NYT: Trump brags to Russians about firing ‘nut job’ Comey

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN AND THE NEW YORK TIMES)

NYT: Trump brags to Russians about firing ‘nut job’ Comey

“I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Trump said, according to the Times. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
Trump’s Oval Office meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak came one day after Comey was fired.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer did not refute the Times story but said it was Comey’s “grandstanding and politicizing” of the Russia investigation that put pressure on the administration’s ability to engage Moscow.
“The President has always emphasized the importance of making deals with Russia as it relates to Syria, Ukraine, defeating ISIS and other key issues for the benefit and safety of the American people,” Spicer said in a statement to CNN. “By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia’s actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia.”
He added, “The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it. Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations.”
Trump’s dismissal of Comey was met with bipartisan derision. The move, which came after Trump asked Comey for his loyalty and, according to memos written by the former FBI director, requested he kill an investigation into Trump’s top national security adviser, was seen as a clear violation of protocol and had some Democrats calling for impeachment.
The President maintains he was surprised by the response to Comey’s firing.
“Director Comey was very unpopular with most people,” he said Thursday at a news conference. “When I made that decision, I actually thought that it would be a bipartisan decision. Because you look at all of the people on the Democratic side, not only the Republican side, that were saying such terrible things about Director Comey.”
The news broke shortly after Trump took off for his critically important five-country, eight-day foreign trip, the first of his presidency.
Even before Friday’s report, news about Comey and the newly named special counsel for the Russia investigation has threatened to overshadow Trump’s trip.
Trump’s meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak was controversial before news of talk about Comey ever came out. No United States media were invited in for the meeting, but a photographer from TASS, the Russian state media organization, was in the room for at least part of the gathering. The meeting was also personal request from Vladimir Putin. The Russian President asked that they meet when he spoke with Trump earlier this month.

Schiff: ‘More Than Circumstantial Evidence’ Trump Associates Colluded With Russia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

MAR 22 2017, 10:20 PM ET

Schiff: ‘More Than Circumstantial Evidence’ Trump Associates Colluded With Russia

WASHINGTON — The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee claimed Wednesday evening that he has seen “more than circumstantial evidence” that associates of President Donald Trump colluded with Russia while the Kremlin attempted to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the Ranking Member on the committee, was asked by Chuck Todd on “Meet The Press Daily” whether or not he only has a circumstantial case.

“Actually no, Chuck,” he said. “I can tell you that the case is more than that and I can’t go into the particulars, but there is more than circumstantial evidence now.”

Play
House Intel Cmte. Creates Confusion As Chairman Releases Trump Details 1:59

Questioned whether or not he has seen direct evidence of collusion, Schiff responded, “I don’t want to get into specifics but I will say that there is evidence that is not circumstantial and is very much worthy of an investigation.”

That is a shift from Sunday’s “Meet the Press” interview, when Schiff only went as far as to say that there was circumstantial evidence of collusion and “direct evidence” of deception.

.@RepAdamSchiff on Trump/Russia connection: “There is more than circumstantial evidence now…and is very much worthy of investigation.”

The Trump campaign and the White House have repeatedly denied that Trump’s associates were at all connected to any activities related to Russia’s attempts to influence the last election.

Schiff’s comments came after Republican committee chair Devin Nunes said that he had seen reports from the U.S. intelligence community showing communication from members of the transition team — and possibly the president himself — were “incidentally collected” as part of a broader surveillance effort.

Nunes said it appeared most of the information was collected after the election and during the transition, it appears it was collected legally, and none of it was related to Russia or the investigation into Russia. He said he did not know who ordered the alleged surveillance.

The disclosure drew condemnation from some Democrats. Schiff bristled at the fact that Nunes did not share the information with him before updating reporters and the White House.

“The chairman will need to decide whether he is the chairman of an independent investigation into conduct, which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or he’s going to act as a surrogate of the White House. Because he cannot do both,” Schiff said.

Play
Full Interview: Schiff on His Confidence in House Intel Committee 8:40

Nunes said at a press conference that “the intelligence community incidentally collected information about American citizens involved in the Trump transition.”

“From what I know right now it looks like incidental collection, we don’t know exactly how that was picked up, but we’re are trying to get to the bottom of it,” Nunes said.

Trump said he felt somewhat vindicated by Nunes’ disclosure: “I somewhat do. I very much appreciated the fact that they found what they found,” the president said.

Nunes said he has not seen any evidence that former President Barack Obama had Trump’s “wires tapped” before the election — a claim Trump made on Twitter. The director of the FBI said Monday he has no evidence backing up the tweeted claim.

Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Virginia, said he was “absolutely mystified by Chairman Nunes’ actions,” and the decision to brief Trump on the information “seems pretty inappropriate to me.”

Republican Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, told MSNBC’s Greta Van Susteren that the back-and-forth among the top members of the committee was “bizarre” and he said partisan fighting had cost Congress its credibility to investigate Russian interference the election.

“No longer does the Congress have credibility to handle this alone, and I don’t say that lightly,” McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said.

Play
McCain: Select Committee On Russia Now A ‘Requirement’10:36

On Monday, FBI Director James Comey confirmed that an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia had been ongoing since July. Comey said the probe was included in the agency’s investigation into what the U.S. intelligence community concluded was an attempt by Russia to interfere with the 2016 election with the purpose of helping Trump win.

The House and Senate Intelligence Committees are conducting their own investigations.

Two weeks ago on “Meet The Press,” James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence under President Obama, said that to his knowledge, there was no evidence of collusion between Moscow and Trump associates. Clapper oversaw the work of U.S. intelligence agencies through January 20th.

On Wednesday, Schiff told Todd of Clapper’s statements, “All I can tell you is reviewing the evidence that I have, I don’t think you can conclude that at all — far from it.”

Clinton And Her Campaign Managers Are Only Private Citizens: Who Do They Think They Are Telling The Director Of The FBI What To Do?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Clinton chairman turns up heat on FBI

  • John Podesta appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union”
  • The Clinton campaign boss called the FBI chief’s conduct “inappropriate”

Washington (CNN)John Podesta is turning up the heat on FBI Director James Comey to release more details about the bureau’s review of new emails possibly tied to Hillary Clinton’s private server.

In an interview Sunday with CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union,” the Clinton campaign chairman complained the FBI should have investigated enough to know exactly what it was dealing with before announcing the review.
“He might have taken the first step of actually having looked at them before he did this in the middle of a presidential campaign, so close to the voting,” Podesta said.
Comey’s Friday notification to Congress of the review is rocking the final days of the presidential race. Democrats are furious that Comey would revive the explosive issue of Clinton’s email server so close to the election. Donald Trump, meanwhile, is seizing on the review after spending weeks on the defense, hoping it will be a potent issue he can ride until the end of the contest.
“This is something that has been tossed into the middle of the campaign. We would have preferred that not happen, but now that it has happened, we would prefer that Mr. Comey come forward and explain why he took that unprecedented step,” Podesta said.

who’s winning?

CNN poll of polls
Hillary Clinton headshot photo
49%
clinton
Donald Trump headshot photo
44%
trump
Gary Johnson headshot photo
3%
johnson
Jill Stein headshot photo
2%
stein
The campaign chairman called Comey’s handling of the matter “inappropriate.”
Podesta asked if, just days from the election, Comey’s revelation is “something you toss on the table, or do you take the time and do what other prosecutors have done in the past and make sure it’s so significant that you have to go forward with it?”
On Saturday, CNN’s Evan Perez reported that Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates disagreed with Comey’s decision to notify Congress about the bureau’s review of emails found on at least device of Huma Abedin, a top aide to Clinton, according to law enforcement officials familiar with the discussion.
But Comey decided to disregard that warning and went ahead and sent the letter to Congress. Comey’s decision to send the letter angered his superiors at the Justice Department, but officials acknowledge there is little they can do given the fallout of the Attorney General’s meeting with Bill Clinton on the Arizona tarmac this past summer.
On Sunday, CNN reported that the Justice Department and Abedin’s lawyers are in talks to permit a full review of the emails.
Podesta also told Tapper that Clinton has learned from her use of a private email server at the State Department.
“I think she obviously would like to take that decision back, but she’s learned from it,” he said.
Podesta defended long-time top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, the estranged wife of Anthony Weiner — the disgraced former congressman whose lewd texts with a 15-year-old girl are under FBI investigation, and whose computer contained the emails that Comey is reviewing.
“I think it’s clear that she (Abedin) complied to the best of her abilities, turned everything over that she had in her possession. I don’t know anything more than the speculation that’s running wild in the press now what this is about,” Podesta said.
He said that Abedin, who was not traveling with Clinton yesterday, is still serving in her same role on the campaign.
Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway continued the campaign’s criticism of Comey for refusing to recommend criminal charges against Clinton in July, pointing to his “unprecedented statement to the world on July 25 where he was leading up to a conclusion that was different from the one that he announced.”
“I guess he was trying to clear his own conscience,” she said of his latest step.
Still, she praised Comey’s decision to announce the FBI is reviewing newly discovered emails possibly tied to Clinton’s server.
“Hillary Clinton flouted the law and set up a private server so she could hide stuff from the public,” Conway said.

