Donald Trump, who has said in the past that he fired FBI Director James Comey because of the Russia investigation, says he did not fire FBI Director James Comey because of the Russia investigation

While, thanks to Roseanne Barr, the whole world was busy debating the extent to which Ambien causes racism, Donald Trump took the opportunity to rewrite a little bit more of American history today. [He also sent a signal to his numerous co-conspirators by announcing his intention to pardon the racist far-right “intellectual” Dinesh D’Souza, but we’ll have to save that for another time.]

In spite of having stated on multiple occasions that he fired FBI Director James Comey for refusing to stop the Russia investigation, our president took to Twitter this morning – the day after lashing out at his Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation rather than stopping it – and said definitively that he “never fired James Comey because of Russia!” This, as we know, is a lie, and one that’s very easy to fact check.

There may be more, but I can recall at least two instances, one of which was broadcast over network television, in which Donald Trump has said before witnesses that it was his decision to fire James Comey not because of how the former FBI director had handled the Clinton email investigation, which, as we now know, was never anything more than a politically motivated farce, but because of… to use his own words… “the Russia thing.” Here he is using that exact phrase with NBC’s Lester Holt on May 11 of last year, two days after the FBI Director had been fired, and hours after the White House put out a statement saying that the firing had not been Trump’s decision, but that Comey had been fired based on the advice of the Department of Justice’s Rod Rosenstein and Jeff Sessions, both of whom, by the way, the President has since turned on.

“(It was) my decision,” the President told a caught-off-guard Lester Holt, who had clearly not been expecting Trump to admit that he’d given the word to fire the man charged with investigating him. The President then when on to say that he was thinking about “this Russia thing” when he decided to terminate the FBI director. Here, if you’d like to the refresh your memory, is video of the exchange, which I’m certain will one day be played in court. [Word is that the special investigator already has enough to charge Donald Trump with obstruction of justice, but he’s still shoring up the rest of case, which centers on corruption, money laundering and conspiring with foreign powers against the interests of the American people.]

“[Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein] made a recommendation, but regardless of recommendation I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact when I decided to do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.” – Donald Trump

This isn’t like “laurel” and “yanni”. There’s no debating what it is that Trump said, or what he meant. It’s clear. He told Lester Holt that he’d decided to fire Comey himself, and that had to do with “the Russia thing.”

And, before we move on, it’s worth noting that this video, as we now know, was followed shortly afterward by the release of a memo authored by James Comey just after the President called him to the Oval Office, where, according to the former FBI Director, he was both asked for his “loyalty” and told to stop looking into National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s interactions with the Russians prior to the election. [Flynn, it’s worth noting, ultimately plead guilty to charges of lying to the FBI, when evidence surfaced that he’d lied to federal investigators about his contacts with Russians who had been engaged in election interference on Trump’s behalf.]

But Trump didn’t only tell the NBC audience that he fired Comey for refusing to put “the Russia thing” to bed. He also told a delegation of Russians, who he’d brought to the White House without the public’s knowledge on the very day he fired Comey. The visit hadn’t been on the public calendar, and the only reason we ever found out about it is because the Russians in attendance reported on it… Here’s something that I wrote about the meeting at the time.

Trump must be trolling us, right? I mean who in their right fucking mind, on the day immediately after he fires the man heading the investigation into whether or not his campaign team colluded with the Russians to steal an election, not only invites into the White House the very Russian Ambassador who’s widely thought to have helped orchestrate the whole thing, but bans the American press, allowing in only Russian news agencies? I mean, this is the very same guy, Sergey Kislyak, that Michael Flynn was fired for having lied about having talked with during the campaign. This is the guy who many think coordinated the whole “we’ll hack the election if you lift the sanctions” deal at the heart of this whole fucking thing. And Trump invites him into the White House on the day after he fires FBI Director Comey in hopes of killing the investigation. It’s absolutely insane. This would be like if Obama, at the height of the Tea Party madness, joined the Black Panther Party, donned a dashiki, released his Kenyan birth certificate, and started to speak exclusively in Bantu…

And it wasn’t just that Trump invited Kislyak into the Oval Office the day he fired Comey. He also laughed about it in front of them, calling the former FBI director a “nut job,” and noting how, now that he’d been removed from office, there would be less significantly less “pressure” on him. Here’s a clip from a New York Times article written at the time.

