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Trump Fears FBI Investigation: Stirs Up Impeachment Efforts
James Comey investigates Trump's relation to Russian interference in the election. So Trump fires him. Mike Flynn may be a Russian stooge. Trump may owe Putin millions. Impeachment is probably coming

By Ed Knudson

Editor's Note: This page is tracking the impeachment of Donald Trump. The most recent entries on this page are at the top. Scroll down to see previous days. The image referring to Trump's first 100 days is by George Hall.

Saturday, June 24, 2015 - Putin Elected Trump, Not Americans

I just read the long article in the Washington Post by Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima and Adam Entous. It's a bombshell. It is based on sources close to Putin. It goes into more detail about what the Russians did. But most of the article has to do with Obama and the response of his administration.

Thursday, June 15, 2015 - Trump is now formally under investigation

During the campaign Trump spoke again and again how Hillary Clinton is under investigation and won't be able to govern. His crowds began chanting "lock her up". Even General Flynn speaking at the Republican convention led the chant; he, of course, had to be fired for talking to the Russians and lying about it. And now it is official. The new special counsel has opened an investigation on Trump for obstruction of justice, one of the primary crimes that led to the resignation of Nixon to avoid impeachment. This is the Washington Post story which was being talked about on the news last night: "The move by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Trump’s conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation, which until recently focused on Russian meddling during the presidential campaign and on whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Investigators have also been looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates, officials said. Trump had received private assurances from then-FBI Director James B. Comey starting in January that he was not personally under investigation. Officials say that changed shortly after Comey’s firing."

Notice here: Trump is doing it to himself. He is his own worst enemy.

Wenesday, June 14, 2017 - Jeff Sessions Refuses to Answer Questions; Republican Leaders Shot by Angry Illinois Man

News just broke that "House Majority Whip Steve Scalise remains in critical condition; four others injured. A gunman, who was identified by law enforcement as James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, Ill., unleashed a barrage of gunfire at a park in Alexandria, Va., as Republican members of Congress held a morning baseball practice." (Washington Post). It is so sad to say, but maybe Republicans will think twice before they oppose gun control again now that they realize they can be shot. And maybe they will realize that a president that shouts and screams angrily against others is generating a climate in which violence is the appropriate response. Hate generates hate. We here is Portland, Oregon, just had a white nationalist slit the throats of three men trying to keep him from intimidating two young women, one a Muslim and the other a black person. Two of them died. Even if you claim that the attacker, Jeremy Christian, was mentally ill, the fact is, mentally unbalanced people act out what they see out there in the public world. When they see an angry, violent president they think that kind of behavior is all right.

We need a new election, not Trump, not Pence, this was not a free and fair election. Trump remains an illegitimate president and he knows it. That's why he is so opposed to any real investigation.

I didn't watch the entire hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday but saw several summaries and it appears that Attorney General Jeff Sessions would not answer any significant questions. A Lutheran senator from New Mexico, Martin Heinrich, accused Sessions of impeding the process of getting to the truth by not answering questions, and with no good excuse. Sessions said over and over and over that he doesn't "recall" and that he can't answer because President Trump might not like his answer. He sat there like an anxious little boy knowing his angry father might be watching. I have watched Sessions on C-Span over the years and would say he is the most incompetent senator I can think of, and clearly a Southern racist. We know that especially because of his extremely earnest objections when he is so accused. So what was the purpose of the Sessions hearing? Mere distraction again. Nobody will answer the real questions. What did Sessions talk about with the Russians? What does he know of the president's motives? We did learn that Sessions has received absolutely no briefings on the Russian effort to hack our elections. He is the chief legal officer of the country, and he does not know anything about the most serious effort to attack this country in generations? This is incredible.

Here is what Brian Beutler at the The New Republic had to say on Sessions and the health care debate going on in the Senate:
The odor of corruption and criminality engulfing the Trump administration has forced Democrats in Congress to oppose the president on two fronts—one in the realm of legislation, and another in the realm of oversight. Complicating matters further is the fact that the nature of the two fights are thematic opposites. The investigations of the Trump Organization and Russian meddling in the 2016 election are overwrought with dramatic tension. Explosive new details spill out on a near-daily basis, as one witness after another—former FBI Director James Comey last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week—testifies before the Senate. Legislation and oversight are equally important congressional prerogatives, each of enormous public interest, but only the latter is producing big news at the moment.

