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Trump Fears FBI Investigation: Stirs Up Impeachment Efforts
James Comey asks for more resources for the Russian investigation of Trump. So Trump fires him. Now cries for impeachment are beginning across the land.

By Ed Knudson

Editor's Note: The image referring to Trump's first 100 days is by George Hall. The most recent entries on this page are at the top. Scroll down to see previous days. The Comey firing has generated a movement for an independent prosecutor.

Friday, May 19, 2017 - Summary of week from Washington Post
  • A senior White House official close to President Trump is under investigation by the FBI in relation to Russia meddling in the U.S. presidential election and whether Trump associates helped.
  • Trump told Russian officials that firing former FBI director James Comey relieved "great pressure" on him.
  • Notes surfaced from Comey saying Trump asked him to lay off a probe.
  • The Justice Department has appointed a special counsel with wide latitude to investigate all of this.
May 17, 2017 - Serious Violations: Trump incapable of rational thought

Republican donors are said to becoming very nervous over Trump's obvious failings as president. Today the stock market took a big nosedive: "Dow closes down 370 points as political drama jolts Wall Street" was the headline at CNN.

David Brooks, a highly respected conservative commentator, has a column today in the NY Times where he says Trump is a child, incapable of rational thought, and views everything and speaks in terms of whether he is acceptable, whether he is being loved, etc. In other words, it is not a matter of Trump's policy proposals or his ideology, the man is fundamentally incapable of carrying out the office of the presidency. He literally does not know the effect his actions will have on others. That's why he is making one mistake after another.

For example, Trump tweeted yesterday: "James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!" What he did here is raise the comparison of his situation to that of Watergate and the key role of tapes. This has generated huge discussion of whether Trump did tape his dinner conversation with Comey. After that dinner, where Trump asked Comey for his personal loyalty, Comey wrote a "memo to file" which will be considered better evidence than Trump's claims, unless there are tapes. Trumps tweets may prove his downfall, and this one in particular. Trump likes to dominate the news, he wants everyone talking about him, meanwhile he does nothing to carry out a substantive program for the country. And he says things which people cannot take seriously. Trump therefore is demeaning the office of the presidency.

The New York Times and Washington Post are now competing for who can come up with the most shocking latest revelations of how Trump has violated presidential norms if not laws. Here is a summary of what Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley is thinking:
I've had enough with Donald Trump's abuses of power. So far, during Trump’s short tenure as president, he has fired three major people who were investigating officials inside the Trump administration. He has admitted that he fired FBI Director James Comey to try to thwart the investigation into Russia's efforts to manipulate the election, possibly in coordination with Trump's campaign. And now, there are credible reports that Trump tried to get the FBI director to drop the investigation into Mike Flynn. Just as President Richard Nixon tried to stop the investigation into the Watergate scandal, Trump’s clearly been going to great lengths to hide the truth. The question is why? What exactly is this administration so desperate to cover up?
The group "Indivisible" which has followers in congressional districts across the country has written this:
We are not being alarmist—the facts are just that serious. Yesterday, it was revealed that Donald Trump personally asked FBI Director James Comey to drop the investigation into ties between Michael Flynn and Russia. This is obstruction of justice, clear and simple. We have a system of government, with important checks and balances, that is designed to fend off tyranny and abuses of power. But this will only happen if Congress acts. They’re not acting. And to be clear, neither party is doing what they should. Republicans in the House and Senate need to find some courage, and buck partisan politics in the interest of the country. Democratic Senators need to treat this like the urgent matter it is and use their power to withhold consent (see our explainer here), grinding Senate business to halt until Republicans come to their senses. It’s the only leverage Senate Democrats actually have. So responsibility falls to us, constituents, to pressure our elected officials to act quickly in defense of our democracy. This email describes the asks you can make of your elected officials. For more information on the issue, see our resource page on Russia and Trump here.
Breaking News: Late today it was announced that the Justice Department has appointed a special prosecutor. This is from Vox:
Finally, we have a special counsel to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia and attempts to interfere with the FBI: former FBI Director Robert Mueller. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller (who led the bureau from 2001 to 2013) late Wednesday. This is not a formally independent counsel, like Kenneth Starr was in the Clinton investigations; the statute authorizing independent counsels has expired. This is an ordinary special counsel, like the ones during Watergate or appointed to investigate the Valerie Plame scandal in the Bush administration. [NYT / Rebecca Ruiz] In his order, Rosenstein states, “If the Special Counsel believes it is necessary and appropriate, the Special Counsel is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters.” [DocumentCloud / Department of Justice] The appointment came as some Republicans started to turn on Trump, following the revelation late Tuesday that the President asked FBI Director James Comey to halt an investigation into former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. House Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz sent a letter to the FBI's acting director requesting "all memoranda, notes, summaries, and recordings referring or relating to any communications between Comey and the President," saying that the New York Times's report about the Flynn request "raise[d] questions as to whether the President attempted to influence or impede the FBI's investigation as it relates to Lt. Gen. Flynn." [House Oversight Committee]
May 10, 2017 - A Shocking Move