…“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.”

The conversation, during a May 10 meeting — the day after he fired Mr. Comey — reinforces the notion that the president dismissed him primarily because of the bureau’s investigation into possible collusion between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives. Mr. Trump said as much in one televised interview, but the White House has offered changing justifications for the firing.

The comments represented an extraordinary moment in the investigation, which centers in part on the administration’s contacts with Russian officials: A day after firing the man leading that inquiry, Mr. Trump disparaged him — to Russian officials.

The White House document that contained Mr. Trump’s comments was based on notes taken from inside the Oval Office and has been circulated as the official account of the meeting. One official read quotations to The Times, and a second official confirmed the broad outlines of the discussion.

Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, did not dispute the account…

At first, the White House said Mr. Trump had fired Mr. Comey based on the recommendation of the Justice Department, and because of Mr. Comey’s handling of the F.B.I. investigation into Hillary Clinton last year. Officials said the move had nothing to do with the Russia investigation.

But the president undercut that argument a day later, telling NBC News, “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”…

So, today, when you hear Donald Trump say, “The Corrupt Mainstream Media loves to keep pushing that narrative, but they know it is not true!,” just keep in mind that he’s lying. It’s absolutely true that he fired Comey in hopes of ending the investigation, and he’s only saying this now because he’s scared, and knows for a certainty that his only chance of avoiding prosecution is to convince Republican voters that he never said what he said, and that all of this is nothing more than the ‘lying press’ trying to keep him from saving America and getting the credit which is so rightfully his. We can’t let him get away with it.

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Not a witch hunt… not by a long shot.

Do you want to hear a really scary statistic?

According to a recent survey by Navigator Research 59% of Americans are unaware of the fact that the Mueller investigation has already uncovered evidence of crimes.

For those of you who, like our friend EOS, “deal in facts,” here are the cold, hard facts that 41% of us already know.

As of today, the Mueller investigation has already obtained 5 guilty pleas and 17 criminal indictments… Here, from Vox, are just a few of the highlights.

Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and a key Trump campaign surrogate, pleaded guilty to making false statements to federal investigators in December.

Rick Gates, a top aide on the Trump campaign and a longtime business partner of Paul Manafort, pleaded guilty to false statements and one count of conspiracy.

George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser on the campaign, pleaded guilty to false statements.

Alexander van der Zwaan, a London-based Dutch attorney, pleaded guilty to making false statements about his contacts with Gates and an unnamed Ukrainian.

13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies have been indicted on conspiracy charges, and some on identity theft charges, related to Russian social media and hacking efforts.

Richard Pinedo, a California resident, has pleaded guilty to an identity theft charge related to the Russian indictments.

Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chair, is facing two separate indictments — one in DC about conspiracy, money laundering, false statements, and failure to disclose foreign assets; and one in Virginia about tax, financial, and bank fraud charges.

And, from what we hear, the impanelled grand juries are nowhere near done.

In spite of this, however, Donald Trump, with the support of the Republican propaganda machine at Fox, and his co-consipirtors in Congress, continues to push a false narrative, telling the American people that the Mueller investigation is a “witch hunt,” as we saw yesterday in this tweet, where he suggests that poor, innocent patriots are being dragged through the mud, not because they committed treasonous acts and lied to federal investigators, but because a secret pro-Obama sect within the government, called the “deep state,” is hell bent on keeping the current administration from “making America great again.”

And here’s the really insidious part… This whole deep state, pro-Democrat conspiracy is being led by lifelong Republicans appointed to office by Donald Trump!

Donald Trump appointed FBI Director Christopher Wray, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates, and Deputy Attorney General for the United States Department of Justice Rod Rosenstein. And Rosenstein, in turn, appointed special prosecutor Robert Mueller, the former FBI Director who was first appointed to public office by Ronald Reagan, and served with distinction under both George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush.

