The Chaos Report: Trump Breaks 48-Hr Silence Over Comey With ‘Wow’
And all the day’s political news in one shock to the system.
President Breaks Eerie Twitter Silence After Damning Day
Trump had clammed up on Twitter for all of ex-FBI Director James Comey’s explosive testimony, for near-48 hours total, until early this morning, with this:
He followed that with a second Tweet, plugging Fox News.
Trump’s contradictory narrative: that almost everything Comey says is a lie, yet his statements vindicate the President, aligns what his lawyer asserted yesterday.
Comey, whom Trump fired about a month ago, came out blazing during his open testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, with new revelations and new details on old ones, most casting the President in a bad light. And while Comey’s “aw, shucks” persona was still very much on display, Comey also proved he’s extremely cunning, and dangerous when wounded.
Among Comey’s most astonishing revelations:
- Comey said he has turned over his Trump meeting notes to special counsel Robert Mueller. According to CNN and the New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin, that means that even if Trump wasn’t under investigation before, he is now. Toobin further asserts “the story is now complete in its outline, if not its details, and Trump’s culpability is clear to anyone who cares to look.”
- Trump became increasingly upset that with all the leaking going on around him, he couldn’t get the leak out he wanted: that he was not under investigation.
- Comey himself leaked info about his notes on Trump through a law professor friend, to the New York Times, with the explicit intent of triggering the naming of a special counsel. (That’s the detail the President is latching onto this morning.)
- While not referring directly to Trump calling him a “nut job”, Comey indicated it was no coincidence he agreed to open testimony right after the President made that comment. He said he was also offended when the President claimed Comey was fired because “The FBI…was in disarray and that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader.” Comey called those defamatory statements “lies, plain and simple.”
- Comey said he never before took notes on meetings he’d had with either of the previous two Presidents he’d worked for, saying he felt differently with Trump because “He might lie about the nature of our meeting and so I thought it really important to document.” He discusses this in an exchange with Senate Intelligence Committee Vice-Chairman Mark Warner. You can watch some of it here:
Surprisingly, not a single Republican committee member questioned Comey’s account of events, even though much of it directly contradicts what the President says happened. Instead, they focused on why Comey wrote everything down, but didn’t speak up. Said Maine’s Susan Collins: “You could have said: ‘Mr. President, this meeting is inappropriate.”
Someone Is Still Lying
A lot of Comey’s testimony continues to be directly at odds with statements from Trump, who says he never demanded loyalty, and never requested Comey stop investigating anybody (see Trump’s lawyer’s statement below.) Trump in a Tweet, threatened Comey with the release of tapes that would supposedly prove this. Comey replied with the “quote of the day” (a win made easier by the absence of Trump Tweets) “Lordy, I hope there are tapes!”
You can watch that segment of his testimony here:
And Trump’s lawyer Robert Kasowitz here:
Lawfare editor and Comey friend Benjamin Wittes, now expects the Trump team to come after Comey as a leaker and betrayer of confidences. And also as someone who could’ve helped the president better understand protocol, and instead just stood by and took notes. He asserts: “Talking about Comey and his choices won’t change the fundamental problem, which is about the Trump presidency, not about the former FBI director.” [Lawfare]
And If You Were Looking For A Definitive Answer About Just How Damaging Bill Clinton’s Tarmac Encounter With Attorney General Loretta Lynch Was To Hillary’s Campaign, Here It Is
In questioning from Committee Chairman Richard Burr, Comey said that was the “conclusive” factor leading to his release of information on newly found emails days before the election. You can watch this below:
Angus King, Rock Star?
If Democrats are looking for a new standard-bearer, they may have just found one. Only problem, he isn’t a Democrat (but neither was Bernie Sanders.) Maine Independent Senator Angus King scored a lot of popularity points over the past couple of days with Democrats, with his sharp intellect and no-nonsense approach. He browbeat Trump’s top intelligence advisors over their refusal to publicly confirm potentially improper requests by the President, causing Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to literally squirm in his seat. He then showed a very different side, bonding with Comey when the former FBI director likened a statement by Trump to a 12th century English king (sounded more like The Godfather to us), then drew out some of the fired FBI director’s most revealing testimony. You can watch some of it here:
King, who says he is planning to run for reelection in 2018, is 74.
