Category Archives: Law Enforcement

What the Trump administration knew about Michael Flynn, and when they knew it

I have said from the beginning the White House cover story that Gen. Michael Flynn was fired for “misleading” Trump transition team chairman Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russia and his being an undisclosed foreign lobbyist for Turkey smelled to high heaven of bullshit.

Then acting attorney general Sally Yates notified White House counsel that Flynn was under investigation by the FBI, and the White House did nothing for 18 days. It only became an issue after the Washington Post reported the story. If not reported by the media, Flynn would still be in his job.

Now we learn that the Trump transition team was informed by Gen. Michael Flynn himself that he was under investigation by the FBI even before Donald Trump named him as his mational securty adviser.

There is no credible scenario in which Vice President Mike Pence,  the Trump transition team chairman, was not also fully apprised of the facts by Trump transition team lawyers. Both Trump and Pence knowingly hired a man they knew was under investigation by the FBI and was compromised by his foreign entanglements. Mike Pence has some splainin’ to do under oath.

The New York Times reports that the Trump Team Knew Flynn Was Under Investigation Before He Came to White House:

Michael T. Flynn told President Trump’s transition team weeks before the inauguration that he was under federal investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey during the campaign, according to two people familiar with the case.

Despite this warning, which came about a month after the Justice Department notified Mr. Flynn of the inquiry, Mr. Trump made Mr. Flynn his national security adviser. The job gave Mr. Flynn access to the president and nearly every secret held by American intelligence agencies.

Mr. Flynn’s disclosure, on Jan. 4, was first made to the transition team’s chief lawyer, Donald F. McGahn II, who is now the White House counsel. That conversation, and another one two days later between Mr. Flynn’s lawyer and transition lawyers, shows that the Trump team knew about the investigation of Mr. Flynn far earlier than has been previously reported.

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Comey’s Revenge?

Last Friday Donald Trump’s Tweet alleged secretly recorded “tapes” of his conversations with fired FBI Director James Comey.

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Tuesday night we learned that James Comey can say “I’ll see your alleged tape recordings, and raise you the contemporaneous memorandums of conversations that I maintain to cover my ass. And I want to testify in both public and private hearings before Congress.”

If Trump was bluffing about his “tapes,” now’s the time for him to fold. He’s about to lose this hand “bigly.”

The New York Times reported, Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Flynn Investigation:

President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.

“I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.

This is the basis for an obstruction of justice charge.

Mr. Comey created similar memos — including some that are classified — about every phone call and meeting he had with the president, the two people said. It is unclear whether Mr. Comey told the Justice Department about the conversation or his memos.

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National security risk: Putin’s puppet, Donald Trump

When Donald Trump hosted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Oval Office last Wednesday just hours after firing the FBI director James Comey who was overseeing an investigation into whether Trump’s team colluded with the Russians, he did so at the specific request of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia’s Oval Office Victory Dance:

The chummy White House visit—photos of the president yukking it up with Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak were released by the Russian Foreign Ministry since no U.S. press was allowed to cover the visit—had been one of Putin’s asks in his recent phone call with Trump, and indeed the White House acknowledged this to me later Wednesday. “He chose to receive him because Putin asked him to,” a White House spokesman said of Trump’s Lavrov meeting. “Putin did specifically ask on the call when they last talked.”

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The images of Trump putting his arm genially on Lavrov’s back—and a later White House official readout of the meeting that said Trump “emphasized his desire to build a better relationship between the United States and Russia”—couldn’t have come at a more fraught political moment for Trump, amid a barrage of bipartisan criticism of his firing of FBI Director James Comey. On Wednesday morning before meeting with Trump, Lavrov even cracked a joke about his hosts’ political predicament, laughingly claiming not to have heard of the Comey firing while standing alongside Trump’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson.

In other words, Lavrov was right where he has always wanted to be Wednesday: mocking the United States while being welcomed in the Oval Office by the president himself.

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Witness Intimidation, Obstruction of Justice, and Impeachment

I am still on vacation visiting relatives during what has been a busy news week.