But yet here we are… being subjected on a daily basis to things like this.

So we find ourselves in this upside down world, where people who have been fed a constant media diet of lies from the far right for decades actually believe the the Mueller probe, which has 5 guilty pleas and 17 criminal indictments already, is “fake,” while the Benghazi investigation, which yielded absolutely no evidence of crimes, and cost the American taxpayers several times more, is real. And, in a world where the far, far right is debating the existence of a child sex dungeon operated by Hillary Clinton beneath D.C.’s Comet Pizza, we actually view them as the “sane” ones. That’s how far the bar has dropped in our lifetimes.

So, if you have a moment, please remind everyone you know that the Mueller investigation, as of today, has yielded 8 indictments covering 19 individuals and 3 businesses, 5 guilty pleas, 2 criminal cases headed to trial, and 1 one individual already serving a prison sentence. And additional indictments are expected in the near future.

I wouldn’t have thought a post like this would be necessary, but the polling says different. As the current resident of the White House would say, “Sad.”

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As more stories come to light about immigrant children being taken from parents at the border, Trump blames his administration’s policy on Democrats

About three weeks ago, on May 7, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new “zero tolerance” policy at southern border. “If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you,” Sessions said at the time. “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you,” he continued. “And that child may be separated from you, as required by law.”

Yesterday, though, Donald Trump blamed this cruel, and increasingly unpopular policy, which he called “horrible,” on “the Democrats.”

Here’s the tweet.

[As terrible as this was, it wasn’t even Trump’s most egregious lie of the day. He also claimed that a government official who briefed reporters two days ago “doesn’t exist.”]

Here, with more background, is an excerpt from Vanity Fair.

…(T)he idea that Democrats are responsible for what is happening at the border is nonsense. As the Associated Press notes, the previous “catch and release” policy Trump and his administration cite as the reason for increased border crossings was put into place in 2008 by then-president George W. Bush, and was primarily created to combat the influx of children fleeing to the U.S. from Central American countries due to a surge of child-trafficking. Under Trump, however, that policy has changed. In the past, the Office of Refugee Resettlement traditionally placed unaccompanied minors—that is, children who cross the border without a parent—in government-run detention centers. If a parent and a child came together, they would be processed together. In recent months, however, the Trump administration has begun forcibly taking children from their parents—some as young as one year old—and warehousing them in facilities far away from their parents, as if they had crossed the border alone.

The new policy has seen about 700 children separated from their parents since October, and the problem is only getting worse. A HuffPost report shows that the O.R.R. is already struggling with the number of refugees in its custody, and has struggled to keep track of where many of them have been placed. The office has already lost about 1,500 children, a Health and Human Services official revealed last month:

“Until recently, families that illegally crossed together generally faced deportation proceedings in civil court. But as of this month, the Trump administration is following a blanket policy of referring for prosecution all people who cross illegally. The change means that authorities send parents to jails run by the U.S. Marshals Services and their children wind up in the same agency as minors who came to the U.S. without their parents ― sometimes without their parents being able to locate them.”

Despite Trump’s attempts to shift blame for these bad headlines to Democrats, the policy is all his own. As chief of staff John Kelly told NPR in an interview three weeks ago, the plan to forcibly separate mothers from their children was explicitly designed as a “tough deterrent” to scare immigrants from trying to enter the U.S. “The children will be taken care of—put into foster care or whatever,” he said flippantly. “But the big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long.” He also implied that those who wished to come across the border were “overwhelmingly rural” people who would find assimilating into the U.S. difficult. “They don’t speak English. They don’t integrate well. They don’t have skills.”…

As you can imagine, the response to this most recent lie of Trump’s has been both swift and overwhelming. Here are my two favorites.

