Comey Firing Stems From DOJ, Sessions Hidden Scandals

 

The Justice Department's top two officials have helped enable longstanding, deeply hidden Justice Department deceit and obstruction of justice in major cases, thereby paving the way for President Trump’s shocking firing of FBI Director James Comey on May 9.

Many Americans reacted with outrage at President Trump's suggestion on May 12 that he may have secretly taped Comey while Comey sought retention as the FBI probed potential criminal Russian influence over Trump's team and the 2016 elections.

But relatively few people even in government or the media know the vast abuses that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has long enabled as a U.S. senator in Alabama beginning in 1996 and previously as a U.S. Attorney and attorney general in that state since 1981.

That's because he's a master of the dark arts of political intrigue, including dark money, political prosecutions of enemies, blackmail and other repeated abuses of the justice system — each of them tactics that are most effective when obscured by rhetoric about conservative principles, national security, family values and "rule of law." Sessions, shown in a photo, was Trump's first major supporter among elected officials during the 2016 presidential campaign. 

Update

Robert Mueller (FBI Official Photo)The Justice Department has appointed Robert S. Mueller III, the former F.B.I. director (shown at left), to serve as a special counsel to oversee its investigation into Russian meddling in the election, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein (shown at right below) announced on Wednesday.

Rod Rosenstein Deputyty Atttorney GeneralThe appointment of Mr. Mueller dramatically raises the stakes for President Trump in the multiple investigations into his campaign’s ties to the Russians, as reported by the New York Times in Russia Investigation Gets Special Counsel and elsewhere.

Among other updates, CNN's Jim Acosta and Pamela Brown reported that Rosenstein notified neither the White House nor Sessions until Mueller had been appointed, thereby illustrating that the Justice Department's deputy attorney general appeared to have sought to avoid political considerations and to have rapidly reversed his recent statement that no special prosecutor was needed. This is the first U.S. special counsel in more than a decade.

Alabama Precedents

As another update, Alabama blogger Roger Shuler extensively excerpted in our column in his James Comey firing was an "assault on constitutional values," and Jeff Sessions, with his long history of abusive tactics in Alabama, was in the middle of it. Shuler integrating our reporting it with his own expertise drawn from hundreds of columns in recent years about Deep South corruption and intrigue by Sessions and his confederates.

"Jeff Sessions is a racist," Alabama opposition researcher and political activist Dana Jill Simpson told the Justice Integrity Project in an exclusive interview on May 12. "He has been on the far, far, far right even by the standards of Alabama conservatives."

Jill SimpsonSimpson is an Alabama attorney and former GOP political operative who courageously stepped forward in 2007 to describe the DOJ's frame-up on corruption charges of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, her state's leading Democrat. She is shown in a 2008 photo from a CBS "60 Minutes" exposé on the Siegelman case featuring her as a whistleblower along with others claiming a political prosecution. 

She has also helped this editor and other investigative reporters document many scandals. These include involvement by Sessions and his cronies in mind-boggling national and international intrigues. Among them have been secret dealings with Russia, suspicious awards of defense contracts involving tens of billions of dollars in one instance, and a sinister role in the 2007 U.S. attorney firing scandal that Simpson helped expose and document.

Roger Shuler

Roger Shuler, an Alabama blogger who has written hundreds of columns about irregularities in the Siegelman case alone, wrote another last week headlined, No one should be surprised at Jeff Sessions' role in Trump's firing of James Comey; Sessions has a history of using such underhanded tactics in Alabama. Shuler is shown in a mug shot after he was beaten at his home by deputies as they arrested him on a civil contempt charge that kept him jailed without bond in a trumped-up proceeding arising from his blog claims of sex scandals involving prominent GOP political and legal figures.

In March, the Guardian published a similar analysis headlined 'Gun for hire': how Jeff Sessions used his prosecuting power to target Democrats by reporters Jon Swaine and Oliver Laughland, with this sub-headline: As the Justice Department’s man in Alabama, Trump’s attorney general indicted political opponents in remarkably thin cases, court filings show. “Jeff Sessions is was one of the most corrupt public servants in Alabama history, running a political hit squad for organized crime.”

Simpson describes Sessions as "the national ringleader of partisan abuses of the legal system, first in Alabama and then via his leadership of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, where he was in a position to help appoint prosecutors, judges and other officials to accuse some people unfairly and let others off, and otherwise reward his patrons and confederates."  

President Trump (Gage Skidmore photo via Flickr)

Sessions, forced to recuse himself in March from involvement in the FBI's probe of Russia because he falsely told fellow senators during his confirmation hearing that he had had no recent contacts with Russian officials, is also deeply implicated in secret business deals with Russia to benefit his vast networks of cronies, according to our years of reporting.

Trump (shown in a portrait by Gage Skidmore) appears to be also deeply enmeshed in dark money from dubious sources obscured by intermediaries, according to many investigative reports that are not contradicted by the half-truths of his press releases claiming innocence. In this environment, only the power of subpoena by independent investigators can protect the public from the kind of kleptocracy that Sessions has helped inflict on Alabama and which Trump appears determined to replicate throughout America.

Most current news coverage by mainstream news organizations, even by fierce critics of Trump's recent actions, promote the conventional wisdom that recent developments represent rare aberrations within an otherwise honest system.

But a closer look shows a shocking pattern of gross abuses, particularly in politically sensitive cases where the stakes are high and the most ruthless players repeatedly prevail. Fitting that pattern are this week's actions by Trump.

We shall discuss these problems on Saturday, May 13, on the Sirius/XM Radio show "Inside the Issues" hosted by author and syndicated columnist Dr. Wilmer Leon III on Sirius/XM Channel 126.

The host (shown at right in a file photo)) asked that our discussion draw from predictions and analysis in my book Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters, which documented how mainstream reporters and other opinion-leaders fail to report on the so-called "puppet masters" who control political, court, media and other opinion leaders to a remarkable degree. The result of these hidden controls is that even prominent officials as well as their organizations often operate with hidden agendas that are difficult for ordinary citizens to affect.

The firing of Comey (shown in an FBI photo) is one of many examples, as described below. 

Wide Patterns Of Justice Department Abuse

A recent illustration of this pattern documents the corrupt practices of Trump's new U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta when he was the Bush administration's assistant attorney general for civil rights and also U.S. attorney for Miami.

On March 14 our column Did Trump Labor Pick Protect Trump, Rich Rapists, Tax Cheats, Crooked Bankers? teased the issues as a question. But there could be little doubt as to the answer, as indicated by the documentation. Here is the column's opening:

President Trump nominated as labor secretary last month a former federal prosecutor suspected of covering up multiple scandals, including the alleged rape of underage girls in 1994 by billionaire pervert Jeffrey Epstein and Trump, who was Epstein’s friend and neighbor.

