One way or another, we’re going have a resolution soon

It’s getting difficult to keep up these days. There was a lot to keep track of before, but, once Comey was fired, it was like the flood gates were thrown wide open. I know it’s probably not good to get my hopes up, but it seems like things are finally beginning to move toward some kind of resolution. Yes, that resolution could entail the forces of authoritarianism winning out over the forces of truth and justice, but I’m hopeful that, in the end, democracy will prevail. But, either way, my sense is that the showdown is fast approaching.

Late last night, news broke that federal investigators had requested the bank records of Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort. And, not too long before that, press reports started emerging from Maryland that the offices of a GOP consulting firm had been raided by the FBI. All of this, of course, could turn out to be absolutely meaningless, but I’m hopeful that it signals that an end to the Trump administration may finally be in sight, and that former FBI special agent Clint Watts might have been onto something when he said on television yesterday that the firing of James Comey had “galvanized the FBI in a way that probably hasn’t happened in any time in recent history.”

That’s right… apparently members of the administration were lying when they said yesterday that Comey had been fired, at least in part, because he’d lost the support of his agents. [Keeping true to the party line, Trump’s terrorism advisor Sebastian “I can’t get a security clearance due to gun charges” Gorka, in an interview with Breitbart News, said that Comey had “lost the confidence not only of the president but of the agents that serve under him.”] Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, pretty much confirmed that was bullshit, though, in his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, when he said that “Comey enjoyed broad support within the FBI, and still does to this day.” He then went on to add, in what was the best quote of the day, “You cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing, protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution.” And, it wasn’t long after that the offices of Strategic Campaign Group in Maryland were being raided. Make of the what you will.

If you should happen to have any doubt as to what the feeling at the FBI might be right now concerning Trump, just check out this headline from NBC News that ran yesterday: “The White House has abandoned the idea of President Trump visiting FBI headquarters after being told he would not be greeted warmly, administration officials told NBC News.” Yes, Trump was apparently planning to go to FBI headquarters for a staged event, like the one he did a CIA headquarters a few months ago, but we was warned to stay away… So much for the theory that Comey had lost the support of those working for him.

It would seem, from everything I’m reading, that Trump really thought the Russia probe would fade away with the firing of FBI Directory Comey. It would appear, however, he’s only intensified the resolve of those within the agency to see the truth come out.

And, early yesterday morning, facing all of this, Trump took to Twitter to lash out, both maintaining his innocence, and threatening Comey, suggesting that, if he didn’t keep his mouth shut, surreptitiously recorded conversations between the two could be released… Yes, the very same President who, with absolutely no evidence to back it up, suggested a few weeks ago that Barack Obama had tapped his phone lines, essentially just insinuated that he was guilty of having done the same exact thing. And, yes, according to legal scholars, this threat to come after Comey with tapes does qualify as witness intimidation… For what it’s worth, however, it doesn’t sound as though Comey is all that intimidated. In fact, CNN just reported that Comey’s not worried by the prospect of tapes… Here, if you missed it, is the Trump threat.

Personally, I think the prospect of there being tapes is awesome, as I’d love to hear the exchange between Trump and Comey, which, according to those familiar with the discussion, included Trump requesting that Comey swear his loyalty, something which the former FBI Director was unwilling to do. [Democrative Representatives Cummings and Conyers have requested “copies of all recordings in possession of the White House”.]

If it’s true that the President demanded loyalty from the Director of the FBI, and fired him when he refused to stop pursuing the investigation into Russian involvement in the last election, this goes way beyond just obstruction of justice. But, really, it’s not all that surprising, given the way Trump operates, pushing out all but the most dedicated sycophants, with no consideration of legality or appearance. As Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway said yesterday when asked why Comey was fired, Trump expects people in his administration to “be loyal to the administration“… In Tump’s world, there are no checks and balances. There is no separation of power… He’s attempting to run the country like a family business. And it’s simply not working. Try as the administration might, the government is just too damned big, and Trump can’t drive out everyone who hasn’t sworn allegiance.

Oh, and that tweet at Comey wasn’t the President’s only one yesterday morning. He also said, “When James Clapper himself, and virtually everyone else with knowledge of the witch hunt, says there is no collusion, when does it end?” The only problem is, Clapper, our former Director of National Intelligence, never said any such thing. In fact, when asked today if there was evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia, Clapper reiterated “I don’t know if there was collusion.”

