Yesterday, the Trump/Russia controversy ignited into overdrive with Trump’s abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the FBI investigation into the extent of Russian interference with the US election, and potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence operatives in attempting to interfere with the election.
Trump’s stated reason for firing Comey, on its face, had nothing to do with the Russia investigation. To the contrary, Trump asserted in his letter discharging Comey that it was actually about his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, which was concluded before the election and then briefly re-initiated based on the FBI’s review of emails found on the sticky laptop of Anthony Weiner.
The way it supposedly happened was this: Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General, wrote a two-page memo/letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, essentially suggesting Comey be discharged over the handling of the Clinton email investigation. Rosenstein’s memo apparently suggested that Comey’s testimony last week showed that Comey (who defended his handling of the matter) hadn’t “learned his lesson” and shouldn’t head the FBI. However, a review of the Rosenstein memo contains nothing new on the matter whatsoever, and reflects nothing more than things that people were talking about before the election was even complete.
Rosenstein’s memo to Sessions, who lied under oath at his confirmation hearing about personal contact with Russian operatives after becoming associated with the Trump campaign, and had to recuse himself from the Trump/Russia investigation as a result, led to Sessions writing a letter to Trump himself. Sessions’ letter again discussed only the Clinton email investigation. In that letter, Sessions recommended the discharge of Comey over his handling of that investigation.
Wait, what? Sessions was the first “name” Republican on Team Trump during the campaign. Eight days before the election, Trump himself cheered Comey for the very reason he just supposedly fired him. Referring to his revival of the Clinton email controversy in a letter to Congress just before the election, an effusive Trump said “It took guts for director Comey to make the move that he made, it took a lot of guts.” He whipped his supporters into a literal frenzy saying that Clinton should be “locked up” over the emails Comey was investigating. Just last week, on May 2, Trump tweeted “FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds!” Trump loved the guy.
Now, the American people are supposed to believe that Trump has fired Comey to defend Clinton’s honor? That he was axed for the conduct Trump so admired?
Of course not. As they say in showbiz, timing is everything. And the timing here simply can’t be ignored. The Trump/Russia investigation is heating up, and Comey confirmed last week that the FBI is coordinating with two separate sets of prosecutors, at the main office of the DOJ in Washington, and another USAG office in the Eastern District of Virginia, in connection with that investigation. The timing of Comey’s firing now clearly suggests a Nixonian cover-up, an attempt to quash the investigation.
The smoking gun that proves that Trump’s underlying motive in firing Comey is Trump’s own letter to Comey firing him. In that letter, Trump said the following:
Let’s break that break it down. The first paragraph refers to Rosenstein’s letter to Sessions, and Sessions’ letter to Trump, both of which make the recommendation to discharge Comey solely in relation to the Clinton email investigation.
Then the smoking gun comes in the second paragraph: “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.” The “investigation” had nothing to do, supposedly, with the firing. Yet, Trump’s ham-handed letter, which doesn’t differ much from his incessantly self-serving tweets, injects the Russia investigation into a completely unrelated set of circumstances, and clearly shows Trump’s true motive for the firing.
It may be that Comey was getting too close. It may be that Trump took Comey’s recent comment that he was “mildly nauseous” at potentially effecting the election personally, as Trump is prone to do, and that this insult (which actually wasn’t even aimed at Trump) was the last straw. Multiple reports have surfaced of late that Trump has been increasingly enraged not only at the ongoing Russia investigation, but also at Comey’s refusal to back up Trump’s baseless claim that Obama was wiretapping him.
If Comey was really being fired over something he did in 2016, why now? Why not right after Trump took office, or at least after Sessions became USAG? The timing of this has everything to do with the investigation, and Trump’s own injection of that investigation into the letter he sent to Comey totally tips his hand. This whole thing reeks of a cover-up, not unlike Nixon’s ill-fated attempt to quash the Watergate investigation by firing independent counsel Archibald Cox. The comparison couldn’t be more apt.
Republicans were quick to come to the defense of Trump and assert the clearly pretextual reason for Comey’s firing as gospel truth. They state that Democrats are hypocrites because they wanted Comey fired for speaking out days before the election. They whine that they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. But again, the timing. None of them has even the slightest explanation of why, if Trump is really doing this for Hillary’s sake, he chose to do it now as things are heating up on the Russia investigation.
Mitch McConnell, showing his willingness to be a complete toady for Trump, offered a typically absurd excuse for not appointing an independent counsel or convening an independent commission to continue the Trump/Russia investigation, saying that doing so would only delay the House and Senate investigations. But those investigations are moving at a snail’s pace, suffering not only from a lack of staffing but a lack of political will. Both committees are chaired by Republicans, and both have been dragging their feet and accomplishing next to nothing, other than carrying water for a president that would rather the whole thing go away. When has a single subpoena issued? When was Carter Page compelled to testify before Congress? Manafort? Flynn? Have I fucking missed something?
This is a critical moment in history. It is rare that you can look at the events of a day you are living now, in the present, and know with certainty that the events of the day will be discussed for decades and maybe centuries to come. We are at that moment. Only the faithful or the stupid will accept Trump’s pretextual explanation for what he has done. For the rest of us, the cover-up is painfully obvious. Those in Congress who continue to carry water for Trump will be remembered as profiles in cowardice, too weak or morally compromised to place country over party.
It is clear what is happening, and it is an outrage. Independent investigation can no longer be avoided without compromising the very integrity of our democracy. If anything, the Russia investigation will now only intensify, the exact opposite of what Trump wanted. It is inevitable, because the situation was handled so stupidly. The noose will continue to tighten. Eventually, when you have enough snowflakes, you will have an avalanche.