Friday, May 12, 2017

Firing Comey Won't End Russia Probe Vanish, and May Take Trump Down

Outside of the alternate universe of Fox News and Breitbart where blind allegiance to Der Trumpenführer seemingly remains the norm, indicating the power of promises of racist policies and religious extremism to the GOP base, many are realizing that rather than end the Russiagate investigation, Trump may have breathed new life into the matter and could have hastened his fate to parallel that of Richard Nixon.  That Trump and his surrogates lie at every turn and/or that Trump views himself above the law should surprise no one.  His history over the years gave a clear picture to anyone willing to look at it be it his dishonesty in business dealings to his troubling ties to the Mafia and to the Russian mafia.  For now the Vichy Republicans are circling the wagons, but they may live to rue the day they sold their principles and souls and supported a man utterly unfit for any office much less the presidency.  An op-ed at Reuters looks at how Trump may have set the stage for his own undoing.  In my view, the end cannot come quickly enough and I only hope that the damage done to the Republicans who supported Trump is enormous.  Here are highlights:
Our commander-in-chief has made a serious miscalculation. He seems to think the U.S. government is like a reality television show he once ran, where you get great results and top-flight ratings by firing people.
If President Donald Trump dismissed FBI Director James Comey to impede the increasingly intense investigation of the Kremlin's meddling in the 2016 election, that act could someday be construed as an obstruction of justice and an impeachable offense.
That may seem a harsh judgment. But the only precedent we have is – you guessed it – Richard Nixon and Watergate. Nixon's deliberate attempts to obstruct the FBI's investigation of the White House formed a key part of the first article of impeachment approved by the House Judiciary Committee in 1974. Nixon resigned weeks later.
We seem to be watching Watergate in fast-forward. Trump has been in office 110 days, and he's already fired his acting attorney general, his national security adviser, and now the head of the FBI, all of whom have played key roles in the Russia imbroglio. But it's Comey's dismissal that will accelerate the political consequences for Trump, even if it might threaten to slow the pace of the FBI's probe.
It's clear that, until Tuesday, the investigation was growing in size and scope. Last week, Comey reportedly asked the Justice Department for more money and more agents to be devoted to an already expanding case (a claim the DOJ denies). Federal prosecutors in Virginia have issued grand jury subpoenas to associates of the dismissed national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, who had a troubling discussion with FBI agents in the first days of the Trump administration. 
But it seems to me the last straw came on March 20, when Comey testified in public as part of the House Intelligence Committee hearing. He affirmed that the Bureau was in the midst of a massive investigation into Russia’s deliberate attack on American electoral politics, that the aim of that attack was to defeat Clinton and elect Trump – and that Americans may have aided and abetted that assault on democracy.
And in passing, Comey all but called Trump a liar for asserting that President Barack Obama had spied on him by tapping his telephones during the campaign.
If Trump, as he keeps saying, thinks the Russia case is a hoax, and that he can make it vanish by canning Comey, he’s wrong. The FBI is a powerful machine, with thousands of agents, and the ones I know, both active-duty and retired, think Trump’s derision of the investigation was an insult to the institution. They believe that the rule of law is the true rudder for the ship of state; the president cannot reverse its course with a wave of his hand.
It’s bad news for the president that Republicans in Congress were taken aback by his bold and brusque action. They are his last line of defense against the formation of a full-fledged bipartisan independent investigative commission in Congress – on the order of the Iran-Contra committee created three decades ago – a development that could be politically disastrous for Trump.
Senator John McCain, who heads the Armed Services Committee, and is no admirer of Vladimir Putin, defended Comey as an honorable man and called the firing “unprecedented,” which is true. No president has fired an FBI director who was investigating the White House. Not even Nixon had the temerity to do that.
If Congress moves toward an independent commission this summer, which seems possible in the wake of Comey’s dismissal, those same two Senators [McCain and Burr] will be among a handful to lead the way. The FBI will provide crucial support to congressional investigators, and the press will keep digging deeper into this story.
And if Trump continues to alienate Congress and the citizenry with intemperate decisions – he’s now the least popular newly elected president in modern history – it’s going to be an interesting time when the next election rolls around. Imagine what a real congressional investigation of Russiagate might look like if Republicans aren’t holding all the gavels.
Despite what Trump thinks, America is not Putin's Russia and he may have accelerated his own demise.  As noted before, impeachment is not an adequate punishment.  Prosecution and conviction for treason and an appropriate sentence is now the end goal patriotic Americans need to be demanding, and not just for Trump, but everyone in his regime that is implicated. 

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