So, is this what a coup looks like?

Curiously, on the same day CNN confirmed that federal prosecutors have issued grand jury subpoenas to associates of Michael Flynn as part of the FBI’s ongoing investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian operatives we know to have interfered in our presidential election, it was announced that Donald Trump has fired James Comey, the director of the FBI, the one man who could stand up to him. While Trump has stated that the firing was in response to the FBI Director’s handling of the case against Secretary Clinton for her use of an unsecured email server, it’s clear that this had more to do with stopping the investigation into Russian election tampering than anything else. In fact, it would appear as though the firing of Comey is merely one element of an aggressive campaign to stop the investigation in its tracks. In addition to the firing of the FBI Director, a White House spokesperson was sent before the press this evening to declare that it’s now “time to move on” from the investigation. And, not only that, but news has just come out that Trump has hired a law firm to fight suggestions that he has Russian business ties… Kellyanne Conway even came out of hiding to announce that Trump’s firing of the man directing the Russia investigation was “not a cover up.” Apparently, though, people aren’t buying it.

Here, before we go much further, is a bit of background from the New York Times.

President Trump on Tuesday fired the director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey, abruptly terminating the law enforcement official leading a wide-ranging criminal investigation into whether Mr. Trump’s advisers colluded with the Russian government to steer the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

The stunning development in Mr. Trump’s presidency raised the specter of political interference by a sitting president into an existing investigation by the nation’s leading law enforcement agency. It immediately ignited Democratic calls for an independent prosecutor to lead the Russia inquiry.

Mr. Trump explained the firing by citing Mr. Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, even though the president was widely seen to have benefited politically from that inquiry and had once praised Mr. Comey for having “guts” in his pursuit of Mrs. Clinton during the campaign.

But in his letter to Mr. Comey, released to reporters by the White House, the president betrayed his focus on the continuing inquiry into Russia and his aides.

“While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau,” Mr. Trump said in a letter to Mr. Comey dated Tuesday.

The White House said Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, pushed for Mr. Comey’s dismissal.

“I cannot defend the director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails,” Mr. Rosenstein wrote in a letter that was released by the White House, “and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken.”

Reaction in Washington was swift and fierce. In a call with Mr. Trump, Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, told the president he was making a big mistake; publicly, Mr. Schumer called the firing a cover-up. Many Republicans assailed the president for making a rash decision that could have deep implications for their party…

For what it’s worth, it’s being reported by The Hill that Attorney General Jeff Sessions was tasked by the President last week with finding a justification to fire Comey. And, apparently, it would seem that the best thing he could come up with was that Comey hadn’t handled the case against Secretary Clinton appropriately. [I fully expect that, when Trump announces Rudy Giuliani as Comey’s successor, we’ll see Clinton thrown in prison for her sub-optimal email security.]

And, here, according to the Washington Post, are a few thoughts as to why Trump was so anxious to take action against Comey right now.

So, just to summarize, Jeff Sessions, who had to recuse himself from the Russia investigation once it became known that he’d lied about his communications with Russian agents during the campaign, according to the Trump administration, is the person who gave the word that Comey, the man spearheading the investigation, should be fired… One would think, if you had to recuse yourself from an investigation due, you wouldn’t then be put in a position to stop said investigation, but what do I know, right?

On the plus side, though, it looks like people might finally be realizing what’s going on. Word is that protestors are already massing on Pennsylvania Avenue, and plans are in the works for a mass protest tomorrow at noon in front of the White House.

While I’m discouraged by the fact that Trump has essentially taken out the one man in a position stand up to him, I can’t help but think that this is the move of a man quickly running out of options. Assuming CNN is right, and that two grand juries have already been empaneled, we may be witnessing the beginning of the end… even if Comey is no longer at the FBI.