And, to make matters worse for the President, his story as to why Comey was fired didn’t even hold up for a single news cycle. No sooner had the White House said that Comey had been let go based on the findings of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who had been looking into Comey’s handling of the investigations into Hilary Clinton’s emails, then other stories began to emerge. And, by the end of the day, Trump himself was telling reporters that he’d made his mind up to fire Comey a while ago, and that it had nothing to do with Rosenstein’s letter. And, as it stands right now, I don’t think there’s any question that Trump fired Comey to stop the Russia probe, even among people on the far right. Even Gorka went on the record with Breitbart News yesterday saying that it had everything to do with Comey’s testimony, during which he confirmed that there were active investigations involving Trump. “The recent testimony of the director added that last straw to the camel’s back and proved that he’s unfit to serve,” said Gorka. And, for what it’s worth, Trump himself seemed to confirm that in his interview yesterday with Lester Holt.

So, as talk of impeachment intensifies, and all 17 House Judiciary Democrats have come together to request a hearing on James Comey’s firing, Trump, it would seem, has begun to withdraw. He’s cancelling events and suggesting that the press be kept from the White House. And it certainly feels to me as though this is the beginning of the end. I know I could be wrong, but I think that a confrontation may be eminent, and I suspect that it will happen within the next four weeks…

But enough of my rambling. I think that’s all you need to know to appreciate tonight’s episode of Saturday Night Live, which is really all that matters, right?

update: As I mentioned all of these recent developments in the context of prepping you to better appreciate this most recent episode of Saturday Night Live, here are two skits that drew heavily from the material I referenced above.

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  1. Demetrius
    Posted May 14, 2017 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    I hope you are right … but so far, the more extreme the actions and revelations surrounding this president, the more our political culture seems to “normalize” all kinds of crazy, unethical, damaging behaviors. For example: This President spreads massive, self-serving lies on a mostly daily basis … yet increasingly, the American media, and much of the public seems to just shrug it off as “Donald being Donald.”

    It would be great, of course, if our elected representatives displayed some integrity and stood up against all of this … but most of them seem to be much more interested in re-election than in defending what’s left of our democracy or the Constitution.

    At this point, I’m afraid many Democrats may be hoping that the Trump administration will continue melting down … and are savoring the idea that this will result in substantial electoral victories for them in 2018.

    Meanwhile, it seems pretty clear that most Republicans would continue defending Trump even if he began drooling and barking like a dog – as long as they thought they can leverage the chaos to pass big tax and spending cuts, and sweeping corporate deregulation.

  2. robnorty
    Posted May 14, 2017 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    If Trump was impeached, wouldn’t the vice pres take over? Don’t really see a “win” there.

  3. Anonymous
    Posted May 14, 2017 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Most of the Republicans, at least as far as I can tell, are trying to stay out of sight and away from the President. We need to get them on the record praising him. We can use it later.

  4. Joe M.
    Posted May 14, 2017 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    Nothing is happening soon, regardless of whatever does happen. This will drag on and on.

    In this case I wouldn’t even care if the conspiracy theorists who believe the intelligence community actually runs the government is true as long as they take out Trump.

  5. M
    Posted May 14, 2017 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    The new story making the rounds is that Comey met with Chris Steele, the former MI6 agent who authored the infamous dossier, in Australia.

  6. Morbid Larson
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    I blame Ann Arbor.

  7. Citywatch
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Comey did not pledge loyalty to Trump, but he pledged to honestly pursue the Russian investigation wherever it led him. Therefore, he was fired allowing Trump to hire someone “loyal” to him. This is obstruction of justice since Comey had an active investigation that would potentially involve Trump. Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are reportedly interviewing candidates to serve as FBI director. This is a direct conflict of interest. Both Trump and Sessions are potential targets of the investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump administration. What’s more, Sessions is once again violating his pledge to completely recuse himself from the ongoing investigation of Russian interference after being caught lying under oath about his contacts with Russia. My prediction is there will be a politically motivated appointment and there will be no independent prosecutor and nothing more will come of this because Trump will do the usual deflection by firing a bunch of people, the press and public will move on to the next shiny object and all the GOP will talk about is Syria and Norrh Korea. Obfuscation complete. Meanwhile, people are getting worn out persisting and resisting and Democrats are already talking about compromise and Republican’s are encouraging and shaming the Democrats to do it. All this as they quietly strip protections for the environment, undo Dodd/Frank, and appoint people to our courts that will strip our rights and those of our children for years to come. Is this a crisis? Yes. Will people do anything but talk about it? Probably not. Will the press and the people move on because one of the Kardasians has a baby? Probably. I think if people feel inspired to do something, now is the time before there is no gas left in the tank. Got an idea to protest? Just do it.