“Terrified children are being separated from their parents pursuant to your Administration’s policy, Mr. President. You have power to stop it. Do you really think our nation can’t see how you use their suffering as mortar for your wall? Have you no shame, no sense of decency?”Congressman Adam Schiff

“The incompetence of the officials separating these children from their parents means there’s no guarantee they’ll ever be returned. John Kelly tells us they’ll be taken care of ‘or whatever.’ This is the crushing brutality of indifference.”Former Direct of the Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub

To Schiff’s point, I’m sure Trump will come out today, justifying his tweet by saying that this is the Democrat’s fault because, by denying him his ridiculous, expensive and ineffective border wall, they’ve left him no choice but to destroy the lives of those families seeking asylum in the United States. The fact remains, however, that the policy is his, and his alone, and it reflects both the cruelty and racism that underpin his entire agenda… And, for what it’s worth, you can be absolutely sure his policies pertaining to the treatment of those crossing our southern border would not be any less cruel if a wall were in place.

Oh, and I liked this comment too. It’s from journalist turned television writer David Simon.

[note: The image at the top of this post comes by way of an unknowing Jim Carrey.]

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Giuliani confirms that “Spygate” was never anything more than an effort on the part of Trump to find out what evidence Mueller has collected against him thus far

Remember how, yesterday, we were discussing the fact that Republican Congressman Devin Nunes, in spite of recusing himself from the Russian investigation this past April, when a House ethics investigation determined that he’d been sharing classified materials relating to the Mueller investigation with members the Trump administration, was attempting to get more information about the case from the Department of Justice by creating yet another fake scandal and demanding an opportunity to question members of the intelligence community? Well, the gambit worked, and Nunes and others were briefed about the investigation this morning by representatives of the FBI and Department of Justice. Apparently, though, it wasn’t just members of Congress in the meeting.

Two days ago, as you may recall, when White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked whether the Trump administration would attempt to have anyone from their team sit in on the meeting, she responded by stating definitively, “No one from the White House staff will attend.” Well, that’s not exactly how things played out.

In the following photo, taken in the basement of the Capitol, you can see White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and White House Attorney Emmet Flood entering one of today’s two briefings. [The two men attended both briefings, which were scheduled back-to-back. The first of these briefings had been intended for just Republican Congressmen Nunes and Gowdy. The second was to be for the so-called Gang of Eight, which includes both Republican and Democratic leaders, as well as members of the House and Senate intelligence committees.]

Huckabee Sanders, who said recently that being called a liar “bothers” her, issued a statement saying essentially that, while she may have technically lied when she said that members of the administration wouldn’t be attending the meetings, it was only a little lie, as they didn’t stay for long, and were only there to reiterate how much Donald Trump supported the investigation and respected the rule of law. “Neither Chief Kelly nor Mr. Flood actually attended the meetings, but did make brief remarks before the meetings started to relay the President’s desire for as much openness as possible under the law,” she said.

I don’t know that it really matters, when we know for a certainty that anything Nunes found out about the investigation during the briefing would have immediately find its way to Trump’s defense team anyway, but having the President’s attorney and Chief of Staff in these meetings, if only for a short time, certainly illustrates just how far we’ve already slid down the slippery slope. As Congressman Adam Schiff said after the meetings, “Emmet Flood’s presence and statement at the outset of both meetings today was completely inappropriate, and I told him so.” The Congressman then went on to say, “It only underscores what Rudy Giuliani said: the President’s legal team expects to improperly obtain and use such information for their defense.” And, here, in case you missed it, is what Schiff is referring to when he brought up Giuliani.

So, by Giuliani’s own admission, the Trump legal team intends to use what they found out about as a result of today’s intelligence briefings… which is exactly what we thought would happen. As we discussed yesterday, this was never about whether or not the Obama administration had, as Trump suggested, placed a “spy” within his campaign to help Hillary Clinton. This was always about muddying the water and finding out as much as they could about the crimes Mueller and his team had already found found evidence of, in hopes that they might better plan their aggressive attack strategy.

And, meanwhile, Trump continues to sew discord, using his state propaganda network to spread disinformation and impugn the characters of those civil servants who are laboring to hold our democratic institutions together…. This, my friends, is what the end of democracy looks like.