For what it’s worth, it’s not just the Democrats who are demanding a real, non-partisan investigation. Republican Senator James Lankford just said the American people deserve an explanation for Comey’s firing, Republican Richard Burr, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the he’s “troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey’s termination, vulnerable Republican incumbents like Arizona’s Jeff Flake, Barbara Comstock of Virginia, and Carlos Curbelo of Florida are beginning to distance themselves from the President, and Republican Governor John Kasich is now calling for an independent investigation. And I suspect more will follow… especially if we encourage them. So pick up the phone, call your elected officials, and demand that Comey’s replacement not be confirmed until a special prosecutor has been appointed to look into Russia’s role in the last election and whether or not evidence exists of coordination with the Trump campaign. This isn’t about politics anymore, this is about the very future of our democracy.

Having never lived through a coup, I’m not sure what one looks like, but it certainly feels like our President is in the process of eliminating opponents in order to consolidate power and stay in office. As Representative Keith Ellison just said, We are witnessing a Consitutional crisis unfold before our very eyes.” And I don’t see as how we have any choice but to respond. This, I’m afraid, may be our last chance. If we don’t push back now, and hard, I don’t think there’s going to be any stopping this President.

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31 Comments

  1. X
    Posted May 9, 2017 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    from twitter:

    Claude Taylor‏ @TrueFactsStated
    Just in: Senate Intel Com sent lengthy letter to Treasury requesting detailed financial info on transactions of Trump, family, & assoc.

  2. Catherine Daligga
    Posted May 9, 2017 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    Yes. Time to organize demonstrations at every single GOP office. This cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. We don’t have much time to act.

  3. Scott Trudeau
    Posted May 9, 2017 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    Where’s our solidarity protest at noon? Federal building? Trott or walbergs office?

  4. Jean Henry
    Posted May 10, 2017 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    A coup would require the military to be in charge or in lockstep with the President, but McMaster and Mattis have been stubbornly independent, defying Trump and placing Bannon in a secondary position… Of wait:
    https://www.justsecurity.org/40674/knives-lt-gen-mcmaster-trump-afghanistan/

    No one who questions Trump lasts. He demands fealty. Trump is easy to manipulate (though volatile), There are Shakespearian levels of intrigue behind the scenes. I’m not sure Trump can take it. At some point, the criticism, plus his increasing inability to trust anyone (hallmark of narcissism) and his dependence on others in this role will set him off. Let’s hope he just resigns instead of worse.

    My mother thinks there will be huge protests over this, because it’s unprecedented. But I think the left hates Comey, because of the Hillary investigation, and isn’t smart enough to really get worked up over the constitutional implications v the political ones.

  5. Jean Henry
    Posted May 10, 2017 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    I just looked at the various Indivisible, resistance etc FB groups to which I belong, and I’m finding no organizing around a protest over this. There are call lists for an independent investigator. But no protest or march announcements yet. We’ll see.

    If anyone hears of anything taking shape, please let us know.

  6. Claude Taylor by proxy
    Posted May 10, 2017 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    ‏ @TrueFactsStated

    Schneiderman is going to come down on Trump like an avenging angel. State RICO, money laundering etc. Ultimately, Trump will die penniless.

  7. EOS
    Posted May 10, 2017 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    So now we get an independent investigation of the purported Russian connections. Both sides should be happy. Or should we have waited until Comey gave immunity to all parties and destroyed their hard drives? Or held a press conference to announce no reasonable prosecutor would indict anyone only to reopen the case at a critical moment in time? Does anyone have confidence in his decisions?

  8. Max
    Posted May 10, 2017 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    I think the outrage should be over the fact that he fired the head of the FBI who was investigating him and his cohorts right as Grand Jury subpoenas were about to drop. The rumor is that DT told Comey to squash the GJ investigations or he’ll be fired. The idea that Democrats don’t care because they have a bone to pick with Comey over his letter to congress before the election is insane. If Democrats can’t make hay out of this, they have a real big problem.