  8. Meta
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    From the New Republic:

    Donald Trump’s path to the White House was bolstered by a conspiracy theory, which he peddled for years, that questioned the constitutional legitimacy of Barack Obama’s presidency. Now, there’s widespread doubt about the legitimacy of Trump’s own presidency. The irony is surely lost on him.

    Of course, there’s an important difference between these two cases. Birtherism was a preposterous lie, rooted in a racist desire to demean the nation’s first African-American president. Russia’s proven interference in last year’s election, and possible collusion with the Trump campaign, is a real and serious scandal. This is apparent from the many investigations underway, from the FBI and CIA to the House and Senate, but also from political damage thus far: the resignations of campaign manager Paul Manafort and national security advisor Michael Flynn; the recusals of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Congressman Devin Nunes from active investigations; and, last week, the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

    But Trump himself provides the most convincing evidence of the impact of the Russia scandal, which has clearly gotten under Trump’s skin. He brings it up at inopportune moments, even when it goes against his interest. Last Thursday, in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, Trump broke with the official White House story that Comey was fired on the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who wrote a memo critical of the FBI director’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. “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 have won,’” Trump said. “I was going to fire Comey. Oh, I was going to fire regardless of [Rosenstein’s] recommendation.”

    Trump not only revealed his true motives here, but also his obsession. “Rather than ignoring the Russia investigation and focusing on priorities like health care and taxes, he keeps drawing more attention to the subject with intemperate Twitter posts, angry interviews and actions like the firing of Mr. Comey,” The New York Times reported. “He is so consumed by the matter that he studies congressional hearings on the Russia case, scrolling through them using TiVo. The night before dismissing Mr. Comey, he invited Time magazine journalists to dinner and, on a 60-inch-plus television he has had installed in the dining room, showed them various moments from the hearings, offering play-by-play-style commentary.”

    The Russia story is driving Trump mad, causing him to make increasingly poor decisions. The very firing of Comey, done impulsively and without sufficient preparation with his White House staff, was the work of an angry president lashing out, not a deliberative leader. As The Washington Post reports, “White House aides have felt bewildered and alarmed by how Trump arrives at his decisions—often on impulse and emotion and sometimes by rejecting the counsel of those around him—and how he then communicates those decisions to his personnel and the public. Trump is in some ways like a pilot opting to fly a plane through heavy turbulence then blaming the flight attendants when the passengers get jittery.”

    To some critics, such behavior is evidence that Trump “is either he’s worried about Russia because he’s got a significant vulnerability or he’s worried about Russia because it undermines his electoral win,” as Jennifer Palmieri, former communications director for Hillary Clinton, told the Times. While many Democrats hope the Russia scandal is the next Watergate, the myriad investigations are likely to take many months—perhaps years—to conclude, and the discoveries may prove negligible. But already the scandal is the major force shaping the Trump presidency. The daily drip of allegations and hearings will further enrage Trump, and his anger will only intensify as Democrats continue to use Russia as a cudgel against him.

    Last July, Hillary Clinton called Trump “a man you can bait with a tweet.” We now know the most effective bait: Russia. He might be lashing out over the story because he’s guilty, and worried the investigation is closing in. Or he might be innocent, or at worst unaware of Russian collusion with his campaign, but resents the story because he knows it’s a potent weapon for questioning his legitimacy. But the cause of Trump’s anger is irrelevant to his opponents; what matters is that he can be provoked. And the angrier Trump is, the more likely he his to make boneheaded mistakes, like the sudden firing of Comey before the White House had got its story straight. And the more blunders Trump makes, the harder it is for him to execute his agenda.

