Gentle readers: I know this didn’t happen mere hours ago, but I’m not a news outlet, so I normally wait a day or two to try to gather more complete information before commenting on such things. I’m sure you understand…
Some may be making the mistake of thinking “The Resistance” is just another vacuous Democrat slogan like “Hope and Change” or “Better Together,” or even “Malaise.” “Surely,” they think, “this will fade quietly away, just like all the rest when they outlive their usefulness.” Unfortunately, that’s not the way things are trending. Legal Insurrection reports on the latest progressive media broadside:
According to The New York Times, former FBI Director James Comey wrote a memo on February 14 that President Donald Trump asked him to let go of an investigation into Michael Flynn, the former national security advisor.
Ah hah! So this time they really got Trump! The NYT actually has a document, a memo, not an anonymous source? Not so much:
However, the NYT admitted that the reporters did not see the memo and ‘a Comey associate read parts of it to a reporter over the phone.’ The source (remember the source isn’t even Comey) claimed the memo said this:
‘I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,’ Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey, according to the memo. ‘He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.’
Comey allegedly shared the memo with other senior level officials and they all ‘perceived Mr. Trump’s comments as an effort to influence the investigation.’ But they all agreed not to say anything about the conversation so the comments ‘would not affect the investigation.
As usual, the White House is calling foul:
The White House immediately denied the report:
‘[T]he President has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn,’ an official said. ‘The President has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the President and Mr. Comey.
The New York Times has not viewed a copy of the memo, which is unclassified, but one of Mr. Comey’s associates read parts of the memo to a Times reporter.
Why only read parts of it? How long can it be?
Mr. Comey wrote the memo detailing his conversation with the president immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after Mr. Flynn resigned, according to two people who read the memo. The memo was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence a continuing investigation.
This point is elaborated on later in the story:
After writing up a memo that outlined the meeting, Mr. Comey shared it with senior F.B.I. officials. Mr. Comey and his aides perceived Mr. Trump’s comments as an effort to influence the investigation, but they decided that they would try to keep the conversation secret — even from the F.B.I. agents working on the Russia investigation — so the details of the conversation would not affect the investigation.
But what did Trump actually say?
What seems obvious is that Comey and some of his close associates in the FBI planned to set up President Trump, and have now carried out their plan. But what if Comey hadn’t been fired? Would we have heard anything about the memo, or about alleged efforts by the president to influence the Flynn investigation? Presumably not. The conversation documented by the memo took place in February, and we are only now learning about the memo and Comey’s purported belief that Trump was improperly trying to influence the investigation–a claim that Comey apparently was willing to keep to himself as long as he was retained as FBI Director.
Interesting fact: Comey announced the Flynn investigation was ended on January 27th. The meeting between Trump took place February 14. Why would Mr. Trump be asking Comey to end an investigation Comey himself said was ended half a month earlier?
Another interesting fact: The Resistance (I include, of course, the NYT and the rest of the press) is now claiming Mr. Trump’s comments to Comey—if they actually occurred and whatever they might have been—constitution obstruction of justice. 18 USC 1503:
Whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, endeavors to influence, intimidate, or impede any grand or petit juror, or officer in or of any court of the United States, or officer who may be serving at any examination or other proceeding before any United States magistrate judge or other committing magistrate, in the discharge of his duty, or injures any such grand or petit juror in his person or property on account of any verdict or indictment assented to by him, or on account of his being or having been such juror, or injures any such officer, magistrate judge, or other committing magistrate in his person or property on account of the performance of his official duties, or corruptly or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, influences, obstructs, or impedes, or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede, the due administration of justice, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b)…
And 18 USC 1510:
Whoever willfully endeavors by means of bribery to obstruct, delay, or prevent the communication of information relating to a violation of any criminal statute of the United States by any person to a criminal investigator shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
By the most liberal reading of the statutes, what the NYT is claiming Mr. Trump did is certainly not obstruction of justice. Even Prof. Jonathan Turley, a reliable progressive voice, agrees.
Yet another interesting fact: Post February 14, Mr. Comey appeared before a variety of congressional committees, and had unlimited opportunities to speak with appropriate congressional officials to inform them of Mr. Trump’s supposed attempt to influence an investigation that was already concluded, yet he did not.
‘The conversation documented by the memo took place in February, and we are only now learning about the memo and Comey’s purported belief that Trump was improperly trying to influence the investigation–a claim that Comey apparently was willing to keep to himself as long as he was retained as FBI Director.
