After a superlative-defying week in which each late afternoon/evening brought yet another political earthquake, we are left with an attempt to put it all together and not miss the latest volcano eruption. There is a good chance this piece will be dated because it takes a minute or so to post it.
What’s the “latest?” FBI director James Comey was so disturbed by President Trump’s words and actions that he started documenting every bit of it. Comey detailed in a contemporaneously-memo that Trump asked him to back off the Flynn investigation.
The New York Times reports Trump bragged to Russian officials—in the Oval Office—that he fired Comey to relieve pressure on him, saying Comey was “a real nut.” This was the meeting that was documented only by a Russian news agency as the American press was blocked out.
Things got so bad, when Comey was asked to the White House for a ceremony, he anguished over it and actually hoped his blue suit on six-foot-eight-inch frame could blend in with the drapes. This is what our federal government is coming to. It’s shameful and sad.
White House lawyers are now researching impeachment—how to fend it off, how to comply or resist complying with moves by special counsel Robert Mueller. The wheels are turning and there is very little chance they will stop any time soon. Trump called Mueller’s appointment, “a witch hunt.”
And there’s this:
Trump is reeling, his White House is leaking like a sieve and the facts seem to add up to obstruction of justice at the very least.
Let’s sit with this for a while: President Trump met with the Russian foreign minister and US ambassador and bragged to them:
“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.”
And oh, the Russian offered, if you need a transcript, we’ve got one for you. If this was a Tom Clancy novel, the plot would be rejected as implausible.
The White House isn’t even bothering to deny Trump’s boast to the Russians that he eliminated the person causing him grief over the Russian connection. From spokesman Sean Spicer:
“By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia’s actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia,” Mr. Spicer said. “The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it. Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations.”
Equally astounding is the near silence of the Republicans. They’re alternately “troubled,” “concerned,” and “distracted.” They have not reached the point where it dawns on them their legislative agenda is dead in the water until all this Russian mess is resolved. Fortunately for the nation, the pass-anything-at-all-costs replace and repeal of Obamacare is going nowhere in the Senate (that may have been true without all the extras). There will be no tax reform, there will be no budget.
Where’s Howard Baker when you need him?
Some of the side shows of all of this include:
• “You won’t believe how good my intel is, you guys!” Trump’s revealing of top secret information to the Russians easily could have stood alone as the scandal of the week. The intel was so sensitive our own allies didn’t know about it. NSA Director H.R. McMaster, in trying to defend Trump’s spilling the classified beans, admitted that Trump himself didn’t know where the information came from.
• Joe Lieberman as the new FBI director? Democrats hate him including many in his home state of Connecticut. Connecticut Dems are still put out that the rest of the state ultimately chose Lieberman over the inexperienced, one-trick-pony Ned Lamont who may or may not have served on a board of education somewhere. Lamont managed to win the Democrat primary before Lieberman buried him in the general election.
• Rod Rosenstein. It’s still not clear what’s up with this guy. He had the common sense to appoint Mueller as special counsel while admitting he knew Trump was going to fire Comey before he wrote the memo advising the dismissal. The memo was originally used as the rationale for the firing.
And then there is the question of Vice President Mike Pence…What did he know and when did he know it? Was he really a dupe when he claimed not to know about fired NSA director Michael Flynn’s contacts with the Russian? Plausible deniability? Or is this he envisioned this all along?
Follow Pence. That’s where to the story will ultimately go.