    The 2018 midterms are looking up for the Democrats, who have an uphill battle to retake the House and Senate, and an erratic Trump will only aid that effort. Republicans in Congress are likely to discover in the coming months that they’re as trapped in the Russia quagmire as Trump is, since they’ve run so much interference for him. “With the White House in meltdown mode,” Politico reported from last week’s Republican National Committee spring meeting, “strategists expressed alarm about a pair of upcoming special House elections and what they might portend for the battle for the lower chamber next year…. And, as often happens with a party in peril, fingers were already being pointed over next year’s races.”

    Read more:

  9. Meta
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Morning Joe says FBI close to exposing the president: ‘It’s a criminal issue — and Trump knows that’

    John Heilemann, the co-managing editor of Bloomberg Politics and an MSNBC political analyst, agreed that Comey’s firing was not an irrational action or a political miscalculation, but rather an effort to stop or slow the FBI investigation into his ties to Russia.

    “The reason he did this is not because he’s out of his mind,” Heilmann said. “He did this is because, as you said Joe, I think he recognizes — he looked over at the FBI and said, this guy James Comey came to the White House, I asked him, if we believe this story, asked him for his loyalty, he wouldn’t give me his loyalty. He’s been investigating since last July, he’s now taking daily briefings on this matter, rather than weekly, he’s now asking for more prosecutors. Donald Trump knows what’s at the heart of this. I don’t know what that is, but he does, and he’s saying this guy knows, too.”

    Scarborough said he’s heard from FBI sources that the investigation had gathered steam in recent weeks, and he said Comey was fired in response to that development.

    “They have already found the string and they are pulling on it, based on my contacts inside the FBI and they are starting to tug on that string, and they are going to keep tugging, keeping going, and it’s accelerated because of the way he fired Comey, and he knows it,” Scarborough said.

    Read more:

  10. Posted May 15, 2017 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    I love how you think but I don’t think anything will happen. Recall that about 38% of the people agree with this idiot, let’s presume at least that amount doesn’t give a shit. Are we going to take to the streets? Then what? Are we going to storm the White House? Is Congress going to do anything with the Republicans in charge? Are the Democrats going to seize power…somehow?

    Seriously, what do you see happening? I’m not being facetious but I’ve given up on anyone in “power” doing anything. It’s lovely to see the people on Twitter posting things and all of the outrage on Facebook but that doesn’t do anything other than echo about in our chambers.

    (Again, I’m not trying to shit all over your post even though that’s probably exactly what I am doing, sorry. What can be done? This isn’t Watergate when people actually gave a shit if the laws were followed.)

  11. Joe M.
    Posted May 16, 2017 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    Pod Save America covered it pretty well about 20 minutes in to their podcast yesterday – there’s zero chance there’s votes in the House and Senate for impeachment with the GOP in power.

  12. Meta
    Posted June 22, 2017 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    The President confirmed on Twitter today that he was lying when he suggested that he had audio tapes of his conversations with Comey.

  13. Meta
    Posted June 22, 2017 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Washington Post: “Trump’s bluff on White House tapes wasn’t just dishonest — it was also a failure”

    Newt Gingrich just gave away the game earlier Thursday, for all intents and purposes. In an interview with the Associated Press, the Trump-backing former House speaker basically admitted that Trump was bluffing to try to get inside Comey’s head.

    “I think he was, in his way, instinctively trying to rattle Comey,” Gingrich said. “He’s not a professional politician. He doesn’t come back and think about Nixon and Watergate. His instinct is: ‘I’ll outbluff you.’ ”

    Apparently not being a “professional politician” is a license for dishonesty — because that’s what this was.

    Read more:

  14. Talking Points Memo
    Posted April 24, 2018 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    The FBI agents who raided Manafort were after documents on the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting

3 Trackbacks

  1. […] that obstruction of justice is something we’ve already seen from Donald Trump multiple times. Trump himself told Lester Holt on network television that he fired FBI Director Jim Comey because he…. And, the day after firing Comey, in a secret meeting that the press wasn’t made aware of, […]

  2. […] that obstruction of justice is something we’ve already seen from Donald Trump multiple times. Trump himself told Lester Holt on network television that he fired FBI Director Jim Comey because he…. And, the day after firing Comey, in a secret meeting that the press wasn’t made aware of, […]

  3. […] that obstruction of justice is something we’ve already seen from Donald Trump multiple times. Trump himself told Lester Holt on network television that he fired FBI Director Jim Comey because he…. And, the day after firing Comey, in a secret meeting that the press wasn’t made aware of, […]

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