Citizen Action Required
By Doug Porter
In a world where up is down, right is wrong, and war is peace, the firing of FBI director James Comey by President Donald Trump for treating political opponent Hillary Clinton unfairly makes perfect sense.
In order for us to bend the arc of history towards justice, we cannot let this latest outrage pass unnoticed. There are things you as a citizen need to do, listed further down in this article.
First, a little context is in order.
As we explore the ramifications of this latest plot twist in the House of Trump, it’s relevant to understand two things are simultaneously true:
- Comey should have been fired last year.
- Trump choosing to fire him now looks really bad.
If you actually believe @realDonaldTrump fired FBI Director because he was unfair to Hillary, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) May 10, 2017
It should surprise nobody that step three in this process will be for the President’s allies to insist on any new FBI director reopen the case against Clinton with an eye toward ‘locking her up.’ A Fox News panel led by Sean Hannity on Tuesday night has already made the call.
How It Went Down
The President’s decision to fire Comey, according to Politico, came as he grew increasingly angered by media accounts about investigations into Russian interference in the US election:
He repeatedly asked aides why the Russia investigation wouldn’t disappear and demanded they speak out for him. He would sometimes scream at television clips about the probe, one adviser said.
Trump’s firing of the high-profile FBI director on the 110th day since the president took office marked another sudden turn for an administration that has fired its acting attorney general, national security adviser and now its FBI director, whom Trump had praised until recent weeks and had even blew a kiss to during a January appearance.
The news stunned Comey, who saw news of his dismissal on TV while speaking inside the FBI office in Los Angeles. It startled all but the uppermost ring of White House advisers, who said grumbling about Comey hadn’t dominated their own morning senior staff meetings. Other top officials learned just before it happened and were unaware Trump was considering firing Comey. “Nobody really knew,” one senior White House official said. “Our phones all buzzed and people said, ‘What?'”
Comey’s admission in the Senate hearing about the FBI investigating the Trump campaign and his refusal to confirm the accusation about President Obama tapping phones were the final straws for the President, who asked Attorney General Sessions to provide a legal rationale for the dismissal.
From the Washington Post:
In a letter to Trump, Sessions said that he agreed Comey had to go.
“I have concluded that a fresh start is needed at the leadership of the FBI,’’ Sessions wrote. “I must recommend that you remove Director James B. Comey, Jr. and identify an experienced and qualified individual to lead the great men and women of the FBI.’’
But in October — when Sessions was a senator supporting Trump, and Comey revealed less than two weeks before the election that he had reopened the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server — Sessions applauded the decision in an appearance on Fox Business Network.
Expect the Unexpected
Late in the afternoon on Tuesday, calls from the White House were made to Senators of both parties looking for support prior to the firing announcement. The President was reportedly surprised to learn that none would be forthcoming, even from Democrats critical of Comey in the past.
The letter announcing the FBI director’s dismissal was hand-delivered to FBI headquarters by Keith Schiller, a personal bodyguard for Donald Trump. Think about this fact for a second.
I’m fairly certain most people would find this method of communicating one’s termination to be wrong. For Donald Trump, it’s business as usual.
And then Comey learned about it via TV monitors as he was speaking in front of a group of FBI employees in Los Angeles. At first, he even thought he was being punked by some tech savvy prankster.
The President took to twitter starting at 4:27am on Wednesday to defend his actions, saying “When things calm down, they will be thanking me!”
Timing is Crucial
The real question, re: Comey, is: Why now? Why not months ago? And the answer is: shit is about to hit the fan. The timing of the FBI director’s firing was no coincidence.
From CNN: (emphasis added)
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, according to people familiar with the matter. CNN learned of the subpoenas hours before President Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey.
The subpoenas represent the first sign of a significant escalation of activity in the FBI’s broader investigation begun last July into possible ties between Trump campaign associates and Russia.
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.
There may be more bad news coming, according to sources that have thus far proven reliable.
There’s 25 sealed indictments. Thanks to Comey and the Assistant United States Attorney. Waiting for them to be unsealed-it’s when. Not if. https://t.co/0I2uA7pNpw
— Claude Taylor (@TrueFactsStated) May 10, 2017
Additionally, an investigation by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman into Trump’s financial relationships with Russia, which allegedly go back long before the 2016 election campaign and involve the Russian mafia, is reportedly headed towards indictments under the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) act.
Finally, there’s the matter of the timing of the President’s White House meeting with Russian Foreign Minister (Sergey Lavrov) who, per the dossier compiled by ex-MI6 agent Christopher Steele, ran Putin’s U.S. election-hacking operation.
These photos of Trump-Russia meetings are courtesy solely of Russian MFA because no US press allowed in. pic.twitter.com/PI4cSPIqvG
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) May 10, 2017
There are an additional ten thousand curious coincidences coming out of the Trump administration’s latest actions, like dirty trickster Roger Stone’s new-found sympathy for Hillary Clinton. All of them lead to the same conclusion: something very bad is going on in Washington.
As an aside, let me point out two developments, not Russia/FBI-related in making my case:
- John H. Thompson, who has served as director of the Census Bureau since 2013 and worked there for 27 years, announced his retirement yesterday. This clears the path for Republicans in the House to continue with plans to underfund the 2020 census, which will be used as the basis for future redistricting.