  9. Citywatch
    Posted May 10, 2017 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    You cannot make this stuff up. Clearly Trump is the wrong man for the job. That is the kindest way hint one can say. He thinks that, as in a business, he can hire and fire at will and surround himself with only those that are loyal and subservient to him. In the business of government, he may be the CEO, but the board of directors (congress), calls the shots. The basic misunderstanding by others, especially those who voted for him, of who Trump actually is and how he has always operated, plus his own misunderstanding of the job he was elected to do coupled with his obvious lack of self knowledge, has created a truly tragic misfit of a person and the role he is supposed to play. It is tragic in Shakespearean proportions, but make no room for sympathy for him as he deserves none.

  10. Jean Henry
    Posted May 10, 2017 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Max– that is my precise concern. There is lots of social media bluster, but no calls to protest. Phone calls and social media re-posts are not going to cut it. Now is the time for indivisible or one of these groups (or all) with national reach to organize. And not for June 3. That’s too far off.

  11. Max
    Posted May 10, 2017 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Quite right, Jean. The time to mobilize is now.

    Here’s another tweet via Claude Taylor:

    There’s 25 sealed indictments. Thanks to Comey and the Assistant United States Attorney. Waiting for them to be unsealed-it’s when. Not if.

    It seems like the noose has been tightened around DTs neck, but you never know what’s possible with a majority of Republicans dead set on defending party over country. McCain said in response to who he’d like to see as the FBI director “a select committee” and several other Republican’s have called for an independent investigation since Comey’s firing. It seems like if you were a Republican and looking for a time to jump ship, it would be now.

  12. Kevin Kubarych
    Posted May 10, 2017 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Comey definitely should have been fired, by President Hillary Clinton. Since we can’t go back to that parallel universe, better to keep Comey around to give the “ref” a chance to make up for a terrible call earlier in the game.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ecin.12186/full

  13. Brooke Ratliff
    Posted May 10, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Predictions: you will not see any big change in Trump’s presence until July 21 – August 21. Trump may ‘disappear’ in some capacity after August. Until then it’s just the normal chaos and confusion. Putin will release information at end of the year regarding the Russian/Trump connection, when he decides Trump is his enemy. That’s when we will have the whole story. Mark Maynard clock me on this. we will see if I’m right.

  14. Citywatch
    Posted May 10, 2017 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I agree with Max and Jean: The time to act is at hand.

  15. Washington Post
    Posted May 10, 2017 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    From the Washington Post:

    Sometimes it turns out that the simplest explanation is the correct one. Is it possible that the president kept his national security adviser in the White House for 18 days after he’d been warned by the acting attorney general that he had been “compromised” and was vulnerable to “blackmail” by Russia because he had authorized the conversations in question?

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2017/05/10/daily-202-firing-fbi-director-comey-is-already-backfiring-on-trump-it-s-only-going-to-get-worse/5912635de9b69b209cf2b7

  16. Meta
    Posted May 10, 2017 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Breaking news from the New York Times.

    BREAKING NEWS
    Days before his firing, James Comey asked the Justice Dept. for more resources for the F.B.I. inquiry into Russia and the Trump campaign
    Wednesday, May 10, 2017 11:42 AM EDT
    Mr. Comey requested a significant increase in money and personnel during a meeting last week with Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who wrote the Justice Department’s memo that was used to justify his firing, according to three officials with knowledge of his request.

  17. Eel
    Posted May 10, 2017 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    And you left out the best part. Spicer was hiding in the bushes to avoid reporters.

    “After Spicer spent several minutes hidden in the bushes behind these sets, Janet Montesi, an executive assistant in the press office, emerged and told reporters that Spicer would answer some questions, as long as he was not filmed doing so. Spicer then emerged. ‘Just turn the lights off. Turn the lights off,’ he ordered. ‘We’ll take care of this… Can you just turn that light off?'”