I am beginning this page on May 10, 2017, as a means of tracking what happens after the firing of FBI Director, James Comey, by Donald Trump, yesterday. It appears the White House was shocked at the explosive reaction to this firing among the press, the Democrats, many Republicans, and the public. Trump and his people didn't realize, apparently, that this would be viewed as an effort to stop the FBI investigation into the connections between the Russian effort to influence the 2016 election and the Trump campaign. Indeed, the most important fact I have read so far about this is that Comey had just asked the Justice Department for more resources to conduct this investigation. It has also been reported from within the White House that Trump was extremely angry about the fact that Comey in a congressional hearing refused to say he had any evidence of the Tweet of Trump that Obama had his campaign wire tapped. As Rachel Maddow has been reporting on MSNBC anyone getting close to the Michael Flynn issue has been removed or removed himself. Flynn was fired as National Security Advisor because of his relations with the Russians and how he lied about this. Flynn literally took money from Russian leader Putin but didn't report it. A grand jury has been set up in Eastern Virginia to investigate this further. But it is clear now that Trump is trying to close down anything that comes close to exposing his relations with the Russians, with Putin or with his Russian business interests.

On Fox News: "When asked whether FBI Director Comey's firing will impact the Russia investigation, White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders answered 'When are they gonna let that go?'" This is just amazing and demonstrates that the White House fears the FBI investigation to the degree that Trump was willing to fire Comey. And this reminds the country that in 1973 Richard Nixon fired the special prosecutor which led later to his impeachment. An FBI agent named "Deep Throat" provided reporters with the information that led to impeachment.

The following is by Andrew Prokop at Vox which introduces the issue on May 10, 2017.
On Tuesday afternoon, President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, in a move that is truly shocking for several reasons.

First, the FBI director is a nonpartisan post serving for a 10-year term. Though the president has authority to fire him or her at any time, by norm and custom, presidents have kept their predecessors’ FBI directors in place, helping ensure some insulation for the FBI from politics. The only recent firing of an FBI director, in 1993, was carried out because of his alleged corruption and financial misdeeds. Second, Comey’s dismissal is even more unusual because he confirmed in March that he is overseeing an investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign that touches on Trump’s campaign and associates. Trump’s firing of him quite obviously raises questions about whether the president is trying to impede this investigation. Third, the Trump administration’s justification for firing Comey — that he was too critical on Hillary Clinton in the email case — is ludicrous on its face, considering that Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have a history of making the opposite argument.

Fourth, reporting from both the New York Times and Politico suggests that in fact Trump wanted Comey out due to anger over his handling of the Russia case (which the president has called a “hoax” and “fake news”), and merely asked the Justice Department to provide a pretext for the firing.

Fifth, the New York Times’s Matthew Rosenberg and Matt Apuzzo report that just days before Comey’s firing, he “asked the Justice Department for a significant increase in resources for the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election.” All this sure makes it look like the president has fired the FBI director because he was unhappy with an investigation into his inner circle. By doing this, Trump has thrown the independence and future of the top law enforcement institutions of the United States of America into serious question.

Democrats — even those deeply critical of how Comey handled the Clinton email case — have reacted with horror to this news, since Comey was clearly independent of Trump. In response, they are calling for an independent special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate Russia-related matters. The Republican response has been more mixed. Several GOP senators did criticize Trump’s firing of Comey, but others — including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — have appeared unmoved. There are two ways a special prosecutor could be appointed — through the Justice Department (which means through Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, since Sessions recused himself), and through Congress. But so far, it’s unclear whether either will happen.

It’s also worth noting that by firing Comey, Trump has opened yet another front in his war with the so-called “deep state.” His administration has been plagued by damaging anonymous leaks from intelligence and law enforcement agencies already. Since Comey’s ouster throws the independence of the FBI and Justice Department into question, Trump has given many more employees potential motivation to leak further.

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Date Added: 5/10/2017 Date Revised: 5/19/2017 3:37:13 PM

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