Thursday, May 11, 2017

Comey Had Asked for More Resources for Russia Inquiry

Although I've been at work and at a political function all day, I have checked the news outlets throughout the day and the take away from James Comey's firing by Der Trumpenführer,  is that Trump likely made his situation far worse.   Despite the bloviating - OK, let's be frank, lies - of Vichy Republicans like Mitch McConnell, the growing impression is that Comey was closing in on Trump and his Russian collusion (treason, if you will) and Trump stupidly acted in a knee jerk reaction that only confirms the impression that Trump and his campaign are guilty of high crimes.  Also of interest is the fact that the Senate Intelligence Committee has asked "Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network for financial information on Mr. Trump and some of his associates that was relevant to the Russia investigation."  From my own experience assisting the FBI and Justice Department officials, often it is the financial, banking and wire transfer activity that takes a target down.  The New York Times looks at the growing confrontation between Congress and Der Der Trumpenführer.  Here are highlights:
Days before he was fired as F.B.I. director, James B. Comey asked the Justice Department for more prosecutors and other personnel to accelerate the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election.
It was the first clear-cut evidence that Mr. Comey believed the bureau needed more resources to handle a sprawling and highly politicized counterintelligence investigation.
Two separate congressional inquiries into Russian meddling are relying on evidence and intelligence being amassed by the F.B.I., and if the bureau’s investigation falters, the congressional inquiries are likely to be hobbled. Perhaps for this reason, Mr. Comey’s firing appears to have imbued the Senate Intelligence Committee with a renewed sense of urgency.
The committee issued its first subpoena in the Russia investigation on Wednesday, ordering Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, to hand over records of any emails, phone calls, meetings and financial dealings with Russians.
It was an aggressive new tack in what had been a slowly unfolding inquiry. A day earlier, the Senate panel began pressing a little-known government bureau that tracks money laundering and terrorism financing for leads in the Russian investigation.
Senator Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, the Republican chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the Democratic vice chairman, also invited Mr. Comey to testify in a closed session — a setting that would allow Mr. Comey to discuss classified information and any meetings he held with superiors at the Justice Department or with Mr. Trump.
“I’m told that as soon as Rosenstein arrived, there was a request for additional resources for the investigation, and that a few days afterward, he was sacked,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois. “I think the Comey operation was breathing down the neck of the Trump campaign and their operatives, and this was an effort to slow down the investigation.”
According to the congressional officials, the Senate Intelligence Committee learned of Mr. Comey’s request on Monday when Senators Burr and Warner asked the F.B.I. director to meet them. They wanted him to accelerate the bureau’s investigation so they could press forward with theirs. Congressional investigators do not have the authority to collect intelligence that agencies like the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. possess.
At the meeting with the senators, Mr. Comey said he made the request because he believed the Justice Department had not dedicated enough resources to the investigation, a fact partly stemming from the unusual situation under which the inquiry was being run. Until two weeks ago, when Mr. Rosenstein took over as deputy attorney general, the investigation was being overseen by Dana Boente, who was acting as the deputy and had limited power.
But if the White House was hoping Mr. Comey’s firing would provide relief from the pressure of the Russia investigations, the Senate Intelligence Committee appeared eager to fill any temporary void.
Late last month, it asked a number of high-profile Trump campaign associates to hand over emails and other records of dealings with Russians, and the committee’s subpoena of Mr. Flynn on Wednesday made good on its threat to legally compel anyone who failed to voluntarily comply with its request.
Also on Wednesday, Mr. Burr and Mr. Warner asked the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network for financial information on Mr. Trump and some of his associates that was relevant to the Russia investigation.
Both Mr. Warner and Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon — the ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee with jurisdiction over the Treasury Department and also a member of the Intelligence Committee — have said they will block the confirmation of Sigal Mandelker, Mr. Trump’s nominee to be the top Treasury official for terrorism and financial crimes, until the network delivers the information.
“I have stated repeatedly that we have to follow the money if we are going to get to the bottom of how Russia has attacked our democracy,” Mr. Wyden said on Wednesday. “That means thoroughly review any information that relates to financial connections between Russia and President Trump and his associates, whether direct or laundered through hidden or illicit transactions.”
The financial crimes network would not confirm its participation in the inquiry, in line with its policy not to comment on investigations or even confirm that they exist, said Steve Hudak, a spokesman.
But financial intelligence experts, including several former employees of the bureau, said its database, which contains more than 200 million records, can be a treasure trove of information about financial ties between individuals and companies for law enforcement agencies pursuing complex investigations.
I sincerely hope that Trump's firing of Comey backfires and instead of delaying the investigation ends up accelerating it - and hopefully confirming that Trump and his associates - including Pence - are guilty of collusion with a foreign hostile government and deserving of prosecution and severe penalties. 

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