With a Senate confirmation hearing scheduled Wednesday, Trump picked former Bush administration prosecutor R. Alexander Acosta (shown in an official photo) on Feb. 16 to lead the Labor Department despite his multiple legal controversies involving sex predators, corrupt bankers and billionaire tax cheats. Their crimes largely escaped prosecution from Acosta and his law enforcement colleagues.  

Like Sessions and Acosta, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has abused his powers at the Justice Department during his long career. Near its beginning in the early 1990s, the Harvard Law School grad played his part to help cover up the GOP Iran-Contra scandal and thereby won allies within both the bipartisan "Intelligence Community" and Republicans.

Rosenstein went on to become the Bush-appointed U.S. attorney for Maryland and win reappointment by President Obama. Along with fawning coverage by the Washington Post and others, Rosenstein seemingly earned a stellar reputation, according to news reports and colleagues.

But beneath the veneer, he ruthlessly attacked whistleblowers. These included National Security Agency (NSA) senior executive Thomas Drake, who sought to prevent the waste of a billion taxpayer dollars being directed to insiders for an unneeded security system. Rosenstein otherwise served the interests of the powerful military-intelligence complex. NSA is headquartered in Maryland and with its array of satellite contractors heavily influences that region's officials and media in ways seldom revealed to the public.

Wayne Madsen shown during a New York City panel discussion, May, 2015Investigative reporter Wayne Madsen, a former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst (shown at left), this week chronicled the full dimensions of Rosenstein's career in two expert columns published on the Wayne Madsen Report, a subscription service: Rosenstein at DOJ to insulate Intelligence Community and Kushners, and There are only a few similarities between Trump scandal and Watergate.

This editor also has studied Rosenstein's career and the NSA and concurs with Madsen's reporting, which we shall examine further in a future column. Our own reporting on Rosenstein's work include  Mr. Drake Goes To Washington.

For now, the important point is that only six senators, all Democrats (including intelligence committee member Dick Blumenthal of Connecticut), voted against Rosenstein's confirmation as deputy attorney general in late April.

This week, Rosenstein (shown in a C-SPAN photo) eagerly accepted the role as DOJ stooge to provide cover for Trump and Sessions as they hoked up the transparently phony claim that they were firing Comey because the FBI director had been too unfair to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton last July and again in late October.

Vice President Mike Pence and various other White House spinmeisters had used Rosenstein's memo to describe the new official as the force behind Comey's firing until Trump contradicted his own administration's  story on May 11 by admitting to NBC's Lester Holt that Trump had decided to fire Comey. On May 12, Trump suggested that he may have taped Comey during a dinner discussion in which Comey ask Trump's support for being able to continue Comey's 10-year term as FBI direction.       

Many senators and commentators are expressing surprise over Rosenstein performance as a stooge for Sessions and Trump. But that innocence, or feigned innocence, ignores the ruthless politics that often pervades the justice system when at stake are careers, imprisonment and huge taxpayer dollars that can directed to an an official's cronies or patrons, aka "puppet masters." 

See No Evil, Hear No Evil

FBI logoClearly, of course, the vast majority of the nation's law enforcement, intelligence, legislative and media personnel are largely unaware of these scandals and are seeking on a daily basis simply to perform their jobs as they understand them, often in exemplary manner.

Scandal tends to remain hidden for obvious reasons. Malefactors are adept in hiding secrets even from colleagues, much less watchdogs. The late Col. Fletcher Prouty's 1973 book The Secret Team detailed how he observed as a top Defense Department liaison to the CIA how vast amounts of military hardware and personnel could be hidden from any oversight. A Rosetta Stone to some of our extensive citations below of recent news events is to check, particularly in Alabama-related stories, how frequently scandal appears in seemingly unlikely places, such as U.S. politicians' conniving with Russians on defense contracts or "family values" politicians involved in sex scandals, which may be far more important for the public regarding blackmail in government contracts awards than the hypocrisy involved in lust.    

As a longtime journalist, I reported for many years (like the vast majority of colleagues) with scant suspicion that hidden stories of  national significance might lurk in the decision-making of the media itself at levels high and low. But why wouldn't powerful people use all means available?

Recently, our column Book Shows How Innocence Project Freed Some Convicts; What About Other? included an extensive treatment of the Jeff Sessions record in Alabama, including a new political science article written by Alabama-reared Drew Pendergrass entitled The Alabamafication of America. It chronicles the pervasive financial and sex scandals costing top officials their jobs there and the implications for the rest of the nation.

In April the New York Times published, Alabama Governor Quits in Sex Scandal That Rocked State reporting that Gov. Robert Bentley Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, Top Strategist Rebekah Mason and former Alabama law enforcement chief Stephen Collier WKRGresigned because of sex and financial scandal (first reported by blogger Roger Shuler) that "staggered the state, brought him to the brink of impeachment and prompted a series of criminal investigations."

The GOP governor, 74, was shown in a WKRG-TV photo collage at left, with his senior political advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason at center along with the state's top public safety advisor Spencer Collier, whom Bentley fired for raising concerns. Although Bentley denied misconduct his wife of 50 years divorced him after securing a compromising tape-recording of Bentley, gushing to Mason of his fond memories of groping her. Her husband also padded the family income by working as the governor's aide in taxpayer-funded outreach to the state's churches, which could be interpreted as a political bag man. The rule of law in all this was that the governor was charged with just two misdemeanors and there is no apparent legal sanction for the couple.  

A new development is the Sessions call for harsher penalties in the prison system and Trump's advocacy for a variety of new anti-democratic measures, including replacement of Comey with at least two prospective nominees heavily involved in the U.S. attorney firing scandals a decade ago.
 
Trump this week also suggested abolition of White House press conferences and legal changes to crack down on dissenting reporters. The president also appointed a new commission to study voter fraud, which is political code for enforcing voter suppression in locales that lean anti-Trump.
 
The Big Picture
 
Our own relevant columns include one in January, Tainted Judge Grants Casino $10m As GOP Prepares To Pack Courts, that traced links from Trump's early days in the casino industry to current developments. The Washington Post reporter and his editors seemed oblivious to the larger implications. We cite our own columns below, among other citations, in part because they all have extensive citations to the credible work of others, including the countless victims of injustice largely ignored by those mainstream organizations who, to their credit, are rightfully alarmed at the actions this week by Trump, Pence, Sessions, Rosenstein and their defenders.
 
