The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age
    Ramona's picture

    How the G-Man Worked to Bring Down POTUS


    After former FBI director James Comey's testimony on Thursday, there were questions about why he waited so long to go public with all he knew.  He'd had two one-on-one meetings with Trump, along with several Trump-initiated phone calls, all deemed inappropriate, at the very least, by anyone who knows anything about how our system is supposed to work.

    Comey first met with Trump at Trump Tower on January 6, when the then-FBI director had to tell President-elect Trump about some Russian-generated salacious material against him.  There were others in the room, but Comey said he was  unnerved by the tenor of Trump's comments and began recording the details on his laptop the minute he got back into his car.  He shared those notes almost immediately with other FBI members, so there would be no question about fuzzy recollections or later alterations.

    The first private meeting took place on January 27, at a dinner set up by the White House. Comey testified he had no idea he would be the only guest until he walked in the door and say a small oval table set for two.  The conversation took an awkward turn toward his loyalty to the president.  Comey says Trump said, "I need loyalty. I expect loyalty."  Awkward pause, wherein Comey blew it by not saying, "My loyalty is to the country, to the constitution, blah, blah, blah".  Instead, he said something about honesty, and then muttered--to his own chagrin--something about "honest loyalty". Which Trump, of course, took to mean he'd just finagled a loyalty oath from the director of the FBI.

    Game on!

    On February 14, after an Oval Office meeting, Trump asked everyone but Comey to leave the room so they could talk about Mike Flynn, who had resigned as National Security Officer the day before.  According to Comey, Trump said Flynn was a "good guy" and he hoped Comey would see fit to "let this go". Comey says he only agreed that Flynn was a good guy and made no promises. Comey again took notes and discussed it with other FBI officials. He didn't go to the DOJ, he said, but asked DOJ head, Jeff Sessions, to keep him away from any more one-on-ones with Trump.

    Then there were the phone calls, all generated by the president. The whole thing must have seemed satisfying and so buddy-buddy to Trump. Comey, as uncomfortable as he might have felt, took the meetings and took the calls and never told Trump this was wrong.

    I submit it wasn't simply because Comey didn't want to hurt Trump's feelings.  Comey is the consummate FBI man and his sniffer is in fine working order. He was on the case and Trump was his mark. With each encounter came more revelations, more ammunition to use to build a case.  He took copious notes, clearly written to share when it came time for a showdown. (He knew contemporaneous notes had been accepted and used effectively in courts in other FBI matters. )

    How long this might have gone on if Comey hadn't been fired is anybody's guess, but the firing opened the floodgates for Comey.  If he had insisted at the very start that private conversations with the president were off-limits, his case against Trump would be non-existent.  It may come down to "he said, he said", but given Trump's penchant for lying to save his skin, it'll be more like "he said, he lied".

    But the capper came yesterday, when Trump was asked at a press conference if he would be willing to testify under oath that Comey lied about his version of their conversations. Trump said, and I quote, "A hundred percent". 

    I call that a clear victory for the G-man.


    (Cross-posted at Ramona's Voices and Crooks and Liars)



    I agree with you Mona, for many reasons.  

    1.  Comey left  a very smart trap for trump when he stated that when jurists are listening to witnesses, he always told them to look at the big picture;  in other words, don't think:  "Well I liked this statement but I didn't like that one."  He was telling the American people to do the same.

    2.  Maybe there are tapes?  This is such a pathetic example of the non-presidential tv evangelist to gin up concern, curiosity, and confusion.  Maybe there are tapes, but maybe trump is trying to find out if he can delete them without being found out.

    3.  Comey cares more about the FBI and his MYTH than he does about anything else, but the fact is, that he still cares more about this country than anyone in the current administration/ or the GOP does, and I am hanging my star onto him.  I think he is not a liar.


    As to trump testifying, even with a polygraph -->. His lies would not register on the machine.  If he told the truth, that needle would jump all over the place!

