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Ripping Down Trump’s Phony ’Treason’ Conspiracy

History matters, especially when an unscrupulous president constantly seeks to revise and distort fundamental facts as events unfold. This week, a courageous law enforcement official stepped forward to correct the record at last, and under oath.

Over the past two years, as the Russia and Ukraine investigations unfolded, President Donald Trump has tried repeatedly to turn the expanding indictment of his own criminal misconduct into a case against his political adversaries. "Treason!" he tweets every few days, punctuating his outlandish claim that the investigations of sleazy and potentially unlawful behavior by him, members of his family, his campaign aides and his appointees represented a nefarious "deep state" conspiracy.

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Arizona GOP Rep. Demands Treason Charges Against Comey And Rosenstein

Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.

With the long-anticipated release of House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes’ memo on purported FBI abuses, the overwhelming consensus is that it is a complete bust.

Even House Speaker Paul Ryan appears to have given up on getting any political mileage from it, with his admission that the Democratic memo refuting Nunes should be released too.

“The full-throated adoption of this illegal misconduct and abuse of FISA by James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Sally Yates and Rod Rosenstein is not just criminal but constitutes treason,” said Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) in a statement Friday.

Gosar concluded that Attorney General Jeff Sessions should pursue “criminal prosecution against these traitors to our nation.”

But Gosar clearly has a warped sense of what constitutes the rule of law. Earlier this week, he made headlines for demanding the arrest of immigrants attending the State of the Union address as guests of several Democratic lawmakers.

Last year, Gosar also drew attention for claiming the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville that ended in the murder of a woman was a “false flag” attack by an “Obama sympathizer.”

The fact that a sitting congressman has this degree of authoritarian hostility toward other human beings, and is this detached from any semblance of objective fact, should be terrifying. But mostly, it’s just pathetic.

Flynn Drama Has All The Intrigue Of A Russian Spy Thriller

If the late, great Donald Westlake had written spy thrillers instead of crime capers, they’d read a lot like the opening weeks of the Trump administration. My favorite Westlake novel is “Bank Shot,” in which a gang conspires to steal a temporary bank building by towing it off with a truck, only to confront the reality—oops!—that Long Island is indeed an island, and they can’t haul the thing to the upstate boondocks without encountering police road blocks.

That’s when things get complicated.

Well, things have suddenly gotten complicated for the Trump White House and its timid enablers among congressional Republicans.

Let’s put it this way: the simplest explanation that fits the facts could be that President Trump encouraged national security adviser Michael Flynn to sweet-talk the Russian ambassador about U.S. sanctions imposed by President Obama for interfering in our presidential election, and then urged him to brazen it out when word of their improper conversations leaked to the press.

Trump, see, would likely have been ignorant of the fact—as he’s ignorant of so much—that NSA would monitor the calls and that their contents would alarm intelligence professionals. Assuming minimal competence, Gen. Flynn—the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency—surely knew that the Russian ambassador’s phone conversations were intercepted. But he may have assumed that the president could protect him. Indeed, until the Washington Post put well-sourced accounts of those conversations on the front page, it appeared that the White House would brazen it out.

Minimal competence is probably all that should ever have been expected of Flynn, who was sacked from the DIA job due to managerial bungling and a fondness for conspiracy theories.

Seriously, didn’t it make you a little uneasy to know that the genius advising our impulsive Commander-in-Chief subscribed to the “Comet Pizza” conspiracy—the idea that Hillary Clinton ran pedophile orgies in the basement of a Washington pizza joint that doesn’t even have one?

“Lock her up!” the general chanted at Trump rallies.

Seriously. I wouldn’t trust the guy to walk my dogs. But that’s just me.

A Democratic president that appointed an aide whose previous job was starring on a Russian propaganda TV network…

Republicans would squawk like a tree full of screech owls.

Meanwhile, Flynn’s not the first, and he’ll surely be far from the last to learn that Trump’s insistence upon personal loyalty is a one-way street. The president appears to recognize little difference between running the White House and running scams in the cutthroat New York real estate game.

But this ain’t real estate or reality TV. Trump’s foolhardy bravado is catching up with him fast. Maybe he and Flynn also assumed that if push came to shove, Vice President Mike Pence could be rolled.

And maybe he could have been. That is until then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates told the White House that she feared that “Flynn had put himself in a compromising position” and that Pence had a right to know that he had been misled.

The vice president would be an odd politician indeed if the phrase “President Mike Pence” didn’t occur to him then. Yates, along with director of national intelligence James Clapper and CIA director John Brennan, warned that Flynn had exposed himself to Kremlin blackmail.

On CNN, the ubiquitous David Gergen, who has worked for four presidents, said “It’s unimaginable that the White House general counsel would sit on it (and) not tell anybody else in the White House. In every White House I’ve ever been in, this would go to the president like that,” he said, snapping his fingers.