Justice Department log circularIn sum, Comey's firing is an assault on the nation's core constitutional and other democratic values comparable if not worse than President Nixon's Watergate. However, no one can truly understand the situation, much less reform it, without appreciating the full history of the perpetrators and their institutions.

 

Update

Robert Mueller (FBI Official Photo)New York Times, Russia Investigation Gets Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, Rebecca R. Ruiz, May 17, 2017. Ex-F.B.I. Chief, to Lead Inquiry on Meddling. The Justice Department has appointed Robert S. Mueller III, the former F.B.I. director, to serve as a special counsel to oversee its investigation into Russian meddling in the election, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein (shown at right below) announced on Wednesday.

Rod Rosenstein Deputyty Atttorney GeneralThe appointment of Mr. Mueller dramatically raises the stakes for President Trump in the multiple investigations into his campaign’s ties to the Russians. It follows a swiftly moving series of developments that have roiled Washington, including Mr. Trump’s abrupt dismissal of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, and the disclosure that the president urged Mr. Comey to drop the bureau’s investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn.

The stakes are now higher for President Trump in the multiple investigations into his campaign’s ties to the Russians.

James Comey

New York Times, Senate Panel Asks Comey to Testify on Flynn and Trump, Staff report, May 17, 2017. The Senate Intelligence Committee invited Mr. Comey to testify in both open and closed-door hearings, and asked the F.B.I. for memos prepared by Mr. Comey. The Senate Intelligence Committee invited the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey to testify on reports that President Trump asked him to scuttle the investigation into Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser.

 
Contact the author Andrew Kreig
 
 

 

Justice Integrity Project Coverage

Justice Integrity Project Coverage Of Justice Department

Update

Legal Schnauzer, James Comey firing was an "assault on constitutional values," and Jeff Sessions, with his long history of abusive tactics in Alabama, was in the middle of it, Roger Shuler, May 16, 2017. If Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions goes down in the widening KremlinGate scandal, it will be ironic because Sessions has played a major role in fostering an environment that allows corruption to take hold, according to a new report out of Washington, D.C. Andrew Kreig, an attorney and journalist who directs the Justice-Integrity Project (JIP), writes that Sessions long has been a "master of the dark arts of political intrigue," which include blackmail, prosecution of political enemies, and gross abuse of the justice system

Justice Integrity Project, Trump Contradicts Vice President, White House Staff On Comey Firing, Andrew Kreig, May 11, 2017. President Trump today said he planned to fire FBI Director James Comey this week no matter what others said. That contradicted the initial explanations of Vice President Pence and White House staff and raised the the possibility obstruction of justice into the ongoing criminal probe of Russian influence on his campaign. (Includes extensive appendix of related news coverage.)

Justice Integrity Project, Book Shows How Innocence Project Freed Some Convicts; What About Others? Andrew Kreig, May 6, 2017. A House of Cards producer and an exonerated ex-convict discussed justice reform during an innovative and compelling forum last week at the National Press Club. John Mankiewicz, a screenwriter and executive producer for the Washington-set hit House of Cards series on Netflix starring Kevin Spacey as a U.S. president, described why he became fascinated with ordeal of Jerry Miller, a Chicago man exonerated by DNA evidence from a rape conviction in 2007 after Miller had spent nearly 25 years in prison.

Justice Integrity Project, Alabama Blogger, Not Mainstream Media, Exposed State House Scandal, Andrew Kreig, April 11, 2017. Two cable news stars broadcast a repulsive but revealing display of self-promotion Aug. 10 when MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell credited fellow anchor Rachel Maddow for the coverage that prompted the resignation of Alabama's scandal-ridden governor earlier in the day.

Justice Integrity Project, Did Trump Labor Pick Protect Trump, Rich Rapists, Tax Cheats, Crooked Bankers? Andrew Kreig, March 14, 2017. President Trump nominated as labor secretary last month a former federal prosecutor Alexander Acostasuspected of covering up multiple scandals, including the alleged rape of underage girls in 1994 by billionaire pervert Jeffrey Epstein and Trump, who was Epstein’s friend and neighbor. With a Senate confirmation hearing scheduled Wednesday, Trump picked former Bush administration prosecutor R. Alexander Acosta Feb. 16 to lead the Labor Department despite his multiple legal controversies involving sex predators, corrupt bankers and billionaire tax cheats. Their crimes largely escaped prosecution from Acosta and his law enforcement colleagues.  

Noel HillmanJustice Integrity Project, Tainted Judge Grants Casino $10m As GOP Prepares To Pack Courts, Andrew Kreig, Jan. 1, 2017. A scandal-tainted GOP federal judge (U.S. District Judge Noel Hillman, shown in an official photo) ruled in December to strip a casino gambler of $10 million in winnings just as Republicans prepare to pack the courts in 2017 after blocking Obama appointments to the lifetime posts. The two developments underscore the mainstream media's reluctance to report in depth on judges and nominees except in the rarest of scandals. 

Justice Integrity Project, Businessman, Siegelman Co-Defendant, DOJ Victim Richard Scrushy To Provide Litigation Lessons In DC July 29, Andrew Kreig, July 24, 2015. Richard Scrushy, the founder and former CEO of HealthSouth, Inc. and co-defendant in one of the most widely condemned federal prosecutions in recent U.S. history, will share his hard-won insights July 29 on Capitol Hill and at a National Press Club dinner. Scrushy, still an entrepreneur and now also an author and motivational speaker, speaks at 4 p.m. on the opening day of the annual Whistle Blowers Summit to advise others on coping with the legal hardships that many whistleblowers must endure.

Justice Integrity Project, Inside Story on DoD's $35 Billion Boeing Air Force Tanker Deal, Andrew Kreig, Feb. 25, 2011. Boeing’s selection to supply the Air Force’s next generation of mid-air refueling tankers could end a decade-long, scandal-ridden process that became one of the controversial and important in modern U.S. procurement history.

The Justice Integrity Project has tracked the proceeding closely for a year and a half after learning from reliable sources details about industrial espionage and skullduggery in the contract battle between Boeing and its main rival Airbus, an affiliate of the primarily European company EADS ((European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., which reportedly has a 5 percent stake by Russians). The intrigues went far beyond even the scandals showcased in Senate oversight hearings led by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) that sent a Boeing executive and former Air Force procurement officer to prison on bribery charges and led to DoD revocation in 2005 of the initial award to Boeing. Alabama's powerful Republican Senate delegation fought so hard for EADS that Sen. Dick Shelby, left, put a hold last February on every Obama nomination in the federal government unless the White House promised to give EADS what he called fair consideration. Later in the spring, President Obama promised to provide such fairness also in response to a specific request by European leaders, whose subsidies of EADS have sparked criticism at the World Trade Organization and elsewhere as a violation of fair trade.