To me this means either that Comey did not believe Trump was trying to influence the Flynn investigation or that Comey acted improperly by not doing or saying anything about the alleged attempt. As Sen. Lindsey Graham says:
If this happened, the FBI director should have done something about it or quit. If the president asked the FBI director to do something inappropriate, the FBI director should have said no and quit.
One thing Comey could have done short of quitting is inform the Senate Intelligence Committee of Trump’s alleged statement. But according to Sen. Richard Burr, the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman with whom Comey had a good relationship:
[T]he director might have told us that there’d been a request like that [but] it was never mentioned by him. So somebody’s going to have to do more than have anonymous sources on this one for me to believe that there’s something there.
Mirengoff also notes:
UPDATE: Gregg Jarrett of Fox News argues that if Comey believed the president’s statements to him amounted to obstruction of justice, then Comey himself committed a crime unless he promptly reported those statements to the Department of Justice. However, if Comey concluded that Trump’s language was vague, ambiguous or elliptical, then he had no duty under the law to report it because the statements weren’t criminal.
From all that appears, Comey did not report Trump’s statements to the DOJ. A memo to the file, even if shared with a few confidantes, wouldn’t constitute the reporting required in the event Comey believed Trump committed a crime.
While Jarrett is probably technically correct, it’s unlikely Comey would have been prosecuted for not promptly speaking about what he obviously did not consider criminal. Jarret went on to note that in any case, Comey’s failure to properly disclose the information—again, if it even occurred—obliterates his credibility.
While a police officer, I always took notes about meetings of all kinds, and kept them. What’s important to remember, however, is that context is vital. Understanding the context in which anything was said is essential, particularly if one is analyzing comments with an eye toward filing charges. In addition, a police officer’s notes are essentially worthless without his testimony laying a foundation for them, and testifying to their accuracy. In most cases, no one can testify their notes represent a verbatim account, merely their recollection of what was said. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument only, what the NYT is reporting third or fourth hand and anonymously is accurate to the letter:
‘I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,’ Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey, according to the memo. ‘He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.’
A substantial part of the known context renders this nonsensical, at least in so far as an attempt to influence an investigation is concerned: the investigation had been over for nearly three weeks. Comey himself had declared it closed. So why would Mr. Trump say any such thing?
A plausible explanation is he was addressing the political, not the criminal ramifications of the situation. Even though the criminal issues were concluded, Mr. Trump was expressing the hope that Comey, and those under his command, would do the right thing and prevent further politicization of a closed investigation, which is obviously not a crime. Whether such a thing—if it occurred—is wise is debatable, but it would certainly not be improper, or impeachable.
There is, however, a greater and more serious issue involved. As I noted in Donald Trump: The Resistance Strikes, only yesterday, this represents the continuing tactics of The Resistance. It does indeed appear that the Media, as an active propaganda arm of The Resistance, is going to drop such allegations every two or three days. The point is to make it impossible for Mr. Trump to govern.
Congressional Republicans are not only refusing to defend Mr. Trump, they’re actively helping The Resistance, as PJ Media reports:
The GOP chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee accused the White House on Monday night of being in a ‘downward spiral,’ with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) acknowledging this morning that lawmakers want a ‘little less drama’ out of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
‘The White House has got to do something soon to bring itself under control and in order. It’s got to happen,’ Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told Bloomberg after news broke of President Trump allegedly sharing highly classified information from an intelligence partner with Russian officials in the Oval Office. Trump tweeted today that he had an ‘absolute right’ to share information with Russians, without noting whether the information he shared was classified.
‘Obviously they’re in a downward spiral right now and they’ve got to figure out a way to come to grips [with] all that’s happening,’ the chairman added.
And who does Senators McConnell and Corker think are causing the drama? Might The Resistance/Media have anything to do with it?
What’s actually obvious is we are experiencing an all-out war. On one side we have the American people, represented, however imperfectly, by Donald Trump, who they elected knowing precisely who he was and what he promised to do. And horror of horrors, Mr. Trump is keeping his campaign promises. That just isn’t done! On the other, we have The Resistance.