McCain Explains What He Was Trying To Say, And It Wasn’t A Bad Point
We won’t embarrass the erstwhile Republican Senator, and war hero (except to Trump), any more than he already has for his confusing and confused line of questioning to Comey. But we will point to a little-covered statement he issued later in the day, explaining what he was trying for. And actually it makes sense.
McCain says he wanted to know why Comey felt it would be overstepping to opine about whether President Trump was trying to obstruct justice when he had no problem offering his opinion that “no reasonable prosecutor” would pursue a case against Hillary Clinton.
Republicans Line Up In Defense Of Trump
During the testimony and outside of it, Republicans came up with lots of novel reasons for why what Trump did wasn’t actually obstruction of justice, even if it might appear that way. During questioning, Idaho Senator Jim Risch harped on the word “hope”, saying if the President told Comey “I hope you can see your way to letting Flynn go” it didn’t necessarily mean Trump was ordering him to do it. Risch then steered the line of questioning further into legal definitions, asking: “Do you know of any case where a person has been charged for obstruction of justice, or for that matter any other criminal offense, where they said or thought they hoped for an outcome?” Comey didn’t answer directly but Adam Liptak, Supreme Court correspondent for the New York Times quickly did. And the answer is “yes.”
And House Speaker Paul Ryan, (who Trump both loves and hates,) defending the President by suggesting his alleged misdeeds are just a product of inexperience: “He’s new to government, and so he probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, FBI and White Houses. He’s just new to this.” To which we say: if you’re new to something, be humble about it. If you act like you’re the bee’s knees from the get-go; if you say “I alone can fix it”, then you’ve waived this benefit.
Under Cover Of The Comey Testimony, House Moves To Roll Back Yet More Reforms, Protections
With the full backing of the White House, the House voted to rescind virtually every single protection put into place to rein in banks, and protect citizens following the 2008 financial crisis. Republican leadership says the Dodds-Frank regulations which include things like stress tests to guarantee bank health, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, overreach and should be gutted. The bill still has to get through the Senate, which will be tougher.
British Election: May Rolls The Dice, Craps Out, But Says She Will Not Resign
Early this morning, British Prime Minister Theresa May saying she will not resign, despite her party’s embarrassing general election result: outright losing its majority in Parliament.
Instead, the Guardian reports, she will form a coalition government with Northern Ireland’s largest party. That party, the Democratic Unionists, holds only 10 seats, but that would be enough to create a majority.
May’s Conservative party (also known as the Tories) ended up losing 12 seats in Parliament for a total of 318. Labour gained 31 seats for a total of 261.
326 are needed for an unbreakable majority, and May will have that if she gains the Democratic Unionists 10 seats. Their inclusion could lead to an even more conservative government, and decrease the chances Northern Ireland might try to break away from Brexit. At the same time, Labour’s resurgence could re-shape Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Back in April, May called the snap election, riding the wave of the unprecedented Brexit victory, confident of solidifying huge margins for herself in Parliament. Big mistake. While May’s Conservative party (also known as the Tories) still holds more seats than any other, it outright lost the very majority May sought to increase.
Central to the results: recent terrorist attacks in Manchester and London. While May and the Conservatives are traditionally the party of staunch law-and-order (May said she was willing to weaken human rights laws if it helped fight terrorism), Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was able to effectively call them out for cutting funding of police and security forces.
Of course in Britain, it always comes down to who can make the best soccer (excuse me, “football”) analogy. Soccer star-turned commentator, Gary Lineker, Tweeted this:
Tiny Qatar Is Turning Into Giant, Unexpected Test For President Trump
Middle East leaders put on their best show of unity when Trump visited, yet in a few short weeks are more fractured than they’ve been in decades, with Saudi Arabia and some allies moving aggressively to isolate Qatar. Which in turn has Turkey pledging support to Qatar with new resolve and troops. Why should you care about this distant (and thus far non-violent) skirmish involving faraway lands? Because Trump’s put himself smack in the center of it by siding with the Saudis, and taking some credit for triggering the rift, in Tweets. (This has put the Pentagon in the awkward position of publicly praising Qatar behind the President’s back, which it kind of has to do considering there are 11,000 U.S. troops stationed there.) Should you need more convincing about why you should care, but only have time to read one article: read this.
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