Judge Mark Fuller Phil Fleming Photo

Huffington Post, Siegelman Deserves New Trial Because of Judge’s ‘Grudge’, Evidence Shows….$300 Million in Bush Military Contracts Awarded to Judge’s Private Company, Andrew Kreig, May 15, 2009. The Alabama federal judge who presided over the 2006 corruption trial of the state's former governor holds a grudge against the defendant for helping to expose the judge's own alleged corruption six years ago. Former Gov. Don Siegelman therefore deserves a new trial with an unbiased judge ─ not one whose privately owned company, Doss Aviation, has been enriched by the Bush administration's award of $300 million in contracts since 2006. (Chief U.S. District Judge Mark E. Fuller of Montgomery is shown in a Phil Fleming photo.)

Selected Related News Coverage

Arranged in reverse chronological order

May 15

Andrew McCabe

WhoWhatWhy, WWW Exclusive: Felix Sater Links Trump to Comey’s Replacement, C. Collins, May 15, 2017. Acting FBI Director McCabe WhoWhatWhy(shown in a C-SPAN photo on May 11) was deeply involved in investigating the Russian mob while Felix Sater was both cooperating with the FBI and working with Donald Trump. This unreported aspect of McCabe’s career gives him firsthand knowledge of potential ties between the president, his business, and organized crime — and highlights how much we do not know about this story.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Trump's "Russian" ties are with the "Red Kosher Nostra," not the Kremlin, Wayne Madsen (shown in a file photo), May 15, 2017. (3,670 words, subscription required.)  Donald Trump has solid criminal links.

May 14

Washington Post, Top lawmakers: If Trump has tapes, Congress needs access to them, Ed O'Keefe and Jenna Johnson, May 14, 2017. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer were among leaders in both parties requesting that any recordings of White House conversations be turned over for review immediately. Sen. Mike Lee, a former federal prosecutor, said “it’s probably inevitable” that such tapes would be subpoenaed.

May 14

Washington Post, Top lawmakers: If Trump has tapes, Congress needs access to them, Ed O'Keefe and Jenna Johnson, May 14, 2017. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer were among leaders in both parties requesting that any recordings of White House conversations be turned over for review immediately. Sen. Mike Lee, a former federal prosecutor, said “it’s probably inevitable” that such tapes would be subpoenaed.

May 13

New York Times, What’s Next for Comey? Probably Not ‘a Normal Job,’ Matthew Goldstein and Alexandra Stevens, May 13, 2017. Few can boast of a résumé like James B. Comey’s: top federal prosecutor, chief lawyer for both the world’s largest defense contractor and the world’s biggest hedge fund, and most recently director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. There’s just one problem: He was fired by President Trump, who has called him a “showboat” and a “grandstander.”

So where does Mr. Comey (shown in an FBI photo) go next? The next act for a former top government official is typically a large financial firm, corporation or law firm. And those jobs, as well as teaching, remain strong possibilities for Mr. Comey. Still, his firing and the furor over his impact on last year’s presidential election could give some potential employers pause. The same is not true for literary agents and publicists who try to get clients on the speaking circuit — the more controversial the better. And Mr. Comey brings with him plenty of controversy.

Washington Post, Kellyanne Conway’s husband helped sow chaos for Bill Clinton. Now he could be picked by Trump to keep order in Washington, Ben Terris, May 13, 2017. George Conway, Kellyanne’s husband, was a shadow player in the Lewinsky scandal. He seems to be on track to lead the Justice Department’s civil division, tasked with guarding President Trump and his polices from legal challenges. 

Donald Trump Logo Make America Great AgainIf it weren’t for George Conway, the nation might never have met Monica Lewinsky, and Donald Trump might never have met Kellyanne. In the 1990s, George was a quiet but critical presence in what Hillary Clinton would dub the vast right-wing conspiracy — a hotshot young attorney working to undermine President Bill Clinton by offering secret legal aid to his accusers and reportedly funneling salacious details to the Drudge Report. “This one disgruntled New York lawyer almost single-handedly brought down the president,” David Brock, the conservative provocateur-turned-Clinton-acolyte, later wrote.

Years later, George would marry Kellyanne Fitzpatrick, a publicity-prone Beltway pollster and move with her to an apartment in Manhattan’s Trump World Tower. There, he caught the future president’s attention by arguing to the condo board against stripping Trump’s name from the exterior.

May 12

Washington Post, Sessions is resurrecting tough charging policies, Sari Horwitz and Matt Zapotosky, May 12, 207. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Friday that he has directed his federal prosecutors to pursue the most severe penalties possible, including mandatory minimum sentences, in his first step toward a return to the war on drugs of the 1980s and 1990s that resulted in long sentences for many minority defendants and packed U.S. prisons.

Civil rights groups, Republican lawmakers and even the conservative Koch brothers issued swift condemnations of the policy, saying that Sessions was taking the nation backward. Aggressive prosecutors, however, are likely to embrace the measure as giving them more tools to do their jobs. In the later years of the Obama administration, a bipartisan consensus emerged on Capitol Hill for sentencing reform legislation, which Sessions, as a senator from Alabama, opposed and successfully worked to derail.

Critics Question Trump On Legal, Ethical Grounds

Washington Post, Trump’s words add fuel to questions about legality of firing Comey, Karen Tumulty, May 12, 2017. In a television interview and on Twitter, the president in the past two days has given ammunition to arguments by some legal experts that his actions constitute a possible case of obstruction of justice — a central charge in the impeachment proceedings against two presidents in the last 43 years.

New York Times, In Private Meeting, Trump Demanded Comey’s Loyalty, Michael S. Schmidt, May 12, 2017. At a private dinner just after Mr. Trump took office, Mr. Comey demurred when asked to pledge his loyalty. Associates say Mr. Comey now believes it ultimately played a part in his dismissal.

New York Times, Trump Warning to Comey Prompts Questions on ‘Tapes,’ Peter Baker and Michael D. Shear, March 12, 2017. President Trump warned James B. Comey that he had “better hope” that there are no tapes of their conversations. The White House later refused to say whether the president tapes his visitors.

Washington Post, Watchdog group alleges Sessions violated recusal rule in firing of Comey, Tom Hamburger, May 12, 2017. An ethics watchdog group filed a complaint against Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday alleging that his participation in the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey violated Justice Department rules and Sessions’s promise to recuse himself from matters involving Russia.

“Firing the lead investigator is the most extreme form of interfering with an investigation,” wrote Fred Wertheimer, who signed the six-page complaint on behalf of his organization, Democracy 21. The filing asked the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility to investigate the matter and issue a public report — and to take additional action.