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“Spygate” isn’t news. The fact that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is saying that Russian interference decided the outcome of the 2016 election is.

I’ve yet to see it, but apparently James Clapper, who served as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under George H.W. Bush, Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency under George W. Bush, and Director of National Intelligence under Obama said today on PBS Newshour that, in his estimation, Russian interference actually decided the outcome of the 2016 election. This, it seems, is something he’s also just said in print, in his new book, “Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence.”

Clapper, it should also be noted, also said on Newshour this evening that America is at risk of becoming banana republic if our democratic institutions don’t hold up to the pressure being exerted by Donald Trump and his co-conspirators in Congress. [Co-conspirators is my word, not his.]

For what it’s worth, Trump is not terrible happy with Clapper lately, as the former Director of National Intelligence has made it his job these past few weeks to repeatedly shoot down the administration’s most recent bullshit claim, that Obama had placed a “deep state” spy within the Trump campaign with the intention of helping Hillary Clinton take the White House… In a tweet yesterday, Trump called Clapper, who has served four administrations with distinction, the “worlds dumbest former Intelligence Head.” And, yes, he forgot the apostrophe.

Here, if you haven’t been following along, is President Trump, earlier today, trying desperately to introduce the word “Spygate” into our shared lexicon by saying it as many times as humanly possible.

This, of course, is bullshit, just like it was a few months ago when we were told that the ridiculous “Nunes Memo” was going to prove definitively that the government targeted the great American patriot Carter Page without cause. As you’ll recall, in the case, we eventually discovered that Page had been under surveillance since 2013, when members of the intelligence community first observed him meeting with a known Russian operative in New York City. And, I suspect, when all is said and done, “Spygate” will turn out the same way, with the intelligence community once again having to prove that, yes, they did look into members of Trump’s inner circle, but not because they wanted to collect campaign intelligence for Hillary Clinton, so much as because a number of people surrounding Trump were known to have relationships with Russians assets during the period in which the Kremlin was aggressively attempting to interfere in the election.

But Trump is making it sound as though the intelligence community was only interested because they wanted to both harm him and help Hillary Clinton. “If the FBI or DOJ was infiltrating a campaign for the benefit of another campaign, that is a really big deal,” he recently tweeted. “Only the release or review of documents that the House Intelligence Committee (also, Senate Judiciary) is asking for can give the conclusive answers. Drain the Swamp!” [His intention, of course, is just to get his hands on the evidence against him, so that he can distort it, further muddying the waters as we approach impeachment.]

So, yes, it’s probably true that the intelligence community, once they were alerted to the fact that George Papadopoulos, while in a London bar, had told an Australian diplomat that the Trump campaign would be receiving Clinton campaign emails stolen by the Russians, sent an informant to speak with Papadopoulos, in hopes of finding out what in the hell was going on. [This informant, we now know, was Republican academic Stefan Halper.] And, this, is exactly what they should have done, given the seriousness of this tip that they’d received from Australia in the wake of the report that the report that the DNC had been hacked.

The truth is, if Obama, or anyone in his administration, had wanted to scuttle the Trump campaign, it would have been relatively easy. All they would have had to do was pick up the phone, call a reporter, and feed them details about the active investigation into Russian interference and the many connections between Russia and the Trump campaign. They didn’t do that, though. Not only that, but, if James Comey and others were really trying to throw the election in Hillary Clinton’s favor, chances are that they wouldn’t have came out in the week prior to the election, talking about how the ridiculous Clinton email server investigation was going to be reopened.

But, because a good percentage of the American population is stupid, and since we’ve got a corporatist propaganda channel broadcasting 24/7, we’re talking about “Spygate” today like it’s a real, fucking thing that’s “bigger than Watergate.”

One last thing to keep in mind as we discuss this. People only attack “the system” when they don’t have any other legitimate legal defense. All of this bluster on the part of Trump, Nunes and company just means that they’re aware of the severity of the charges they’re facing, and they know their only shot of escaping is to metaphorically burn down the court house and make their way out in the confusion. Of course, in this analogy, the court house is our American democracy.

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