If your head is swimming with the accounts of “Russian Collusion” with the Trump campaign, a cock and bull story confected by Hillary Clinton to explain her loss and to undermine the President, allow me to simplify it now that James Comey has testified and revealed with a load of bunk it is.
First of all, don’t forget that as the head of the FBI, James Comey had the power to request the appointment of a Special Counsel anytime he felt it was warranted. In fact, despite countless leaks to the press that there was evidence of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russia, he had informed the relevant Congressional leaders that the FBI had no such evidence after months of investigation, a concession which, unsurprisingly enough, was never, leaked. The four Democrat leaders of the Gang of 8, which oversees the operation and knew this themselves, kept promulgating the lie that there was some such evidence.
After he was fired, in an act of venomous revenge -- not atypical of the Swamp – Comey had a friend, a Columbia Law School professor, leak his version of a conversation with the president. In this version, Trump was trying to hide the collusion by cutting off an investigation.
Why did he not simply release the memo to the press in a less cowardly fashion? Because he clearly hoped it would not be traced to him, and the motive thus made clear. Moreover, he confessed that he wanted to force the appointment of a special counsel. This follows to a striking degree the path in the Plame case -- where the attorney general, John Ashcroft, recused himself, and Comey was made acting attorney general, whereupon he appointed his friend Patrick Fitzgerald. I trust that many readers already are familiar with the manner in which Fitzpatrick’s investigation into a leak by Cheney-hater Richard Armitage, which tied up the administration and resulted in a confected process crime against a Cheney aide, Lewis Libby. In case you want to refresh your recollection of those events, here is the article I wrote about it eleven years ago.
This time, another leak about an inconsequential meeting with the Russian Ambassador caused Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself. As a correspondent notes about that recusal:
James Comey justified in his statements that on February 14th he did not inform his recently confirmed boss Attorney General Jeff Sessions, of the content of the oval office meeting with President Trump – or his suddenly overwhelming feelings of impropriety, because he anticipated Jeff Sessions would be forced to recuse himself from anything to do with the Russian investigation.. There was nothing known on February 14th which would establish a need for Sessions recusal. There’s no reasonable basis for such an assumption on February 14th, unless it was Comey’s intention to leak FISA-granted surveillance of Russian Ambassador Kislyak, having an innocuous meeting with Senator Jeff Sessions, to the Washington Post. A disingenuous, albeit politically framed, leak did factually surface on March 1st.
After Sessions’ recusal, the acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointedComey’s “good friend” Robert Mueller as special counsel:
“Any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump and matters that arise or may arise directly from the investigation and other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. sec. 600.4 c [process crimes like destruction of evidence and perjury which occur during the investigation]”
In sum, knowing that the underlying case was garbage, Comey forced the hand of the attorney general and then the acting attorney general to recuse themselves and let his good friend go after the administration -- tying it up with criminal investigations and hoping to find some process crimes (perjury, obstruction, destruction of evidence) to prosecute. In other words, hoping for another witch-hunt.
In fact, with a better understanding of the man heading the FBI, the President should have fired him immediately. As the Wall Street Journal warned in January:
If experience is a guide, Mr. Comey is the sort of man to be embraced with extreme political caution. Democrats cheered last summer when he invented a legal distinction between extreme carelessness and gross negligence to give Hillary Clinton a legal pass for mishandling classified information. Now they blame him for throwing the election to Mr. Trump for informing Congress, 11 days before the election, that he was reopening the investigation.Republicans have also been burned by Mr. Comey, not just over his Clinton gymnastics but also his efforts to undermine the Bush Administration’s antiterror efforts during a prior stint as Deputy Attorney General. Now he will be responsible for current investigations into suspected links between the Russian government and some of Mr. Trump’s close associates.We believe as much as anyone that FBI directors should be willing to go after criminality irrespective of politics. The trouble with Mr. Comey is that he is nothing if not political, especially when it comes to opportunities to burnish his personal reputation by going after the objects of liberal wrath.Ask Frank Quattrone, the investment banker wrongly targeted by Mr. Comey in the post-Enron prosecution frenzy; or Scooter Libby, victim of the Javert-like exertions of Mr. Comey’s close friend Patrick Fitzgerald during the Plamegate hysteria.
At this point, Robert Mueller has several choices. With his appointment now revealed as a ruse designed by a vengeful partisan, he can resign, or he can wrap it up quickly -- after all, he now has all of Comey’s files on the already months-long investigation, which has produced nothing.
Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton argues that the Comey leak to the New York Timesthrough his cut out invalidates the Special Counsel appointment,
The appointment of Special Counsel was made under suspect circumstances. Comey's illicit actions turned it into a public corruption issue.— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) June 9, 2017
Newt Gingrich argues much the same:
Comey Invalidates Special CounselThe most startling revelation from fired FBI Director James Comey’s testimony this week was his barefaced admission that he intentionally leaked details of his private conversations with the President to the press in an effort to prompt the appointment a special counsel.When asked Thursday by Senator Susan Collins of Maine whether he shared the memos he wrote about his conversations with President Trump with anyone outside the Department of Justice, Comey answered:“I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter – didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons – but I asked him to, because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.”This statement is tremendously important because it completely delegitimizes Robert Mueller’s so-called independent investigation and reveals it as poisoned fruit.
Interestingly enough, Comey’s testimony this week took place after he consulted with Mueller.
“Collusion” in any event is not a crime. The only evidence of "collusion with Russia" is that of Ted Kennedy, who in 1983 did try unsuccessfully to enlist the Russians to help him defeat Ronald Reagan’s re-election bid.
Should Mueller not quit or Rosenstein not end his appointment, anyone questioned by the special counsel or his staff ought to demand what crime is under investigation. No one should speak to any agent investigating this non-crime without counsel present and demanding that the interrogation be videotaped. The FBI refuses to allow such documentation, and as we know from the case of agent John Eckenrode in the Libby case, their notes are often in error or conveniently lost and the agent involved resigned so he cannot, as a practical matter, be cross examined about them because of the limited discovery options to defendants.
In other words, do not fall into gentleman G.W. Bush’s trap of acting like this Mueller team is honorable or seeking to find the truth about a real crime. Chances are they are not.
At the same time that the Comey show was playing, we learned that the improbably named Reality Winner, a young linguist working for an NSA contractor, leaked classified information to which, as the holder of a top secret classification, she had access. This follows leaks by Manning and Snowden. Her online communications would suggest to any reasonable person that she wassympathetic to the enemy.
A diary found in her home indicated she planned to burn down the White House and run off to join the Taliban, among other things. We are giving the government more and more access to all our communications and these classified intercepts are being handled by partisans like Susan Rice to unmask and widely distribute, and to young, clearly disturbed, and poorly vetted people. Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate whether we really need to gather up all this stuff and put it in such hands.
Perhaps instead of chasing chimeras, Congress ought to consider whether the massive spying by the Obama Administration, in violation of established law, is a better use of its resources. Or the Obama Administration’s systemic disbanding of those units investigating Iran’s terrorism networks because it feared that might interfere with the Iran “deal.”
Maybe Congress ought to consider whether dismantling intelligence that has a better chance of scotching terrorism is more significant than listening in on the private communications of the Democrats’ opponents by the many people in the national security apparatus whose “patriotism and professionalism” are, in the words of Glenn Reynolds, “overestimated.”