- Veteran reporter Dan Heyman was arrested yesterday after he tried to ask Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and White House adviser Kellyanne Conway about whether or not it was proper for victims domestic violence be counted as having a preexisting condition under the Republican health care bill. He was charged with “was causing a disturbance by yelling questions at Ms. Conway and Secretary Price.” Think about the implications of this arrest…
Nothing to See Here
The brouhaha over the firing of the FBI director has nothing to do with Russia, according to the White House.
Kellyanne Conway just now on @CNN: There’s no investigation by the FBI into people surrounding President Trump and Russian. (That’s false.)
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) May 10, 2017
Conway went on to tell the media this morning that it was “inappropriate” to question the timing of the firing.
Over at Fox News, the story being told to the nation was very different from what the rest of us heard.
Investigate! Investigate! Investigate!
Democrats in both the House and Senate are calling for further investigations. Just about every newspaper in the country agrees.
The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law statement sums the situation up nicely:
“This is an assault on the rule of law. The president has dismissed the chief law enforcement officer probing whether the president’s advisors colluded with a hostile foreign government to influence our elections,” said Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center. “It poses an extraordinary test of our democracy. Members of Congress must stand up for country and not party. They must denounce this deeply troubling act and insist on a truly independent investigation.”
Republicans, on the other hand, have a long way to go before offering up any evidence they’ll put patriotism before partisanship.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is fully committed to helping the White House cover this up, having already rejected calls for an independent investigation and special prosecutor, saying it would “impede the current work being done.”
Other Republicans are hesitant, and Sen. John McCain has almost been critical, leaving just enough room so he can fold when the time comes for an actual vote on the matter.
The bottom line here is that the Democrats don’t have the votes by themselves to make anything happen. A few Republicans must be made to understand just how serious this matter is.
Time to Pick Up the Phone AND Take to the Streets
Activists with Indivisible and other organizations are urging people to flood congressional offices with calls and letters urging the creation of a special commission to conduct an investigation that is truly independent, bipartisan, and unbiased.
From the Indivisible Call to Action:
At this point, the connections between the Trump team and Russia create a tangled web of overlapping interests that are difficult to unpack or even to visualize without a graphic:
CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES CANNOT BE TRUSTED
For months now, Trump officials and Republican MoCs in both the House and Senate have wasted the American people’s time with their mishandling of the investigation into
Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
Even after hearing damning testimony, Senate Republicans have failed to take threats to our national security seriously. In testimony to the Senate Subcommittee on Crimes and Terrorism, former Attorney General Sally Yates summed up what the Michael Flynn scandal is all about: “To state the obvious, you don’t want your national security advisor compromised with the Russians.” During the same hearing, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper revealed that multiple European allies passed intelligence to the U.S. on Trump campaign contacts with Russian intelligence agents in 2016. Clapper dismissed that this was about leaks: “The transcendent issue here is the Russian interference in our election process.” However, the Republican Senators present failed to probe into the White House’s shielding of Flynn, or the risks posed to U.S. national security.
The House has had its own problems investigating the Trump Administration’s ties to Russia. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a former member of the Trump transition team violated established protocols and broke congressional norms. He was lambasted by Democrats and Republicans alike for his unusual behavior. Finally, after announcement by the Ethics Committee that Nunes “may have made unauthorized disclosures of classified information,” Nunes temporarily recused himself from the the investigation into Russia. And now the House Committee on Ethics is conducting its own investigation—into the questionable actions of Rep. Nunes.
Enough is enough. The American people deserve better.
…MoCs have introduced bills in the House and Senate that propose setting up such a commission to examine Russian influence in the 2016 election. Rep. Eric Swalwell’s bill, H.R. 356, the Protecting Our Democracy Act, already has bipartisan support, including co-sponsors from the entire Democratic caucus. Senator Ben Cardin’s bill, S.27, has 24 Democratic co-sponsors. Both bills would establish a commission of independent experts to examine the facts regarding Russia and the 2016 election.
WHAT YOU CAN DO DURING RECESS
Demand that your Members of Congress support transparency by co-sponsoring these bills. Ask them directly in town halls or public events, visit their district offices, and make calls requesting that they co-sponsor the Protecting Our Democracy Act in the House or S. 27 in the Senate.
Protest the GOP National Committee Meeting
Hotel Del Coronado
(1500 Orange Ave, Coronado)
For More Information
The only way we get to the truth on Russia, save health care, save the environment, save Planned Parenthood, civil rights, women’s rights, stop the wall, protect immigrants is to #FlipCongress2018!
The Republican National Committee 2017 Spring Meeting will be held at the Hotel del Coronado May 10 – 13. Join Indivisible for a peaceful protest to let the GOP know that we simply can’t wait to vote them out of office in the 2018 mid-term elections. Participants will spell out “2018” on the beach near the hotel for an aerial photo.
We will protest Rep. Darrell Issa in particular for his failure to represent and protect his constituents. #FlipThe49th #ByeByeIssa
“The slow-rising central horror of ‘Watergate’ is not that it might grind down to the reluctant impeachment of a vengeful thug of a president whose entire political career has been a monument to the same kind of cheap shots and treachery he finally got nailed for, but that we might somehow fail to learn something from it.”
~Hunter Thompson, 1974
h/t Meteor Blades @ Daily Kos
Looking for some action? Check out the Weekly Progressive Calendar, published every Friday in this space, featuring Demonstrations, Rallies, Teach-ins, Meet Ups and other opportunities to get your activism on.
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to “The Starting Line” and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org Check us out on Facebook and Twitter.