    I don't believe there ever were tapes of those conversations. Trump got caught in a bluff.  But if Comey did nothing else, his best move was in goading Trump into agreeing to dispute his version under oath. And in front of Mueller and his formidables.  It will not go well, but now he's insisting he's willing to do it. One. Hundred. Percent.

    A polygraph would be useless on him, but I don't think they'll need it. All they have to do is catch him in a lie under oath.  He'll do better than that. He'll lie and lie and lie. He won't be able to help himself.


    I'll put this in different terms. I've been very critical of the FBI entrapping dumb kids who had no intent or means for terrorism, where the FBI cultivated and filled in their feeble non-efforts with fake explosives and ither bait, putting words in their mouth, etc. 

    But when someone approaches an agent willingky and wittingly engaging in or proposing criminal conduct, the agent is obligated to follow it through, to use those indiscretions. Why? Because informing such an obvious criminal of the boundaries won't stop the criminal behavior - it'll just make him more careful in committing more crimes. And let's get real - this is a 70-year-old man with 4000+ lawsuits under his belt and entrusted with upholding the Constitution from the top. He should be held to much greater than normal accountability, not less. And he's certainly not the kind of guy who accepts advice and corrective measures from others.

    So Comey did what he could to remove a public menace. I still have my problems with Comey, from his actions long before Hillary, but I don't undervalue real constitutional law enforcement.

    I agree. I don't see entrapment here, either, but Trump's lawyers are going to try everything  to get him off.  There is plenty of precedent for what Comey did instead of coming clean about propriety. Trump practically hand-fed him a case in a gift-tied box.  He would have been a fool to turn it down

    Impeachment comes first, crminal trials second. I don't really care about #2 though would be nice. I want Trump outof office and all his hoodlum frienda.

    That's what we all want, and most of us don't care how it happens. Just be quick about it.  I'm all for harassing him to the point where he just decides he can MAGA in the private sector and make a lot more money.

    No way is trump going to testify under oath.  His lawyer won' t let him.  He would use that excuse anyway, but his lawyer knows what trump has done and he also knows that the donalld's intellect is no match for Mueller and his team.  "Perjury" is just a word for trump; furthermore, he most likely doesn't even know when he lies; it is just the same as speaking.  

    In the ceremony in the rose garden, all the focus was on his pronouncements about what he didn't say; the "tapes," and that he will '100% testify'.  How about the casual lie about money "pouring in to NATO."  Did anyone look into that one? (I did).  In the first place, that 2% of GDP does not get sent to NATO, nor to the US, but is a goal for each country's own defense.  I can't believe he doesn't know this by now, and I also can't believe that he gets no blow-back simply because challenging his lies would be a full-time job.  Even his statement about honoring Article 5 of the NATO Charter should not be taken as a truthful statement.   Maybe it SHOULD be someone's FT job to fact-challenge each and every tweet, and each statement that he makes that are untrue.  WAPO should at least be up to the task.  I'm not talking Snopes here; I mean a daily list that could be a sidebar for a variety of sites.

    I'm not so sure, Mona. If Comey was ginning to bust Trump for obstruction, wouldn't he have encouraged more meetings rather than try to discourage them? Josh Marshall posted a reader email from a former federal prosecutor making this case:

    In any other case, the investigative team would have seized this opportunity to capture unguarded conversations with a key figure in an investigation. They could have wired up Comey for conversations with the President and asked him to have further meetings/conversations with him. And Trump was ready for the picking. Comey could have gone back to him after the loyalty pledge conversation and said, “Mr. President, you asked me for my loyalty and I’m ready to give it. What can I do to demonstrate my loyalty to you, sir?” During the Flynn conversation, he could have said “Would you like me to shut it down?” No question what Trump would have said. He also could have engaged him about Manafort, Page, and the others with contacts with the Russians to try to gather facts and leads.

    I'm not convinced. The bias against entrapment would have given Trump a get out of jail free card. Republicans rarely pay for outlandish behavior anyway, and Comey would have likely just got hisself run over. Trump was moving down anyway - just let him fall and documwnt it.

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