Meanwhile, Trump fired not Flynn, but Sally Yates.

On Feb. 13, Kellyanne Conway told reporters Gen. Flynn had the president’s complete confidence. Early on Feb. 14 news shows, she clung fiercely to the fiction that the White House had been kept in the dark. By noon, White House spokesman Sean Spicer assured reporters that Trump had been all over the situation for weeks, and had demanded Flynn’s resignation.

The collective incompetence is a wonder to behold.

Leave it to Sen. John McCain to describe the “troubling … dysfunction of the current national security apparatus.” He added that the whole farcical episode “raises further questions about the Trump administration’s intentions toward Vladimir Putin’s Russia, including statements by the President suggesting moral equivalence between the United States and Russia despite its invasion of Ukraine, annexation of Crimea, threats to our NATO allies, and attempted interference in American elections.”

In terms our Queens president would understand, Trump appears to have put his withered testicles right into Vladimir Putin’s muscular hand. Also into FBI director James Comey’s who may feel the need to regain his forfeit honor.

Do you suppose Flynn told FBI investigators the truth about his Russian contacts while he was lying to the vice president?

And if not, then what?

This ain’t real estate now.

IMAGE: National security adviser General Michael Flynn arrives to deliver a statement during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington U.S., February 1, 2017. Picture taken February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The Sisterhood Stands Against Trump

WASHINGTON — The Massachusetts Democratic senator was silenced at the arc of her speech.

Elizabeth Warren was silenced on the floor as if she were the village scold, her tongue bridled by the sheriff. It got uglier when they held an arcane vote — “the yeas and nays” — on whether she violated Senate rules. And she lost for being outspoken against a colleague, 49-43, late that night.

This never happens. It roiled the Senate’s calm seas. The majority leader, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., curtly cut Warren off for “impugning” a senator. Rule 19. No, she could not finish quoting the late Coretta Scott King on Jefferson Beauregard Sessions’ record (“reprehensible,” Mrs. King wrote) on voting and civil rights. A conservative Republican from Selma, Alabama, Sessions also opposed reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. But of course, President Trump nominated Sessions for attorney general. The 70-year-old was confirmed in a taut scene, 52-47.

Oh, brother — civil war is churning and burning. But sisters are stepping up to save the day. That’s what Trump hates most: when women judge, challenge, or dare to defy him — or get three million more votes on Election Day.

Spirited and subversive, Warren is the latest example of the new female-first pattern of “vive la resistance.” Women citizens first stood up to the Trump regime at the Women’s March on Washington, and elsewhere, on Jan. 21. This event blossomed from blowing grass roots, growing to the largest demonstration in the nation’s history.

On the culture front, actress Melissa McCarthy has “Saturday Night Live” viewers in tears of laughter at her sendup of Sean Spicer, Trump’s press secretary. Spicer’s rants, crude grasp of facts and “false claims,” as some put it, are almost too easy to ridicule. His hard face and mien mirror a younger Trump. The Washington Post reports Trump’s wrath at a woman taking such liberties, bless his heart. Unlike Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, who charmed with their wit, he has zero humor. Spicer’s days on the job may be numbered.

“Vive la resistance” showed up in the Senate on another furiously fought Cabinet vote, after an all-nighter. The only two Republicans (out of 52) to vote against the astonishing Betsy DeVos for secretary of education were women.

Here was a brazen billionaire who made it her mission to undermine public schools. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska made the DeVos vote a 50-50 tie, which Vice President Mike Pence broke. A deadlock hardly ever happens. And you can count the Republican women on one hand.

Even more impressive was the acting attorney general, Sally Yates, who bravely set in motion Trump’s attack against the judiciary. Remember her early stand against the travel ban on seven Muslim majority countries? Seems long ago. Yates refused to go along and ordered Justice Department lawyers not to defend it. The writing on the wall was clear: unconstitutional. Protests at airports ensued as word got round that weekend. Yates maddened Trump so much that he fired her within hours.

If this were Henry VIII’s court, Yates would be taken to the tower.

The first judges to hear the case on the cruel travel ban and issue emergency rulings, restraining orders, and stays on deportations were all women, too. That is looking at the looming power in the eye and protecting the rule of law in our democracy — fragile as it is right now.

An awakening is in the air after a deeply wrong election, which the loser won. Trump has insulted so many people that they’ve joined the collective resistance women started.

The zeitgeist is on display at the Folger Theatre. The most complex female role in all of Shakespeare, sprightly Rosalind in “As You Like it,” is playing onstage, within shouting distance of the Capitol and Supreme Court. As it happens, like McCarthy’s Spicer, the character crosses the gender line in riveting ways.

Women are breaking their silence in the square. Young women now say they are more likely to run for office. Hurry! There are only 21 women in the Senate. Even for the eloquent Elizabeth, it didn’t come easy.

Vive la resistance.

To find out more about Jamie Stiehm and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit creators.com.