  18. Eric Holder by proxy
    Posted May 10, 2017 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    To the career men and women at DOJ/FBI: you know what the job entails and how to do it. Be strong and unafraid. Duty. Honor. Country.

    https://twitter.com/EricHolder/status/862155546081845248

  19. M
    Posted May 10, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    An update from Claude Taylor‏ @TrueFactsStated

    Breath in. Breath out. Serenity now. Ignore games on Capital Hill. The real action is at Eastern District of Virginia-then Schneiderman.

    There’s 25 sealed indictments. Thanks to Comey and the Assistant United States Attorney. Waiting for them to be unsealed-it’s when. Not if.

  20. M
    Posted May 10, 2017 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Olberman: When you fire the man investigating you, even the dumb people will know what you’re up to.

    https://twitter.com/KeithOlbermann/status/862359480859860992

  21. Demetrius
    Posted May 10, 2017 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    This is no longer about Democrats vs. Republicans, liberals vs. conservatives, or any other traditional divide.

    Beginning immediately, Senators and Representatives need hold firm and bring Congress to a complete halt – no hearings, no legislation, and especially no confirmations – until a truly independent prosecutor is appointed.

    Meanwhile, any elected representative who continues to oppose the appointment of an independent prosecutor needs to be asked, point blank: To whom do you owe your loyalty … to this President … or to American citizens, and the U.S. Constitution?

    “Whose side are you on?”

  22. Max
    Posted May 10, 2017 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Agree 100% Demetrius. I think everything needs to get shut down until they get this sorted out. Hoping Republicans will ‘do the right thing’ is pointless and a waste of time.

  23. Demetrius
    Posted May 10, 2017 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    BTW: This includes Stabenow, Peters, and Dingell … we need to pressure them to stand firm with their colleagues and refuse to move anything forward until this gets resolved.

  24. Kim
    Posted May 11, 2017 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Did AG Sessions violate his recusal by advising Pres. Trump on firing FBI Director Comey? http://nbcnews.to/2pAWQDM

  25. Ytown
    Posted May 11, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Hahahaha

    http://markmaynard.com/2016/10/senator-reid-asks-f-b-i-director-comey-who-came-out-on-friday-to-disseminate-innuendo-about-clinton-why-he-doesnt-instead-share-the-explosive-information-he-has-about-the-role-of-russia-in-th/#comments

  26. site admin
    Posted May 11, 2017 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure what’s so funny, Ytown. But, then again, as someone who understands complexity, I can accept that Comey could have both acted incorrectly in the releasing of information concerning the Clinton investigation and correctly in the case of this investigation into Trump’s ties with Russia. I know that might be difficult for you to grasp that someone might not be either purely pro-Trump, or pro-Clinton, but such people do exist.

  27. Meta
    Posted May 11, 2017 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Reporter Jayne Miller (@jemillerwbal):

    Annapolis firm targeted by FBI touted for pioneering the use of technology in political campaigns. Represents GOP candidates nationwide

    https://twitter.com/jemillerwbal/status/862728237960622081

  28. Ytown
    Posted May 11, 2017 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Hahahaha

    Not much of an argument admin, and your response is typical. Nice subtle insult as well.
    It’s called hypocrisy, look it up.

  29. Jean Henry
    Posted May 11, 2017 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/10/upshot/how-abnormal-was-comeys-firing-experts-weigh-in.html

  30. Maria Huffman
    Posted May 12, 2017 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, well, at will employment is just that.
    Rule number one in business, anyone is expendable.I think every should just let it go..
    Forget about it.
    It is all already in the past.
    So…moving on…who do you think he will nominate for the position?
    Maria Huffman

  31. NYT Breaking News
    Posted May 16, 2017 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    President Trump asked James Comey in February to close the Michael Flynn investigation, Mr. Comey said in a memo at the time

    Tuesday, May 16, 2017 5:26 PM EDT

    President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo that Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] former FBI special agent Clint Watts was 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 […]

  2. […] and Putin’s Ambassador to the United StatesSergei Kislyak into the White House the day after firing FBI Director James Comey, who was directing the agency’s investigation into possible collusion between members of the […]

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