“Immediately, we call on OPR to take all necessary steps to ensure that the Attorney General withdraws from any participation in the selection of an interim or permanent Director of the FBI,” the complaint said. When President Trump fired Comey on Tuesday, he announced that he had consulted with Sessions and the department’s No. 2 official, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein.

Wertheimer, who has worked on ethics issues since the Watergate scandal, said the attorney general’s participation in the Comey firing violated Justice Department rules requiring staffers to recuse themselves from any criminal inquiry in which they have a “personal or political relationship.”

Trump Threats Of Taping

Washington Post, In apparent warning to Comey, Trump suggests possible ‘tapes’ of their private conversations, Philip Rucker​, May 12, 2017. In a tweet this morning, President Trump said former FBI director James Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Trump fired Comey on Tuesday.

Washington Post, Spicer won’t deny Trump is recording his Oval Office guests. That’s untenable, Aaron Blake, May 12, 2017. President Trump is also now declining to comment on whether he has a tape of his Comey conversation. "Well I can't talk about it," he told Fox News's Jeanine Pirro in a new interview. "I won't talk about it. All I want is for Comey to be honest. And I hope he will be." White House press secretary Sean Spicer was given multiple opportunities Friday to deny that President Trump is recording his conversations. He didn't deny it once. He wouldn't even talk about it.

Washington Post, Trump has a long history of secretly recording calls, according to former associates, Marc Fisher, May 12, 2017. For some who have had regular dealings with Donald Trump through the years, there was something viscerally real about the threat implied by the president’s tweet warning the former FBI director about possible “tapes” of their conversations.

Mike PenceWashington Post, In service to Trump, Pence keeps saying things that aren’t true, Abby Phillip​, May 12, 2017. Since his selection to be Donald Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence (shown in an official photo) has been unflagging in his loyalty and deference to Trump. But in return, Trump and White House aides have repeatedly set Pence up to be the public face of official narratives that turn out to be misleading or just false. The FBI director’s firing is just the latest example.

Potential Nominees As FBI Director

Washington Post, Acting FBI director, Sen. Cornyn among 4 to be interviewed for top FBI job, Matt Zapotosky and FBI logoEd O'Keefe, May 12, 2017. Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), the second-ranking Senate Republican, who has in recent weeks become a more outward defender of President Trump, and acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, who on Thursday contradicted the Trump White House on a range of topics, will interview Saturday to serve as the FBI’s permanent director, according to people familiar with the matter.

The men are two of at least four people who will interview to replace James B. Comey, whom Trump suddenly fired this week, the people said. The others are Alice Fisher, a white-collar defense lawyer who previously led the Justice Department’s criminal division, and Michael J. Garcia, a judge on the New York State Court of Appeals who previously served as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

New York Times, A Look at the Contenders to Be the Next F.B.I. Director, Maggie Haberman and Jeremy W. Peters, May 12, 2017. Among the choices being discussed at the White House are J. Michael Luttig, a former judge; Senator John Cornyn of Texas (shown in a photo and the senate's No. 2 Republican); and Representative Trey Gowdy, officials said.

From Russia With Love?

Russian FlagWashington Post, Trump’s lawyers outline president’s Russian income but provide no documents, Rosalind S. Helderman, May 12, 2017. The White House released a letter from two tax attorneys for President Trump claiming that his only income from Russian sources in the last 10 years came from fees for hosting the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and sales of a mansion, condo units and golf games to Russians.

May 11

Politico, Trump says it was his call to fire ‘showboat’ Comey, Madeline Conway, May 11, 2017. President Donald Trump on Thursday President Donald Trump officialdescribed former FBI Director James Comey as a "showboat" and said he intended to fire him "regardless" of what Justice Department officials suggested. “I was going to fire regardless of recommendation,” Trump told NBC News’ Lester Holt in an interview scheduled to air later on Thursday, two days after Comey’s abrupt firing.

“He made a recommendation,” Trump continued, referring to Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who wrote a memo criticizing the FBI director’s handling of an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state. “He's highly respected. Very good guy. Very smart guy. The Democrats like him. The Republicans like him. He made a recommendation. But regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.”

The White House had previously claimed that Trump fired Comey following the recommendation of the Justice Department. But multiple news outlets, including POLITICO, have reported that Trump was upset with Comey over the ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia and was looking for a reason to fire him.

“He's a showboat, he's a grand-stander, the FBI has been in turmoil,” Trump told Holt of Comey. “You know that, I know that. Everybody knows that. You take a look at the FBI a year ago, it was in virtual turmoil. Less than a year ago, it hasn't recovered from that.”

Trump also repeated his claim that Comey personally told him he was not under investigation by the FBI for possible connections to Russia. News reports in the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal have cited anonymous sources describing that assertion as inaccurate.

“I actually asked him. I said, 'If it's possible, would you let me know am I under investigation?' He said, 'You are not under investigation,’” Trump told Holt. Trump said Comey relayed that message once in person, at dinner, and twice over the phone. Trump said he called Comey once and Comey called him in another instance.

New York Times, An Open Letter to the Deputy Attorney General, Editorial Board, May 11, 2017. Rod Rosenstein has more authority than anyone else to restore Americans’ confidence in their government. Dear Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein:

Rod RosensteinIt’s rare that any single person has to bear as much responsibility for safeguarding American democracy as you find yourself carrying now. Even before President Trump’s shocking decision on Tuesday to fire the F.B.I. director, James Comey, a dark cloud of suspicion surrounded this president, and the very integrity of the electoral process that put him in office. At this fraught moment you find yourself, improbably, to be the person with the most authority to dispel that cloud and restore Americans’ confidence in their government. We sympathize; that’s a lot of pressure.

Given the sterling reputation you brought into this post — including a 27-year career in the Justice Department under five administrations, and the distinction of being the longest-serving United States attorney in history — you no doubt feel a particular anguish, and obligation to act. As the author of the memo that the president cited in firing Mr. Comey, you are now deeply implicated in that decision.

May 10

New York Times, Before Comey’s firing, Trump’s animus toward him boiled over into fury, officials say, Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker, Devlin Barrett and Robert Costa​, May 10, 2017. President was said to be frustrated by FBI director’s focus on Russia and lack of attention to leaks. Accounts from more than 30 officials at the White House, Justice Department and on Capitol Hill indicate that the president was angry that James Comey would not support his baseless claim that President Obama had his campaign offices wiretapped. And he fumed that Comey was giving too much attention to the Russia probe and not enough to investigating leaks to journalists.