The most important developments from last week were the New York Times report on Donald Trump’s insistence of personal loyalty from FBI Director James Comey, as if he is a mafia Godfather insisting on the code of omertà; Trump’s interview with Lester Holt of NBC in which he essentially made a public admission of obstruction of justice; and Trump’s threatening Tweet to fired FBI director James Comey about “tapes” of their alleged conversations.

Trump cannot control his own destructive impulses from acting out on intimidation of witnesses and obstruction of justice — Count One of the Articles of Impeachment against Richard Nixon.

Here is a good summary from New York Magazine. Trump Asked Comey for Loyalty a Day After He Was Warned About Flynn:

Unsatisfied with his press office’s handling of the fallout from the firing of FBI Director James Comey, on Thursday night President Trump took matters into his own hands — and made things much, much worse.

Though their story kept shifting, for days White House officials stuck to their claim that Comey was fired because the president and top Justice Department officials felt he was doing a bad job, not because of the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible Russia ties.

Then in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, Trump proclaimed that he had actually decided to fire Comey regardless of what Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recommended — and the Russia probe was on his mind.

“In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said [self], ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won,’” the president said.

Trump speaking about himself in the third person is your first clue that this Dude is bonkers.

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James Clapper destroys Trump talking point about collusion, says US institutions are ‘under assault’ from Trump

In March, Former Director of National Intelligence Clapper said during a March 5 Meet the Press interview that he had not seen any evidence of potential collusion through the time he left office on Jan. 20.

“There was no evidence whatsoever, at the time, of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians,” said Clapper.

Just like our Russia blog trolls who post comments on this blog, later that month, Trump tweeted about Clapper’s March statement:

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Trump again tweeted last week:

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James Clapper finally had enough of Trump’s mischaracterizaton and misuse of his statement and set the record straight last week. James Clapper doesn’t know if there was collusion between Trump and Russia:

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said he does not know if there was collusion between President Trump’s campaign and Russia and that he was not privy to the details of the counterintelligence investigation.

I don’t know if there was collusion or not,” Clapper said during an interview Friday with MSNBC. “I don’t know if there was evidence of collusion or not, nor should I have.”

Clapper said it would have been former FBI Director James Comey’s discretion to notify him of any evidence of collusion and said it was his practice to always “defer” to the director.

It’s not surprising or abnormal that I would not have known about the investigation, or more importantly the content of that investigation,” Clapper said.

When he testified last Monday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, along with ousted Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, Clapper also appeared to cast doubt on the president’s interpretation of his comments when he said he “was not aware of the counterintelligence investigation Director Comey first referred to during his testimony before the House intelligence committee on March 20th.”

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Latest on the Trump-Putin campaign investigation, and more

I picked a bad time to take a vacation to visit family. Shit hit the fan this week in Washington.

On Monday, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and destroyed the Trump administration’s false narrative about its handling of Gen. Michael Flynn lying about his foreign contacts. The Washington Post’s conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin has a good summary of the testimony. Sally Yates just threw the White House under the bus.

The Trump administration’s response for ignoring Yates’ warnings that Flynn was lying and not firing him for 18 days only after the Washington Post reported the story? “Baghdad Sean” Spicer claimed that Yates was a Democratic partisan and “painted her as essentially a double agent.” Sean Spicer says Sally Yates was a ‘strong supporter’ of Hillary Clinton. His evidence: Rumors. “The White House dismissed warnings about Michael Flynn from both President Obama and Yates, the former acting attorney general, because they were viewed as opponents with axes to grind.”

This no doubt is the same attitude that led the Trump administration’s disregard for President Obama’s personal warning to Donald Trump not to hire Gen. Michael Flynn. The “partisanship” in handling Gen. Flynn was a one-way street on the part of Team Trump, ignoring genuine concerns for U.S. national security.

CNN reports that federal prosecutors have issued grand jury subpoenas to associates of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn seeking business records, as part of the ongoing probe of Russian meddling in last year’s election. CNN exclusive: Grand jury subpoenas issued in FBI’s Russia investigation:

The subpoenas issued in recent weeks by the US Attorney’s Office in Alexandria, Virginia, were received by associates who worked with Flynn on contracts after he was forced out as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014, according to the people familiar with the investigation.

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