That is in large part due to the extraordinary, scandalous steps Republicans are taking to advance legislation that would take health insurance away from millions. Senate Republicans have all but completed a secret bill, the precise contents of which are only known to the 13 men who drafted it, the analysts at the Congressional Budget Office (who are duty-bound not to leak), and, in all likelihood, health industry lobbyists, whose influence in this instance is as opaque as the legislation itself. The process is secretive precisely to limit the number of bombshell stories that can be told about it—to keep the media in the dark so that public pressure is held at bay until the bill becomes law, and it’s too late.
Thursday, June 8, 2017 - Comey Says Trump Lied, Tries to Stop Investigation

The New York Times reports on today's widely-viewed testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. One observation: Republicans seem to be accepting Comey's version of events. They argue over interpretation of this or that aspect, but not the basic facts. And the fact is that Trump tried to close down the Russia investigation into election fraud and fired Comey when he wouldn't do so.
WASHINGTON — James B. Comey, the recently fired F.B.I. director, said Thursday in an extraordinary Senate hearing that he believed that President Trump had clearly tried to derail an F.B.I. investigation into his former national security adviser and that the president had lied and defamed him.

Mr. Comey, no longer constrained by the formalities of a government job, offered a blunt, plain-spoken assessment of a president whose conversations unnerved him from the day they met, weeks before Mr. Trump took office. His testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee provided an unflattering back story to his abrupt dismissal and squarely raised the question of whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct justice.

Answering that falls to the Justice Department special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. Mr. Comey revealed that he gave all of the memos he wrote on his interactions with the president to Mr. Mueller’s investigators, the first suggestion that prosecutors would investigate Mr. Comey’s firing last month.

Also, a heroic leaker has been arrested, Reality Winner, 25 years old, who worked for an NSA contractor. The report she leaked shows the Russians were involved in trying to hack election officials in several states. Here is an analysis at the Intercept.

Monday, June 5, 2017 - Broad Rejection of Trump's Climate Change Actions

Trump withdrew from the Paris climage change accord and drew strong reaction from the Papacy as well the public. Here are the results of a poll in the Washington Post:
Nearly 6 in 10 Americans oppose President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. The survey also finds broad skepticism toward Trump's argument that leaving the Paris agreement will help the U.S. economy. Opposition to Trump's decision outpaces support by a 2-to-1 margin, with 59 percent opposing the move and 28 percent in support.

Friday, May 27, 2017 - Jared Kushner in Trouble

This week Trump has been on his first trip out of the country, first stop: Saudi Arabia, then Israel, then the Pope, Nato, and the G7. But the big news is about the president's son-in-law, Jaren Kushner, who by the way has been a slum landlord in New York City. From The Guardian.
Jared Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to Washington allegedly discussed setting up a secret communications channel to cloak contacts between Moscow and Donald Trump’s White House transition team, it was reported on Friday. Ambassador Sergei Kislyak told his superiors in Moscow that he and Kushner discussed ways to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, the Washington Post said, citing US officials briefed on intelligence reports.

Trump’s son-in-law made the proposal at a meeting in early December at Trump Tower in New York, weeks before Trump was sworn in, according to intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by the US officials, the paper said. Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, also allegedly attended the meeting.

The report will likely put Kushner, who is now a senior White House adviser, under heightened scrutiny in the investigations into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Earlier this week it was reported that the FBI was investigating his contacts with Russian officials. In a separate development, the Washington Post also reported that the Senate intelligence committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race, has asked Trump’s political organization to produce all documents, emails and phone records dating from his campaign’s launch in June 2015.

It would be the first time the Senate’s bipartisan investigation has made such a request to Trump’s official campaign organization.

The White House made no immediate response to requests for comment on either report. Trump is concluding his first foreign trip as president this week. He has repeatedly denied any collusion with Russia.

Two other outlets published related scoops on Friday. The first from the New York Times said that Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch once close to Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, offered to cooperate with congressional committees investigating Russian meddling in return for immunity. Lawmakers rejected his conditions, the Times reported.

And Reuters, citing seven current and former US officials, reported that Kushner had at least three contacts with Kislyak during and after the presidential campaign that were previously undisclosed. Those contacts allegedly included two phone calls between April and November 2016. In response to the Reuters report, Kushner’s attorney, Jamie Gorelick, said Kushner did not remember any calls with Kislyak between April and November. “Mr Kushner participated in thousands of calls in this time period. He has no recollection of the calls as described. We have asked [Reuters] for the dates of such alleged calls so we may look into it and respond, but we have not received such information.”

The cascade of news showed that the multiple Russia inquiries are advancing and that leaks continue to spout from the government, giving administration officials no respite even as they trot the globe.

The White House disclosed Kushner’s meeting with Kislyak in March, four months after it happened, and played down its importance. But the Washington Post reported that the FBI now considers the encounter, plus another meeting Kushner had with a Russian banker, to be of investigative interest. Kushner, who is married to the president’s daughter, Ivanka, has said he will cooperate with any investigation. Current and former US intelligence officials were astonished that he would have requested a secret back channel, calling it “naive” or “crazy” given the FBI’s close tabs on Russian officials in the US, the Post reported.
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: 6/24/2017 3:37:13 PM

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