Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Friday, June 09, 2017

Trump vs his bestie Jeff Sessions

by digby

I wrote about Comey and his tantalizing hints about Jeff Sessions for Salon this morning:

President Donald Trump may have been a D-list reality TV celebrity, but former FBI Director James Comey is a genuine political star. Trump has met his match when it comes to creating political drama. Comey teased the testimony with his written statement on Wednesday and then appeared in the hearing room on Thursday, sitting alone facing the Senate Intelligence Committee and casually calling the president of the United States a liar.

This is not something you normally hear from a career bureaucrat, and it was riveting political theater in a way that Trump’s chaotic cartoon circus will never be. For all the drama of past similar televised testimony, like that of the individuals called during Sen. Joseph McCarthy hearings or the Ken Starr inquiry of the Lewinsky scandal, or the appearances of John Dean and Alexander Butterfield during the Watergate investigation or Oliver North during the Iran-contra scandal, never before have we had a case when the president himself was under suspicion in a counterintelligence investigation. This is unprecedented.

Yesterday people all over the country gathered in bars, coffeehouses and conference rooms to watch Comey’s testimony. People were tweeting that everyone in airports was watching in rapt silence. Indeed, the only person who apparently didn’t watch was Donald Trump. His staff had hurriedly scheduled a last-minute speech before an adoring audience, most likely to keep him away from his Twitter account.

Republican officials were uncharacteristically subdued. House Speaker Paul Ryan was asked about Comey’s testimony about Trump’s requesting loyalty and making it clear that he hoped Comey would let Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser, off the hook. Ryan claimed that Trump was just naive to the ways of politics. One couldn’t help but recall that Trump seemed quite sure of proper legal and ethical protocol when he criticized former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton for their private meeting on the airport tarmac, even suggesing that Clinton had offered Lynch a bribe.

Comey’s story was straightforward: He testified that the president wanted a personal loyalty oath and had directed him to drop the case against Flynn. Trump also repeatedly insisted that Comey publicly exonerate the president himself. When Comey didn’t come through, Trump fired him in order to change the direction of the Russia investigation. Comey memorialized all his conversations with the president on paper because he was concerned Trump might lie about them.

It’s the story of a president frantic to stop an FBI investigation into his campaign and panicked at the possibility his former national security adviser might be legally vulnerable. This behavior may very well signal a consciousness of guilt, and terror that Flynn might make a deal and turn against him out of self-preservation. Trump may be a novice politician but he has observed many a mob trial in New York and he knows how this works.

As dramatic as the hearing was, Comey’s story is just one piece of the bigger case that Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating. That case has to do with hacking, election meddling and propaganda, financial connections, collusion and possible espionage. It’s a comprehensive investigation and it’s expanding every day.

One intriguing detail in Comey’s testimony was his obvious mistrust of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He told the panel that he didn’t tell Sessions of the president’s asking about dropping the Flynn inquiry because Comey believed the request to be of “investigative interest.” Clearly Comey thought Sessions would alert the White House about these concerns.

Comey also indicated that he and other FBI officials decided not to inform Sessions about various issues related to the Russian probe because they assumed the attorney general would have to recuse himself from that investigation. Comey explained that he couldn’t tell the Senate panel why in a public context:

Our judgment, as I recall, was that he was very close to and inevitably going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons. We also were aware of facts that I can’t discuss in an open setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic.

This discussion happened in mid-February but Sessions didn’t follow through with recusing himself until March 2, after it was reported that he’d failed to mention two meetings with Russia’s Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in his confirmation hearing. After Comey testified in a closed session Thursday, CNN reported that he had told the committee there had been a third meeting with Kislyak that Sessions had not revealed. (Presumably, this third meeting is the same one that has been previously reported about in the press.)

The Justice Department disputed some details of Comey’s testimony about Sessions and issued a statement saying that the attorney general had merely recused himself because he had been involved with the Trump campaign. But that doesn’t fit with our previous understanding of his decision. It was the revelation of meetings with Kislyak, which Comey and other FBI officials obviously knew about, that appeared to be the catalyst.

Comey’s testimony about Sessions comes after many stories over the past few days suggesting that for months Trump has been livid with the attorney general over his recusal. The president has also publicly insulted the Justice Department over its handling of his proposed travel ban, blaming the agency for being “politically correct” for following court orders.

Evidently, Trump felt blindsided by Sessions’ decision to recuse himself and believes that’s the reason the president now has to deal with a special prosecutor. The New York Times reported recently that the relationship between Trump and Sessions became so strained that the latter offered to resign at one point, telling the president he needed the freedom to do his job. Several days ago reporters asked the White House press office if Sessions still had the confidence of the president and only on Thursday was that question finally answered in the affirmative.

This is strange for many reasons. If there is one genuine Trump true believer in the president’s Cabinet, it’s Jeff Sessions. Treating the attorney general with the same disdain that Trump dishes out to everyone else in his orbit is not only abusive; it’s very foolish. Sessions is the only effective Cabinet member the president has who is truly loyal to him personally. It’s yet another example of Donald Trump being his own worst enemy.