New York Times, Comey sought more resources for Russia probe days before firing, officials say, Elise Viebeck, Ed O'Keefe, Sean Sullivan Russian Flagand Paul Kane​, May 10, 2017. As furor grew, Republicans and Democrats said the FBI director's dismissal will frustrate bipartisan efforts to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election. See also: New York Times, Russian Meeting Comes at Awkward Time, David E. Sanger and Neil MacFarquhar, May 10, 2017. Amid an inquiry into his campaign’s foreign ties, President Trump welcomed Russia’s foreign minister to the Oval Office.

New York Times, Rod Rosenstein Fails His Ethics Test, David Leonhardt, May 10, 2017. Until two days ago, Rod Rosenstein, the deputy Rod Rosensteinattorney general, had an enviable reputation as a straight-shooting law-enforcement official respected by members of both parties. Then he decided that he was willing to help President Trump tamper with an investigation into his presidential campaign.

Now Rosenstein’s reputation is permanently damaged, as it deserves to be. In that damage is a lesson for other subordinates and allies of Trump. When Rosenstein accepted his job at the Justice Department, many observers hoped he would be the adult who would moderate the excesses of Trump and Jeff Sessions, the attorney general. But it is enormously difficult to resist pressure, persuasion and incentives from one’s bosses, especially when those bosses are running the country.

Rosenstein’s moral test arrived after just a couple of weeks on the job. He failed it, evidently without putting up much of a struggle. Justice Department log circularHe was willing to be “exactly the mouthpiece Trump needed,” as Slate’s Leon Neyfakh put it. Rosenstein wrote a memo that claimed James Comey, the former F.B.I. director, was fired for his handling of the Hillary Clinton inquiry that Trump and Sessions had once praised fulsomely. And Rosenstein, who was supervising the probe into the Trump campaign’s Russian ties, wrote the memo only a few days after Comey had come to him and requested more money for it, The Times reported. Deputy attorney general threatened to quit after being cast as impetus of dismissal, source says.

James Comey

Sally Yates

Preet Bharara

 

 

 

 

Washington Post, James B. Comey, Sally Yates and Preet Bharara (shown left to right) were all law enforcement officials until President Trump fired them — and they were all investigating Trump or his administration at the time of their firing, Peter Stevenson, May 10, 2017.

Washington Post, Rod J. Rosenstein, a longtime prosecutor, signed the letter that served as the rationale for firing the FBI director, Rod RosensteinMichael Kranish and Lynh Bui, May 10, 2017. To many who have followed the career of Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, the longtime prosecutor’s starring role in drama surrounding the ouster of FBI Director James B. Comey has left them surprised — and a little bit baffled.

Rosenstein, who took office last month, has been spared much of the criticism being aimed at President Trump and his top lieutenants. But Rosenstein’s authorship of the memo that was used as a justification for Comey’s firing has prompted some to wonder whether the Justice Department’s No. 2 was fully committed to firing the FBI director — or whether he was drawn into a White House plan to thwart the FBI’s investigation of potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Legal Schnauzer, No one should be surprised at Jeff Sessions' role in Trump's firing of James Comey; Sessions has a history of using such underhanded tactics in Alabama, Roger Shuler, May 10, 2017. Many Americans were stunned yesterday at news that President Donald Trump had fired FBI Director James Comey. Many were further stunned upon learning that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recommended the firing to Trump.

The disbelief likely was driven by two overriding factors: (1) Trump's firing of Comey smacks of Richard Nixon's Watergate-era firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox. That became known as "The Saturday Night Massacre," led to the release of White House tapes, and hastened Nixon's exit from the presidency. History tells us this might be the strongest indicator yet that Trump is headed for a fall; (2) Sessions had announced his recusal on all matters connected to the Trump-Russian investigation, which Comey was heading. (Note: Sessions also had recused himself from any matters related to the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation, and Comey's clumsy handling of that matter is the reason a Sessions deputy gave for the firing.) So how did Sessions think it was his duty to recommend Comey be fired?

This kind of behavior is not new for Jeff Sessions, and it dates to his time as U.S. attorney and attorney general in Alabama. Sessions has a history of taking underhanded steps to remove people he sees as threats. Knowing that history might help the public better understand how yesterday's drama came to unfold.

Wayne Madsen shown during a New York City panel discussion, May, 2015

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Rosenstein at DOJ to insulate Intelligence Community and Kushners, Wayne Madsen, May 10, 2017. Based on his activities under two presidents — George W. Bush and Barack Obama — Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein only has a position in the Justice Department to insulate key Intelligence Community officials from any prosecutorial fallout emanating from the multiple investigations of Trump's campaign connections to Russian interests. Rosenstein gladly agreed with Attorney General Jeff Sessions to sign Sessions's letter to Trump recommending the termination of FBI director James Comey to ensure his longevity as the DOJ's number two.

Rod Rosenstein Deputyty Atttorney General

Rosenstein had always looked out for the interests of the U.S. Intelligence Community. As an attorney within the Public Integrity Section (PIN) of the Department of Justice from 1990 to 1993, Rosenstein conveniently ignored the mounds of evidence linking then-President George H. W. Bush and his top cronies, including former National Security Adviser John Poindexter, former Poindexter aide Oliver North, State Department official Elliott Abrams, and Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger to the Iran-contra "arms-for-hostages" scandal. PIN's job is to prosecute corruption through all levels of government, including DOJ itself. During the probe of the scandal by independent prosecutor Lawrence Walsh, DOJ prosecutors and Attorney General Richard Thornburgh stonewalled attempts by Walsh's investigators to gain access to intelligence documents on the roles played by Bush, Poindexter, North, and the late CIA director William Casey in Iran-contra. One of the stonewallers was Rosenstein.

Washington Post, Before Comey’s firing, Trump’s animus toward him boiled over into fury, officials say, Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker, Devlin Barrett and Robert Costa​, May 10, 2017. President was said to be frustrated by FBI director’s focus on Russia and lack of attention to leaks. Accounts from more than 30 officials at the White House, Justice Department and on Capitol Hill indicate that the president was angry that James Comey would not support his baseless claim that President Obama had his campaign offices wiretapped. And he fumed that Comey was giving too much attention to the Russia probe and not enough to investigating leaks to journalists.

May 8

New Yorker, How Trump Could Get Fired, Evan Osnos, May 8, 2017 (print publication date). The Constitution offers two main paths for removing a President from office. How feasible are they?

Trump’s critics are actively exploring the path to impeachment or the invocation of the Twenty-fifth Amendment, which allows for the replacement of a President who is judged to be mentally unfit. During the past few months, I interviewed several dozen people about the prospects of cutting short Trump’s Presidency. I spoke to his friends and advisers; to lawmakers and attorneys who have conducted impeachments; to physicians and historians; and to current members of the Senate, the House, and the intelligence services.