And who are The Resistance? The Democrats, the DNC, currently led by radical Leftist/Obamite operative Tom Perez, who is embarking upon, with avowed Socialist (at least he’s honest about it) Bernie Sanders, a summer, 50-state resistance tour. The Resistance also includes Democrats that voted for Hillary Clinton and who support the goals of the Resistance. There is most of academia, various victim groups, Black Lives Matter, and of course, there is the propaganda wing, the Media. But we must not forget the Never Trumpers, and a substantial number of Republican congressmen and senators, the self-imagined and impossibly smug political elite of both parties, desperate to retain their power and perks.
And what does The Resistance resist? Us. They resist lower taxes, doing away with unnecessary and destructive regulations, enforcing the nation’s immigration laws, the rule of law itself, reforming our tax system and the IRS, reducing the power of federal bureaucracies, and empowering citizens and the states. They resist self-determination. They resist self-defense. They resist democracy. They resist the Constitution. They resist our constitutional republic, but for the moment, they resist Donald Trump and are determined to force him out of office. If they have to destroy national security, if they have to cost American lives, if they have to ensure our most insane and dangerous enemies obtain nuclear weapons, weapons they will proliferate and use, that’s a small price to pay to build a better world, a worker’s paradise.
Donald Trump is but a symbol, a temporary object of daily two minutes hate. If The Resistance can turn him out of office, they will be nearly unstoppable, short of outright, armed conflict. They intend nothing less than to rule America and to finish what Barack Obama started: fundamental transformation of the country. If they win, the rule of law, the Constitution are finished. They will not suffer their political enemies to survive, figuratively at first, and eventually, literally. They intend nothing less than what all Communist dictatorships always intend: absolute, despotic rule. If they again seize the White House, they’ve descended too far into insanity and violence to ever retreat back to polite, civilized democratic politics. They’ve destroyed, for all time, the very idea of the Loyal Opposition. They absolutely will not allow the American people to ever again vote them out of office, out of power.
Congressional Republicans, every day, demonstrate why they have earned the appellation: The Stupid Party. In responding to the two major fake news stories of this week, there is much they could and should be saying. They should, as one voice, be pointing out the stories come from unconfirmed, anonymous sources. They should be shouting from the rooftops the media’s record of lying about Mr. Trump—it’s voluminous. They should demand actual proof rather than rumors and accusations. They should be pointing out these stories are part of an organized conspiracy to bring down a duly elected president and to destroy our republic. They should demand absolute proof before considering any action, or criticizing the President.
Virtually none of them are doing that. Instead Corker and McConnell ridicule the White House. They stab the leader of their own party in the back. The Stupid Party. I don’t suggest anyone ignore criminal wrongdoing, or even foolish mistakes, only that Republicans recognize the stakes, recognize they’re being manipulated, and stand up for their leader, their party, and America. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is doing very little better.
I may be asking too much. The political elite, which includes much of The Stupid Party, may want nothing more than to have a hand in ruling the rubble. They may be gullible enough to think Democrats will allow them to have a Republican president, perhaps even to share power.
This isn’t about Donald Trump. Oh, of course they hate him and will do whatever is necessary to destroy him, but they’ve gone too far. They’ve crossed ethical lines, broken taboos that cannot be repaired. This is the treatment that will be accorded every future Republican in the White House, if that somehow remains possible. Even if Mr. Trump actually did everything the Washington Post and New York Times claimed this week, there is no crime involved. Barack Obama did far worse. Remember when he announced, in the middle of an FBI investigation, that Hillary Clinton did nothing wrong? Remember when he announced the IRS did absolutely nothing wrong? Remember the lies and betrayal of the Iran Deal? Remember “tell Vladimir after the election I’ll be more flexible?” Remember the media’s outrage at those incidents? Neither do I.
We have a unique opportunity. The political faux-elite and The Resistance are showing us the future they intend to impose on us, far more clearly than ever before. Perhaps we can stave it off without having to resort to violence. Perhaps not. But if we wish to preserve the blessings of liberty, we must try. Mr. Trump might begin by suing the NYT? As my friend and colleague Bookworm reports, it’s hard to imagine a more egregious breach of the most minimal journalistic standards. Arguably, going to print with a completely unconfirmed, third or fourth hand rumor from a memo that may or may not exist could constitute sufficient carelessness and malice to justify a successful lawsuit.
Pre-Posting Update: Apparently some of Mr. Comey’s friends are confirming he often took notes. The Resistance Media thinks that absolutely proves everything. It proves only some of Mr. Comey’s friends believe he often took notes, none of which, apparently, have yet been seen.