime he will be charged. If he is convicted, he’ll be impeached and the vice president will take office. From there, the president will be tried again, this time he will get a sentencing with it. While in office the President has a security detail called the Secret Service that isolates a President from ANY threat that may come their way. If any law enforcement official dared to approach them, they could easily keep him safe from the lawman and any legal action he may want to take against the president”.

        1. Eleanore Whitaker March 21, 2017

          MB…My thoughts too. I want Trump to go to court. Something the Weasel in Chief has NEVER had to do. All those slaps on his wrists just allowed him to go right back to his dirty DEALS without so much as a wrinkle of his brow.

          1. Mama Bear March 21, 2017

            Grandma’ Bear always said…be careful what you wish for as you just might get it. Humpty Trumpty wanted the fame of being POTUS – hopefully it will be what takes him down.

          2. Eleanore Whitaker March 21, 2017

            Trump’s character is self destructive. This usually happens to men like him when they have had excess in the most obscene limitlessness.

            Trump will always take credit when it is “good.” He NEVER takes accountability when it is “bad.” This is the hallmark of a severely damaged mental state of mind.

            As most individuals age, they gain a certain measure of wisdom, born of experience each new day brings. Trump is languishing somewhere between the netherworld he prefers to live in like he does that Golden Penthouse with massive, limitless excess and reality the rest of us must deal with every day.

            Trump deals. He doesn’t negotiate. Trump points and delegates the dirty work he knows will keep him out of court. How on earth his lackies do not see the dimension in which he keeps them and why it is more dangerous to them than it will ever be to him, is beyond comprehension. But then, who expects men and women drawn like a magnet to their own kind to have any sense of comprehension?

          3. sigrid28 March 21, 2017

            In this respect, it is hopeful that there are (if the report I read is accurate) over 1,000 lawsuits against Trump (possibly also his businesses) still unresolved.

          4. Jmz Nesky March 22, 2017

            Yeah, as his high paid mouth pieces keeps getting them postponed..

          5. Jmz Nesky March 22, 2017

            Similar to his corporate owner buddies who gets fined 10 million dollars for dangerous products that they netted 100 billion dollars on.

        2. Jmz Nesky March 22, 2017

          No wonder he hired his own gorillas (paid with taxpayer money of course).

      2. Eleanore Whitaker March 21, 2017

        True. Nixon got nailed not for actually breaking into the WaterGate Hotel but for lying that he didn’t know about it. There were tapes of his own words Nixon tried to erase and got nailed for destruction of government records after he was warned not to do that by then AG, Archibald Cox. Nixon fired Cox and then tried to fire Cox’s replacement. Such is the skanky tactics Republican men are willing to stoop to.

        No shame, no sense of accountability or responsibility. Just keep Trump in office until the billionaires finish ALL of their international BIG business deals.

        That word, “DEAL” is the only word in Trump’s vocabulary.

        1. Jmz Nesky March 22, 2017

          And here this nut case is threatening his own party favors with vile get backs if the ones who kept protesting doesn’t fall in line this Thursday to win the majority on the dreaded Obamacare that their predecessors failed to block like all the other major promises Obama was stymied with because of this jealous party.

    1. Eleanore Whitaker March 21, 2017

      And the monster of the Putin Politburo strikes again. Don’t you Ruskies EVER give it up? Your boy is going down. Any day now Putzy your leader and adored hero is about to figure a way out of the mess Baron von Trumpenshit got Putzy into. Just don’t think you can weasel your way onto our unemployment lines.

      1. InformedVoter March 21, 2017

        Still and foul-mouthed as ever and still suffering from penis envy. Director Comey did not slam dunk Gowdy, in fact, Gowdy came away with points won and poor Comey on the verge of resigning.
        I love how you hypocrites swamp around. After the humiliating defeat for HilLIARy, you guys wanted nothing to do with Comey and wanted his head on a platter. Now you view him as your lone chance to get to President Trump, but that will not happen.
        Time for you to go to one of those safe rooms your liberal colleges set up so you would have a place to have a good cry.
        That’s all you’re going to end up with, a good cry.

    2. FT66 March 21, 2017

      Is your head OK? What about going for check up? You might be sick without knowing you are.

    3. ⚡️ I Am Helpy ⚡️ March 21, 2017

      Haha yeah it was a Democrat who claimed that Obama had put a “wire tapp” on him. Oh wait, it was the unpopular failure of a Republican President.

      Anyway, sorry to hear about the massive brain damage you sustained, but to be fair you’re just another racist traitor.

  4. Eleanore Whitaker March 21, 2017

    So, I listened intently to the Congressional Comedy Hour yesterday. There he was, the spawn of Roy Cohn himself, Trey Gowdy, firing away with that yall all drawl all…trying to make the case that there WAS surveillance in Trump Tower even though both US and Brit Intel all say it’s BS. Not to stop Gowdy though. He was maniacally inclined to insist that his Koch Gospel somehow lob Democrats for Trump’s insane Tweets. Gowdy inferred that the FBI illegally surveilled Americans. Comey fired back that Americans who get in bed with Russians are surveilled for the sake of OUR national security. Slam Dunk No. 1.

    Then? There was that nutbagger, Peter King, still in the Republican ring fighting like hell to make the case that “leaks” make Trump look bad. The NSA member quickly reminded King that Trump surrounds himself with “questionable” people that may have been involved with the leaking of the DNC emails through Wikileaks.

    The more these Republicans try to save Trump ass, the guiltier they all look. Seems like there is more than just Manafort, Lewandowski, Stone and Trump himself involved in this mess.

    When the Republicans tried to make the case that the Russian hacking didn’t affect the outcome of the election, Schiff reminded them that the only other candidate who could possibly benefit from the Russian hacking was TRUMP.

    Reply
  5. yabbed March 21, 2017

    We have never seen such corruption and self dealing in the presidency. Donald Trump is as corrupt as they come. He is using the presidency to fill his family’s pockets, nothing more, and he sold America to Russia to get himself in this lucrative position.

    Reply
    1. sigrid28 March 21, 2017

      Now his daughter as well as his son-in-law has an office of her own in the West Wing.

  6. Jmz Nesky March 22, 2017

    John Dean, whose 1973 testimony helped to break Nixon’s Watergate defense, went further, saying that he sees the Trump White House in a familiar “cover-up mode.”

    Indeed… Which makes Nixon seem a bit less of a crook than the current Liar-in-Chief.. Not necessarily being more of a crook but because, unlike Tricky Dickie, this stooge doesn’t deny his crookedness.

    Reply

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