By any normal accounting, the chance of a Presidency ending ahead of schedule is remote. In two hundred and twenty-eight years, only one President has resigned; two have been impeached, though neither was ultimately removed from office; eight have died. But nothing about Trump is normal. Although some of my sources maintained that laws and politics protect the President to a degree that his critics underestimate, others argued that he has already set in motion a process of his undoing. All agree that Trump is unlike his predecessors in ways that intensify his political, legal, and personal risks. He is the first President with no prior experience in government or the military, the first to retain ownership of a business empire, and the oldest person ever to assume the Presidency.

Senator Richard Blumenthal (shown in an official photo), a Connecticut Democrat who is on the Judiciary Committee, believes that the Administration’s actions denigrating or denying the power of equal branches of government portend a “constitutional crisis” akin to Nixon’s refusal to accept the appellate-court judgment regarding the White House tapes.

March

Russian Influence Probes

Sally Yates

Washington Post, Trump administration sought to block Yates from testifying to Congress on Russia, Devlin Barrett and Adam Entous​, Russian FlagMarch 28, 2017. According to letters reviewed by the Post, former acting attorney general Sally Yates (shown above in an official photo) was told earlier this month by the Justice Department that the Trump administration considers much of her possible testimony to be barred from a congressional hearing because the topics are covered by the presidential communication privilege. The administration's position is likely to anger Democrats who say the House investigation is being damaged.

Palmer Report, Donald Trump and Devin Nunes can’t stop Sally Yates from testifying for Senate Intel Committee, Bill Palmer, March 28, 2017. Donald Trump has decided that he must stop former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates from testifying in his Russia scandal at all cost, and so he’s used his stooge Devin Nunes (R-CA) to ensure that Yates can’t testify before the House Intelligence Committee. This has required Nunes to set himself on fire, sinking both his career and the committee he chairs. But remarkably, none of this will stop Yates from simply testifying in a different venue.

Trump appears to have baited Nunes (shown in an official photo) into leaking classified intel and compromising himself, simply so that the resulting debacle would create an opening where Trump could then nudge Nunes into canceling the remainder of the House Intel Committee hearings before Sally Yates could testify.

Trump appears to have no real sway over the Senate Intel Committee, which has been running its own parallel investigation into his Russia scandal. The Senate committee has been treating the probe with the utmost seriousness, presumably due to eight of its fifteen members (six Democrats plus Independent Angus King plus Republican Susan Collins) wanting a serious investigation. The committee has pored over binders of classified Trump-Russia intel at CIA headquarters (link), and Collins has publicly threatened to subpoena Trump’s tax returns if it becomes necessary.

Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Russia: Trump & His Team’s Ties, Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15), shown in an official photo, is the Ranking Member of the CIA Subcommittee of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, March 28, 2017. Despite Russia’s harmful national interests against the U.S., and its human rights violations around the world, President Trump and his team are directly and indirectly tied to Russia. The New York Times reported that members of Trump’s 2016 campaign and other Trump associates had frequent contact with senior Russian intelligence officials throughout the campaign. In addition to these questionable communications, here are a few other associates with ties to Moscow.

USA Today, Trump's business network reached alleged Russian mobsters, Oren Dorell, March 28, 2017. To expand Russian Flaghis real estate developments over the years, Donald Trump, his company and partners repeatedly turned to wealthy Russians and oligarchs from former Soviet republics — several allegedly connected to organized crime, according to a USA TODAY review of court cases, government and legal documents and an interview with a former federal prosecutor. The president and his companies have been linked to at least 10 wealthy former Soviet businessmen with alleged ties to criminal organizations or money laundering.

Palmer Report, FBI arrests ten people in New York City with alleged ties to Donald Trump and Russian mafia, Bill Palmer, March 28, 2017. FBI logoThe FBI and NYPD Joint Organized Crime Task Force have arrested ten men in New York City today on charges of running a racketeering conspiracy as part of an organized crime effort. What’s notable is that these men and their crime family have alleged ties to the Russian mafia and to Donald Trump – raising the question of whether this move was made as part of the FBI’s ongoing investigation into Trump and Russia.

Guardian, 'Gun for hire': how Jeff Sessions used his prosecuting power to target Democrats, Jon Swaine and Oliver Laughland, March 4, 2017.  It was 1989 and Arthur Outlaw, the Republican mayor of Mobile, Alabama, was girding himself for his re-election campaign. Word was that Lambert Mims, a popular local Democrat, would run against him. Some Republicans were growing skittish. But a close friend of Outlaw's had something planned. The friend had been president of the state Young Republicans, chairman of the regional GOP, then a senior official in the Mobile County Republican party. And now he was the top federal prosecutor in southern Alabama.

"Jeff says that Mims won't be around by that time," an Outlaw aide said ominously, while discussing the election at a City Hall meeting that February, according to a sworn affidavit from an official who was in the room. A few months later, Mims confirmed that he would be challenging Outlaw. Then Jeff Sessions made his move.

Sessions, then the US attorney for Alabama's southern district, indicted Mims on criminal corruption charges relating to obscure four-year-old negotiations over a planned recycling plant. Mims was the ninth notable Democrat in the area to be indicted by Sessions since the young Republican was appointed by President Ronald Reagan. He would not be the last.

Opponents concluded that Sessions used his federal prosecutor's office, and the FBI agents who worked for him, as political weapons, according to more than half a dozen veterans of Mobile's 1980s legal and political circles. Some alleged in court filings that the ambitious young Republican actually worked from a "hitlist" of Democratic targets.

Justice Department logo"Sessions was a gun for hire," said Tom Purvis, a former sheriff of Mobile County, "and he went after political enemies." Purvis was acquitted of charges against him that Sessions oversaw after Purvis unseated another Outlaw ally from the elected sheriff's position.

The decades-old concerns have been revived by Donald Trump's appointment of Sessions as US attorney general, and the mounting anxiety over his ability to remain even-handed as the nation's most senior law enforcement official given his record of vigorous partisanship. Earlier this week, Sessions was pressured into removing himself from oversight of any FBI investigations into the Trump campaign's contacts with Russia.

Bolstering the claims are the remarkably thin prosecution cases brought by Sessions against some of those Democrats he indicted, which are detailed across thousands of pages of archived court filings that were reviewed by the Guardian.

