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Sunday, June 11, 2017


Trump's loyalties

by Tom Sullivan

AP Photo by Alex Brandon via Twitter.

Among the puzzling aspects of the Trump/Russia inquiry is why President Donald Trump would put himself in legal jeopardy for former national security adviser Michael Flynn. According to former FBI chief James Comey's testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday, Trump had Attorney General Jeff Session and others leave the room when he tried to get Comey to drop the Flynn investigation.

The party line is that Trump is simply incompetent, which Republicans think is no big deal for one of their presidents. But also puzzling is why Trump seems unmoved or uninterested in Russian meddling in U.S. elections.

HEINRICH: Did the president in any of those interactions that you've shared with us today ask you what you should be doing or what our government should be doing or the intelligence community to protect America against Russian interference in our election system?

COMEY: I don't recall a conversation like that.


Think Progress is reporting that Session has abruptly cancelled his scheduled Tuesday appearances before House and Senate appropriations committees:
In letters to the chairmen of the committees, Sessions writes that he will send his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, to the hearing instead. In explaining the cancellation, Sessions writes that he believed that members of the committees were planning on asking him about “issues related to the investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 election.”
That's a good guess, given Comey's hints Thursday that Sessions may be compromised and/or under FBI investigation himself. Plus, reports from the closed hearing Thursday afternoon reveal say Sessions had a third undisclosed meeting with the Russian ambassador at the Mayflower hotel in Washington during the campaign last April. While a Justice Department spokesman denied the story, Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Al Franken of Minnesota believed there was more to the Mayflower event than acknowledged:
“It had been characterized one way, but we had some reason to believe that wasn’t the case,” Franken said on MSNBC. “It was described in a way that he could plausibly say, ‘I don’t remember that.’”
Leahy responded sharply to Sessions' cancelling:

On Friday, Paul Waldman pondered why Donald Trump was so intent on protecting Flynn in the first place:

One thing we can say for sure is that Trump was not going to this trouble — including what looks a lot like obstruction of justice — just because he thought Flynn was a "good guy," and Trump is such a mensch that he'll do anything for a good guy. No one who is familiar with Trump could believe that.
As Waldman summarizes, Flynn lied about his Russian contacts, accepted payments from Russia for speeches (without prior authorization and probably in violation of law), and acted as a paid foreign agent for Turkey while advising Trump, among other peccadilloes.
Given all that, you'd think that Trump would not only have kicked Flynn to the curb, but that he would have kept kicking him once he was down there. And yet not only did he not do that, he seems to have been doing everything in his power, even to the point of potentially committing the crime of obstruction of justice, to protect Michael Flynn. He has even reportedly been sending Flynn encouraging texts. Why would that be?

I don't have a good answer. But the idea that it's just because he likes Flynn is impossible to believe. What we're left with then is Trump's own self-interest.
Republican smoke bomb throwers are sure to suggest that simply because we see lots of smoke that doesn't mean there is necessarily a Trumpster fire. If they do, perhaps they'd find it within themselves to admit that, well okay, maybe there wasn't one with Secretary Hillary Clinton either. But these agents aren't going to winning any gold stars for equanimity.