Should FBI Director James Comey Be Indited For Fraud Because Of His Clinton “Investigation?”

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK POST)

 (SHOULD BOTH THE DIRECTOR OF THE FBI AND THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BE INVESTIGATED FOR ILLEGAL ACTIONS CONCERNING THE “COZY” INVESTIGATIONS INTO HILLARY AND BILL CLINTON?)

FBI agents are ready to revolt over the cozy Clinton probe

Veteran FBI agents say FBI Director James Comey has permanently damaged the bureau’s reputation for uncompromising investigations with his “cowardly” whitewash of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified information using an unauthorized private email server.

Feeling the heat from congressional critics, Comey last week argued that the case was investigated by career FBI agents, “So if I blew it, they blew it, too.”

But agents say Comey tied investigators’ hands by agreeing to unheard-of ground rules and other demands by the lawyers for Clinton and her aides that limited their investigation.

“In my 25 years with the bureau, I never had any ground rules in my interviews,” said retired agent Dennis V. Hughes, the first chief of the FBI’s computer investigations unit.

Instead of going to prosecutors and insisting on using grand jury leverage to compel testimony and seize evidence, Comey allowed immunity for several key witnesses, including potential targets.

The immunity agreements came with outrageous side deals, including preventing agents from searching for any documents on a Dell laptop owned by former Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills generated after Jan. 31, 2015, when she communicated with the server administrator who destroyed subpoenaed emails.

Comey also agreed to have Mills’ laptop destroyed after the restricted search, denying Congress the chance to look at it and making the FBI an accomplice to the destruction of evidence.

Comey’s immunized witnesses nonetheless suffered chronic lapses in memory, made unsubstantiated claims of attorney-client privilege upon tougher questioning and at least two gave demonstrably false statements. And yet Comey indulged it all.

What’s more, Comey cut a deal to give Clinton a “voluntary” witness interview on a major holiday, and even let her ex-chief of staff sit in on the interview as a lawyer, even though she, too, was under investigation.

Clinton’s interview, the culmination of a yearlong investigation, lasted just 3½ hours. Despite some 40 bouts of amnesia, she wasn’t called back for questioning; and three days later, Comey cleared her of criminal wrongdoing.

“The FBI has politicized itself, and its reputation will suffer for a long time,” Hughes said. “I hold Director Comey responsible.”

Agreed retired FBI agent Michael M. Biasello: “Comey has singlehandedly ruined the reputation of the organization.”

The accommodations afforded Clinton and her aides are “unprecedented,” Biasello added, “which is another way of saying this outcome was by design.” He called Comey’s decision not to seek charges “cowardly.”

“Each month for 27 years, I received oral and computer admonishment concerning the proper protocol for handling top-secret and other classified material, and was informed of the harsh penalties, to include prosecution and incarceration,” for mishandling such material, he pointed out. “Had myself or my colleagues engaged in behavior of the magnitude of Hillary Clinton, as described by Comey, we would be serving time in Leavenworth.”

Former FBI official I.C. Smith knows a thing or two about Clinton corruption. After working at FBI headquarters as a section chief in the National Security Division, he retired as special agent in charge of the Little Rock, Ark., field office, where he investigated top Clinton fundraisers for public corruption and even Chinese espionage.

“FBI agents upset with Comey’s decision have every reason to feel that way,” Smith said. “Clearly there was a different standard applied to Clinton.”

“I have no doubt resourceful prosecutors and FBI agents could have come up with some charge that she would have been subject to prosecution,” the 25-year veteran added. “What she did is absolutely abhorrent for anyone who has access to classified information.”

Smith said Congress should subpoena the case’s agents to testify about the direction they received from Comey and their supervisors: “It would be interesting to see what the results would be if those involved with the investigation were questioned under oath.”

Comey made the 25 agents who worked on the case sign nondisclosure agreements. But others say morale has sunk inside the bureau.

“The director is giving the bureau a bad rap with all the gaps in the investigation,” one agent in the Washington field office said. “There’s a perception that the FBI has been politicized and let down the country.”

Comey has turned a once-proud institution known for its independence into one that bows to election pressure, hands out political immunity to candidates and effectively pardons their co-conspirators. He’s turned the FBI into the Federal Bureau of Immunity and lost the trust and respect of not only his agents but the country at large. He ought to step down.

 Paul Sperry, formerly Washington bureau chief for Investor’s Business Daily, is the author of “Infiltration.”
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