February

Harvard Political Review, The Alabamafication of America, Drew Pendergrass, Feb. 14, 2017. The 2016 presidential election looked, more than anything else, like an Alabama election. Donald Trump’s relentless appeals to populist conservative ideas echo decades-long trends in the South. The current worries about Trump’s irresponsible governing style are similar to concerns Alabama commentators have been expressing about their often-demagogic leaders since before the 1940s. To understand the Trump administration, in which Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions will likely serve as attorney general, we should look to Alabama, and the reasons why the state government is teetering toward collapse.

January

Washington Post, U.S. attorney in Baltimore is Trump’s pick to be deputy attorney general, Sari Horwitz and Ellen Nakashima, Jan. 14, 2017. Rod Rosenstein (shown in an official photo) headed the office for the District of Maryland under Rod Rosensteinboth Bush and Obama. 

Washington Post, A reassuring choice for deputy attorney general, Jonathan H. Adler (professor at Case Western University School of Law), Jan. 13, 2017. Rod J. Rosenstein would be a good choice for deputy attorney general. CNN and other news outlets are reporting that President-elect Donald Trump will nominate Rod J. Rosenstein to be deputy attorney general, the No. 2 position in the Justice Department. Rosenstein would be a fabulous choice for this position, and one that should be completely free of controversy.

Rosenstein currently serves as the U.S. attorney for Maryland. He was first appointed to this position by President George W. Bush in 2005 and retained in this position by President Obama. Prior to his appointment as U.S. attorney, Rosenstein served as the principal deputy assistant attorney general for the Tax Division in the Justice Department and as an assistant U.S. attorney. He also served in the Office of the Independent Counsel and as counsel to Deputy Attorney General Philip B. Heymann during the Clinton administration. Rosenstein is admired and respected on both sides of the aisle.

Rosenstein is also a veteran of the judicial confirmation wars. Bush nominated Rosenstein to an open seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in November 2007. At that point, the seat had been open for nearly seven years, but the Senate was in no rush to act. The Post praised Rosenstein as a “worthy nominee” and pointed out the hollowness of the arguments against him. No matter. The Senate never held a vote on his nomination, leaving the seat open for the next president to fill.

Washington Post, Senate Intel chiefs promise investigation of Trump-Russia ties as House Democrats accuse FBI director of stonewalling, Staff report, Jan. 13, 2017. Democrats are furious with FBI Director James Comey for refusing to say whether the FBI is probing alleged ties between president-elect Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russian government. Senate Intelligence Committee leaders announced late Friday that they would look into allegations of links between Russia and the 2016 political campaigns as part of a broader review of the intelligence community’s report on Russian hacking.

Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-Va.) said that their investigation, announced on Tuesday, would review “any intelligence regarding links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns” — a scope that includes allegations of ties between president-elect Donald J. Trump’s campaign and the Russian government.
Their announcement came as additional House Democrats called for FBI Director James B. Comey’s resignation, following a closed-door briefing from spy chiefs about Russia’s alleged election-related hacking in which they say Comey stonewalled members about whether the FBI is investigating links between Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin.

Democrats accused Comey of being “inconsistent” for refusing to confirm or deny whether or not the FBI was investigating the alleged ties, despite his willingness to frequently update Congress on the status of the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server. They described the exchange with Comey as “contentious” and even “combative,” while leaders accused him of using a double standard.

“One standard was applied to the Russians and another standard applied to Hillary Clinton,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who one member described as “just outraged” at Comey’s resistance to questions. Pelosi “really let Comey have it” during the meeting, the member said, who spoke on background because the meeting was classified.

 

Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues

Black Star News, Dr. Wilmer Leon via Facebook, The Republican Health Care Plan is Making Me Sick, Dr. Wilmer J. Leon, III, May 15, 2017. "This is a great plan. I actually think it will get even better. This is a repeal and replace of Obamacare. Make no mistake about it…" President Trump May 4, 2017.

Dr. Wilmer Leon IIIOn May 4th, 2017, after voting more than 50 times over the past seven years to either cripple, delay implementation or repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Republican controlled House voted 217 to 213 to repeal and replace the ACA. The bill now faces an uncertain fate as it goes over to the Senate, which has stated that it is in the process of writing its own bill.

Since its inception, there has been and continues to be problems with the “health care reform” debate. Language is very important. How an issue is defined and subsequently described can significantly impact the publics ability to intelligently and effectively understand it. The first problem is that neither the ACA nor the Republican responses deal with reforming health care. The ACA deals with insurance companies not health care providers. This is an important distinction as insurance companies do not provide health care, they pay for it. The ACA was meant to address health insurance reform not health care reform.

The Obama Administration’s solution to the problems with the delivery of quality health care and access for all Americans was to increase the number of people that were signed up with health insurance companies. They reformed the requirements stipulated by the insurance companies with regard to who could have access to the health care system. These requirements dictated reimbursement for services rendered, the rules of eligibility for coverage (such as a preexisting conditions) and how health care providers are paid. They did not address the quality and types of care that are provided.  

With this in mind, providing more Americans access to health insurance is a good thing. As a result of the passage of the ACA, according to PolitiFact - Wisconsin, 20 million Americans gained health insurance. Total health expenditures hit record low rates in the first three years after the ACA was implemented. The ACA lowered the number of uninsured Americans from 16% in 2010 to 8.9% in 2016. There are millions of Americans who are no longer at risk of being denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. These are all very positive results since the implementation of the ACA.

New York Times, F.B.I. Director Testifies on Clinton Emails to Withering Criticism From G.O.P., Eric Lichtblau and Michael D. Shear, July 7, 2016. The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey Jr., defended himself Thursday against an onslaught of Republican criticism for ending the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, but he also provided new details that could prove damaging to her just weeks before she is to be named the Democrats’ presidential nominee.

At a contentious hearing of the House oversight committee, Mr. Comey acknowledged under questioning that a number of key assertions that Mrs. Clinton made for months in defending her email system were contradicted by the F.B.I.’s investigation. Mr. Comey said that Mrs. Clinton had failed to return “thousands” of work-related emails to the State Department, despite her public insistence to the contrary, and that her lawyers may have destroyed classified material that the F.B.I. was unable to recover. He also described her handling of classified material as secretary of state as “negligent” — a legal term he avoided using when he announced on Tuesday that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring a case against her.

The F.B.I. director repeatedly suggested that someone in the federal government who had done what Mrs. Clinton and her aides did would probably be subject to administrative sanctions.

But Mr. Comey, in response to Republican accusations that he had employed a “double standard” to spare Mrs. Clinton from criminal charges, insisted that she was not given special consideration by the F.B.I. nor held to a more lenient standard than a less prominent person would have been. Democrats on the House oversight committee attempted to respond to the new facts presented by Mr. Comey while accusing their Republican colleagues of conducting a partisan witch hunt in their attacks on him.